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                          LORENZO DE’ MEDICI

                                VOL. I.

                          LORENZO DE’ MEDICI

                           _THE MAGNIFICENT_


                          ALFRED VON REUMONT


                            IN TWO VOLUMES

                                VOL. I.

                SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE

                        [_All rights reserved_]

                             CINO CAPPONI

                         RESPECTFUL HOMAGE AND


I AM bound to confess that it has been no easy task to interpret
for English readers the admirable biography of Lorenzo which Herr
von Reumont has given to the world. His extraordinary talent for
research seems to have spent itself freely over every scrap of paper
or parchment written or printed on the subject of the Medici and their
times that has come within his reach. If these volumes convey to their
readers the vivid impression of the Medicean age which may be derived
from the original work my humble but laborious duty will not have been
undertaken in vain.

  R. H.

  LONDON LIBRARY: _June 1876_.


THE second half of the fifteenth century exhibits, in the development
of the Renaissance in Italy, the singular spectacle of a transformation
of the modern world under the influence of ancient classical culture in
conjunction with the opening out of a new intellectual horizon. In a
state the importance of which cannot be measured by its circumference
or material strength, we see a struggle between form and spirit among
a community that had stood there alone from the Middle Ages. This
struggle was the exciting cause of a new growth, of the production of
fresh branches and new foliage on a tree that had become incurably
rotten and hollow. The Christian world has only once taken up a
position like this in the fruitful interpenetration and transmutation
of real and ideal elements. It shows us a man, the product and
consummation of these circumstances and conditions, at once the child
and the pioneer of his age, an age which was filled with the most
joyous and elevated existence both in material and spiritual things. A
man like him could only be born and grow up under such circumstances,
in the ferment and strife of events and of the moral forces of the
time. Family and civic influence as well as the temper of the people
and of the century contributed to this result.

A justly popular life of Lorenzo [by Roscoe] was written when the
knowledge of Italian history was limited and its sources confused and
difficult of access. If a similar attempt is now made eighty years
later, it is under altered circumstances and with expectations greatly
enhanced. The supply of original materials, then very small, however
skilfully arranged, has increased in our day to a degree almost beyond
management. At that period the insight of the historian, not informed
as to the internal politics of Florence, reached no great depth below
the dazzling surface of Lorenzo’s magnificence. At the present day deep
places are exposed to view which had been kept only too dark. A flood
of light envelops the personality of the man who was distinguished by
so many things that charm and attract. If the sum-total of his history
conveys a graver impression and comes upon us with a feeling of pain,
our interest in it is scarcely less keen because of the obstacles
through which this brilliant spirit made its own way, or of the
entanglements and dangers against which he had to struggle. Should I
succeed in describing truthfully him and the surroundings from which he
was never separated and without which it is difficult to imagine him,
I shall have completed a thank-offering due for a past full of varied
enjoyment and for many friendly aids, received during the preparation
and composition of this book from the countrymen of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

I am indebted to scholars and art-critics, to keepers of archives and
museums, to librarians, and above all to the man whose name rendered
famous by the history of his native city stands in the front of this
book, which attained its present form for the most part under his roof.
To him do I owe it especially that after a deep and critical change in
my own life, Florence remained to me a second home.

  BONN: _Palm Sunday, 1874_.


                              FIRST BOOK.


                              CHAPTER I.

                     OF THE FLORENTINE DEMOCRACY.

  The House of Medici—Original Dwelling-places—The first
  Appearance of the Medici—Commencement of the Florentine
  Community—The Community and the Imperial Power—Ghibellines
  and Guelfs—Consuls and Podestà—Government by a Citizen
  Guard—Captain of the People—Flourishing State of the
  Town in the Thirteenth Century—Party Factions in the Last
  Days of the Hohenstaufen—Decisive Victory over the Guelfs
  after King Manfred’s Death—Internal Condition—Foreign
  Viceroys—Growth of the Class of Citizens after the Middle of
  the Thirteenth Century—Beginnings of the Guild System—The
  Seven Great Societies—Government and Magistracy of the
  Priors—Democratic Reform of Giano della Bella—Limitation
  of the Citizens’ Share in the Government—The Ordinances of
  Justice against the Nobility—The Signory, or Upper Governing
  Department, and the Councillors—Exercise of the Municipal
  Franchise—Parliament—Vain Endeavours for Equality of Power
  among the Public Authorities                                         3



  Origin and Arms of the Medici—Public Affairs in the First
  Half of the Fourteenth Century—Mistakes at Home and
  Misfortunes Abroad—The Duke of Athens—Party Politics—Guelf
  Magistracy—Expulsion of the Proscribed (Ammoniti)—Salvestro
  de’ Medici—Rebellion of the Lower Classes (Tumulto de’
  Ciompi)—Averardo de’ Medici, called Bicci—Great Authority of
  the Albizzi Family and their Friends—Giovanni de’ Medici, son
  of Averardo—Florence under the Rule of the Albizzi—Campaign
  against the Visconti—Plunder of Pisa—The State of Finance
  in Florence—Wealth and Activity of John de’ Medici—Florence
  and Filippo Maria Visconti—Internal Condition during the War
  against Milan—Rinaldo degli Albizzi—Position of the great with
  regard to the smaller Citizens—Public Troubles—The Estimo
  and Loans—Increase and Inequality of the Taxes—The Cadaster,
  its Framework, Operations, and Product Position of Giovanni
  de’ Medici with regard to the Cadaster—Death of Giovanni de’
  Medici—Opinions about him                                          20



  Situation and Origin of Florence—Roman Times and the
  Early Part of the Middle Ages—Florence before and
  in the Time of Dante—Architecture in the Thirteenth
  Century—Towers—Rubacon Bridge—Churches—Sta. Maria
  Novella and Sta. Croce—Enlargement of the Town and Third
  Wall—Arnolfo di Cambio, called di Lapo—St. Maria del Fiore
  and Palace of the Signoria—Churches, Hospitals, Castles
  in the Province—Building of Palaces and Houses—Style of
  the Churches—Tuscan Gothic—Cimabue and Giotto—Giotto and
  the Cathedral—Belfry of the Cathedral—Taddeo Gaddi—The
  Hall of Or San Michele—Enlargement of the Palace of the
  Podestà—Architecture of the Middle of the Fourteenth
  Century—Religious Institutions—St. Anne’s Chapel in Or San
  Michele—New Church-building—Society of Artists—Hall of the
  Signory (Loggia de Lanzi)—Family Residences—Sculpture—Andrea
  Pisano and his School—Painting—Andrea di Cione, called
  Arcagna—Hospitals and Monuments—Filippo Brunelleschi—Church
  of Sta. Maria del Fiore—The Foundling Hospital (Innocenti)—San
  Lorenzo—Sto. Spirito—Other Works of Brunelleschi—Dwelling
  Houses—Streets and Pavements—Sculpture of the Fifteenth
  Century—Ghiberti and Donatello—Painting—Fra Angelico of
  Fiesole and Masaccio—General Appearance of the Town—The
  Environs—Fortified Villas and Monasteries                          38



  The great Guilds and their Position—Guild of Woollen-weavers
  (Arte della Lana)—Guild of Cloth Merchants (Catimala)—Guild
  of Silk-weavers (Arte della Seta)—Guild of Money-changers
  (Cambia)—Tuscan Money-changers Abroad—Positions of
  Money-changers in France and England—Bankruptcy of the large
  Banks—Financial Distress at Home—Revival of Commerce in
  the Beginning of the Fifteenth Century—Customs of the Money
  Exchange—General Feeling of the Citizen Class—Regulations
  for the Beautifying and Security of the Town—Character of the
  Populace—Habits and Customs in the Fourteenth Century—Popular
  and Church Festivals—St. John’s Day—Merry-making and Pastimes
  of the People—The Florentines in the Beginning of the Fifteenth
  Century                                                             67



  Cosimo de’ Medici in his Youth—Countess of Bardi and her
  Family—The Medici and Pope John XXIII.—Death of John
  XXIII. in Florence—Public Acts of Cosimo de’ Medici—The
  Position of Cosimo towards the Party of Albizzi—The
  Albizzi in the Fourteenth Century—Piero degli Albizzi
  and the Magistracy of the Guelf Party—The Tumult of the
  Ciompi, Exile of the Albizzi—Authority of Maso degli
  Albizzi—Rinaldo degli Albizzi—Niccolo da Uzzano—Palla
  Strozzi and his Family—Flourishing Condition of the Town
  and Commonwealth—War against Lucca—Relation of Rinaldo
  to Cosimo de’ Medici—Proceedings of the Oligarchy against
  Cosimo—Cosimo’s Capture—Cosimo’s Banishment—Unsettled State
  of Things—Rinaldo’s Appeal to Arms—Cosimo is called back, and
  returns—Exile of the Albizzi—Cosimo’s Gonfaloniership—Review
  of the Albizzi Rule—Florentine Order and its Formation—The
  Subjection of the smaller Communes—Conditions of this
  Subjection—Statutes—Acquisition of Pistoja, Volterra, Prato,
  and Arezzo—The Accomandigia                                        86



  Pope Eugene in Florence—Political Positions on Cosimo’s
  return Home—Antecedents of the Medici Party—Lucca
  Pitti—Neri Capponi—The Acciaiuoli—Agnolo and Donate
  Acciaiuoli—Diotisalvi Neroni—The Giugni and other Friends of
  the Medici, the Pandolfini, Salviati, Guicciardini—Cosimo’s
  Party-management—Restriction of free Voting by the Practice of
  Nominating to the Magistracy—Abrogation of the Law against the
  Nobles—Relations towards his Opponents—Palla Strozzi—Troubled
  Lot of Rinaldo degli Albizzi and his Family—Cosimo’s
  Attitude towards his own Party—Neri Capponi—Baldaccio
  d’Anghiari—Disunion in the Dominant Party—Termination of
  Extra-legal Authority—Re-introduction of the Selection of
  Magistrates by Vote—The Formation of the Cadaster—Progressive
  Scale—Taxation in the Hands of the Medici—Revision of
  the Cadaster in 1458—Discontent of powerful Burghers of
  the Medici Party—Luca Pitti, Gonfalonier—Change in the
  Government—New Commission for the Choice of Magistrates and
  for Taxation—Weakening of Cosimo’s Authority—Violence of his
  Adherents                                                          114



  War with Milan and Naples—Filippo Maria Visconti and Alfonso
  of Naples—End of the Visconti—Francesco Sforza, Duke of
  Milan—Relations of Sforza with Florence and Cosimo de’
  Medici—Alliance of Venice and Naples against Florence—War in
  the Valley of Chiana and in the Maremma—Peace of Lodi—The
  Sack of Constantinople—Triumph of the House of Aragon in
  Naples—Pope Eugene IV.—Contest of the Holy See with the
  Council of Basle—Council of Union at Florence—Reunion of the
  Churches of the East and West—Sojourn of Pope Eugenius IV. in
  Florence—Consecration of the Cathedral and of the Church of
  Sta. Croce—The Eugenius College—Political Complications—René
  of Anjou in Florence—Return of the Pope to Rome—Pope Pius II.
  in Florence—Death of Archbishop St. Antonine—Charlotte of
  Lusignan in Florence                                               139



  Cosimo in Advanced Age—Death of his Brother Lorenzo—His
  sons Piero and Giovanni—Piero’s Marriage to Lucrezia
  Tornabuoni—Death of Giovanni—Piero’s Children—Cosimo’s
  Manner of Life—Cosimo’s Disposition and Character—Cosimo in
  Outward Demeanour and in Business—Cosimo’s Ecclesiastical
  Edifices—Churches and Monasteries, Palace and Villas—Buildings
  and Foundations Abroad—Cosimo’s Last Days at Careggi
  Villa—Piero’s Letter to his Sons—Death of Cosimo—Marsilio
  Ficino on Cosimo—Cosimo de’ Medici the Father of his Country      153

                           SECOND BOOK.




  Piero de’ Medici and his Family—Lucrezia Tornabuoni de’
  Medici—Lorenzo de’ Medici—Lorenzo’s Education—Gentile de’
  Becchi of Urbino—His Youthful Years and Dispositions—Giuliano
  de’ Medici—Bianca de’ Medici Pazzi—The Family of
  Pazzi—Andrea, Piero, Jacopo de’ Pazzi and their
  Relatives—Nannina de’ Medici Rucellai—The Rucellai—Giovanni
  and his Son Bernardo—The Soderini—Lorenzo Soderini and his
  Sons Niccolò and Tommaso                                           167



  Meeting of Lorenzo de’ Medici with Federigo d’Aragona,
  younger Son of King Ferrante of Naples—Florence in relation
  to the Aragonese and to Sforza—Lorenzo in Upper Italy—The
  Pulci—Luigi Pulci—Lorenzo in Rome—Pope Paul II.—Death
  of Francesco Sforza—Piero de’ Medici and the House of
  Sforza—Galeazzo Maria, Duke of Milan—The Medici Party
  after the Death of Cosimo—Piero de’ Medici and Diotisalvi
  Neroni—Diotisalvi’s Designs against the Medici—His
  connection with Niccolò Soderini and Luca Pitti—Agnolo
  Acciaiuoli—The Causes of Discord—Niccolò Soderini as
  Gonfalonier—Neglected Opportunities of Trade—Fruitless Attempt
  at Compensation—Conspiracy against the Medici—Lorenzo with
  King Ferrante in Naples—Preparations on both Sides—The Villa
  of Careggi—Piero’s Illness there—Lorenzo’s Presence of Mind at
  an Attempt on his Father’s Life—The Medici in the City—Both
  Factions appeal to Arms—Indecision of the Leaders—Negotiations
  and Defection—Luca Pitti and the Medici—Failure of the
  Conspiracy and Banishment of its Leaders—End of Luca Pitti        179



  The Medici after the Neroni Conspiracy—King Ferrante
  to Lorenzo—Louis XI. of France and the Medici—The
  Florentine Exiles and Venice—The Relations of Venice
  with Florence—Bartolommeo Colleone—Colleone and the
  exiled Florentines—State of the Romagna—The Popes and
  the Dynasties—Relations of the Romagna with Venice and
  Florence—The Raccomandati of the Romagna—The Este Counts of
  Montefeltro and Urbino—The Malatesta of Rimini—The Ordelaffi
  of Forli—The Manfredi, Alidosi, Sforza of Pesaro—Bologna and
  the Bentivogli—Sante and Giovanni Bentivoglio.—Relations
  with Florence and the Papacy—Preparations of the Allies
  against Colleone—Colleone in the Romagna.—Battle at La
  Molinella—Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Venice—Ineffective
  Meeting of the Allies—Miserable Condition of the Army—Close
  of the War—Pope Paul II.—End of Colleone and the Florentine
  Exiles—Attack on Lucrezia de’ Medici                              197



  Battle near Rimini—Robert Malatesta—Finances of
  Florence—Purchase of Sarzano—Gay Life amid Financial
  Difficulties—Position and Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici—Lucrezia
  Donati—Lorenzo’s Tournament—Lorenzo’s Engagement—Clarice
  Orsini and her Relations—Lucrezia de’ Medici in
  Rome—Intelligence of Clarice Orsini—Conclusion of the
  Engagement, and Marriage Ceremony in Rome—Marriage Festival
  in Florence—Lorenzo’s Journey to Milan to the Christening
  of Gian Galeazzo Sforza—Death of Piero de’ Medici, and his
  Character—Piero’s Relation to his Party and to the Exiles—King
  Ferrante and Piero de’ Medici                                      222



  Nature and Form of the Medici Rule—The Heads of the Medici
  Party after Piero’s death—Tommaso Soderini—Council in St.
  Antonio—Accession of the Sons of Piero de’ Medici to the
  Position of their Father and Grand-father—Position of Lorenzo
  before the Party—Appointment of the Civic Officers—The
  Electors—Lorenzo assumes the Direction of Affairs—Foreign
  Affairs—Pope Paul II. and Naples—Alliance between Florence,
  Naples, and Milan—General Alliance against the Osmanli—Death
  of Pope Paul II                                                   244



  Splendour of the Medici Family—Their Position at Home and
  their Connections Abroad—The Royal Family of Naples—Ippolita
  Maria, Duchess of Calabria—The Queen of Bosnia—Luigi Pulci in
  relation to the Medici—Pulci’s Journeys and Missions—Camerino
  and Naples—Unfortunate Attack against Piombino—Galeazzo Maria
  Sforza and his Wife, Bona of Savoy, in Florence—Visit of King
  Christian of Denmark—Giovanni Bentivoglio in relation to the
  Medici—Proceedings of King Louis XI. and Lorenzo concerning
  King Ferrante of Naples—The Relation of Lorenzo towards his
  Fellow Citizens—His Manner of Life, Residence in the Country,
  and Travels—Madonna Clarice in Umbria and Rome—Visit to Zoe
  Palæologa—Lucrezia de’ Medici in Bagno a Morba—The Death of
  Madonna Contessina                                                 255



  Accession of Sixtus IV. to the Papal Chair—Congratulatory
  Embassy from Florence—Lorenzo accompanies it—Disposition
  of the new Pope—Attempted Insurrection in Prato—Bernardo
  Nardi—Connection of Volterra with Florence—Alum Pits of
  Volterra—Dispute about Leasing the Alum—Intervention of
  Florence—Tumult in Volterra—Various Views in Florence—Triumph
  of the Reigning Faction—Expedition against Volterra—Its
  Capture and Sack—Volterra and Florence—Misery of the
  Volterraneans                                                      274



  Feelings of Sixtus IV. towards the Medici—Plan for obtaining
  the Cardinalate for Giuliano—Cardinal Pietro Riario, Archbishop
  of Florence—Eleanor of Aragon Este in Florence—Arrival of
  Cardinal-Archbishop Riario—Beginning of the Misunderstanding
  between Sixtus and the Medici—Dynastic Ambition of the
  Pope—Girolamo Riario, Lord of Imola—Affairs of the City of
  Castello—The Vitelli—Niccolò Vitelli in Contention with the
  Pope—Florence supports the Vitelli—Displeasure of Sixtus at
  the Policy of Florence—Federigo of Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino,
  won by the Pope—King Ferrante in the Conflict with Venice and
  the Pope—Complications in the East—Alliance of Florence with
  Milan and Venice—Alliance of Sixtus IV. with Naples—Uncertain
  Policy—Second Marriage of King Ferrante                           284



  Cheerful Life in Florence—Tournament of Giuliano de’
  Medici—Death of Galeazzo Maria Sforza—Exertions of Florence
  on behalf of the Duchess Bona—Roberto da Sanseverino—Parties
  in Milan—The Brothers Sforza—Disturbances in Genoa—Relations
  of Genoa with France and Milan—Revolt of the Genoese against
  the Domination of Milan, and its Suppression—Intrigues of
  the Brothers Sforza against the Duchess-Regent, and their
  Banishment—Rupture between the Pope and Lorenzo—Francesco
  Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa—Causes of the Animosity between
  Lorenzo and the Archbishop—Carlo Fortebraccio of Montone
  opposed to Siena—Equivocal Conduct of the Florentines—The
  Pope and Naples in Favour of Siena—Retreat of Carlo
  Fortebraccio—Troubled Relations between the Pope, Siena, and
  Florence                                                           298

                           THIRD BOOK.




  State of Affairs at Home and Abroad—Lorenzo de’ Medici and
  the Pazzi—Causes of Enmity—Attitude of Sixtus IV. and
  Girolamo Riario towards the Medici—The Plot against the
  Medici—Girolamo Riario, Francesco de’ Pazzi, and Francesco
  Salviati—Preparations for the Enterprise—Invitation to
  Lorenzo to visit Rome—Consultations in Rome—Giovanni Batista
  da Montesecco—Meeting of the Conspirators—The Conspirators
  and the Papacy—Francesco de’ Pazzi and Montesecco in
  Florence—Agreement with Jacopo de’ Pazzi—Francesco Salviati
  and Cardinal Raffael Riario—The other Participators in the
  Plot—The 26th April, 1478—Attempt in the Cathedral—Death
  of Giuliano—Rescue of Lorenzo—The Archbishop of Pisa in
  the Palace of the Signory—Conflict around the Palace—Deeds
  of Blood in the Palace and in the Streets—Executions and
  Murder—Lorenzo’s Address to the People—Legal Measures against
  the Pazzi—The Funeral of Giuliano de’ Medici—His Son Giulio      313



  Dangerous Position and Measures of Precaution—Donato Acciaiuoli
  in Rome—The Florentines and the Papacy—Demands of Sixtus
  IV.—Florentines in the Castle of St. Angelo—Cardinal Riario in
  Florence—His Return to Rome—Bull of Excommunication against
  Lorenzo de’ Medici—King Ferrante and Lorenzo—Relations of the
  King with Florence and Siena—The Papacy and Bologna—Sixtus
  IV.’s Observations on the Events at Florence—The Republic of
  Venice and the Florentines—Representations of Venice to the
  Papacy—King Louis XI. and his Relation to Florence and the
  Papacy—Naples and Burgundy—Mission of Philippe de Commines,
  Lord of Argenton—Commines in Florence and Rome—His Opinion of
  the States of the Church                                           337



  Allies and Opponents of the Florentines—The Duke of Urbino
  on Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Political Situation of
  Milan and Venice—Florentine Preparations—The Papal and
  Neapolitan Forces—The Valley of the Chiana—Commencement
  of the Campaign at Montepulciano—Brief of Pope Sixtus
  IV. to the Florentines—Lorenzo de’ Medici before the
  Council—Opposition of the Clergy to the Curia—Official
  Vindication of the Republic—Reply of Pope Sixtus IV. to
  the Florentine Document—Death of Donato Acciaiuoli—Revolt
  in Genoa in the Interest of the Brothers Sforza and King
  Ferrante—War in the Valley of the Chiana—Bad Condition of the
  Florentine Troops—Gian Jacopo Trivulzio—Siege and Capture
  of Castellina in Chianti—Ercole of Este Captain-General of
  the Florentines—Wretched Management of the War—Loss of Monte
  San Savino—Unfavourable Position of the Florentines—Lukewarm
  Assistance from the Allies—Plans for the Second Campaign          356



  Philip de Commines on the Condition of Florence—His Second
  Residence in Florence and Milan—Louis XI. and Italian
  Affairs—French Embassy to Rome—The Envoys and Sixtus
  IV.—The Pope’s Stipulations for Peace—Answer of the
  Florentines—Ineffectual Negotiations—Departure of the
  Envoys from Rome—State of Affairs in Naples and the Papal
  Court—Disorder in Milan—Conspiracy of Roberto da Sanseverino
  and the Brothers Sforza against the Duchess-Regent—Seizure
  of Pisa—Recommencement of the Conflict in the Valley of the
  Chiana—War in Perugia—Discord in Florence—Enterprise of
  Sanseverino and Ludovico Sforza against Milan—Ludovico Sforza
  il Moro Governor-General in Milan—Blowing up of the Florentine
  Head-quarters at Poggibonzi in the Valley of the Elsa—Cessation
  of Hostilities                                                     371



  Unfavourable Condition of Florence—Lorenzo’s Position—King
  Louis XI. and Italian Intrigues—Negotiations between King
  and Pope—Necessity, for Lorenzo, of an Agreement—Diplomatic
  Transaction with Lodovico il Moro—Lodovico’s Character and
  Position—Lodovico il Moro as Governor—Lodovico on the
  Condition of the Florentines—Advice for an Arrangement with
  Naples—Filippo Strozzi’s Mission to Naples—Lorenzo de’
  Medici’s Resolve on a Journey to Naples—Departure for Pisa and
  Bada                                                               386



  Lorenzo’s Arrival in Naples—Lorenzo and King
  Ferrante—Impression produced in Florence by his Decision
  and the Variety of Opinions—Uncertainty in Florence and in
  the Romagna—Sixtus IV. and the Peace Negotiations—Sixtus
  IV. on the Management of the Dispute—Lorenzo’s insecure
  Position—The Dynasties of the Romagna—Diomede Carafa,
  Count of Maddalini—Lorenzo’s Connections in Naples—The
  Royal Family—The Duchess of Calabria—Lorenzo’s Return
  Home—Proclamation and Conditions of Peace—Insecure Relations
  with Sixtus IV.—Difficulties of the Affairs of Romagna—The
  Ordelaffi—Forli in Possession of Girolamo Riario—The Condition
  of Siena—The Duke of Calabria and the Sienese—Political
  Agitation in Siena in Favour of the Nobility, at the
  Instigation of the Duke of Calabria—Conquest of Otranto by the
  Turks—Retirement of the Duke of Calabria from Siena—Florentine
  Embassy to Sixtus IV.—Reconciliation and Peace                    401

                           FOURTH BOOK.


                           FIRST PART.




  Contrast between Mediæval Culture and Humanism—Character
  and Significance of Humanism—Florentine Education—Lapo da
  Castiglionichio and Luigi Marsigli—The University—Greek
  Studies—Manuel Chrysoloras—Early Study of Greek Learning in
  Florence—Poggio Bracciolini and his Discoveries—The Manuscript
  Business of the Fourteenth Century—Ancient Book Trade—Copyists
  in the Universities and Monasteries—Scarcity of Books and
  their High Prices—Increase of the Trade in Manuscripts—Paper
  Manufacture                                                        425



  Leonardo Bruni Aretino—Ambrogio Traversari—The Camaldula
  Convent of the Angeli—Niccolò Niccoli—Niccoli’s Collection of
  Books—Carlo Marsuppini Aretino—Beginning of the Translation
  of the Iliad—Giannozzo Manetti—Higher Education and the
  Universities—Jurisprudence and Statute Law—Palla Strozzi
  and the University—Rinaldo degli Albizzi, and his Political
  Writings—Francesco Filelfo of Tolentino in Florence—Filelfo
  as Teacher and Politician—The Brothers Cosimo and Lorenzo de’
  Medici in the World of Letters—Their Connection with Poggio
  Bracciolini—Cosimo as a Collector—Ciriaco Pizzicolli of
  Ancona—Roman Want of Culture—Enoch of Ascoli and Antonio of
  Todi                                                               440



  Pope Eugene IV. and the Papal Court in Florence—The
  Greeks in Florence—Gemisto’s Plethon—Origin of the
  Platonic Academy—Youth of Marsilio Ficino—John
  Argyropulos—Philosophical Studies—Cristoforo Landino
  Saint Antoninus Archbishop of Florence—Orlando
  Bonarli as Archbishop—Epistolaries and
  Dedications—Hermaphroditus—Literature and Life—Agnolo
  Pandolfini—Villa Life—Franco Sachetti—Poggio Bracciolini’s
  Country Life—Learned Connections of Florence with Foreign
  Countries—William Grey, Earl of Worcester, and others—The
  Humanists during the Last Years of Cosimo de’ Medici—Erudition
  and the Vernacular                                                 457



  Cosimo de’ Medici’s Library Establishments—San Giorgio Maggiore
  in Venice—Library of the San Marco Convent—The Niccolo
  Manuscripts—Library of the Abbey of Fiesole—Inscriptions of
  the Codices—The Duke of Urbino and Vespasiano da Bisticci—The
  Copyists of the Fifteenth Century—The Material Perfection of
  the Copies—Prices—Manuscripts and Printed Matter 472



  The Italian Language and Literature at the Beginning of the
  Fifteenth Century—Fra Giovanni de’ Medici’s Book on Domestic
  Life—Leon Batista Alberti and the Vulgar Tongue—Poetical
  Competition in the Cathedral—Corruption of the Language in
  the Hands of the Learned—The Vulgar Tongue—Caterina of Siena
  Letters—Religious Sentiment among the People and in their
  Literature—Sacred Poetry of the People—The Fraternities
  and their Hymns—The Jesuits and their Poetry—Substance
  and Melody of the Hymns—Feo Belcari; his Poems and Prose
  Writings—Girolamo Benivieni—Lucrezia Tornabuoni de’ Medici
  as a Sacred Poetess—Historical Writings in the Vulgar
  Tongue—Gino Capponi—Buonaccorso Pitti—Jacopo Salviati—Neri
  Capponi—Domenico Buoninsegni—Goro Dati—Giovanni Cavalcanti      482





AT the entrance of the Via Larga in Florence there rises to view,
at the corner of one of the cross streets leading to the church
of San Lorenzo, one of the most magnificent palaces of that rich
and beautiful city. The recent enlargement of the passage to the
neighbouring cathedral square—the Via de’ Martelli—has exposed to
view the southern aspect of the palace, and displays the harmony of its
proportions on a side that formerly was not to be seen. The traditions
of mediæval life are still manifest in the building, notwithstanding
the modification introduced by the large windows on the ground-floor,
and by the additional wing that prolongs the façade. Huge blocks of
stone, rough-hewn, with deep incisions, lend to the basement of the
edifice the appearance of a fortress. They recall to mind the fortified
palaces of the ancient nobles who, when transplanted from the country
to the town, found themselves associated, willingly or unwillingly,
with the burghers, and before long under the control of men who vied
with them in the erection of towers and strongholds that overawed
their own. The great town-hall was as solid a structure as any castle,
even at a time when milder manners had subdued, if not the violence of
party spirit, at least the fury of street riots, and had proscribed the
towers which once by hundreds dominated the narrow streets, with their
heavy iron chains ready for a barricade. The progress of civic life
may be traced in other parts of the building—in the bow windows of
the upper stories, divided by slender pilasters, in the _renaissance_
decoration, and in the Corinthian pillars which ornament the quadrangle
of the courtyard. Inscriptions and antiques introduced at a later
period adorn the walls of the portico of the courtyard; but the statue
of David has disappeared from the centre, and although fountains still
exist in the second court—once a garden—the figure of Alessandro de’
Medici, yet visible, indicates a century later. Though much altered
in modern times, the original plan of the interior, which was regular
and commodious, can be traced. Such a design was uncommon in days when
the comparatively small area of the houses made a large suite of rooms
a matter of rare occurrence, and when generally one story rose above
another, with steep stairs and narrow passages into which a scanty
supply of light was admitted from courtyards deep as wells.

The house was built by Michelozzo di Bartolommeo, then forty years old,
for Cosimo de’ Medici, in the first half of the fifteenth century.
Filippo Brunelleschi, the greatest architect of modern Italy, had made
a design for the palace of the rich and art-loving citizen, who was one
of his best friends. It was the plan of a vast building, unenclosed on
all sides, and fronting towards the square of San Lorenzo, where stood
the church, the restoration of which had been begun by the same artist
for Cosimo’s father. But cautious, calculating Cosimo, fearing that
a house on so magnificent a scale as that designed by Brunelleschi,
even if not beyond his means, would exceed the ordinary dimensions
of a citizen’s dwelling, and might excite popular jealousy, gave the
preference to Michelozzo’s more limited design.[1] Brunelleschi took
offence at this neglect of himself, and destroyed his model. Yet
Cosimo acted more prudently than did, at a later period, a countryman
of his, who began to build from the design of the same master the
largest edifice that perhaps a private citizen ever undertook, and who
consequently lost much in public estimation and respect.

In the second half of the fourteenth century the Medici had removed
into the neighbourhood of San Lorenzo’s church, where their residence
occupied the ground adjoining Cosimo’s palace on the north, and
remained in the possession of his brother Lorenzo, the founder of the
subsequent ducal line.[2] Their original dwelling-place was in the
centre of the old town, on the market-place, inside the first wall.
Many of the foremost families were once settled here, and even now the
lover of history and antiquity will find among the damp stalls of the
butcher, fishmonger, and dealer in vegetables, sparse remains of past
and, so far as concerns this part of the town, better days. The little
church of San Tommaso in this place was in the patronage of the Medici
from time immemorial.

The Medici did not belong to the historic families of the city on the
Arno. The first trace of them is to be found about the end of the
twelfth century in Giambuono, of whose extraction nothing is known.
The coat of arms exhibits red balls in a gold field, whose number and
arrangement were different at different times, until, under Cosimo’s
son, the coat of arms assumed the form which it has ever since
retained. From these balls (_palle_) the dependents of the family
bore the name of Palleschi. From whence the Medici came, what was the
meaning of the coat of arms, no one knew. Genealogical dreams have gone
as far back as Perseus and the apples of the Hesperides, whilst modest
historians have contented themselves with the time of Charlemagne, and
the mountainous land north of Florence, known by the name of Mugello,
where the family had always held important possessions, designated as
their home.

The only dispute now is whether they descend from a knight who in days
of yore received on his shield the blows of a giant’s iron flail, or
from a physician who chose for his sign, in his small beginnings, three
pills or cupping-glasses.

Giambuono’s son Chiarissimo sat in the Council of the Commune in 1201,
when an alliance was formed with the town of Siena for the purpose of
attacking the castle Semifonte in the Elsethal, which lay between the
territories of the two towns, and was soon after destroyed. This was
the first step towards the extension of territory and the overthrow
of the landed aristocracy. The thirteenth century, at the beginning
of which the Medici first stand forward in history, was the period in
which the community of Florence, after many vicissitudes, received
its definitive form. Just at the time of the first attempts of the
Florentines to acquire an independent self-government do we meet with
the first of that race which three centuries later strove successfully
to transform what had become a powerful republic into a monarchy.

The province of Tuscany, divided into two duchies, in the time of the
Longobards formed, first under dukes, then under margraves, a part of
the Roman Teutonic kingdom, whose dependence on the later powerful
emperors, and also on margraves ruling over wide stretches of land
to the north of the Apennines, was more nominal than real, yet still
existed according to right.

In the summer of 1115, after the death of the great Countess
Mathilda—daughter and heiress to the last Margrave Bonifacius, who
lived mostly in Lucca—first began the freer movement of the Tuscan
Commune. At this time the men who afterwards attained to the lordship
over the greater part of the country occupied anything but a prominent
position. The great changes in the strength and extent of the imperial
power in Italy as it was under the last of the Franconians, under
Lothair of Saxony, and the two first Hohenstaufen, necessarily affected
the position of these Communes. Their form of government under consuls
changed just as their dependence or independence of the imperial
authority was affected by the prevailing political condition of the
empire. The landed nobility, of Germanic origin for the most part, were
supported by Frederic Barbarossa against the Commune of Florence, with
which several great families, headed by the Uberti, had engaged in a
bloody and protracted feud on account of their claims to an authority
which was not compatible with consular government. Henry VI. exercised
his imperial rights and privileges in Tuscany still more vigorously
than his father had done. His brother Philip, invested with this
province as a dukedom, maintained a command such as, perhaps, no other
vice-emperor had possessed. In a part of the country claimed by the
Popes as the patrimony of Mathilda, Philip’s power overcame the Guelfic
element which was so much opposed to the ‘Imperium,’ and which in most
of the towns was the predominant principle.

Suddenly, however, all was changed, when the Emperor died in the
prime of his manhood, leaving behind him an infant son, three years
old, and a distracted kingdom, which never fully resumed its ancient
greatness. In the Papal chair, on the other hand, sat one of the most
aspiring and successful of the Pontiffs—Innocent III., who at once
assumed that authority in the legations which Henry VI. had taken so
much pains to put down. The Tuscans, however, were not more disposed to
submit patiently to the Papal sovereignty than they had been to that
of the Emperor, and this the Pope was not slow to perceive. But while
he avoided all direct assertions of sovereign power over the towns,
he made use of his influence to form a Tuscan Union, that should be
closely allied with the ecclesiastical government at Rome, and firmly
opposed to the Imperial authority. In 1198 a Union was formed at San
Genesio, which lies at the foot of the hills in the lower valley of
the Arno, and within sight of the venerable towers of San Miniato. The
negotiators on this occasion were two Cardinals representing the Pope
on one side, and on the other deputies elected by the several towns
interested. Pisa, which was Ghibelline, alone of the great towns held
aloof. The federation was intended to form a bulwark against Imperial
encroachments, and all matters of internal administration and municipal
government were left untouched. The supremacy of the Papacy was felt to
be a lighter yoke than that of the Empire.

It is worthy of remark that this practical protest against Imperial
domination should have its starting-point in a spot where the Guelfs,
especially the Florentines, were reminded that their liberties depended
on the pleasure of the Emperors. For the lofty towers that from the
hill of San Miniato look down upon the Val d’Arno, and across the
well-watered plain that stretches to the borders of Lucca, formed part
of the palace of Barbarossa, and from it his high decrees were sent
forth in the name of the Arch-chancellor of the Empire, the Archbishop
of Cologne. Here tarried Henry VI. and Frederick II., and here the
Vicar of the Empire, under Rudolf of Hapsburg, received the oath of
allegiance. At a later period, in March 1355, Charles IV. revived the
ancient dignity by stopping at San Miniato both before and after his
coronation. The deputies of the place, called from these circumstances
San Miniato the German (_al Tedesco_), had gone to Pisa to pay their
obeisance to Charles.

Events like those enumerated above were favourable to the territorial
extension of the Florentine Commune. Their progress would have been
greater, had not an ancient feud among the nobles come to a bloody
outbreak in the second decade of the thirteenth century. The effect of
this factious contest, which was embittered by religious animosity
and the quarrel of Frederic II. with the Pope, was to enfeeble the
nobility, and react mischievously on the people. The murder of Messer
Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti at the entrance of the old bridge in
1215 is celebrated in history and poetry as the presumed origin of
the hostile factions of Guelf and Ghibelline. A stone cross in the
small square, called, from the junction of three streets, the Trebbio,
commemorates the victory of the orthodox citizens, led by Peter Martyr
of Verona, against the Patarian heretics. About 1247 the most violent
civil war raged. Although the Ghibelline faction had the upper hand
at first, and Frederick of Antioch, the Emperor’s son and Imperial
Vicar in Tuscany, drove out the Guelf nobility, the tables were turned
when heavy losses overtook Frederick in Lombardy and were followed by
his death. The year of Frederick’s death, 1250, marks the victory of
the Guelfic cause in Florence, for although their adversaries had a
momentary triumph they could not hold out, and the city so famous under
the Salieri for its devotion to the Emperor, became the stronghold of
the Guelfs. This decisive change, which brought constitutional changes
with it, took place towards the end of October 1250, a little before
the Emperor’s death.

Up to that time, from the beginning of the twelfth century, the city
had been governed by a magistracy consisting of first four and then six
consuls, assisted by a council of one hundred good men (_Buonuomini_).
From 1207 the administration was entrusted to a foreign knight, learned
in the law, and called the Podestà. After the fashion of the Lombard
cities, he was elected for six months, then for twelve, and had the
assistance of a general council. Encouraged by the factiousness and
weakness of the nobility, who had till then been supreme in the place,
the citizen class banded together in an organised insurrection,
and initiated great political reforms. The town was divided into
sixths, (_Sestieri_), each sixth into twenty militia companies (the
number being subject to change, under different standard-bearers, or
_gonfaloniers_, each of whom had a distinguishing mark). At the head of
all, in place of the Ghibelline Podestà, who was done away with, was a
captain of the people (_Capitano del Popolo_), assisted by a council
of twelve elders, two for every sixth, and six and thirty corporals.
At a later period these institutions developed into the small and the
great councils. The standard of the people, put into the hands of the
captain, was half red, half white, and was subsequently replaced by
one bearing a red cross on a white ground. The banner of the Commune,
displayed by the Podestà, bore first a white lily on a field of red,
then a red lily on white ground. The civic militia were called to
arms by the tolling of a bell from the Lion’s Tower, which has long
disappeared, but stood probably near the palace of the Capitano, on the
site of which the palace of the Signoria, now the Palazzo Vecchio, was
erected in the sixteenth century. The country districts also received
a military organisation. To the Capitano was attributed authority over
both the civil and criminal administration, with the co-operation
of the elders, but the Podestà subsequently resumed his criminal
jurisdiction. The latter also occupied the palace, built originally
in 1255 as a council-chamber for the Capitano and his assessors, but
much enlarged in the following century. It is still called after the
Podestà, and, restored after long neglect to somewhat of its ancient
dignity, now looks down in lofty grandeur upon the bustle of modern
life going on around its walls.

Though not free from factious disturbance the city continued to prosper
for years after the revolt against the nobility. Its commerce was
extended and its influence over neighbouring communes strengthened
either by treaty or by force of arms. No better witness of this
prosperity can be cited than the number of buildings erected for the
public good about this time. Besides this, many religious houses arose
at the time when the order called the Humiliates were manifesting
extraordinary activity. In the year 1252 also was coined the golden
florin which, exercising a patent influence on the currency of mediæval
and modern times, contributed largely to the influence of Florence
among men of commerce, and shadowed forth her subsequent supremacy.
As yet the two hostile factions of the city, though coming frequently
into jealous collision, dwelt near together. In the summer of 1258
an attempt was made to overthrow the Constitution as settled by the
Guelfs, and bind Florence to the Imperial interests, to which Pisa and
Siena were already attached. The promoters of this revolution were the
family of the Uberti, champions of the Ghibelline cause, in alliance
with King Manfred, the Emperor Frederick’s son.

It was plain that the triumph of the Imperialists in the South of
Italy would be incomplete without the acquisition of Tuscany. The
attempt miscarried and the natural consequences ensued. All the great
Ghibelline families were sent into exile, and they took refuge for
the most part in Siena. The refusal on the part of the conquerors to
respect any obligations that had been previously entered into with the
banished families led to a war in 1260. On September 4 in that year the
Tuscan Guelfs suffered a severe defeat at Montaperti on the Arbia, in
view of the walls of Siena, whose inhabitants, assisted by the horsemen
of Manfred, were the victors. The effect in Florence was instantaneous.
Without waiting for the return of their enemies, the principal Guelf
families, patrician and plebeian, at once quitted the city and sought
shelter in Lucca. The Guelfs of the dependent towns soon followed this
example, and in three days the Ghibellines were installed in Florence,
with Giordano of Anglona, a captain of Manfred’s, at their head, as
the king’s vicegerent. Guido Novello, of the race of the Palsgrave of
Tuscany, assumed the office of Podestà. The Guelfs were compelled to
abandon Lucca and retire to Bologna, leaving the Ghibellines masters of
the whole of Tuscany. Affairs continued in this state for six years,
when King Manfred overthrew at Benevento the army of Charles of Anjou,
Count of Provence, who had been called in by the Pope, and who was
assisted by many Tuscan Guelfs.

An attempt at compromise between the two factions and a settlement of
the differences of the nobility and the burghers was made by appointing
two Knights of the Order of the Virgin Mary to the joint exercise of
the office of Podestà. With these _fratres gaudentes_ was associated a
Council of thirty, selected from the trading classes. The arrangement
was made with the consent of Pope Clement IV., and accepted by the
threatened Ghibellines as an expedient. It was soon discovered,
however, that a real reconciliation was impossible, and that the Pope
was pursuing extensive political schemes that were agreeable to no

On November 11, nearly nine months after the battle of Benevento, an
insurrection against a tax, forced the Ghibellines and Germans to
evacuate Florence. The Knights of Mary were replaced by two knights
from Orvieto, who were respectively appointed Podestà and Capitano.
Again efforts were made at a reconciliation by the recall of the more
moderate among the exiles, and by offers of family alliances, but
without success.

Charles of Anjou, now King of Sicily and Naples, was striving, like
Manfred, to strengthen his influence in Tuscany, and being secretly
incited by Guelf leaders he sent a troop of 800 armed men to Florence,
under Guy de Montfort, in 1267. The Ghibellines proved irreconcileable,
and left the city on the night of Good Friday in that year. Further
endeavours at pacification were alike unavailing. The party spirit was
too strong, and resisted the authority of Pope Gregory X. in the spring
of 1273, as steadily as that of Cardinal Latino Malabranca (a nephew
of Pope Nicholas III.), in February 1279. Nor was the influence of the
two holders of supreme power of much avail even after the accession of
Rudolf of Hapsburg to the throne of Germany had altered the relations
between Church and State.

Meanwhile two changes occurred in the internal government of the city
of great, if unequal, importance. The first was the vice-regency of
foreign princes, who now held in the Commune the position formerly
belonging to the chief of the empire, with this difference, that the
Commune awarded the dignity to foreign princes on certain conditions,
and for a certain number of years. The supremacy of King Manfred was
followed in 1267 by that of Charles of Anjou, which the city bore for
ten years. The authority of these princes and their representatives was
limited. A committee of twelve good men selected from the municipal
nobility sat as assessors to the viceroy. Besides this there were both
the council-boards already named, to which was now added a third body,
the secret council of the Guelf burghers, making together a general or
common council. The statutes introduced by the viceroy were sent to
the united councils as to a court of general jurisdiction, before they
were definitively accepted by the Council of Three Hundred. The limits
of the viceroy’s authority were not easily fixed. In the first half
of the ensuing century, when the city was unable to hold out against
the arms of the Ghibellines without the aid of Charles of Anjou, this
part of the Constitution was remodelled more than once. The Anjou
viceroyalty, in concert with the Guelfs, thoroughly rooted out the
suspected Ghibellines. In 1268-69 some three thousand were banished,
many of whom went to the south of France. Their goods were sold, and
the profits devoted to the interests of the victorious party. A special
Commission was appointed to manage the ‘capitani di parte Guelfa,’ and
was assisted by a committee of the Council, composed of nobles and
burghers. In the course of years this body acquired almost dictatorial
power in the State.

The second fact alluded to above was of far more importance in its
social and political bearing than the position of the vice-kings of
Tuscany. It was the enfranchisement of the lower class of Florentine
citizens. The population of the city was divided into three classes:
1, the feudal nobility; 2, the municipal nobility, or wealthy burgher
families; 3, the common people. The influence of the first, who were
never very numerous, was based on their landed possessions in the
provinces; that of the second on their wealth in money and their trade;
while the third class were held in no consideration, and up to the
middle of the thirteenth century had no share in the government of the
State. When Frederic II. died a democratic spirit manifested itself in
union with the Guelfic feeling of opposition to the Imperial authority,
and made rapid progress. The old and new nobility united to resist the
popular movement; but the people, who had increased in numbers and in
substance by the free exercise of their skill in arts, manufactures,
and commerce, aspired to a share in the civil government, and made an
effort to attain it. The discords of the nobility and the confusion
of the government in 1250 gave the people an opportunity of forming
an independent body, half political, half military. While the Podestà
remained at the head of the administration of justice, the ‘Capitano
del Popolo’ was military chief of the third or lower class, who, set
on securing their own rights, paid little attention to the quarrels of
the factions. After the overthrow of King Manfred and the Ghibelline
party the third class advanced a step forward by the definite formation
of guilds. The object of the organisation of 1250 was mainly military;
the end now in view was to give a more solid form and more popular
character to the civil relations. An excellent means for the attainment
of this was at hand in the corporations, already large, to which
the richest and most respectable members of the third class already

The industrial and commercial societies, the origin of which is
traceable to Roman times, kept pace in development with the Commune
of the twelfth century. We shall presently see how, at the end of
this century, their influence extended abroad, and at the beginning
of the next was felt through their delegates in matters of state.
They gave themselves statutes and exercised influence before they
assumed that form which erelong enabled them to take the chief share
in the executive as well as in the legislative power. They consisted
principally of professional men, traders, and the higher class of
artisans, and these represented the whole class of lower citizens.
There were seven guilds: the lawyers, merchants, money-changers,
weavers, silkworkers, doctors and apothecaries, and the furriers. These
were the grand guilds which always retained exceptional privileges.
Each one had a first and a second delegate or consul elected every
four months, and representing severally two quarters of the town.
There was a syndic and other officers with jurisdiction over all the
members of the guild. They bore arms and banners, and were commanded
by a gonfalonier or captain, thus forming a complete society, having
its own residence or guild-hall. Supreme over all the seven guilds
was a proconsul, whose place was among the highest officers of the
Commune, and who was chosen from the first, or lawyer’s guild. He
superintended the general interests of these incorporated societies,
decided questions of competency and the like. The presidents and
officers formed a council, called the ‘Consiglio delle Capitudini delli
Maggiore,’ to which were referred the enactments which had previously
been laid before the ‘Consiglio del Popolo.’ There is still in Florence
much that wears the stamp of the power of these city liveries of the
Middle Ages. The architecture of the guildhalls bears witness to
the greatness of the institution which, soon exceeding its original
purpose, was blended with the powers of the State. Coats of arms and
names of streets and other things give similar testimony. In the course
of sixteen years fourteen guilds—called the smaller—were added to the
original seven; and, with slight modifications, the same number has
been preserved in the same relative position.

It is natural that an institution like this should grow stronger with
the increasing strength of the people and the decay of the nobility. In
1279, when Cardinal Latino first extinguished the strife of the leading
Guelfs, tormented by continual intestine discords, and then reconciled
them to the Ghibellines, a supreme magistracy of fourteen Buonuomini
was instituted, consisting of eight Guelfs and six Ghibellines, both
nobles and citizens. This harmony lasted but a short time. In 1282, the
Sicilian Vespers having given a heavy blow to the house of Anjou, the
Ghibelline party raised its head once more, but was again defeated.
Hereupon the guilds resolved to take the government into their own
hands, and that they were able to do so without serious opposition
shows to what a height their power had risen. The new administration
was styled ‘The Priors of the Guilds,’ the chief being the Captain of
the People, who was called ‘Defender of the Guilds.’ At first three,
then six priors were elected from the Grand Guilds—being one for
every _sestieri_, or sixth part of the city. The term of office was
two months, except for those of the Lawyer Guild, who took part in the
administration in any other way. Subsequent changes made the number
of priors eight, two for each quarter of the city. The magnates, or
_grandi_, as they were called, might belong to the administration if
they became members of a guild. This gave a powerful check to the
popular tendencies which were already so far advanced. The nobility
made no difficulty of entering the guilds; and before long two jealous
classes stood face to face and threatened the destruction of the
government, by corporations which the people had set up as a defence
against the aristocracy.

The reform of 1293, when Guelfism was in the ascendant, was carried by
Prior Giano della Bella, a respected popular tribune, who, with the
consent of his colleagues, and of the higher magistracy, did the work
very thoroughly. It was declared essential to everyone who desired to
take part in the administration that he must really practice the art
or craft of the guild he belonged to. This declaration was tantamount
to an exclusion of the nobles, so tenacious of their dignity, from
all civil offices. Stringent orders, called ‘Orders of Justice,’ were
issued against the noble class,[3] the execution of which was entrusted
to a newly made officer, called the gonfalonier of justice, who, at his
pleasure, could summon to his banner, the red cross on the white field,
1,000 or 2,000 of the popular militia. The office of gonfalonier, who,
in conjunction with the priors, formed the Signoria, afterwards became
the highest in the community. In 1306 the special application of the
penal laws against the aristocrats was committed to the ‘esecutore
degli ordini di giustizia,’ whose attributes resembled those of a Roman
tribune. This new addition to the number of upper magistrates increased
the evils arising from a conflict of jurisdiction, and, like the number
and frequent changes of the larger council-boards, became a source of
confusion and weakness in the State. The age of the gonfalonier was
to be not less than forty-five, that of the prior thirty, the term of
office two months. The elections to the new Signory were originally
left to the retiring members, the president of the guilds, and a
number of deputies, summoned from different parts of the town by the
priors. But electoral practices were subject to change according to the
pleasure of the ruling faction. At the time when the fortune of the
family which deprived the city of its freedom was at the highest the
whole business of the elections was a mere pretext, as only the names
of supporters found their way into the bag, while the drawing by lot
depended on commissaries chosen from among the adherents of the actual
chief of the State. The Signory held its sittings in the beginning,
and for some time after, in the convent (Badia) opposite the palace of
the Podestà. Later on, a magnificent palace was erected, worthy of the
first magistracy of a large community, and with its prominent tower
indicative of a stormy period replete with heroic deeds.

There was vested in the Signory the highest deliberative, legislative,
and executive power, spite of many modifications and changes more
or less illusory. In connexion with the Signory under the name of
Colleges were the gonfaloniers of the militia companies, now sixteen in
number, with the Captain of the People, and after 1312 a magistracy of
twelve Buonuomini, without whom nothing of importance was decided. The
projects of law finally went to the General Council. The exercise of
authority thus came into the hands of the people who formed the great
guilds—the fat people, as they were called—_popolo grasso_. In course
of time, it is true, the latter had to share political power with the
smaller guilds; but the nobility was shut out, as well as the common
people who paid no taxes nor belonged to any guild. Citizens pronounced
guilty of any civil or political offence (_ammoniti_) were excluded
from the franchise and from office for life or for a certain period, as
were also persons marked in the register as negligent in the payment of
dues. This ostracism was a weapon of great power in the hands of the
factions during the fourteenth century, by which they kept the road
to office clear for their own followers. The Balia was another and
effective means to the same end. When a signory or party dreaded any
hostile influence they called the people together by means of a great
bell. Assembled in the square in front of the palace, the signory came
out to them on the tribune, or ringhiera and asked them if they would
like to grant power to a certain number of citizens to change the laws
and constitution. The square being surrounded by armed men a refusal of
this request was not to be expected. The select few, invested thus with
discretionary power, nominated a second group to the task of naming
citizens eligible for office. The privileges of these _accoppiatori_,
as they were called, sometimes lasted for years, so that freedom of
election to the magistracy and other offices became illusory in
respect to many citizens who were eligible. It will presently be seen
what resulted, in the second half of the fourteenth century, from the
abuse of the Ammonire and the Balia. When the citizens of Florence
reformed their constitution they had a twofold object in view. They
wanted first to have the chief power in their own hands, and secondly
to prevent internal dissensions by a wide distribution of places among
the citizens, which was to be effected by short terms of office and
frequent changes. The first of these objects was attained, but the
endeavour to accomplish the second was not successful. The rigour of
the suspensive laws augmented the opposition of the class who suffered
by them, and the Guelf faction shook the city to its very foundations.
The quarrel of the Neri and Bianchi, made famous by the greatest poet
of the Middle Ages, induced consequences that were fatal to the Liberal
and popular party, and restored for a time the nobles to power. But
again the lapse of a few years was sufficient to show their weakness.
This brought disorder and violence into the town, and led to the
recovery of political power by the citizen class at the very moment
when the efforts of the Imperialists to reconquer their old position in
Italy more than ever demanded strength in the popular element of the
governing power.



THE sanguinary conflict of Campaldino was fought, in 1289, in the
plain on the Arno which is overlooked by Poppi, the principal place
in the Tuscan valley of the Casentino, where stood the stronghold of
those Counts Guidi, who were the protectors of the Guelf cause when
brought to its lowest ebb by the war of the Vespers. Two years after
the battle, in 1291, Ardingo de’ Medici first sat among the Priors of
Florence, and in 1296, when the office was still a new one, he was
appointed Gonfalonier, as also was his brother Guccio three years
later. Of the last-named there exists a memento, the oldest relating to
the family, in the sarcophagus that once held his bones and was immured
in the outer wall of the Baptistery. This antique, which is carved in
relief with a representation of the chase in Calydon, was placed in the
courtyard of the Medici palace, and bears on its modern cover the arms
of the family, as well as those of the Guild of Woolstaplers, to which
the Medici belonged. Thus, at the end of the thirteenth century we see
members of the family in a position of respectable burghers in the
enjoyment of civic honours.

Nothing remarkable is heard of them until the middle of the fourteenth
century. They formed part, in their numerous branches, of the large
family of the people who were increasing more and more their trade and
manufactures, and shared on an equal footing in the government of their

In the second half of the century two of them became remarkable in
different ways, Averardo, called Bicci, son of Salvestro, called
Chiarissimo, and Salvestro, son of Alamanno, two cousins in the fourth
degree. Of the first we shall speak presently. Salvestro played the
chief part in a transaction that shed a lurid light on the history of
Florence of that period, but which was the beginning of that influence
which ended in the sole supremacy of the Medici.

The heroic age of Florence terminated with the first decade of the
fourteenth century. The city, at the head of the Tuscan league, which
bound together the Anjous and the Guelfs of Rome and Upper Italy, had
manfully resisted Henry of Luxemburg, but succumbed to Louis of Bavaria
and the Ghibellines, spite of the aid of foreign auxiliaries. At the
same time the rulers from Naples, as well as the foreigners who were
appointed to enforce established ordinances, were in a certain measure
above the law, and in the exercise of arbitrary power. Fortune smiled
on none of their undertakings, nor was the State guided to any better
state of things by what the poet of the ‘Divine Comedy’ called ‘the new
people and the sudden gains.’ Strength in arms began to decline, and
an undue preponderance of material interests to prevail. No period of
Florentine history is so poor in men distinguished by arms or policy
as that which followed the repulse of Henry VII. Material interests
even were not adequately protected. For although the springs of gain
had yielded copiously, and still continued partially to flow, the cost
of war and the taxes pressed with proportionate weight; and in the
third decade of the century began the failures of the great banking
houses, from which they did not recover for a long time, if they ever
did completely. To this must be added distressing losses occasioned
by inundations and epidemics. Confusion in the government, due on
the one hand to the resentment of the aristocracy, on the other to
the ill-feeling of the lower classes, brought matters at length to
a crisis in 1342. A foreign adventurer, closely connected with the
house of Anjou, Walter de Brienne, Count of Lecce and Duke of Athens,
was enabled by the assistance of the lowest class of artisans, and
some adherents of the nobler families, to make himself for a short
time absolute master of Florence. The tyranny, indeed, was overthrown
in the following year by a union of the upper and lower classes, who
were not, however, long in falling out again, to the great detriment
of the nobility. On the pretext of purging the Guelf party the system
of _Ammonirism_—_i.e._ exclusion from public offices—was put in
practice. It was directed against the decaying nobility on the one
hand, and on the other against certain suspected persons in the
lower classes. In this way, some thirty years after the expulsion of
the Duke, the supreme power was vested in an oligarchy, at the head
of which was the Captain of the Guelf faction. They had the whole
machinery of government under their control, and were mainly supported
by a few families of the wealthier burghers.[4] Among these were the
Albizzi, who, originally from Arezzo, having acquired great riches and
a high position, stood first in the city of Florence.

Salvestro de’ Medici, who in 1370 had held the office of Gonfalonier,
sought to put an end to the tyranny of party when he was again
appointed Gonfalonier in the spring of 1378. The reigning faction,
though mistrusting him, dared not oppose him, for fear of the
multitude, who were in his favour. His attempt to diminish the
authority of the Capitano and re-open the way to office to the excluded
ones (_Ammoniti_) brought on a violent insurrection of the common
people. This ‘tumulto dei ciompi,’ as it was called, placed Florence
for a time under mob-rule, and would have degenerated into the wildest
anarchy but for the energy of one poor man, Michele di Lando, the
woolcomber, whom the infuriated populace had raised to the chief
magistracy, and who, with remarkable instinct, steered the State safely
through the storm which threatened its ruin. This state of things
lasted three years, during which the all-powerful mob became the tool
of designing men, who wreaked their vengeance on the party that had
so lately been supreme. The latter, however, in their turn seized the
opportunity when the better sort among the populace were disgusted with
the tyranny of their fellows, and overthrew the mobocracy, setting up
in its place a conservative government, formed of the _Optimates_,
or better citizens, under the lead of the Albizzi. Salvestro de’
Medici, the original author of the revolt, contributed nothing to its
suppression. It was, perhaps, beyond his power to do anything. He died
in 1388, and the name of the Medici became identical with that of
representatives of the interests of the people. Five years later, when
the oppressions of the Albizzi had excited general discontent, an armed
body of the people marched to the house of Vieri de’ Medici, and asked
him to be their leader. He was of the same branch of the family as
Salvestro, but he prudently declined the proposed honour, and appeased
the revolters.

Averardo, styled Bicci, was the founder of the line that came to be
talked of in the world. Little more is known of him than that in
1357 he was employed on behalf of the Republic in the Mugello. His
grandfather, of the same name, was Gonfalonier in 1314, when Florence,
to escape from the pressure of the Ghibellines, submitted to the
Anjous. He was, it is said, the first of the family that amassed
wealth by trade, and laid the basis of that prosperity which was a
potent factor in the political transactions of his successors. The
real splendour of the family, however, began with his son Giovanni
d’Averardo, commonly called Giovanni di Bicci, who was born in 1360,
and was in the bloom of manhood when the Albizzi held undisputed sway
over Florence. The position of the Medici was a difficult one, for the
favour they enjoyed among the people exposed them to the suspicion and
dislike of the upper class. An attempt made in 1397 to restrict the
power of Maso degli Albizzi, head of his family and of the State, ended
in the exile and execution of the ringleaders, among whom were found
some of the Medici. The prudence and foresight which Giovanni exhibited
not only preserved his authority among his friends, but extorted
respect from his opponents.

There were stirring times in Giovanni’s maturer years. The government
of the conservative party was burdensome on the people and their
friends, who were heavily taxed, but it was a successful government
in the conduct of foreign affairs, and in the production of public
works at home. Florence increased in political importance. The war
against the Visconti of Milan, who were extending their power, and
aiming at the establishment of a kingdom in Italy, was very costly and
not always fortunate to the Guelf republic. Among the vicissitudes
undergone by the latter was the defeat of their German champion, King
Ruprecht of the Palatinate, whom they had summoned across the Alps.
Nevertheless, the ultimate issue was favourable to Florence, which at
this time enjoyed a brilliant and comparatively quiet existence. The
death of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, in 1402, relieved her of an enemy
who had already set foot in Tuscany, and in 1406 she took possession
of Pisa, which, weakened by centuries of war and internal commotion,
surrendered after an heroic resistance. With varying fortune, Florence
made war against Ladislaus, King of Naples, with whom expired in 1414
the male branch of that house of Anjou with whom she had once been so
closely allied. She also extended her political influence to Umbria,
took Cortona in 1411, and, ten years later, Livorno. With all this her
trade and manufactures expanded and matured, increasing her resources
and preparing her for other emergencies. The republic which had been
the most steadfast friend of the Holy See, was in bitter dispute with
it during the later period of the Avignon Papacy. Actively desirous
for the restoration of ecclesiastical unity, Florence, in the midst
of the great schism, witnessed in her newly acquired territory of Pisa
an attempt to reunite the adherents of both Popes, the one at Avignon
and the one at Rome. The attempt was a failure, and only added to the
confusion by setting up a third Pope, but it gave occasion to the next
General Council of Constance, which brought the rupture to a close in

Notwithstanding so large a military expenditure the wealth of the
republic continued to flourish. There was a discrepancy, indeed, in
the account of private wealth and public revenue. Two hundred thousand
gold guilders were promised for Pisa, sixty thousand were paid to
King Ladislaus for Cortona, and a hundred thousand to the Genoese for
Livorno. In this way the balance of income and revenue was seriously
disturbed. An attempt was made in 1411 to avoid the risks of large
grants of money by increasing the number of courts that had to consider
the projects of law laid before the Signory. In the fourteenth century
was manifested the canker in the finances of Florence that was never
quite eradicated. It is true the income of 1328 amounted to more than
300,000 gold guilders, while the regular expenditure was only 40,000,
showing a surplus of more than 260,000. The sum was raised in great
part by the excise or other indirect taxes, detailed statistical
accounts of which still exist.[5] This surplus was so far inadequate
to meet the oppressive military expenditure, the pay of the Anjou
and other leaders hired by the republic, the cost of fortifications,
the purchase of new territory, and the outlay on public works, that
by degrees a considerable State debt was contracted, which we hear
of under the name of _Monte Comune_. The growth of this debt is made
intelligible by the fact that in the twenty-nine years from 1377 to
1406, eleven and a half million guilders were spent in war, while the
sojourn of Duke Charles of Calabria in the city, cost 900,000, and
that of the Duke of Athens 400,000. In the wealth of families great
changes had taken place. The fourteenth century exhibited remarkable
peculiarities in the matter of private property. Shortly before the
middle of the century, the insolvency of England had brought to
the ground most of the Florentine bankers, some of them for ever.
Immediately after that, famine and the Black Death produced a change,
which was intensified by the measures taken against the families of
those nobles and the ruling party who were hated or suspected. Most of
the old families became poor, while a crowd of small folks grew into
importance; and the haste to grow rich, infinitely greater than it was
in the time of the author of the ‘Divine Comedy,’ whose admonishing
voice we have heard, augmented the recklessness and corruption which
greatly contributed to the great revolution of 1378. In spite of
considerable fluctuation an aristocracy of wealth was formed consisting
chiefly of members of the seven great guilds, in whose hands, after
the close of the thirteenth century, lay the government of the State.
The guilds of the money-changers and of the woolstaplers were the
principal, for the first gave the law to all foreign banks, the last,
to which smaller societies were subject, governed all foreign markets.

Giovanni di Bicci was one of those who knew how to avail himself
skilfully of the favourable opportunities offered by the conclusion of
peace at the beginning of the fifteenth century. At the time of the
Council of Constance, which agitated the world to an unusual degree,
all the great monetary affairs in which Italy was concerned passed
through Giovanni’s hands. He is said to have gained enormous sums of
money, which were increased when the acquisition of Livorno afforded an
advantageous outlet to the commerce of Florence. The advantage would
have been lasting, but for the war with Milan, which broke out a few
years later, and caused grave troubles. If Giovanni gained much, he
was generous with his gains. Where need was, he showed no stint, and
for public works his contribution was always ready. Having promised a
chapel and sacristy for San Lorenzo, when the enlargement of the whole
church was taken in hand (1419) he prompted Filippo Brunelleschi to
design a grand plan for its entire reconstruction, which was begun in
1421, and in which the Medici and seven other families took an especial
interest. Giovanni, though he did not seek offices in the State, never
refused any to which he was called. He conducted negotiations with
Ladislaus, King of Naples, went to congratulate Alexander V. on his
election as Pope by the Council of Pisa, and accompanied Martin V. when
the latter, on his return from Constance, passed through Florence to
Rome. Giovanni was elected to the office of Podestà in Pistoja, and
in 1421 was chosen Gonfalonier in Florence. The choice was not quite
agreeable to the ruling party, for popular traditions were associated
with the name of Medici, and Giovanni stood so high in the favour of
the multitude that he could, if he had wished, easily have stirred up
an insurrection against the oligarchy. Niccolo Uzzano, a prudent and
moderate man, who, after Maso degli Albizzi’s death in 1417, shared
with Rinaldo the leadership of the conservative party, opposed the
election of Giovanni, but did not push his opposition to extremes, for
he saw there was a struggle coming on. Giovanni, on his side, made no
attempt during his term of office at anything that would disturb the

Ere long external causes placed the party in danger. The antagonism
between Florence and Milan could not be removed by mere treaties of
peace. Gian Galeazzo’s only remaining son, Filippo Maria, was treading
in his father’s steps. He had not only recovered the dominion which,
at his father’s death, fell to pieces, but had added Genoa to it. He
now stretched out his hand to the Romagna, where he came into collision
with the interests of Florence, for the small gentry of that province,
hitherto in connection with the republic, were in danger of being
subjected to the will of a powerful and ambitious neighbour. Out of
this arose the war of 1423, which was far from being successful. As
in earlier times, the Florentine forces in 1424 were unable to cope
with the Milanese, whom they encountered, first in the Romagna and
afterwards in their own territory. The fault lay not so much in the men
and their officers as in the absurd system of directing the movement of
troops by a committee of civilians, called the Board of War, seated at
home. Rinaldo degli Albizzi succeeded in calming the agitation of the
people after the severe defeat of Zagonara on July 24th, but the damage
done to his party only increased the ascendancy of Giovanni di Bicci.
At the beginning of the war he had advised that the Duke of Milan
should not be followed into the Romagna, but should be waited for on
this side of the Apennines, but his advice was overruled.

In the beginning of 1426 Florence succeeded in forming an alliance
with Venice, which, though a rival in mercantile interests, was as
sensitive about the encroachments of Milan in the north as was the
sister republic about his encroachments in the centre of the peninsula.
The lords of Ferrara, Mantua, and others joined the alliance. The
disasters of the war and increase of expenditure gave rise to much
dissatisfaction, more loudly expressed among the higher than by the
lower classes, the fear of whom led the administration to press their
fiscal measures most heavily on the richer citizens. Rinaldo degli
Albizzi thought to effect a change by weakening the democratic element
in the Council. At a meeting of the heads of his party in the Church
of Sto. Stefano, near the old bridge, he proposed that the number
of lesser guilds should be reduced one half, and the votes of the
smaller citizens diminished correspondingly. Changes in the relative
numbers of the guilds had always been the means employed by either
party for securing political preponderance; for the relative position
of the parties was not strong enough to make manœuvres of this kind
superfluous. Besides the twenty-one guilds, there was a number of
smaller corporations representing branches of the different trades. No
less than twenty-five such societies were the offspring of the largest
of the guilds, that of the woolstaplers. They had their delegates too,
but were dependent on the greater guilds, who represented them in the
State. On one occasion, in 1300, the representatives of seventy-two
companies, were gathered together in council. The Duke of Athens, who
relied on the lower classes, made the smaller companies independent,
and put their consuls on a level with the others, but this did not
last. The same thing happened at the insurrection of 1378, but the
members of the small companies were again unable to keep their
independence long. The diminution of the small companies, proposed by
Rinaldo degli Albizzi, was at this time a question of some delicacy.
Nicolò da Uzzano remarked that before anything was proposed against the
people it would be advisable to come to an understanding with their
friends. On this Rinaldo conferred with Giovanni di Bicci, whom, of
course, he found opposed to the innovation. Had he wished to see a
new insurrection he might have agreed to the project, but his native
prudence had increased with years. Anyhow, he reaped this advantage,
that, as the matter could not remain secret, to him would be ascribed
the merit of thwarting a scheme intended for the oppression of the
lower classes. Ere long they had to face another great undertaking.

The distribution of the public burdens among individual contributors
was for a long time connected with serious evils, that were the more
conspicuous in proportion to the severity of the taxation. The scale
was furnished by the _estimo_ or assessment of real and personal
property,[6] which was in use as early as the eleventh century, and
resembled the _colletta_ that prevailed in the Two Sicilies after the
time of King Roger. The tax-system of Florence, where Neapolitan rulers
had often exercised power, bore the mark of Southern Italy. At the time
of its fullest application, when the Anjou Viceroys were supreme the
_estimo_ attached to land, capital and personal income. It extended
from the city to the country, where its operation was regulated in
districts. The framework underwent frequent revisions in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries, particularly in the latter, when the example
of Naples increased the rigour of the fiscal authorities and gave rise
to frequent complaints and petitions for a reform of the taxation. The
_arbitrium_ was often called into play before 1346, when the Government
of the Duke of Athens ordered a register of all estates. The _estimo_
was the standard on which the public loans were based. These, with the
excise and other indirect taxes—which, in the palmy days of commerce,
were very productive—served to cover the public expenditure. Loans
were made in the first half of the thirteenth century, and before
its close the _taille_ was introduced by the Viceroy of Anjou for
the maintenance of the French and other mercenaries. There were two
methods of raising a loan. By the first, the treasurers of the commune
made an agreement with one or more of the great banking-houses, who,
on an assignment of the custom duties to them, advanced the money and
distributed the loan among their customers and friends.[7] By the
second method, the government itself announced the loan and allotted it
to the citizens according to their income, as recorded on the _estimo_,
the security being in this case also the customs duties for a certain
definite period. Instead of a percentage the contributors received
a monopoly of salt, with the privilege of selling it to the retail
dealers at an enhanced price.

As the necessities of the State increased, other sources of revenue
were looked for. In 1343 the hearth or fire tax was adopted (_fumanti_
or _focatico_). Before that attempts had been made to tax the clergy.
In the war against Mastino della Scala, Lord of Verona, which ended in
1339, the loans amounted to 350,000 gold guilders, and exceeded the
annual revenue from the excise by 50,000 guilders. The accumulation
of the debt after the expulsion of the Duke of Athens necessitated
the continuance of the _monte comune_, already mentioned, for the
administration of the public debt. In the previous century, when
payment of the debt due to the citizens became impossible, a ‘great
book’ was opened, which in the course of forty years was superseded.
During the war of 1325, against Castruccio Castracane, resort was had
to similar means for raising money, and the Republic, being unable to
pay the debt without borrowing again, established the _monte comune_.
The interest paid was at the rate of five per cent., though at other
times it reached as high as twenty-five.[8]

At the beginning of the fifteenth century the taxation was continually
rising, and in the war with King Ladislaus the whole of the income
registered on the _estimo_ was charged with a tax of five per cent.
for three years. Nonpayment of the tax was punished by exclusion from
office. The defaulter’s name was entered in a register called the
‘looking-glass’ (_specchio_), whence the expression _netto di specchio_
applied to a man eligible for office. According to a regulation of 1421
no man was so eligible unless he, his father, or grandfather, had been
regular in paying his taxes for thirty years.

Of course there were manifold murmurs at these extraordinary
proceedings. The real evil, however, and cause of discontent was
not only the high rate of taxation, but its arbitrary and partial
distribution. When the partition of the burdens was made an arm of
offence against which the citizens rose to defend themselves by
violence it was necessary to find some other basis, if the State
economy were to be preserved from ruin. The regulation of the
_cadastre_ in 1427 had a twofold object in view, namely, first to raise
the public income by putting together the property tax, the income
tax, and the interest on the national debt (_paghe_ or _luoghi di
monte_); secondly, to make the distribution of the imposts independent
of personal and political opinions. This financial reform, which
changed nothing in the nature of the tax, but only established a
better partition of it, was not a new thing. At bottom it was but a
complement of the _estimo_, and the expression _catasto_ for census,
from _accatastare_, to pile together, was used in Florence a century
earlier. That it was brought forward with a view to adjust more equally
the incidence of taxation may be gathered from the preamble of the
ordinance of May 22, 1427: ‘It is hard to express in speech or writing
how much the citizens have suffered in their goods and their liberty by
the inequality of the public burdens. They have been robbed and driven
to desperation. How many, who would gladly have returned to their
homes, have been kept back in doubt and uncertainty, exposed to all the
ills that flow therefrom.’

A commission of ten members was appointed to make within the year a
register of property. Arranged methodically, it was to specify the
various families in each quarter of the town, the name and age of
the several members of the family, the estimated value of each one’s
property, real and personal, in town and country, and in foreign
parts. In the estimate were reckoned the domestic animals of value,
merchandise, ready cash, money in the funds, and all good debts. The
rent of houses was specified, and in the case of land cultivated by
the owner the average crop was taken. The _mezzeria_, or lands let
out to farm, were valued according to the market-price of produce,
allowance being made for the working material furnished to the farmer
by the proprietor. The capitalised value of property was estimated
at 100 for 7 per cent. produce, and on this capital half a guilder,
that is, one-half per cent., was levied. In casting up the various
elements of personal property and income the same principle prevailed
as when it was capitalised. Both sources of revenue united furnished
the total of what was called the _sostanza_, according to which the
quota of taxes was fixed. Certain deductions were allowed by law, so
that the tax-paying portion of the income was only the surplus over
the sum required for the strict necessaries of life. Among these
deductions was the rent of the dwelling-house, and of the warehouse,
stall, or booth used in the way of business. The fiscal legislation
adhered to the principle of burdening the old nobility of the city,
nor did it spare the magnates of the provinces, many of whom, up to
the time of the French Revolution, preserved an exceptional position.
They had to pay twice, nay, three and four times, as much in taxes
as other people, and were charged with rates from which the ordinary
inhabitants of the country were free. The valuation held good for three
years. Five registers were opened. The first was for the burghers; the
second for country-people of various shades and degrees, including
the peasantry; the third for the clergy; the fourth for guilds and
corporations holding land, such as the woolstaplers’, silkmercers’, and
money-changers’ guilds; the fifth and last for persons not belonging to
the State, yet possessed of territory or engaged in commerce.

An examination of the first _cadastre_ for the years 1427-30 gives a
clear insight into the condition of property in town and country. The
gross income of the citizens of Florence, then 90,000 to 95,000 in
number, was estimated in round numbers at 620,000 gold guilders, which,
allowing for the triple value of money, would be equal to 5,000,000
thalers (750,000_l._ sterling) at the present day. The town duties
produced 25,300 guilders, those of the country 18,500. Thirty-two
families paid upwards of a hundred guilders in taxes, two hundred paid
in all more than 12,800 guilders. The highest tax—that paid by Palla
Strozzi—was 507 guilders, which presupposes a fortune of 101,400
guilders, or, in present currency, 820,000 thalers (123,000_l._).
Second in the list of rich contributors is Giovanni de’ Medici,
who pays 397 guilders. Then come two branches of the Panchiatichi,
Francesco Tornabuoni, Niccolò da Uzzano, and Bernardo Lamberteschi,
with more than 200 others. The landed property belonging to the clergy,
to most of the benevolent institutions, and to the guilds within the
jurisdiction of the Republic, was valued at 1,577,000 guilders, while
the revenues of the clergy and the charities were put down at 130,000
guilders. The value of the untaxed monasteries was registered at
152,000 guilders. A few years later than this Cosimo de’ Medici, with
his sons and relatives, were charged with a tax of 428 guilders for his
business transactions. Seventy guilders of this amount were paid by the
bank at Florence, as much by the branches at London and Bruges, 96 by
those of Avignon and Geneva, 65 by that of Venice, and the rest by the
partners in the firm.

Undoubtedly the new mode of taxation distributed taxation more
equally than before. All those—some 3,000 in number—who, divested
of property, lived only by the labour of their hands, were valued
_pro formâ_, and counted by heads; but the payment of rates was not
strictly enforced on them. They constituted a particular class, known
as _miserabili_. Another class, one degree better off than these, and
numbering more than 5,000, came to terms with the revenue officers for
the payment of a small quota of taxes. If, however, the poorer classes
were very lightly burdened, the charges on the rich were enormously
heavy. Many among them paid the _estimo_ ten and twenty times over, and
could not as formerly obtain exemption from any charge on the plea of
expenses incurred in the public service by the discharge of official
duties confided to them. Malcontents were numerous. Those who owned
land and capital, which are easy to get at and to tax, complained of
the favour extended to trade and commerce. The lower classes, however,
still dissatisfied, demanded political power, and a revision of the old
payments. Giovanni di Bicci, by acting as mediator between the classes,
did more than anyone in keeping off injudicious demands and maintaining
peace. To him is generally ascribed the merit of the measure which
aimed at a more just distribution of the public burdens. But in the
deliberations on the subject that took place after 1426 he played but
a secondary part, and at the last sitting declared that his adhesion
to the measure was due not to his confidence in its success, but to
his feelings of deference for the many citizens who had recommended
it.[9] Rinaldo degli Albizzi and Niccolò da Uzzano were, for political
reasons, both secret and avowed, foremost in supporting the proposal,
although, as it happened, they and their friends were the most
seriously affected by the new mode of taxation. There were insinuations
against Medici that he profited by the embarrassments of his country
in time of war, as he did by the distresses of individuals in time
of panic, for all came to him for advances. It must be remembered,
however, that his business extended far beyond Italy to all parts of
France, and to Flanders especially, and that his trading interests
would be best promoted by the peace of his country and the prosperity
of his neighbours. With Pope Martin V., as with his predecessor, John
XXIII., Di Bicci was on the best terms. The former made him Count of
Monteverde, in the province of Fermo, on May 8, 1422.

Giovanni di Bicci lived to be sixty-nine. Only two sons remained to
him, the children of his wife Piccarda, daughter of Odoardo Bueri. She
survived her husband three years. He, on feeling his end approach,
called his sons to him, and bade them follow his example—to be
prudent, benevolent, and on friendly terms with those who wished them
well. ‘Do nothing,’ he said, ‘against the wish of the people, and
if they wish what they ought not, endeavour to turn them from it by
friendly remonstrance rather than by arrogant dictation. Do not make
the government-house your workshop, but wait until you are called to
it, then show yourselves obedient, and avoid big swelling words. Strive
to keep the people at peace, and the strong places well cared for.
Engage in no legal complications, for he who impedes the law shall
perish by the law. Do not draw public attention on yourselves, yet keep
free from blemish as I leave you. Take care of my wife, your mother,
and let her keep the place she now has.’[10] He expired on February
20, 1429, and was carried to San Lorenzo on an open bier. His remains
were followed by his two sons, and twenty-eight members of the family,
accompanied by the ambassadors of Venice and of King Sigismund, with
many other persons, including the magistrates. The obsequies cost more
than 3,000 guilders, and Cosimo and Lorenzo presented to the chapter
a sum of 800 guilders for the institution of an annual festival in
memory of the departed, to be held on the day of his death.[11] There,
in the sacristy built at his own cost, lies Giovanni di Bicci, with
his spouse, in a sarcophagus worked by the hand of Donatello, with
genii holding the coat-of-arms carved in semi-relief on the cover,
and inscriptions cut on the lower parts.[12] The contemporary already
mentioned has described the personal appearance of Giovanni.[13] ‘He
was tall and strong in figure, and broad in the face, with a dark,
sallow complexion. His sense of humour was greater than anyone would
have imagined from his melancholy expression. In business transactions
he was straightforward, though not exactly eloquent, for nature had
not endowed him with the graces of speech. Yet in public he was always
ready with a good argument and sound advice. No one spoke ill of him.
Niccolò da Uzzano, who passed for his rival, said to his sons, with
tears in his eyes, “Your excellent father has left you in favour with
the people, and beloved by the burghers, with splendid and improving
pecuniary prospects.” He loved the good, and pitied the bad. The
wicked, he said, existed for their own misfortune, and the good by
the grace and good providence of God. He never complained of other
citizens, nor they of him. The poor excited his compassion, and the
rich enjoyed his friendship and support. He strove against misery, and
promoted the happiness of mankind, when he could do so without injury
to the Commonwealth. His hands were clean, and not seldom he neglected
his own interests in the service of others. For others, too, he would
often ask favours of the Government, never for himself. Yet, the fewer
the pretensions he had, the more did the duties of State devolve upon



DURING the two centuries that laid the foundation of the power of the
Medici the city of Florence had reached the size which it has retained
to our day, and presented much the same internal appearance as it did
down to a very recent period. The site was a favourable one. About
midway between its source and its mouth the Arno issues from the narrow
valleys of the Casentino, Aretino, and the upper Arno, and flows down
the western slope of Tuscany towards the Mediterranean. On a spot
where there rises a group of low hills, close to the left bank of the
river, the city was founded. On the right bank a semicircle of hills,
crowned with the tower and ruined walls of the ancient Etruscan city of
Fiesole, recedes in gentle declivities. Not long before the decline of
the Roman Republic the community was formed which was destined in the
course of centuries to be the ruling power in Tuscany, to promote the
revival of literature and art, and to recall to life the culture of the
ancients, under the influence of Christianity.

Many circumstances combined to promote the prosperity of the city.
Although the river had neither any great volume nor steadiness in its
flow it afforded a means of communication, and its course lay through
flowery meadows which, watered by brooks descending from the sunny
hillsides, were well fitted for the cultivation of the vine and olive,
inexhaustible sources of wealth to the inhabitants of those southern
regions. The pure air of the mountains, which glistened with the snow
upon them until late in spring, together with the powerful influence
of the sun, removed all fear of the malaria incident to such low-lying
districts. These advantages seem to have attracted settlers from
Fiesole, who established here a fair for the convenience of trade. A
Roman military colony augmented the population and importance of the
settlement; and although the ancient inhabitants of the city were proud
of their Roman descent, their posterity attributed the inflexibility
of the popular character, ‘which still retains its stony and rocky
nature,’ to the admixture of their blood with that of the mountaineers
of Fiesole. The oldest traditions speak of the special veneration in
which the God of War was held; and if the opinion that the baptistery
built on the northern boundary of the original city was his temple
be false, at all events the figure of Mars was to be seen on the old
bridge, until it was swept away by one of the frequent inundations of
the Arno.

Moreover, in the Roman town there are reminiscences of the Capitol
in fragments of the amphitheatre which have been dug up at different
times, and have been used in edifices of later date. Evidences of
the same are said to have existed in the church of Santa Maria di
Campidoglio, once standing in the old market-place. The circuit of the
walls of the Roman town, which was connected with the opposite shore
by the bridge above mentioned, may be roughly traced by following the
direction of the narrow streets of the crowded quarter between the
river and the cathedral square, and the Piazza of Santa Trinità and
Santa Firenze. When the declining Roman Empire could no longer resist
the pressure of the northern nations Florence was besieged by the
wild hordes of Radagaïs. They were, however, utterly destroyed by the
general Honorius Flavius Stilicho, when the city was relieved. The
storm of Gothic and Lombard war subsequently swept over the country,
until at length Charlemagne, who in legends is called the Restorer of
Florence, established peace, and set up a form of government, founded
on Lombard institutions, which, with various changes, was maintained
until the uprising of the free Communes.

Towards the latter end of the eleventh century the portion of the
city on the right bank of the river had been considerably enlarged,
so that it extended eastward as far as the piazza of Santa Croce,
northward to that of San Lorenzo, and westward to where subsequently
the Carraia bridge was built. The city enclosed also within its walls,
which not long afterwards withstood an assault of the Emperor Henry
IV., that portion of the left bank of the river which extends as far
as the Piazza de’ Pitti. This was the city that was seen in his youth
by the author of the ‘Divine Comedy,’ who was born in 1265, a year
before the Guelfs obtained supreme authority. But Dante beheld it
already changed in its internal aspect, and in the character of its
population, hurried along as they were on the path of conquest, with
which this change in character was closely connected. He has described
the manners and customs of the ancient citizens, ‘when they were still
purely reflected in the lowest artisan,’ that is, before peasants and
men of the lower classes had immigrated from the subjugated villages
of the neighbourhood, attracted both by the protection they enjoyed
in a powerful city and the promise of gain from the daily increasing
value of their industry. This was, to use the poet’s words, before
citizens of Roman descent had to endure the stench of peasants from
Aguglione and Signa, whom avarice alone had allured to Florence.[14]
Dante Alighieri lived to see likewise the commencement of the great
architectural transformation. Numerous churches had long adorned the
city, which reverenced in Zanobi a saintly bishop, and had numbered
among its illustrious citizens St. John Gualbert, the founder of the
Order of Vallombrosa. Beside the church of St. John, the supposed
Temple of Mars, there had arisen in the first half of the eighth
century Santa Reparata, the subsequent cathedral, and in the tenth
and eleventh Santa Felicità, San Martino, Sant’Ambrogio, Santa Maria
Maggiore, San Remigio, San Salvi, San Lorenzo, San Piero Scheraggio,
San Romolo, Santa Trinità, etc., in and near the city, were either
newly founded or rebuilt. Nothing now remains of the original structure
of any of these churches, many of which have quite disappeared.
Specimens of the Roman style are still preserved in the city and its
environs, in the octagon of San Giovanni, the little Basilica of
Sant’Apostolo, that of San Miniato on a neighbouring eminence,[15] and
the façade of the Abbey-church at the foot of the hill of Fiesole.
These buildings all belong to the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
and were probably completed before the end of the latter, and the
conception and finish of this architecture serve to explain how Gothic
architecture, which arose in the following century, was never entirely
free from reminiscences of the older style, and, notwithstanding its
more graceful characteristics, declined before attaining the same
degree of perfection.

The architectural industry of the thirteenth century was very great,
and was exercised as much for ecclesiastical as for secular purposes.
Before that period narrow streets and small, irregular squares made the
city gloomy.

On every side rose lofty square brick towers without any break or
ornament whatever, sometimes so close together as to be within
arm’s length of one another. The dwelling-houses, which were built
of freestone, were small in size and built with a view to purposes
of defence and attack as much as for habitation. The streets were
first paved in 1237, in which year the Milanese knight, Rubaconte da
Mandello, Podestà of the corporation, built over the Arno, at that
spot within the city where the river is at its broadest, the bridge
named after him, but generally known by the name of the chapel of Sta.
Maria delle Grazie. Bricks placed on end were used for the purposes of
paving as well as for the bridges. About the middle of the century a
partial demolition of the towers became necessary. This, however, by no
means put an end to the civil conflicts, or even deprived them of their
ferocious character. Stones were used for building the city walls,
particularly on the left bank of the river. At the present day many
towers, both in the oldest portion of the city between the old bridge
and that of the Trinity, and also by San Pier Maggiore, and in the
quarter beyond the Arno, recall the bloody feuds of the irreconcilable
factions of the nobility. In these conflicts the strife was carried on
from tower to tower, from house to house; streets were barricaded with
heavy chains, and homes made desolate with fire and sword.

At this period the construction of those great buildings began, some
of which still impart to the city its peculiar aspect, and of these
some have already been named in the introduction to this history.
Amongst the first were the original bridge of Sta. Trinità, the Oratory
of Confuggio, out of which grew the brilliant Servite church of the
Annunziata, the old Town-hall, afterwards enlarged and named after the
Podestà, the Carmelite church beyond the Arno, and the magnificent Sta.
Maria Novella, which is, perhaps, the purest and most graceful example
of the so-called Tuscan Gothic.

The Dominicans, who are said to have come to Florence in 1219 and
who at first lived in hospitals, were presented two years later by
the Bishop and Chapter with the little church of St. Mary, which was
extended in size till it became one of the largest houses of Divine
worship, with the addition of a spacious cloister. Not long after the
arrival of the Dominicans the order of the Franciscan Minorites was
established in Florence, and about the middle of the century they
rebuilt their great church of Sta. Croce, situated by the wall on the
east side, and transformed it into the majestic temple we behold at
the present day.[16] The corporation had already purchased pieces of
ground and also houses in various places, to make room for widening
the older streets and laying out others. In this way space was found
for the Hall of Or San Michele, which was built about the middle of
the century, and which took its name from a church of the Archangel,
pulled down to make room.[17] Similarly space was obtained in 1282 and
following years in the quarter of the city beyond the Arno and in the
west suburb, for laying out the older square by Sta. Maria Novella.[18]
About the same time the final enlargement of the city was commenced
by laying out the line of wall which those now living have seen still
perfect with its gates and towers. But of all this nothing more remains
on the right bank of the river, since Florence, which for centuries
had been content with its mediæval boundaries, was extended as far as
the foot of the hill of Fiesole, and numerous conventual and other
gardens were transformed into squares and streets, while fields and
meadows were enclosed within the city. The character of its circuit has
thus been materially altered, although remains of the ancient style
of architecture are still visible here and there. The great work of
the new boundary wall is ascribed to the two Dominican brothers, Fra
Sisto and Fra Ristoro, who built Sta. Maria Novella and were employed
in Rome in Sta. Maria sopra Minerva, and to Arnolfo, who stands in the
first rank of the historical architects of Florence. Arnolfo, the son
of Cambio, a native of Colle in the valley of the Elsa, was named after
his master Arnolfo di Lasso, who was a German by origin, and known as
architect of the castle of Poppi and the Palazzo del Podestà.

The development of the political power of Florence, now fully conscious
of its importance, was coincident with an increase in material wealth
and with an awakening of intellectual life. Arnolfo had the good
fortune to be born in the period when that great movement began, which,
furthered rather than hindered by the animosity of civil strife, led
to a remarkable revival in Italy of literature and art. It must be
remembered that the way to it was paved by the age of the Hohenstaufen.

The great poet who is so much identified with this eventful time[19]
saw the foundations laid for the palace of the Signory and the new
Cathedral, Sta. Maria del Fiore, Sta. Croce, and Sto. Spirito; he
witnessed the construction of the Corn Exchange of Or San Michele, and
the gloomy prison which still recalls the memory of party-strife.[20]
In his banishment he thought of his beautiful San Giovanni, and in
order to picture the steep ascent in Purgatory drew a comparison with
the straight path, that now no longer exists, leading to the church of
San Miniato, which looked down on the Rubaconte bridge, and commanded
a view of the city.[21] Beside it in his time Bishop Andrea de’ Mozzi
had begun to build the first embattled episcopal palace, which was
completed by his successor, Antonio d’Orso, the same who instigated
the populace to rise against the Emperor Henry IV. Dante was a witness
of the indefatigable zeal with which corporation and citizens emulated
each other in the erection of churches, great public buildings, the
city-wall and defensive castles for the environs. No will was held
valid unless a legacy was left by it towards the expenses of building
the wall, while immunity from taxes was granted to the architect of
the cathedral in gratitude for his excellent work. Benevolence had
long been engaged in relieving human misery, and now with increase
of means it was still more displayed. Folco Portinari, the father
of him whose name has become celebrated far and wide through Dante
Alighieri, founded the hospital of Sta. Maria, now one of the largest
in any country, by extending a charitable institution commenced by
Mona Tessa, a servant of his house. The corporation built the hospital
at the Porto al Prato and took under their superintendence the one
long since founded by a pious citizen at Porta San Gallo. The hospital
of San Jacopo and that of Sta. Maria della Scala were annexed later.
Contributions were everywhere given for churches and convents, for
that of the Camaldulensians in the Angeli, the Servites in Cafaggio,
the Silvestrines in San Marco, and others. An especial magistrate was
appointed for the care of the streets and sewers, and the Carraia
bridge was rebuilt.

In the midst of this activity, in June 1304, a conflagration laid a
great part of the city in ashes, during a violent feud between the
populace and the nobility. It is said that 1,700 noblemen’s palaces,
towers, and houses of citizens were destroyed, besides incalculable
wealth, and many monuments of the old town. The prior of San Piero
Scheraggio, Ser Freri Abbati, was the incendiary. As an example of the
ferocity of the manners of the times it may be here mentioned that
in the year 1307 the belfry of the Benedictine abbey was partially
demolished because the monks had rung the alarm-bell during a quarrel
which had arisen respecting taxation of the clergy. Activity in
construction was not, as we have said before, confined to the defence
and adornment of the city itself, for at this period the building of
numerous forts was determined upon for the protection of the environs,
the completion of which was afterwards vigorously carried on. Such
defences were necessary in times of perpetual warfare, like the feuds
of the communes; and the marches upon Rome led by Henry of Luxembourg
and Louis of Bavaria, with the enterprises of Uguccione della
Faggiuola and Castruccio Castracane, in connection with these, gave
immediate occasion for them. In much later times they were still an
effectual protection, for the art of besieging was still in its infancy
when the art of defence had already made important progress, and armies
under celebrated generals were stayed for months by inconsiderable
villages, as the history of the second half of the fifteenth century
will show.

The style of palaces and houses remained faithful to the older
traditions. The public palaces were like castles. For centuries those
of the Podestà and the Signory, for example, had been carefully
strengthened and kept in a state of defence. From the towers, the bells
of which summoned the citizens, there was a wide prospect over the
city and its environs. The battlements, of the square form customary
among the Guelfs, were adapted for defensive purposes. The windows on
the ground storey were few and narrow, the gates were strengthened
by double doors. The building material, consisting of heavy stones,
or _macigni_, was furnished by the neighbouring stone-quarries of
the hills of Fiesole and Golfolina on the Arno, at the spot where
the river forces a narrow passage from the Florentine to the broad
lower valley.[22] Great blocks of freestone, rough-hewn and gradually
blackened by exposure to the air, formed those massive walls that
seemed as though built for eternity. These walls have stamped their
character on the later Florentine architecture; for the fifteenth and
even the sixteenth century remained faithful to this _opus rusticum_,
which has been transmitted down to our own days—modified, it is true,
in its harsher features, but essentially unchanged. The windows of
the upper storeys, divided first by slender marble columns, and then
by various ornaments in the spaces of the pointed arch, relieve the
gloominess of the fortress. The halls of the guilds and the palaces of
the nobility exhibit the same style, though in them the embossments
are partly or entirely smoothed away, and the windows are quite plain.
Many of them are still preserved in the older quarters of the city,
in the Borgo Sant’Apostolo, in the Via delle Terme, in the Mercato
Nuovo, in the Via de’ Cerchi and Condotta, in the narrow streets
behind the Old Palace in Via de’ Neri and de’ Rustici, and in Piazza
Peruzzi, where they have even nestled in the Roman amphitheatre and
elsewhere. The former palace of the Spini, between the Arno and the
Piazza of Santa Trinità, the restoration of which has been undertaken
by the present municipal authorities, presents, with its massive
crown of battlements, the severe character of a fortress. The houses
of the Mozzi at the south end of the Rubaconte bridge, and those of
the Manelli on the Ponte Vecchio, among others, represent, in spite
of change, the age of Dante; some, indeed, are now, after a lapse
of six centuries, occupied by descendants of the very families that
then possessed them.[23] The ground floors often show the traces of
walled-up loggie, an indication of more peaceful days, for this style
of building was continued even when party quarrels were fought out more
by change of constitution and by proscription than by force of arms.

The numerous religious institutions show of themselves how important
a field was offered to ecclesiastical architecture. At the most
flourishing period of German architecture, Sta. Maria Novella furnishes
the first example of the endeavour to obtain as wide and slight an
arching to the vault as possible, by employing antique pilasters,
composed of semi-columns and pillar corners. This attempt has met with
comparative success in Sta. Maria del Fiore, in which plain pillars
adorned with more developed capitals composed of acanthus leaves have
been used, while for the gigantic central nave of Sta. Croce the
vaulting is relinquished, and the open principle of the Christian
basilica of Rome adopted. The same plan is also to be seen in San
Miniato al Monte. If, however, the management of the material in Sta.
Maria del Fiore exhibits extraordinary skill, a certain baldness was,
on the other hand, scarcely to be avoided; and this forms a contrast
with the awkwardly set cupola of the choir and transept—a fault,
perhaps, less to be charged upon the first architect than is generally
assumed. The exterior marble facing of the first two of these churches
was similar to that of San Giovanni, but displayed a greater tendency
to picturesque effect, which was increased by the additions of later
times. The marble was supplied from native quarries, those of Prato
and the Maremma, and after 1343 particularly from Carrara.[24] The
craft of the painter was and remained combined with that of the
architect, as a fine art, distinguished in fact only by the employment
of different materials. That same painter, to whom art history—which
in the fifteenth century was just awakening, and in the next, although
not yet critical, reached descriptive perfection—has given, following
tradition, a higher position than belongs to him, painted both with
the brush and with coloured _pastilles_, and his most distinguished
pupil adorned the city with its most graceful architecture. Dante has
extolled them both, the one as a setting and the other as a rising
star. The legend derives the ancient family name of Borgo Allegri
from the popular rejoicing which accompanied Charles of Anjou on his
way to inspect the great Madonna picture in the studio of Giovanni
Cimabue, which now adorns the church of Sta. Maria Novella. It was
Giotto di Bondone who broke through the narrow circle of typical
painting in the Byzantine style, and, both in single figures of
Madonnas and Saints and in grand historico-allegorical compositions,
opened a way to freer spiritual development, in which he was followed
by a large school. Although, as was natural, considering the large
number of its followers, its original principles did not continue
unmodified, this school in all essentials became the authority for the
fourteenth century. No new creative peculiarity, however, was evinced,
and constant repetition of the same motive can be observed in form
of face, drapery, architecture, and colouring. The admiration that
Giotto’s works, which adorned all Italy, had excited in his native
city, the talents that were ascribed to him outside the art to which
he had especially devoted himself, are shown by a decree passed by the
Signory on April 12, 1334,[25] in concert with the Buonuomini—an act
redounding no less to the honour of the State than of the painter. By
this decree Giotto was nominated architect of the Sta. Maria del Fiore,
of the boundary wall, and of the other architectural undertakings of
the Corporation. ‘Let it be done,’ so it ran, ‘in order that the public
works may progress effectually and in fitting manner, which can only be
the case if a practised and celebrated man conduct the management of
them, and for this purpose no one can be found in the whole world able
to do more excellently in this, as in many other things, than Master
Giotto di Bondone of Florence, painter, whom, as a great artist, his
native city will lovingly receive and honour.’ Giotto lived two years
after his praises were thus proclaimed. After death he was honoured
with the erection in the cathedral, with the building of which he had
been entrusted, of a monument adorned by one of the finest inscriptions
of the Renaissance period.

During the time that the façade of this church, which was destined to
undergo many a change, was building, together with its side-walls,
doors, and the walls and gates of the quarter Oltr’arno; and while the
belfry of the cathedral, the most graceful, rich, and perfect work of
its style, arose, great efforts had to be made to clear away the last
traces of the fire of 1304, and the ravages of the great inundation of
November 1, 1333. Three bridges were broken up; the old bridge, with
those of Santa Trinità and Carraia, and even the column before the
Baptistery, which had been raised in memory of St. Zanobi, was thrown
down. Every nerve was strained to the work of restoration. One of the
most active among the artists was Giotto’s pupil, Taddeo Gaddi, who, in
the summer of 1337, began building the new Hall of Or San Michele, on
the site of the one burnt down, which was, however, no longer destined
to serve the former purpose, but to be used as an Oratorium, while
two upper stories were to be employed for the garnering of corn. So
arose this magnificent edifice, which forms one of the most remarkable
ornaments of Florence, and, seen from the neighbouring hills, towers
above the clustering houses. It forms a quadrangle, of which the sides
are of unequal length. The character of a hall is still visible in the
ground-floor, with its wide tripartite arched windows, which are richly
panelled, and in the two upper stories with their arched windows, in
groups, alternately, of two and three, divided by columns; the whole
being surmounted by a moulded cornice. In this cornice are niches with
statues and groups of marble, which had been built at the cost of the
guilds, and set on the pilasters of the older hall; and here, as on
the middle storey, are placed the arms of these guilds with those of
the commonwealth.[26] Two years later Taddeo Gaddi began rebuilding
the old bridge in essentially the same form as at present. The palace
of the Podestà had been already considerably enlarged and beautified
when in 1326 it served Duke Charles of Calabria, the son of King Robert
of Naples, as a residence; but in February 1332 it had suffered by
fire, and in the year following by the inundation, so that a thorough
restoration was necessary. The Carraia bridge was finished in 1337;
that of the Trinità required several years more; the belfry of the
Benedictine abbey had been rebuilt in 1330. The short reign of the
Duke of Athens caused no cessation in the process of construction. A
new front was built to the palace of the Signory, in which the Duke
took up his residence, which did not, however, protect him from the
resentment of the populace; and in the palace of the Podestà, of which
the picturesque courtyard was then building, with arcades running round
three sides of the ground-floor, his coats of arms bear witness to his
activity. The following years were so restless and disturbed, owing
to the peril the country was in from the swarms of freebooters, who,
towards the middle of the century, laid all Italy under contribution,
and from the fearful ravages of the Black Death, that architecture was
rather called into requisition for the safety of the city than for its

The brigandage and pestilence that prevailed might well cripple
constructive progress for a time, but it was soon aroused to renewed
activity. If the last fearful calamity led to immorality among the
lower orders, it yet induced many to relinquish the bustle of the
world for grave meditations and pious works. The means of charitable
institutions were considerably increased by alms and legacies. In 1349
was decreed the erection of a chapel to St. Anne, in the hall of Or San
Michele, in commemoration of the expulsion of the Duke of Athens on
the day of that saint. The work was conducted by Neri de’ Fioravante,
who, on the occasion of that event, superintended the erection of
the barricades at the Place of the Signory, and by Benci di Cione of
Como. Three years later Andrea Orcagna began in the same place the
rich chapel of the Madonna, which may be considered as the best work
of architectural sculpture belonging to this period. The graceful
loggia which, in the year 1351, were commenced opposite San Giovanni,
as frontage to the Oratorium, are probably by the same artist. This
Oratorium originally belonged to the brotherhood of the Misericordia,
a society formed after the plague in 1326, and still in meritorious
activity. It came later into the hands of another benevolent society,
that of the Capitani del Bigallo.[27] The building of the Certosa,
which was commenced by Nicola Acciaiuoli, in the year 1341, on the
neighbouring hill of Montaguto, was carried on with vigour, and the
mausoleum containing the beautiful monuments of the family belongs
likewise to these years. In 1360 the building of Santa Maria del Fiore,
which had been so continually interrupted, was fairly proceeded with,
and four years later the cupola was commenced. In the neighbourhood
of the palace of the Signory the site for the new Mint was obtained
in 1361. Several churches were altered or rebuilt, and the façade of
the church opposite to Or San Michele—now named after St. Charles
Borromeo, but formerly dedicated to the archangel—is a monument of
the graceful style of the period, though of small dimensions, and
sparely ornamented. An endeavour was made in 1351 to fill the voids
left by the plague in the ranks of the artists, by granting permission
to strangers to carry on both sculpture and architecture. The tendency
of the period towards the formation of guilds had manifested itself in
the year previous by the institution of the Society of Painters, under
the patronage of St. Luke, which, altered and enlarged, exists at the
present day.

The Hall of the Signory, which, since the 16th century, has been
generally called the Loggia de’ Lanzi, is the most important
architectural work of the latter part of the 14th century. In the
architecture of this building the spirit of the Renaissance breaks
boldly through the barriers of the Gothic style, without entirely
renouncing it. A hall in which the whole members and friends of a
family could meet was looked upon as a necessary distinction of the
high rank of the owner, and, indeed, no house of any importance was
without such an adjunct. This hall was afterwards gradually converted
into a separate and public building. Even in the middle of the
following century Leon Battista Alberti wrote thus: ‘Streets and
markets will be adorned by halls in which older people may assemble to
avoid the heat and discuss their business, while their presence will
act as a restraint upon the young in their games.’ Even private family
affairs were transacted here, and it is related of Giovanni Rucellai, a
rich citizen of the 15th century, who built a new loggia opposite his
house, that he arranged his daughter’s wedding there. None of these
loggias are at present in complete preservation,[28] for even where the
exterior form has been preserved the arches have been walled up, and
the building has been diverted to other uses, the original destination
being uncalled for by altered customs. Numerous traces of them,
however, still exist, notably of the Loggias of the Cerchi, the Agli,
the Buondelmonti, the Cavalcanti, the Tornaquinci, the Peruzzi, the
Alberti, the Canigiani, Burdi, Frescobaldi, Guiccardini, in the quarter
of Oltr’arno, and, of later origin, those of the Albizzi and Rucellai.

A commodious hall was naturally desired for the Signory in view
of the public nature of the business transacted by them, and the
unsuitableness of the Tribune of Ringhiera, which was added to the
façade of their palaces in 1349 and pulled down during the domination
of Napoleon. Notwithstanding, however, the utility of such a building
and the practice of annexing loggias to private dwellings, when the
square of the Signory was enlarged in 1356, to make room for the hall,
by pulling down the church of San Romolo, a part of the Mint, and
several houses, the general opinion was, that a great public hall was
better fitted for a despotism than for a free city.[29]

As already mentioned, it was not until twenty years later that the hall
of the Signory was commenced.[30] Benci di Cione and Simone Talenti
were the architects. The former was an artist much in request, and was
not only incessantly engaged in the architectural works of the city,
but also in the construction of the fortifications. His death happened
in 1388. The superintendence of this building was entrusted likewise
to the directors of Sta. Maria del Fiore, their funds exceeding their
necessities. Although the building of the loggia of the Signory is
ascribed to Orcagna in error, seeing that he had died eight years
before, and had not lived even to see the square cleared, the way for
it was prepared by the hall of the Bigallos, which was undoubtedly
by his hands. The Gothic style had, even at the end of the previous
century, displayed great boldness in the treatment of the pointed arch.
The circular arch was now adopted, which in bold sweeps forms three
openings on the façade, and one at each side. An architrave rises
above the capitals of lofty but strongly built pillars, surmounted
by a boldly projecting cornice, with wide cross-vaulting inside.
Antique tradition was nowhere so perceptible as in this building, the
unsurpassed, nay, unattainable, model for all later ones of the kind
until the present day. In the year 1380, in which Antonio di Puccio,
the ancestor of the yet flourishing family of the Pucci, executed the
third vaulting, the building seems to have approached its completion,
but eleven years longer sculptors and painters were occupied with its
adornment by numerous sculptures in high and low relief, in which
mosaic and colouring were employed to heighten the effect.[31]

Florentine sculpture of the latter part of the thirteenth and the
fourteenth centuries followed essentially the bent of Giovanni Pisano,
who endeavoured to unite the decided tendencies of his father Nicolò
towards the antique with those of the Gothic style, which then began
to assert itself; and he thus traced out for his followers the way
which they have long pursued. Andrea Pisano, the son of one Ugolino
of Pontedera, was the chief representative of Giovanni’s school during
the first half of the fourteenth century. If there is any question as
to whether the design of the bronze door of the Baptistery, worked by
him in 1330, being Giotto’s, the great influence exercised by Giotto
on the sculpture of his time is undoubted. Neither Orcagna, whose most
important work, the altar to the Virgin in Or San Michele, has already
been mentioned, and who displays both in painting and in sculpture the
greatest originality in conception and in form of any artist of this
epoch, nor Andrea Pisano’s pupil, Alberto di Arnoldo, to whom the grave
and noble group of the Virgin with Angels in the Oratorium of Bigallo
is owing, was able to escape the influence of Giotto. The decoration
of the façade of the cathedral, of the belfry and interior of the
baptistery, as also of the side doors of the cathedral, with sculpture,
statues, reliefs, and ornaments, gave employment, irrespectively of
others, to numerous artists from foreign parts, but much of their
work has unfortunately been destroyed or mutilated. Meanwhile the
churches were being adorned with numerous frescoes and altar panels,
particularly Sta. Croce, so rich in chapels, which was only completed
in the following century, Sta. Trinità, which was enlarged in 1383,
Sta. Maria Novella, Ognissanti, and others, in which work Agnolo Gaddi,
Orcagna, Giovanni da Milano, Jacopo del Casentino, and many others were
employed. Before the middle of the century the great chapter hall of
Sta. Maria Novella, commonly called Capellone degli Spagnuoli, which
contains the mural paintings ascribed, without ground, to the Siennese
painter, Simon Martini, and Taddeo Gaddi, had been built by a citizen
of Florence, named Buonamico di Lapo Guidalotti. The frescoes from
the history of St. Benedict, by Spinello of Aretino, in San Miniato
al Monte, date after the year 1380, and those from the New Testament
in the Rinuccini chapel, probably by Giovanni da Milano,[32] somewhat
earlier. Orcagna, who next to Giotto possessed the most catholic
spirit of the century, had breathed a fresher and more original life
into the school then dominant. He was followed pre-eminently by the
two last-named masters, who, notwithstanding the duration of the
Giottoesque traditions, herald in the coming epoch.

Not alone the end of the thirteenth, but the onward marching fourteenth
century likewise beheld the establishment of great charitable
institutions. In the year 1377 the building of the hospital was
commenced, which Bonifacio de’ Lupi of Soragna, from Parma, formerly
Podestà and Capitano del Popolo, dedicated as a mark of attachment
to the city which had bestowed its freedom on him. In the course of
centuries it has been much changed, but still exists as the Spedale di
Bonifazio. Seven years later Lemmo Balducci, of Monticatini, founded
the hospital of San Matteo, on the site now occupied by the Academy of
Fine Arts. In 1400 the hospital Sta. Maria dell’Umiltà (San Giovanni
di Dio) was erected by Simone Vespucci, near the houses of his family.
Churches and monasteries followed one another, and, as the enlargement
of the square of the Signory necessitated the demolition of a church,
it was rebuilt in another place. In 1394 Bishop Onofrio Visdomini
consecrated the magnificent charter-house of the Acciaiuoli, which was
established at the public cost. In 1392 the convent Il Paradiso, before
Porta San Nicolò, on the slope of the hill of Arcetri and Miniato, was
founded by Messer Antonio degli Alberti, under the influence of the
excitement created in the ecclesiastical world, then distracted with
the great schism, by the report of the prophecies and piety of Bridget
of Sweden, whose fame extended far beyond Rome, where she passed so
many years of her life. This period showed itself grateful towards
men of merit. In 1393 the directors of San Maria del Fiore received
permission to raise a monument to John Hawkwood, who, as a commander
under the name of Giovanni Aguto, had the thanks of the Republic for
his faithful services. A year later it was resolved to erect in the
same church a monument to the learned and useful public servant, the
Augustine monk Luigi Marsigli. By a decree passed in the year 1396 it
was intended to perpetuate in the same manner the memory of the lawyer
Accursio, Zanobi da Strada, also Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. The
decree was, however, never carried out.

The power of the aristocracy, at the head of which were the Albizzi,
now approached its height. After the unfortunate attempt of 1397 to
obtain some popular balance to this domination, a less violent state of
affairs came gradually about, one manifestation of which was the great
expenditure of money, both by the State and private individuals, in the
prosecution of important and valuable works. This activity renders the
period worthy to be compared with the end of the previous century, and
formed a new epoch in the history of art. It was formerly the custom
to associate the name of the Medici with the outburst of the Italian
Renaissance, and likewise with the height of its perfection at the
beginning of the fifteenth century. They had, however, only followed in
the footsteps of their predecessors the Albizzi, and Pope Julius II.

The stages of the progress of the Renaissance are visible, in following
the history of art, from Benci di Cione, to Brunellesco, from Orcagna
and Alberto d’Arnoldo to Ghiberti and Donatello, from Orcagna again,
Spinello, and Nicolò di Pietro, to Masolino and Masaccio. In the
province of architecture, classical art entered again upon its rights
under the influence of the new spirit. Brunellesco, who, while in his
native town, had fixed his attention on Roman edifices, accustomed his
eye when in Rome to the large dimensions and simple yet harmonious
forms of ancient art. The Italian Gothic, which is not of one cast, but
more or less dependent upon the older forms of art, must, in comparison
with the latter, appear arbitrary in its character. Yet the classical
principle obtained by no means an easy victory. The greatest work
of the period, the dome of Sta. Maria del Fiore, is the result of a
compromise, which under the circumstances was unavoidable, between the
traditions of two epochs, and between the characters of two different
tendencies. The requirements both of a strict division and demarcation
of masses, and the perception of grand beauty and ample space had also
to be reconciled. So in other branches of art the Gothic style asserted
itself for a length of time by the side of the new tendency.

In February 1393 a commission was first appointed for the building of
the dome, the sacristy, and the canonica of the cathedral.[33] But
it was a full quarter of a century before the work was fairly begun.
On August 19, 1418, the famous competition, which has since been
celebrated in a novel, was invited for models of the dome. On November
14, 1419, a commission of ‘Officiales Cupolæ’ was appointed, consisting
of four of the principal citizens. April 16, 1420, the office of
_Proveditores_ was conferred on Filippo Brunelleschi, Lorenzo Ghiberti
and Battista d’Antonio; and on August 12, 1434, it was resolved that
the lantern with which the dome was to be closed should be built after
Brunellesco’s model. The lantern was, however, only completed in 1462,
sixteen years after the great artist’s death.[34] The greatest and
most complex work of modern architecture belongs consequently to the
time when the Albizzis held power. Meanwhile many other buildings
were undertaken. In 1411 an illustrious citizen, Nicolò Davanzati
Bostichi, began the construction of the convent S. Michele of Doccia,
near Fiesole, which, built against the dark background of the wooded
hillside, can be seen far and wide. In 1416 the plan for the rebuilding
of San Lorenzo was sketched out; in 1421 the great foundling hospital
of the Innocents, with its beautiful portico on the Piazzi of the
Annunziata, was begun; and twelve years later Sto. Spirito, the two
latter after Brunellesco’s designs. Notwithstanding some defects, owing
chiefly to the difficulty, imperfectly surmounted, of continuing the
colonnade from the nave through the transept and choir, and to the
unsuitability of the dome to this form, Sto. Spirito is the finest
example of the independent adoption of the Roman basilica style for
modern ecclesiastical architecture. Sta. Maria Novella was consecrated
September 8, 1420, by Pope Martin V., for whom a part of the adjoining
convent had been converted into a dwelling the year before. This
was followed the next day by the consecration of Sta. Maria Nuova
(Sant’Egidio) by Cardinal Antonio Correr, Bishop of Bologna, to
which ceremony the frescoes refer with which Bicci di Lorenzo, who
superintended the building, adorned the façade under the modern portico
of the present day.

Filippo degli Scolari, who, under the name of Pippo Spano, had been
influential in Hungary in the days of King Sigismund, ordered upon
his death, in 1426, the construction, by Brunellesco, of a great
central building for the Camaldolensians of the Angeli, but it went
no further than a portion of the vast octagon, which was vulgarly
called _Il Castellaccio_.[35] The Place of the Signory was still too
small, and the wish to procure more space for the palace on the south
side occasioned the demolition in 1410 of a side-aisle of San Piero
Scheraggio. This church, after being gradually more and more mutilated,
made way a century and a half later for the edifice of the Uffizi, by
whom this quarter of the city, in which streets and houses were crowded
together down to the river-side, was completely transformed.

The splendour and beauty of the public buildings necessarily influenced
the construction of private dwellings. The narrow houses, lofty in
proportion to their base, fell gradually into disuse, the more as the
city, which had been considerably enlarged, afforded greater space.
The beginning of the fifteenth century, which reached its climax in
the Florentine palaces, turned the scale in this respect; but, as
already remarked in the introduction, the mediæval traditions were
here more faithfully adhered to than in ecclesiastical architecture.
Moreover, a sense of timidity in passing certain limits existed in this
case, which was connected with the circumstances of a free republic.
This feeling has been recognised in Cosmo de’ Medici, and will be
found again in Filippo Strozzi. We are reminded of the same fact
even in the following century by the history of the Bartoline house
on the Piazza Sta. Trinità, the door and window frames of which were
considered unsuitable for a private dwelling, though they were soon to
appear simple enough. In earlier times, too, there were large private
houses, but their number appears to have been inconsiderable. In the
first decade of the fifteenth century several were erected, which we
still behold essentially in their original form. The house of Nicolò
da Uzzano in Via de’ Bardi, already mentioned, built probably about
1420, is of large proportions, but perfectly plain, and without any
sign of the modern spirit. The palace of the Bardi family in Via del
Fosso indicates, both by its straight-sided façade and by the square
courtyard with the antique arrangement of the columns, the innovations
of the new style; while the broad, projecting, wooden roof and the
plain windows recall an earlier time. On the Trinity bridge the houses
of the Capponi and Gianfigliazzi retain something of the ancient style.
In the seventeenth century the interior of the house of the Albizzi,
the residence of Piero, Maso, Rinaldo, was rebuilt. This building is
in the street named after them, in which palace follows palace, though
the full effect is lost, owing to the narrow space. The exterior bears,
however, decidedly the mark of time, which is still more the case with
the neighbouring palace of the Alessandri.

The streets were mostly paved with flagstones (_lastrico_), even in
the suburbs—a custom which gradually replaced the causeways of tiles
(_ammattonato_) or of small stones (_selciato_); and when adopted
in the smaller Tuscan towns contributed to give them a clean and
well-to-do appearance. Even before the end of the thirteenth century
this kind of pavement is said to have been used. The stones were
procured from the hill of San Giorgio, adjoining the city on the left
bank of the river, and the immediate neighbourhood, as well as from
the quarries of Fiesole and Golfolina, already mentioned. For a long
time the stones were left in their polygonal quarry form, until in
recent times it was preferred to hew them square. The laborious and
costly work required by a strong and perfectly uniform embankment to
the sewers of the city would progress but slowly. It was placed under
the careful superintendence of the commissariat officials (_officiales
grasciæ_), to whom was especially entrusted the charge of those streets
in which the Barbary-horse races took place.[36] The paving of the
Place of the Annunziata—the centre of which remains, however, at the
present day unpaved, like those of Sta. Maria Novella, San Marco,
and others—was first undertaken, in 1421, by the Servite monks, who
solicited subsidies for the purpose, in consideration of the crowds
which thronged to the miraculous image in their church.

It is comprehensible that the noticeable revolution in architecture
should likewise affect the sister arts. Here, however, we encounter in
the first rank two artistic characters essentially differing from one
another. With Lorenzo Ghiberti the influence of the school of Giotto
is very perceptible, and in the reliefs, his master-pieces, he allows
the picturesque principle to predominate to a certain extent, and with
a careful calculation of the effect, which to some degree surpasses
the ability or courage of the painter so active in his youth. The
attitudes and drapery, however, of Ghiberti’s figures are in harmony
with the spirit of antiquity which had inspired Nicolò Pisano more
than a century and a half earlier. The full outbreak of realism in
conception and form is displayed in the somewhat younger Donatello,
who, unpoetical and less imaginative than Ghiberti, depends for
models rather upon real, if even less beautiful, nature, than upon
works of antiquity, of which, indeed, Rome afforded him but scanty
and doubtful specimens. Both were goldsmiths, whose art had at that
time reached a high degree of perfection, and was distinguished by the
production of great works. It was the profession which Brunellesco had
originally followed, and for centuries remained connected with that
of the sculptor. In 1408 Ghiberti, then only twenty-two, received the
commission for his first bronze door of the Baptistery, the completion
of which required more than twenty years. In 1414 he executed the
statue of St. John, and six years later that of St. Matthew, for two
niches on the exterior of the ground-floor of Or San Michele, the
sculptural adornment of which, at the cost of the guilds, had been
determined upon in 1406. In 1424 the execution of the second door of
the Baptistery was entrusted to him, which was finished twenty-eight
years after, three years before his death. One work of less importance
remains from the year 1428—the bronze chest executed for the brothers
Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici for the reception of the relics belonging
to the Camaldulensian convent of the Angeli.[37] In 1411 Donatello
began the statue of St. Mark, which he produced, together with that of
St. Peter, for Or San Michele; about 1420 he began the monument for
Pope John XXIII.; and in 1427 he was commissioned by the Medici to
execute the monument of Cardinal Rinaldo Brancacci for Naples. His most
excellent work in respect to lightness and grace, and which is without
a touch of the heaviness so often characteristic of him, is the statue
of St. George for Or San Michele. The date of the production of this
work can as little be determined as that of the excellent figures of
the Prophets which adorn the niches on the belfry of Sta. Maria del

In painting the spirit of realism gained the victory much more slowly,
and to a far less extent. Even when this victory had been obtained
in Florence, the softer feeling and typical form derived from Giotto
prevailed in other parts of central and upper Italy in peculiar and
flourishing schools. Not long before Masaccio had begun his frescoes in
the Brancacci chapel in the Carmine, which was consecrated in 1422, the
Camaldulensian Don Lorenzo had painted his beautiful pictures, which
still represent the tendency of the previous century, although with a
freshness and freedom far superior to the later Giottesque style. And
Fra Angelico da Fiesole, who in 1407 entered the Dominican cloister of
the little town whence he derived his name, remained his whole life
long true to the tradition to which he has given the consecration of
gentle poverty, pious fervency, religious sensibility, and at the same
time, _naïve_ simplicity. Not even Gentile da Fabriano, a son of the
Anconite border, who was gifted with a more lively natural feeling and
graceful freshness and serenity, and in 1421 had himself inscribed in
the list of Florentine painters, succeeded in breaking through this
narrow circle, which did not afford sufficient scope to the creative
power of the new spirit of art. Masaccio has given expression to this
spirit in a manner which has served as example to the most highly
developed periods, by uniting the most true, lifelike, and varied
expression with free but nobly naturalistic form. The artists who stand
more or less under the influence of Masaccio, and also of the modern
plastic art, belong chiefly to the period which we shall contemplate
further on.

Thus had the city of Florence, when the fifteenth century entered on
its fourth decade, developed in both severe and graceful beauty, under
the influence of an art which, notwithstanding foreign traditions,
was, nevertheless, in its peculiarity and luxuriance, the growth of
its own soil. In external appearance, likewise, Florence was the
city of a rich, active, sovereign republic, which sought its honour
rather in the grandeur and brilliancy of its public buildings, both
for ecclesiastical and secular purposes, than in the luxury of private
houses. The city was at once munificent and thrifty, and, through
all change, however precipitate, held firmly by old tradition, as
was expressed by the prevailing similarity of the character of the
architecture, notwithstanding the development of successive styles.
Most of the streets were and remained narrow, the number of large
squares was inconsiderable, but these streets were well paved, when
in Rome people waded for years longer in the deep mire and dust of
streets provided only with a tile causeway on each side. The greater
number of houses were built of massive stone. The number of projecting
upper storeys which darkened the streets had lessened more and more in
the course of years. Some restriction was put on this mode of building
by the imposition of a tax, which in Giovanni Villani’s time brought
in 7,000 florins. Subsequently, however, it was expressly forbidden
by law, and under the first Duke many of the projecting storeys were
pulled down, so that their number is now proportionally small. A
greater evil was the projection of the roofs over the street, but this
was not removed till 1766. Although no fortress was assigned to the
chief magistrate of the city, he was provided with a secure residence,
and one befitting the dignity of his position. The boundary wall of
Florence was a remarkable work. It enclosed the foremost height on the
left bank of the river, and was fortified with towers. The gates were
magnificent, among which that of St. Nicolò, with its projecting double
storey, offers an example of its kind as the only one in complete
preservation since the transformation undertaken in the sixteenth

The frame to the beautiful picture was afforded by the environs. As at
the present day, so in late mediæval times, the city seemed to extend
on every side into the plain, as well as up into the neighbouring
mountains which skirted the flowery plain watered by the Arno. At the
gates were hospitals and lazarettos for the sick and for pilgrims,
particularly for all whose residence in the city seemed unadvisable,
such as lepers and other sufferers from skin diseases. These charitable
institutions were founded chiefly in the fourteenth century, and owe
their origin to the benevolence of wealthy citizens and the companies.
There were, moreover, convents, which were increased in number and
extent from year to year, some of them situated immediately before the
walls, some on the hills by the bridges leading across the streams
and brooks of Mugnone, Terzolle, Mensola, Ema, and Greve. Celebrated
names are connected with the history of many of these foundations. We
may mention that of Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, who founded in
1260 the nunnery of Monticelli, opposite the Porta Romana; also that
of his relative, the saintly Chiara, who was its first abbess. We may
likewise allude to the family of the Acciaiuoli, who, both in politics
and in Church history, played so great a part in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries. Even in Dante’s time numerous villas had risen,
and one of these reminds us of the poet himself—the one in possession
of his family before Porta Pinti, where the ground rises towards
Fiesole; while the graceful narrator of the fourteenth century brings
country life in the Florentine environs in bright pictures before us.
The number of villas already foreshadowed the time in which Ludovico
Ariosto sang; they would exceed a twofold Rome if enclosed by a wall.
The necessities of the period converted many convents and villas into
fortresses, and many have retained their castellated character, as San
Miniato, the Charterhouse, and Passignano, the villa of Petraja, the
former villa of Salviati at the base of the hill of Fiesole, Castle
Pulci on the left bank of the Arno below the town, and Torre del Gallo
on the hill of Arcetri; not to speak of the mountain fortresses of a
more ancient period, as Castle Vincigliata on the eastern hills, which
has been restored in modern times. Such fastnesses rendered good
service when, in 1363 and 1364, the Pisans pressed up to the walls with
their foreign mercenaries, and stormed the gates. While the German
mercenaries under the lord of Bongard, and the English under Hawkwood,
at that time an adversary, saw the villas on the hills of Montughi,
Bellosguardo, Arcetri, and Pozzolatico perish in flames, they could
not touch the Charterhouse; and from the strong tower of Petraja the
Brunelleschi, the possessors of the villa, courageously repulsed the
attack of the English. In March 1397, the Abbot of Passignano withstood
the troops of Alberigo of Barbiano, who had come to Pisa in the service
of the Visconti, and laid waste the Florentine territory. Even in later
times security from surprise was as much considered in the construction
of a villa as picturesque effect and artistic adornment.



THE large sums which were continually expended by the Government as
well as the citizens of Florence, from the middle of the thirteenth
century, for public objects—such as the enlargement, fortification,
and embellishment of the city, for palaces and the residences of
officers of the State, bridges and streets, churches and convents,
hospitals and charitable institutions—would lead us to infer pecuniary
means apparently out of proportion with the extent and resources
of the territory and the site of the town, excluded as it was from
the unrestricted use of the sea route till far into the fifteenth
century. The great industrial activity and unusual intelligence of
the inhabitants profited by favourable and conquered unfavourable
circumstances so far, that while the Pisans still commanded the port
which bore the name of their town, and was afterwards replaced by that
of Leghorn—while Lucca possessed the harbour of Motrone, and Siena
that of Talamone, and could thus shut out the inland state from the
sea—the trade and industry of Florence had long surpassed theirs.
The political importance attained by the great guilds so soon after
their institution shows how firmly rooted was their power, even at
the commencement of their existence, and that they really represented
the most respected and affluent part of the community. We are vividly
reminded of these corporations when we stand before the magnificent
building of Or San Michele, or, at the eastern end of the Piazza della
Signoria, gaze upon the arms graven in stone upon the residence of the
Magistrate of Trade, who had to decide in all disputes and questions
of competition between the magistrates of the different guilds. Four
of these guilds come under consideration when we treat of industrial
and commercial activity on a large scale—viz., the cloth-weavers,
merchants or traders in foreign cloth, silk-weavers, and money-changers.

The woollen manufacture arose perhaps earliest of all, to satisfy
one of the most important demands; and though it is doubtful whether
native productions are spoken of in a Lucchese document of the year
840 respecting woollen and silk goods, we certainly do not err in the
inference that Florence knew and practised this branch of industry
at least from the time of her political rise, after the death of
the Countess Matilda. In the beginning of the following century,
a corporation of cloth-weavers existed, whose consuls signed a
treaty of peace between their fellow-citizens and Siena in the year
1202. Thirty-seven years later, this branch of industry received an
important accession from the Lombard order of the Humiliates, founded
by Bishop Pietro Manadori. They settled first in the neighbourhood
of the city, where the extensive buildings and gardens of the Villa
San Donato are now to be seen, and finally, removed in 1256, to the
monastery of Ognissanti, where they were long actively employed in
their own interests and the welfare of the community who protected
them, and did much to promote and perfect the woollen manufacture. On
the neighbouring banks of the Arno arose workshops, houses for dyeing
and washing wool, warehouses and booths of these brethren, who also
aided essentially in the draining and cultivation of a somewhat marshy
district. By the time the useful activity of the order slackened (about
1330 it entirely ceased), the Florentines had learnt all they could
teach, and the city was full of cloth-weavers, as the names of several
streets still remind us. From the ordinary kinds of cloth, with which
they began, when the finer still came from the Levant, they advanced
to better and best qualities, and strict regulations after the fashion
of the guilds in the Middle Ages, certainly not to the disadvantage
of the producers and their wares, guaranteed their excellence. The
extensive sale and higher prices testified to their value. The wool was
imported principally from France and Flanders, and also in considerable
quantity from England and Scotland, especially from the wealthy abbeys
and convents; and in the eighth decade of the thirteenth century we
hear of Florentine agents in London buying up the wool for several
years in advance. These agents stood in connection with no less than
two hundred convents.[38]

In close and varied connection with the Arte della Lana was that of
the Mercatanti, usually called Arte di Calimala, the oldest statutes
of which date from 1339. As the native cloth manufacture did not
suffice for the demand, and at first only supplied ordinary kinds,
French and Flemish cloth was imported from abroad in great quantity,
in a raw state, to Florence, where it was dyed, shorn and dressed, and
returned to foreign countries, often to the place whence it had come.
The skill of the dyers and other workmen in Florence, whose processes
long remained a carefully guarded secret, made this profitable trade
a monopoly until the rise of manufactures in the western countries of
Europe. The guild had its representatives, couriers, settlements, and
hostelries in France. It is clear that only the most conscientious
honesty could sustain their credit, wherefore the strictest statutes
respecting the different qualities of the cloth, the dyeing, and all
other things to be taken into consideration, regulated the manufacture
as well as the sale. The dyers formed a special guild, which, however,
was subordinate to the consuls of Calimala, to whom also, rather
singularly, the gold and silver smiths were subject. Another guild
belonging to that of the Arte della Lana was that of the washers and
combers of wool, which still exists as Compagnia dei Battilani, and
has its meeting-place in Via delle Ruote, near Via San Gallo. Its
church, whose sacristy is adorned by the portrait of Michele di Lando,
was publicly exhibited every year on the feast of the Assumption of
the Virgin, the high festival of the company. That such subordinate
connections gave rise to misunderstandings in troublous times, and that
new guilds arose without being able to maintain themselves permanently,
has been already stated.

In the year 1338 the number of workshops (_botteghe_) of the clothiers’
guild amounted to more than 200, which supplied from seventy to eighty
thousand pieces of cloth at the price of 1,200,000 gold florins, the
third of which sum at least remained in the city as workmen’s wages,
not to mention the profits of cloth merchants. The number of workmen
amounted to 30,000. In the first years of this century the number of
workshops had been a third more, and that of the pieces of cloth above
100,000; but the quality and price were lower, as they had not then
the excellent English wool. The number of the magazines (_fondachi_)
of the Calimala guild amounted to twenty. These imported yearly more
than 10,000 pieces of foreign cloth, to the worth of 300,000 gold
florins, for sale in the city itself, besides those which were again
exported.[39] Among the proprietors of such magazines, we find the
names Acciaiuoli, Alberti, Albizzi, Bardi, Buonaccorsi, Capponi,
Corsini, Peruzzi, Pucci, Ricci, Ridolfi, Rinuccini—names which are
mentioned a hundred times in the annals of the city, and which mostly
are still heard there. Even in the second half of the thirteenth
century, and therefore some time before their political power, these
two guilds were very active in France, and we find their agents in
1281, beside those of the Genoese in Nismes, where, fifteen years
later, we meet with the representatives of the trading companies of
the Cerchi, Mozzi, Spini, Scali, and Folchi. In 1325, Filippo Villani
and Cione di Lapo Ghini conducted the business of the Peruzzi and the
Scali as Florentine consuls at Paris. The great fairs of Beaucaire and
Forcalquier, with those of Provins, Lagny, Troyes, Bar-sur-Aube, etc.,
were of the greatest importance for this branch of industry.[40] In
Italy, Venice was an important emporium for this trade, for Germany
and Hungary as well as for the Levant. Till a few years ago, the
extensive barn-like building which served for the dyeing and washing
of the wool was still to be seen on the Lung’arno above the Uffizi;
and on several palaces we still see the rings for holding the wooden
staves on which the woollen fabrics were hung out as an indication that
the houses belonged to the guild. The guild-hall of the Arte della
Lana was the present Canonica of Or San Michele, where the coat of
arms—the lamb with the flag, and the comb with the lily above it, in
a blue field—still reminds one of its former destination, as well as
an inscription of the date of 1308. The guild-hall of the Calimala,
which had as a device a golden eagle standing over a ball of wool in
a red field, stood in the little street leading from the Piazza della
Signoria to the New Market, which is now called Calimaruzza: though it
was converted into private houses after the abolition of the guild, the
old devices may still be seen upon them. The street leading from the
New to the Old Market still preserves the name Calimala, respecting
the origin of which only untenable conjectures exist, and which in
its present aspect reminds us as little as does any part of the whole
centre of the old city of the former flourishing state of the trade.[41]

Of no less importance, and perhaps hardly less ancient than the cloth
manufactures, was the weaving of silk, which, after its introduction
into Sicily by King Roger, had been in a short time transplanted to
Central Italy, if, indeed, it was not previously cultivated in Lucca.
Of all the great branches of industry of the Middle Ages, this is the
only one which has preserved a certain importance down to our day.
The Arte della Seta was usually called the Por Sta. Maria, after the
St. Mary’s Gate, or Porta Regina, opposite the Ponte Vecchio, at the
entrance of the street still called Via di Por Sta. Maria (usually
Mercato Nuovo), where the former guild-hall still stands, near the
church of Sta. Maria sopra Porta, in the Via di Capaccio, distinguished
by the coat of arms, a closed red door in a white field. The
silk-weavers appear already, in the twelfth and oftener still in the
thirteenth century, as a corporation in public acts and treaties, in
the conclusions of peace and other compacts. In the list of the masters
of the guild in the year 1225 their number is given as more than 350,
and probably they had even then statutes; but the oldest still extant
date from 1335, and therefore from a time when this industry seems to
have attained considerable importance under the Guelfs from Lucca, who
had emigrated to Florence in great numbers in 1316. The dyeing of silk
was pursued here with great skill, and in particular the crimsoned
tissue stood in high reputation in the fourteenth century. We shall
speak later of the most brilliant epoch, the fifteenth century. The
Vicolo della Seta, in the vicinity of the former hall, and the Via de’
Velluti, on the left bank of the river, near Via Maggio, where numerous
silk-weavers and other mechanics originally lived, and where the still
flourishing family of the Velluti took its rise, remind us of their
former great activity.[42]

Though the branches of industry we have mentioned contributed much
to increase the wealth of the Florentine people, and make their
name famous in foreign lands, they were not the chief source of
national wealth. The business of money-changing seemed thoroughly at
home here, and it is not surprising that the invention of bills of
exchange, which we first meet with in 1199 in the relations between
England and Italy, should be ascribed to Florence. The money trade
seems to have flourished as early as the twelfth century, towards
the end of which a Marquis of Ferrara raised money on his lands
from the Florentines. In 1204 we find the money-changers as one of
the corporations. In 1228, and probably from the beginning of the
century, several Florentines were settled in London as changers to
King Henry III.; and here, as in France, they conducted the money
transactions of the Papal chair in conjunction with the Sienese. Their
oldest known statute, which established rules for the whole conduct
of trade (Statuto dell’Università della Mercatanzia) drawn up by a
commission consisting of five members of the great guilds, is dated
1280. Their guild-hall was in the Via Calimaruzza, opposite that of the
Calimala, and was later included in the buildings of the post-office,
on the site of which, after the post-office had been removed to what
was formerly the mint, a building was lately erected, similar in
architecture to the Palazzo of the Signoria, which stands opposite.
Their coat of arms displayed gold coins laid one beside another on
a red field. At the end of the thirteenth century their activity,
especially in France and England, was extraordinarily great. But if
wealth surpassing all previous conception was attained, it not seldom
involved loss of repute, and those who pursued the calling ran the
risk of immense losses from fiscal measures to the carrying out of
which they themselves contributed, as well as those which were caused
by insolvency or dishonesty. These losses would indeed have ruined the
trade and credit of the Florentines in the fourteenth century, had
not their resources been so varied, and their intelligent activity
so great. The names of Tuscans and Lombards, and that of Cahorsiens
in France, no longer indicated the origin, but the trade of the
money-changers, who drew down the ancient hatred upon themselves which
the _fœneratores_ had incurred from too frequently confounding usury
with rightful gains. It is this which the _Divina Commedia_ describes
where it speaks of shadows sitting mournfully shielding themselves
from the glow of vapours with their hands, and with bags round their
necks on which they feed their eyes.[43] France possessed at this time
the greatest attraction for the Florentine money-makers, although they
were sometimes severely oppressed, which is sufficient proof that
their winnings were still greater than their occasional losses. In
1277, they, with other Italians, were obliged to compound for a sum of
120,000 gold florins, when King Philip III. took advantage of a decree
of the Council to proceed against the usurers, a manœuvre which Philip
IV. the Fair repeated fourteen years later.

If Florentines suffered among those prosecuted by this king for
‘money coining on the Seine,’[44] Florentines certainly aided him in
other extortions and dishonesties in France and in Flanders, and it
was the bank of the Peruzzi which paid the sum by means of which the
constables of Philip the Fair, and chief among them the Tuscan knight
and financier Musciatto Franzesi, accomplished the attempt on Pope
Boniface VIII. in 1303 at Anagni.[45] New oppressions arose under
Philip VI., in whose person the line of Valois ascended the French
throne. He not only again debased the coinage for the necessities of
the English war, but also extorted a heavy forced loan from all foreign
merchants and bankers, and furthermore assisted the Duke of Athens,
after his expulsion, in his reprisals against the Florentine trade. But
notwithstanding all partial losses, and the great catastrophes which
befell the Florentine trade in the same century, it remained, even
in the following, mistress of the French money transactions, and, in
certain respects, of French trade.

The Florentine money market suffered the severest blow from England.
At the end of the twelfth century there were already Florentine houses
of exchange in London, and if Pisans, Genoese, and Venetians managed
the trade by sea in the times of the Crusades, it was the Florentines
mostly who looked after financial affairs in connection with the Papal
chair, as we have seen. Numerous banks appeared about the middle of the
thirteenth century, among which the Frescobaldi, a family of ancient
nobility, and as such attainted by the prosecutions against it, took
the lead, and were referred to the custom-house of the country for
re-imbursement of the loans made to the kings Edward I. and II. Later,
the two great trading companies of the Bardi and Peruzzi came into
notice, and with their money Edward III. began the French war against
Philip of Valois. But even in the first year of this war, which began
with an unsuccessful attack upon Flanders, the king suspended the
payments to the creditors of the State by a decree of May 6, 1339. The
advances made by the Bardi amounted to 180,000 marks sterling, those
of the Peruzzi to above 135,000, according to Giovanni Villani,[46]
who knew only too well about these things, since he was ruined by them
himself to the extent of ‘a sum of more than 1,355,000 gold florins,
equivalent to the value of a kingdom.’ Bonifazio Peruzzi, the head of
the house, hastened to London, where he died of grief in the following
year. The blow fell on the whole city, for, as may be supposed,
numerous families were interested in the business of the great houses,
which not only counted a number of partners or shareholders, but had
also money from all sides, from the city and from foreign countries,
to keep as deposits or to invest profitably. The injury to credit was
very threatening. In the year 1326, the fall of one of the oldest and
most important of the banking companies, that of the Scali, Amieri, and
Petri, had occurred just as the war against Castruccio, the lord of
Lucca, took an evil turn. But the position of affairs was now far more
critical. Both houses began at once to liquidate, and the prevailing
disturbance contributed not a little to the early success of the
ambitious plans of the Duke of Athens. The real bankruptcy ensued,
however, in January 1346, when new losses had occurred in Sicily on
account of the measures of the French Government which we have already
mentioned. The banks of the Acciaiuoli, Bonaccorsi, Cocchi, Antellesi,
Corsini, da Uzzano, Perendoli, and many smaller ones, as well as
numerous private persons, were involved in the ruin. ‘The immense
loans to foreign sovereigns,’ adds Villani, ‘drew down ruin upon our
city, the like of which it had never known.’ There was a complete lack
of cash. Estates in the city found no purchasers at a third of their
former value; those in the country were disposed of at two-thirds their
value, and fell even lower than this. The chronicler who gives us this
sad information was imprisoned for debt on account of the failure of
the Bonaccorsi, whose partner he was.

As the first result of these misfortunes was the impoverishment of
numerous families, the community at large was soon involved in it; as
the revenues diminished quickly with the public affluence, money was
only to be obtained at unheard-of usurious interest, and the _prestige_
of the Florentine trade lost considerably in foreign countries.
The famine and pestilence of 1347 and 1348, the oppressions of the
mercenary bands and the heavy expenses caused by them, the cost of the
war against Pope Gregory XI., and finally the tumult of the Ciompi,
left Florence no peace for a long time. The aristocracy, which came
into power in 1382, at last succeeded in restoring the equilibrium,
opening new resources to industry and trade, and rendering the old
connections again secure. Thus, at the beginning of the fifteenth
century industry was again flourishing in all its branches in Florence,
financial operations were extended, and foreign countries filled with
Florentine banks and mercantile houses. After the fall of Pisa the
last restrictions on navigation were removed, and it was no longer
necessary, as in past times, to hire French vessels in Aiguesmortes
for conveyance to the insecure and small roadsteads of Motrone or
Pietrasanta, or to conclude treaties with the Sienese for the use of
the bad and pestilential harbour of Talamone. The number of Florentine
settlements and offices had been already very considerable a century
earlier. In London the most important firms had their representatives,
Bruges was the chief place for Flanders, and we shall see how these
connections lasted to the time of the greatest splendour of the
Medici. France is frequently mentioned. The official representatives
of the Florentine nation resided in the capital, while numerous
houses established themselves in Lyons, in Avignon (since the removal
of the Papal chair to this town), in Nismes, Narbonne, Carcassonne,
Marseilles, &c. Large transactions were made in Upper Italy at Venice
and Genoa, at Castel di Castro in Sardinia, in Apulia, Barletta, and at
Palermo in the island of Sicily; Rome and Naples saw in the fifteenth
century the greater part of the banking business and a considerable
portion of other trade in Florentine hands. There were Florentine
colonies in Majorca, at Tunis, at Chiarenza in the Morea, in Rhodes
under the supremacy of the Knights of St. John, and in Cyprus under
that of Guy de Lusignan; while Florentine merchants carried trade into
Asia Minor, Armenia, the Crimea, far into Central Asia and Northern
China. The house of the Peruzzi alone had sixteen counting-houses in
the fourteenth century, from London to Cyprus.

The prudence and careful calculation which were in general
characteristic of the Florentine trade prevailed in everything relating
to the transmission and receipt of money and the term of payments.
Not only have we general rules from Balducci Pegolotti, in the first
thirty years of the fourteenth century, as to how they should proceed
in calculating the money to be paid abroad, but detailed notes on the
fluctuations of the money market in consequence of fairs, expeditions
of galleys, regular proceedings of the State, purchase of wool, etc.,
in the most important places, as Naples, Genoa, Bologna, Venice,
Avignon, Paris, Bruges, Barcelona, etc. The Papal court, with which
such extensive business was pursued—whether Rome or Avignon, or for
the time another town, were its residence—seemed to the experienced
Florentine to deserve especial remark. ‘Wherever the Pope goes, money
is dear, because from all sides one has to pay so much to him. When he
goes away, an ebb sets in, because the members of his court, if they
are not rich, must borrow.’ The times when the bills fell due were
regulated generally by the distance. An order drawn at Florence on
Pisa or Venice was due on the fifth day after the money was paid in;
in Rome and Genoa it was the fifteenth day; in Naples the twentieth;
in Provence, Majorca, and France, the sixtieth; in Flanders the
seventieth; in England the seventy-fifth; and in Spain, after three
months. The contracting parties could, however, make arrangements at
will.[47] According to the report of an annalist,[48] seventy-two
exchange houses and tables were counted in Florence, in the Mercato
Nuovo and its vicinity, in the year 1422, and the sum of money in
circulation was calculated at two millions of gold florins; while the
value of the wares, the letters of credit, and other property defied

While industry and trade had accumulated great wealth in Florence, the
spirit of the community accorded well with it. In spite of the many
wars and other disturbances the city rose to such prosperity in the
first decades of the fourteenth century (when its territory included
only Pistoja, Colle, and Arezzo, and therefore scarcely a third of
Tuscany in later times) that Giovanni Villani could remark in 1336-1338
that her revenues exceeded those of the kings of Naples, of Sicily,
and of Aragon. With all the changes after the rise of the new wealthy
families at the beginning of the century the style of living had
remained simple, and even continued so after the luxury of the court of
Anjou, partly supported by Florentine money, had affected Florentine
manners unfavourably; yet there was no stinting for public works. The
citizens were in general beneficent: the number and importance of the
charitable institutions prove it. As with the Government, so with the
corporations, a lively sense was always displayed of the dignity and
grandeur of the city and community. And even if that oft-mentioned
decree of the republic of the year 1294,[49] according to which the
architect Arnolfo shall be charged to design the model of a cathedral
church ‘of such splendour that human power should be unable to invent
anything grander or more beautiful, in consideration that a people of
noble origin ought so to arrange its affairs that even in the exterior
works a wise and lofty mind may be recognised’—even if this decree
appears to be a production of the sixteenth instead of the thirteenth
century, there are not wanting reliable records which announce the same
spirit, and, still more, works which testify to it. In the year 1296,
legacies in aid of this church were made a duty for every one; notaries
were obliged to enjoin them in drawing up wills, and omissions were
punished.[50] In 1338 the community granted subsidies for this same
building, ‘that a work so beautifully and honourably begun might be
continued and completed still more beautifully, and the grants made
by the community appear liberal and considerable.’ When a pavement for
the Piazza della Signoria was ordered in June 1351 it was especially
insisted upon that the dignity and importance of the whole town were
concerned, as well as the stateliness and beauty of the palace of the
chief magistrate of state. When in August 1373 the public reading and
exposition of the _Divina Commedia_ was applied for and permitted, the
petitioners assigned as the ground of their request the wish that,
even if otherwise unlearned, they themselves, their fellow-citizens,
children, and posterity, be instructed in eloquence, guided to virtue,
and warned against vice. When in 1409 the fabrication of the bronze
gates of the shrine of St. Zanobius was entrusted to Lorenzo Ghiberti,
it was said that he must have regard to the ancient veneration for the
saint, as well as to the high dignity of the community, and respect to
the cathedral in which this work was to have the most honourable place
possible allotted to it. At the first mention of the building of the
Foundling Hospital, begun in 1421 at the expense of the silk-weavers’
company, it is remarked that ‘this beautiful building is destined
for the reception of those whose father and mother have maliciously
forsaken them, contrary to the rights of nature.’ As the silk guild
here, so was the woollen guild in Sta. Maria del Fiore entrusted with
the guidance of the works, beside the regular building committee (Opera
del Duomo). The share of the companies in the building and decoration
of Or San Michele is repeatedly mentioned. As a matter of course, all
that concerned the adornment of the city, the churches not excepted,
must be subordinate to the requirements of safety and defence. In
1353, when the people were fighting against Giovanni Visconti, and
afterwards, when the enterprise of Cardinal d’Albornoz for regaining
Romagna for the Holy See gave a prospect of unsettled times, and the
disorder of the freebooters led by the Knight of St. John of Montreal
(Fra Moriale) began, the money held in readiness for the bell-tower
was employed in enlisting men. As late as October 1368, when the city
fell to bickerings with the Emperor Charles IV., which were then, as
usual, made use of by the Visconti for the extension of their own power
over Tuscany, and when their mercenary bands penetrated to the gates of
Florence, a decree was passed that the sums destined for the completion
of Sta. Maria del Fiore should be employed for strengthening and
repairing the walls. The architects of the church were soon afterwards
commanded to build a wall along the river, from the Castell Altafronte,
which is still in partial preservation, and which joins the Uffizi,
built in the sixteenth century, to the Rubaconte bridge, and to level
the road ‘as should appear most suitable to the adornment of the city.’

A people which accomplished such great things must have possessed
unusual civic virtues, apart from their more brilliant intellectual
qualities, and spite of the weaknesses and faults which the greatest
of the sons of Florence has scourged in angry love and loving anger. A
despot can in a short time heap splendour on splendour; the activity
of spirit of a popular commonwealth is different and more steady. The
two free States in which we meet with the most perfect expression of
this, Venice and Florence, show that this is not dependent on the form
of government, but on a firm will and clear conception. The Florentine
people combined these in a high degree. In the midst of political
troubles and civil disturbances they constantly advanced; the final
gain was greater than the losses through momentary retrogression,
however violent. The people were contented, frugal, industrious, and
attached at all times to ancient customs. That great changes were
gradually made in customs and modes of life was according to the law
of all ages, and of natural development, though some aspects of it did
not seem the most pleasing. Manners and feelings of those days, which
the Paradiso in the ‘Divina Commedia’ describes with such incomparable
beauty and at the same time with such melancholy, when ‘in the old
encircling walls, Florence was peaceful, moderate, and modest,’ the
‘civic life so calm, so beautiful, the society so reliable,’—a state
of things which the poet closes with the time ‘before Frederic had
fought out his quarrel,’[51]—they indeed lay far behind him who has
lent to their memory form and duration for all future time. But the
greatest change was to come after his death. The influence of the
numerous foreigners, especially the French and Frenchified Neapolitans
who came with the Angevins and their regents, was by no means
beneficial; and the various sumptuary laws which were to restrain the
women point especially to the example set in 1326, by Charles Duke of
Calabria and his consort, Marie of Valois, the parents of the unhappy
Joanna I., with their whole court. Then came the times of the Duke of
Athens; soon after, the pestilence with its evil results, which are
open to all in the stories of the ‘Decamerone.’ Giovanni Villani, who
died in the year 1348, says once that the Florentines of the thirteenth
century in their simple life and poverty achieved more than those of
his time in the midst of their wealth and luxury.

Nevertheless, the age was in many respects simple, and remained so
even after communication had been rendered easier in all directions,
wealth accumulated, and more connections formed. The houses were
simple, with their windows closed, not yet by panes of glass, but by
wooden shutters, with their steep staircases and narrow courtyards;
the furniture and the meals were simple, even of the foremost citizens
and high magistrates; the clothing of the men was simple—and all
this lasted to the fifteenth century, and during a part of it. The
loggie have been already spoken of, in which, about the middle of this
century, important family affairs were still despatched. At weddings
and other family festivals, those who were invited assembled before
the house, which often had not space to hold them all—as may be
easily comprehended, when we find that the statutes of 1415 decreed
that the number of the guests on both sides should not exceed two
hundred. Notwithstanding Dante’s complaint that a father, at the birth
of a daughter, thought with terror on the time of her marriage, the
dowry was still, a century after his time, small in comparison with
the wealth of the family. They saved at home, in order to gain means
for public purposes, for ecclesiastical buildings and endowments,
for beneficent institutions and patriotic festivals. The building
of churches and hospitals came before the expenses for decorating
town-house and villa. The public festivals were brilliant, and united
spiritual and worldly interests. First in rank were those on the day of
John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city, to which all the towns,
villages, and _protégés_ of the territory brought votive offerings, and
races were held in the afternoon, a custom which dated from 1288, when
the Florentines had besieged Arezzo on that day. Races were customary
on other festivals also, either with riders or free horses (_barberi_),
as in the present day in Florence and other towns of Italy. The prizes
consisted of large pieces of gold and silk brocades, called _palio_.
Beside the feast of St. John, in which the whole city with the signoria
and other magistrates took a part, and that on St. Peter’s day, various
others celebrated patriotic events. Thus the feast on St. Romulus’ day
commemorated deliverance from the threatening hordes of Radagaïs; that
on St. Barnabas’ day the victory over the Ghiellines on Campaldino in
1279; that on St. Anne’s day the expulsion of the Duke of Athens; St.
Victor’s day the victory over the Pisans in 1364. Church festivals were
frequently united with mysteries in Carmine, Sto. Spirito, San Felice,
&c.; representations which we find shared in by the highest classes,
and customary even in the second half of the fifteenth century. Various
kinds of amusements took place in the open air; and the history of
the Carraia bridge tells of the accident which occurred on May 1,
1304, when the bridge fell in, during a representation of the infernal
regions by means of a grand apparatus.

May 1, the Calendimaggio, was the high day for the people, and the
green branches on the door-posts have preserved the name of May in
Italian as well as in German (and in English). It was on this day that
Dante first saw Beatrice Portinari at an entertainment for children.
Among the popular festivals were the Epiphany (_Befana_), celebrated
by processions and masquerades, which are still carried on; and the
Ferragosto, the Roman August holidays, where a donkey-race took place,
with a buffalo-race as counterpart. Public games in which physical
strength and, still more, agility were brought into play, delighted
high and low. Among these were _calcio_ and _maglio_: the first of
which was played on the large oblong square, afterwards shut in by
rows of houses which bears the name of Prato d’Ognissanti; the latter
in the vicinity of the Piazza San Marco, where the Via del Maglio
still reminds us of it. In the one game the feat consisted in throwing
a ball with the hand; in the other it was propelled by a wooden
hammer weighted with iron. We shall speak farther on of the tourneys,
exercises, and festivals of the high, and the merry popular gatherings
of the _potenze_. There was never a lack of music. The trumpeters and
other musicians of the Signoria were never absent from any procession,
and cheerful tunes accompanied every festival. Boccaccio’s tales
and the frescoes in the Camposanto of Pisa show how music formed an
integral part of social life. The most renowned instrumental performer
who flourished in the second half of the fourteenth century, Francesco
Landino, enchanted all by his delicate performances on the harpsichord,
even in his old age and blindness.

Such were life and manners in the times preceding the rise of the
Medici to power. The original simplicity no longer existed, and could
no longer exist; but, in the tone and conduct of public as well as
private life, the good old traditions still retained their influence.
When the Romans and Neapolitans mocked at the frugal habits of the
Florentines, the Florentine, seeing the anarchy and degeneracy of the
former, and the effeminacy and instability of the latter, could point
to his beautiful city, and the order in his private life, in which,
though everything was conducted with the most scrupulous economy, the
necessaries of life, and, in many cases, its luxuries, were always
to be found. In Florence we find no Roman and no Neapolitan in trade
and industry; but in both Naples and Rome, the principal business
was in the hands of the Florentines, whose gains were profitable to
their native city. Among these, in the fourteenth century, none was so
conspicuous as Niccolò Acciaiuoli, who became a great and influential
man at the court of Anjou, and lord of extensive possessions in Apulia
and Greece, but whose heart belonged to his native city, in the
neighbourhood of which he prepared his family vault. The heroic times
of the Farinata, Cavalcanti, and Donati were past; but the Florentine
of the later times combined the citizen and the great lord, the
merchant, statesman, and patron of art, in a harmonious whole, to a
degree never surpassed by the denizen of any other country.



COSIMO DE’ MEDICI was a man of mature age when his father died. Born
on September 27, 1389, the day of the saints Cosmo and Damian, he
was christened after the former; and a Florentine expression blended
veneration for the sacred martyrs with veneration for the ruling
family, who had chosen them as patrons: ‘Per San Cosmo e Damiano
ogni male fia lontana.’ His education was excellent; and, although
he was intended for a mercantile life, he studied the Latin language
thoroughly, and under the guidance of masters such as the grammarians
Niccolò of Arezzo,[52] and Roberto de’ Rossi, acquired a taste for
literature and science which remained with him, and even increased,
during the whole of his long life. He was, perhaps, twenty-four years
old when he married Contessina de’ Bardi. Her father, Alessandro, Count
of Vernio, belonged to a family which is of note among the Florentines
from the eleventh century; and from which the principal street on the
left bank of the Arno, between the old bridge and that of Sta. Maria
delle Grazie, derived its name. The Bardi were originally a plebeian
family, but were afterwards counted among the nobility. They, with
other nobles, had aided the people to break the tyranny of the Duke of
Athens, but were defeated a year later in valiant strife with the same
people, who would no longer suffer ‘the great’ to have any share in the
government, and set on fire the houses of those who had shortly before
fought beside them. Piero de’ Bardi, Contessina’s great-grandfather,
then withdrew to his castle of Vernio, situated in the Apennines to
the north of Prato, which had been purchased ten years before by
his brother from the Alberti, and recognised by the Emperor Charles
IV. as a fief held under him. The enmity between the castellans and
the Florentine people grew so violent, that Sozzo, Piero’s son, was
condemned by the commune _in contumaciam_ to death by fire, under the
seemingly false accusation of having coined false money in Vernio.[53]
Sozzo’s son was the father of Contessina, whose mother, Milla
Pannocchieschi, was descended from the ancient Sienese dynasty of the
Counts of Elci, which has lately become extinct. The name of Contessina
(Contessa, Tessa), which we so frequently meet with in earlier times
in Tuscany, calls to mind the great Countess Matilda, whose memory was
preserved by a grateful people. The enmity between the great and the
plebeians, though it still prevailed, and was used as a pretext when
the question of political rights arose, never at that time interfered
with family alliances.

We hear nothing of Cosimo till the time when Pope John XXIII., on his
eventful journey to the Council of Constance, halted in Florence.
The relations between the republic and the Pope were to be traced
from the time when the latter was all-powerful under his predecessor,
Alexander V., as Cardinal Baldassar Cossa. When John XXIII. called
upon the Florentines to send plenipotentiaries to Constance, and the
counsellors were undecided, Filippo Corsini observed that they must not
say ‘No’ to the Pope. He it was who had first originated the Council
of Pisa, through which the way had been paved to the new assembly, and
without his active assistance Florence would not have been able to
resist King Ladislaus. The Pope had been already in connection with
the Medici when he was legate of Bologna, and during his reign the
money matters of the Curia were chiefly in the hands of Giovanni di
Bicci. After John XXIII., yielding to King Sigismund’s urgency, had
consented to the Council of Constance, in spite of his disinclination
to a council on German soil, he was for a time in Florence, where he
resided in the convent degli Angeli of the Camalduli. It was here that
the Medici, with many respected citizens, visited him, and entered into
negotiations with him. Here, too, he addressed to Bartolommeo Valori,
in whom he had great confidence, upon his warning of the danger of
holding this council in a foreign country, the remarkable words: ‘I own
that this council is not to my advantage; but what can I do if my fate
compels me to it?’[54] When the Pope set out for the Lake of Constance
in the autumn of 1414, Cosimo de’ Medici was among his escort; not, as
has been supposed, overrating the position as an aid to him in his own
affairs, but simply to manage the money matters of the Holy See.

In these matters the Medici, who always remained true to John XXIII.,
were helpful to him even after his fall. On December 6, 1418, the
deposed and imprisoned Pope drew up a bond in the Castle of Heidelberg
for 38,500 Rhenish florins, which Giovanni de’ Medici and Niccolò
da Uzzano, with the consent of Pope Martin V., paid by a bill on
the Nuremberg house of Romel, as ransom to Duke Louis of Bavaria.
When, after many difficulties, the liberated man had by means of his
Florentine friends come to terms with his persecutor and obtained a
safe-conduct from him, the Medici received him in Florence, where they
undoubtedly aided in his reconciliation with Pope Martin. When the
afflicted man, who in his misfortunes assumed a far more dignified
attitude than formerly in the times of his greatness, made his last
will on December 22, 1419, he appointed Giovanni di Bicci and three
other distinguished Florentines as executors. That the first enriched
himself with the legacy was a calumny which has long been disproved,
for Baldassar Cossa left scarcely enough for his legatees to be
paid.[55] The beautiful monument which the Medici erected to the
deceased stands in the baptistery; the reclining figure was cast in
bronze by Donatello, and in the marble portions Michelozzo assisted.
‘Johannes quondam Papa XXIII.’ says the significant inscription.[56]

Their friendship with the late Pope did not prevent the Medici from
coming to a good understanding with the new one. The mark of favour to
Giovanni di Bicci already mentioned tells of friendly relations even
at a time when Martin V. was not well disposed towards the city, on
account of disagreeable occurrences during his residence in Florence
in 1420. We have seen how Cosimo accompanied John XXIII. to Constance,
where, in the words of a contemporary, the whole world was assembled.
On the flight of his patron he left the town in disguise, and resided
for some time in Germany and France, till he returned home after about
two years’ absence. In 1426, having been entrusted with embassies in
Milan, Lucca, and Bologna, he stayed for some months in Rome, employed
in State affairs at the time that the tedious strife with Filippo Maria
Visconti had, by the conquest of Brescia, taken a favourable turn for
the allied Florentines and Venetians; and it was important to persuade
the Pope to act as umpire, since all parties, and especially the
Florentines, longed for peace. This peace was actually signed at Venice
on December 30, the Bishop of Bologna, the excellent Niccolò Albergati,
representing Martin V.; and when the duke broke the treaty, which had
only just been concluded, new and heavy misfortunes in arms forced him
to appeal to the same mediation which he had so lately scorned. But it
was only in the spring of 1428 that terms were agreed upon advantageous
to Venice, which retained Brescia, but offered no compensation to
the Florentines for their enormous expenses, thus justifying the
prudence of old Giovanni di Bicci, who had counselled against the war.
In gratitude to the Pope for his support, the Florentines, in 1427,
bestowed the freedom of their city on his relations, the Colonna family.

At the death of his father, Cosimo was forty years old. In all
business, public as well as private, he had proved himself skilful,
active, and prudent. All who did not belong to the party which guided
affairs since 1380 regarded him as their natural leader. The number of
these opponents of the ruling faction was great, not only among the
people—in whom more or less indistinct hereditary traditions were
instinctively hostile to a government which had now existed for fifty
years, and which, though it originated with the people, had from the
first been tinctured with the character of an oligarchy—but also
among the higher classes, many of whom were considerably oppressed by
this faction. Giovanni di Bicci had always avoided appearing as the
actual head of a party, perhaps from prudence, perhaps also for fear of
exposing himself to the risk of catastrophes such as he had experienced
in his youth. It was to be proved whether his son shared this feeling,
and Cosimo’s behaviour hitherto implied that he did. It was a question,
however, whether the oligarchy would find it advisable to suffer a man
beside them whose reputation and wealth daily increased, and who, even
without wishing it, must be dangerous to them if misfortune or blunder
should arouse discontent. Since the death of Maso degli Albizzi, his
son Rinaldo, Niccolò da Uzzano, and Palla Strozzi stood at the head of
the party.

The Albizzi, who, as we have said, derived their origin from Arezzo,
were at first of the Ghibelline faction, and appeared in Florence
about the middle of the thirteenth century. They soon obtained repute
among the plebeian families. From 1282 ninety-eight of their family sat
in the magistracy of the priors, and fourteen attained to the office of
_Venner_ or Gonfalonier. Piero son of Filippo, the first Gonfalonier,
was he who in a short time raised the authority of his family above
that of all others. He led an active life at a time when the republic
claimed much of the time and pecuniary means of the principal citizens,
but in return afforded them opportunities of satisfying their ambition,
and attaining to a height of power which might become dangerous to the
commonwealth. He had repeatedly been charged with embassies to princes
and republics; had been present at coronations; concluded treaties,
among them those with the plundering mercenary bands, and with Bernabò
Visconti; had been sent with congratulatory messages, as in 1367, when
Pope Urban V., summoned by all the Italian patriots, returned from
Avignon to Rome, unfortunately only for a time. Jealousy of his rising
authority induced the heads of the Ricci, a rival family to his own,
and their friends, to propose the exclusion from office of all such
as were suspected of Guelphism. This measure was directed principally
against the Albizzi; but Piero, cleverer than his opponents, helped
to carry it through, while they had counted on his opposition. He
knew how to make use of them. In 1357, being chosen president of the
tribunal entrusted with this political inquisition of the Parte Guelfa,
it was he who, with his friends, began that proscription which united
all power in the city and government in his hands and those of his
adherents, but also created that unendurable condition of affairs
against which the rebellion of 1378 broke out. In the following year
Piero, banished at first from Florence, having returned to one of
his estates, fell a victim to the summary justice executed by the
aristocratic leaders of the mob. A false accusation brought him to the
scaffold; at a time when no law was respected, he paid the penalty of
having himself made the laws subservient to political ends.

The family retired into exile; their houses were plundered and burnt.
One of the branches, in a quarrel with relations, had discarded
the name and altered the coat of arms, and flourishes still under
the name of the Alessandri. The reaction of the year 1381 brought
the exiles back, and they were soon more powerful than ever. Maso
(Tommaso), Piero’s nephew, had been first banished to Barletta, on
the Apulian coast, and then made a ‘Grande,’ _i.e._ disqualified for
holding communal offices. He now attained almost dictatorial power,
and exercised it with political insight, and a consistency which
essentially aided in raising the republic to that height of power
and repute on which it remained thenceforward, and long after his
own faction was destroyed, till the revolution in Italian affairs at
the end of the fifteenth century. If he acted intolerantly in home
affairs; if proscriptions did not cease, and the prosecution of the
Alberti, who were concerned in the insurrection of 1378 and in the
execution of Piero degli Albizzi, showed cruelty in the enactment
which commanded their houses to be razed to the ground, their coats
of arms to be destroyed, and their property confiscated; a law that
punished alliances by marriage and commercial transactions with them,
extended even to their posterity;[57] it is less the fault of the man
than of the spirit which had prevailed in the republics for centuries,
and which led even the most discerning to make the commonwealth ever
subservient to party policy, and to look upon their own faction as
the State. Embassies to Gian Galeazzo Visconti, to King Rupert of
the Palatinate, Pope Gregory XII., &c., alternated for Maso with a
continuous series of the most important offices. Even when he was out
of office, nothing was done without him. When the republic manfully
resisted the progress of Gian Galeazzo in Central Italy, enlarged and
secured her own territory by the conquest of Pisa, actively contributed
to ecclesiastical union, and brought the dangerous war with King
Ladislaus to a successful end, it was all really due to Albizzi. He was
a rich man; the street outside the oldest district of the town, still
named after his family, was almost entirely occupied by their houses
and those of the Pazzi; and in our time, the palace belonging to his
descendants, as well as that of the Alessandri, the half-ruined tower,
the walled-up loggia, the passage to the market of San Piero, with the
portico of the demolished church built by a descendant of Maso, remind
us of the brilliant days of the family, whose coat of arms is still
to be seen on the buildings—two concentric golden circles on a black
field, and above it on a silver field the cross of the German order
granted to Maso. In the lower valley of the Arno, on the right bank of
the river, where a low range of hills stretches between the Lake of
Bientina, reaching to the foot of the mountains of Pisa, and the green
level of the marshes of Fucecchio, lies the large Villa Montefalcone,
which came into the possession of the family in the second half of the
fourteenth century. It was formerly a castle (destroyed by Castruccio)
with a splendid view over the valley, strewn with villages lying mostly
on low hills, and the beautiful wooded heights of Monte Albano, behind
which the fertile Pistojan plain joined the Florentine valley of the
Arno, which, while more varied, rivalled it in fertility.

Maso degli Albizzi died in 1417, aged seventy-four. His eldest son,
Rinaldo, was the heir to his position in the Senate. He was a boy
eight years of age when his relations fell in the tumult of Ciompi,
had grown up in the traditions of his house, and from the year 1399
was active in affairs of State. No citizen was employed so much as
he in embassies and commissions of all kinds. We meet with him in
great and small matters; for the statesmen of the free city as little
thought of declining small matters, as the greatest artists thought it
beneath their dignity to paint shields and domestic implements, or to
carve coats of arms on door-posts and chimney-pieces. Fifty different
commissions were entrusted to Rinaldo, some in the vicinity, and some
to the Popes, King Sigismund, to Naples, Lombardy, Genoa, Ferrara,
Romagna, &c. The hard-working man left careful and detailed notes of
all, which, with the documents and letters relating thereto, he first
collected in 1423, and afterwards continued. They are models of a
natural, pure, perspicuous, and always appropriate diction, at a time
when the Tuscan dialect was threatened with an overgrowth of learned
affectation and distortion, and was losing its popular simplicity.
These notes are a source of the amplest knowledge of details for any
one who earnestly studies the history of this period, remarkable in
so many ways.[58] While he was so frequently employed in foreign
service—for the year before his exile we find him at Rome—his
opponents laboured at home for his ruin. It is as if Gino Capponi,
Neri’s son, had thought of him when he wrote the advice intended for
his son: ‘He who wishes for a great position in his native city, should
not leave it too often, except in important cases.’ ‘Messer Rinaldo,’
says Giovanni Cavalcanti, a contemporary and adherent of the Medici,
‘knew not what fear is. He had clean hands, was well read in the
sciences, was full of perseverance and love of justice, so that the
multitude accused him of being hard and cruel. He lived only on simple
fare, and hated feastings, and was accustomed to say that he who wished
to keep in health must be no gormandizer; which his enemies interpreted
as meanness. Would to God that we could not have said of this man that
he was proud! for else he would have excelled many others in good
qualities. But his pride clouded his own virtues, and misjudged those
of others.’[59]

Beside the two Albizzi, none exercised greater influence in the
guidance of affairs in the half-century of the oligarchy than Niccolò
da Uzzano. The name of the family, extinct in the second half of
the seventeenth century, was Miglioretti; but they were generally
named after a little castle, now a gentleman’s villa, lying south of
Florence, in the Greve valley, the environs of which are renowned for
their excellent wine. The Da Uzzano appeared first in Florence in the
days of the Emperor Henry VII. Niccolò, the son of Giovanni and Lena
de’ Bardi, born about the middle of the fourteenth century, represented
the moderate principle in the ruling party, as Giovanni di Bicci did
among the opposition. He wished for an oligarchy, but did not desire
the supremacy of a single family. As long as he lived, a restraint was
laid upon the Albizzi; nay, he was even reported to have said, that,
if he must live to see one stand at the head of affairs, he would
sooner endure Cosimo than Rinaldo. For he feared the violent ambition
of the latter more than the crafty calculation of his rival, and said
of Rinaldo, that he would see no citizen by his side, but all beneath
him, and did not think so much of destroying the Medici as of acquiring
unlimited authority over his own party.[60] Niccolò did not, however,
trust to its unity, and sought, therefore, to hold and preserve matters
equally balanced. His repute was so high, that the faction was indeed
named after him, and his beneficence equalled his wealth. In the Via
de’ Bardi we still see the great palace which he is said to have had
built by the painter Bicci di Lorenzo, and which, as he had no sons,
passed with his daughter Ginevra to a branch of the Capponi, which
still possesses it.[61] The severe unadorned façade of Opus rusticum
still represents the simplicity of the time, which was soon replaced
by the greater richness of form of the Medicean epoch; and his statue
in marble, said to be a work of Donatello’s, is still shown in the
house; whereas another likeness, painted by Masaccio, and once in one
of the houses of the Corsican,[62] is said to have disappeared.

But Niccolò wished to leave his native town a memorial of his
affection, and began building a lyceum for young men after a design by
the same Bicci. By his last will he left a considerable sum invested in
the national funds for completing the work and endowing lectureships;
but the State expended the money for other purposes, and in the present
day only the name of the broad Via della Sapienza, leading from the
Piazza di San Marco to the Annunziata, reminds us of Niccolò da
Uzzano’s patriotic intention. ‘He who wishes to be of use to the world,
and to found of himself an honourable memory,’ remarks Giorgio Vasari,
‘must work himself as long as he lives, and not trust to posterity and

Palla Strozzi was not made for the strife of factions; his heart
belonged to study. ‘Messer Leonardo of Arezzo,’ remarks the Florentine
bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci,[63] ‘who has left us a whole
gallery of interesting portraits of remarkable and meritorious men,
used to say of him, that he was the happiest man he had known; for he
possessed all that is requisite for human happiness, in intellectual
as well as physical gifts. He was very useful to his native city, and
obtained all the honours in the home and foreign administration which
could be granted to a citizen. As ambassador he received honourable
commissions, and, at the same time, always promoted the welfare of his
country. With these gifts he united the strictest sense of honour, and
was personally the most cultivated and respected burgher of the city.
His modesty extended from his private life to his public position. He
sought to avoid envy as much as he could, well knowing what harm is
wrought by it to the commonwealth, and how it pursues deserving men.
He did not like to be seen in public; he never appeared on the square
of the Signoria, or the new market-place, except when he was summoned
thither. If he went to the Piazza, he took the way past Sta. Trinità,
through the Borgo Sant’Apostolo, stayed there only a short time, and
then repaired to the palace. He was sparing of time, never wandered
about the streets and squares, and scarcely had he arrived at home than
he studied Greek and Latin, and lost not an hour.’ He was a rich man.
In the registers of 1427 he opened the list of the tax-payers with a
sum exceeding the valuation of Giovanni di Bicci by more than a fifth.
A great part of his income he employed in the purchase of manuscripts
and for scientific purposes. The origin of his family is unknown: the
name occurs towards the end of the thirteenth century. That the Strozzi
were Guelphs and plebeians is shown by their whole position; that they
were popular, we see from the circumstance that the names of more than
a hundred of their family occur among the priors of the corporations,
while not less than sixteen attained the office of Venner. Their
wealth increased rapidly, as did the branches into which they were
divided, and in the territory they possessed lands and castles. One of
them, Tommaso, was among those of higher rank who turned the popular
insurrection of 1378 to their own purposes, and had to esteem himself
fortunate in escaping the victorious reaction by a flight to Mantua,
where he founded a branch of his family, which is still flourishing.
Onofrio (Noferi), Palla’s father, who had died in 1417, seventy-two
years old, was one of the most respected men of the republic. He was
twice elected Gonfaloniere, and, beside other offices, he filled that
of superintendent of the Mint; while embassies led him to the Popes
Gregory XII. and Alexander V., when Florence tried her best to restore
unity in the Church. It was he who determined on building the beautiful
chapel in Sta. Trinità which now serves as sacristy, a building which
was completed by his son, and the exterior of which is adorned with the
three crescents, the arms of the Strozzi. The epoch of their greatest
brilliancy had not yet begun, but they were approaching it rapidly.

As long as the different elements which formed the political parties
held the balance of power, peace remained intact at home. The city
had never been so rich or so splendid, trade and industry never so
flourishing as then; the great burghers had never shown more lively
common feeling, or created more beautiful public works, or devoted more
helpful interest to science. It was felt that any inconsiderate step,
from whatever side it might come, would disturb this peace; but it was
this very consciousness of responsibility which enforced prudence.
Niccolò da Uzzano used to say that he who summoned a parliament—_i.e._
who would bring about any decided change in the existing state of
things—would dig his own grave.[64] Many respected burghers shared his
views. It was natural however that an event should at last occur to
cause open discontent in the city, and a more hostile position of the
parties. The conquest of Pisa had not satisfied Florentine ambition;
Lucca, with which Florence had so often quarrelled, remained a thorn in
her side. When, a hundred and twenty six years after the time of which
we are treating, Giorgio Vasari was employed in painting the great
hall in the former palace of the Signoria with representations from
the history of Florentine conquests, he was visited by the Lucchese
ambassador at his work, and on his question, what he intended to
portray on the remaining space, gave the bold answer, ‘The conquest of
Lucca.’ This is only an insolent expression of the popular wish. In the
Milanese war, Lucca, where, for nearly thirty years, a citizen, Paolo
Guinigi, had ruled with almost absolute power, had taken sides for
the Visconti, and thereby certainly placed Florence in some danger.
Rinaldo degli Albizzi stood at the head of those who demanded that
their neighbours should be chastised. But division arose in his own
party; Niccolò da Uzzano, Palla Strozzi, Agnolo Pandolfini, and others,
opposed him. The attitude of Cosimo de’ Medici was ambiguous. The
reproach of having agreed to the plan of war in order to ruin the hopes
of his rival, cleaves to him in spite of its being contradicted.[65]
The war party, supported by Neri Capponi, one of the most influential
burghers, and son of him who had taken Pisa, prevailed. In the Council
the opponents were scarcely allowed to speak; a pretext was easily
found, and the determination was taken at the end of 1429. Rinaldo
degli Albizzi undertook the guidance of affairs as Commissary of the
Republic, with extensive authority.

It was an undertaking as unsuccessful as it was unjust, notwithstanding
the guilt of the Lucchese. The Florentines accomplished nothing from
a military point of view; their great architect, Filippo Brunellesco,
forfeited his fame as an engineer; the land was as cruelly as uselessly
desolated; and the Duke of Milan was drawn into the war. Venice, Genoa,
even Siena, took sides for or against; and after the leadership of
Guinigi, by no means to the advantage of the Lucchese, had been lost by
it, a peace was concluded in April, 1433, which was to restore every
one his own—in what condition no one ventured to ask. The unsuccessful
campaign had already caused much disturbance in Florence from the
beginning, and given abundant material for evil speaking. Rinaldo degli
Albizzi had returned from the camp without leave of absence: he was
accused of having acted as a trader, and employed rations and booty for
his villa of Montefalcone. His successor, Messer Giovanni Guicciardini,
did not fare much better; the least offence he was accused of was, that
he had sold the bread intended for the camp to the Lucchese.[66] Every
one was in an ill-humour and at enmity when the costly and fruitless
war was ended. Rinaldo could not conceal from himself the fact that his
authority had suffered a dangerous blow. He thought to re-establish it
more firmly by drawing the reins tighter. The one man of his party who
had always dissuaded him most decidedly from this was no more: Niccolò
da Uzzano had died during the war, in 1432. The void created by his
death was soon visible to all.

The bitter enmity between Cosimo and Rinaldo seems first to have arisen
at this time, for the two men do not appear to have been personal
opponents till then. In the autumn of 1430 Cosimo had repaired to
Verona on account of a sickness prevailing in Florence; at Ostiglia,
on the Po, he heard of the loss suffered before Lucca. Appointed with
Francesco Tornabuoni as ambassador at Venice, he had, on what grounds
is unknown, declined the commission, but had gone, in March 1432,
with Palla Strozzi to Ferrara, to make an agreement with Milan in the
affair of Lucca, which, however, as we have said, was not carried out
till a year later.[67] What had kindled such irreconcilable hatred
between Rinaldo and Cosimo—who, hitherto, whatever might be their
private feelings, had frequently worked together—is not known. The
rival party reproached both Cosimo and his brother Lorenzo, who had
for some time resided at Milan as Florentine ambassador, with having
taken part in intrigues against the State, in order to prolong the
war. But accusations of this kind usually rest on one-sided testimony,
and it is much more likely that both the Medici quietly waited for a
change at home, which public discontent, and the loss of reputation
to the reigning party in consequence of the failure in war, seemed to
announce. Cosimo did not deceive himself respecting the prevailing
opinion against him. He kept himself aloof from the eminent men of the
ruling faction, and appeared seldom in the palace; but it availed him
little, for it was said he wished to lull the suspicions of the rulers,
and his relations to the lower orders, which he could not, and perhaps
would not, conceal, were made out a crime. The large loans which at
different times he had been making to the public finances, as well as
those to private citizens for whom he procured access to office by
paying their arrears of taxes, had made him a popular favourite, but at
the same time had increased the number of his political adversaries. It
became more and more plain that things could not remain as they were.
Rinaldo had tried, through Niccolò Barbadore, to persuade Niccolò da
Uzzano to mediate shortly before his death, but had been repulsed.
He now determined to act. He could reckon all the more on support
because Cosimo, if he relied on popular favour, was suspected by the
decided Guelphs from his connections with the old nobility—being
a brother-in-law of the Bardi and Pannocchieschi, and through his
brother Lorenzo related to the Cavalcanti and Malaspina, families of
the Lunigiana; while he was united by friendship to the Buondelmonti
and other nobles. Rinaldo had attempted to secure the consent of many
partisans to violent measures against Cosimo and his adherents, when
the election of a Signoria decidedly favourable to his plans, which
entered on office with the gonfaloniere Bernardo Guadagni on September
1, 1433, seemed to offer the favourable moment. Bernardo Guadagni
belonged to a distinguished family, the name of which occurs in various
offices since the beginning of the thirteenth century; he was opposed
to the Albizzi in the political movements of 1378, but afterwards
became attached to them. Bernardo had not been eligible because he owed
taxes, but Rinaldo cancelled the debt, and made him his tool.[68]

On September 7 Cosimo de’ Medici was summoned before the Signoria.[69]
He had been at his villa in Mugello, from whence he was recalled to
town under the pretext that his counsel was desired, and he was in
fact appointed a member of a commission (_pratica_) for affairs of
the commonwealth. As he passed the Or San Michele, Alamanno Salviati
warned him that evil was intended, but he replied that he must obey
the Signoria. Arrived at the palace, he was confined as a prisoner
in a chamber of the upper storey called _La Berberia_. The principal
accusation concerned treasonable machinations in the Lucchese war. That
his life was aimed at is scarcely to be supposed, though certainly
possible: that the prisoner feared it, is certain. The waves of party
feeling ran so high, tongues were so sharp, and even the assemblies
held in churches, ostensibly for purposes of Divine worship, were so
openly employed for political ends, and for manœuvring against the
Government, that it was not difficult by inquisitorial proceedings
to justify the severest measures. The city was in the power of the
opponents of the Medici; Lorenzo, his brother, who was in the country,
seems to have tried in vain to bring about a rising. Niccolò da
Tolentino, the general of the Republic, and a friend of Cosimo’s, rode
with a squadron from Pisa to the village of Lastra, on the Arno, seven
miles from the city, but hesitated to proceed farther, and declared
that he appeared in support of the public peace. It was an anxious time
of suspense.

The Signoria summoned the people to a parliament on the Piazza,
surrounded by armed friends of the Albizzi. The result at first was
favourable; but when the newly-appointed Balia had to decide on
Cosimo’s fate, the differences of opinion showed themselves. The
prisoner had found means to employ his money, and had bribed the
Gonfaloniere, among others, with 1,000 gold florins. He has himself
remarked that the people did not understand their own advantages; if
they had wished for 10,000 gold florins, he would have paid the sum
to save himself from the danger. There was no lack of representations
of many kinds, even from foreign countries. The end was, that all the
Medici, with the exception of Vieri’s descendants, were excluded from
office. Cosimo was banished on September 29 to Padua for ten years,
his brother for five years to Venice, and others of the family to
Naples, Rimini, Ancona, and other towns. On the evening of October 3,
as Ormanno degli Albizzi held the Piazza, guarded with his people,
and an attack upon Cosimo was feared if the latter left his prison
in the palace, the Gonfaloniere caused him, after the penalty had
been announced to him, to be brought into his own lodgings under a
safe-guard. Here he partook of some supper, left the city by the Porta
San Gallo, and rode through Pistoja to the village of Cutigliano,
on the road leading over the Apennines to Modena, where he arrived
on October 4, the day of St. Francis d’Assisi. ‘On the 11th,’ so he
relates, ‘I reached Venice, where many nobles with Lorenzo came to
meet me, and I was not received like an exile, but as an ambassador.
On the following day I visited the Signoria, to thank them for their
influential mediation in my favour. The Signoria received me with
kindness and honour, expressed regret at what had happened to me,
offered residence and money supplies to whatever extent I wished. Many
nobles came to visit me. On the 13th I repaired to Padua, as I had been
enjoined, accompanied by Messer Jacopo Donato, who placed his beautiful
house, provided with everything, at my disposal.’

While Cosimo de’ Medici thus resided, partly in Padua and partly
in Venice, where he was allowed to go, honoured and loved for his
well-calculated liberality, in personal connection with some of his
friends and in correspondence with others, affairs in Florence rapidly
approached another crisis. Other banishments had followed: that of the
brothers Pucci, the eldest of whom, Puccio, was one of the most eager
adherents of Cosimo, and one who had circulated the gold florins of his
patron, when in prison, most skilfully; and Agnolo Acciaiuoli, whose
correspondence with the exiles had been discovered. The fortune of war,
already unfavourable to the Albizzi, now entirely forsook them. When
new quarrels broke out in the Romagna between the Florentines and the
Duke of Milan, the former were defeated. The excitement in the city
increased to an alarming degree. Rinaldo soon perceived that he was no
longer master of the situation. When, towards the end of August 1434,
came the election of the Signoria, who were to take office on September
1, Rinaldo perceived that he must use force if he would prevent his
enemy’s return. When neither the attempt to force new elections nor
the endeavours to attract the old nobility succeeded, and the new
Signoria expressed itself without reserve in favour of the Medici,
while representations on the other side were useless, the Albizzi
began to arm their followers, and to draw a number of discharged
warriors to their service, in the hope of having the majority of the
city with them, and dictating the law to the highest magistrate. But
they calculated wrongly; even the heads of their own party, like Palla
Strozzi and Giovanni Guicciardini, did not all flock to them. The city
remained divided.

At the news of the warlike preparations which threatened them, and
relying upon the support of the majority of the people, the Signoria
determined to be beforehand with their opponents. On September 26,
they caused the Piazza to be lined with armed men, and invited Rinaldo
and some of his most eminent friends to appear before them; when,
however, instead of obeying, the latter came to Sant’Apollinare, and
advanced to the Piazza, with more than 600 men, the gates of the palace
were hastily closed. Had the assailants proceeded vigorously, their
cause would have prevailed—at least for the moment; but instead of
advancing, they condescended to bargain, and then they were lost. While
Ridolfo Peruzzi, one of the leaders of the party, was parleying in the
palace with the Signori, who did not spare fair words, Rinaldo allowed
himself to be persuaded to repair to the convent Sta. Maria Novella, to
Pope Eugene IV., who, having fled before the insurrectionary Romanists,
had reached Florence not long before, and now wished to play the
peace-maker. As the adherents and people of Albizzi in vain awaited
their leader, whom the Pope delayed with long speeches, the crowd
dispersed, some going here, some there. The Signori gathered courage
as they saw the crowd of opponents diminish, and ordered the alarm to
be rung. Armed burghers hastened from all sides, and country people
flocked into the city.[70] Messer Bartolommeo Orlandini caused the
entrances to the Piazza to be guarded: Papi di Medici came at the head
of the peasants. The Signori appeared on the balcony of the palace,
and summoned the people to a parley. About three hundred and fifty
voices gave the Signoria full power to appoint a Balia, after the usual
manner, to proceed to urgent measures. With the Pope it was easy to
come to an agreement by means of his confidant, Giovanni Vitelleschi,
then Bishop of Recanati, the same whom Rinaldo had withheld from
advancing. The revolution had succeeded without bloodshed. The speedily
chosen extraordinary commission, more numerous than any before,
conjointly with the colleges, recalled with one voice, Cosimo and his
companions from banishment, into which they sent Rinaldo degli Albizzi,
and with him more than seventy of his most distinguished partizans.
‘Oh, Pope Eugenius,’ said the knight to him, who now sought to console
him with words, as he had before put him off with words, ‘I am not
surprised at the destiny which befalls me, but I blame myself for
having trusted to the promises of one who could not help himself; for
he who is powerless in his own affairs cannot help others.’ Rinaldo
degli Albizzi never saw his home again.

Cosimo de’ Medici had set out from Venice, September 26, accompanied by
his brother, on the news of the first favourable events in Florence.
On October 1 they learned the victory of their party; on the 5th they
reached the territory of the Republic—on the same date, and at the
same spot in the Pistojan mountains, where they had quitted it. ‘I have
noted this,’ he observes in his ‘Ricordi’ above mentioned, ‘because at
our expulsion several good and devoted persons said not a year would
pass before we should again be in Florence. On the way several burghers
met us, and in Pistoja the whole population flocked out of the gates to
see us so armed. We did not enter the city. On the 6th we dined at our
villa at Careggi, where a number of people had assembled. The Signori
informed us that we should not enter Florence till they had sent us
word. This happened after sunset, and we set out with a numerous
escort. As it was expected that we would repair to our house, the whole
street was filled with men and women. Lorenzo and I, accompanied by a
servant, rode, however, along the wall, and so we passed the Santissima
Annunziata and the back of the cathedral, the palace of the Podestà
and that of the executors, to the palace of the Signoria, almost
without being observed, for every one was in the Via Larga and at our
house. The Signori had arranged it so in order to avoid excitement.
They received us kindly, and I thanked them as was fitting, and at
their wish we remained with them. We heard that, before our arrival,
Messer Rinaldo and Ormanno his son, Ridolfo Peruzzi, and several other
citizens, had been banished. The city was quiet, but, nevertheless, for
security, the square and palace were guarded by a number of armed men.’

Florence had now a master. On January 1, 1435, Cosimo de’ Medici
entered upon office as Gonfaloniere.

In an early work, unfortunately incomplete, and unknown till a few
years ago, which relates the history of Florence from the return of
Cosimo de’ Medici to the League of Cambray, Francesco Guicciardini[71]
thus condenses his views on the government of the Albizzi: ‘After
various disorders, a firm order of government was at last introduced
by Parliament in 1393,[72] when Maso degli Albizzi held the office of
Gonfaloniere. He, in order to avenge his uncle Piero, expelled almost
all the Alberti, and the government remained in the hands of clever
and sensible men, who conducted it in great harmony and safety till
towards the year 1420. One cannot be astonished at this, for the people
were so tired of the preceding disturbances that, when an orderly state
of things began, every one adapted himself gladly to it. At this time
it was plainly shown how great the power of our city is when unity
prevails in her. For twelve years she maintained the war against Gian
Galeazzo with infinite expense, and with Italian or foreign armies,
for they often summoned a duke of Bavaria, a count of Armagnac, or a
King Rupert over the Alps, to their aid. Scarcely was this war at an
end, and, as was thought, the city exhausted and without means for some
time, when she began the undertaking against Pisa which cost heavy
sums in buying as well as in the siege. Then followed the war with
King Ladislaus, in which she not only defended herself bravely, but
also gained Cortona, though certainly at a heavy price. In short, the
city attained such important success, preserved her freedom under the
guidance of capable and honest men, warded off powerful enemies and
enlarged her territory so considerably, that it was rightly said to be
the wisest, most glorious, and successful government which Florence
had ever had. The years from 1420 to 1434 were occupied with the war
against Duke Filippo Maria, and the division of the city into two
parties. At the head of one stood Niccolò da Uzzano, a man respected
by all as wise and a lover of freedom; at the head of the other,
Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, and then his son Cosimo. Disunion and
various excitements were introduced by the year 1433, after Niccolò had
departed this life—first, Cosimo’s exile, then his return and the fall
of his opponents; and as both changes, that of 1433 as well as of 1434,
were brought about by the Signoria which entered on office on September
1 (it was usually elected on the day of the decapitation of St. John,
August 29), it was decreed that the drawing of the lots should no
longer take place on this day, but on the preceding, as has happened
since, with the exception of a few years at the time of Fra Girolamo

When the government of the Albizzi came to an end, the domain of the
Republic had, with the exception of some smaller territories and
villages in the mountainous regions of the Casentino and the valley of
the Tiber, attained pretty nearly the same extent which she preserved
up to the union of the Sienese State with that of Florence, and the
consequent formation of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The enlargement
of this territory had proceeded of course gradually, but constantly.
Dante Alighieri says once it would have been far better for Florence
had the inhabitants of Campi, Figline, and Certaldo remained her
neighbours, instead of becoming her fellow-citizens, and corrupting the
pure Latin blood of her old families. Two centuries after the writer
of the ‘Divina Commedia,’ the most famous statesman of modern Italy
expressed pretty nearly the same opinions. ‘Venice and Florence’—such
are Niccolò Machiavelli’s words in his reflections on the first ten
books of Titus Livius—‘were far weaker when the first had attained
the supremacy over Lombardy the latter over Tuscany, than when Venice
was content with the sea and Florence with six miles of territory.’
The increase of subjects by the absorption of other communities is
certainly of small advantage: when it once exceeds due measure it is
ruinous. While it cannot contribute to the strength of warlike States,
it has a most hurtful influence on unwarlike ones, of which the Italian
republics give evidence: an opinion which would sound paradoxical
if we did not consider that he who expressed it had before his eyes
the spectacle of a State, without unity in itself, consisting of the
most different elements, united only by an outward bond, whose laws,
founded on systematic oppression of the nobles, appeared to him as the
reason of its evident helplessness in the second half of the fourteenth

With the aid of many hundreds of documents in the Tuscan archives[73]
we can closely follow the history of the growth of the Florentine
territory, as it increased in all directions above the valley of the
Arno, often with difficulty and with the most violent struggles, beyond
Prato, Pistoja, on the shore of the Mediterranean towards Leghorn,
through the Elsa and Chiana valley, where the conflicts took place with
Siena, beyond Arezzo; finally, by way of Cortona, to the upper valley
of the Tiber, and towards the Umbrian frontier, as along the Apennines
to that of Romagna, including, on the other side, Volterra and the
long-contested Pisa. The forms under which the villages and territories
were annexed were very various. First of these, was the submission
(_submissio_), a result generally of war, but which sometimes was
brought about by compacts with other commonwealths and rulers, and
at times occurred spontaneously. The submitting commune assembled in
such case a parliament to appoint a syndicus, who repaired to Florence
to settle affairs with the Signoria, after which the Chapter was
consulted, and a commissary of the Republic was sent to the place in
question to receive homage, and complete the so-called act of taking
bodily possession. These things were very simple in small communes.
They expressed to the Signoria by their syndics and procurators the
hope that they might be well governed by them, and live in peace;
promised faith and obedience—appointing a fine in case of a breach
of this promise; received a podestà and judge from Florence; retained
free choice of their presidents from their own citizens; stipulated
conditions in respect to markets, customs, weights and measures,
etc., as well as observance of their own statutes, such as even the
smallest communes possessed. For if, with the decline of the imperial
power towards the time of the Swabian emperors, the legal power once
pertaining to the empire might be considered as having passed actually
to princes and commonwealths, the case now occurred that princes and
larger towns claimed the former rights of the empire over little
towns, which defended themselves as far as they could by reservations.
In such cases the statute of the chief town represented towards the
subject communes the common law, to which there was an appeal from
the separate municipal statutes where appeal to the Roman law was not
stipulated. After the subjection of Pisa, the Pisan statutes remained
valid for all the dependencies of this town; but in Florence such
dependencies had always a hearing if they appealed to the Florentine
statute law. But where there was a special fortress in the stipulating
place (Rocca, Cassero), the garrisoning of it was decided by the ruling

The different conditions are as different as the nature of the
community was varied. Larger cities naturally made their importance
felt. A whole series of treaties were concluded with Pistoja, beginning
with the peace made after the death of Castruccio Castracane on May
11, 1329, at the time of the confusion caused by Louis the Bavarian’s
Roman expedition. In the summer of 1331 the Florentine Signoria
received full powers for a year for ‘the security of freedom’ and
the government of city and territory. These temporary powers were
repeatedly prolonged: commissions of Florentine citizens were appointed
for the revision of statutes; the powers of the sovereign Signoria, and
those of the magistrates of the subject town, were carefully limited
in such a way that the actual decision in local government remained
to the latter, which limited the supreme government. Volterra, which
acknowledged the supremacy of the Duke of Athens, but had asserted its
own independence after his fall, preserved it nominally up to the end
of the fourteenth century; but the Republic of Florence had attained to
such extensive rights that scarcely more independence remained to the
commune than to subject States, especially after a rebellion excited
by the introduction of the _Cadastre_ had ended to the disadvantage of
the people of Volterra. As can easily be understood, quite peculiar
circumstances followed, when places were obtained through agreement
with foreign powers. By the repeated interference of the Neapolitan
Angevin princes in Tuscan affairs, and the increasing military weakness
of the communes, this occurred only too frequently. Prato, in the
midst of the wars of the Ghibellines and Guelphs, in the times of the
emperors of the houses of Bavaria and Luxembourg, powerless to protect
itself, had acknowledged King Robert of Naples as its Signore in 1313,
and remained under the rule of Neapolitan viceroys till Robert’s
granddaughter Johanna gave up the town to the Republic of Florence, in
the year 1350, for the sum of 13,500 gold florins, which a citizen of
Florence, Francesco Rinuccini, advanced without interest. Florence thus
succeeded to the king’s rights, and appointed the superior officers,
while the town retained her own municipal government. It had happened
most strangely of all with Arezzo. Unable to assert herself against the
superior powers of the Guelphs, she had acknowledged the supremacy of
Florence in 1337, and while retaining her own territories, statutes,
and privileges, received only the higher magistrates, Podestà and
Capitano, from Florence, to whom she promised fidelity and assistance
in peace and war. The oppressions, and especially the building of
fortresses, by which the ruling community here, as elsewhere, sought to
secure itself, went so far, that when, after the fall of the Duke of
Athens, the majority of the larger towns revolted from Florence, Arezzo
also regained her independence, which she preserved till 1380, when
she fell into the power of Duke Charles of Durazzo, in his expedition
against Queen Johanna. Four years later the town was taken by the
French army under Duke Louis of Anjou, marching to the assistance of
the queen; and the commander, Enguerraud de Coney, sold it four years
afterwards to the Florentines for 50,000 gold florins.

But there were other political connections beside that of subjection.
The Accomandigia, or assumption of a protectorate, was an act, more
or less solemn, by which a possession, either of the Church or the
commune, was recommended to protection, that might extend to the
person of the possessor, who was then called _Raccomandato_. It was
a very old connection, which united Florence with other communes, as
for instance with Siena. As in the earliest times of the commonwealth,
the distinguished family of the Buondelmonti recommended their castle,
Montebuoni, to the Florentine bishop for protection, so did numerous
and powerful lords of the commune recommend themselves afterwards. A
kind of homage was always combined with the Accomandigia; it usually
consisted of a pallium or banner of brocade or gold and silver cloth,
presented on St. John’s day. Those recommended for protection promised
to be friendly to the commune, to assist it at its summons in its
feuds, to share friendship and enmity with it, to grant free passage
through their territories, not to hinder the transport of provisions
and merchandise, and to grant refuge to none who had been banished by
the commune. The commune, on the other hand, allowed the _Raccomandati_
law of arms on their own territory, promised defence or compensation
for loss, and empowered the planting of the Florentine banner on
their castles. The second half of the fourteenth century and the
first of the following were exceedingly rich in such Accomandigie,
because the smaller landowners felt themselves more and more weakened
and threatened in their independence, in consequence of the great
diminution of the number of independent communes, and thereby the
accession of power to those still remaining, as Florence, Siena, and
Lucca. Florence had begun by drawing the nobles in the nearer vicinity
of the Arno valley into such a connection with herself, and also to
absorb the smaller communes. Then the Accomandigia expanded more and
more, till all the great noble families, so to say, for the most part
originally free, imperial and Ghibellines, had lost their independence
in the higher sense of the word. At last the turn came to others, even
distant, where the relation of protection was essentially altered, as
with the Grimaldi of Monaco, the Genoese Campofregoso, the Appiani of
Piombino, the Marchese of Monte Sta. Maria, the numerous Malaspine,
who resided at their imperial fiefs in the Lunigiana, but naturally
looked more to Florence and Genoa, to the Visconti and the Esti, than
to the empire. Even Roman barons entered into connections of this kind.
In 1395 the Colonna of Palestrina placed themselves, with all their
castles, for five years under the protection of the Republic, whose
service they entered. The Orsini of Savona whose relations, the Counts
of Pitigliano, stood in the same relation to Siena, had preceded them.
More important for Florence was the protection of many dynasties of
Romagna and Umbria, of which we shall speak farther on. With regard
to the landowners settled in Tuscany, if we except a few independent
imperial vassals, who remained so up to the French time, the Counts
Bardi of Vernio and Barbolani of Montanto, as well as the Macchesi of
Monte Sta. Maria (Bourbon de Monte), whom we have just mentioned, the
Accomandigia led to their subjection. In the States of the Church the
Papal sovereignty prevailed, as might be expected.



THE time at which Cosimo de’ Medici attained to a position in his
native town, such as a citizen had never yet held, promised neither
rest nor peace to Italy.

We have already mentioned how, in the decisive crisis when Rinaldo
degli Albizzi sought to carry the citizens along with him, and to
destroy the Medicean party with one blow, Pope Eugenius IV. was
a fugitive in the same convent of Sta. Maria Novella which his
predecessor had inhabited on his way from Constance to Rome. Martin
V. had died February 20, 1431, at the moment when the war of the
Florentines with the Duke of Milan had brought the armies of the
latter over the Apennines. His successor, descended from a Venetian
family, did not understand how to preserve the quiet which Martin’s
skill and policy had established. While he fell into disputes with
the relations of the latter, the Colonna—disputes which threatened
the city of Rome itself—the eventful complication began with the
council opened at Basle on July 23rd of the same year, which was to
complete the reform of the Church, which the Council of Constance had
not thoroughly effected. Eugenius had united with Florence and Venice
in order to overthrow the Colonna family, but had thereby embittered
Filippo Maria Visconti, who now, when the violent strife raged between
Pope and Council, ranged himself on the side of the latter, and in May,
1434, even assisted to excite a revolt in Rome, which forced the Pope
to fly. In the autumn of the same year, although the Pope saw the city
of Rome return to its allegiance, he still lingered on in Florence, at
strife with the Council, which was pursuing the policy of striving to
diminish the authority of the head of the Church, while the surrounding
country was desolated by the Duke’s mercenaries, till the Pope at
last succeeded in coming to terms with his oppressor. Meanwhile, the
intrigues began at Naples which for a century were the curse of that
country, and finally of all Italy. The last of the Anjous, Ladislaus’
sister, Johanna II., died on February 2, 1435, and left to the country,
in consequence of her fickleness, a contest for the throne between
Renè, Count of Provence, and Alfonso of Aragon, King of Sicily,
whom she had successively adopted as sons, while the Pope showed an
inclination to claim Naples as a relapsed fief of the Church. Alfonso,
defeated and taken prisoner at the Ponza Islands by the Genoese,
allied with Renè, was restored to liberty by Filippo Maria Visconti,
then ruler over the Sigurian harbour, but this generosity was regarded
as detrimental by the victors, and excited an insurrection in Genoa
against the supremacy of Milan, which found support from the republic
of Venice, the ancient enemy of the Visconti. Hereupon the Duke, not to
have to cope with too many enemies at once, entered into the alliance
with the Pope which has just been mentioned. As far as the resistance
to Filippo Maria was concerned, the Venetians were hand-in-hand
with the Florentines; as soon as Cosimo had returned, the Senate
congratulated the Signoria. But Florentine plans of winning still
independent parts of Tuscany, and the Venetian intentions on Romagna,
upon which, for the sake of the safety of their own frontiers, the eyes
of the Florentines were always directed, could not but endanger the
harmony of the two republics. The whole of the remaining lifetime of
Cosimo de’ Medici was occupied with the endeavour to support and secure
his position at home, and his connection with foreign countries, each
reciprocally aiding the other.

He found favourable soil in Florence. His partizans had prepared the
way for him. All the heads of the opposite faction were exiled, and
most of them ruined. Many were dead. It was easy for him to boast in
his memoirs, that during his administration not one individual was
banished or injured in any way. It was not lenity on his part, for he
had no more horror of violence or bloodshed than the majority of his
contemporaries where political ends were at stake, but it was prudent
calculation. He knew that he could allow others to give the laws an
interpretation which secured him, without being himself taxed with
using hard measures. He did this by the execution of penal laws, and by
making changes in the constitution. He first put forward Puccio Pucci,
who showed such zeal, and attained such authority, that the Hotspurs
of the party were named after him Puccini. When it was an object to
further the aims of this party even by the most sanguinary measures, or
to raise money, Puccio, otherwise an able man, and proved to be such in
office and in embassies, knew no scruples. Cosimo employed the services
of Luca Pitti even more frequently than those of Pucci. The family came
originally from Semifonte, in the Elsa valley, a castle the conquest
and destruction of which, as has been mentioned, plays a part in the
oldest annals of the development of the commonwealth. Maffeo Pitti sat
as early as 1283 in the magistracy of the Priors. Buonaccorso was a
man much employed about the end of the fourteenth and beginning of the
fifteenth centuries. His activity partakes somewhat of the character of
an adventurer, and he seems to have been equally versed in political
and mercantile affairs. No one was so successful as he in obtaining
foreign assistance against Gian Galeazzo Visconti, and it was chiefly
he who, on the part of Florence, persuaded Rupert of the Palatinate to
undertake the unsuccessful march into Lombardy, particulars of which
are given in his instructive memoirs.[74]

Buonaccorso’s son was the principal tool of Cosimo. ‘Luca Pitti,’ says
Francesco Guicciardini, ‘was not a man of remarkable capabilities, but
vivacious, liberal, courageous; one who ventured more for his friends
than any one in Florence; a man who might safely be allowed to carry
out everything, while he had not head enough to become formidable.’

Cosimo had friends of another kind than these two. At their head
stood Neri Capponi. His father Gino, descended from a family which
appears in the second half of the thirteenth century among the most
distinguished, had won a good name for himself by the capture of Pisa
in 1406, and by the judicious and reasonable administration of the
severely tried city, while his history of the popular rebellion of 1378
is one of the most important aids to a right understanding of this
important occurrence.[75] Neri belonged to those who before 1433 formed
a kind of moderate party, but after the death of Niccolò da Uzzano he
inclined more and more to Cosimo, and if unable to prevent his exile,
he aided essentially in his recall. He was for the Medicean party what
Niccolò had been for the Albizzi, the mediating element, but he never
attained to the position which the latter held, because Cosimo was of a
different nature from Maso, and still more unlike Rinaldo, and because
in many cases Neri rather complemented him than represented a different
principle. Neri Capponi certainly aided essentially in restraining
the Medicean party government within certain limits; yet the measures
which most confirmed their government were effected under his eyes.
Cosimo, who required him because he enjoyed general confidence, and
was skilled alike in peace and war, always found means to counteract
his influence when it was inconvenient to himself. ‘Neri,’ says
Francesco Guicciardini,[76] ‘well knew the means employed against him.
As he saw, however, that Cosimo’s position was impregnable, and that
to break with him would be to run his own head against the wall, he
pretended, intelligent as he was, not to observe anything that passed,
and waited patiently for time and opportunity.’ But it is evident that
this waiting, which we cannot but attribute to weakness of character or
selfish indirect motives, established Cosimo’s position more and more
firmly; Neri’s influence did not, however, increase, notwithstanding
the great services accomplished by him, which will be more fully dwelt
upon as we proceed.

Agnolo Acciaiuoli held a position scarcely inferior to that of Neri
Capponi. In the preceding century, his family, which rose with the
majority of the plebeian races, attained to unusual splendour. When
we descend the high road, leading southward from Florence to Siena,
we perceive, three miles from the town, on an isolated height on the
banks of the river Ema, the Certosa of Montacuto, convent and fortress
at the same time, with towers and pinnacles, with grand colonnades
and monuments of sculpture and painting in the splendid church. If we
wander farther, quitting the high road to descend to the right into the
valley of the Pesa, a tributary of the Arno, we see before us, on a low
hill rising from the midst of a green valley, an imposing building,
rather resembling a castle than a villa, the extensive mass of building
surmounted by a tower resembling the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio—Monte
Gufoni, once a splendid country seat, now, after the extinction of
the family of its possessors, deprived of its glory, and inhabited
by poor peasants. Niccolò Acciaiuoli built convent and villa in the
first half of the fourteenth century, when he wished to leave his
native country monuments of his affection and piety. Like so many of
his fellow-countrymen, having been originally attracted to the south
by commercial business, he had become, by talent and good fortune,
all-powerful at the court of the Neapolitan Anjous, who made him grand
seneschal of the kingdom, and afterwards a mighty ruler in Greece,
where his relations became dukes of Athens and Corinth. Agnolo’s
grandfather Donato, in former years governor in Corinth for his brother
the seneschal, was one of those who put an end to the ochlocracy of
the Ciompi, but his attempts to moderate the supremacy of the Albizzi
resulted in the exile in which he died. Agnolo had inherited his
spirit. He wished, indeed, for the supremacy of a party in Florence,
since Florence could no longer exist without the preponderance of one
or the other, but he resisted the entire subjection to one family
or one man. This opinion, which was held by a number of influential
citizens, explains the frequent internal disturbances, the history
of which, and consequently that of the whole State, is but half
understood, if we do not take into consideration the great number of
eminent men who exercised a secondary but yet important influence on
the conduct of affairs, as was the case especially under Cosimo de’
Medici, not to speak of later times, after the death of Lorenzo il
Magnifico and during the last years of the Republic. Agnolo Acciaiuoli
had during Cosimo’s exile engaged in transactions which would have cost
him his head if his brother-in-law had not, in the moment of danger,
burned the incriminating correspondence, which did actually bring him
to the torture, and to banishment to Cephalonia. That he, an active and
capable man, afterwards attained to influence and dignity is easily
explained: embassies and honours were heaped upon him, and he remained
among the foremost of the Medicean party, although there were not
wanting misunderstandings between him and Cosimo, which were revealed
after the death of the latter.[77]

Together with Agnolo Acciaiuoli rose into eminence his cousin Donato,
whose great-uncle, the celebrated and active cardinal-vice-chancellor,
also bore the name of Agnolo, and was the first Duke of Athens. At
Cosimo’s return, Donato was only six years old, but under the guidance
of a sensible mother, Palla Strozzi’s daughter, he developed rapidly,
and we shall meet him repeatedly in later years engaged in important
matters. Among those who held to the Medici there was no one who
enjoyed the general confidence in a higher degree, while he, although
State affairs claimed so much of his time, took a lively interest in
scientific pursuits.[78]

If Diotisalvi Neroni, who attained in Cosimo’s later years the
reputation of great acuteness and skill, was involved in the
misunderstandings to which we have alluded, other causes weighed in the
opposite scale; for as the father of this man essentially contributed
in 1434 to the prevention of Rinaldo degli Albizzi’s elevation to
power, so did he, as long as Cosimo lived, act as his clever and
willing tool. To the most estimable partisans of the Medici belonged
Bernardo Giugni, who was constantly employed on diplomatic embassies,
and Agnolo Pandolfini, with his sons Carlo and Giannozzo. Whoever
enters the Church of the Benedictines (Badia), which spite of repeated
alterations even now recalls the old times of the Republic, may see
the beautiful monuments, which were erected to Giugni and Giannozzo
Pandolfini, whom the commonwealth honoured with a funeral at the public
expense. The Giugni belonged to the oldest Guelph plebeian families,
and took part in the administration at its beginning. The Pandolfini
stood with them in the ranks of the Guelphs on the bloody field of
Montaperti, and streets of the city are yet named after both families,
which still flourish; while a palace built long after the time of which
we are now treating, which, if not one of the largest, is one of the
most beautiful in Florence—a work of Raffael Sanzio’s—keeps alive
the remembrance of the Pandolfini even in the history of art. Alamanno
Salviati would have been recommended by the talents of his father
Jacopo, one of the most eminent citizens of the oligarchical time, even
if he had not made himself remarkable by his talents and activity.
No one could anticipate in those days that, a generation later, his
relations would be involved in the most sanguinary catastrophe of the
Medicean history. The Guicciardini,[79] a family from the Pesa valley,
which had risen by trade, had stood on the side of the Albizzi. Of
Luigi’s two sons, who in 1378 filled the office of Gonfalonier when the
popular tumult broke out, in which he displayed no great energy, only
one, Giovanni, remained true to his colours, and though he did not go
into banishment at the return of his old enemy Cosimo, he was still
excluded with his descendants from all share in the administration.
The other son, Piero, went over to the Medicean party, was one of the
most active in bringing about Cosimo’s recall, and laid the foundation
of the subsequent high position of his family, among whom his
great-grandson gained immortal fame as statesman and historian, but as
citizen of a free city he has left a name not free from censure.

It is evident that Cosimo de’ Medici, powerful as he was, had no
freedom of action. He had to contend with different elements, fulfil
many obligations, and humour much sensitiveness. He understood it.
Scarcely any one has ever guided a great party as he did, and placed
himself so little in the foreground. His means were of different kinds.
When he returned he found the political power in the hands of a Balia
appointed by the Signoria of September, 1434, which had already freed
the city from his most decided or most powerful opponents. He only
needed to let them continue their work, and so their extraordinary
power was prolonged from one period of five years to another. The
ballot-boxes were of course only filled with the names of partisans
or unsuspected persons, for all in any way disaffected to the faction
were excluded, or, according to the expression then in vogue,’messi
a sedere.’ But even this did not satisfy the party leaders, and
instead of allowing the magistrates to be drawn by lot, they caused
them to be appointed, at their own pleasure, by the Accoppiatori from
among the eligible. While all offices thus fell to his confidants,
Cosimo meditated another and most peculiar means of excluding those
of whom he was not perfectly certain from any share whatever in the
administration. He annulled the statutes which disqualified the old
nobility and the so-called ‘grandi’ from holding office, and declared
these families to have equal rights with the citizens. It was regarded
as an important concession, as Cosimo was connected with many of them,
but in practice the matter proved otherwise. The names of the families
in question were not found in the ballot-box, and, besides, they
lost the offices to which they had hitherto been admissible, such as
legations, ministries of war, &c. It was said that the pride of the old
families was a thorn in the eyes of the upstart, who had never trusted

That Cosimo promoted a number of people of the lower order evinces
equally his intention of weakening the opposition, as the cynical
answer which he gave to those who remonstrated with him on the subject
expresses his unmitigated selfishness. For when it was observed to him
that he did not do well to ruin so many noble families, and that the
town must suffer by the loss of many of her most excellent citizens,
he answered that a few ells of fine scarlet cloth would fill Florence
again with distinguished citizens. A ruined city, he said, was better
than a lost one, and one could not rule a state with Paternosters. So
he showed himself unmerciful to all who had once opposed him, and while
such as left the places of exile (_confine_) assigned to them, were
declared rebels and lost their property, those who observed the decree
of banishment had their exile prolonged when the time of penalty had
expired. Thus it was with Palla Strozzi. He had shown himself weak
at the decisive moment of 1434, instead of supporting Rinaldo degli
Albizzi. It did not save him; he was banished to Padua for ten years.
When the ten years were over, he, who had only lived for science, kept
himself within the prescribed limits, and never allowed any one to
speak ill of Florence before him, hoped to see home again, but Cosimo
condemned him to ten more years. It was very painful to him, for he
was seventy-two years old, and loved Florence. He lived eighteen years
longer in banishment, and his descendants never returned to his native
city. His relations experienced the like hard fate with him. His
daughter-in-law, Alessandra de Bardi[80] was, as a girl and young wife,
a model of modesty and beauty: that did not save her. She saw her own
father as well as her father-in-law go into exile, and die in exile.
She saw her husband, Lorenzo, who could no longer bear the scorn,
ill-treatment, and oppression to which the families of the exiles were
exposed, and who went to Gubbio to earn his bread by teaching, die
beneath a murderer’s hand. She saw one portion of her property vanish
after the other, and her life pass away joylessly in constant change of
residence, and constant anxiety for her children. Numerous families,
once affluent, were reduced to misery; fathers and husbands wandered
about in foreign lands, and their property was confiscated. Noble
ladies begged alms. The poverty to which many were reduced by merciless
party spirit, even more than by losses in war and bad harvests, incited
the saintly Archbishop Antoninus in 1441 to found the charitable
institution which still exists under the name of Buonuomini di San
Martino, and which, managed by a society of trustworthy citizens, has
for its object to soften misery, especially when undeserved and borne
in silence.

The sad fate of Rinaldo degli Albizzi and his nearest relations is
the most striking example of the ruin impending over great families
in those days from party spirit. On October 2, 1434, the Balia
appointed in the Medicean interest gave orders to the Captain of the
People, Messer Jacopo de’ Lavagnoli of Verona, to proceed against the
originators of the tumult which had taken place near Sant’Apollinaris.
The sentence passed against Messer Rinaldo and his eldest son, Ormanno,
was eight years of banishment, during which the exiles should remain
at least a hundred miles distant from the Florentine frontiers, and
present themselves every three days to the magistrates of their chosen
place of residence, which must be certified by a notary’s act. The bail
for Rinaldo amounted to 4,000, and for Ormanno to 2,000 gold florins;
but all their moveable and immoveable property, including that of the
sons and wives, was made security for their proceedings. Of course the
exiles were made incapable of all offices. Father and son presented
themselves, according to order, in the towns of the district of Ancona,
whither they first repaired, Matelica, Montalboddo, Yesi. On November
3, Naples was assigned to the former as his place of exile, Gaeta to
the latter, and the banishment prolonged by ten years. Before Rinaldo
could reach Naples his destination was changed to Frani, on the Apulian
coast, with the command to repair thither in the space of a month.
Thus the homeless ones were hunted like wild animals. They of course
understood that even the most conscientious observation of the commands
given them would never re-open the gates of Florence to them. That
they then, driven by rage and despair, disregarded these commands,
left the places indicated (it was called ‘rompere il confine’), and
sought to return by force of arms, is to be explained, if not to be
justified. In the law that had fallen on them they recognised only
violence, which they on their side determined to oppose by violence.
When Filippo Maria Visconti undertook his last campaign against
Florence, the Albizzi and several of their fellow-sufferers were in the
Milanese army. The day of Anghiari destroyed their hopes. Eight days
after the battle, on July 6, 1440, the penalty was pronounced against
the rebels, for that they were now. Rinaldo and Ormanno degli Albizzi,
Messer Niccolò and Baldassarre Gianfigliazzi, Ludovico de’ Rossi,
Lamberto de’ Lamberteschi, Bernardo Barbadori, and Stefano Peruzzi, all
men of distinguished families, were declared to have forfeited their
honour, and their portraits were painted on the wall of the Palazzo
del Podestà, with insulting verses beneath, according to custom.
Andrea del Castagno, an artist of reputation, painted the pictures, as
Stefano, named Giottino, did before, and Andrea del Sarto after him.
The official poet and jester of the Signoria (the Araldo or herald),
Antonio di Meglio, to whose office it belonged to recite something to
the Signori during their meals, and to compose eulogies or satires
on public occasions, wrote the doggerel verses which indicated the
character and crime of each. The painter obtained from his pictures the
name of Andrea degli Impiccati.[81]

Rinaldo degli Albizzi resigned himself to his fate. Francesco Filelfo,
the humanist, whom hatred against Cosimo de’ Medici united to him,
informed him from Milan that nothing was to be hoped for from thence.
It was probably shortly after the lost battle that he made a pilgrimage
to the Holy Land, in fulfilment of an old vow. Returned from thence, he
stayed at Ancona, where he died, an aged man, on February 2, 1442, on
the marriage-day of a daughter.[82] Seven years later, Ormanno, then
more than fifty years old, turned to Cosimo’s younger son, Giovanni,
to beg him to obtain a favour in family affairs.[83] The letters from
Mantua, where the Albizzi resided with the Margrave Ludovico Gonzaga,
have the tone of old friendly connections; but how painfully clear is
the fallen condition of the once rich and powerful family! How terrible
it was we perceive from the narrative of a simple and trustworthy
man, a friend and client of the Medici.[84] Messer Rinaldo’s younger
son Maso, married to a Gianfigliazzi, saw himself involved with his
family in his father’s misfortunes. He had a son, also called Rinaldo,
who, in order to earn a livelihood, entered the service of Antonio
Cicinello, the influential councillor of King Alfonso of Aragon, and
attained his confidence and affection in a high degree. When Rinaldo
was going to Ancona one day to visit his mother, who lived there, he
was plundered on the way, and appeared in the doublet of a wretch whom
he had seen hanging by the wayside on a tree. The young man died not
long after, and Cicinello sent the unhappy woman, who had lost her
husband also, and lived in extreme want at Ancona, a sum which he had
been able to obtain from the property of the deceased, and which was
part of what he had helped her son to gain. When the widow returned to
Florence some time afterwards, Cicinello repaired thither on affairs
of state, and took with him the remainder of the money. We will let
our authority speak for himself: ‘One morning Messer Antonio repaired
to Sta. Trinità, and sent to the widow of Maso degli Albizzi (whose
parental house joined the church) with the request to come to him, as
he wished to speak with her. But the poor woman lay ill in bed, so that
Messer Antonio sent her the thirty ducats which he had by him, with the
words, he had once procured this money for her son, and now wished that
it should be of use to her. When the poor woman received the money,
and remembered the kindness which the sender of this money had shown
her son, she said, weeping, ‘It is now nearly thirty-five years since
my husband was banished from Florence. I have wandered miserably about
many parts of Italy, and during my husband’s lifetime, as afterwards
when I lost him, no one regarded me or helped me in my distress, but
I have been forsaken by all. Messer Antonio has shown greater sympathy
with me and my son than has been evinced all this time by the whole
world, in the midst of all the strokes of fate.’

Cosimo de’ Medici did not content himself with rendering his old
opponents harmless; he took care also that none of his adherents
should become too powerful and dangerous to him. Therefore, remarks
Francesco Guicciardini, he retained the Signoria, as well as the taxes,
in his hand, in order to be able to promote or oppress individuals at
will. In other things the citizens enjoyed greater freedom and acted
more according to their own pleasure than later, in the days of his
grandson, for he let the reins hang loose if he was only sure of his
own position. It was just in this that his great art lay, to guide
things according to his will, and yet to make his partisans believe
that he shared his authority with them. It was necessary, however,
that there should be one against the others, as was the case with Neri
Capponi. To weaken the respect in which the latter was held when his
name was in all mouths after the great victory over the Duke of Milan
in 1440, Cosimo is said to have commanded the murder of the captain,
Baldaccio da Anghiari, who remained in the service of the Republic,
and was an intimate friend of Neri. The sanguinary deed was executed
in the palace, whither the unsuspecting man had been summoned by
command of the Gonfaloniere Bartolommeo Orlandini. Thus the share of
Cosimo and his motives are veiled in obscurity, but the suspicion has
never been removed from him.[85] The name of the Casa Annalena still
recalls Baldaccio’s widow, of the family of the Malateste of Rimini,
who founded here a convent for destitute women and girls, the extensive
buildings and gardens of which were employed for other purposes at the
dissolution of the monastic orders in 1808.

When Neri Capponi, who still acted as a counterbalance, though a very
weak one, to the Medicean authority, died, November 22, 1457, at the
age of sixty-nine, the prevailing party had already begun to divide.
The old opponents were entirely annihilated, most of their chiefs dead
and their families impoverished; the anxieties in which the long wars,
first with the Visconti, then with Venice, had kept the government
and the people, had been ended by the peace of 1454, which we shall
mention later. Those who had held together in the face of danger,
relaxed after safety had been gained. Cosimo’s supremacy was burdensome
to the aristocratic partizans of the Medici. They demanded that the
extraordinary powers with which he had governed since 1434 should be
terminated. Cosimo consented. The Balia, renewed only two years ago,
was declared extinct in the summer of 1455, and the members of the
Signoria were again drawn by lot like other magistrates. Giovanni
Rucellai, a deserving man, was the first who thus received the office
of Gonfaloniere. The people, who hated every appearance of arbitrary
power, desired a return to the old forms as much as those who had
caused the changes, but the latter soon perceived that the greater
freedom was more apparent than real; for when the ballot-boxes were
filled with the names of such as held to Cosimo, the latter attained
his ends without appearing on the stage. The revision of the registers
revealed this. Then, according to the decree laid down when these were
instituted, a revision ought to have been held every three years, but
this had only happened in 1433. One of the restrictions put upon the
extraordinary commission (Balia) of that year had been that it neither
had power to change the ballot-boxes nor to abolish the registers, but
at Cosimo’s return no such limits were put to the authority of his
partisans, and they returned indeed to the ancient arbitrary system
which the law of 1427 had been meant to do away with. Instead of a
firm base of taxation, party spirit and party manœuvres prevailed.
The measures resorted to had the double aim of ruining antagonists,
or such as were suspected, and of gaining the lower classes. The most
offensive of these measures, one which had been in contemplation during
the mob-government of 1378, was the adoption of a progressive scale,
which, by dividing the citizens into fourteen classes, ascended from
a trifling imposition to fifty per cent of the supposed income, which
was fixed by arbitration. Moreover, taxation was not limited as to
time, but depended entirely on the want of means alleged by Government.
The continuous wars which led the enemy at times into the interior of
the country, caused a constant drain upon the revenue. One war-tax
after another was proclaimed, and the results by no means corresponded
always with the demand. In the summer of 1442 no less than 180,000
gold florins were paid as a reward to Francesco Sforza for his support
of René of Aragon against Alfonso of Aragon—a vain expenditure,
since Alfonso took besieged Naples, and established himself so firmly
that all the enterprises of Anjou against him, and his son and
successor Ferrante, were frustrated. The distribution of the taxes
was a perpetual means for the faction to oppress those whom they
disliked. Many people were entirely ruined. A number of considerable
citizens had left the city and retired to villas, to escape the
immoderate exactions, as the country had less to pay than Florence,
but it availed them little. It was said of Cosimo de’ Medici, that
instead of the dagger, the usual weapon, he employed the taxes to rid
himself of his enemies. He retained the instrument, or, as Francesco
Guicciardini says, the dishonesty of the taxes, in his own hands, in
order to ruin those in whom he saw declared opponents, to bring down
to poverty others whom he mistrusted or who were inconvenient to him,
and to favour partisans. The members of the commission entrusted with
laying on the taxes were either his creatures or dependent on him.
Lightening the burdens of the lower classes was only the pretext,
and the humiliation of the independent burghers the real aim. This
aim was attained by Cosimo, his son, and his grandson. ‘It is well
known,’ remarks the statesman and historian just mentioned, in his
reflections on the Florentine administration, ‘how much nobility and
wealth were destroyed by Cosimo and his descendants by taxation. The
Medici never allowed a fixed method and legal distribution, but always
reserved to themselves the power of bearing heavily upon individuals
according to their pleasure. Had they only employed this weapon to
protect themselves against enemies and suspicious persons, they would
have been to a certain extent excusable; but as they did not succeed by
other means, or by appealing to their ambition and vanity, in attaching
to themselves peaceful citizens more intent on their own business than
on affairs of State, they made use of the taxes to win them over, and
to set themselves up as lords of all, while they forced the people to
seek to divine their will even in trifles.’ The most striking example
of the abuse of the power of taxation is the history of Giannozzo
Manetti. After a life spent in the service of the State and of science,
the veneration shown him both at home and abroad, as well as his
inclination for Venice, brought on him the disfavour of Cosimo and his
adherents, and he saw himself reduced to beggary by taxes which reached
the incredible height of 135,000 gold florins. Abandoning house,
property, and State-papers he went into voluntary exile, to drag out
the few days still remaining to him, by means of first a Papal, and
later a Neapolitan pension.

The shameless enrichment of many of Cosimo’s personal adherents, and
the discontent evinced in the city, made it at last appear advisable
to many of the ruling party to make an end of the system which had
lasted since 1434. It was asserted of Puccio Pucci that he had acquired
50,000 gold florins of the public moneys by usury and dishonest
administration. It was calculated that a certain Giovanni Corsini,
who began with scarcely the necessary means of life, had cheated
Government of 20,000 florins. Florence was rife with evil tales of
dishonest upstarts, of theft at the public cost, of dirty actions and
extortion.[86] With Cosimo’s silent consent (without this nothing could
have been done), the Signoria at last commanded, on January 11, 1458, a
revision of the registers, indicating, as far as it seemed advisable to
them, the prevailing evils.[87] Scarcely was the measure decreed than
many of Cosimo’s party, and precisely those who had sought to fetter
him by withdrawing the former extraordinary powers, were seized with a
violent terror. For they saw themselves not merely obliged to declare
the increase on moveable and immoveable property, which in a quarter
of a century was immense with many of them, but the progressive scale
employed in the new declaration threatened them with a double weight.
Only from Cosimo could they expect assistance. The same people who had
attempted to weaken his authority three years before, now entreated
him to resume it, and proceed to action—that is, summon a parliament,
and cause extraordinary powers to be granted by it. They had already
formed the plan of doing away with the ballot-boxes, in order to effect
new elections more favourable to them, but Cosimo declined to do their
will. It suited him that those for whom his power was too great should
perceive that they not only gained nothing by the independence more
apparent than real of the Government, but sacrificed their authority
while his own remained undiminished. He had ready the convenient
explanation that extraordinary measures were only permissible in the
case of highest need and danger, that now the heavy debts contracted
in the long wars would be paid, the numerous changes in property taken
into account, the irregularities in the valuation of movable property
done away with, and the regular payment of the interest of the
national debt be re-established. As long as Alfonso of Aragon lived,
who never lost sight of Tuscany, it did not seem advisable to undertake
alterations which might arouse displeasure among the people. For Cosimo
was never certain of this people, and in times of dearth, bad harvests,
storms, contagious disease, which repeatedly occurred, or under
oppressive war-taxes, the easily moved crowd was not to be trusted.
It was by no means always on Cosimo’s side. His measureless riches
aroused much envy and evil-speaking. If he built much, and expended
large sums in particular on churches and convents, it was said, We pay
for his hypocrisy, which is, moreover, full of spiritual pride, by
emptying our own purses. Even the secret cells of the brethren in the
cloister he fills with the balls of his coat-of-arms! His palace might
bear a comparison with the Colosseum. Who would not build splendidly
could he but employ other people’s money for it? It was said that the
money-boxes at the city gates were emptied in the house of the Medici.
When Cosimo, says a contemporary, advanced to the commune far greater
sums than he took, nothing was remarked upon it. He did this certainly,
but he kept an exact account of it, and it could hardly be said that
the partnership between the State and the Medici was solely to the
advantage of the former. One morning the doors of Cosimo’s palace were
found stained with blood.[88]

Such things occurred long before the time we are now considering.
Cosimo had meanwhile no wish to remain passive after his haughty
partisans had received a wholesome lesson. The license to which the
lower classes inclined more and more, might have risen to such a
point that his own authority would be endangered. He himself did not
appear, but the tool was readily found. On July 1, 1458, Luca Pitti
undertook the office of Gonfalonier. Three days before, King Alfonso
had died; from his son—Ferrante—who had a difficult position in
Naples on account of his illegitimate birth, and who did not, like
his father, command the powers of Sicily and Aragon—there was for
the time nothing to fear. Neither reform of registers nor drawing the
magistrates by lot were to the taste of the new Gonfalonier; and urged
by his friends, but with consideration for Cosimo, who wished to avoid
open violence, he sought to induce priors and colleges to proceed to
new elections, and choose new magistrates. When he met with opposition
in this, he determined to employ the usual violent means. On August 9
he caused the palace and square to be surrounded by mercenaries, had
the neighbouring streets secured, and summoned the people by ringing
the great bell. That the Gonfalonier could do this in opposition to
the priors, or at least to the majority of them, is an evident sign
how weak the laws were. The Parliament, however it might be composed,
granted to the Senate, and 250 of the burghers proposed by the party,
the extraordinary powers demanded. These now proceeded to the new
elections, and appointed a commission of eight citizens to preside at
all elections for the future. It is easily understood that all actual
authority was now more than ever in the hands of the heads of the
faction, who filled the offices at their pleasure, and when the priors
of the guild were after this called priors of freedom, it was in bitter
irony. All opponents of the measures, several of whom endured torture,
and a number of people who were either not trusted, or of whom one or
other of the new wielders of power had to complain, were banished. In
the months next following, exile and exclusion from office were but
too common, and if in this way justice was sometimes done, as on the
dishonest tax officials in Florence, Pisa, Arezzo, yet this made but a
poor show in the presence of so many deeds of violence. According to
the reform of taxation, the mercantile order was to be obliged to show
their account books; an agreement was then made with them, agreeably to
which a fixed sum of movable capital was declared, which was not the
means to find out the real amount, or to ensure the just distribution
of the burdens. Luca Pitti became a great man. The Signoria granted
him the dignity of knighthood, and Cosimo made him rich presents, in
which others imitated him. His momentary splendour eclipsed that of
Medici; not he, but Luca seemed to stand at the head of the State, and
if his nature inclined generally to pomp and power, he now allowed it
free scope. His arbitrary and unjust administration was to find its
punishment years after.

In the last years of his life, Cosimo had no longer the guidance of his
party in his hands, as formerly. What he had always feared and long
managed to prevent, now happened: his most distinguished adherents
grew too strong for him. He had always feared to place himself in a
clear light; what would once have aided him, when it was a question of
arousing no envy, now injured him, as others employed it to outshine
him. His continual illness combined to render his share in affairs
more difficult. He allowed much to pass that he could not hinder, but,
crafty and accustomed to rule as he was, he would not confess that he
could not hinder it. Thus, as people like Luca Pitti and his companions
stood far below him, and knew nothing of that kind of prudent and
calculated moderation which lay in his character, a grasping and
unconscientious party-government was formed, such as Florence, with the
exception of transient periods of disturbances and passion, had never

It is easy to conceive that, with such a government, and with men
at its head ever ready to infringe or to corrupt the laws and
constitution, the magistrates of the Republic enjoyed but a small
measure of authority, which was allowed to them by the chiefs on whom
they depended. The machinery of government remained the same as it had
been in former days, but real power rested elsewhere. The oligarchy,
which obtained a firm footing in Cosimo’s last years, which tried to
overthrow his son, and yielded to his grandson’s consummate skill,
kept in its hands the reins even when its own independence was most
doubtful. The thirst for public offices continued immoderate. These
offices preserved ostensibly their dignity, and secured advantages
of various kinds; but they no longer, as such, had any influence
upon politics. The majority of them had been established between the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; some had been added during the
fifteenth. The upper magistracy, generally called the Signory, was the
College of Priors of the Guilds, or of Freedom, as they were called
after 1458. It had been established in 1282, and though afterwards
transformed, was originally composed of eight members chosen every two
months, with the Gonfalonier (_vexillifer justitiæ_) at their head.

In him was vested the highest power, which he, apart from the
executive, shared with the colleges, with the Buonuomini appointed in
1312, with the assessors of the priors, and with the sixteen bannerets
of the militia companies, at whose head was the Capitano del Popolo.

There has been a question raised as to the original military character
of this institution. The projects of law agreed to by the Signory and
the colleges were carried to three councils; first to the council of
the people, which consisted of a hundred members, chosen originally
only from the higher class of citizens, the _popolo grasso_. Then they
went to the council of the ‘Credenza,’ which was formed of the same
number of members, and in which sat all the consuls and other officials
of the guilds; lastly, to the Podestà’s council, composed of the judges
and legal functionaries, nobles and citizens, ninety in number. When
a bill had passed through these three courts, it was brought before a
General Assembly of them all, and not until then became law.

Forms, indeed, were duly observed, but these forms did not prevent
the adoption of laws which fatally attacked the constitution from
within. For the consideration of bills relating to foreign affairs,
to peace and war, two other consultative bodies were established
after 1411, when greater care seemed to be necessary, on account
of the heavy burdens caused by the dissensions of the great Schism.
The one was the Council of Two Hundred, to which only those could be
elected who had occupied the highest offices of State, and to which
legislative proposals were sent before they came to the Council of a
Hundred and Thirty-one—in which sat the members of the Signory and of
the colleges, the ‘Capitani di parte Guelfa’, the ‘War Ten,’ the six
councils of the craftsmen, the consuls of the guilds, and forty-eight
other citizens. The bills had to be accepted in these two assemblies
before they reached the first-mentioned councils. From such a mass of
incongruous materials was the machine of State compiled.

The chief judicial functionary, and until Luca Pitti’s reform the
first dignitary, was the Podestà, assisted as he was by the Capitano
del Popolo—whose rights and privileges were often changed—and by the
executor of legal ordinances. All three were strangers: the first two
noble personages learned in the law, the third a man of the people,
of Guelfish family, holding office for one year. The Podestà’s court
included several adjuncts who took turn with the chief. The armed
guard of the latter were under the chief bailiff or Bargello. Attached
to these were the Magistracy of Eight (Otto di Guardia), who were
nominated by the Signory, and installed in office for four months. They
had to try criminal and police cases, and were conservators of the
law—a sort of appeal court for the revision of the decisions of the
Podestà’s court. Much of their time, however, was spent in detecting
the artifices and evasions of the tax-payers. The uncertain line
of demarcation between the jurisdiction of the several co-existing
law courts has always been one of the most serious evils of the
constitution of Florence. For the separate branches of the constitution
different functionaries were appointed. Foreign affairs and war were in
the hands of the ‘Peace and War Ten,’ who were appointed in 1423 during
the campaign against Milan. There had indeed been, half a century
earlier, a similar magistracy, nicknamed by popular wit, the ‘Eight
Saints,’ because they conducted warlike operations against Pope Gregory
XI. It was as secretary of the ten that Niccolò Machiavelli manifested
that activity which, together with the literary talents which he
afterwards developed, made the ‘Segretario fiorentino’ so celebrated.
The influence exercised by this committee upon military operations was
often most unfortunate, and in the peaceful times of 1480, we see it
replaced by the ‘Otto di Pratica.’

The office of Capitani di parte Guelfa, to whom was entrusted, by the
statutes of 1267, the control of the property of the rebels—an office
open also to the nobility—had long lost the political importance
it acquired in the second half of the fourteenth century. To the
magistracy of custom-dues, established in 1352, and in which always sat
one of the nobility, was given the control of the indirect taxation;
to the Uffiziali del Monte, the direction of the state debt; to the
consuls, appointed after the acquisition of Leghorn, the management
of navigation and of commerce beyond the seas. The assessment of
loans was managed by special commissions. The tribunal of commerce
(Mercanzia) was composed of six members of the large corporations and
six foreigners learned in the law. The chief of the affairs of the
guilds, the proconsul, who ranked immediately after the Signory and
colleges, belonged to the first guild, that of the lawyers. In a town
and commonwealth where a strong principle of beneficence prevailed,
all charities had to be well arranged. The officials of the widow and
orphan fund, whose premises are now occupied by the Society of Brethren
of Mercy, on the Cathedral square; the Capitani di Sta. Maria, who were
originally appointed to oppose the Patarian heresy, but subsequently
devoted themselves to the care of orphans, and survive in the Uffizio
del Bigallo opposite the Baptistery; the Buonuomini di San Martino,
founded by St. Antoninus with their domicile in the dwellings of the
Alighieri—all these belong properly to the municipality. All the
courts and committees had their chancellors or secretaries, whose
importance depended on circumstances, but was enhanced by the fact
that they were permanent officials, while the members were constantly
changing. The Signory and other assemblies had many subordinate
officers besides. The salaries were insignificant, and the only persons
who received them were the foreign judges, chancellors, secretaries,
subordinate officers, and servants; as also the officers in the towns
of the district, the commissaries of the troops, and the ambassadors
abroad, while the acting magistrates at home were unpaid.

This form of government and councils continued, with slight
modifications, until the month of December 1494, when the overthrow
of the Medici was the signal of events which materially altered the
constitution of the Republic.



WHILE these things were going on at home, the exigencies of war for
many years made serious demands on the State and its resources, and
more than once the contest was carried into the territory of the
Republic. To the dangers which arose from the fact that two ambitious
and warlike princes governed the north and south of Italy, was added
the unfavourable circumstance, that a Pope sat in St. Peter’s chair who
was constantly drawn into the din of war, less, perhaps, from his own
restlessness, than from the hopeless confusion in the States of the
Church. The principal scene of the war was Romagna, a country which,
by its distracted condition, by the number of its petty lords, and the
violent character of its inhabitants—still more by its geographical
position and the vicinity of powerful States—seemed destined to be the
general battle-field.

The hereditary enmity of Filippo Maria Visconti was aggravated by the
hatred of the Florentine exiles, who, despairing of a return to their
country on peaceful terms, stirred up the Duke of Milan to strife
with her, under the usual pretext that it was not a war against their
country, but against a faction. The want of success which attended
the troops of Visconti in the territory of Lucca, under Niccolò
Piccinino, was an enticement for Cosimo de’ Medici to strive to obtain
possession of this town, as he did six years later, but with no greater
success than before. The war, begun in the Lucchese territory, was
continued in the Romagna, where Florence and Venice, with the aid of
Pope Eugenius IV., resisted Visconti. The Milanese army did indeed
once again cross the Apennines, but only to suffer a decisive defeat,
on June 29, 1440, at Anghiari, between Arezzo and the valley of the
Tiber. This defeat led to peace in the following year, and enlarged
the Florentine territory by the mountain region of the Casentino,
where the supremacy of the counts Guidi, allied with Milan, who, since
the days of imperial power in Italy, had had dominion here, came to
an end. Scarcely was the Milanese war at an end than Florence, like
Venice, was drawn into the contest with Naples which Renè of Anjou was
carrying on against King Alfonso of Aragon; both representatives of
the dualism which the fall of the Hohenstaufen had bequeathed to South
Italy. The Sienese country, the territory of Volterra and the Pisan
Maremma, were the scenes of a struggle which might have been dangerous
to the Republic, if the king had not been detained by besieging smaller
places—though he was not unskilled in war; he suffered moreover from
the malaria of the plains, and wasting the years 1447 and 1448 in
inglorious and fruitless undertakings, was obliged for a while to lay
down his arms without concluding peace, with the intention of taking
them up again under more favourable circumstances. The opportunity was
not long delayed.

In the midst of the feud between Florence and the Aragonese, Filippo
Maria Visconti died, the last of a race which, more than any other,
had represented the arbitrariness and cruelty of mediæval tyranny. He
had appointed Alfonso of Aragon his heir, with a view perhaps that the
weapons which he had wielded all his life long without stirring from
the walls of his castle, might not rest even after his death. But the
dukedom of Milan was in danger of dissolution. The capital, with Como,
Novara, and Alessandria, cried out for a republic; Lodi and Piacenza
threw themselves into the arms of Venice, which, engaged in ceaseless
strife with Visconti, was just now pressing him hard. Duke Charles of
Orleans, Filippo Maria’s nephew, prepared to support the rights of
inheritance by force of arms; while the Duke of Savoy turned his eyes
towards the rich Lombardy which his successors never again lost sight
of. But there was another competitor—not a prince, but more able and
skilled in arms than all the princes of the time: Francesco Sforza,
the son of a valiant and successful _condottiere_, who had risen from
the ranks of the peasantry. He had been at the age of twenty-three
leader of the victorious mercenary troops of his father, who gave his
name to a famous school of warriors. He had served Florence and Venice
in war against the Visconti and Alfonso of Aragon; striven for and
against Pope Eugenius IV. in Romagna and the frontiers; and in the
midst of rapid changes of fortune and party, preserved relations with
Florence which proved more lasting than those of the _condottieri_
generally were. Now attracted by Filippo Maria, again repelled by
suspicion even after the latter had bestowed on him the hand of his
natural daughter, Bianca Maria, he was about to come to his assistance,
when the victorious Venetians had already crossed the Adda. The duke
died, and the new republic, threatened by so many foes, chose him to
be their general. Three years later he became Duke of Milan. Francesco
Sforza possessed himself of the supreme power by treachery and force
of arms, but he saved for half a century the independence of a State
which, after 170 years of tyranny, was no longer capable of life as
a commonwealth, and furthered its prosperity, while he powerfully
contributed to the formation of a political system which, however great
its weakness, was the most reasonable under existing circumstances.

Without the aid of Florence and Cosimo de’ Medici, he would not have
attained his ends. Cosimo had recognised his ability in the war with
Visconti, and made a close alliance with him. In order to retain him
in his service, when Filippo Maria offered him as a bait the hand of
his daughter, Cosimo had gone in 1438 to Venice, in order to obtain
more favourable conditions for him from the Republic, friendly to
himself, in which, however, he failed. During the distress of Sforza
on the frontiers, he had supported him as much as he could. His son
Piero was present at Sforza’s marriage. Now it was necessary to choose
between Sforza and Venice, for there was only one alternative; either
the _condottiere_ would make himself Duke of Milan, or the Republic
of San Marco would extend its rule over all Lombardy. In Florence
several voices declared in favour of the old ally on the Adriatic,
who, however she might seek her own advantage with unscrupulous zeal,
had yet ever been faithful at critical moments. Cosimo de’ Medici gave
the casting-vote in Sforza’s favour. Perhaps it was hard to think of
his old personal connections and obligations, but political expediency
gained the day. Without Florentine money, Sforza would never have been
able to maintain the double contest—on the one side against Milan,
which he blockaded and starved out; and on the other against the
Venetians, who sought to relieve it, and whom he repulsed. And when,
on March 25, 1450, he made his entry into the city which proclaimed
him ruler, he was obliged to maintain himself with Florentine money
till he had established his position and re-organised the State. A
Florentine embassy went to congratulate him—Piero de’ Medici, Neri
Capponi, Luca Pitti, Diotisalvi Neroni. The Venetians were exceedingly
irritated, as was natural. They judged rightly that the Sforza owed
his success essentially to the favour of their former friends. Their
indignation became fiercer when Florence entered into negociations
(June 29) with King Alfonso, with whom they were still at war. Common
animosity to Florence and Sforza drew Venice and the king nearer to one
another, and at the end of 1451 an alliance, offensive and defensive,
was concluded against them, which Siena, Savoy, and Montferrat joined.
It was at first directed against the Duke of Milan; the Florentines had
the choice of joining it, for form’s sake. But when they replied that,
as peace prevailed in Italy, new alliances were not necessary, the
Venetians banished all the Florentine merchants from their territories,
refused a hearing to Otto Niccolini, who was entrusted with an embassy,
and persuaded the king to adopt like measures. On May 16, 1452, the
Republic and, four weeks later, King Alfonso declared war, which the
Emperor Frederick III., then in Italy, and Pope Nicholas V., successor
to Eugenius IV. since 1447, in vain endeavoured to prevent.

The Venetians began the war in Lombardy, the Neapolitans in the valley
of the Chiana. Ferrante, Duke of Calabria, the king’s son, commanded
the latter; Sigismundo Malatesta, lord of Rimini, the Florentines, who
sent only foreign mercenaries to the field this time. The persistency
with which the democracy had borne down the ancient nobility, who were
trained to bear arms, had, in conjunction with the preponderance of the
industrial and mercantile interests, completely annihilated the former
warlike skill of the people, and though the Republic, in reliance on
her pecuniary power, tried to hold her ground by means of mercenaries,
she was far from being able to compete with States like Venice, Naples,
and Milan, who, partly in consequence of their political form, attained
greater unity in the conduct of war, and also had more men at their
command, from their greater territorial power. The Florentines achieved
some brilliant successes, but most of their campaigns were unfortunate,
and the ability of individual citizens employed as military
commissaries could not outweigh the disadvantages which sprung from
general strategic incapacity and the want of unity in the commanders.
The tactics of the _condottieri_ were on the decline throughout Italy,
while the art of fortification and besieging was still in its infancy.
The fertile though unhealthy plain which stretches on both sides of
the sluggish Chiana, between Arezzo, Cortona, and Montepulciano, was
desolated by the enemy, who, however, lay for thirty-six days before
the little castle of Fojano, which was only defended by 200 people.
They had to retire from Castellina, another weakly-fortified place
between Siena and Florence, without having effected anything, and only
owed to the cowardice of the commander of Bada, in the Maremma, the
capture of this unimportant fortress, before which a fleet of twenty
galleys and other vessels cruised. So low had Italian strategy fallen,
that they were only able to reduce even slightly defended places by
hunger, while even the more practised generals feared to venture a
battle, and the principal method of war was unsparing devastation of
the land. The Florentines, destitute of good soldiers, sought to give
another turn to affairs by inviting once more into Italy Alfonso’s old
rival, René, and then his son, John of Anjou, who also bore the title
of Duke of Calabria, as his father retained that of King of Naples.
They thus sought to relieve the Duke of Milan, and free themselves from
the incursions of the Neapolitans, who once advanced to within six
miles of the town, and did great damage. In the summer of 1453 their
enemies were driven back upon the Sienese territory. But a foreign
event contributed more than all to terminate this miserable war, and
put an end to the petty squabbling of the Italian powers.

On May 29, 1453, Mohammed II. stormed Constantinople. The West was
threatened, more especially Venice, which had such great and wealthy
possessions in the Levant, and Naples. This time the excellent Pope
Nicholas V. did not exert himself in vain. On April 9, 1454, Venice
concluded a tolerably favourable peace with Francesco Sforza at Lodi,
in which King Alfonso, Florence, Savoy, Montferrat, Mantua, and Siena,
were to be included. The king, who had made considerable preparations
for war, did not ratify the compact till January 26 of the following
year. The States of Northern and Central Italy then joined in an
alliance, and a succession of peaceful years followed, which were only
momentarily interrupted in the case of Florence by the freebooting
expedition of Jacopo Piccinino, a son of the Niccolò who was conquered
at Anghiari. Dismissed from the Venetian service, he attacked the
Sienese territory in 1455, on his own account, but was defeated and
compelled to set sail for Naples from Orbetello. In the confusion which
broke out in Naples after king Alfonso’s death neither Florence nor
Venice was involved. The ancient Florentine friendship with the house
of Anjou had to yield to other influences. At the same time, when
the Turks conquered the Morea, and thus approached nearer and nearer
to the coasts of Italy, the Angevin party in the kingdom attempted a
new rising against Ferrante of Aragon, who in 1460 suffered a defeat
from Duke John, which would have driven him from the throne had his
opponents been more united and more powerful. Assistance from Milan and
from Rome, where Pius II. now occupied the Holy See, after the short
reign (not quite three years) of Calixtus III., combined with his own
energy and skill, facilitated the King’s restoration to power; and not
long after, he saw the Anjou expelled from the kingdom by the decisive
victory at Troia, and the insurrectionary barons, among whom were
several of his near relations, given into his power. Thus Florence,
like Venice, which had then little time to think of anything except
danger from the Turks, was appealed to for assistance by Ferrante on
the ground of the alliance concluded in consequence of the peace of
Lodi; but Florence refused, from a consideration of the late King’s
double dealing in the affair of Piccinino.

In the midst of the civil disputes and confusion above described, of
repeated foreign troubles, and an immense exertion of material power
to secure her political position, Florence in the times of Cosimo
de’ Medici was still the harbour of refuge for all Italy, and, in
consequence of an event important in the history of the world, the
haven of Christendom. The ever-memorable movement in the intellectual
world will be mentioned later; the occurrence which forms an important
epoch in ecclesiastical history must be considered here.

Pope Eugenius IV. had, as we have seen, to battle at once with a double
opposition, which, different in origin as in significance, united
for a time, and clouded a considerable part of his reign of sixteen
years. The attempt to restrain within reasonable limits the Colonna,
the relations of his predecessors, who had been immoderately favoured
and had grown insolent, excited agitation in Rome, and kindled a
strife which extended through the greater part of the States of the
Church. The course pursued by the council at Basle, opened not much
more than four months after the elevation of Eugenius, necessarily
led to irreconcilable dissension with the pontificate, because the
new assembly, instead of considering the altered position of affairs
since the termination of the great schism, and confining itself firmly
and with wise moderation to what was truly edifying and necessary (as
exemplified, for instance, in the new Frankish-Germanic countries),
raised its pretensions so high, that if they had prevailed, the
Papacy would have become a cipher. The simultaneous occurrence of
the ecclesiastical contest at Basle with the ambitious plans of
Filippo Maria Visconti, had filled Romagna and the frontiers, the
patrimony—nay, even the Campagna—with the din of war; and on June
4, 1434, the Pope was obliged to take flight from Rome. As early as
the end of January affairs had assumed such an aspect in the States of
the Church, especially in Bologna, that Florence deemed it necessary
to arm, foreseeing that the Pope would be forced to leave Rome, and
Rinaldo degli Albizzi had then expressed his opinion that it would be
advantageous and honourable for the State if Eugenius IV. should choose
Florence as his residence.[89] Received honourably in the city, where
he had already found support in his feud with the Colonna, and residing
in the convent of Sta. Maria Novella, he was witness of the revolution
which brought Cosimo de’ Medici to the helm of affairs, and he remained
at Florence till April 1436, when he repaired to Bologna. As the
controversy with the fathers assembled at Basle became hotter every
year, and he himself was cited before their tribunal, he transferred
the council to Ferrara on October 1, in the following year.

While, early in 1438, the fathers at Basle were pronouncing the
suspension of the Pope, the latter opened, in the capital of the house
of Este, a council, at which appeared shortly afterwards the Greek
Emperor, John Palæologus, in whom the distress of his crumbling empire
had aroused the hope of securing the assistance of the West by a union
with the Church. A pestilence which broke out in Ferrara caused the
removal of the synod to Florence, where in January 1439 it began its
sittings, and on July 6 proclaimed the reunion of the two churches,[90]
six weeks after the deposition of Eugenius IV. had been decreed by
the council at Basle, which had degenerated into a _conciliabulum_,
and which a few months later elected Duke Amadeus VIII. of Savoy, a
powerless anti-Pope, under the name of Felix V. The bronze doors of
the church of St. Peter’s in the Vatican, the work of two Florentine
artists, though not the best specimen of the Florentine sculpture of
that age, commemorate these events in the reliefs. The reconciliation
between East and West could not be of long duration; the schism, a
double one, as it was a question of doctrine as well as supremacy,
and was deeply rooted in the feelings of the people, broke out again
immediately afterwards. But for Florence, where also a reconciliation
of the Armenians with the Church of Rome took place, the council formed
an epoch in the world’s history.

Eugenius IV. resided for four years in the city, while powerful
regents, entrusted with full power, governed Rome. First, the
cardinal-patriarch Giovanni Vitelleschi, for a time Archbishop of
Florence, and involved in the catastrophe of Rinaldo degli Albizzi,
as Luca Pitti was, six years later, in that which ended in his
violent death; then Cardinal Ludovico Scarampi, likewise Archbishop
of Florence at a time when this see needed a more worthy pastor than
these prelates, wearing coat-of-mail and sword. It was precisely during
these years that the Pope was more involved than suited his pastoral
dignity in that endless confusion in the Romagna and the frontiers
which occupied the last years of Filippo Maria Visconti, nor did his
Holiness hold himself quite aloof from a share in Florentine party
divisions. It would have been better for him if he had appeared there
less as a temporal prince than as Pope. On March 25, the feast of
the Annunciation, with which the year began, according to Florentine
custom, he consecrated Sta. Maria del Fiore, where the solemn
proclamation of union in the Church followed: two occurrences recorded
on the large marble tablets which are to be seen on each side of the
entrance to the new sacristy. After the consecration, the Gonfaloniere,
Giuliano Davanzati, received the honour of knighthood. The church
of Sta. Croce was consecrated in 1442, in the presence of the Pope,
by Cardinal Bessarion, Archbishop of Nicæa, one of the few Greeks
who remained in communion with the Latin church. Another memorial of
this Pope is the Collegium Eugenianum, founded in the year 1435, an
institution for young priests, which now occupies the former locality
of the Florentine university in the street named after it, Via dello
Studio, where the antique modest building speaks of former days.

The contest for the Neapolitan throne almost produced a serious rupture
between Eugenius IV. and Florence. The Pope had once recognised the
claims of René of Anjou, and granted him the investiture which Cosimo
de’ Medici received February 23, 1435.[91] He afterwards inclined
to the side of his opponent, who, after the conquest of the capital,
forced René to evacuate the kingdom. In the summer of 1442 the latter
had come to Florence, with the hope of regaining the Pope’s favour,
and also of inducing the Republic to give active support to Francesco
Sforza, who, as we have seen, had fought on his side, but was now hard
pressed in Romagna and on the frontiers. The King, without a kingdom,
was honourably received by the Gonfaloniere, Giovanni Falconi; one
of the houses of the Bardi was assigned to him as residence, and
twenty-five gold florins a day granted him for his maintenance. But
Eugenius IV. was not to be won over, and the Florentines seem also to
have despaired of any favourable result, after Sforza’s contest had
cost, and continued to cost, them such heavy sums. When René saw that
he was wasting his time, he embarked at Leghorn in a Genoese ship,
which brought him back to Provence.

At last, March 7, 1443, the Pope quitted Florence. The mistrust felt
towards him on account of his supposed understanding with the exiles,
had declared itself so openly, that advice was sent from Venice
rather to hinder his departure than to let him go with anger and evil
intentions in his heart. Leonardo Aretino, the chancellor, and other
judicious citizens spoke against it. Venice herself, he said, would
take care not to act so in a similar case. He was right, for the Pope
was a power not to be despised. Vespasiano da Bisticci describes the
impression which he made on the people.[92] When Eugenius, surrounded
by the cardinals, stood on the scaffolding erected at the entrance to
the cloisters of Sta. Maria Novella, to dispense his blessing, not a
sound was to be heard in the Piazza, which with the adjoining streets
was filled with people, and as he pronounced the ‘Adjutorium nostrum
in nomine Domini,’ sobs and cries of ‘Misericordia’ were heard on
every side. At such moments he really appeared to be the Deity, whose
vicegerent he was. The way in which Eugenius IV. departed from the city
which had afforded him hospitality so many years, is a strange picture
of the confused state of things. ‘During the whole night before the day
on which the Pope took his departure,’ relates Vespasian again,[93]
‘there had been a contention as to whether he should be allowed to go
or not. After all the influential citizens had come to an agreement,
they commissioned Messer Agnolo (Acciaiuoli) to go to the Pope early in
the morning, and to inform him he could go whither he pleased. The Pope
and his suite waited for this announcement. When Messer Agnolo entered
Sta. Maria Novella, Messer Francesco of Padua (Cardinal Condulmer,
nephew of Eugenius) came to meet him outside the Pope’s chamber, and
asked if they were prisoners. Messer Agnolo answered that, had they
been prisoners, he would not have been charged with the commission, but
another citizen who had voted in that sense. When the Pope heard it,
he thanked him and the Signoria many times, instantly mounted and rode
with his suite to Siena.’

In the Augustinian convent of Lecceto, before the Fontebrand, a gate of
this city, where Eugenius IV. resided several months before returning
to Rome, which had become more and more anarchical during his nine
years’ absence, he granted the investiture of the kingdom of Sicily
to Alfonso, on July 15,[94] and thus began the uninterrupted though
often threatened reign of the Aragonese line, which lasted till the
oft-revived question of the succession ended in the violent overthrow
of the whole political system for which the Medici had laboured in a
different way and in another sense.

Sixteen years after the departure of Eugenius, another Pope came to
Florence—another man, with other plans and thoughts. On April 25,
1459, Pius II. came hither from Siena on his way to the conference of
princes assembled at Mantua to organise a crusade against the Turks.
Florence was by no means well inclined towards her Sienese neighbours,
and the last Neapolitan war, favoured by Siena, had not exactly
improved the feeling. The Sienese priest, raised to the highest dignity
of Christendom, and desirous of setting a limit to the threatening
progress of Islam, was, however, most honourably received. Several
princes and lords had repaired to the city before the Pope, to welcome
him. Galeazzo Maria Visconti, son of the Duke of Milan, sixteen years
old, appeared with a troop of 350 horse and Cosimo de’ Medici, although
ill, could not be induced to neglect the duty of hospitality towards
the son of his ally and friend; Sigismondo Malatesta, an Ordelaffi of
Forli, a Pio of Carpi, one of the Feltrieri of Urbino, and others rode
out with the young Sforza to San Casciano, where, eight miles from
the city, the road descends into the valley of the Arno, and where
the solemn reception took place. The Gonfaloniere, Agnolo Vettori,
led Pius II. to Sta. Maria Novella, the usual residence of the Pope.
The lover of learning and art delighted in the many beautiful things
which the city, then exceedingly rich, offered to him; business, with
the exception of a new election of bishops, does not seem to have been
attended to. Cosimo de’ Medici was hindered from being present by
indisposition which could not have been feigned.

During the ten days’ visit of the Pope there died on May 2, Archbishop
Antoninus, who was already called a saint, before Pope Adrian VI.
canonised him. Sound common sense, great goodness of heart, piety, and
well-directed benevolence, which founded several institutions still
standing, reformatory zeal and firmness in defending the rights of the
Church, had made him, who was also learned in science, appear the model
of an excellent pastor to the people during the fourteen years which
he dedicated to the office of archbishop, in a time full of suffering
and sudden revolutions of fortune. Such a model he has remained
to the present day, when his writings have been collected, and a
beautiful marble statue has been erected to his memory among those
of distinguished Florentines. The pageantry of the days immediately
preceding and following his decease suited but ill with the loss of
a man so honourable and excellent, which was heavily felt by all the
people. Splendid games and festivals were arranged for the princes of
Milan and the other lords. To a tourney succeeded a festival on the
New Market Place, where the most beautiful women were assembled; then
a hunting-party on the Piazza before Sta. Croce, where, besides the
usual forest animals, a lion and a giraffe were exhibited. A triumphal
procession took place in the evening. A silver table-service, weighing
125 pounds, was presented to the youthful Sforza. It was a custom to
entertain princely personages at the cost of the Commune.

On November 10, 1461, Charlotte of Lusignan, consort of Prince Louis
of Savoy, arrived at Florence[95] on her way to Rome, whither she
was going to entreat the aid of Pius II. against her illegitimate
step-brother Jacob. The latter had possessed himself of the supremacy
over Cyprus, belonging to her of right, and held her husband
besieged in Nicosia. The Signoria, with the Gonfaloniere, Alessandro
Machiavelli, at their head, went to meet her, and conducted her under a
canopy to the house of Cambiozzo de’ Medici, in the Borgo San Lorenzo,
which was prepared for her reception. During her seven days’ visit she
went up to the basilica of San Miniato, which towers above the city,
to visit the grave of the cardinal of Portugal, brother of Juan of
Coimbra, her first husband, who had died here in 1459, on an embassy
from Pius II. Pope Pius has described in his memoirs the last of the
Lusignans, who in the summer of 1487, after more than a quarter of a
century spent in exile, found in St. Peter’s church in the Vatican that
rest which had been denied to her in this life.



AS the year 1464 approached, Cosimo de’ Medici’s life drew to a close.
He had long suffered from gout, which now became more violent, and
attacked more sensitive parts. Often he could not quit the house for
months together. He had experienced the fulness of joy and of sorrow,
especially in his own family. His brother Lorenzo, his junior by six
years, had always been of one mind with him, had eagerly furthered his
interests and those of his sons in the critical moments of 1433, and
had drawn upon himself the enmity of those in power. He had afterwards
been an active and vigilant administrator of money matters for the
Papal curia, and had rivalled his elder brother in collecting literary
treasures. He was only forty-five years old when he died in the autumn
of 1440, at his villa at Careggi, leaving a son, Piero Francesco, who
at first had a share in the mercantile business of his uncle, then
parted from him, and lived aloof from all political matters in his
native city, superintending the management of his large property. This
Lorenzo was the founder of two lines which both fell into enmity with
the elder branch. One of them ended with the murder of the first duke,
the last illegitimate descendant of Cosimo’s line, while the other
gave to Tuscany one of her most valiant warriors and seven rulers.
Cosimo had two sons by Contessina de’ Bardi, Piero and Giovanni. The
former was born in 1416, and carefully educated. At first there was an
intention of giving him the daughter of the Count of Poppi, Francesco
de Guidi, in marriage. But his father seems to have been fearful of
allying himself with this old noble family, which would have brought
him into connection with the lords of Romagna and Umbria, as well as
with the house of the Roman prefects; connections which might have
injured his position in a democratical community, not to mention the
alliance of the Count of Poppi with the Visconti and Albizzi, which led
to his ruin in 1440.

Piero de’ Medici married Lucrezia, daughter of Francesco Tornabuoni,
of a distinguished Florentine family, a woman of extraordinary
endowments, who will be often mentioned in the course of this history.
As Cosimo’s elder son, who was sickly from his earliest youth, seemed
to be incapable of taking his eminent and arduous position in city
and state, the father built all his hopes on the younger son. He lost
him, however, at the age of twenty-two, in the beginning of November
1463, not a year after he had buried his little son Cosimo, whom Maria
Ginevra degli Alessandri had borne to him, and the loss of whom is said
to have broken his father’s heart. The old man wandered inconsolable
through the rooms: ‘This is a large house,’ he lamented, ‘for so small
a family.’ Among those who addressed expressions of sympathy to him
was Pope Pius II. ‘Not the departed one is the loser,’ replied Cosimo;
‘for what we call life is death, and that beyond is the true life; but
who needed him are the losers.’[96] Thus there only remained to him
the family of Piero, who, besides his two sons, had two daughters,
Bianca and Nannina, who, the eldest in her grandfather’s lifetime,
married into two Florentine families, the Pazzi and Rucellai. Besides
his legitimate children, Cosimo had a natural son, Carlo, probably by
Maddalena, a Circassian whom Giovanni Portinari had bought at Venice in
the summer of 1427.[97]

He maintained great reserve in his whole manner of life. For a quarter
of a century he was the almost absolute director of the State, but he
never assumed the show of his dignity. Many works of art and _virtù_
were to be seen in his house; but in style of living, retinue and
horses, he was modest. The ruler of the Florentine State remained
citizen, agriculturist, and merchant. In his appearance and bearing
there was nothing which distinguished him from others; he was simple,
moderate, accessible, friendly and familiar with the common people. ‘He
understood agriculture thoroughly,’ remarked Vespasiano da Bisticci,
‘and talked about it as if he had never occupied himself with other
matters. He laid out the garden of the brethren of San Marco, which had
been waste land, and created something really beautiful. Thus it was
with his own possessions; he everywhere superintended the planting,
grafted and pruned with his own hand. When residing at Careggi, on
account of a pestilence, he dedicated the hours of the morning to two
worthy employments. Hardly was he up than he went into the vineyard,
where he worked for two hours, just as Pope Boniface IX. did in the
Vigne at the palace of the Vatican. When he returned home he read
the moral writings of Gregory the Great. In the midst of all his
employments he remembered every single plantation on his estates, and
when his peasants came to him he conversed with them about them.’

He was a grave man, temperate in all enjoyments. Players, rioters,
and jugglers found as little favour with him as those who displayed a
luxury unsuited to their position. This, however, did not prevent him
from granting free course at the banquets of the learned men who were
about him, members of the Platonic Academy and others, to the hilarity
and wit which the Florentines of that period were apt to flavour with
licence as well as with Attic salt.

Of games he indulged in chess only, and this rarely, and not till after
dinner. In his latter years he was very silent, and remained several
hours without speaking. When his wife asked him the reason one day, he
replied,’When you remove to your villa, you consider for a fortnight
what you have to see about. Do you think I have not much to think of
when about to exchange this life for another?’ In his speech he was
witty, but cautious, and it was said of him that he liked to give
ambiguous answers. He shrank from boasting, and said that there was a
weed called envy, which must not be watered, but left to wither. But
when he chose he could give sharp answers. When Rinaldo degli Albizzi,
at the time of Visconti’s warlike preparations, on which the exile
fixed his hopes, said to him that the hen was brooding, he answered,
‘It is difficult to brood outside the nest.’ And on the warning of
other exiles, that he ought to take care, for they were awake, he
replied that he believed it, for he must have banished sleep from them.
His remarks were always to the purpose. When Pius II. was arming for
the crusade, he said the Pope was an old man, and was attempting a
youthful feat. He reproved many without using a hard expression. His
counsels in political and personal affairs were always moderate and
prudent. When one of his partisans, a man of small capabilities, was
going to a foreign town as Podestà, and asked him for advice, he only
answered: ‘Dress according to your position, and speak little.’ In
this way he maintained his position and that of the State for so many
years in the midst of difficult circumstances. As has been already
said, there was something cynical in him. Nothing characterises him so
much as the words which he once addressed to an influential man, who,
differing in opinion, quarrelled with him, and complained of Cosimo’s
being in his way. ‘You,’ he said, ‘pursue the infinite; I the finite.
You plant your ladder in the air; I on the ground, in order not to fall
instead of flying. If I am anxious for the honour and advantage of my
house, if I wish that it may retain pre-eminence over yours, there is
nothing in that which is not honourable and just, and no one will blame
me because I prefer my interests to yours. You and I are like two great
dogs, who spring upon one another, but then pause and sniff. As they
both have teeth, each goes his own way. I advise you to look after your
business; I will attend to mine.’

He did not deceive himself as to the difficulties which surrounded him,
or as to the still greater hindrances with which his descendants would
have to contend. The example of the heads of parties who had preceded
him was not lost upon him. He knew, says Vespasian, that he owed his
recall from exile to powerful friends, who did not intend to give up
their position, and that it was not easy to keep on good terms with
them except by temporising and making them believe that they were as
powerful as he. Here he proved his great art. In all that he wished to
carry out he managed to make it appear that it proceeded from others,
not from him. He said that the greatest fault which he had been guilty
of was not having begun to expend money ten years earlier; for now that
he knew the character of his fellow-citizens, he foresaw that nothing
would remain of his family and his house after fifty years except, the
little that he had built; for after his death his descendants would
find themselves in the midst of greater troubles than any that he had
seen. He never spoke ill of others, and was very impatient when any
one did so in his presence. His promises could be relied on, for he
did more than he promised. His immense wealth enabled him to oblige
many. His position was such a one that it was a proverbial expression
to boasters, ‘So you think you are Cosimo de’ Medici?’ From his father
he had inherited a fine property, which he considerably increased by
industry, acuteness, and good fortune. He ruled the money market,
not only in Italy, but throughout Europe. He had banks in all the
western countries, and his experience and the excellent memory which
never failed him, with his strong love of order, enabled him to guide
everything from Florence, which he never quitted after 1438 except to
go to the country. While he watched over his own advancement, all who
were in business connection with him and conducted his banks abroad,
enriched themselves also. Thus it was with the Tornabuoni in Rome,
with the Portinari in Bruges, with the Benci, Sassetti, Spini, &c.
Besides this, numerous citizens had money from him in their possession,
as was revealed after his death. How much he was capable of in
financial affairs was seen when Venice and King Alfonso united against
Florence. By withdrawing credit from them, he forced them to peace,
notwithstanding their superior power. Pope Eugenius IV. mortgaged the
castle of Assisi to him for the considerable sums advanced to him. The
mutual relations into which he brought the finances of the State with
those of his house by advances and repayments, laid the foundation, it
is true, of those evils which assumed the most serious form under his
grandson, when Cosimo’s mercantile insight and success were wanting.

His conscience was not at peace. ‘In the arrangement and administration
of affairs of the city,’ says the honest Vespasiano, with the
straightforward naïveté and conscientiousness which he never lays
aside, even when speaking of a man for whom he has great respect and
admiration, ‘it could not fail that his conscience was loaded with
many things, as is usually the case with those who govern states and
rule others. He perceived that if he wished to preserve himself in his
position and obtain the mercy of God, works of piety were necessary.
As it now appeared to him that a part of his possessions, I know not
how, had been obtained in a doubtful manner, he wished to roll off this
burden from his shoulders, and poured out his heart to Pope Eugenius
IV., who was then in Florence, begging him to tell him how he could
lighten his conscience.’

The building of churches and convents was a principal means of paying
this debt, according to the ideas of the time; Duke Gian Galeazzo,
not to mention a thousand others, built the cathedral of Milan and
the Certosa of Pavia, and the citizen of Florence, whatever his sins
may have been, was certainly no Visconti. But he built, in spite
of dukes and kings, in Florence and out of it. It was his special
passion, and he understood this art. He had always architects around
him; Michelozzi accompanied him into his exile, and Brunellesco was
among his intimate friends. He executed great works in the city, not
to mention his magnificent house, which must have been completed in
1440. We have already spoken of many of these works, and they will be
treated of more in detail subsequently; here they may be enumerated in
succession. San Lorenzo and San Marco are for the greater part due to
him. The Vallombrosan cloister of Sta. Verdiana, founded at the end
of the fourteenth century by Ser Niccolò di Buonagiunta, was restored
by him. In the cloister of Sta. Croce, he built the novitiate, with
the adjoining chapel and choir. He enriched with altars and adornments
many churches. The Canonica of San Lorenzo is said to have cost him
40,000 gold florins, that of San Marco 70,000, and the palace 60,000.
At the foot of the hill of Fiesole he built a church and abbey for
the canons of the Augustinians, whom Pope Eugenius IV. transplanted
thither in 1439; and higher up, not far from the little town, the
church of San Girolamo, on the site where the congregation of the
Jeromites was founded, about the end of the last century, by Carlo, of
the family of the Counts Guidi, where the villa Ricasoli is now to be
seen. The villa at Careggi, in the most beautiful situation, scarcely
two miles from the city, and the favourite residence of himself and
his sons, received its present form from him, as well as the villa now
named after the Mozzi, on the Fiesolan hill, and that of Cafaggiuolo,
in the thickly-wooded country on the slope of the Apennines, on the
road leading to Bologna. He built a Franciscan convent in the midst
of the woods in the neighbourhood of the latter. Nor far from thence
he enlarged the villa of Trebbio, the castellated building of which
reminds us of Cosimo, the first Grand Duke, who resided there in his
youth. In Assisi he enlarged the cloister of St. Francis, and had the
road paved which leads up to the town from the church of Sta. Maria
degli Angeli, lying at the foot of the hill. This church, the large
marble fountain of which he caused to be built by Michelozzo for the
benefit of the pilgrims, still bears his name and arms. The palace in
Milan, presented to him by Francesco Sforza, he caused to be rebuilt by
Michelozzo, and painted by Vicenzo Zoppa and others. He restored the
collegium built by a Florentine cardinal for his countrymen in Paris.
In Jerusalem he erected a pilgrims’ house for the Florentines on the
spot where, according to tradition, the Holy Ghost descended on the
Apostles, and where a building stood, which he restored by appointing
regular payments for its maintenance. He used to say that whatever he
had given to God, he in his balance of accounts had never found Him
to be his debtor. His connection with artists and scholars will be
mentioned when we come to the description of his extraordinary services
to art and his active interest in learning.

Such was Cosimo de’ Medici—certainly, with all his faults, a
remarkable man, who more than anyone contributed to keep alive not only
the forms, but much of the spirit of civil equality and dignity, after
it had become impossible to avoid a party government, leading sooner
or later to the preponderance of one family. A spirit, which lay at
all events in the character of the people, but also in the character
of a race which had sprung from the people, which at last attained to
power, and even in arbitrary times, preserved something of that which
distinguishes it from other princely families. The people, those who
disliked Cosimo not excepted, observed with anxiety his increasing
ill-health. They said to each other that his influential adherents were
infinitely inferior to him in goodness, consideration, and prudence,
and feared that his son would not be able to restrain them. In the
spring of 1464 he caused himself to be brought, with much suffering, to
Careggi, where his wife and son were with him. When Francesco Sforza
heard of his condition, he sent him a skilful physician, who, however,
could effect as little as the others. On July 26, Piero de’ Medici
addressed the following letter to his two sons, who were residing at
Cafaggiuolo:[98] ‘The day before yesterday I gave you news of Cosimo’s
increasing illness, which, as it seems to me, is exhausting his
strength. He himself feels it, so that on Tuesday evening he would have
no one but Monna Contessina and myself in his room. He began to speak
of his own life, then passed to the government of the city, family,
his trade connections, and the state of his property. At last he came
to speak of you, and encouraged me, as you have good intellectual
endowments, to give you a careful education, that you might make many
things easier for me in life. He said two things grieved him—first,
that he had not done so much as he wished to do and might have done,
and that he left me in bad health in the midst of many difficulties. He
had not wished to make a last will even in Giovanni’s lifetime, as he
had always seen us united and affectionate. When God should take him
to Himself, he wished for no pomp at the funeral; he then reminded me
of what he had already said concerning his interment in San Lorenzo.
He said all this so calmly and sensibly that it seemed wonderful to
me, adding that he had lived long, and was content to leave the world
at God’s pleasure. Yesterday morning he rose and had himself fully
dressed, in presence of the priors of San Lorenzo, San Marco, and
the monastery. He confessed to the former, and then had mass said,
repeating the responses with a strong voice. He afterwards pronounced
the Creed, said the Confiteor, and devoutly received the sacrament
after entreating the forgiveness of all. All this strengthened my hope
and confidence in God, and although, according to human feelings, I am
not free from sorrow, I am yet contented, having seen his strength of
soul and pious frame of mind, to see him attain that end to which we
must all come. He felt well yesterday, and also to-day, but at his
advanced age no recovery is to be hoped for. Let the brethren in the
forest (the Franciscans at Cafaggiuolo) pray for him, and distribute
alms at your good pleasure. Pray yourselves to God that He may leave
him to us for a little time, if it be for his good. And take your
example by him; accept your share of toil as God wills while still
young, and become men, for circumstances demand it. But above all,
consider that which may bring you honour and advantage, for the time is
at hand when you must be tried. Live in the fear of God, and hope. I
will let you know how Cosimo is. We expect hourly a doctor from Milan,
but I trust more to God than to men.’

In his memorandum-book Piero de’ Medici wrote a few days later as
follows:[99] ‘On August 1, 1464, about half-past the twenty-second
hour, Cosimo, son of Giovanni, the son of Averardo de’ Medici, departed
this life, after he had been long tortured with pains in the limbs,
although otherwise in health, with the exception of the last month of
his life, when a complaint of the bladder, with some fever, reduced
his strength much. He was 77 (75) years old, a tall and handsome man,
and, excepting the complaints mentioned, of an excellent constitution.
A man of great ability and yet greater kindness, the most respected
and influential citizen, who had long ruled the city, possessed more
confidence than all others, and was beloved by the whole people. No
one can be remembered who stood in greater favour or better repute, or
whose death awakened more general sympathy. This was deservedly the
case, inasmuch as no one had to complain of him, while he promoted
and assisted many; for his great pleasure consisted in well-doing,
not only where relations and friends were concerned, but also in the
case of strangers and even opponents, difficult of belief as this may
appear and hard to carry out. In this way the number of those who
wished him well was always increasing. He was liberal, benevolent,
merciful; his alms were numerous, in behalf of churches and convents,
not merely in town and country, but even in distant lands. On account
of his wisdom he enjoyed the respect and confidence of all the lords
and powers of Italy, and of foreign countries. All honourable offices
in the city were bestowed on him; he would undertake none abroad. The
most honourable embassies fell to him. He enriched many citizens by his
mercantile connections, not to mention the great fortune which he left,
for he was a merchant as skilful as he was successful. He died at our
house in Careggi, after having received all the sacraments of the holy
Church with piety and reverence. He would not make a will, but left
everything at my free disposal. On the following day he was interred
in the church of San Lorenzo, in the vault previously chosen by him,
without pomp of burial, in the presence of the canons and priests of
the aforesaid church, and the regular canons of Fiesole, with neither
more nor fewer tapers than are used at ordinary obsequies, as he had
commanded with his last words, saying, one should give alms during
life, then they were of more use than after death. I did what was my
duty, and gave the orders for alms-giving and Divine worship, as my
books will show.’[100]

Marsilio Ficino, the confidant of the family for four generations, and
witness of Cosimo’s last days, wrote the following to the grandson
of the latter, and his own pupil, Lorenzo, then sixteen years of
age:[101] ‘A man intelligent above all others, pious before God, just
and high-minded towards his fellow-men, moderate in everything that
concerned himself, active in his private affairs, but still more
careful and prudent in public ones. He did not live for himself alone,
but for the service of God and his country. None surpassed him in
humility or magnanimity. More than twelve years I had philosophic
conversations with him, and he was as acute in disputation as he was
wise and strong in action. I owe Plato much, to Cosimo I owe no less.
He showed me in practice those virtues which Plato presented to my
mind. He was as covetous of time as Midas of gold; he measured days
and hours, and complained even of the loss of minutes. After he had
occupied himself with philosophy all his life, and in the midst of the
gravest matters, he devoted himself, after Solon’s example, more than
ever to it in the days when he was passing from darkness to light. For
as you know, who were present shortly before his departure, he still
read with me Plato’s book “On the One Reason of Things and Highest
Good,” as though he would in reality now go to enjoy the good which he
had tasted in conversation.’

The Signoria ordered a commission of ten citizens, Luca Pitti at their
head, to make a proposal as to the manner in which the State could
honour the memory of Cosimo de’ Medici, and express its gratitude.
Donato Acciaiuoli made a speech, in which the determination to grant
him the title of father of his country was announced.[102] In San
Lorenzo, before the high altar, above the place in the crypt where
stands the tomb inscribed with his name, the words may be read on the
marble pavement:












AT the death of Cosimo de’ Medici, his descendants, besides his natural
son Carlo, who once more entered the ecclesiastical order, consisted
of Piero, surnamed the Gouty (_il Gottoso_), and his four children.
Piero was born in 1416, and was now forty-eight years old. He was
a youth when the swift change of fortune in his father’s life took
place, which, at first threatening his house with ruin, had suddenly
raised it to supreme power, and his manhood passed during the envied
but not seriously disputed exercise of that power. His health was
feeble, yet this did not hinder him from undertaking various civil
offices, and may, perhaps, have been of service to him by covering his
mediocre character and intellect, and enabling him to preserve that
middle course which is so difficult for the head of a party filled with
great and ambitious men. He was a sensible, quiet man, experienced
in business, with a sound judgment and far more kindliness of heart
and sincerity than his father, but without his political acuteness,
knowledge of men, and talent for steering safely among the numerous
rocks that beset his position.

A clever wife stood beside him. At a time when Florence had no lack of
distinguished women, Lucrezia, the daughter of Francesco Tornabuoni,
surpassed most in intellectual gifts and domestic virtues. Her family
was a branch of an ancient and noble Florentine race, which, since
the democratic reforms of 1293, had been excluded from holding civic
offices, yet without losing importance. Like many others, Simon
Tornaquinci, a hundred years later, had altered his coat-of-arms,
enrolled himself among the plebeian families under the name of
Tornabuoni, and attached himself to the Medicean party, in which
his son Francesco took a not unimportant position. Tornaquinci and
Tornabuoni possessed considerable landed property in the western part
of Florence. A gate of the second wall, since called San Pancrazio,
was once named after the former, and a street still bears the name of
the latter.[103] Lucrezia de’ Medici never experienced the anguish of
exile; neither, separated from an exiled husband, had she to remain
at the head of a ruined household, like so many noble ladies in those
days of magnificence so often changing into misery. She beheld three
generations in the possession of power, with its charge of care and
sorrow. While conducting her household, which never lost its simple
character, she paid homage to the muse in lyric poems and translations
of Biblical histories. We shall speak later of her intercourse with
Luigi Pulci (whom she encouraged to complete his poem on the legends
of Charlemagne), with Politian and others. Lucrezia possessed great
influence over her eldest son, whose youth she guided, and she lived to
enjoy the period of his highest greatness.

Lucrezia gave birth to seven children, four of whom, two sons and two
daughters, survived. Lorenzo was born January 1, 1449.[104] Nature had
given him strength, but not beauty. To judge from his exterior, one
might have prophesied him a long life, but not a brilliant one. He was
above the middle height, broad-chested, powerfully built, and agile of
limb. His features were, however, unpleasing; the sight weak, the nose
flattened, the chin sharp, with a pale complexion. He was entirely
destitute of the sense of smell, and his voice was harsh.[105] These
natural defects he conquered with equal skill and perseverance, but
the advantages of his bodily health and strength did not last long.
His early education was confided to Gentile de’ Becchi of Urbino,
afterwards canon at Florence and Pisa, and finally Bishop of Arezzo, a
man of great ability and deeply attached to the family, an attachment
which, at an important epoch in the life of his pupil and in Florentine
history, led him to exaggerations which did not suit the ecclesiastical

Cosimo had attracted Gentile[106] and entrusted him with the education
of his grandson. This learned man, who was connected with the most
famous scholars of his time, such as Francesco Filelfo, Marsilio
Ficino, Cardinal Ammanati, Giovan. Antonio Campano, Politian, and
others, certainly spared no pains in the education of the richly-gifted
boy. Under his guidance and that of Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, and
John Argyropulos, one of the Greek fugitives received by Cosimo, the
youth amassed an amount of knowledge not often possessed even at that
time, when learned culture was so general among the rich. He developed
his excellent talents in many directions. A letter addressed by his
tutor to Piero de’ Medici, June 3, 1454,[107] with its assertion
that the boy of sixteen excited the admiration of the whole city,
is a pattern of that courtly style which began to be practised by
the dependants of powerful families. It is worth mentioning here,
because it speaks of a visit the boy paid to the Duke John of Anjou,
who was then staying in Florence. ‘On the day before your departure,
Lorenzo assumed the French costume, which suited him so well that we
had scarcely set out when we were surrounded by a crowd of children
and adults, who followed us on the way to King René’s son, whom we
intended to visit. The Duke received him with great pleasure, as if he
had been a little Frenchman fresh from his native country, and kept him
the whole day in his presence. But not many were deceived by him, for
his gravity, so little suited to the French character, betrayed his

His education was serious according to the custom of the time. Several
hours were devoted to religious exercises, especially in the evening,
when a fraternity of St. Paul was visited. His mother was especially
particular in this respect, as she was also in inculcating on the youth
habits of benevolence, by appointing dowries for poor girls, supporting
poor convents, giving abundant alms to the needy, and pursuing every
noble stratagem that would lead to popular favour. In bodily exercises
Lorenzo soon surpassed most of his companions, and he early displayed
that love for beautiful horses which he preserved all his life; he was
also an accomplished rider. He was highly delighted when, just out of
his boyhood, a valuable horse was sent him from Sicily. He made a rich
present in return, and upon its being suggested to him that it would be
better under such circumstances to buy the horse than receive it as a
gift, he replied, ‘Do you not know that it is a royal gift, and does it
not seem royal not to be conquered in liberality?’[108]

Piero’s younger son, Giuliano, was born in 1453. He was not permitted
to arrive at maturity. Compared with his brother, he was rather in the
shade, yet he promised to rival him in many things, as he certainly did
in knightly exercises. He was tall, handsome, and strong, according to
Angelo Politian’s description,[109] who was intimately associated with
him; had lively dark eyes, dark complexion, black hair falling on his
shoulders, excelled in all bodily exercises, and was an eager huntsman.
His expression and bearing were commanding. He was fond of poetry, and
took a lively interest in the fine arts. Giuliano did not, however,
equal his brother in versatile talents; his character rather resembled
his father’s than his grandfather’s.

The elder of the two daughters, Bianca, was married in Cosimo’s
lifetime to Guglielmo de’ Pazzi. The great influence which the Pazzi
family had on the fortunes of the Medici and of the State makes it
necessary to dwell awhile upon their history.[110] Their origin is
veiled in obscurity. Some have considered them as identical with
the lordly family of the same name in the Arno valley, which was
connected with the Donati, frequently mentioned in the heroic days
of Florence, and related to Dante Alighieri. Others have traced them
from Fiesole, whence the old family arms are said to be derived—six
moons, alternately blue and red, in a silver field, a device which they
exchanged in 1388 for that granted by the dukes of Bar, two golden
barbs in a blue field, and at present changed into dolphins with four
small double crosses. According to unauthenticated tradition, Pazzo
de’ Pazzi went to Jerusalem in Godfrey de Bouillon’s army, and the
people of Florence preserved a fragment of stone which he is said to
have brought home from the Saviour’s tomb. At one time placed in Sta.
Maria del Fiore, and then in Sant’Apostolo, this stone was used to
strike the sparks from which the tapers were lighted, and in Sta. Maria
del Fiore, during the mass, it set alight the Columbina, a squib in
the shape of a dove, which ignited a cart full of rockets and other
fireworks exploded between the church and baptistery. This cart,
called the Carro de’ Pazzi, drives round a part of the inner town,
and stops at the entrance of the Borgo degli Albizzi, named after the
family, where one of their palaces forms the corner. About the middle
of the twelfth century we meet with the name of the Pazzi in documents;
towards the close they became divided into three principal branches.
In the bloody battle of Montaperti, Jacopo de’ Pazzi bore the banner
of Florence, which, when the traitor Bocca degli Abati hewed his hands
off, he pressed to his breast with the stumps till he sank down dead.
His son Pazzino stood at the head of the Black party in the desolating
party strife which preceded the Roman expedition of the Emperor Henry
of Luxemburg. At the beginning of the fifteenth century the still
flourishing line was strictly aristocratic, and only passed over to the
plebeian families in 1434. This change arose out of the circumstance
that so many of the families hitherto admitted to hold office were
proscribed by being ranked among ‘the great,’ so that Cosimo feared
to increase their numbers and consequently their power. He therefore
caused the old noble families, if they did not exactly oppose him and
his family, to be ranked among the plebeians. Thus it happened with
Andrea de’ Pazzi, who was born in 1372, and with whom the importance
of the family in civic affairs commences. He was already experienced
in embassies, and had treated with Pope John XXIII. When, as has been
already related, King René resided in Florence in 1442, Andrea de’
Pazzi was assigned to him as escort, and obtained the favour of that
prince, who, though neither skilful nor successful in things political
or military, had talents and was amiable. He made Andrea a knight, and
stood godfather to one of his children, who was called Renato after
the King. He erected the beautiful chapel of Sta. Croce and the palace
at the Canto de’ Pazzi, which, rebuilt by his son Jacopo, is still a
monument of a style uniting severity with elegance, and is, moreover,
the witness of an occurrence which has made the name of the family

Andrea de’ Pazzi left several sons by his wife Caterina Salviati, two
of whom, Piero and Jacopo, played an important part. Piero was one of
the most brilliant and cultivated persons of his time. Niccolò Niccoli,
to whom so many of his countrymen were indebted for mental culture,
roused in him an interest in scholarship. ‘Piero de’ Pazzi,’ relates
Vespasiano da Bisticci,[111] ‘was a most beautiful youth, and pursued
his pleasures without thinking of graver employments, while his father,
a wealthy merchant, who cared little for literature, which he did not
understand, thought to dedicate him to his own pursuits. As he one day
passed the Palazzo del Podestà, Niccolò Niccoli, another Socrates,
saw him. Impressed by his exterior, he called him to him, and asked
whose son he was and what he was doing. The youth, not unaware of the
respect paid to the excellent man, replied that he was the son of
Messer Andrea de’ Pazzi, and passed his time as he best might. Niccolò
continued, “As you are the son of such a highly placed citizen, and
yourself of such favourable appearance, it is a shame that you do not
study Latin literature, which would be a great accomplishment for you.
If you do not learn it, you will reap no honour, and remain without
inward resources when the bloom of youth has vanished.” Piero was
struck, and answered that he would willingly follow the good advice
if Niccolò would procure him a suitable teacher.’ Thus he began his
studies under the guidance of Pontano, and soon made so much progress
that he was a pattern for all the youths in the city. When he went
with the Archbishop of Pisa, Filippo de’ Medici and Buonaccorso
Pitti, in October 1461, to France, to congratulate King Louis XI.
on his accession,[112] he displayed extraordinary pomp and princely
liberality, as well as skill and political address, and he was knighted
by the King. When he returned he met with a brilliant reception. ‘At
his entry,[113] the whole city seemed to rejoice, for he was beloved
by all on account of his kindness and liberality. All the streets
and windows were filled with people who awaited him. He came with a
suite in attire completely new, with costly pearls on their hats and
sleeves. In the memory of man no knight had entered Florence as he did,
which was a great honour for his family. He rode to the palace of the
Signory, dismounted at the great door, and went in to fetch the banner,
like those who returned home as knights. He then mounted again and rode
to the palace of the principal men of the Guelph party, to receive the
party badge. Here Messer Piero Acciaiuoli welcomed him in the presence
of many, with a well-composed speech in the vulgar tongue. Upon this
he received the badge, took the banner in his hand, and rode with a
great suite home again, where for some days open house was kept. If a
reproach could be cast upon him, it was that of excessive liberality.
Only the man who asked for nothing received nothing from him. At the
death of his father it was found that he had spent 12,000 gold florins,
of which there was no account. To be sure, he had spent all, or nearly
all, on things which, according to worldly ideas, sufficed for his
honour and distinction.’

We know that Andrea de’ Pazzi formed a friendship with King René. Piero
attached himself to that king’s son when he came to Florence in 1454.
The connection served Duke John when he made war against the Aragonese,
and the money of Florence and of Florentine citizens, especially of
the Medici and Pazzi, was of great assistance. Had the Angevin been
fortunate, Piero would undoubtedly have become a great lord like Nicola
Acciaiuoli in older times. His friendly connections with Piero de’
Medici led to the marriage of Medici’s daughter Bianca with Guglielmo
de’ Pazzi, Piero’s nephew. Piero attained to the office of Gonfaloniere
in 1462, and died not long afterwards, a little over forty-six years
old. ‘Had he,’ remarks Vespasiano da Bisticci, ‘who surpassed all
his family in good sense, lived longer, they would not have fallen
into the disorders which brought ruin to them and to the city.’ His
brother Jacopo, who was involved in these troubles, was nevertheless
a clever man, and seemed to stand as high in the popular favour as
Piero. After he had administered the office of Gonfaloniere in the
beginning of 1469, the dignity of knighthood was accorded to him by a
public vote, and bestowed on him by Messer Tommaso Soderini. He went
twice as ambassador to the Emperor Frederick III. After his tragical
end, his widow, Maddalena Serristori, retired into the cloister of the
Franciscan nuns of Monticelli, before the Porta Romana. Here also the
veil was taken by Jacopo’s natural daughter Caterina, whose tutor had
been a man who played a sad part in the tragedy of 1478. Caterina,
after her death in 1490, was venerated as a saint. Of Antonio, a third
son of Andrea, who died in 1459, there is not much to say; the three
sons whom Cosa degli Alessandri bore him, Guglielmo, who married Bianca
de’ Medici, Giovanni, whose wife was Beatrice Borromeo, and Francesco,
will often be mentioned again.

In the year 1466, Bianca’s younger sister, Nannina, married Bernardo
Rucellai. His family,[114] which has been supposed to come from
Germany, was called Alamanno. They are first met with in the second
half of the thirteenth century as members of the woollen guild, having
risen to their position by industrial activity, as the name itself
intimates; for Rucellai is nothing but a corruption of Oricellari,
and at the present day one of the streets of a new part of Florence
is called from the Latin name of the turnsole Oricella, or Roccella
Tinctoria. The Florentine tradesman discovered in the East that the
dye of this plant, treated with acids, gives a beautiful violet. The
dyeing-works of Alamanno brought him and his descendants rich gain.
His well-earned wealth was speedily followed by civic honours, and
after 1302 a share in the highest offices of state. The fourteenth
century witnessed the rise and fall of several of the Rucellai, till
they attained the highest respect and great wealth at the beginning
of the fifteenth century. Giovanni Rucellai, the grandson of a man
who had played some part in the times of the Duke of Athens, was born
in 1403. His mother, Caterina Pandolfini, a widow after three years
of wedlock, brought the boy to Palla Strozzi, who assigned him a post
in his bank, and grew so fond of him that he gave him his daughter
Jacopa in marriage when he had attained the age of twenty-four. The
events which expelled Palla and his sons did not leave his son-in-law
unmolested. Though Giovanni Rucellai was not banished, he was excluded
from all offices, and remained out of the administration up to the
last days of Cosimo, when the latter deemed it advisable to procure
adherents in the family he had until then oppressed. This did not,
however, prevent him from increasing his wealth and making use of it
for the general good, in which he was aided by the genius of Leon
Battista Alberti. He completed the marble façade of Sta. Maria Novella,
on which his name may still be read. He erected a chapel near the
church of San Pancrazio, with an exact imitation in marble of the
Saviour’s tomb, as measured and copied by his orders in Jerusalem.
This is still to be seen, though the church has long been disused for
Divine worship. His family palace, already mentioned, in the Via della
Vigna Nuova, with the Loggia opposite, now unfortunately walled up,
is the most graceful example of the transition style from the ancient
severity of the immense freestone façade to the antiquated ornaments
of the Renaissance. He and his son will be mentioned later. The latter
was born in 1448, a few months before Lorenzo de’ Medici, whose
grandfather, by becoming his sponsor, gave public expression to the
reconciliation of the two families. Near relationship, however, could
not make him feel attached to the family whose blood flowed in the
veins of his children.

Thus was Piero de’ Medici’s family composed. Other connections of
equal importance belonged to them. Foremost of all were the two
Soderini, Niccolò and Tommaso.[115] Their ancestors are said to have
been Counts of Gangalandi, and heads of the Ghibelline party, but they
are found as a Florentine plebeian family in the second half of the
twelfth century. They attained importance only 200 years later. Tommaso
Soderini, like so many of his countrymen, spent a great part of his
life in business matters at Papal Avignon, and returned in 1370 to his
home, where, as a member of the magistracy of the Guelph party, he took
so violent a part in the proscriptions, that in the insurrection of
1378 he was one of the first to have his house plundered and burnt. He
went into exile to Tarascon, on the Rhône, but returning home after the
victory of the oligarchy, he again attained to office and influence.
In 1395, seven years before his death, he was Gonfaloniere. His two
sons, Francesco and Lorenzo, went separate ways. Francesco, the son
of Elisabetta Altoviti whom Tommaso had married after his return to
Avignon, passed through the usual career of distinguished Florentines
who attained to civic offices and embassies as soon as they reached
the legal age. One of his missions took him to Mantua to celebrate
the marriage of Ludovico Gonzaga with Barbara of Hohenzollern, the
granddaughter of Frederick I., elector of Brandenburg. Like his father,
he belonged to the party of the Albizzi, and had one of the daughters
of Palla Strozzi as his wife. When Cosimo de’ Medici went into exile he
was one of the magistracy of eight that escorted him to the frontiers.
He was not expelled when the Medici gained the victory, but his
influence was at an end, and he only became Podestà in towns of Umbria
and Romagna, and for a time he lay in prison on suspicion of having
shared in the movements of his partisans. Niccolò da Uzzano destined
him to be the rector of his university, and Donatello has given us his
portrait in one of the statues which are to be seen on the front of
the bell-tower of Sta. Maria.[116] It is the figure standing next to
the church called that of St. John the Baptist, and in its natural free
bearing reminds one of the famous St. George of Or San Michele.

Lorenzo, Tommaso’s other son, passed through a stormy career. Born at
Avignon, of a woman of Auvergne, he endeavoured to cover his want of
legitimacy by the diplomas of a Count Palatine and of Gian Galeazzo
Visconti. After having been enrolled by King Charles V. of France in
an order of knighthood, and married in Florence to Ghilla Cambi, he
conceived the unfortunate idea, after his father’s death, of proving
the legality of his birth and his right to more wealth by means of
forged documents. The severity, of the laws sentenced him to death,
which he suffered in 1405. His two sons, Niccolò and Tommaso, born, the
former in 1401, the latter in 1403, became eager partisans of Cosimo
de’ Medici on the sole ground of hatred of their uncle, to whom they
attributed a participation in the tragical end of their father, and
who took the other side. Niccolò received the dignity of Gonfaloniere
in 1451, Tommaso in 1449 and 1454. The latter, by far the most
distinguished, filled various offices in the provincial towns at an
early age; when thirty-five he sat in the magistracy of the Priori. By
his marriage with Dianora Tornabuoni, Lucrezia’s sister, he was riveted
to the Medicean interests, which no one supported with greater zeal
and success, or with more statesmanlike ability. To no one did Piero
or Lorenzo owe so much as to this man. We have already mentioned other
families with whom the Medici were connected. Further mention will be
made of them in the course of this history.



LORENZO DE’ MEDICI grew up. He was seventeen years old when his father
sent him to Pisa to welcome Don Federigo of Aragon, King Ferrante’s
younger son, who set out from Naples, March 18, 1465, and having
received the golden rose at Rome, was on his way to Milan with the most
brilliant suite, no less than six hundred horse, to escort to Naples
Francesco Sforza’s intellectual and beautiful daughter Ippolita Maria,
the bride of his elder brother, Alfonso, Duke of Calabria.[117] On
April 17, Don Federigo entered Florence, accompanied by the Prince of
Salerno, the Duke of Amalfi, the Bishop of Gaeta, and many other lords,
and was received by the Signoria on the Ringhiera of the palace, after
which he rode to Sta. Maria Novella, where the Papal lodgings were
prepared for him, and where, entertained at the public cost, he stayed
five days amid mutual expressions of politeness. The Prince, then only
thirteen years old, wore mourning, with all his suite, in consequence
of the death of the Queen his mother, which had happened shortly

Florence had had much cause to complain of the Aragonese, even in
later years, and had long remained true to her sympathies with Anjou;
but Cosimo de’ Medici was too diplomatic not to see that the house
of Spain had gained a firmer footing than that of France in southern
Italy, and that peace was better secured by an alliance with the
former, if the interests of the State made it possible. Cosimo always
held fast to Francesco Sforza, even when he believed that he had
cause of complaint against him; for Sforza, who had once encouraged
his Florentine friend in the belief that after he was Duke of Milan
he would aid him with his power in the subjection of Lucca, let the
matter entirely drop when he had attained his end. Cosimo had more than
anyone the conquest of Lucca at heart, for, unlike the Albizzi, who had
enlarged the territory of the Republic by Pisa, he had nothing to show
but trifling annexations by purchase, such as the Borgo San Sepolcro,
in the valley of the Tiber, and he complained of the ingratitude of a
man to whose grandeur he had so much contributed, though he still kept
up a close connection with him.

The meeting with Federigo d’Aragona was afterwards of great use to
Lorenzo; he met him again when he undertook a journey which led him to
Bologna, Ferrara, Venice, and Milan. A letter addressed to him during
this excursion is a proof of the interest which the gifted youth had
long excited, even if we take into account the dependent position in
which the writer stood towards the family. This was Luigi Pulci. The
name of the author of the most celebrated heroic poem of the fifteenth
century, which will be mentioned in the consideration of the literary
movement, is inseparable from that of his constant patron and friend.
Luigi Pulci belonged to a family of Provençal origin, which was ranked
among the oldest in Florence, but did not rise, because when the
popular element prevailed it was characterised as noble, and excluded
from all share in public offices. A street was once named after the
residence of the Pulci, which was pulled down in the sixteenth century
when the Uffizi was built. Jacopo Pulci had by Brigida de’ Bardi
three sons, of whom Luigi was the second: all three were poets, and
had better success in poetry than in pecuniary affairs. Luigi was born
on August 15, 1432, in Florence. He was still unmarried at the time
now under consideration, and one of the confidants of the Medici,
who employed him in various commissions. Piero’s wife was especially
well-disposed towards him, and we shall find him later as her escort on
a journey. ‘You have left us,’ he writes to Lorenzo, April 27, 1465,
‘so disconsolate at your departure that I do not know how to hold the
pen to write this letter to you. Through Braccio, I am informed of your
journey, and assume that you are now in Venice; and in order to begin
my correspondence well, I inform you that I am lonely, forsaken, and
sad without you. On the other hand, I rejoice in your journey, which
seems to me a piece of good fortune for many reasons. You will see many
remarkable things, which will delight your mind, superior, I consider,
to all, with one only exception. What promotes your interests can only
be a pleasure to me.’[119]

Lorenzo’s brother-in-law, Guglielmo de’ Pazzi, was his companion on
this journey, which was connected with the marriage of Francesco
Sforza’s daughter, who soon afterwards came through Tuscany on her
wedding tour.

Piero de’ Medici wrote repeatedly to his son during this journey,[120]
showing the utmost solicitude for his welfare, as well as that he
should make a good figure among these princes and noble ladies. He sent
him plate for festivals which the young man might be called upon to
give. ‘Do not care for expense,’ he says; ‘think only of doing honour
to your family. Think of making yourself alive, and of showing that
you are a man and not a boy, and that henceforward you are capable of
managing greater things. This journey is to you the touchstone of your
future career.’ More than once Piero expressed a wish that Lorenzo and
his companion should return before the arrival of the Milanese princes.
‘It seems necessary to me that you should leave Milan before the
bridal train; for the Princess is to inhabit our house, and if you and
Guglielmo were absent, I should be like a man without hands.’ On the
afternoon of June 22, Donna Ippolita entered Florence, and was lodged
in the Medicean house. Beside Don Federigo, she was accompanied by her
two brothers, Filippo and Sforza Maria; suite and escort numbered 1000
horses; and all were maintained at the public cost during the passage
through Florentine territory, while the Duchess herself enjoyed the
princely hospitality of the most distinguished family in the city.[121]

At the beginning of March of the following year, Lorenzo went to Rome.
Pope Pius II., in the midst of his preparations for the crusade, and
in sight of the sea which was to bear his fleet and his allies to the
Eastern coasts, had died at Ancona in the middle of August, 1464, a
fortnight after Cosimo, and had been succeeded by the Venetian Pietro
Barbo, under the name of Paul II. Pius’s death had put an end for
the time to the crusade which he had been about to undertake with
insufficient power. But the thought of it was kept alive, particularly
in the Pontificate; and the progress of the Turks, who in Paul’s
reign wrested the fortress of Negroponte from the Venetians, was so
alarming that the preservation of peace in Italy, by which alone means
of resistance could be hoped for, was most important for the Popes
as well as the other rulers. In this respect Paul II. laboured in
the most praiseworthy manner, at least during the first years of his
reign, after he had disposed of the restless little dynasties in the
neighbourhood of Rome.

Lorenzo was sent, ostensibly on business connected with some
alum-works and the bank, directed by his maternal uncle, Giovanni
Tornabuoni, to Rome, where he was honourably received by the Pope, the
court, and numerous friends of the family. But Piero had doubtless the
intention of making him personally acquainted with the customs and
life of a city which was of the utmost importance for Florence and the
Medicean family, and where Cosimo had always striven to preserve an
influence. He had scarcely arrived there when an event happened which
attracted the attention of all Italy, and the Medici in particular. On
March 8, 1466, Francesco Sforza died, after a long illness, at the age
of sixty-six. He had attained by craft and violence the throne which
he maintained bravely, and developed capacities of government hitherto
unknown at Milan.

The last and most successful of the great _condottieri_ of Italy, he
laid down arms in order to exercise the arts of peace for the last
twelve years of his life. In later times Machiavelli, who witnessed
the swift and sad change in Lombardy under one of the sons and the
grandsons of the first Sforza, said, in his reflections on Titus
Livius, that nothing, however great and important it might be, could
give Milan or Naples their freedom, because all their limbs were
decayed; the reproach of having made them so belongs far less to
Francesco than to the Visconti, for his government healed many wounds,
opened many resources, and restored peace to the land, to which it had
long been unknown. As at the Duke’s death his eldest son, Galeazzo
Maria, was absent in France, where he had been sent with a body of
troops to assist King Louis XI. in the civil war which had broken out
soon after his accession to the throne, the widowed Duchess Bianca
Maria seized the reins of government with a firm hand, assured herself
of the consent of the most eminent men of the State, and prepared a
festal reception and peaceful accession to power for her son, who
entered Milan on the 20th of the same month.

It was necessary to induce the Italian princes to recognise Sforza, in
opposition to certain other claims, especially those of the house of
Savoy, and Piero de’ Medici was very active in this matter. On March 15
he wrote to Lorenzo[122] in Rome, who was soon able to give reassuring
news with regard to the Pope’s inclinations. He had himself applied to
the latter immediately after receiving the news. Venice, however little
affection she might feel for Sforza, was too much threatened in the
Levant not to wish for peace in Italy; King Ferrante was related to the
Milanese house. Thus it was not difficult to obtain the recognition of
Galeazzo Maria everywhere, and although the Emperor Frederick III.,
who came again to Italy two years later, ignored the new duke, as
well as his father, this was of small importance, from the political
weakness of the temporal head of Christendom. That the French King, to
whom the Republic wrote on April 3 to express sorrow at the loss of
Francesco Sforza, ‘so great a prince and friend, so rare a master of
peace and war, so high an honour to the Italian name,’ would share the
same opinion, was to be foreseen, although his cousin, Duke Charles of
Orleans, never resigned the hereditary claims of his mother, Valentina
Visconti, on Milan. In fact, Louis answered on the 18th of the same
month from Orleans, promising to interfere himself if it should be
necessary.[123] Piero’s letters to his son, eighteen years old, showed
sufficiently how he trusted to his insight and wisdom. Soon events
were to happen at home which would test these qualities of the youth

The last years of Cosimo’s life had shown how hard it was for him to
maintain the supremacy over his party in Florence. The people had grown
too rich and powerful. Cosimo had himself much contributed to it by
his fear of putting himself forward; his prudent reserve had gone too
far. He had long foreseen that his son would not be in a position to
master and guide the contending elements, but precisely the measures
he took to meet the danger brought it nearer. Those in whom he trusted,
from the conviction that as they had grown rich with him, and mostly
through him, they would hold to his family, did not respond to this
confidence. However different their motives might be, in a city
where so many special interests prevailed beside the political party
currents, and where men were so little accustomed to subordination,
they yet united against him, whose inherited position was burdensome
and hateful to them, and whom more than one looked down upon. The
causes of the movement which broke out in 1466, and which threatened
the authority of the Medici, were apparent soon after Cosimo’s death.
The great liberality of the rich merchant, by no means always dictated
by pure motives, but for the sake of preserving his authority, had
brought much idle capital into strangers’ hands. The evil necessarily
became clear when the accounts were revised. It was Diotisalvi Neroni,
the man on whose acuteness and attachment Cosimo relied the most, who
owed him much, and whom he had recommended to his son as the most
trustworthy friend, who advised the former to call in the outstanding
sums. The evil effect of following this advice—namely, the sudden
embarrassment in which numerous citizens who were under obligations
to the Medici found themselves, and the discontent and estrangement
which followed—caused Diotisalvi to be suspected of bad intentions,
a belief which was strengthened by his behaviour afterwards. Thus the
historians of the time immediately succeeding him, as well as almost
all later ones, express themselves in this sense.[124] But the motives
must ever be veiled in obscurity. Diotisalvi was wealthy and respected,
his brother Giovanni was Archbishop of Florence after 1462. Still it is
difficult to believe that he aimed at becoming the head of the State.
The motives of the distinguished citizens who allied themselves to this
man, in order first to undermine the position of the Medici, and then
to overthrow them by violence, were, however, so different that we
cannot be surprised at the failure of the undertaking.

Diotisalvi seems to have had an understanding with Niccolò Soderini. We
have seen how Niccolò, then more than sixty years old, had been from
his youth upward one of the zealous adherents of the Medici. But he
belonged also to the number, always very great in Florence, of those
who wished for a supreme authority, but not the government of one
family; equality of all rights for citizens qualified for the guidance
of the State, and the freest possible form of government. There were
scarcely any citizens more esteemed than he and his brother Tommaso.
But it was otherwise with Luca Pitti. He was of a despotic nature, and
had already shown that violent proceedings cost him nothing. Willingly
or not, Cosimo had allowed him so much liberty that he already
considered himself the head of the State while Cosimo was still alive.
It was very unlikely, therefore, that he would be subordinate to the
weaker son. Diotisalvi is said to have encouraged him in the hope of
taking his place, thinking it easy to put aside the incapable man.
The fourth in the association was Agnolo Acciaiuoli, lately returned
from Milan, where he was highly esteemed by Francesco Sforza, and had
much contributed to maintain the harmony so desirable for the Republic
between the Duke and the King of Naples, when this seemed endangered by
a tragical event, the murder of Jacopo Piccinino, a son of the famous
_condottiere_, at the King’s instigation.[125] Even though it may have
been represented to Agnolo that the majority of the city wished for a
change, still the motives which estranged him from the Medici seem
to have been purely selfish; whether it was that he was incensed at a
legal decision in a matter of property unfavourable to his eldest son,
or on account of the archbishopric of Pisa not having been granted to
another son, or, finally, on account of the preference which Piero gave
to the Rucellai family, when it was proposed to marry his youngest
daughter, whose hand the Acciaiuoli wished to obtain. Agnolo attached
himself to the others later, and they do not seem to have entirely let
him into the secret of their intentions.[126]

The movement began in 1465. Diotisalvi Neroni had returned from Milan,
whither he had gone as ambassador on the occasion of the marriage of
Ippolita Maria, with the dignity of knighthood, which gave him still
greater consideration. It was determined to proceed slowly against
the Medici; abolition of the discretionary power of the Balia and
the choice of magistrates by lot were first demanded. Piero and his
friends knew too well how much attached the people were to this method
of choice, which had often proved to be a mere sham, not to give way
at once. On November 1, Niccolò Soderini undertook the office of
Gonfaloniere, and now they thought the time had come for striking
the first blow. The expectations cherished by the new Gonfaloniere
recalled the time, eighty-seven years before, when Salvestro de’
Medici entered office; only now his relations took the place of their
former opponents. The people were in the greatest excitement. Niccolò
proceeded to the palace, crowned with olive branches. Again, however,
was seen the deceitfulness of such hopes when formed by parties
composed of different elements. The old adherent of the Medici was
driven hither and thither by contrary inclinations. On the one side
were his new companions; on the other his brother. He twice summoned
numerous assemblies of eminent citizens to his palace, to consult on
the means of removing existing evils, and both times the result was
mere words. He wished to effect the dissolution of the Council of a
Hundred, and could not carry it. He proposed to demand an account of
the administration of the last years, and failed through the opposition
of Luca Pitti, who dreaded such an inquisition. Altogether his
adherents rendered the measures contemplated by Soderini impossible,
because they feared they would not enable them to carry out their
private ends; and his period of office expired without decisive action.
In the meanwhile, as has been said, Francesco Sforza died, and his
successor sent messengers to Florence to renew the alliance with
the Republic, and at the same time to request a loan to suffice for
pressing necessities. Piero contrived that 40,000 gold florins should
be granted; but Diotisalvi Neroni, Luca Pitti, and Agnolo Acciaiuoli
made such violent opposition, under the pretext that the State was in
quite another position towards the inexperienced young Duke than it
was formerly towards his father, that the payment was never made. The
intention of the opposition was merely to bring Piero and his adherents
into discredit, and loosen their connections with foreign lands.
Another manœuvre was to serve the same purpose. In March 1465, Cardinal
Lodovico Scarampi, the former Archbishop of Florence, had died, leaving
a colossal fortune which was partly invested in Florentine banks. Pope
Paul II. claimed this property as belonging to the Church; but Luca
Pitti, whose brother Luigi was related to the Scarampi by marriage,
prevented the delivery of the sums deposited in Florence, which by no
means increased the goodwill of the Pope towards the State.

In the spring of 1466 it became evident that a party strife was
impending. In the beginning of May, after the occasion of the
Milanese grant of money had revealed the deep-lying discord, the
Signoria endeavoured to bring about a compromise. On the proposal
of a commission appointed for the purpose of consultation, all the
citizens eligible for the offices of State, from the age of twenty-four
years upwards, were summoned to the palace, where the assembly took
place in a hall adjoining the chapel. Here resolutions were passed
that no meetings should be held, political consultations, public or
private, that were not summoned by the government; that everyone
should solemnly promise to act in his office only according to right
and law, and to let all party quarrels rest; that finally all existing
political societies should be dissolved, and the ties which bound
them become null and void.[127] The stipulations show plainly enough
how things stood with the city. Those present took the oath to these
obligations, which, being the mere outgrowth of discontent, no one,
however, seriously thought of fulfilling. Everyone had a pretext in
his neighbour’s behaviour. Things took their natural course; Piero de’
Medici knew nothing of the violent intentions of his opponents, but
the factions already stood opposed to one another, although the strife
was maintained on the grounds of the constitution. These factions were
called those of the Mountain and the Plain (del Poggio—del Piano),
because Luca Pitti’s house stood on the slope of the hill of San
Giorgio, that of the Medici on a level part of the city. When the heads
of the Mountain party saw that the others were not to be reached by the
usual seemingly legal means, they set on foot a formal conspiracy. The
story of this conspiracy affords a remarkable example of the insecure
foundation of public affairs in such states, as well as the want of
all real determination when it was necessary to act. With Bartolommeo
Colleone of Bergamo, the celebrated _condottiere_, negotiations were
opened which subsequently bore fruit. At all events, the opponents of
the Medici appear to have been the first who had no dread of employing
foreign military power. Ercole of Este, brother of the Marquis Borso
of Ferrara, was to march into the territory and upon the capital
itself, while they were to attempt to take the life of Piero, whom
Diotisalvi Neroni was to endeavour to lull into a false security. The
circumstance that Piero mostly resided in his villa at Careggi, from
whence he, ill as he was, used to have himself carried in a litter to
the city, seemed to favour the plans of the conspirators. The Signoria,
which had entered upon office on July 1, with the Gonfaloniere Bernardo
Lotti, were mostly favourable to them: they determined to make use of
this opportunity, but, nevertheless, allowed many weeks to pass before
proceeding to action.

Piero had meanwhile received warnings from two directions. Giovanni
Bentivoglio, lord of Bologna, had informed him of the intrigues
of Este. Niccolò Fedini, a notary whom the conspirators employed,
revealed their intentions. Piero did not shut his eyes to the danger
when he measured the number and importance of his opponents. He knew
the fickleness of the city. He held it good to send his son, on whose
skill he could rely in spite of his youth, to Naples. Lorenzo managed
to strengthen King Ferrante in his inclination towards the Medici,
while the King (as Jacopo Acciaiuoli, then in the above-mentioned
town, wrote to his father),[128] believed that he could better make
use of the Republic for his own purposes under the guidance of the
Medici than under any other circumstances. The favourable impression
which the youth made upon Ferrante is evident. Meanwhile the means of
defence were deliberated upon in meetings with the most faithful and
influential of his party. Both sides were arming; it is clear that
the enemies of the Medici knew of their preparations, but they did
not yet get to work, either because they were not ready, or because
the characteristic dread which the Florentines had of beginning a
revolution in the State with arms, restrained them. Piero had time to
inform the Duke of Milan, through his ambassador, Nicodemo Tanchedini.

The villa of Careggi, the favourite residence of the elder line of
the Medici, lies a little more than two miles to the north-west of
Florence, on the last southern spur of the Uccellatojo, of which
the ‘Divina Commedia’ says that it surpasses the view of Rome from
Monte Mario.[129] The name, once Campus Regis, is in harmony with the
fertility and beauty of the neighbourhood; for here the spectator,
overlooking the whole valley of the Arno from the gently sinking
slope, sees villa join villa, and splendid gardens in a thousand
flowery colours stretch before him, besides vineyards and olive-tree
plantations. The Medicean villa, private property for more than a
century, preserves, like the Salviati villa, lying in the neighbourhood
of the Fiesolan abbey, the form given to it in the first half of the
fifteenth century—an immense cube, which more resembles a fortress
than a country house, with jutting battlements and a quadrangular
inner court. In the present day an intelligent owner, no Tuscan, but
full of warm love for his second home,[130] has called up afresh the
remembrances of ancient days, and again summoned hither the arts once
native here. We can easily transport ourselves to the times of Cosimo
and Lorenzo, so rich in intellectual creations, and feel inspired by
the breath of Platonic symposia, and the statesmanlike consultations
which guided the fortunes of Italy at a memorable epoch. The nearest
way from Careggi to the city led to the Faenza gate, which was
destroyed when the Medicean city was built, partly upon the pleasant
hill of Montughi, already covered with villas, amongst which was that
of Sant’Antonio, belonging to the archiepiscopal see.

On the morning of August 23, Piero de’ Medici was about to have himself
carried in his litter to Florence, when a messenger sent by his son
hastened up to him. Lorenzo, who, after his return from Naples, was
staying at the villa, had ridden out earlier, met suspicious-looking
people, and heard them inquire after his father. Already warned, he
suspected the danger. Saying that Piero was following him, he commanded
one of his men to return to Careggi in order to inform his father
of the suspicious circumstance, and advise him to take another way,
probably that leading to Porta al Prato. Perhaps Piero de’ Medici owed
his life to Lorenzo’s prudence, for the villa of the archbishop was
filled with armed men lying in wait for him.

Scarcely had he arrived in town when he summoned his chief partisans
to him, and it was determined to be beforehand with the opponents. The
decisive moment was come. The troops of Este stood already at Fiumalbo
near the frontiers. A body of Milanese mercenaries were coming from
Imola to Firenzuola to aid Piero. All the adherents of the Medici were
in motion; Antonio Serristori collected together the same morning a
number of country people in the neighbourhood. Lorenzo, supported by
Antonio Pucci, was active with the young people. The Medicean party
stood ready in arms before the others had come to an agreement with
their four leaders, equal in power but different in disposition. When
Piero sent to the Signoria, laid the letter of Bentivoglio before them,
and pointed to the danger threatening the peace of the city, in order
to excuse the speedy arming of his friends, the Signoria could not
avoid taking measures. They sent Bernardo Corbinelli as commissary, to
hinder if possible the passage of the Este troops over the frontier,
and sought to oblige the parties to lay down their weapons. This was,
however, in vain; the whole city was in such a state of excitement
that the Signoria had the palace closed in their anxiety, and the
guards strengthened. And the fear was not groundless. Niccolò Soderini
had brought together and armed nearly two hundred in that part of his
district on the left bank of the river inhabited by the poorer classes,
and called the Camaldoli of San Frediano,[131] and in the evening had
marched with them to the neighbouring house of Luca Pitti. Here the
chief adherents were assembled, but even now they could not agree.
Some, Soderini at their head, advised them to seize the palace and
summon a parliament, since the majority was favourable to them; others
proposed to set the houses of the leaders of the opposition on fire, in
order to strike terror into the crowd. But nothing was accomplished;
the chiefs were irresolute. Diotisalvi, whose house lay near the Medici
palace, was afraid lest, in case of an attack, the mob might get the
better of the contending parties, and renew the scenes of 1378. Luca,
usually impetuous, was undecided. Soderini said to him, bitterly, that
they would both be ruined; he, because he had relied too much on Luca,
Luca because he had heeded his advice too little. Neither did things
proceed smoothly with the Medici. An attack was feared; in order to
meet it, many wished to cross the river and give battle. On the other
side it was confessed that an attack from the Medicean party this night
would have given the victory into their hands. Piero and the more
cautious were for waiting, as they were for the present stronger than
the enemy, and would hardly lose by the delay. Within a few days a new
Signoria must enter upon office; and as the district of Sta. Croce
had to appoint the Gonfaloniere, and here the adherents of the Medici
preponderated, the circumstances could not but be more favourable.

They had not calculated wrongly. Already, on the following day, that
of St. Bartholomew, negotiations between the two parties began. Luca
Pitti is said to have been won by a prospect of the marriage of his
daughter with Lorenzo de’ Medici before a Signoria favourable to that
family could be chosen on the 28th. Piero’s opponents had spread the
report that he had secretly managed to remove all the names of those
of whom he was not sure from the ballot-boxes, but no proof of this
accusation exists.[132] The city was meantime filled more and more with
armed men; from Volterra alone, where the Medici had strong adherents,
400 foot, well armed and provided with money, were obtained.[133]
The retiring Signori wished to combine with the new to attempt a
mediation, and summoned the heads of both parties to the palace. Luca
Pitti appeared with many of his adherents; Piero de’ Medici, who was
ill in bed, sent his two sons with the most important of his party.
A mutual understanding followed; they embraced, and promised to lay
down arms. On the following day all the leaders of the Mountain party,
Niccolò Soderini among them, repaired to the Medici palace. Piero
received them in his bedroom; his speech was not without reproaches
for those who, having become great through his father, had turned
against him and filled the city with suspicion and dangers of war,
which they now sought to lay to his charge. Luca Pitti threw the blame
on misunderstandings and false representations, and expressed a hope
that harmony would remain undisturbed for the future. He is reported to
have been wavering again when Soderini reproached him with treason to
his party, but to have finally yielded to Lorenzo’s representations. It
would indeed have been madness to resort to arms.

On September 1, the new Signoria, with Roberto Leoni, the new
Gonfaloniere, at their head, entered upon office. From the moment when
the Medicean partisans were sure of the victory, the idea awoke within
them to render their most distinguished opponents harmless for ever.
Piero would not consent to violent measures, but he would have been
no Medici if he had despised so-called legal means. Already, on the
day after undertaking the office, the Signoria summoned a parliament,
at which Luca Pitti and Diotisalvi Neroni appeared. On September 6,
they announced their determination by the Balia elected by them: the
Signoria should for ten years be appointed not by casting lots, but
by nomination, and the heads of the Mountain, with the exception of
Luca Pitti, were to go into exile. Niccolò Soderini, it is said, by
the advice of Piero, who wished to protect an old adherent and the
brother of his best friend from violence, had already retired to his
villa, and from thence to Venice; there he was met by the decree which
banished him and his son Geri for twenty years to Provence, where his
father was born. Agnolo Acciaiuoli had quitted his house, and betaken
himself to the Milanese ambassador, with whom he was very intimate,
and who offered to intercede with Piero de’ Medici for him. Had he
waited for the result, says Vespasiano da Bisticci, referring to
Piero’s own words, no harm would have happened to him, for the latter
did not bear resentment against him as against the others. But, full
of anxiety, he hastened in the night to Certosa, the castle of his
ancestors, from whence he went to Barletta, which was assigned him as
his place of banishment. The real originator of the plot, Diotisalvi
Neroni, was condemned to exile, with all his family; and the Neroni
never again attained to power in Florence. The Archbishop left the city
voluntarily, and went to Rome. The exiles were to bring their country
into further grave troubles before they were forgotten by most, if
not by the Medici, in the rapid change of circumstances. Luca Pitti
met with a punishment of another kind. He remained in Florence, but
seldom has the ostracism of public opinion been more harshly exercised
towards a criminal. All turned their backs upon him; if he let himself
be seen, he was received with insults and accusations of violence and
covetousness. The workmen who were devoted to him in the days of his
power, deserted him; his immense buildings, the palace as well as the
villa, stood for generations unfinished, till they fell into other
hands—the palace to the grand-ducal line of the Medici, the villa to
the Usimbardi family, and then to the dukes of Urbino. Presents were
demanded back again, as though they had been loans. He died a despised
man—when is not known.[134]



LIKE every unsuccessful conspiracy, this also contributed to strengthen
the power of those whom it was intended to ruin. In the proclamations
of the Republic to foreign powers it was particularly emphasised, as
we can well understand, that the freedom of state and city had been
saved from great danger, and the rescue was of course acknowledged
with praise and thanksgiving. ‘Already,’ wrote King Ferrante, on
September 28, to Lorenzo de’ Medici,[135] ‘we loved you on account of
your excellent qualities and the services done by your grandfather
and father. But as we have lately heard with what prudence and manly
courage you behaved in the late revolutions, and how courageously you
placed yourself in the foremost ranks, our affection to you has grown
remarkably. We wish, then, the illustrious Piero all happiness with so
worthy a son, and congratulate the Florentine people on so eminent a
protector of their freedom, and ourselves on a friend whose excellent
gifts increase visibly every day. Perhaps it would be our wish to
incite you to praiseworthy actions, but your noble and active nature
does not need encouragement, not to mention that you have the example
of your grandfather and your father constantly before your eyes.’ The
Republic had informed the French king of these events on September
28; the answer came from Bourges only on January 14 in the following
year, but it expressed Louis XI.’s friendly feelings.[136] It was very
important to him to remain in good understanding with Florence. He
was long in friendly relations with the house of Medici, and during
his residence at Mont Luçon in May 1465 granted to Piero and his
legitimate heirs the privilege of bearing the lilies in their coat of
arms.[137] The blameless and well-deserved reputation, says the King,
which the deceased Cosimo de’ Medici had gained during his life by his
actions and in all his transactions, which were conducted with prudence
and virtue, gives his children and relations a claim to honourable

The influence exercised by Louis XI. on the development of the Italian
affairs of his time makes it necessary to give a retrospect of the
policy and situation of this monarch, under whom the French kingdom
began to assume that form which was completed by Richelieu. Louis
XI. had in 1461, on the death of his father, whom he succeeded at
the age of thirty-eight, found the country freed indeed from foreign
foes, after a hundred years’ struggle, but loosely held together.
For half the provinces of his kingdom recognised the King indeed as
their supreme lord, but were independent of him with regard to their
administration. They pursued a policy of their own, concluded alliances
of peace and war, while, as in the case of the most powerful of these
great feudatories, Charles Duke of Burgundy, the union of French
districts with foreign territories belonging nominally to the German
empire, constituted a power which, if they won over their neighbours
to their interests, might enter the lists with royal France. Louis,
as Dauphin, long at variance with his father and the government, had
relied upon Duke Philip the Good. Under him the dukedom, comprising
the greater part of Belgium of the present day, the Netherlands, with
Burgundy, Artois, Picardy, and Franche Comté, rose to the height of
its prosperity and power. Scarcely had Louis ascended the throne,
however, than he took measures against the great feudatories which
kindled the war known under the name of the War of the Public Good
(_Guerre du bien public_), in which Burgundy was also involved. This
war was indeed terminated in 1465 by the treaties of Conflans and St.
Maur, but only to break out afresh in another shape two years later,
when Charles the Bold had succeeded his father on the ducal throne.
Thus fully occupied at home and threatened in his own capital, Louis
had closely connected his foreign affairs with his internal policy. At
the commencement of his reign he had declared the pragmatic sanction of
his father, which placed limits on the authority of the Holy See in his
country, to be abrogated; nevertheless, when Pius II. refused to comply
with his wishes in political matters, he permitted a contradiction on
the part of his parliament which practically destroyed that authority.
In 1462 he had allowed John of Anjou to be defeated in the war against
King Ferrante, and thus made enemies of this family, to whom Provence
belonged, while he likewise estranged Duke Charles of Orleans by
allying himself closely with Francesco Sforza, whose states, as we
have seen, were claimed by the former on the ground of his mother’s
hereditary rights. The Duke of Milan had at least shown himself
grateful by sending him, during his war with the allied princes, the
auxiliary troop which Galeazzo Maria was commanding when his father’s
death summoned him home.

The year 1467 did not begin peacefully. It was very well known in
Florence that the exiles, untaught by the failure of those who had
made a similar attempt under far more favourable circumstances, after
the fall of the Albizzi, had, for the greater part, quitted the places
of exile assigned them, and retired to the Venetian territory. Here
they tried every means of returning home with foreign assistance.
Some applied even to the Venetian Signoria, and others to the
General-in-Chief, Bartolommeo Colleone.

Venice had no honourable excuse for breaking with the Florentines.
Outwardly the two states were in harmony. In the beginning of January
1467, both had joined the defensive alliance concluded at Rome under
the protection of Pope Paul II. which was to secure peace in Italy.
Florence had accepted the conditions, stipulating that ‘the French
King, whose authority essentially aided the preservation of peace and
the safety of the different states, should be permitted to join the
alliance at his pleasure, with authority next to that of the Pope.’[138]
This stipulation, however, did not appear to satisfy the Republic when,
before long, the political sky was clouded, so that in the following
March, Francesco Nori, a confidant of the Medici, was sent to Louis XI.
to propose an offensive and defensive alliance, irrespective of their
engagements with the other Italian powers.[139] The hostile disposition
of Venice was unmistakable, although an open breach of the peace was
avoided. The old grudge on account of the views on Milan, frustrated by
the Medici, came again into the foreground. It was proposed to employ
the hatred of the exiles in order to obtain in Florence a government
with obligations towards Venice, and therefore dependent on her, and to
overturn the power in Milan already shaken by Francesco Sforza’s death.
Bartolommeo Colleone was to be the instrument.

Whoever stands on the Piazza near the church of St. Giovanni e Paolo
in Venice will be reminded of long-vanished times by an equestrian
statue in bronze, almost more than by the surrounding buildings. A
slight, graceful pedestal supports a war-horse in a quiet but powerful
attitude, whose strong limbs do not prevent a mannerised treatment
of the neck and head. Upon this, on a high saddle, and holding the
richly-adorned bridle, sits the somewhat thick-set figure of a knight,
clothed in mail from head to foot, and showing beneath the helmet
a bold, marked countenance, which, slightly turned to the right,
seems to challenge an enemy. Thus has a Florentine artist, Andrea
del Verrocchio, depicted Bartolommeo Colleone, whose magnificence
and wealth may be admired in his chapel built in the cathedral of
Bergamo, which contains his tomb and that of his daughter Medea.
Born within the territory of this city, and acquainted early in his
paternal home with the miseries of war, Bartolommeo had earned his
spurs in the Neapolitan wars, had fought under the unhappy Carmagnola
for Venice, against Sforza for the Milanese republic, then in Venetian
service against the same enemy, and after the peace of Lodi retired
to his castle of Malpaga, in the valley of the Serio, enriched by his
campaigns, a strong man, but resenting his fate, because, although the
republic of St. Mark had chosen him as their captain-general amid great
honours, and had paid him a considerable sum, there was no prospect
before him of fresh laurels to be gained. The exiled Florentines now
came to him, having already had connections with him, and excited his
ambition. Diotisalvi Neroni was at Malpaga in October 1466, from whence
he wrote to a confidant that great events were approaching; if he
could be with him for two hours, he would tell him things to astonish
him.[140] It seems that a prospect was held out to the _condottiere_
of a dominion in the many-lorded and fickle Romagna—nay, of even
gaining Milan itself. His old connections in various quarters, as well
as the disturbances always prevailing under the minor dynasties, which
gravitated now in one and now in another direction, would enable him to
bring a considerable number of troops together.

In the Romagna—a name which is here employed in its widest
signification for all the country from the Lombard frontiers to those
of the march of Ancona, but which in a restricted sense comprises
Ferrara, Bologna, the exarchate of Ravenna and Romandiola—the abnormal
state of things still prevailed to which Dante alluded when he answered
the question of Guido of Montefeltro, in the lower world by saying,
that in the hearts of his oppressors the land was never free from war,
even if peace prevailed there for the moment.[141] On February 14,
1279, Rudolph of Hapsburg relinquished this province, which had been
till then regarded and governed as a part of the empire, in favour of
the Church, which put forward old claims to a part, and the inhabitants
had promised to be true to the Roman Church as heretofore to the
Roman Empire; they wished their allegiance to be measured by their
former obedience to the empire, of which the Church was the rightful
successor. But the Popes had from the beginning shared their authority
with the great and small lords who ruled in the various cities, the
propinquity of which only made the feuds of the Signori and citizens
more frequent and bitter. When the poet mentions the Polentani of
Ravenna and Cervia, the Ordelaffi of Forli, the Malatesta of Rimini,
Mainardo of Susinana, in Faenza and Imola, these are only a few out of
the great number of those who allowed only a general superintendence to
the representatives of the Popes, the Counts of Romagna and the legates
sent from Rome or Avignon, while they governed almost unrestrictedly in
their cities and the counties appertaining to them. When Pope Clement
VI. sent the Cardinal D’Albornoz as legate to this state, about the
middle of 1353, Romagna was lost to the Papacy. Albornoz regained,
partially reconquered it; but he left the domination of the different
families mostly as he found it, taking into account the inclinations
and traditions of the cities themselves, and contenting himself in
most cases with restoring the Papal authority as the supreme presiding
power. In this way the municipalities retained their statutory rights
and financial administration, were exempted from taxes and levies
on payment of a very moderate feudal contribution, and chose their
officers themselves, or, as happened with regard to the office of
Podestà, presented the candidates to the Pope or to his legate. The
position of the Papal plenipotentiaries was, however, all the more
difficult when they took up their residence in great cities, where
factions always prevailed; and the tedious insurrection which, actively
participated in by Florence, spread itself over Romagna at the time
of the last Pope in Avignon, Gregory XI., beginning at the Patrimony
and Umbria, showed on what a weak footing the Papal power stood in the
trans-Apennine provinces not long after the death of Albornoz.

In the time of which we are treating circumstances were very different
in different parts of Romagna, not only from internal and local causes,
but also in consequence of the interference of neigbouring powers. For
as already, in the middle of the preceding century, Giovanni Visconti,
Archbishop and Lord of Milan, had seized upon Bologna, so did Gian
Galeazzo fifty years later. Central Italy was probably preserved only
by the death of the most powerful of the Visconti from subjection to
their supremacy; and subsequently the last of that ambitious house
did actually get the great city, though only for a time, into his
power. Venice had already begun to fix her gaze on Romagna, and had
taken a firm footing in Ravenna in 1440, having declared Ostasio da
Polenta, her former protégé, to whom Filippo Maria Visconti had also
attached himself, to have forfeited the ancient inheritance of his
house, and sent him and his sons prisoners to Candia, whence none
of them returned. While the republic of St. Mark thus began to gain
territory on the seaside, and pursued a policy which some sixty years
later brought about a most dangerous conflict with the Papacy, Florence
made an attempt on the side of the Apennines, just as if the land
was without a master. In various ways, by purchase and mortgage, by
the subjection of petty lords such as the wide-spread Guidi, and the
voluntary resignation by the communes of their independence (which
happened with Modigliana in 1445), the Republic had extended its
dominions more and more over the ridge of the mountain range, and
created the territory, reaching far towards Faenza and Forli, which
down to our day has borne the name of Grand-ducal Romagna. This was,
however, not enough. The Accomandigia which has been spoken of in
connection with the Tuscan lords and territories extended likewise to
many in Romagna, and formed a political connection which would have
been in direct opposition to the Papal sovereignty had this sovereignty
not been so loose in its form. The Malatesta of Giaggiuolo, the
Manfredi of Faenza and Imola, the Alidosi of Imola and Castel del Rio,
the Ordelaffi of Forli, the counts of Montefeltro and Urbino, were all
Florentine Raccomandati, as was the case with many families of Umbria,
bordering upon Romagna and partly dependent upon her—the Accoromboni,
Brancaleoni, Gabrielli of Gubbio, the Vitelli of Città di Castello, the
Fortebracci of Montone, and the Trinci of Fuligno. The duration of the
Accomandigia was very various; it was concluded for a certain number
of years, just like a _condotta_ or mercenary contract, or for life.
The renewal followed then generally after a fixed interval, or from the
successors of the stipulating parties in the former manner. The lords
in the States of the Church made the reservation not to be obliged to
fight against the Pope or his vicars, the legates or governors; some of
them even refused to fight against the Angevin kings of Naples or the
Roman people. What difficulties and perplexities must therefore arise
from the frequent contests between the Popes and their feudatories, or
between the former and their neighbours, out of such associations, is

The state in this province actually most independent of Rome was
Ferrara.[142] In the beginning of the thirteenth century the
Ferrarese had elected Azzo VI. of Este their hereditary ruler, and
the investiture granted him by Pope Innocent III. of considerable
possessions in Romagna, as well as in the province of Ancona, had given
the house much distinction. A century later, in consequence of a family
quarrel, Venice attempted to put forth her claims to Ferrara, and Pope
Clement V. was obliged to give way. The attempt of the latter to hold
the town in the immediate control of the Church, at first successful,
soon failed, and the citizens in 1317 recalled the family of Este,
who were eleven years later invested with town and territory by Pope
John XXII. The imperial fiefs acquired by the lords of Ravenna, from
which they received in 1452 the ducal title from the Emperor Frederick
III., nineteen years before Pope Paul II. granted it to Borso d’Este
for Ferrara, made their position more independent than that of the
other Papal feudatories; but certain rights relating to the republic of
Venice, as well as the not always friendly neighbourhood on the lower
Po, gave rise to complications which might easily become dangerous. Far
less great in territory and power were the counts, afterwards dukes, of
Urbino;[143] they, with their little land, were in the same political
circumstances between Tuscany and Umbria, Romagna and Ancona. Their
family was invested by Frederick Barbarossa with the hilly region of
Montefeltro, which afterwards formed the north-western part of their
state. In the first decade of the thirteenth century they established
themselves in Urbino, which was subject to the Papacy, and gradually
extended their possessions on both sides of the mountains—to the
south by the acquisition of Gubbio and Cagli, to the north at a much
later time as far as the Adriatic sea. They were a warlike race which
had once given to the contest of Guelphs and Ghibellines a courageous
general in Guido of Montefeltro, and had now one of the best and most
highly-prized _condottiere_ in Federigo, who assumed the government in
1444, and for whom Pope Sixtus IV. afterwards renewed the ducal title
which his brother and predecessor had borne.

The Malatesta, Ordelaffi, Manfredi, and Alidosi were legally dependent
only on the Popes. But they were just the families who caused perpetual
strife. The Malatesta had established themselves in Rimini in the
latter part of the thirteenth century, and in the following century
enlarged their possessions by talent and skilful use of circumstances,
but had again weakened their power by dividing into several lines.
The three sons of Galeotto Malatesta, of whom the history of the wars
of Visconti and Albornoz has much to relate, formed the lines of
Rimini, Cesena, and Fano, the second of which expired in 1465 with
Malatesta Novello; while Sigismondo, the legitimised son of the lord
of Fano, had after the death without children of his uncle Carlo lord
of Rimini, become his successor, and Rimini remained the centre of
the dominions of this family. Sigismondo is a prototype of the city
tyrants of the fifteenth century—talented, active, enterprising, a
good warrior, the patron of intellectual effort, but passionate and
untrustworthy, and stained with faithlessness and cruelty in a measure
unusual even in those wild times. In 1447 and again in 1451 he fought
in the pay of Florence against the Neapolitan Aragonese, then shared
in Anjou’s enterprise against Naples, and was so pressed by Federigo
of Montefeltro that only the republic of Venice, which he had served
in the Morea, saved for him the remnant of his possessions. Pope Pius
II. prevented Rimini from falling into the hands of the Venetians by
investing Sigismondo with the sovereignty of the town and a little
territory, reserving its lapse to the Holy See in case of his decease
without rightful heirs, as had happened at Cesena in 1464. In 1466
Pope Paul II. endeavoured to persuade Sigismondo, on his return from
the Morea, to relinquish Rimini, offering him the government of Spoleto
and Fuligno—certainly a rich compensation, had not the intention too
evidently been to weaken the Malatesta by detaching them completely
from their native country and from the sea. His son Roberto, born like
himself out of wedlock, but legitimised by Pope Nicholas V., had taken
possession of Cesena in 1464, but was unable to retain it against the
Papal strength, as the inhabitants, tired of the endless oppressions of
the violent dynasties, rather surrendered themselves to the direct rule
of the Church, which allowed them greater freedom in their movements
and did not annoy them with taxes.

Confusion enough prevailed in the house of the Ordelaffi, who had taken
a firm footing in Forli in the last decades of the thirteenth century,
and at times ruled over Cesena. Albornoz had no worse opponent than
Cecco (Francesco) Ordelaffi, whom only Venetian protection saved from
complete ruin. His son Sinibaldo had returned by means of Florentine
support in 1375 to Forli, where he fell, ten years later, a victim to a
conspiracy of his two nephews. Antonio, the son of one of the latter,
had joined the Florentines during the wars of the last Visconti in
Romagna, and in 1441 they received him into their Accomandigia, and
obtained for him the investiture of Forli from Pope Nicholas V. His
two sons Cecco and Pino ruled at first together, but the latter in
1466 rid himself by violence of the former, who had been as bitter an
enemy of Florence as Cecco was an ardent friend of the Republic. With
the Manfredi too, who ruled in Faenza from 1314, there was nothing
but quarrels and repeated changes of party. The towns of Faenza and
Imola belonged in common to the different members of the family, and
in such a manner that the eldest always conducted the government. But
at the death of Guido Antonio, Taddeo Manfredi took possession of
Imola in 1448, to the prejudice of his uncle Astorre, to whom the
administration should have passed, and a contest arose which Pope Pius
II., Francesco Sforza, and Florence tried to appease, without however
procuring a real peace. Taddeo passed from one side to another, fought
first in Florentine, then in Aragonese, and then again in Florentine
pay. His uncle was not more constant. He had taken up arms for the
Visconti in 1440, had been taken prisoner in the battle of Anghiari,
and brought to Florence. Freed from prison, he had murdered him into
whose power he had fallen in the battle at Bologna, for which Francesco
Sforza set a price of a thousand gold florins on his head. Yet he
succeeded in reconciling himself with the Republic, in whose service he
fought against the Neapolitans in the Chiana valley in 1452. Florence
had repeatedly concluded defensive alliances with both lines of the
Manfredi since the year 1384. The Alidosi, once reigning in Imola,
which they lost now to the Church, now to the Visconti, and now to the
Manfredi, had been obliged to content themselves with the little Castel
del Rio in the territory of Imola, towards the mountains, with which
in 1392 they had joined the Florentine Accomandigia. A younger family
had associated itself with these elder dynasties. Alessandro Sforza,
brother of the Duke of Milan, had in 1445 acquired the lordship over
Pesaro, by the cession of Galeazzo Malatesta, maternal grandfather of
his wife Costanza da Varano, and maintained it under many changes of
fortune. Pope Nicholas V. had invested him with the government; he had
been an essential support to his brother in the contest for Milan, and
he afterwards performed mercenary service for King Ferrante and for

Among all the towns of this province, Bologna was the largest,
richest, and most powerful, and would have been destined to exercise
the greatest influence on the fate of Romagna, had not irreconcilable
factions weakened her internally, and robbed her of the fruits of
that heroic time in which she so gloriously conquered the Emperor
Frederick II., and the lion of San Marco. The supremacy of the Church,
which obtained greater authority here in proportion to the weakening
of the civil constitutions of Lombardy and the bordering countries,
was not able to suppress the factions which in 1337 brought the Pepoli
to power, and thirteen years later gave the city into the hands of the
Visconti, from whom Cardinal Albornoz wrested it after a possession of
ten years. Even then the quarrels did not cease, which in the beginning
of the fifteenth century brought the Visconti back again, who were
again expelled by Cardinal Baldassar Cossa, to return a third time in
1438 and assume the position beside the Bentivogli (who had risen to
the first rank among the contending native families) which belonged
to the Popes. The evident endeavour of Filippo Maria Visconti to
convert this relation into unlimited power, soon led to war. Supported
by Florence and Venice, who fought here in their own cause as well
as in that of Bologna, Annibale Bentivoglio completely defeated the
Milanese army, August 14, 1443, on the plain of San Giorgio, only to
fall two years afterwards beneath the dagger of murderers of high rank
who were in league with the Duke. It was especially important for the
Florentines not to let a party serviceable to their hereditary enemy
rise to power in a city which they rightly regarded as a protection
against the power of the Visconti. The members of the Bentivoglio
family were, however, either too young, or not in a position, or not
inclined to take the lead. Under these circumstances they hit upon a
peculiar idea. The exiled Count of Poppi, Francesco da Guidi, then in
Bologna, is said to have related that a cousin of Annibale Bentivoglio
had had a love affair with a girl in the above mentioned castle of
Casentino, and had a son who lived there with his maternal relatives.
Cosimo de’ Medici, and, at his suggestion, Neri Capponi, who knew more
about Casentino than anyone, took up the matter, and the end was that
Sante, the nephew of Antonio da Cascese, was recognised as Sante
Bentivoglio, waited upon in Florence most respectfully by deputies
from Bologna, who escorted him to their city, where he succeeded in
maintaining himself till his death by prudence, not unmixed with acts
of violence towards his opponents.

As the Florentines had done the most in enabling Sante Bentivoglio to
seize on the power, so they made it easier for him to preserve it. The
Bolognese ambassadors had represented how the position of the city was
such that they must throw themselves into the arms of the Duke of Milan
if the Holy See did not deal mercifully with them. ‘Beg his Holiness,’
so wrote the Signoria on February 3, 1446, to their ambassador to
Pope Eugenius IV., Paolo da Diaceto,[145] ‘to be gracious towards the
poor Bolognese people, who have been so afflicted by oppression and
misery, by fierce civil discord and strife, that it must move everyone
to pity. The Bolognese hope from the gentleness of his Holiness, and
the authority of the Republic of Venice, that it may be possible to
discover some decent form of paying the Pope a reasonable tribute; but
remaining otherwise in their present freedom, without Papal legates or
other officers in the name of the Church. Do you make the observation
that with people who are accustomed to bloodshed and full of suspicion,
violence does not suffice; and that one must rather temporise in order
to attain from them afterwards by love what violence cannot effect.’
So much, indeed, Bologna did not attain in the agreement concluded at
Rome with Pope Nicholas V. on August 24, 1447, for she was obliged to
receive a legate who shared the administration with the senate and the
city magistrates. But the choice of these bodies was free; the city
had its own militia and unrestricted power over its revenue, while
the Papal troops were bound to protect her from foreign enemies. It
is clear that such a relation might easily afford an opportunity for
difficulties, and it is to be accounted a merit in Sante Bentivoglio
that none arose under his government. When he died on October 1, 1463,
his party appointed Giovanni, the son of Annibale and Donnina Visconti,
then twenty years old, as his successor. By a treaty concluded with
Pope Paul II. in 1466, the latter acquired a legal power such as none
had had before him. This treaty secured him a seat and two votes in
the Senate, which consisted almost entirely of his partisans and was
renewed every six months, and thus placed him at the head of the
citizens who, after Sante’s death, had already shown themselves so
complaisant that they had conferred upon the youthful Giovanni the
dignity of Gonfaloniere, to which only men of mature age could usually
attain. By his marriage with Ginevra Sforza of Pesaro, Giovanni
Bentivoglio entered into relationship with Milan, in which he hoped to
gain some support against any hostility on the part of the Pope. That
he held fast to his friendship with Florence was, to say nothing of the
tradition of his predecessors, caused by his connections with Sforza.
We have seen that it was he who gave Piero de’ Medici information of
the unfriendly movements of Ercole d’Este.[146]

This was the state of Romagna when the country became the scene of
warlike events. The Florentines had not ceased to negotiate with
Venice, but in vain. Only by assuming that this Republic wished to
fish in troubled waters can we find a key to the events of 1467.
The last Visconti had accustomed his neighbours to his sending his
_condottiere_ upon them without declaration of war, under the pretext
of dismissing them from his service. Venice had, however, not yet
given so bad an example. There was a pretence of pacifying Bartolommeo
Colleone, whose mercenary compact was expiring; but the _condottiere_
must have known better the real intentions of the Signoria, for he
would hardly have entered upon a daring undertaking had he feared their
serious displeasure, instead of being certain of their opportune
support, at least with money. When the Florentines saw that war was
imminent, they concluded on January 4, 1467, at Rome and with Papal
consent, the compact already mentioned with King Ferrante and the Duke
of Milan. It was called ‘for the preservation of peace in Italy,’ and
Venice acceded to it in due form; while Siena, Lucca, and the Margrave
of Mantua were invited to join.[147] On the 18th, the alliance was
proclaimed in Florence. An extraordinary tax of a hundred thousand
gold florins was proclaimed to cover the first expenses of the war. In
the preceding November the government had been already empowered by a
special law passed in the Balia to enlist 1,500 horse and 500 foot, or,
if necessary, twice as many; with power to raise extraordinary taxes,
which excited violent complaints, as contrary to the freedom of the
people and to good order,[148] for though they wished to be safe they
did not like to pay. As the Duke of Milan had more troops than were
necessary, two thousand of his cavalry were taken into pay. Donato
Acciaiuoli had conducted the negotiations with Sforza. His cousin
Agnolo was an exile, his sister-in-law a daughter of Diotisalvi Neroni;
but his patriotism was trusted, and he deserved this confidence.
Federigo of Montefeltro was appointed general-in-chief, and he accepted
the offer, though Venice tried to turn him from it. Astorre and Taddeo
Manfredi both took service with the Florentines. The Neapolitans,
under the command of Napoleon Orsini, Count of Tagliacozza, crossed
the Tronto in April, twelve squadrons of cavalry strong, and joined
Federigo’s troops in Romagna.

On May 10, Bartolommeo Colleone crossed the Po. The lords of Mirandola
and Carpi, Ercole of Este, and the Count Deifebo of Anguillara, who had
been banished by the Pope, and was son of the old disturber of the
environs of Rome, had joined him immediately. On his further march,
the Ordelaffi of Forli and Alessandro Sforza of Pesaro came to him,
the latter of whom, won over by Venice, opposed his own nephew; while
Astorre Manfredi faithlessly turned his back upon Florence. Colleone’s
army soon numbered 8,000 horse and 6,000 foot. Galeazzo Maria Visconti,
persuaded by the representations of the Count of Urbino, now first set
out with his troops and marched against the Count by way of Bologna,
from whence men were sent to reinforce the allies. The general of the
latter, now of equal strength with Colleone, would willingly have given
battle; but he, on the one side, true to the old system of marches and
counter-marches, avoided a decision, and on the other the presence
of the Duke of Milan, whose experience did not equal his rank and
claims, hindered the allied commander in his movements. At last Sforza
was persuaded to visit Florence, and yield the command to Roberto da
Sanseverino. Meanwhile the Count of Urbino attacked the enemy on July
25 at Molinella, in the territory of Imola. From a skirmish of the
outposts of both armies a general battle arose, which was all the more
bloody because light field-pieces were employed, and a Milanese troop
of horse was enticed into an ambuscade; whereon, the Count, whose horse
had been killed under him, commanded that no quarter should be given.
The fight lasted for seven hours, in which, according to one of the
lowest estimates, 300 men and 400 horses were killed—a great number
for Italian warfare at that time. At nightfall they ceased to fight
on Colleone’s proposal, and then the Count of Urbino and Alessandro
Sforza, whose son Constanzo was amongst the prisoners, rode up to one
another and shook hands.

The battle was, as we have said, undecided. The dread of the Venetians
that their frontiers might be threatened—a dread which urged them to
stir up Savoy and the Genoese exiles to make a diversion for the Duke
of Milan, which was successful—shows on which side the advantage was.
To this was added, that King Ferrante, however much he longed for
peace, for which he exerted himself to the utmost by his ambassadors,
voted for energetic continuance of the war in order to bring peace,
and sent considerable reinforcements through his son Alfonso. Those
reinforcements were indeed outweighed by the conduct of the Duke of
Milan, who, discontented that a battle had taken place in his absence,
returned home notwithstanding all warnings, and called his troops home
to protect his own country. Galeazzo Maria has left a sad name in
history; but that he did not lack political insight is shown by the
representations he made to a Venetian ambassador travelling through
Milan, in respect to the policy of the Republic. ‘You Venetians,’ he
said, ‘who possess the most beautiful state in Italy, you are very
wrong not to be contented with that, but to destroy your peace and
that of your neighbours. If you knew how everyone is against you,
your hair would stand on end, and you would leave all in peace. Do
you suppose these Italian powers leagued against you really wish each
other well? Not in the least. The necessity of protecting themselves
against you has brought them together, and each one will do what it
can to clip your wings. Do you think to have accomplished something
grand by arming all Italy? Let others live! You have set everything
in excitement by this Bartolommeo of yours; you will see how far it
brings you profit. You have expended a quantity of money, and caused
others great expense too; you preach peace and sow war. May you reap
the result. At the death of my father, it seemed to me that a beautiful
estate had fallen to me, and I thought of nothing but leading a
pleasant life; you have obliged me to join King Ferrante, and to win
my father’s principal adherents who I formerly did not know. The Pope
who has sprung from your nobility will act more against you than all
the rest; and if the war lasts, he will demand Faenza, Forli, Ravenna,
and Cervia back again. The King of Naples is your declared enemy; and
if his power equalled his evil intentions, it would go hardly with
you. How Florence and Genoa are disposed towards you, you know, and
it is not much better with the other Italian commonwealths. You throw
your money away, and have nothing but disgrace from it; for it is said
that, according to your custom, you wish to swallow everything. Now
you are in pecuniary difficulties. I know with what pains you collect
levies, and how your criers march through the whole town. I know that
you have raised loans from banks and private persons which you will
not be able to repay.’ (‘He spoke,’ adds the ambassador, ‘as if he
had witnessed everything in Venice.’) ‘Ruling lords have one great
advantage over republics—they act for themselves, and swiftly; while
in these, the individual is always dependent on several. A Signor with
fifty thousand ducats is worth more than a free State with a hundred
thousand, because he can superintend the soldiers, and these act in
his presence. It depends upon you to have peace or war. If you choose
war, you will see all leagued against you, not only here, but beyond
the mountains. Believe me, your enemies will not sleep. I know all that
you have plotted against me with the Duke of Savoy and Fiesco, and the
Archbishop of Genoa. I pray you, annoy no one: keep peace for your own
advantage and that of Christendom.’[149]

Galeazzo Maria was right. His warning regarding foreigners referred
to the French King, who directed a letter, written in an angry tone,
to the Republic, saying that he knew of their machinations to disturb
the peace, and entreating them not to cause the Duke of Milan any
further annoyances in his territory, if they did not wish that he
should regard their foes as his friends.[150] But Galeazzo Maria, on
his side, had given Venice and Savoy much cause for suspicion and
complaints, planning even then an attack upon Vercelli, the possession
of which he had been promised at his marriage by King Louis XI. as
dowry.[151] So stood it then with Italian affairs and Italian princes.
The Venetians, moreover, relied on the want of harmony among the
allies, which the Duke could not deny. None trusted the other. It was
the Florentines who principally held the league together. However much
King Ferrante wished to agree with Piero de’ Medici, and whatever the
Republic might effect through her financial connections, she was yet
too weak in military matters to exercise preponderating influence.
Between the King and Sforza distrust and aversion prevailed, and
Ferrante said repeatedly that he suspected a separate peace with the
enemy, in which he was not deceived. The Pope said neither Yes nor
No. He had entered the league, but entrance into the league did not
imply fulfilment of the stipulations. He wished to free Romagna from
the war that desolated the country, but he had no inclination to make
overtures to Venice, his native country; always put the tardiness of
the Neapolitan’s movements forward as a pretext; wished for peace after
the battle of La Molinella, especially because he feared being drawn
into the thick of the contest by the allies, and wished to prescribe
the conditions of this peace, while he really did so little to bring
it about. But beside this, the war had displayed more than any other
the defects of the Italian armies, and from this point of view it
deserves more attention than it would otherwise claim. When we consider
that the two most famous generals of Italy at that day, Federigo of
Urbino and Bartolommeo, stood at the head of a considerable army; that
a Duke of Milan and Crown Prince of Naples were there; that the lords
of Lombardy and Romagna, who passed their lives in arms, and the best
Neapolitan warriors, the Sanseverini, Orsini, Davalos, &c., were in
the field; when we consider, on the other hand, the miserable results
of this eight months’ campaign, we shall anticipate the approaching
complete decline of that system of war which Alberigo da Barbiano
had inaugurated a century before, and which had passed through many
glorious days of military art and valour, although an evil lay in the
very existence of mercenary troops from which other countries had to

The Neapolitan troops were certainly not among the worst, and had
practised leaders. And yet how did they prosper? Even before they had
marched out, there were the most unfavourable opinions as to their
quality and discipline. ‘When you hear from ill-wishers,’ wrote the
King on February 10, 1467, to one of his agents, ‘that our soldiers
will run away as soon as they have passed the frontiers, you must not
heed this, for, with God’s assistance, we hope to send them out in such
excellence and order, that they would rather attract others than go
over to them.’ But the result did not correspond with the expectation
of the monarch, who, however, devoted untiring care to military
affairs. The Duke of Calabria employed three months in crossing the
Tronto and dragging his army through Tuscany and Umbria, while the
enemy was in the heart of Romagna. The militia dispersed without
fighting. ‘It grieves my very soul,’ wrote the King on August 1, ‘this
flight of a part of our men-at-arms. But as the fault lies in their
badness and cowardice, and not in the treatment they had experienced
from us, we will bear it more easily.’ And on January 15, 1468, during
the truce: ‘Most of the soldiers leave the camp and return home, which
does not promote the general good, and is highly displeasing to us.’
The Duke of Calabria was amusing himself in the meantime in Florence
and Milan, whither his consort had gone to sweeten for him the hard
campaign, in which he never faced the foe. With the money advanced
by the Florentine banks, those of the Medici, Strozzi, Gondi, &c.,
the desertion of the enemy’s horse and foot was purchased, while the
Neapolitans, as they remained without pay, acted in friendly countries,
in the districts of Arezzo and Cortona, as if they had to do with their

Besides Louis XI., another foreign sovereign tried to put a stop to
a war so prejudicial to the common Christian interest in a moment
when the progress of the Turks menaced both Italy and the Danubian
provinces. It was Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, who sent George
Hasznoz, afterwards Archbishop of Colocza to Venice, in order to bring
about an arrangement.[152] The Hungarian envoy, getting nothing but
empty words, went to Colleone’s camp, and meeting there with the same
ill-success, proceeded to Florence and Rome, to give an account of
his negotiation. More than six months had passed since the day of La
Molinella in useless marching and treating, in the midst of mutual
reproaches and quarrelling. Tommaso Soderini at Venice, Otto Niccolini
in Rome, acted with zeal and ability as Florentine ambassadors; the
Marquis of Ferrara did his best as mediator; Florence itself had made
many efforts, but in vain. At last, on Candlemas day 1468, Pope Paul
II. proclaimed peace in the church of Sta. Maria Araceli, on the
Capitol. The existing league, including Venice, was to be renewed.
Bartolommeo Colleone was to be sent to Albania to fight the Turks, with
an annual salary of 100,000 gold florins as captain-general, after
resigning the places in the Romagna held garrisoned by him. He had,
besides, demanded thrice the sum as compensation for the expenses of
a war which he had himself begun! King Ferrante protested four days
later; shortly before, he had declared he would do the Holy Father’s
pleasure in everything reasonable, but he would rather lose everything
than give Colleone a farthing. Galeazzo Maria was of the same opinion;
he said his money should not serve for an attack upon his state. The
Florentines seemed to have most wished to come to terms, and were
much disturbed when the King, Sforza, and Venice took up arms again.
Finally, the Marquis of Ferrara succeeded in reconciling the parties,
though Pope Paul was very angry; and on April 25 the definitive
peace was proclaimed at Rome, and two days later at Florence, in
which Colleone was not mentioned, and every one was to receive his
own again. In Florence the peace was solemnised by church festivals
and illuminations. Bartolommeo Colleone, then seventy-five years old,
but still in full strength, did not go to Albania, where the death of
Scanderbeg, which had happened in the February of the same year, 1468,
would have made a valiant general necessary, if the tactics of Italian
_condottieri_ had been suitable for such a land and such an enemy.
A throne such as the Florentine exiles had placed in his view, he
certainly was as far from obtaining as he was from reaping laurels in
his last campaigns. But he enjoyed for seven years longer the highest
honours paid to him by the Republic of Venice and foreign and Italian
princes, in his castle, where he died February 1, 1475, having made a
use of his colossal fortune which more honoured him than many of the
means by which it had been brought together.

The ill-success of Bartolommeo Colleone’s undertaking put an end of
course to all the exiles’ hopes of returning to their homes.

The biographer of Donato Acciaiuoli, Angiolo Segni, observes rightly,
‘The war excited by the exiles was soon ended. Bartolommeo’s army was
not defeated in battle with the allies, but it was equally far from
conquering, and the cause of the rebels was lost thereby. For those
who ruled in Florence it was enough not to be defeated; not so with
those in the field. Only by a victory could they expel their enemies,
and regain their home.’ All the distinguished men of the losing side
had been with Colleone—foremost of all Diotisalvi Neroni and Niccolò
Soderini, who in Venice opposed his own brother, whom Florence had
sent thither as her representative. Agnolo Acciaiuoli joined them at
last. Persuaded at length by the representations of his friends, he had
quitted Barletta and gone to Naples; King Ferrante, who, remembering
old connections, wished him well, vainly sought to persuade him not to
trust to the matter, nor to break the exile pronounced on him. He went
to Rome, and from thence to Romagna. When he saw the organisation of
Colleone’s troops, he is said to have anticipated the result at once.
When peace was concluded, he was declared a rebel with all the others,
his property confiscated, and a price put upon his head; he returned
to Naples, where he lived on the support afforded him by the King, and
passed his days mostly in pious exercises and the companionship of the
Carthusian monks, whose order had stood in intimate connection with his
family for more than a century. Niccolò Soderini went to Ravenna, where
the Emperor Frederick III. made him a knight and Palatine on his second
journey to Rome—cheap honours then, which could hardly have sweetened
the exile in which he died, 1474. Niccolò, says Alamamo Rinuccini, was
far more courageous than prudent; he did not know fear. Had his advice
been followed when he wished directly to give battle, his party would
not perhaps have had to submit, but Messer Luca, either cowardly or
bribed, betrayed his party and himself. Diotisalvi Neroni, at first
banished to the island of Sicily, saw sixteen years of exile pass away,
and died in extreme old age at Rome, where his tombstone is to be seen
in the Dominican church, Sta. Maria sopra Minerva, which contains many
Florentine monuments.[153]

One event during the war shows how high the waves of party feeling
rose. Lucrezia de’ Medici was at the Bagno a Morba with her son
Giuliano, the bath in the district of Volterra employed, perhaps even
in the times of the Romans, for rheumatic complaints. It is a lonely
spot on the southern side of the chain of hills which, separating the
valley of the Arno and Elsa from the sea-shore, bears the old Etruscan
town on its ridge. The retired situation had long attracted many a
prowler, and made the desolate region unsafe. One evening a hasty
messenger from Piero came to his wife with the command that she was
to repair without delay with the youth to Volterra, as it had been
announced in Florence from San Gemignano that the exiles meditated a
_coup-de-main_ to carry off both mother and son, whom they needed as
hostages. Giuliano had set off for Florence that same day; Madonna
Lucrezia, ill as she was, was carried to Volterra, fifteen miles
distant, in a litter by night, by the arrangement of the officials of
the place and vicinity, and here she was in safety. After having rested
here, where she was kindly received, she returned to her family.[154]



AFTER the Colleonic war the Republic had peace for a time. For
though she took an auxiliary part in the contest for Rimini, which
broke out in 1469, her affairs were little influenced by it, and her
territory not even touched. Sigismondo Malatesta, who had just been in
negotiation with the _condottiere_ of Bergamo, but had held aloof from
the strife and entered the Papal service, died on October 9, 1468. When
we review the variety of events that followed close upon one another
in this man’s life, and then consider that he only reached the age of
fifty-one, we shall form some idea of the restless character of the
epoch. According to the last stipulation, Pope Paul II. expected the
reversion of Rimini, as Sigismondo had died without legitimate heirs,
but his natural son Roberto, then only six and twenty, succeeded in
taking possession of the city, and formed numerous allies, when the
Pope prepared to expel him by force. When Alessandro Sforza undertook
the siege of Rimini with the Papal army, Naples, Florence, Milan,
and Urbino, came to the assistance of Malatesta, and on August 30,
1469, Sforza suffered a severe defeat, whereas the Pope’s allies, the
Venetians, did not appear till after the event. Paul II. wished at
first to continue the contest, but resolved the following year to come
to terms, a decision confirmed by his conviction that Venice thought
more of extending her own power in Romagna than of supporting him, and
also by the progress of the Turks, which caused serious anxiety, not
only to Venice, whose possessions in the Levant were threatened, but
to all Italian powers. Paul’s successor had, at a critical moment, no
reason to regret that Roberto Malatesta remained in Rimini.

It was a fortunate thing for Florence that peace was concluded, for the
expenses had long been enormous. The allies seemed to think that the
Florentine purse was inexhaustible. When Galeazzo Maria arrived in July
1467 from the camp, he carried an open empty purse at his belt: they
were obliged to pay him a large sum, says a contemporary, to enable
him to return to the camp.[155] At the same time the sum of 1,200,000
gold florins was raised, partly by a property tax, partly by additional
imposts, to which the clergy and those otherwise exempted from
taxation were forced to contribute, while the half of their salaries
was deducted from all officials outside the city. The heavy expenses
of the war did not, however, hinder the expenditure of large sums for
other purposes, as, for example, in February 1468, even before the
peace was ratified, 37,000 gold florins were paid for Sarzana and the
neighbouring castle, which the Genoese Fregosi sold to the Republic, a
bargain which caused violent disputes afterwards. There was no lack of
complaints of the great expenses. Even before the war numerous failures
had taken place, and created a serious panic in the commercial world.
The war had crippled industry and commerce. The government could not
blind itself to the prevailing discontent, and if they sought to amuse
the crowd by festivals in honour of foreign princes, and in other ways,
they only increased the expenses of the city. The Duke of Calabria, who
had his winter quarters in the Pisan territory, was twice in Florence
in the autumn of 1467, where great honour was shown to the son of the
most powerful of the allies. In the following May, after the peace,
he resided in Pisa, and informed Lorenzo de’ Medici, through Luigi
Pulci,[156] that he thought of spending the festival of St. John at
Florence, and recommended him to see that it should be brilliantly

Pleasure-making and expensive pursuits were certainly ill-adapted to
the frame of mind which prevailed in Florence in the latter times of
the war, and to the general condition of affairs. ‘The whole city,’
wrote Niccolò Roberti, the Ferrarese ambassador, to Duke Borso, on
January 12, 1468,[157] ‘is discontented and in the worst humour. Not
only enemies, but even most friends, agree in the opinion, that if
peace be not soon concluded, all must emigrate, or something new be
resolved on, for it is no longer possible to bear the burdens. Few
people work, and shops are daily closed. The one consolation is, that
peace cannot be far distant. Three days ago a meeting of the council
took place, and it was determined to collect money for the equipment
of twenty galleys, as it is said the Duke of Milan and King Ferrante
intend to put a powerful fleet to sea, and attack Venice in the gulf,
if she does not agree to peace. It is certainly whispered by some
that if the money were to be had, Piero de’ Medici would take it for
himself.’ So little satisfactory was the state of affairs, and so
great the discontent. When peace was concluded after long uncertainty,
a contagious illness tormented the citizens. ‘The pestilence is in
many houses here,’—thus writes the ambassador from Ferrara on August
12—‘and although, on account of the imperfection of the statistical
reports, the number of deaths cannot be ascertained, they are estimated
at from six or eight daily. Piero de’ Medici shuts himself up, and, it
is said, will go to Careggi next week.’ Public festivals were rather
out of place.

Lorenzo was then nineteen years old. As his father was hindered by
ill-health from appearing in public, or taking an active share in
civic festivities, the gifted young man, who had shown in the Pitti
conspiracy how ripe was his understanding, and how he could combine
forethought with prompt action, naturally was brought prominently
before the public. In festivities he took the foremost place, as became
the position of his family and his own inclinations. On February 7,
1469, a festival took place at Florence, which forms a brilliant page,
not only in the history of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s life, but also in
the history of Italian poetry of the time closely connected with it.
Niccolò Machiavelli, in describing this tournament, accuses Lorenzo of
having sought to amuse the people in order to avert their attention
from his politics. Savonarola had expressed the same opinion long
before. But it is unfair to ascribe the splendid tourneys of Lorenzo,
the spirited amusements then common to high-born and vivacious youths,
to indirect political motives. When in 1467 Braccio Martelli, the
son of a distinguished family allied by friendship with the Medici,
celebrated his marriage, there was a tournament, in which Lorenzo de’
Medici took part. Among the young ladies present was Lucrezia Donati.
The name of the ancient and ambitious race from which she sprang was
mentioned in the first ranks of those who in the days of Guelphs and
Ghibellines, and afterwards in those of the White and Black factions,
filled the city with sanguinary quarrels. Dante Alighieri, who allied
himself in marriage to that family without making peace with them, has
bestowed on Piccarda, a daughter of the Donati—of whom he makes her
brother Forese say, he knows not whether her beauty or her goodness is
her greatest ornament—a crown whose glory far outshines historical
fame.[158] In the introduction to one of his youthful poems, which will
be mentioned afterwards, Lorenzo has described the object of his early
love, whose name, never mentioned by him, has been made known by his
friends and admirers. The story of the rise of his love is a mixture
of truth and fiction, as he connects it with the death of a young girl
who was beloved by Lorenzo’s brother, a circumstance which belonged,
however, to a later time. We know nothing of Lucrezia Donati but what
is said of her by the young poet—who at this tournament begged for
a wreath of violets which she held in her hand, and promised to give
a similar entertainment in her honour—and what his friends say of
her, one of whom puts a verse into her mouth, in the pompous style
of the stilted poetry of the fifteenth century which Lorenzo mainly
contributed to do away with; while another seeks to persuade her to
return the young man’s love.

Nearly two years passed before Lorenzo could fulfil his promise at
the wedding of Braccio Martelli. The times were not favourable for
festivities. At length the Piazza Sta. Croce witnessed the brilliant
spectacle. The Piazza differed from the present one in the appearance
of the surrounding buildings, but its form was the same, and well
suited for such purposes, so that many a grand pageant had been
displayed here. Tournaments were in vogue then and at a much later
period. And though they were mostly free from danger, they yet afforded
opportunity to exhibit and to try knightly skill, while they led to
a not ignoble expenditure of money, to the display of costly weapons
and beautiful horses, and to an ingenious though sometimes affected
invention of devices and emblems. Numerous were the distinguished
young men who took part in the chivalrous games. Besides two stranger
knights, Lorenzo’s brother-in-law, Guglielmo Pazzi, and his brother
Francesco, two Pitti, Donigi Pucci, Salvestro Benci, Benedetto
Salutati, Braccio de’ Medici, Carlo Borromeo, Piero Vespucci, and
Jacopo Bracciolini, figured there. Who could have dreamed then that
more than one of the combatants would be victims to a plot against that
very Medici with whom all seemed to be at peace!

The costumes and state of all who took part in this tournament were
exceedingly splendid, and especially gorgeous was the array of
Lorenzo himself.[159] Before him rode nine trumpeters, and a page
bearing a red and white banner, and accompanied by two others. Next
came two squires in full armour, whom the Count of Urbino and Roberto
Sanseverino had placed at Lorenzo’s disposition; twelve young noblemen
on horseback, Giuliano de’ Medici in a tabard of silver brocade with
a silk doublet embroidered in pearls and silver, and a black velvet
baret cap, adorned with three feathers made of gold thread, set with
large pearls and rubies. The youth’s attire was estimated at eight
thousand ducats. Now came five mounted pages with fifers and drummers,
and then Lorenzo himself. He wore a surcoat with a shoulder-piece of
red and white silk, and across it a silk scarf embroidered with fresh
and withered roses, and the device ‘Le temps revient’ in large pearls.
On the velvet baret cap, adorned with a great number of pearls, he
wore a feather made of gold thread, set with rubies and diamonds,
and having in the centre a pearl of five hundred ducats value. The
diamond on his shield, called ‘Il Libro,’ was estimated at more than
two thousand ducats. The horse, a present of King Ferrante, which he
afterwards exchanged for one sent him by Borso d’Este, wore red and
white velvet housings, embroidered with pearls. When the tournament
began he laid aside the velvet surcoat, and attired himself in another
of Alexandrian velvet with gold fringes, and the golden lilies of
France in an azure field, which he wore also on the shield; while he
put on a helmet with three blue feathers, instead of the baret cap.
Ten young men on horseback and sixty-four on foot, armed and helmeted,
concluded the splendid procession, which, as we need not say, formed
the climax of this brilliant tournament. Lorenzo has made the following
note of the festivity and its result: ‘In order to do as others, I
appointed a tournament on the Piazza Santa Croce, with great splendour
and at great expense, so that it cost about ten thousand gold florins.
Although I was young and of no great skill, the first prize was awarded
to me, namely, a helmet inlaid with silver and surmounted by a figure
of Mars.’ We see that it was only a step from citizen to prince.
The court poet was not wanting. A long poem in eight-lined stanzas
describes the festival and those who took part in it, with all the
details and profuse display of mythological learning, and not without
allusions to a yet more glorious future. Whether it is by Luca Pulci
or by his more famous and talented brother, the poet of the Morgante,
remains undecided. It is hardly worthy of the latter, although it
is not wanting in poetical beauty; its chief fault lies, not in the
poverty of separate parts, but in the trivial subject and the fulsome
multiplication of details. Comparison with a later poem on a similar
subject throws into relief the deficiencies of this.[160]

Long after the tournament at Sta. Croce had taken place, poets
continued to celebrate the love of Lorenzo for Lucrezia Donati, and
Lorenzo did not cease to record his feelings of joy and sorrow, hope
and fear, as they rose and fell, in a series of sonnets and canzonets
which have procured one of the foremost and honoured places among the
poets of the fifteenth century for him in whose hand the fate of his
native country lay for years. But while the poet occupied himself
thus with the lady of his thoughts, the fortune of the man who was
to be the head of his family and his state took a decisive turn.
When he held the tournament he had been already betrothed for some
time; indeed, the tournament was intended to celebrate his betrothal!
Piero de’ Medici did not follow Cosimo’s principle of choosing for
his son and heir a bride among the daughters of the land. He seems to
have been indifferent to the aversion with which intermarriages with
foreign baronial families were generally regarded at Florence. Corso
Donati, the brother of Piccarda, had once aroused a rebellion against
himself which cost him his life, by proposing to offer his hand to
a daughter of Uguccione della Fagginola, the powerful partisan and
friend of Dante. The news that Lorenzo de’ Medici intended to enter
into an alliance with one of Rome’s oldest and greatest families was
heard with displeasure at Florence, because the people suspected
that the object was to raise himself above the ordinary position of
a citizen, and to seek foreign support. Clarice degli Orsini[161]
was the daughter of Jacopo, lord of Monterondo, and of his second
wife, Maddalena, daughter of Carlo, lord of Bracciano, and sister of
Napoleon, who gave this castle its present grand form, and of Latino,
one of the most influential cardinals of his time, whom Pope Nicholas
V. adorned with the purple. Orso, Clarice’s grandfather, had met his
death at the battle of Zagonara, 1424, which was so disastrous for
the Florentines, and in which he had fought under Carlo Malatesta
for the Republic against the Visconti. Of her father, who possessed
in common with a brother the castle of Monte Rotondo, which stands
on a low hill, fifteen miles from Rome, commanding the Salarian road
leading to the Sabine hills, there is little to tell, except that he
founded a Minorite convent at this place, in Pope Nicholas V.’s reign.
In the beginning of 1467, when Lorenzo was only eighteen years old,
the negotiations had already begun between the two families; after the
youth had seen Clarice, probably on the occasion of the journey to
Naples as his father’s representative, and, apparently, without her or
her mother’s previous knowledge. The plan of the union had undoubtedly
originated with a maternal uncle of the bride, Roberto, who took part
in the Colleonic war, and fought at La Molinella. In March of the same
year, Lucrezia de’ Medici repaired to Rome, to conclude the affair
with her brother Giovanni Tornabuoni, who seems to have conducted
the preliminary proceedings. The letter which she addressed to her
husband on her first meeting with her future daughter-in-law and her
family[162] is a characteristic example of the manners of the time,
as well as of the views of a family which combined the positions of
citizen and prince in so exceptional a manner:

‘I have repeatedly written to you on my way, and informed you of the
state of the roads. On Thursday I arrived here, and was received by
Giovanni with a joy which you may imagine. I have received your letter
of the 21st, and it made me happy to learn your pain has entirely
ceased. But each day seems a year to me till I am again with you, to
your joy and mine.

‘As I was going to St. Peter’s on Thursday, I met Madonna Maddalena
Orsini, the cardinal’s sister, with her daughter, fifteen or sixteen
years old. The latter was attired in the Roman style, with the
handkerchief on her head, and appeared to me very beautiful in this
costume, of fair complexion and tall; but as she was veiled, I could
not see her so well as I wished. Yesterday I went to see the aforesaid
Monsignore Orsini, who was at his sister’s house, adjoining his own.
When I had spoken to him in your name, his sister entered with the
daughter, who wore a closely-fitting dress, such as the Roman women
wear, and was without kerchief on the head. Our conversation lasted
for some time, so that I had opportunity of looking at her. The girl
is, as I have said, above the middle height, of fair complexion and
pleasant manners, and, if less beautiful than our daughters, of great
modesty; so that it will be easy to teach her our manners. She is not
blonde, for no one is so here, and her thick hair has a reddish tinge.
Her face is round in shape, but does not displease me. The neck is
beautiful, but rather thin, or, more properly, delicately shaped: the
bosom I could not see, as they cover it entirely here, but it seems to
me well-formed. She does not bear her head so proudly as our girls do,
but inclining a little forwards, which I ascribe to the timidity that
seems to predominate in her. Her hands are long and delicate. On the
whole, the girl seems to be far above the ordinary type, but she is not
to be compared to Maria, Lucrezia, and Bianca. Lorenzo has seen her
himself, and you can hear from him whether she pleases him. I am sure
that whatever he and you decide will be good. May God rule it for the

‘The girl’s father is Signor Jacopo Orsini of Monterotondo, her mother
the cardinal’s sister. She has two brothers: one has devoted himself
to arms, and stands in good repute with the lord Orso; the other is
priest and Papal sub-deacon. They possess the half of Monterotondo,
the other half of which belongs to their uncle, who has two sons and
three daughters. Besides this, three castles belong to them—that is
to say, to the brothers of the girl, and, as far as I hear, they are
rich, and likely to be richer. For, not to mention that they are on
their mother’s side nephews of the cardinal, the archbishop, Napoleon,
and the knight, they are on the father’s side cousins in the second
degree to these lords, who have a great affection for them. This is
about all that I have learned. If you decide to await our return before
proceeding to other measures, do what seems good to you. I think of
leaving on Monday week, and will write to you on the way. We shall
be there at the time fixed. May God’s grace lead us safely home, and
preserve you in health. I do not write to Madonna Contessina because
it seems unnecessary. Recommend me to her, and greet the girls and
Lorenzo and Giuliano.—Your


  ‘ROME, March 28, 1467.’

In a letter addressed to Piero shortly before the departure she says,
‘If you will hear my opinion at my return, I believe you will be
satisfied, especially as the girl pleases Lorenzo. We have not seen
her again, and I know not if we shall; but that does not signify. You
say I express myself coldly; I do so in order to attain the end more
certainly, and believe that there is here no marriageable girl more

The remainder of the year 1467, and the greater part of the following,
was occupied in treaties. In November 1468 Filippo de’ Medici,
Archbishop of Pisa, a distant relative of Cosimo’s line, went to Rome,
in order to proceed to a conclusion, and the choice of a high prelate
shows in itself what position the Medici took and meant to maintain
towards the distinguished Romans. Piero’s brother-in-law at last came
to an agreement with the Orsini with respect to the conditions. On
November 27, the bride’s uncle, Cardinal Latino, wrote as follows
to Piero de’ Medici:[164] ‘Magnifice vir, affinis tanquam frater
carissime, salutem. With great joy have we ratified what Giovanni
Tornabuoni conveyed to us on your behalf. Thank God, I hope it is
concluded for the welfare of your house and ours, for it is a joy to
us old people as well as to the women and young folks. At Christmas
we hope to see our nephew Lorenzo, or at least his brother. We shall
organise festivities, brilliant, or modest, or simple, just as you like
and will inform us, as all our thoughts will only be directed towards
carrying out your wishes. Be assured all that we are and have is at
your disposal. Take care, therefore, to preserve yourselves in health
and joy, for you, like us, can need nothing else.’ On the same day the
Archbishop of Pisa wrote to Piero, to announce to him the conclusion of
the contract:[165] Clarice’s dowry was to amount to six thousand Roman
scudi in gold and trousseau. Should she die childless and without a
will, the dowry was to revert to her family. Otherwise the conditions
were drawn up, half according to Roman and half according to Florentine
customs. ‘I was present at the conclusion, and the compact seems to
me honourable and reasonable. You do not need the possessions of
others, and yours remain to you. Illustrious Piero, I esteem the new
relationship very highly, much more that these (the Orsini) have shown
themselves so willing and ready to ally themselves with you. This must
be a great satisfaction to you, which, with God’s permission, will
increase every day for you and us. With a hundred tongues I should not
be able to express my joy to you.’ At the same time the Archbishop
begged him to send the mandate of proxy for the marriage speedily, if
Lorenzo could not come to Rome personally. No announcement had yet been
made to the Pope, but the matter could not long remain a secret, as
many, the Pazzi among others, knew of it.

Neither Lorenzo nor Giuliano went to Rome, and Filippo de’ Medici
represented the former at the marriage. ‘I know not,’ he wrote to
him,[166] ‘where I shall begin in order to inform your Magnificence
that I have to-day espoused the noble and illustrious Madonna Clarice
degli Orsini in your name; according to my opinion, a maiden of such
physical gifts, appearance, and manners, that she deserves no other
bridegroom than him whom, I believe, heaven has destined for her. You
must thank God for the protection which he has afforded you in this
as in other things depending on good luck.’ The bride remained for a
time with her parents, as was not unfrequent in such cases. Lorenzo
seems to have had the intention of fetching her, an intention implied
by a letter of his mother-in-law addressed to him at the beginning of
March 1469.[167] What hindered him is not known; that the new relations
should have wished to see him in Rome is very natural. Meanwhile,
letters were exchanged between him and his bride. ‘Illustrious
consort,’ wrote Clarice on February 25, ‘I have received a letter from
you, which has given me great pleasure, and wherein you inform me of
the tournament at which you won the prize. I am glad you are successful
in what gives you pleasure, and that my prayer is heard, as I have no
other wish than to see you happy. Recommend me to my father Piero and
my mother Lucrezia, and Madonna Contessina, and all who are near to
you. At the same time I recommend myself to you. I have nothing else to
add.—Your CLARICE DE URSINIS.’ Rinaldo Orsini also congratulated his
brother-in-law on his success in the tournament.

On May 15, 1469, Clarice left Rome, and on her arrival in Florence
lodged at the house of Bernardo degli Alessandri, in the Borgo degli
Albizzi.[168] The marriage festivity was fixed for Sunday, June 4. Two
days before, all the cities and localities of the Florentine territory
had sent presents to the Medici—food, sweetmeats, wine, and wax; among
these, 150 calves, and more than two thousand pairs of capons and hens,
a kind of tribute or donation brought to rulers on family festivals and
other occasions. The present was divided between 800 friendly citizens.
On the appointed day Clarice made her entry into the Medicean house;
she wore a dress of brocade, white and gold, with a splendid mantle,
after the Florentine fashion, and rode the horse presented by King
Ferrante. Trumpeters and fifers marched in front, the bridesmen walked
beside, and behind rode Messer Carlo and Messer Tommaso de’ Medici,
surrounded by their servants.

At the house, before which a splendid ball-room was erected in the Via
Larga, thirty richly clad young girls and matrons received the bride,
who was followed by an equal number, escorted by the bridesmen. When
they arrived, an olive-tree was drawn up to the upper windows by a
contrivance similar to that customary on the feast of St. John. Now
began the banquet. The bride and about fifty young matrons dined in
the loggia of the garden; in the colonnades enclosing the courtyard on
three sides about seventy of the most distinguished men; in the hall
of the ground floor about thirty-six young people; and in the hall of
the first storey forty elder ladies with Madonna Lucrezia. On the whole
there were about two hundred guests. Forty youths of good families
served as stewards. The dishes were carried in preceded by trumpets
at the large door on the street-side, and the arrangement was so
perfect that they stood at the same moment on every separate table, the
stewards directing the whole with the carvers and bearers. The number
of dishes amounted to fifty, over each of which two carvers presided.
The number of courses was not great, ‘in order to give the citizens
an example of moderation, which must not be forgotten at weddings.’
At dinner soup, boiled and roast meat, cakes and sweetmeats; in
the evening jelly, roast meat, cakes and sweetmeats. The wines were
Malvasie, the native light and somewhat sharp wine called Trebbiano,
and several very excellent red wines. The quantity of silver plate was
moderate, consisting of spoons, knives, forks, salt-cellars, great
bowls for cooling the wine, and others for washing the hands. In the
court, around the column which bears Donatello’s statue of David, stood
four tables covered with cloths, and upon these great brazen bowls
with glasses, and beside these tables the cellarers, who offered wine
and water to those serving at table. There was a similar arrangement
in the garden round the fountain. So on Sunday, Monday, and on the
forenoon of Tuesday, the banquets took place, in which, on the whole,
about four hundred distinguished citizens shared. Beside these first
tables, in the house itself, and at Messer Carlo de’ Medici’s, covers
were laid for about a thousand guests, and all respectable persons who
came to offer congratulations found a breakfast ready in the rooms
adjoining the loggia. In the house of Messer Carlo a hundred casks of
wine were daily emptied. Food, sweetmeats, and wine were sent to the
citizens who had a share in the wedding gifts, as well as to several
ecclesiastical orders. The quantity of sweetmeats was calculated at
more than five thousand pounds. The guests assembled in the forenoon,
rested for a time after dinner, and then danced on the boarded floor
before the house, which we have mentioned, the walls of which were hung
with embroidered carpets, and which was covered with large cloths,
violet, green, and white, with the arms of the Medici and Orsini.
Before the dance began, the trumpeters blew, and sweetmeats and wine
were served. The weather was fine with the exception of the Monday,
when a sudden shower of rain disturbed the pleasure and spoiled many
a costly dress. When the bride, early on Tuesday, accompanied by all
the bridesmen and bridesmaids, went to hear mass at San Lorenzo, all
appeared in rich new costumes. About fifty more or less valuable rings
were presented to the newly-married pair, with a silver sweetmeat dish,
a piece of brocade, and from Messer Gentile Becchi, an office of the
Madonna of wonderful beauty, golden letters on an ultramarine ground,
with miniatures, and a binding of crystal and silver, which is said to
have cost 200 florins.[169] After divine service on Tuesday there was a
joust of arms, after which Clarice once more rode to the house of the
Alessandri in the same costume which she had worn on Sunday, and with
the same escort.

Thus was the marriage of Lorenzo de’ Medici and Clarice degliOrsini
celebrated. In Lorenzo’s oft-mentioned notices we find the event spoken
of in the following words:—‘I, Lorenzo, took to wife Clarice, the
daughter of the lord Jacopo Orsini, or rather she was given to me, in
December 1468, and I celebrated the marriage in our house on June 4,
1469.’ These words he wrote some months after the birth of Piero, who
came into the world on February 15, 1471. A daughter had preceded him,
for whom King Ferrante stood sponsor. She was named Lucrezia after the
grandmother; it was at the same time the name of her who was the object
of the father’s poetical homage, years before. Clarice was again about
to be a mother when the above named notice was written. ‘God leave her
long in our midst, and preserve her from all harm.’ The words betray
more feeling than the expressions about the wedding. But we should be
mistaken if we regarded the ‘mi fu data’ as an indication of coldness.
It would be a misunderstanding of the _naïveté_ with which the events
of life were judged and spoken of at the time. Lorenzo de’ Medici saw
no harm in simply mentioning the fact, as it was not only in his case
but generally customary, as indeed it still is in Italy. The parents
chose their children-in-law, and choose them still. And his friends saw
as little harm in celebrating the bridegroom and husband of Clarice
Orsini as the poetical admirer of Lucrezia Donati.

In July, Lorenzo, in company with his two brothers-in-law, Guglielmo
de Pazzi and Bernardo Rucellai, the chancellor Bartolommeo Scala, his
former tutor, Gentile Becchi, Francesco Nori, one of the most zealous
adherents of the family, and others, repaired to Milan, to stand
sponsor in his father’s name to the son (born June 20) of Galeazzo
Maria Sforza, who had married, in the preceding summer, Bona of Savoy,
the daughter of Duke Louis and Anna of Lusignan, and sister-in-law to
King Louis XI.[170] The child was the unhappy Gian Galeazzo, who was
destined to fall a sacrifice to family intrigues, which the Sforzas
had inherited from their predecessors. Not only the child to whom
Lorenzo stood sponsor had an unhappy fate; the father and mother also
experienced vicissitude of fortune. But then all was brilliant and
joyful, and the Medici appeared like princes. ‘I was much honoured,’
says Lorenzo, ‘more than any of those who had come for the like
purpose, even though they were above me in dignity. In order to do what
was fitting, we presented the duchess with a gold chain and a large
diamond, which had cost about three thousand ducats. The result was
that the duke wished me to stand sponsor to all his children.’[171]

Immediately after his arrival at Milan, Lorenzo had written to Clarice.
The letter[172] is simple, but warm. ‘I have arrived here without any
mishap, and am well. This, I think, will be more welcome to you than
any other news, excepting my return, for so it is with me, who long
for you, and wish to be again with you. Be good company to Piero, Mona
Contessina and Mona Lucrezia. I shall finish my business here quickly
and return to you, for it seems to me a thousand years till I see you
again. Pray God for me, and if you wish for anything from here, let me
know it before I depart.—Your LORENZO DE’ MEDICI.’ The details wanting
in this short letter were contained at full length in another addressed
to Clarice by Gentile Becchi, enumerating all the civilities shown to
Lorenzo during his journey, which took eight days, from Florence to
Milan. Lorenzo de’ Medici had scarcely returned four months, when the
event occurred which placed him at the head of his family and the State.

‘Piero our father,’ so he writes in his notices, ‘quitted this life on
December 2 (3), 1469, at the age of fifty-three, after long rheumatic
sufferings. He did not wish to make a will, but after his death an
inventory was made which showed an amount of 237,982 scudi, as was
proved by the memoranda made by my hand on p. 32 of our large green
parchment-book. He was interred in San Lorenzo, where we are now
erecting a tomb, as worthy as we can devise, for the reception of the
mortal remains and those of his brother Giovanni. May God grant mercy
to their souls. His loss was sincerely regretted by the whole town, for
he was a just man and of great kindness of heart. The Italian princes,
especially the greater ones, consoled us by letters of condolence
and embassies, and offered their assistance for our protection.’ The
funeral procession was simple, as the deceased had wished it. Three
years after his departure, the monument which the son mentions was set
up in San Lorenzo, where it is let into the wall which separates the
sacristy from the sacraments-chapel then dedicated to SS. Cosmo and
Damian. It consists of a tomb of red porphyry, resting on four lions’
paws on a pedestal, and ornamented at the four corners and on the top
with rich antique foliage and beautifully formed cornucopias of bronze.
This sarcophagus stands in a round arched window niche, enclosed by an
elegant railing, the upper part of which is occupied by net-like bronze
interlacings, with artistically twisted knots. On the front we read in
a full wreath of foliage and flowers, ‘Petro et Johanni de’ Medici
Cosmi P.P.F.,’ and on the pedestal ‘Laurent. et Jul. Petri F.’ Andrea
del Verrocchio executed this excellent work, which exceeds in artistic
value many more splendid monuments by its tasteful simplicity.[173]

The opinions of contemporaries and later writers on Piero de’ Medici
are pretty unanimous. Donato Acciaiuoli, then captain of Volterra,
wrote immediately after the event to Lorenzo.[174] ‘When shall we find
another so reasonable in council, so just, true, mild in character, so
loving towards home, relations, friends, so worthy of respect, as your
excellent father, who has been taken from us to our great sorrow. When
we see the whole nation saddened at his loss—the neighbouring towns,
ecclesiastics and laymen, people of every rank—how much must not you,
his family, suffer, with myself and his other intimate friends, for
whom the general loss was a personal one?’ The high character of the
man who wrote these words gives them a higher value than that of an
ordinary letter of condolence. ‘Florence,’ says Machiavelli, in the
seventh book of the Florentine History, ‘could not perfectly recognise
the value and kindness of this man, because he only survived his
father for a few years, and this short time was occupied by internal
difficulties of the State and his own illness.’ In a similar strain
Francesco Guicciardini[175] says: ‘His death saddened the whole town
on account of his reasonable and mild disposition. Of his zeal for the
common good he gave proof in 1466, for he punished only where it was
necessary, and would have proceeded still more cautiously had not many
of his partizans urged him on.’ To these opinions we can add that of
a man in whom the Medicean family traditions of the older time still
lived, which he had known through his parents, Alessandri de Pazzi,
Piero’s grandson. ‘He was,’ so speaks he of his grandfather,[176]
‘rather a good man and anxious for the good of all than the head of a
party. Unfortunately, he was much troubled with rheumatism, and for
some time nearly lamed by it. It thus chanced that his position was
endangered in 1466. Not only were several friends from Cosimo’s time
already dead, but fresh accessions to their number was small, because
the Medici did not take so much pains to conciliate as formerly.’

That Piero’s relation to the distinguished and influential members
of his party was not that of his father is evident. If his character
had been different, his health stronger, and his action prompter, he
would still have not attained to Cosimo’s authority, the fruit of many
years’ experience and unusually favourable circumstances. It had even
been difficult for Cosimo, with all his skill and activity, to attach
permanently to him men who only acknowledged his supremacy because
it was for their interest to do so. ‘In Florence,’ says Francesco
Guicciardini,[177] ‘the citizens love equality by nature, and yield
unwillingly when they should acknowledge anyone as their superior.
Besides this, our head men are restless and active, so that the few
who guide affairs do not understand each other; and in the desire to
surpass each other, one draws in one direction and one in the other,
whence it naturally follows that the guidance is uncertain. This
disinclination to the preponderance of others has for its result, that
on the slightest occasion the existing government falls into ruin. For
as the greatness of others displeases all who do not belong to their
circle, so it cannot exist if it has not a sure foundation. But where
shall this sure foundation be, when they who have the power in their
hands at this minute are disunited?’ If we could give full credit to
Machiavelli, Piero de’ Medici, uneasy at the increasing arbitrariness
of his own partisans, after the failure of the conspiracy of 1466,
and urged by his conscience, was only prevented by his death from
attempting to neutralise the influence of his overpowerful friends. In
order to cover his responsibility, as he was no longer able to restrain
their ambition and covetousness, he had called them to him in order
to represent to them into what danger they brought the commonwealth
by their appropriation of all offices and honourable positions, as
well as by the heavy pressure exercised on all the citizens. As his
representations availed nothing, he determined to put himself into
communication with the moderate among the opponents who were living in
exile, and Messer Agnolo Acciaiuoli, the calmest and most reasonable
of all, was secretly summoned to his country-seat, Cafaggiuolo, in
order to consult with him. Had he lived longer, he would have recalled
the exiles in order to put an end to the system of plunder of the
prevailing party. It is as doubtful whether this information be
correct as it is uncertain, in the peculiar position of the political
parties, whether a measure of this kind, the carrying out of which
would have dissolved the prevailing Medicean faction, would have been
possible without a deep and dangerous convulsion. The Medici were too
firmly united to their party to separate from it so easily, and to
ally themselves with those who had just threatened to ruin them by
conspiracy and war.[178]

Placed between a celebrated father and a more celebrated son, Piero
de’ Medici, who did not guide the State much above five years, stands
necessarily in the shade. But it would be a mistake to believe that
he was despised. The respect which so practised a politician as King
Ferrante constantly showed him was not caused by interested motives
only. In the Colleonic war, only Naples and Florence were united, and
Piero had actively influenced this good understanding: but for him
the distrust awakened in the councils by the backward preparations of
the Neapolitans would have prevailed.[179] The king attached great
importance to Piero’s approval, and repeatedly commissioned his
ambassador as well as his son never to act otherwise than according to
his opinion and sensible advice. When Alfonso of Calabria joined the
army in August 1467 (when there was nothing more to do), he wrote to
him as follows: ‘If it appear fitting to the illustrious Piero that
you go to Florence, we would remind you that you have to employ all
industry and zeal, and to take all pains to do honour to yourself,
and to appear a son worthy of us. Set all your ingenuity to work by
means of expressions of kindness and politeness, such as are due to
the friendship which the illustrious Florentine people has concluded
with us.’[180] Beside Piero, the Duke was especially to consult Messer
Tommaso Soderini and Antonio Ridolfi, and adapt himself so to the
wishes of the Florentine government as if they were the commands of his
royal father.



‘ON the second day after my father’s death,’ so we read in Lorenzo
de’ Medici’s memoirs, ‘the most distinguished men of the State and of
the ruling party came to our house to express their condolence, and
at the same time to request me to undertake the conduct of affairs
in the city and government, as my father and grandfather had done.
As such a responsibility seemed too great for my inexperience (I was
only twenty-one), and involved so much labour and so many dangers,
I accepted it unwillingly and only for the sake of our friends and
fortune, for those who are shut out from political influence have a
bad position in Florence. Hitherto (the beginning of 1471) all has
succeeded to the general honour and satisfaction, not in consequence of
my wisdom, but by God’s grace and by reason of the wise measures of my

These words show clearly how the matter stood, and justify the opinion
which Francesco Guicciardini[181] puts into the mouth of one of his
interlocutors. ‘The government of the Medici,’ says Bernardo del Nero,
‘was a party government, usurped by the party, preserved by tyranny,
neither violent nor cruel, except in a few cases in which they were
constrained by necessity, but founded upon the policy of favouring the
lower classes, uniting the interests of the stronger with their own
interests, and suppressing all who seemed inclined to go their own way.
As the power passed from father to son, the memory of ancient rivalry
and enmity lived on. The Medici had always more their private advantage
at heart than the general good. But as they had neither any position
nor Signoria abroad, their interest was generally one with that of the
commonwealth, whose glory and fame were likewise theirs. But even with
so keen-sighted a man as Lorenzo, such a position might easily lead to
errors, and we shall see what mistakes he did make in important cases
to the great disadvantage of the State, either by allowing himself to
be carried away by passion or by regarding only his personal position
and advantage, always under the pretext that his greatness and that of
his family was necessary to the common good.

Lorenzo had taken so large a share in the conduct of affairs in his
father’s last years, and displayed such capabilities, that we need
not be surprised if, after the authority of the Medici had been
acknowledged now for two generations, all eyes should have been
directed towards him, notwithstanding his youth, which excluded him
from offices of State. Without an understanding between the heads of
the party, however, he could not have been offered the responsible
position of which he has told us. Piero had, on his death-bed,
recommended his two sons to his brother-in-law, Tommaso Soderini, on
whose prudence and attachment he placed great reliance. Since Tommaso
had essentially contributed to save the cause of the Medici in the
conspiracy of 1466, he had been in constant activity. He had not been
able to persuade the Venetians to hinder Colleone’s proceedings, but,
as member of the magistracy of war, and during the fourth year that
he was elected Gonfaloniere in 1467, he had exercised a favourable
influence on the conduct of affairs, and honestly exerted himself
for the restoration of peace with Borso d’Este, first in Venice and
afterwards in Milan. The opinion of him was so high in Florence that
he could easily have raised himself to the leadership of the ruling
party. But whether it was that he would not betray the confidence
reposed in him, or that he was of opinion that the preservation of this
family in the position they had held now for thirty-five years was at
the same time the preservation of the peace and safety of the State at
home, as well as of its connections with foreign states, he abstained
from following Diotisalvi Neroni’s example. Immediately after Piero’s
death, on the evening of the day when he had been interred, Soderini
summoned to him all the distinguished citizens attached to the existing
government. More than six hundred, ‘the flower of the city,’ assembled
in the convent of Sant’Antonio, in the neighbourhood of Porta Faenza.
It was here determined to preserve unity and the present state of
affairs, and to leave Piero’s sons in their father’s position. ‘Messer
Tommaso Soderini,’ writes the Ferrarese ambassador, ‘took the word as
eldest, and explained how Piero had left his sons already grown up
and gifted with good judgment and intellect. Out of regard for their
predecessors, and especially Cosimo and Piero, who had always been
friends, protectors, and preservers of the commonwealth and benefactors
of the State, for which reason they had taken the first rank and
borne the whole weight of government wisely and with dignity, always
displaying courage and mature judgment, it seemed to him that they
should leave to Piero’s family and sons, notwithstanding their youth,
the honourable position which he himself and Cosimo had enjoyed. He
added that he saw the two no less considerate and desirous of winning
the good opinion of the commune, and of all the Florentine citizens,
than their grandfather and father. This was confirmed by three or four
of those present, by Messer Manno, son-in-law of Messer Luca Pitti,
who was not himself present, by Messer Giannozzo Pitti, and Domenico
Martelli. The last two remarked that a master and a head was needed to
give the casting-vote in public affairs.[182] The whole city,’ adds
Guicciardini, ‘agreed to this, chiefly through the exertions of Messer
Tommaso Soderini, who at that time enjoyed more authority than any
other citizen, and was, perhaps, the wisest of all. He thought that
Lorenzo, on account of his youth, and because he owed his position to
him, so to speak, would allow himself to be guided by him; in this,
however, he was mistaken.’[183]

That Lorenzo considered the favourable opinion of himself as by no
means sufficient to secure his authority, shows on the one hand how
he, young as he was, had sounded the unsteady basis on which the whole
fabric of the State rests in a commonwealth of this kind, and on the
other hand, how his thoughts were immediately directed to gaining a
position no longer dependent upon internal agitation, such as had
disturbed his grandfather’s administration and endangered the life of
his father. A report of the Ferrarese ambassador plainly shows how the
heads of the ruling party hoped to conduct affairs after Piero’s death.
‘They are agreed that the private affairs of the Signoria shall pass
through Lorenzo’s hands in the same manner as previously through those
of his father, for which purpose his friends will take care to procure
him credit and reputation from the beginning. They can easily do so,
for they have the government in their hands, and the ballot-boxes at
their disposal. Others with whom I have spoken are of a different
opinion, and think that within a few days all affairs will again be
disposed of in the palace (_i.e._ by the magistrates themselves).
If, however, they guide the bark rightly at the beginning, and while
they can influence the election of the magistrates, I believe they
will reach the desired haven, for the philosopher says, “Principium
est plus quam dimidium totius.”’ The ambassador was right; he could
not, however, foresee the measure of Lorenzo’s personal share in this
gradual change of a republican constitution into one that was guided
by the will of a single man. He had scarcely attained the head of the
State when he began the work which he brought to a termination ten
years later, after the violent storm which had threatened his life.

The deliberation of September 6, 1466, had placed the election of the
highest magistrates for ten years in the hands of electors appointed
by the Council of a Hundred. The heads of the party were accustomed to
decide upon the names of these electors in an extraordinary meeting,
and to lay them before the said council, which usually accepted them
without further scruple, since only those not unfavourable to the
party, even if they did not belong to its actual partizans, sat in
this council. Sometimes, however, it occurred that the candidates
were not all accepted, so that anxiety arose in the minds of Lorenzo
and his confidants lest electors disagreeable to them might some day
be appointed, and their influence over the Signoria and other high
magistrates be thus limited. This seemed serious to them. However
large, too, and constantly increasing an authority might be which
was independent of the responsible magistrates forming the fabric of
the State, the respect for forms was equally great, and is indeed a
characteristic feature of these Italian communes; and their endeavour
was to give to measures which gradually destroyed the spirit of the
constitution the appearance of legality. In the summer of 1470, the
Signoria, which was entirely subject to the Medici, made the first
attempt in this direction. They proposed to the Council of a Hundred
to form out of all the electors from the year 1434 who were still
living, forty in number, and five new ones, a College of Electors. From
this for the next sixteen years five might be annually drawn, with
power to appoint the Signori and Gonfaloniere out of the lists or
ballot-boxes containing the names of the citizens capable of office.
The opposition to a measure which would have placed forty-five tyrants
over the people was, however, so strong that the Signoria judged it
advisable to withdraw the proposal. Six months later, in January 1471,
something similar was, nevertheless, carried out. Instead of leaving
the electors to be appointed by the Council of a Hundred, the Signoria
sitting in July and August, together with the electors acting for the
current year, agreed that they should appoint the new ones, the Council
of a Hundred only confirm them, and a single voice above the half of
the members present should give the casting-vote, whereas a majority
of two-thirds of voices had previously been requisite. The same thing
happened in the following July, and when the votes were collected it
naturally followed that only the names of persons considered reliable
came upon the electing tickets, so that the threads of the whole
administration were more than ever confined to a few hands. Immediately
after Piero de’ Medici’s death, under the plausible pretext that the
war occasioned by the Malatesta affair was not yet at an end, an
extraordinary tax of 300,000 gold florins was levied, so that the
government was provided with funds for all emergencies.

‘By such measures,’ remarks Francesco Guicciardini, ‘Lorenzo de’
Medici began to gain firm footing in Florence. The prevailing party
strengthened itself, and he obtained influence and reputation. So he
began to wish to be lord and master. Instead of allowing himself to
be guided by others, he took care that Messer Tommaso and the others
who enjoyed high influence, and had a large number of relations to
support them, should not become too strong. Although he never refused
to send them on embassies, and confer on them the highest honours and
offices, he held them within bounds, frustrated their intentions in
several cases, and brought forward others who caused him no anxiety, as
at first Messer Bernardo Buongirolami and Antonio Pucci, afterwards
Messer Agnolo Niccolini, Bernardo del Nero, Pier Filippo Pandolfini,
&c. He was accustomed to say that if his father had done so, and
somewhat restrained Messer Diotisalvi and his companions, he would not
have been in danger of losing his position in 1466.’ Another measure
was taken with the evident intention of withdrawing the government
of the city by degrees from all other influences than those of the
Medici and their confidants. This time it concerned the lower classes,
as that just mentioned did the higher. On September 20, 1471, the
Balia appointed in July to superintend the new elections, reduced the
number of smaller guilds from fourteen to five, so that there should
be altogether only twelve guilds; but the property of the dissolved
corporations should serve to form a new credit-fund for the salaries of
the officials. But this measure, which had a wider significance than
people seemed inclined to attribute to it in the first moment, was
never carried into practice.[184]

When Piero died, foreign affairs were by no means secure. The dispute
about Rimini was not terminated. Pope Paul II. was extremely indignant
at the assistance which Florence and Naples had given his disobedient
vassal, and by means of which this vassal had been able to oppose him
successfully. He indulged in the most violent expressions against
the Medici, even before the assembled Consistorium. His rage against
Ferrante even led to action. The old quarrel between Rome and Naples on
account of the feudal relation injurious to both, but still legal, had
also come to an outbreak between Ferrante and Paul. The king did not
pay the tribute, and, when enjoined to do so, was always ready with one
excuse or another. Now it was the embarrassment into which troubles at
home had plunged him, now it was the expenses for the aid granted to
the Church in the contest with the restless counts of Anguillara. If
pressed, he answered by claiming Benevento and Terracina and places
in the Abruzzi, claims which were not always unfounded, in consequence
of the complicated and wavering connections of the empire with the
Church. At last, when all seemed to be peacefully settled, a quarrel
broke out between the Pope and the Orsini, on account of the rights
claimed by the latter over the Alum district of Tolfa, which Paul had
contested with force of arms, while the king defended them in like
manner. It went so far that Ferrante threatened to league himself with
the Turks; the Pope, however, answered him by not only threatening to
drive him from Naples, but by actually planning a new campaign against
the Aragonese with John of Anjou. This happened just after the affair
with Malatesta had ended, and who knows what intrigues would have been
begun, had not the war of the Catalans against the Aragonese, in which
Anjou commanded, occupied him till a higher hand interfered?

Under circumstances of this kind, the necessity of attaching themselves
as firmly as possible to Naples and Milan was made clear to the people
of Florence, and as long as Lorenzo lived this necessity always
remained uppermost with him, even through momentary fluctuations. The
conviction that no firm reliance was to be placed upon the two other
great powers of Italy, Venice and the Pope, made the Florentines regard
such an alliance as the salvation of Italy. Venice could not be trusted
because her thirst for Italian conquest was proportionate to the danger
of her Levantine possessions; nor the Pope, because the papal policy
changed with every new ruler, nay, it altered several times under the
same ruler. When the Pope, displeased with the Venetians, began to
lean towards reconciliation, these natural allies determined to agree
beforehand on the position to assume towards him. Plenipotentiaries
from Naples and Milan came in the spring of 1470 to Florence for this
purpose. But when difficulties arose, the consultation was transferred
to Naples, whither Otto Niccolini went on behalf of Florence. On
July 12 the news reached Florence that the alliance between the
three states was prolonged for fifteen years, reserving the power of
bringing about a general alliance of the Italian powers beside this
special one—a piece of news which was celebrated with festivals and
bonfires. It was indeed high time to unite. On the same July 12, the
Turks took Negroponte. The besiegers suffered severe losses, but they
avenged themselves by a fearful slaughter among the inhabitants and
the garrison, and the Venetians had to expiate heavily their neglect
in defending one of their most important fortresses. On August 7, they
heard of the sad event through an announcement of King Ferrante’s.
From all sides unity was now urged, in order to resist the formidable
enemy, before whom the whole Archipelago, the Ionian Sea, and the
entrance to the Adriatic, lay open. The Pope summoned an assembly of
plenipotentiaries of all the Italian States to Rome, while at the same
time he determined to compose the Malatesta contest by mediation. To
effect an understanding was, however, difficult, because the three
powers reserved their separate alliance, and Paul consented to this
very unwillingly. Nevertheless, the treaty was concluded at Rome on
December 22, express emphasis being laid on the article that the new
league should rest on the basis of that which had been agreed upon
at Venice at the end of August 1454, by the active mediation of Pope
Nicholas V., when the conquest of Constantinople had first brought the
threatened danger home to all. During the seventeen years which had
elapsed since then, affairs had only grown worse. The Pope, the King
of Naples, the Duke of Milan, the Republics of Venice and Florence,
and Borso of Este, to whom the title of Duke of Ferrara had not long
been granted, joined the alliance, which was to be extended over all
Christendom, for which purpose Paul II. appointed the Cardinal of
Siena, Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, as legate to the Emperor and
Empire. Jacopo Guicciardini had concluded the treaty on the part of

But this time also the result by no means corresponded to the general
expectation. Sforza did not ratify the treaty, because the purport of
the document did not suit his wishes in some important particulars.
Although the Signoria of Florence sent in their ratification,
Guicciardini suppressed it, because Lorenzo de’ Medici, who wished to
hold with Milan, had given him secret instructions not to sign, so
that things remained unsettled. In Germany and Hungary, where the Pope
and Venice placed their chief hopes on King Mathias Corvinus, it was
not much better. After the sanguinary Bohemian war, which the latter
had waged against George Podiebrad, had weakened their strength on
both sides, and the Turks, pressing on from Bosnia through Croatia
and Carniola, had already set foot on the soil of the empire, and
roused Emperor Frederick from his sleep, still nothing could be really
effected by the Ratisbon Congress in the spring of 1471. As the princes
here were dilatory and the towns disinclined for action, quarrels
began anew in Italy. Not to mention the contest between Pope and King,
disagreeable communications passed between the former and Florence. The
Florentines were willing indeed to furnish subsidies for the Turkish
war, but insisted upon including the clergy in the taxes, which the
Pope refused to permit.

While this was proceeding, Paul II. died in the night between July
25 and 26, not fifty-four years old, and apparently in the enjoyment
of perfect health. At a time when Christendom was everywhere torn by
factions and threatened from without, when Italy saw herself exposed
to the attacks of the infidels, as in the ninth century, the unity
of her states being always problematical, the election of a Pope was
of more importance than ever. Shortly before, several princes had
passed away who had exercised more or less influence on the course of
affairs—George Podiebrad, King of Bohemia, Borso of Este, John of
Anjou, who concluded a life more eventful than successful at Barcelona,
having only attained the age of forty-five years, and carrying with
him to the grave the hopes of his old father René, and of his house.
In him, a still numerous party in the south of Italy lost their head;
yet they could not make up their minds to give in their allegiance
decidedly to the Aragonese government, which seemed daily to grow
stronger by its activity, talents, and alliances.



THE house of Medici seemed to be blind to the gravity of the
situation, to judge by their outward behaviour. The days were passed
when an experienced man like Cosimo weighed everything with anxious
deliberation, and was afraid to show how high he stood in city and
State, or when his son was led to a retired life by illness and
inclination. A young man, brilliant, talented, self-conscious, early
called into active life, and who had grown up in a prominent position,
stood at the head of the State, and was determined to enjoy life. A
second was growing up, perhaps less gifted, but yet a genuine son of
a house in which intellectual capacities and the wish not to hide his
light under a bushel already appeared hereditary, powerful, splendid,
a born leader of youth. It was only natural that the youth of Florence
thronged around Lorenzo and Giuliano. The house and household in the
Via Larga were already grown beyond the modesty of the citizen. The
large income of the family derived from banks, trade, farming, estates,
made great expenditure possible; and if expenses of the most various
kinds, for public and private ends, perhaps began to exceed the income,
no one troubled himself about that. Lorenzo once expressed himself
concerning the considerable sums which were expended, especially in his
grandfather’s time, for churches and convents, for houses and villas,
on scientific and artistic objects, for household and social expenses,
in such a manner as to show how high he placed the gain resulting
from it. ‘I find,’ he says in his notices,[185] in an extract of the
accounts, ‘that we have spent a large sum of money from 1434 to the
end of 1471. This sum appears incredible; it amounts to 663,755 gold
florins for benevolent purposes, buildings and taxes, not to mention
the other expenses. I will not complain of it. Although many may think
it would be better for us to have a part of it in our purse, I feel
satisfied that this outlay does great honour to our position, and the
money is well spent, so that I am quite content.’ No house in Florence
was furnished with objects of art, antiquities, and luxury like that of
the Medici. When princes arrived in Florence for whom the quarters of
the popes in the convent of Sta. Maria Novella seemed too austere, or
when illustrious ladies came on a visit, they generally alighted at the
house of the Medici. In Florence men were accustomed to see them do the
honours; the Signoria needed only to provide for the suite, which was
then exceedingly numerous, even with princes of the second rank.

Of Lorenzo’s daily intercourse with scholars and artists, and of their
share in his domestic life, we shall speak further on. A learned
education was, however, so common in Florence, and the citizens, who
divided their time between commerce, State business, and literary
or scientific pursuits, were so numerous, that beside those who
made learning their calling as teachers, authors, collectors, there
existed a whole class of men whose learning, especially in ancient
literature, was as profound, while their views were much widened by
active business life, and by missions that carried them beyond the
narrower circle of the philologists and book-learned. Many of these
have been already mentioned; others we shall meet hereafter. Nearly all
belonged to the Medicean circle. It is evident that from such a centre
a powerful influence must be exercised over the whole of society. It
also contributed to raise Lorenzo into the princely position which he
assumed more and more, and to establish him there. It effected also at
the same time the dissemination of that higher culture, the combination
of intellectual with material interests, which have spread a glory
which cannot be pronounced deceptive over a state of things which had
its dark side, and over tendencies which were dangerous in many ways.

The Italian princes had already accustomed themselves to reckon the
Medici among their own class. The greater ones regarded them almost
as their equals, while the smaller ones looked up to them. Great and
small, the Aragonese and Sforza not excepted, needed Florentine money,
and knew that they could not obtain it without their intervention,
either from the State or from the banks. Even the Medici did not always
succeed in obtaining grants from the State; as in the spring of 1471,
when a loan requested by King Ferrante of 20,000 gold florins, not a
very large sum, was not granted, on account of the opposition of the
Gonfaloniere Bardo Corsi, who drew upon himself thereby the ill-will
of those in power. This, however, was an exceptional occurrence.
Most of the petty princes and Signori depended on the protection
of the Republic, as we have said, or took mercenary service under
her, so that they naturally sought to retain the favour of the heads
of the Government. From all sides and in affairs of every kind,
recommendations, proposals, requests and representations were sent to
Lorenzo and his brother.[186] Most numerous of all are the letters
of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, who never ceased to address to Lorenzo
recommendations for the transfer of offices which were filled by
foreign nobles. When the command of the Milanese troops was granted
to the Marquis of Montferrat at the beginning of 1474, he hastened
to notify it to Florence. ‘I consider it my duty to inform Your
Magnificences of the matter, as I am convinced that you take interest
in all pleasant and honourable things which befall me, as becomes the
fraternal sympathy and friendship which have always existed between
us.’ When the same marquis sends his seneschal and councillor, Pietro
de Tebaldeschi, to Rome, he recommends him to the Medici. Ercole of
Este and his consort, Lodovico, Federigo, Rodolfo Gonzaga, Leonello
Pio of Carpi, Jacopo Appiani, the Sanseverini, with King René and his
son, Duke John, all turn to the Medici; King Edward IV. of England
applies to them in mercantile affairs; Ferdinand of Aragon and Sicily
recommends to them a nobleman who had conducted the administration
of Corsica, and who wished to be Podestà in Florence. Numerous are
the letters of Federigo of Montefeltro, whether they concern the
settlement of his pecuniary affairs, or his recommendation to offices,
or the like. ‘I know well,’ he writes in a letter addressed in April
1476 to Lorenzo, on behalf of M. Francesco da Sassatello, ‘that it is
unnecessary to recommend to you such as your friends and servants,
especially when I also am interested in them.’

Most numerous of all, however, are the communications with King
Ferrante and his family, after the year 1471. There are requests
of every kind, recommendations of Florentine merchants settled in
Naples, or Jews from Nola and Salerno, imprisoned in Florence, for
whose loyalty the king pledges himself. We find also intercessions for
Madonna Selvaggia, wife of Piero Gambacorta, of the family who formerly
ruled in Pisa, but had removed to Florence on account of a lawsuit; for
Raffaello Acciaiuoli, Agnolo’s son, who, like his father, was sentenced
to banishment in consequence of Diotisalvi Neroni’s conspiracy, for
the Abbot of St. Paul’s at Rome, and for numerous Neapolitans, who
had interests or business in the territory of the Republic. ‘If we,’
writes the king to Lorenzo on July 12, 1476, ‘wish to obtain any
kind of favour from the illustrious Republic, we long for no other
mediator and representative than Your Magnificence, as your great
authority is known to us, and we have always known by experience how
readily you fulfil our wishes.’ In September 1473, Ferrante begs him
to charge his business correspondents in Lyons and Vienne to forward
the despatches of the Neapolitan ambassador at the court of King Louis
XI. with their own communications. And so one letter follows another.
The same relations continued with the king’s sons, especially the two
eldest, Alfonso and Federigo. We have already spoken of the personal
connections of both with Lorenzo, and their repeated meetings; their
epistolary correspondence answered to this friendly relation, and the
sons added their recommendations to their father’s.

The Duchess of Calabria, Ippolita Maria, always counted on the
friendship which united the Medici with the house of Sforza. That
intellectual and highly cultivated woman who once greeted Pope Pius
II. at the Congress of Mantua with a Latin speech, always kept up
communication with Lorenzo. Even in the lifetime of Piero de’ Medici,
in 1468, when she, three years after her marriage with the Aragonese
prince, was on a visit to Milan, she was already corresponding with
Lorenzo, and recommended to him a knight well known to her for the
office of Podestà in Florence. In 1473 she wrote to him concerning
Florentine merchants who had had a great quantity of coarse woollen
cloth (it was called Perpignano after the town where this kind was
first made) woven at Capua, and sought permission to import it. On
March 8, 1478, shortly therefore after the outbreak of the eventful
dissensions of which we shall speak in the course of this history,
she interceded with Lorenzo for the liberation from prison of Lorenzo
Cavalcanti, a man of an old noble family, describing to him the poverty
and distress of his family. Four years before, she had requested of
him a loan; her letter is a characteristic proof of the position which
the citizen and banker held towards the princes, to whose circle he
indeed belonged without the external insignia. ‘Illustrious and mighty
and paternally respected lord,’ so wrote Ippolita Maria d’Aragona
Visconti on July 10, 1474, from the Castle of Capuano, then the
residence of the Neapolitan heir-apparent,’the old existing kindness
and intimate friendship between the family of Your Magnificence and
our late illustrious parents, and your especial affection for our most
illustrious brother, the Duke of Milan, assure us, and fill us with the
certain hope, that you will support us in our great embarrassment, for
which we shall ever owe you gratitude. We beg you, therefore, to lend
us 2,000 ducats gratis for a time to be fixed by yourself, we promising
its punctual repayment on the word of an honourable woman (“a fede de
leale madama”). For the sake of the affection that Your Magnificence
cherishes for us, as well as the dear remembrance of our parents, and
your friendly relations with our brother, we hope that you will readily
fulfil our request. Should you, however, not have the sum ready to
hand, we beg you to use your influence with your friends and adherents
to procure it for us. As deposit we will send some of our jewellery
corresponding in value to the sum mentioned, and be ever grateful to
you for this service, according to our own character and our hereditary
custom. When Your Magnificence sends the sum we will deliver the jewels
to the messenger, or send a special messenger to you with them, in case
you should prefer it. So we beg you to send a kind and speedy answer by
the messenger who brings this, and recommend ourselves to you as always
ready for your service.’ We shall speak further of later communications
between the Duchess and Lorenzo, who received perfumed waters from the
Castle of Capuano.

If the Neapolitan Crown-Princess thus wrote, it is no wonder that
one of the victims of Mohammedan conquest and Christian feud which
the East then sent to Italy, Caterina, Queen of Bosnia—the most
unhappy of queens (‘omnium reginarum infortunatissima’), as she called
herself—adopted a yet humbler tone. From Rome, where the unfortunate
princess had found refuge in 1466, and, like so many princely exiles
before and after, lived by the Pope’s support, till, after twelve
years, she was buried in Sta. Maria Araceli, she turned on January
28, 1472, to Lorenzo and Giuliano, with whom she had already been
in communication for two years. The Medici bank in Rome was charged
with the payment of her annual pension; she begged for cash, instead
of being obliged, as frequently happened, to take payment in kind.
She also appealed to old connections of the Medici with her family,
which might have been through the mediation of Mathias Corvinus, and
to the universally famed magnanimity of the brothers, which befitted
their position. At the same time she recommended herself and her
interests to their mother, ‘the illustrious lady whom she loved as a
sister’—expressions which the Duchess of Milan, Bianca Maria Visconti
Sforza, had employed seven years before in a letter to Madonna Lucrezia.

While Italian and other princes stood on this footing with the Medici,
their clients must have been numerous in Florence itself. It is a
proof of the tact with which they understood how to manage their
fellow-citizens, that while making use of them they never forgot their
equality of rank, but treated them as confidants as well as friends.
In the first rank of these was Luigi Pulci, whom we have already known
as court-poet and _protégé_ of their mother. In the autumn of 1470 he
accompanied Madonna Lucrezia to Fuligno, from whence he proceeded to
Camerino, lying in the mountains between Umbria and the border land,
to execute a commission given him by Lorenzo to Giulio Cesare Varano,
lord of the little town and state. The Varani had risen in the latter
times of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, and had gradually, as usual, by the
administration of civil offices, attained a lordship restricted by the
church, and often endangered by quarrels and insurrections. From the
fourteenth century they had repeatedly entered the Neapolitan service.

In the Malatesta war, the lord of Camerino had fought on the Papal
side; he had an intention of breaking with the Florentines. When
Lorenzo sent Luigi Pulci to him, with what commission is not known, he
received him with the greatest deference. ‘He assured me,’ wrote Pulci
to his patron,[187] ‘that there was no one in all Italy for whom he
would do what he would for you. Your father had once procured him a
Florentine condotta, and he was much indebted to yourself.’

From Umbria the poet and man of business repaired to Naples,
proclaiming on the way, as he writes, ‘from Monterotondo, and in Rome
and Bracciano and wherever there were Orsini, the wonders of Madonna
Clarice, so that her picture will be hung up everywhere.’ When Lorenzo
needed a man of heart and tongue to be with the king and duke, he might
rely upon him. ‘All the world speaks here of you, your position, your
demeanour, and holds you and us in high honour. In especial, you are
a favourite of the king.’ The king sent Lorenzo two beautiful horses,
and a third to Guglielmo de’ Pazzi; the Duke of Calabria wished much
that the Medici would set up a bank in Naples, like the Strozzi, &c.
True, Florentine affairs were not quite satisfactory. ‘They are arming
here with all their might against the Turks, but the ambassador of the
king announces that little assistance is to be expected from you. I
hope God may convert you during this Lent, and that you also may wish
to be Christians’ (1471). But more serious affairs ensued. Galeazzo
Maria Sforza, of whom more will be said presently, tried to use his
familiarity with Lorenzo to obtain his assistance in a treacherous
attack on the lord of Piombino, and it is not to Lorenzo’s honour
that he consented to give it. The intrigue failed, but it created
discontent both at Naples and at Venice. The intimacy between the
Duke of Milan and the Medici continued. In the month of March 1471,
Galeazzo Maria paid a visit to his Florentine friends. He was in
every way dissimilar to his father, who had been fully acquainted with
the serious side of life before attaining to sovereignty over a large
city. As he was of a coarse sensual nature, and regarded neither right
nor law where it concerned the gratification of his desires, so he
also showed a childish love of pomp and splendour, even far beyond his
means and those of his country, although he oppressed the inhabitants
with taxes. However much we must guard ourselves in judging of the
luxury and expenses of former days, from giving implicit faith to the
complaints of contemporaries (the Milanese complained, for instance,
of the heavy burden laid upon them by the paving of the streets),
yet the details which we possess respecting Galeazzo Maria’s and his
consort’s journey to Florence, show that all reasonable measure was
exceeded. Never had Florence witnessed similar pomp. The duke’s suite
was endless. Vassals and councillors accompanied him, all clothed in
gold and silver cloth, and with numerous servants, the courtiers in
velvet and brocade, the chamberlains in rich embroidery, forty of them
with gold chains of honour, the least of which was worth a hundred
gold florins. Fifty grooms appeared in costumes of cloth of silver,
partly of silk brocade; even the kitchen-boys glittered in velvet and
silk; fifty war-horses with saddles of gold brocade, gilded stirrups
and silk embroidered bridles, each one led by a groom in rich livery
with the Sforza-Visconti arms on his doublet. The guard was formed of
a hundred heavily-armed knights, each with the rank of captain, and
500 select foot. No less splendid was the suite of the Duchess Bona.
Fifty palfreys with gold and silver saddles and trappings were led by
richly clad pages; twelve transport waggons, with coverings of gold
brocade, adorned with coats-of-arms, contained mattresses and cushions
covered with crimson silk and gold embroidery, and were brought over
the mountains by mules. The entire suite needed 2,000 horses and 200
mules, whose drivers wore new liveries. On all sides only gold and
silver cloth, velvet and silk, were to be seen. The ducal party
was followed by a numerous troop of hunters, with dogs, falcons,
sparrowhawks, forty trumpeters and pipers, musicians and merrymakers.
The cost of the equipment was calculated at 200,000 gold florins. No
emperor had travelled as did the son of a condottiere of Romagna, who
called himself duke of the Imperial fief of Milan, in defiance of the
powerless emperor and empire.

When the procession approached the Porta San Gallo—it was on March
15—many distinguished men and youths went to meet it, accompanied by
various bands of young men in various costumes, with women and maidens
singing songs in praise of the eminent guests. The duke rode in front,
the duchess slightly behind him, and on they went through the crowded
and decorated streets to the square of the Signoria, who awaited them
at the Ringhiera, in company with many illustrious citizens. When the
duke drew near he dismounted, while his consort did the same, and the
Signori, the Gonfaloniere, Gino Capponi, Neri’s son at their head, came
to meet him, and all gave one another their hand. The Gonfaloniere said
a few words bidding them welcome, which Galeazzo Maria answered, upon
which the ducal pair mounted again, and the Signori returned to the
palace. The new-comers now rode to the church of the Annunziata, to
perform their devotions in the chapel built by Piero de’ Medici, and
from thence by the square of San Marco to Via Larga, where they were
lodged in the house of the Medici. They had chosen to reside here,
while their suite was provided for in the city, and entertained at the
public cost, which was no trifle. Whatever splendour Sforza might be
accustomed to, he was yet astonished at the immense wealth of the house
where he lodged—at the number of paintings, sculptures, antiques,
and the large and rare vases and other objects of precious kinds of
stone, partly from distant countries, at the medals, carved stones,
jewels, rare and rich manuscripts—in short, at a quantity of things
he had never seen before in such abundance, as he confessed. Everyone
flocked to do the guests honour, and as Galeazzo Maria showed himself
friendly and conciliating, displayed great liberality, remembering the
long-standing connection of his father with the city and the Medici,
and had enjoined his followers to avoid everything which could excite
displeasure, affairs went off to the general satisfaction.

On the day after his arrival the duke made a visit of ceremony to the
Signoria, accompanied by many distinguished citizens, after having
announced himself, and expressed the wish to meet the most illustrious
men of the State. The Signori went across the Piazza to meet him,
and escorted him into the festively decorated council-hall, where
all took their places, Galeazzo Maria beside the Gonfaloniere. The
Duke now spoke in detail of recent events, explained and justified
his conduct at and after the conclusion of the general confederacy,
offered to maintain the number of troops for the Republic which she
had bound herself to keep up, and declared his readiness to go with
the Florentine people in everything. On the following day the Signori
repaired with him to the house of the Medici. The exclusiveness
imposed upon the members of the highest magistracy during their term
of office did not hold good in such cases. To celebrate the visit the
city caused three sacred dramas to be acted in churches. In San Felice
the Annunciation was given, in Carmine the Ascension, and in Sto.
Spirito the Descent of the Holy Ghost. Unfortunately, fire broke out
during the last festival, which seriously injured the interior of the
beautiful church, and necessitated a restoration, for which the duke
expended two thousand gold florins. The visit of the Milanese prince
and the Florentine festivals were much spoken of at foreign courts;
Giovanni Bentivoglio and the lords of Romagna were expected, but did
not appear. The duke and duchess, after eight days’ residence, left
the city and the hospitable house with gratitude and affectionate
remembrance, and went to Lucca, where they were also received with
rejoicing. The Lucchesi actually made a new gate in the city wall,
in eternal commemoration of so great an event! Sforza’s all-powerful
private secretary, Cecco Simonetta, received the right of citizenship.
It was very important to the little Republic to remain on good terms
with the son of the man to whom they owed perhaps the maintenance of
their existence as a state, and they had willingly taken part in the
new confederacies. The ducal pair returned to Milan by Genoa.[188]

For the sake of contrast, after the extravagant pomp of a duke
belonging to a family which had just arisen, may be mentioned the
simplicity with which a Northern sovereign appeared in Florence three
years later, by no means to his prejudice in the eyes of reasonable
men. It was King Christiern,[189] with whom, in 1449, the house of
Oldenburg ascended the Danish-Norwegian throne. The wars for Sweden,
which had withdrawn from the Colmar union of the three kingdoms, the
difficulties with the dukedoms of Schleswig and Holstein, which he did
not succeed in uniting to the Danish throne, and the disputes with
the Hanseatic League, which had the trade of Norway in its hands, had
preyed upon the king’s strength and courage, when at the age of fifty
he resolved upon a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Through Spain, where he
had visited the shrine of San Jago di Compostella, and Milan, where he
had been entertained by the Duke Galeazzo Maria, he reached Florence
on the afternoon of March 29, 1474. His suite consisted of about a
hundred and forty riders, mostly noblemen and prelates, with but
little baggage; he had accomplished a considerable part of the way
on foot. At the gate of San Gallo he was met by the Signoria, with
the Gonfaloniere, Donato Acciaiuoli, at their head, as was the custom
with crowned heads; but the king would not advance under the canopy
offered him, nor enter the city before the magistrates and government
had returned to their palace. He also refused a guard of honour as he
rode through the streets. On the following day he inspected the city,
paid a visit to the Signoria, and begged to be allowed to see the Greek
manuscript of the Gospels, which had been brought from Constantinople,
and the Codex of Pandects preserved at Pisa. He regarded these books
with veneration, and said these were the true treasures for princes,
which was thought to be an allusion to the extravagant splendour at
the court of Galeazzo Maria. Christiern was a grave man, with a long
grey beard, and his whole bearing was calm and sensible. In Rome, where
Pope Sixtus presented him with the golden rose, and released him from
the vow of pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he remained for several weeks,
greatly honoured. On May 3 he came again to Florence, and was once more
received by the Signoria, but declined all ceremonies. In Sta. Maria
Novella, where he was lodged, the priors, with the Gonfaloniere, Maso
degli Albizzi, visited him. On the 6th he quitted the city, pleased
with the reception accorded to him here, and rode to Bologna over the
Apennines. One result of his residence at Rome was the founding of the
University of Copenhagen, for which he had obtained Papal privileges.
There is no mention of a meeting between the king and the Medici in the
records of the time.

How the Medici stood in relation to the lords of Bologna we have
already seen. Giovanni Bentivoglio, who held a similar position to that
of Lorenzo, not only shared his preference for domestic splendour, but
surpassed him in his love of tournaments and festal processions; and if
these are not so celebrated as those of Florence, it was not because
they were less splendid. It was because the blind poet, Francesco, a
Florentine residing in Cento, who celebrated the tournament at Bologna,
in 1470, in 200 stanzas, which unite Madonna and the saints with Mars
and Minerva, was neither a Pulci nor a Politian. As well as the Varani
and the Aragonese, the poet of the Morgante counted also Bentivoglio
among his patrons, and was repeatedly with him from 1473 to 1475.
Lorenzo seems by no means to have been always on friendly terms with
his Bolognese friend. Pulci was once charged to declare to the latter
that he (Lorenzo) would do all that lay in his power for him, but could
not prevent his being himself censured in Rome as well as Florence, as
the city had always been jealous of her freedom.[190] This probably
referred to a vexatious circumstance in Bologna, in which Bentivoglio
had come out rather too arrogantly as an arbitrary ruler.

The most telling proof of the princely esteem which Lorenzo enjoyed,
even in his youthful years, was afforded by the mediation sought by
King Louis XI. respecting the marriage of the Dauphin. Louis d’Amboise,
the king’s councillor, and later Bishop d’Albi, brother of the
Cardinal-Archbishop of Rouen, who was all-powerful under Louis XII.,
and even believed the dignity of pope to be within his grasp, had
been in Florence on his return from Rome, and seems to have described
Lorenzo’s position—it was after the events which will be alluded to
presently—in the most glowing colours. On June 19, 1473, the king
addressed a remarkable letter from Amboise to the Florentine. He had
heard, he writes, that King Ferrante intended to marry his eldest
daughter to the young Duke of Savoy, under guarantee of a dowry of
300,000 ducats. It seemed to him, however, more suitable to mutual
interests that an alliance between the princess and his son, the
Dauphin of Vienne, should be brought about. The amount of the dowry
might be fixed by Lorenzo, in case Ferrante should be at all inclined
to accede to the proposal. The family connection should go hand in hand
with a political league; friends and foes should be common to both
monarchs. The Neapolitan king would be aided by the league against the
house of Anjou; he, Louis, against the ruler of Aragon. If Lorenzo
would take the matter in hand, let him send a confidential messenger
to France, to consult with himself about the matter, to the exclusion
of all princes of the blood and other distinguished men, while royal
ambassadors would proceed to Florence. Ferrante’s answer to Lorenzo,
dated August 9, from Castel Nuovo at Naples, was a decided refusal.
He recognised with due appreciation the good intention of Medici, as
he esteemed the advantage and honour which would arise to him and his
house from a connection with the most powerful king of the world. The
conditions, however, he added, were contrary to his honour. Neither
against his uncle of Aragon nor his ally the Duke of Burgundy would
he ever act, and respecting Anjou, King Louis must judge himself what
chastisement he had to inflict on one who was his own enemy. He was
not to take it ill that he, Ferrante, was determined to preserve his
honour and knightly word as well as the best of his family, instead
of drawing distrust and contempt upon himself. He ought to be content
with his beautiful kingdom, and thank God that it was at peace,
instead of longing for the possessions of others. If Lorenzo could
make more honourable conditions, acceptable to the king, he would be
well inclined to accede to such.[191] The affair went no farther. By
Louis XI. the proposal could hardly have been seriously intended, but
was only a feeler. That he exposed himself, however, to such sharp
observations as those of the Neapolitan might excite surprise, were
it not that the language adopted in the diplomatic writings of the
time, and the communications of princes with one another, was not
particularly measured or courteous.

While foreign rulers had such intercourse with Lorenzo, his
fellow-citizens did not yield to strangers in the honours they showed
to him. They were accustomed to the pre-eminence which he and his
house assumed. In December 1470, the Commune determined to bestow the
dignity of knighthood for services to the State on the Gonfaloniere, at
that time Bongianni Gianfigliazzi, an elderly man, of an illustrious
and rich family, whose houses, near the bridge of Sta. Trinità,
enclosed the church of the same name on both sides; and Lorenzo was
chosen, notwithstanding his youth, as syndic of the people, according
to custom, to perform the ceremony, which was usually done either
by princes of reigning houses or by wise and distinguished men who
were themselves knights. When the same distinction had been shown the
year before to the retiring Gonfaloniere, Jacopo de’ Pazzi, uncle of
Lorenzo’s brother-in-law, Tommaso Soderini, upon whom Pope Paul II.
had conferred this dignity, represented the Commune, and the ceremony
took place in the Baptistery, on a scaffolding built over the great
font, well known from Dante’s time downwards. House and villas were
always full of guests. Lorenzo divided his time between his residences
in the city and the country, especially Careggi and Cafaggiuolo, which
was the most agreeable residence in the hot summer on account of its
high situation and shady woods. In Piero’s lifetime we already find him
and his brother in the grey mountain convents, whose natural beauty
was enhanced by the historical reminiscences of the founders of Holy
Orders—in Vallombrosa on the Pratomagno, the foundation of St. John
Gualbert; and in Camaldoli in the Casentino, which St. Romualdo of
Ravenna founded in the days of the Emperor Otto III. and Henry II. Of
the visit of the last-mentioned a literary trace has remained in the
Camaldulensian conversations of Cristoforo Landino.

It is unnecessary to say that the members of his family shared in the
honours shown to him. In the spring of 1472 Madonna Clarice visited her
Roman relations, and among her escort was Luigi Pulci, who had also
resided in Umbria shortly before. One of his letters to Lorenzo[192]
describes most delightfully the visit which Clarice made in May at
Fuligno to the daughter of the despot of Morea, Zoe Palæologus. This
man’s father, Thomas, a brother of the last Greek emperor, after
unhappy quarrels in his own family, not silenced by the threatened
danger from the Turks, had lost his possessions to Mohammed II. In the
spring of 1461 he came to Rome, where a tabernacle, with the statue of
the Apostle Andrew, in the vicinity of the Milvian bridge, indicates
the spot on which Cardinal Bessarion, in the name of Pope Pius II.,
received the head of the saint from his hands. Thomas died four years
later at Rome, where his three children were educated under Bessarion’s
superintendence, as their mother, Caterina Centurione, of a Genoese
family transplanted to the Levant, had died before him. There was
abundant opportunity in Italy of becoming acquainted with distinguished
Levanters; and yet their appearance and demeanour always appeared
singular to the Italians, as is shown, among others, by Pope Pius II.’s
description of Charlotte of Lusignan, who yet appears to have been very
much Europeanised in comparison to the Princess Palæologus. ‘I saw a
mountain of fat before me,’ writes Pulci. ‘Never should I have thought
that there was the like in Germany or Sardinia. Her two eyes might do
duty for four, and a little mouth lay between fat red cheeks.’ The
figure was equally striking to our Florentine. This Oriental beauty
married not long afterwards a Muscovite grand duke, who promised to
reconquer the Morea for her brothers, one of whom died in Rome, and the
other escaped from the executioners of his imperial uncle. A few days
later Pulci wrote from Rome as follows: ‘We have spent some time at
Monterotondo, where we were truly received most brilliantly. Yesterday
(June 5) we arrived at Rome with about eighty horses. Our Madonna
Clarice has done you honour everywhere, and has not herself been
neglected. I go in two days to the frontiers, and then back to you.
The residence of your wife here will be short, for there is no wedding
taking place just now, and the little Lucrezia and Pierino are strong
magnets for their mother.’

The health of Lorenzo’s mother made repeated journeys to baths
necessary, which seem to have led her mostly, if not always, to the
Bagno a Morba. She carried on a constant correspondence with her son,
and her letters to him show equally her sincere affection and a certain
deference to the head of the family and the State. In June 1477, she
wrote from Bagno,[193] which she had reached not without difficulty
on account of the badness of the roads. ‘Hail to you, my dearest son
(Salvus sis mi suavissime fili)! To-day the letter written in your
name has reached me; and it has been a joy and consolation to me to
learn that you are well, and, with you, your whole family, for which
God be praised. With the greatest satisfaction I received the news of
the betrothal of Cosimino Rucellai with the daughter of the Marchese
Gabriello, which was for me most unexpected news, fresh as the coin
from the mint.[194] I think it is a happy event, the result of which
will justify the good beginning, and which we will celebrate here
joyfully with the whole society of the place. God give His blessing!
Now to other matters: I am well, Heaven be praised, and the baths are
doing me good. If God will, I purpose setting out on the 21st inst.
and passing the night at Madame Tita’s, the widow of Martino Cortesi,
at San Gemignano. She stayed here several days in order to beg me to
do so, and then sent her son, who has gone away early this morning,
to obtain my certain promise, which I could not refuse to repeated
requests, and, as she is a wife and widow, without offending you. So we
have agreed to make a short stay without ceremonies, in order to be in
Florence on Monday, the eve of the feast of St. John. I shall not come
before, because I am rather weak and languid from the bath. Should it
be necessary, however, for me to come earlier, tell me so, and I will
leave all else. Send me the horses when you like, so that they arrive
here on the 19th, and may rest on the 20th, as we think of setting out
on the 21st, as I have said. We need seven horses; nothing else. I
commend myself to you.—In haste, on June 9, LUCREZIA, in the Bagno a

Cosimo’s widow lived in the house of her grandson till the autumn of
1473. Luigi Pulci, who had been to Bologna on an errand for Lorenzo,
wrote from Florence, to Madonna Lucrezia at Careggi, on October
26,[195] ‘I have returned and found our Madonna Contessina no more.
This grieved me much. Would that I had at least been permitted to
see her once more! I pray God to receive her soul to His mercy, and
preserve those left, whom I enjoin to submit with patience.’ How much
this woman had seen in the fifty-nine years since Cosimo de’ Medici,
her husband, had accompanied Pope John XXIII. to the Council of



WE must now return to the events belonging to the summer of 1471. A
fortnight after the death of Pope Paul II. the Cardinal of S. Pietro in
Vincoli was chosen as his successor. Francesco della Rovere, who took
the name of Sixtus IV., was descended from an obscure family in the
market-town of Albizzola, near Savona. Their possible relation to the
Piedmontese Della Rovera, lords of Vinovi, was first claimed when the
tiara had lent a splendour to the name far outshining that of ancient
nobility. He belonged to the Franciscan order, and had dedicated his
years to the study and teaching of theology, as well as to disputation
and preaching, before Paul II. granted him the red hat, and thus fixed
him at Rome, where he became one of the most active and influential
members of the sacred college. He continued to lead a monastic life
even in the cardinal’s purple. In his lodgings at the Esquiline,
near the church which gave him his title, and whence he overlooked a
great part of the ancient and modern city—which last had not then
encroached upon those heights, with their grand ruins of baths and
temples—scientific and ecclesiastical questions were discussed, while
politics were excluded. And yet this Pope, who had grown up in the
cloister, went farther than any of his predecessors in secularising the
pontificate, and drawing it into the whirl of a restless policy. Under
Sixtus IV. nepotism began to assume a form of aggrandisement, which,
instead of being, as hitherto, restricted to the bestowal of fiefs and
personal property, extended to the formation of sovereign States,
dependent on the Church only in name.

Lorenzo de’ Medici was one of the embassy which the Florentine
Signoria sent to congratulate the new Pope. The other ambassadors
were Donato Acciaiuoli, Agnolo della Stufa, Bongianni Gianfigliazzi,
Domenico Martelli, and Piero Minerbetti, the first of whom was
spokesman. Martelli and Minerbetti were knighted in Rome. ‘In the
month of September, 1471’ so we read in Lorenzo’s memoirs, ‘I was
sent as ambassador to Rome on the occasion of the coronation of Pope
Sixtus, and was received very honourably. I brought from thence the
two marble busts of Augustus and Agrippa which the Pope presented to
me; and besides a chalcedony vase, and many cameos and other things
purchased by myself.’ The Pope’s affection and confidence were shown
in various ways. The Roman Depository, _i.e._, the Receiver’s office,
was handed over to the Medici, with the permission to choose as their
representative Giovanni Tornabuoni, director of the Roman bank. New
privileges were also granted to them in connection with their share in
the farming of the alum-works of Tolfa. It was an important concession.
In the days of Pope Pius II., Giovanni di Castro, son of the famous
jurisconsult, Paolo, the principal co-operator in the revision of the
Florentine statutes, (finished in 1415), discovered alum-deposits in
the rock while making geological investigations in the hilly country
between Civita Vecchia and the territory of Viterbo, in the vicinity
of Tolfa. He instantly perceived the importance of his discovery,
which promised to free the West, hitherto poor in this mineral, from
a tribute to the distant East, made more inaccessible by the Turkish
conquests. In fact, the produce soon amounted to 160,000 gold florins;
and it is well known what sanguine hopes Pius II., whose eyes were
directed towards the East, indulged, that this new source of revenue
would aid his enterprises. Genoese houses had employed themselves
with the alum-trade till the Medici concluded a contract with the
Papal exchequer, which afterwards gave rise to many unpleasant
misunderstandings with the financial department.

However brilliant and cheerful things might look in Florence, and
however bent the people seemed to be on enjoying the fruits of peace,
warnings were not wanting that their security rested on a false
foundation. In the year 1470 a sudden tumult, to which the exiles of
1466 were no strangers, had created momentary anxiety in the town of
Prato, but order had been soon restored. A much more serious case was
the rebellion which two years later took place at Volterra, as it not
only was a source of misery for the town, but cast the first real
shadow on the reputation of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

Volterra, as has been already remarked, had, like all the larger
communes of Tuscany, with the exception of Siena and Lucca, come under
the supremacy of Florence. It was due partly to powerlessness against
complications from without, and partly to repeated and often violent
and bloody attempts of individual citizens to establish a monarchy,
that the most clear-sighted were brought to a determination to
sacrifice a portion of their independence, endangered now from without,
and now from within, in order not to lose domestic security and peace
together with independence. In the autumn of 1361 the Florentines
had gained firm footing in the town (which was suffering under the
tyrannical rule of the Belforti family), the civic guard being
entrusted to them at first for ten years, and then permanently. Though
Florence appointed the Capitano, the Volterrans elected the Podestà and
their magistrates as before, and retained the administration of their
extensive territory—which could be viewed in all directions from the
loftily situated town towards the Maremma, as well as down the valley
of the Elsa and Arno. There was no lack of misunderstandings, and the
worst was that which arose at the beginning of 1429 on account of the
introduction of the registry of land (Cadaster). When the Florentines
prepared to crush the insurrection, and no help appeared, it speedily
ended with the murder of the originator, but deprived the town of the
choice of its Podestà and other rights, which were only regained later.
During the miseries which befell these regions of Tuscany about the
middle of the century from the Neapolitan campaigns, Volterra remained
faithful to the Florentines. The cause of the new disturbances came
from a direction whence it was least expected.

If we descend from Volterra to the south, cross the Cecina, which
flows in a deep valley to the not far distant sea, and follow the road
leading by Pomarance to Massa di Maremma, we reach after a few miles
Castelnuovo, which occupies the sides and summit of a hill, and is
called Di Val di Cecina, to distinguish it from several other places
of the same name. It is now one of the centres of the great industry
which, by obtaining borax from the vapours rising from the hot springs
and Solfatari (Lagoni) of this district, so rich in volcanic phenomena,
has brought undreamed of wealth and a beneficial activity to Volterra.
Four centuries ago another mineral production was in question, namely,
alum, which had been worked for 200 years already, and, therefore,
long before Tolfa was discovered, without apparently having yielded
much. In 1471 Benuccio Capacci, of Siena, made a proposal to the
Signoria of Volterra regarding the farming of these alum-works, which
proposal was accepted after a short consultation by the just retiring
magistracy, and, as it would appear, through the mediation of the
chancellor, Antonio Ivano, although from the first a strong opposition
had been raised in the city, and a reconsideration of the question by
the newly appointed magistrates was demanded. Next came the charge
that the rights of the commune had been infringed by the contract. The
contractors, that is to say, Benuccio and his partners, among whom were
several distinguished Florentines, insisted that the commune was bound
by the contract; the commune objected that the contract was not only
a gross violation of the interests of the whole body, but was also
illegal because the votes had not been unanimous, as was prescribed
in every case of the sale or lease of the common property—a position
which the opponents could not dispute, although it was shown to be
fallacious in practice. During this quarrel the contractors had taken
possession of the mines, and worked them with great zeal, without
troubling themselves about the protest. But, as they could not conceal
from themselves that the matter caused great offence, they offered
to pay a higher lease, whereupon the commune appointed a commission
of eight citizens, which, however, could not come to agreement with
Benuccio and his companions. The Volterran Signoria seem now to have
lost patience. They appointed a new commission of twelve members, and
these sent an armed force to Castelnuovo, who took possession of the
mines, and violently prevented the continuance of the works.

Hitherto the controversy had been confined to the town of Volterra and
the contractors. Now came the interference of Florence. Two of the
shareholders, Paolo Inghirami and Benedetto Riccobaldi, men of good
family, had repaired to Florence. It was all the easier for them to
procure a hearing, as distinguished Florentines, Gino Capponi, Antonio
Giugni, and Bernardo Bonagiusti, belonged to the trading company with
which was also connected Lorenzo de’ Medici, whom we already know as a
chief contractor in the alum-trade. A plenipotentiary went to Volterra
to obtain the restitution of the mines to the company. When he met with
opposition, the Podestà removed first four, and his successor several
other citizens, who were to remain under supervision at Florence.
The contractors were at the same time reinstated, and Lorenzo de’
Medici entrusted with the final decision. However much the excitement
increased at Volterra, the Signoria of the town persuaded the exiles to
yield, so that a composition might have been possible, had not Paolo
Inghirami after his return excited so much bitterness by his arrogant
proceedings that an insurrection broke out. Paolo and several of his
friends who had taken refuge in the palace of the Podestà were besieged
there by the furious people; two were killed, the others escaped
with difficulty, and the Podestà found protection in the palace of
the Signoria. As the matter had gone so far, a magistracy of ten was
appointed, as in times of war, to undertake the guidance of affairs,
with the reservation, however, that nothing should take place which was
contrary to the duty of the town towards the Florentine commune. An
embassy went at the same time to Florence to explain the state of the

Here opinions were divided. Tommaso Soderini stood at the head of
the few who entertained the opinion that a fire must be avoided at
home; the Volterrans should be punished, but not driven to rebellion;
while no ground of complaint or interference should be given to the
Pope and other neighbours; and that they should proceed cautiously in
this doubtful question. Lorenzo de’ Medici was of another opinion.
He remembered the repeated insubordination of the Volterrans, and
concluded that their pride must be broken for ever. Unfortunately he
prevailed. Of course the extreme party in Volterra now gained the
upper hand, and action commenced on both sides. On April 26, 1472,
the Volterrans who were in Florence were brought as prisoners to the
palace of the Priors, and war was declared. A Balia of twenty citizens
was appointed, and the sum of 100,000 gold florins set apart for the
equipment of the army. Volterra appealed to King Ferrante and Galeazzo
Maria Sforza against Florentine violence; but the Duke of Milan and
Pope Sixtus IV. sent reinforcements to the Florentines, and Volterra
only obtained assistance from Siena and the Appiani of Piombino, who,
on account of the attempt of the previous year, had no reason to be
on friendly terms with Florence, and especially with Lorenzo. But
only about a thousand foot-soldiers assembled in the town, while the
Florentines entrusted the generalship to the most capable warrior of
his time, the Count of Urbino; and he, supported by the counsel of the
two commissaries, Bongianni Gianfigliazzi and Jacopo Guicciardini,
advanced into the Volterran territory with at least 5,000 foot and 500
horse, and, defenceless as the land was, easily took possession of it
and began the siege of the town.

Volterra is a town whose position would have enabled it to hold out for
months against the military science and artillery of those days. But
the foreign garrison was discouraged and undisciplined, the citizens
were divided, and the presence of many country people, who had the
ruin of their possessions before their eyes, did not contribute to
strengthen the defence. The unexpectedly prompt attack had, moreover,
prevented a sufficient provisioning of the town. For five-and-twenty
days the Volterrans held out against the cannonade, which seriously
damaged their old walls. They then opened the gates, after having
concluded a treaty with the commissaries, according to which the
possessions, honour, and life of the citizens should remain uninjured.
On June 17, Federigo di Montefeltro rode into the now pacified town.
Scarcely had he, however, reached the square before the palace of the
Signoria with his troop than there arose a disturbance through the
insolence of a soldier, who attacked and robbed a councillor who was
going home. This led to a general sack, and filled the unhappy town
with all the horrors which could be expected after a conquest by storm
from a licentious soldiery. The dreadful treatment of Volterra has left
a dark stain on the otherwise honourable name of the Count of Urbino
and on the reputation of the Florentines.

Though on the side of the latter it has always been asserted the
affair happened without their knowledge and against their intentions
and interests, the Volterrans have never been convinced of this. In
a letter of thanks to King Louis XI., who not only inquired of the
Republic with great interest as to the course of events, but informed
the Milanese ambassador that he would, if necessary, himself assist
against the rebellious town, the Signoria satisfied this friend of
theirs, whom they styled ‘Father of our city,’ that there was now no
longer any cause to be anxious respecting them and their valiantly
defended honour, and they could only wish him similar success under
similar circumstances.[196]

Francesco Guicciardini and others inform us that the news of the sack
of Volterra aroused the most lively displeasure in Florence; but this
pretended displeasure did not prevent them from rewarding the conqueror
and making use of the victory. That the Count of Urbino, when he
returned, was highly honoured was a matter of course. He was presented
with a banner and a silver helmet, besides the right of citizenship;
and that the last might not be a mere form, he received as a location
Luca Pitti’s villa at Rusciano. The success of the enterprise was very
welcome to Lorenzo de’ Medici, for the victory was specially ascribed
to him. One of his confidants said to Tommaso Soderini, ‘What do you
say now that Volterra is taken?’ To which he replied, ‘It seems to me
that the town is lost. Had you compounded on reasonable terms, you
would have preserved an advantage and security. But as you must now
maintain it by force, it will create weakness and embarrassment for
you in case of war, and expense and injury in time of peace.’ But the
Government took care to weaken Volterra, so that the defiant spirit of
its citizens was broken. The Signoria were obliged to give up their
palace to the Florentine commander; the church of San Pietro and the
bishop’s lodging in a high-lying part of the town were pulled down
to make room for a new fortress; a number of citizens were banished,
and many who had refused to keep within bounds were outlawed. The
administration of the district was taken away from Volterra. Lorenzo
himself proceeded to the humbled town, and sought to arouse a more
favourable feeling by liberality and fine words. He caused 2,000 gold
florins to be distributed in the name of the Florentine Signoria. But
what was all this in comparison to the misery which he, before all
others, had brought upon the town? When we read the letter which the
Pope’s private secretary, Antonio Inghirami, a member of a family
always attached to the Medici, writes to Lorenzo from Rome on March
10, 1473, we see from the tone that he was already considered the
ruler of Florence, while the sad state of the ill-used and oppressed
town penetrates through the flattering phrases. ‘The visit of Your
Magnificence to Volterra was a real consolation to me, for you will
have far better recognised how things stood by seeing them than by
mere hearsay. You will be able to measure our sufferings and misery,
public and private; you will yourself have found your old faithful
adherents and servants deprived of all their property, oppressed,
confused, and, as it were, distracted, by the terrible pillage which
has swept away everything. As you must have been moved to pity and
compassion at sight of this, so will your coming have lifted up and
consoled those for whom it was a last hope.’[197] If we consider what
great misery was caused by this conflict, and that the expedition cost
100,000 gold florins, which had to be borrowed from the credit-fund for
wedding-gifts, we shall be astonished when we read that the alum-mines,
which were afterwards worked at the expense of the Florentine
woollen-guild, lay neglected as unproductive before a century had

In the meantime the progress towards arbitrary government became
daily more apparent. The elections to the communal offices, as well
as to those of the towns and places of the territory, were entirely
in the hands of a party, and even in those cases in which the members
of the Balia were not all adherents of the Medici, means were found
to get what they wanted. Instead of two of the primitive councils,
those of the commune and of the people, a new one composed of 200
members, called the larger council (Consiglio Maggiore) was for a
time instituted for the sake of the elections. The property of the
magistrate of the Parte Guelfa and of the merchants’ office was sold
to assist the public finances, which did not prevent customs and taxes
from being increased. The ancient office of the Capitano del Popolo,
once the political and military chief of the armed citizens, was done
away with, and replaced by a common judge. The Podestà had lost his
former dignity and power, though the office was still eagerly sought
by foreign noblemen. The executor of the laws against the nobles
(_ordinamenta iustitiæ_) was now a captain of the police. All affairs
of importance were treated by a small number of men kept together by
interest and common dependence.



POPE SIXTUS IV. was disposed most favourably towards the Medici at the
beginning of his reign. We have heard in Lorenzo’s own words how well
he was received in Rome in 1471. The friendly relation was strengthened
by concessions which afforded essential advantages to the Florentine
mercantile house. The Pope was ready moreover to fulfil a wish which
Lorenzo already cherished at that time; granting the cardinal’s purple
to Giuliano. From a letter addressed by him to Sixtus on November 21,
1472,[198] we see that he had already spoken to the Pope of the matter,
and that the latter had given him a promise. The whole plan gives us
an insight into Lorenzo’s thoughts. To have a member of the family in
the Sacred College was advantageous for a family which was on the road
to princely power, especially in a city and a State which stood in a
thousand connections with Rome; and what Lorenzo subsequently attained
through a son he wished now to effect for and by a brother. To withdraw
this brother from the circle of domestic and political affairs, to
guide the State without a partaker if not rival in power, this was the
principal thing. Giuliano was the born leader of the youth of Florence,
eighteen years old, strong, lively, and a friend to pleasure; the
matter might become serious, though hitherto, and indeed up to the
death of the younger brother, the best terms existed between the two,
as once between Cosimo and his brother Lorenzo.

The first creation of cardinals of Sixtus IV. took place on December
15, 1471, four months after his election; only his two relations were
elevated by it, Pietro Riario and Giuliano della Rovera. Lorenzo
waited nearly a year before he reminded the Pope of his promise, and
commissioned his uncle, Giovanni Tornabuoni with the affair, after
Sixtus had in the meantime given him a fresh proof of his friendly
feeling in the case of Volterra. On April 25, 1473, the cardinal of
Pavia, Jacopo Ammanati, who had maintained various connections with the
Medici and Tuscany in general from the days of Pope Pius II., wrote
to him that they would at all events receive a cardinal’s hat; but
he, Lorenzo, ought to consider whether he would not prefer to bestow
it on some one else, for instance, the Bishop of Pisa, instead of his
brother, who could not be immediately created one without passing
through certain preliminary ecclesiastical dignities. Immediately
afterwards, on May 7, ensued the second creation of eight cardinals,
including Italians, Frenchmen, and Spaniards. Eight days later
Ammanati, after having consulted with Giovanni Tornabuoni, wrote again
to Lorenzo. He gave him to consider that the entrance of his brother
into sacred orders, if it promised advantages on the one side, might,
on the other, greatly harm the position of the family and the party if
God should call him away, and he should leave four children of tender
age. If, however, he persisted in his intention, the matter could only
advance by degrees. ‘It would be first necessary to appoint Giuliano
as protonotary, and allow him to fill this office for at least a
month. For to raise a layman directly to the dignity of cardinal none
of us would consent. I would advise, however, that he should receive
no ecclesiastical consecration before our object is attained, so that
in case of failure he may return to his former position, as many have
done in my days, without exciting censure. His household must then
represent the half of a cardinal’s—that is to say, an escort of four
to six chaplains, and eight grooms. For though he might develop greater
splendour according to his position, a modest appearance here makes
a favourable impression. For the rest, Messer Gentile (Becchi) and I
would regard him as a son, and would so instruct him that he could
only obtain praise. His creation is certain to me if the Pope remains
alive, and I trust to be able to effect more than one. Be not offended
that several cardinals have been appointed in these last days, for
several must soon follow, for the Emperor and King Ferrante, for Rome
and Florence.’ At the same time he advised him to sound the views of
the Duke of Milan. From such a purely business point of view did even
a grave and pious man like Ammanati regard the nomination of a member
of the highest ecclesiastical senate; which indeed had long consisted
of two classes—the learned and spiritual members, and the great lords
and politicians. The Pope then promised the republic to appoint one of
their fellow-citizens on the first opportunity; while the Cardinal of
Pavia announced in his name that the granting of bishoprics in their
territory could only take place after an agreement beforehand with the

The relations between the Pope and the Medici were still undisturbed
when, after the death of Giovanni Neroni at Rome in 1473, the
former appointed his nephew, Cardinal Riario, to the archbishopric
of Florence. This young man suddenly became, from an obscure
Franciscan monk, the all-powerful favourite of the supreme pontiff,
and though not deficient in intellect and subtlety, was so devoid
of moderation and sense of fitness that he gave scope to his love
of luxury and extravagance, to a degree that was unusual even in
Rome, notwithstanding the wealth of such cardinals as Guillaume
d’Estouteville, Latino Orsini, Olivieri Carafa, &c. How far his foolish
extravagance was carried is seen by the festival which he gave in the
spring of 1473 at his palace near St. Apostoli to the newly-married
Duchess of Ferrara, Eleonore of Aragon, King Ferrante’s daughter, a
festival which excited great displeasure everywhere. Florence also
had to see something of the bridal procession of the Duchess. At the
end of April the duke’s brother, Sigismondo d’Este, who went to fetch
his future sister-in-law, arrived at the city with a suite which
required no less than four hundred horses and seventy-seven mules; he
stayed there two days, and then continued his journey towards Rome.
He rewarded Florentine hospitality by circulating false money bearing
the stamp of the Republic, and he was convicted of it, but allowed to
escape. On June 22, Eleonore, who had left Naples on May 26, arrived
at Florence. Duke Ercole, who had informed Lorenzo of his betrothal in
the preceding November, had announced the arrival of his consort to
him on June 4. She had passed the preceding night in San Casciano, on
the Sienese road, only eight miles distant from the city. Her suite,
consisting partly of Neapolitans and partly of Ferrarese, numbered no
fewer than 1,400 men on horseback. She rode towards the Piazza, where
the Signoria received her on the Ringhiera, she exchanged a few words
with the Gonfaloniere, and then proceeded to the Medicean palace,
where she lodged. Her whole suite was entertained at the cost of the
commune; the expenses in the city and territory were reckoned at about
ten thousand gold florins; ‘Money thrown away,’ Alamanna Rinuccini
adds. The journey was continued through Marradi and Faenza.[199]
Eleonore’s consort and father expressed their thanks for the reception.
‘Illustrious lord and beloved friend,’ wrote the king to Lorenzo on
July 7,[200] ‘through letters of our daughter, Duchess of Ferrara,
and our ambassador, we have heard of the reception she met with from
you, and of the proofs of friendship and festivals which you gave her
with equal kindness and magnificence. We must express our unbounded
gratitude for this; and, although the love we bore you seemed as if it
could have been little, if at all, increased, we assure you that it has
been augmented in such a manner that we shall ever be under obligation
to you. We shall endeavour in time to prove our gratitude for the
pleasure you have given us.’

Two months later Pietro Riario came to Florence. The ostensible aim
of the journey was to take possession of the archbishopric, but it
was more important to him and to the Pope to assure himself of the
intentions of the Duke of Milan; in which he succeeded so well, that
the story went that in Milan, where the Cardinal was in September,
they had made an agreement about the royal title of Lombardy, to which
the vain Sforza aspired, as the ambitious Visconti had done eighty
years before. Pietro Riario’s presence in Florence was a new cause
for festivals and expenses, at a time when the people were suffering
from dearth. The eulogistic verses, exaggerated to the most excessive
bombast and profanest idolatry, with which Angelo Poliziano (who was
then certainly very young and very needy) celebrates the unworthy
nephew of a pope, who was indulgent to culpable weakness towards his
relations, are one of the numerous proofs which afford an insight into
the public and moral conditions of the time. The early death of Pietro
Riario, which happened in the beginning of 1474, put an end to various
plans, and to a scandal which surpassed all that had been seen before.
That there was no lack at the time of half ironical observations
on the growing luxury in Florence, is shown by a letter addressed,
on January 22 in the year just mentioned, to Duke Ercole d’Este by
Niccolò Bendedei.[201] ‘There is nothing new here, except that in the
neighbourhood of Pisa, where the illustrious Lorenzo is hawking with
King Ferrante’s men, two of the ten falcons sent by His Majesty, and
those the best, are lost. Your Excellence must not wonder that I speak
of such things, for I only follow the example of others. Idleness has
so gained the upper hand in Italy that, if nothing new happens, we
shall have more to say about the slaughter of fowls and dogs than about
armies and deeds of war. For the rest, I am of opinion that those who
have to govern Italy in peace will not reap less fame than those who
kept her at war. For the object of war is, after all, peace, and the
only consideration is that it should be a permanent peace.’ But this
never entered the minds of those who were all too ready to lavish the
fruits of peace.

The first cause of mutual distrust between Sixtus IV. and Lorenzo seems
to have been the Pope’s endeavour to obtain estates for his relations
in Romagna, a matter in which the Florentines were not free from
blame. In contemplating the fate of this province, the family of the
Manfredi, their disunion among themselves, and their connections with
Florence, have already been mentioned (p. 207). From the proximity of
the territories of Imola and Faenza, it was by no means indifferent to
the Republic in whose hands they might be. After several changes and
family feuds, Imola had fallen, in 1473, into the hands of the Duke of
Milan, from whom the Florentines tried to obtain it. Their wishes were,
however, thwarted both by the King of Naples and the Pope, naturally
averse to the extension of the Florentine territory in Romagna, and at
last Sixtus IV. bought Imola for 40,000 ducats, and bestowed it upon
Girolamo Riario, the cardinal’s brother, to whom at the same time the
hand of Caterina Sforza, a natural daughter of Galeazzo Maria, was
promised.[202] The journey of the cardinal to Milan was undoubtedly
connected with this affair. After the death of the latter, Girolamo
took the first place in his uncle’s favour, and soon began to exercise
an influence on affairs which could only be injurious, on account
of his restless ambition and violent nature, while it was to be
foreseen that the constant dissensions, and often wild enmities in the
neighbouring families—the Manfredi of Faenza, as well as the Ordelaffi
of Forli—would afford material enough for new anxieties and troubles.

Almost immediately afterwards another circumstance disturbed the good
understanding even more seriously. Città di Castello, lying in the
Upper Tiber valley, on the frontier between Umbria and Tuscany, and
not wholly unimportant, shared the fate of all neighbouring towns
and localities, which became the nurseries of excellent condottieri
and soldiers, but at the same time the scenes of permanent civil
disturbances, and often of the bloodiest family feuds. In 1440,
Vitelozzo Vitelli, the head of a family frequently mentioned after
the end of the twelfth century, had received from Pope Eugene IV.
the vicegerency of his native town; but another family, that of
the Giustini, disputed the pre-eminence of the Vitelli, and in the
spring of 1468 occurred one of those scenes of horror which are by
no means rare in the history of Umbria. Niccolò Vitelli, who had
attained the upper hand after Vitellozzo’s death, managed to bring
about a reconciliation with Pope Paul II., who invested him with the
vicegerency in 1470; but in the beginning of Sixtus IV.’s reign,
his accusers, especially Lorenzo Giustini, the head of the opposing
party, influenced the Pope against him. As things were in Città di
Castello we cannot blame the latter if he wished to set bounds to the
violent state of things, which hindered every proper exercise of law
and administration, and always allowed one part of the citizens to be
oppressed by the other. But it was suspected that Sixtus IV.’s only
object was to transfer the supreme power to a nephew. Events in other
parts of Umbria followed. In Todi a violent feud had arisen between
the factions which still called themselves Ghibellines and Guelphs.
The inhabitants of Spoleto had joined in the dispute, and procured
the preponderance for the anti-papal party. Cardinal Giuliano della
Rovere had been sent with troops against both towns. He had pacified
Todi and forced Spoleto to yield; on which occasion the same thing
happened as at Volterra from want of discipline in the troops, all the
more unfortunate because an ecclesiastical prince was at the head.
Niccolò Vitelli was accused of having assisted the inhabitants of both
the rebellious towns; and now his turn was come. Giovanni Antonio
Campano, the statesman and historian, was sent to make terms with him;
he refused to retire from the administration, or even to re-admit the
exiles, well knowing that this would be the end of his own authority.

As treaties were fruitless, the siege of Città di Castello began.
Niccolò defended himself valiantly, and inflicted great injuries on
his opponents, who, about six thousand men strong, far exceeded his
forces. It was said that Florence and Milan had supported him in his
opposition. It was certainly the interest of Florence not to let a
State of doubtful proclivities rise up so immediately on her frontiers.
In the middle of July the determination was taken to enlist 3,000 horse
and as many foot for the protection of the territory, and to send Piero
Nasi as commissary to the neighbouring Borgo San Sepolcro. At the first
voting the resolution passed with a large majority. The Pope took the
demonstration very ill. At last the Vitelli saw themselves obliged to
come to an agreement, especially after Federigo of Montefeltro, on
whom Sixtus IV. bestowed the title of Duke of Urbino, threw his great
military authority into the scale in favour of the Pope, a movement to
which King Ferrante assented. The conditions were extremely favourable
to the town, but Niccolò Vitelli was obliged to quit it; and though
he was honourably received in Rome, and obtained from Feltrier, a no
less honourable position in Urbino, his power was at an end. An attempt
made in the following year to regain it by force made his situation
worse, as he was now obliged to flee, and his rival, Lorenzo Giustini,
it is true under a papal governor, assumed the highest rank among the
citizens.[203] The Cardinal della Rovera openly accused the Republic
of Florence[204] of having assisted the Vitelli against the Pope,
increased the vigour of his opposition, and thus led to a capitulation,
of which Cardinal Ammanati, notwithstanding his attachment to Florence
and the Medici, wrote that it was a disgrace for the victors, for not
they, but the vanquished, dictated the terms.

While Ammanati was at Siena, where Lorenzo de’ Medici visited him, he
said to the latter that, by his openly favouring the Vitelli, he had
himself made it impossible for the Pope to employ the mediation of the
Republic instead of the Duke of Urbino in composing the difference. The
Pope also complained in a brief addressed to Florence of the assistance
which had been given to Vitelli, and of his remaining in the territory
of the Republic, from whence a new attempt against Città di Castello
might be easily made. Lorenzo de’ Medici answered that all had been
done that was compatible with the freedom and honour of the State. With
Niccolò it had been agreed that he should take up his residence in the
neighbourhood of Pisa, and not seek to approach Città di Castello, and
his Holiness might be as much at peace respecting him as if he were in
the castle of St. Angelo. ‘Be assured, Holy Father,’ he added,’that I
am going to work with perfect honesty, and the intention of deserving
no just reproofs nor displeasure from you. I reckon the favour of your
Holiness among the greatest of my treasures, and I have no desire to
lose it for the sake of Messer Niccolò or anyone else.’[205] We shall
see, however, how, at the time when the breach was complete, Sixtus
IV. made their behaviour in these matters a crime on the part of the
Florentines, and how they could only faintly defend themselves from
such reproaches.

That Federigo of Montefeltro, on whom the Republic believed they
could rely, joined the Pope, was a heavy blow to them. Feltrier, a
man of spirit and culture, and a good master of his little state, was
too weak to pursue an independent policy, and followed the lead of
circumstances, while the condottiere-nature preponderated in him. He
had truly served the Republic in the Colleonic war, and opposed the
Pope in the Malatesta feud; he now passed to the other side. King
Ferrante, who well knew the military skill of Federigo, had attached
him to himself, Sixtus having aided him. During the siege of Città di
Castello, on August 23, 1474, the ducal dignity was conferred on him.
It did not end here; the new duke was entirely attached to the Papal
interest. By the acquisition of Imola, Sixtus IV. had begun to gain a
firm footing with his relations in Romagna. He now smoothed the way
for a connection with one of the oldest families in the province by
obtaining from Federigo the promise of the hand of his eldest daughter,
Giovanna, for his nephew, the brother of Cardinal Giuliano. The
importance of this connection was evident. The duke had by his recently
deceased wife, Battista Sforza of Pesaro, an only son, Guidubaldo, a
delicate child only two years old. If he should not survive his father,
the inheritance would pass to the daughters. Guidubaldo did survive
his father, but was always sickly; he died childless in the time of a
second Pope belonging to the Della Rovere family, and Montefeltro and
Urbino, as Sixtus IV. had secretly hoped, came into the possession of a
son of his sister who had married, in 1475, Giovanni della Rovere, on
whom his uncle bestowed the vicegerency of Senegallia with Mondavio,
and not long afterwards the dignity of a prefect of Rome. The Pope’s
nephews were on the high road to greatness.

Considering the intimacy between the King of Naples and the Medici,
it appears strange to find him thwarting their designs. The real
ground was the leaning of the Florentines towards the Venetians, who
were always mistrusted by the King, on account of their desire to
extend their dominions on the coasts of the Adriatic, and to obtain
complete possession of Cyprus, where Caterina Cornaro, the widow of
the last of the Lusignans, was a mere vassal of the Republic, whilst
the eyes of the Aragonese of Naples, as well as those of their Norman
and Angevin predecessors, were always turned towards the East. The
dangers Venice was threatened with on the Dalmatian side contributed
to keep up a sort of outward understanding; but suspicion was growing
on both sides, and the increasing friendship between the Pope and the
King found its counterpoise in the alliance of Florence and Venice.
On September 20, 1474, the alliance was proclaimed in Venice which
the Republic had concluded with Florence—for whom Tommaso Soderini
conducted the negotiations—and Milan. According to the form, it was a
renewal of that of Lodi in 1454, and was to last for five-and-twenty
years. Common defence against any attack whatever was the object; the
Pope and the King of Naples were given the option of joining, though
no one thought they would, and the Duke of Burgundy was summoned to
take a share in the Turkish war. On the 4th of November the news of the
alliance had already reached Florence, and was greeted with bonfires
and great festivities. After the ratification, the solemn proclamation
was made on the 20th amid banquetings and illuminations. The miraculous
picture of the Madonna of Sta. Maria dell’ Imprimeta was on this, as
on all occasions of joy or sorrow, brought into the city, and borne
in procession. The joy of the citizens was indeed damped by a new
tax. ‘They proceeded by such means,’ remarks Alamanno Rinuccini,[206]
‘in a violent manner, and the heads of the civic government excited
hatred enough; but as the people were enervated, they were obliged to
endure this and many other attacks that were worse.’ The Pope as well
as the King refused to accede to the alliance, and concluded a close
treaty with one another, under the promise to have the same friends
and foes. As Rome celebrated the jubilee in the following year, it
was a desirable opportunity for King Ferrante to draw the ties of
friendship tighter by a personal interview with the head of the Church.
On February 25, 1475, he entered Rome with a brilliant suite, where he
showed himself more liberal than it was his nature to be. He resided in
the palace of the Vatican, and had full time to discuss all political
affairs of the day with a Pope who, grown to manhood in a convent,
had been drawn, at the approach of old age, into a whirl of business
and difficulties which have given a most unenviable reputation to his
pontificate, otherwise not without its good sides. The history of the
city of Rome preserves the memory of this visit of Ferrante of Aragon,
who, by his observation to Sixtus IV. that he could not be master of
Rome so long as it was impossible to move freely in the streets, is
said to have induced the Pope to widen them by removing the balconies
and outbuildings, which had sometimes also served military purposes.

There were now two leagues, which divided Italy geographically into
two halves; but for the present they stood rather beside than opposed
to one another. The whole political state of the peninsula in the
fifteenth century had the characteristics of condottiere war in it,
in the motives as well as in the forms, in the rendezvous and the
evolutions, in the mutually dubious and bargaining demeanour to friends
as well as foes. They formed alliances to injure those with whom an old
alliance still existed; ambassadors were with those against whom they
went to war; private persons were attacked before the war had broken
out; the leaders were enticed away alternately by this party and by
that, even after they had taken pay. In November 1475 the ambassadors
of Venice, Florence, and Milan, went to Rome, summoned by the Pope, to
take part in the congress convened on account of the Turkish danger.
The imposing expedition of 1472, commanded in the Pope’s name by the
Cardinal Olivieri Carafa, had obtained but slender results. The loss of
Caffa, which had ensued in 1475, the ancient Genoese depôt on the Black
Sea, was not only heavy in itself, but also because the connection
with Persia, which alone still resisted, was threatened by it. The
negotiations lasted for months; what they effected is seen by the fact
that not long afterwards Turkish stragglers reached Friuli. While they
thus remained in continual connection with the Pope, the friendship
between the Medici and King Ferrante was outwardly undisturbed. In the
summer of 1477 it would still have been held to be complete. The king,
who had been for twelve years the widower of Isabella di Chiaromonte,
and long a grandfather, determined to marry again. The ground was of a
political nature. King Juan of Aragon and Sicily had never forgiven the
separation of Naples from his brother’s dominions. Alfonso of Aragon
had, indeed, thought he could proceed with Naples as with a conquered
country; but on the side of Spain it was objected that Naples and
Sicily were Hohenstaufen inheritance, and rightfully accruing to the
house of Aragon through Manfred’s daughter, although in consequence
of the Anjou usurpation it had long been lost to them. The mystery of
Ferrante’s birth, who was said by some to be the son of a barber’s
wife, and by others that of Alfonso’s sister-in-law, the consort of his
brother the Grand Master of San Jago, was opposed to this in the king’s
family. At the time we have mentioned, when the Neapolitan line of the
Aragonese seemed fully secured by children and grandchildren as well
as by investitures and alliances, new claims appeared, nevertheless,
in Spain. The means of resisting these was a union of the two lines:
Ferrante married his uncle’s daughter, Juana. On June 11, the Duke of
Calabria quitted Naples to fetch his future stepmother. Several of the
great barons of the empire accompanied him. Received at Rome with great
splendour, he landed on the 29th at Piombino, where a wooden mole had
been built, forty feet long, and covered with branches and flowers. On
July 1 he reached Pisa. Lorenzo de’ Medici, who towards the end of May
had received the Duchess of Ferrara at his house in this town—when
she was on her way to her father, and, passing through Lucca, arrived
here—and had splendidly entertained her till she embarked at
Leghorn,[207] had come down the Arno in two great barques to meet the
duke, and escorted him to a palace fitted up for him, where he resided
for three days as the guest of the Republic. Lorenzo failed not to
give rich presents on this as on all similar occasions. On July 9 the
duke was in Nice, on the 25th in Barcelona, from whence, on September
11, the new queen reached Naples, where Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, as
Papal legate, performed the marriage ceremony and the coronation.[208]
Bongianni Gianfigliazzi and Pierfilippo Pandolfini presented the
newly-married pair with the congratulations of the Republic. Not much
above a quarter of a century later this queen shared the complete ruin
of the house which she now entered, a ruin in which her own brother
aided by lending a hand to the successor of him with whom King Ferrante
had refused to ally himself, when he rejected the proposals made him by
Louis XI. to the disadvantage of his Spanish relations.



DURING these events, which, however, promised no quiet time, the
inhabitants of Florence had lived for long years as merrily as if their
state and all Italy were secured against foreign enemies and internal
dissensions. One could see that a young man held the rudder, however
much political affairs and plans and party questions might claim his
attention. In respect to his intellectual pursuits, no time was so rich
in fruits as this. His style of living became more and more splendid.
The many visits of princely personages, for whom his house served as a
lodging, led him to incur expenses of various kinds, in purchases of
works of art as well as for his daily requirements, while they were
an encouragement to luxury for the distinguished citizens who could
not let the Medici act as sovereigns, and accustomed the people to
pastimes and good living. All this had its dark sides. The income of
the Medici was all the more insufficient because strict supervision was
lacking; their foreign business was too widely spread and dependent on
conjunctures of the moment. The waste of public money, which afterwards
was so prevalent, had already begun. Everything seemed allowable when
it was a question of satisfying ambition.

To this time belongs the tournament of Giuliano de’ Medici, which was
still more famous than that of his brother, because the most gifted
poet of the Medicean circle, Angelo Poliziano (not sixteen years old,
as has been believed in consequence of a chronological error, but
still only two-and-twenty[209]) sang this knightly diversion in the
renowned verses which he dedicated to Lorenzo. This tournament took
place on January 28, 1475, probably in the square of Sta. Croce.
Giuliano, who rode a horse named Orso, and wore a rich suit of armour,
obtained the prize. When we consider that he was powerful and practised
in knightly dexterity, an accomplishment which then belonged to the
education of distinguished young Italians, even if he had not devoted
himself to the art of war, as the Florentines seldom did, one need
not suppose that this victory was agreed upon beforehand. Already,
when a boy of twelve, Giuliano had wished, much against his father’s
inclination, to show his prowess and skill at the time of the visit of
the Duchess of Calabria. Giuliano’s arms and helmet were beautifully
wrought by Michel Angelo of Gaiole, father of the sculptor Baccio
Bandinelli, a clever goldsmith, who during many years served the Medici
with equal zeal and fidelity, and was employed by Lorenzo especially
in setting his gems and other precious stones.[210] Poliziano’s
mythological poem does not, like that of Pulci, give us a description
of the event, nor the names of the combatants; and if we hear much
in praise of both brothers and of the whole Medicean house in their
harmonious but somewhat pedantically antiquated octosyllabics, they
teach us little which can give a knowledge of the time or of the
persons. Fifteen months after the tournament, the lady of Giuliano’s
heart, Simonetta, the nymph of the poem, died; it was in the night
from April 26 to 27, 1476, while Lorenzo resided at Pisa, where he
continually received news of the course of the illness and the end of
the beautiful girl who had charmed his brother and whom he himself
lamented. Neither he nor Giuliano dreamed what cruel fate should
befall one of them and threaten the other on the same day two years

Another terrible fate was rapidly approaching, which did not
immediately concern the family of the Medici, but exercised a decided
influence on the political position of Italy; and which when Lorenzo
had scarcely quitted the world’s stage, overthrew in its results the
edifice which he had reared and watched over with such care.

On St. Stephen’s day in 1476, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, at the age of
thirty-two, fell in the church of the saint to whom the day was
consecrated, beneath the daggers of three Milanese noblemen, inspired
by indignation against the cruel and immoral reign of the degenerate
son of an excellent father, who had oppressed the people with taxes in
order to support a luxury, which had bordered on madness. The deed was
tyrannicide after the old classical style; and as the conspirators had
no ulterior projects nor any support or adherents among the people,
the most distinguished councillor of the deceased, Cecco Simonetta,
succeeded in preserving the people in their devotion to their ducal
house, and proclaimed the son of Galeazzo Maria, Gian Galeazzo, then
six years old, as duke, under the guardianship of his mother Bona.
How some of the Florentines judged of the matter may be seen from the
words with which Alamanno Rinuccini, a distinguished man, accompanies
the news of the event recorded in his notices. ‘It was a worthy,
laudable, manly deed, which should be imitated by all who live under
a tyrant or anything similar. But the cowardice and depravity of the
men were to blame, that the example bore little or no fruit, and
those who had acted well must suffer death. Nevertheless, they freed
the earth from the most worthless monster, who was stained with more
shameful sins than any in his time and long before.’[211] But that
Lorenzo de’ Medici, who received the first news of the event from
Tommaso Soderini, at that time ambassador in Milan, was much struck by
it, is easily understood. He had made the policy of his grandfather
and father his own in reference to the Sforza family, and connected
himself closely with them. The league of 1474 had drawn the tie still
closer. An understanding with Venice was always precarious; that with
Milan seemed certain. It was now threatened with sudden dissolution,
for even if they could rely upon a regency, the duchess was in various
ways dangerous; especially under the family circumstances known to all.
Lorenzo must have perceived all this in a moment, and could not be
without serious apprehension. ‘I have heard of the duke’s death,’ wrote
Luigi Pulci to him from Mugello, where he was residing on his estate,
on January 3, 1477.[212] ‘I am sorry, imagining that you are so. I
have not been in the city, for I fear that it would avail nothing.
Wherever I may be, you know that you have a servant who is always ready
to obey you; and if you wish that I should go to our lord Roberto
(Sanseverino), or elsewhere, I will mount at the first signal. In many
respects I think it well that the aforesaid lord is there; he cannot
want for ways and means. All the better am I pleased, therefore, that
he is quite in your interests, and you can dispose of him there or here
as you will.’

In regard to this last, however, Luigi Pulci was much mistaken.
Roberto da Sanseverino, who had exercised so great an influence on the
development of Milanese affairs, was not the man Pulci thought him.
He was descended from one of the most illustrious families of Naples,
that of the Princes of Salerno and Bisignano, who had made themselves
a name on other fields than those of policy and war. He was the son of
Leonetto da Sanseverino and of Lisa Attendolo of Cotignola, daughter of
Sforza, the famous condottiere, a woman who had inherited the heroism
of her father, and he was born about the year 1420. Trained to be an
excellent soldier under his uncle, Francesco Sforza, he rose quickly
to a position of distinction, when the former had become Duke of Milan.
When in the barons’ war against Ferrante of Aragon, he led a Milanese
auxiliary corps to Naples, the king made him Count of Cajazzo, in
gratitude for his services. He was a man of restless mind, to whom
the confusion, more personal than political, which had ensued after
Galeazzo Maria’s death offered a wide field of activity. It was he
who had principally assisted in disturbing Lorenzo’s Milanese policy.
This policy tended to support the duchess-dowager and preserve the
existing government. For this purpose Messer Luigi Guicciardini was
commissioned to be active. He had been sent to Milan immediately after
the duke’s death, where, with Soderini, who afterwards remained alone
there, he was of great service, from the authority of the Republic
and his personal distinction. Bona of Savoy saw her position soon
endangered by her brothers-in-law and their party. Galeazzo Maria had
left no less than five brothers, Sforza, Filippo, Lodovico, Ascanio,
Ottaviano. Except the second, who had a taste for cultivating science
and a quiet life, they were all characters calculated to inspire the
head of a newly-risen family with anxiety. Ascanio dedicated himself
to the ecclesiastical order and became apostolic pronotary, but this
did not restrain the restless ambition which made the life of this man,
afterwards so much spoken of, a chain of negotiations, intrigues, and
vicissitudes of fortune. Sforza, who had inherited from his father the
dukedom of Bari in Apulia, granted him by King Ferrante, and Lodovico,
who obtained an inglorious celebrity under the surname of Il Moro,
had been banished to France by the suspicious duke. From thence they
returned as soon as they heard of his death, in the hopes of obtaining
a share in the government. Simonetta managed to make them harmless
beforehand by transferring to them the presidency in the senate of
justice, and setting a considerable sum apart for all the uncles of
the heir-apparent. Nothing, however, but the representations of the
Marquis of Mantua and the foreign ambassadors persuaded the ambitious
young men to comply with this arrangement, and it was to be foreseen
that affairs would not remain so. Events in Genoa soon lent a pretext
for executing the plans of the malcontents.

The history of Genoa is the counterfoil to that of Venice. Since the
end of the thirteenth century, peace and stability at home and great
territorial and political power, long secured for the latter; while
for the former, constant and sudden changes, which must have had an
unfavourable effect on the position obtained abroad in the days of
maritime greatness; the Genoese power on land being restricted to
a narrow strip of coast, partly fertile indeed, and rich in good
mariners, but mountainous and inaccessible. The Genoese could not even
retain their national and political independence. Weakened by foreign
wars and internal feuds, they had acknowledged first the supremacy of
France, then that of the Visconti, and, having rebelled against both,
they had submitted to Francesco Sforza, who, after having come to an
understanding with King Louis XI. in 1464, united all Liguria to the
Duchy of Milan. But even then the Genoese did not remain quiet, and
after Galeazzo Maria’s death the faction of the Fregosi and Fieschi
brought on a new insurrection, in consequence of which only the fort
called Castelletto remained in the hands of the Milanese troops. But it
served as a central point for the attack, when 12,000 Milanese troops
advanced against Genoa under the command of Roberto da Sanseverino,
with whom were Lodovico and Ottaviano Sforza. A defeat of the rebels
soon led to a pacification, as the city was, as usual, divided. On
April 11, 1477, Prospero Adorno was acknowledged as governor, and peace
was restored. In Florence, where Milanese affairs were watched with
great excitement, this result awakened great rejoicing. The Signoria
had the bells rung and bonfires lighted on April 14, as if for a
victory of the Republic.[213] But things soon took another turn:
Lodovico, Sforza, and Ottaviano could as little remain quiet as the
Genoese, and their influence in the army threatened the government
itself immediately after their return. On command of the regent, one of
their confidants, Donato del Conte, an old companion of Duke Francesco,
was taken prisoner. The attempt of the brothers to liberate him by
exciting a rebellion in Milan was defeated. Roberto Sanseverino, for
whom had been destined the military management of a conspiracy which
was to place Lodovico in his sister-in-law’s place, fled to Asti.
Ottaviano Sforza was drowned on his flight in the Adda. The other
brothers submitted, and were pardoned. But when the trial of Donato del
Conte had brought the full extent of the conspiracy to light, they were
banished from Milan, Sforza to Bari, Lodovico to Pisa, and Ascanio to
Perugia. This was at the beginning of June 1477.

For the time the duchess-regent retained the power in her own hand. But
it was clear that the foundations of her government were weak, while
such dissensions prevailed in the ducal family, the nominal ruler being
a feeble child, and those nearest the throne ambitious young men with
many adherents at home and abroad. Lorenzo de’ Medici saw this clearly,
and strove to support the regent from the beginning. But it is entirely
incomprehensible how, in such a critical moment, while his hold on
Milan was so uncertain, he could think of giving neighbours whom he
already knew to have a grudge against him cause for complaint. And yet
he did so. The discontent of the Pope he increased in a twofold manner.
Filippo de’ Medici, Archbishop of Pisa, who was entirely devoted to
the interest of his relations, had died in 1474. Instead of consulting
with the Republic respecting a successor, Sixtus IV. had made a new
choice, of a Florentine indeed, but a man certainly not very agreeable
to the party then prevailing, and of whom little is known before the
catastrophe which cost him his life. That Sixtus IV. made choice of
him with the intention of insulting the Republic and the Medici,
cannot be supposed; but that he knew it was unwelcome to them we see
from a letter of the Cardinal of Mantua to Lorenzo, in which Salviati
is recommended to the latter, and it is emphatically added that the
promotion was not meant to be displeasing to his Magnificence.[214]
That the Pope held fast by his new appointment was in accordance with
the principles and proceedings of the Holy See. The opposition to the
Medici faction is explained by the fact that, in consequence of the
special circumstances of Pisa, they thought they required a trustworthy
and devoted man there. The new archbishop moreover had been very
serviceable to the State, and as regards family and position, nothing
was to be said against Francesco Salviati. The part acted by him in
1478 has justified the accusations of his enemies. But we must not
forget that he was then embittered by years of opposition, and allowed
free course to evil passions at a time when so many prelates preferred
secular to sacred pursuits, and seized the sword instead of the
crozier. What incited Lorenzo against him is unknown; Angelo Poliziano
had once appealed with most abject flatteries to the protection of a
man against whom he afterwards hurled the severest and most insulting
accusations.[215] Lorenzo had twice thwarted him. When Cardinal Riario
died, Francesco Salviati had sought to obtain the archbishopric of
Florence, but was obliged to yield to the brother-in-law of the
all-powerful Rinaldo Orsini. It was said in Rome that the Pope, who
had presented Count Girolamo with the rich possessions of his brother
the cardinal, and yet was obliged to pay his debts, had offered his
benefices, among which was the archbishopric, valued at three thousand
gold florins, to the highest bidder, by which means money was raised.
This, however, was not to be regarded as simony.[216] Francesco had
only received the lesser consecration, and may have had no vocation
for the priesthood; but this was not the objection raised against him
in Florence, and the man preferred to him did not do his spiritual
dignity the least credit. When, therefore, the Pope invested him with
Pisa, the most important and wealthy bishopric of Tuscany, the Republic
refused to allow him to assume it for three years, and he nursed his
hatred in Rome, where soon others shared it with him. That this hatred
was personal and directed against Lorenzo de’ Medici is easily to be
understood, and even excusable under existing circumstances. They had
accustomed themselves to regard Lorenzo as the head of the State, and
to ascribe good and evil to his influence.

Another complication arose, all the more serious because, not to
mention pope and king, whose suspicions it increased, it excited
another and a neighbour state against the Republic.

The old connections of the Fortebracci of Montone with Florence have
been mentioned. In the first times of the rise of the Medici, Braccio
Fortebraccio had been the favourite hero of the Florentine people,
who, on his account, had deeply insulted Pope Martin V. His son Oddo
had been killed in the Visconti wars in the spring of 1425 by the
peasants of the Val di Lamone, who, seventy years before, had made
short work of the wild freebooters of the so-called Great Company in
their mountain passes. Another son of Braccio’s had remained, Carlo,
still a child at his father’s death. Having grown up in military
service in Piccinino’s troop, he had attained the reputation of a
skilful captain, and lived in the pay of Venice, which always needed
numerous troops for Italy, as well as for her possessions in the
Levant. He was striking in appearance; at the age of fifty-five he
seemed to have renounced all ordinary habits of life, wore a long
beard, forbore to change his clothes, and slept without a tent under
the open sky in the fields.[217] When his _condotta_ came to an end,
instead of beginning another he determined to carve out his fortune in
his own home. His father and brother had once ruled over Perugia; he
therefore relied upon the old attachment of a part of the citizens, and
the love of novelty which was never extinguished in those half-free
cities. In the spring of 1477 he set out with a considerable troop of
mercenaries for Umbria. Such private enterprises of _condottieri_ were
nothing new in Italy; Jacopo Piccinino had attempted something similar
twenty-two years before, but had been defeated and driven to the coasts
of Maremma. Carlo Fortebraccio had, however, chosen an unfavourable
moment, for peace prevailed in the whole of Central and Southern Italy,
and the governments were on their guard on account of Milanese affairs.
To the Florentines, in spite of their ancient friendly connections
with the Fortebracci, the intended attack upon Perugia was most
unwelcome, not so much on the Pope’s account, as because they were
endeavouring to draw the town into their own league. They therefore
hindered the _condottiere_ by strong representations from making an
attack on Umbria. They could not, however, prevent him from falling in
old freebooter fashion upon the neighbouring territory of Siena. He
set up as a pretext old demands of his father, who had been dead more
than half a century, and, like Piccinino, began to plunder and raise
black-mail in the Arbia valley.

The republic of Siena had always been a battle-field for factions which
weakened it within and made it powerless abroad. The old jealousy of
the Florentines had made it always easy for every power possessing the
preponderance in Italy for the time being to plot against Florence
from thence. Thus it happened in the present case, and not without the
fault of Florence. The Sienese were taken by surprise by the attack
of Carlo Fortebraccio. Long at peace with their neighbours, a peace
which was not disturbed by occasional quarrels between places on their
frontier in the Chiana valley, they had but a small armed power to
oppose to the freebooters. They complained bitterly to the Pope and
the King of Naples of the wrong done them, and sent ambassadors to
Florence to beg the intervention of the Republic, whose connections
with the mischief-maker were no secret. The Florentines, when called
upon to put a stop to the favour shown to Carlo by their subjects on
the frontiers and to keep honest neighbourliness, gave at first an
equivocal answer. They had, they said, nothing to do with the matter,
and if Fortebraccio should find support with the Sienese emigrants,
it was not their doing. They did not escape the suspicion of having
acted in this affair with the same want of sincerity as that shown
the Venetians in the Colleonic troubles. Sixtus IV. resolved to be no
longer a mere looker on.[218] He remembered that the father of this man
had once said that he would bring Pope Martin to read twenty masses
for one Bolognino. The Duke of Urbino, captain-general of the Church,
caused Antonio di Montefeltro to march into the Sienese territory;
everything was in movement in the patrimony, where men were enlisted
both for and against the cause. ‘It seemed,’ says the chronicler of
Viterbo, ‘as if men were weary of the long peace and took the field for
little money.’ The attack on Fortebraccio was unsuccessful, so that the
duke himself set out, marched into Perugia, and invested the castle
of Montone, which yielded after thirty-three days’ siege. Neapolitan
troops received commands to march through Romagna; in short, a general
conflagration seemed about to break forth. This calamity was averted
for the time by the departure of the leader of the disturbance, who,
threatened by the danger of being cut off, and urged by Florentine
representations, quitted the Sienese territory and re-entered the
Venetian service. On his return to Romagna, he attempted again to take
possession of Montone, but the Sienese razed the castle for fear he
should again establish himself firmly there in the neighbourhood of
their frontiers.[219]

The political results of this division were evident in the following
year. The Florentines had only to thank themselves for it. Towards the
end of June, the Chancellor, Bartolommeo Scala, had given Lorenzo de’
Medici information of the complaints of the Sienese ambassadors. In
the following month the Pope had himself complained bitterly to the
Signoria of the assistance given to the _condottiere_, and the wrong
done to their neighbours.[220] What made the position worse for the
Pope was the circumstance that the old Roman disturber of peace, Count
Deifebo of Anguillara, served under Fortebraccio. Most unpleasant to
the Florentines had been the Neapolitan intervention, which, indeed,
could no longer leave them in doubt as to the position of affairs.

It is hard to recognise the caution and political sagacity hitherto
displayed by Lorenzo in these proceedings. His biographer, Niccolò
Valori, who is inclined enough to defend him where he cannot praise,
does not venture to reconcile his behaviour towards the Pope with the
claims either of policy or gratitude, and resorts to an ambiguous
reflection. After having enumerated what Lorenzo owed to Sixtus IV.
for the extraordinary furtherance of his private interests, whereby he
and his relations, especially Giovanni Tornabuoni, had acquired great
wealth, as well as in the affair of Volterra, &c., he continues,[221]
‘After the Pope had overwhelmed Lorenzo in public and private matters
with proofs of the greatest favour, and dismissed him with the highest
honours, he did not long remain in the good graces of his Holiness.
Thus it happened that many began to doubt his constancy and wisdom. I
believe all happened through the will of destiny, in order to bring
his great qualities more clearly into view in the midst of untoward






AS the year 1478 approached, suspense became intense, in consequence
of the events already described, and a political entanglement of
some kind became more and more probable. No fear was entertained of
intrigues at home. Eleven years had passed since the attempt to ruin
the power of the Medici. The leaders of the Opposition were either
dead or entirely powerless; a new generation was springing up, whose
interests were mostly identical with those of the ruling family. All
the modifications of the constitution had contributed to concentrate
the power in comparatively few hands; those who longed for honourable
posts and outward splendour obtained them according to their desire,
while the money-makers never wanted means to enrich themselves, nor
did the people lack diversions and the appearance of freedom; the
system of taxation was so managed that those of whom the government
did not feel certain were kept down, without a pretext being afforded
them for opposition to an overstrong system. Lorenzo de’ Medici at
this time was in his thirtieth year, and had ruled the state for nine
years. All went its usual course: signorie, magistrates, and councils
negotiated, concluded, and voted, as in former times; and a number of
distinguished citizens conducted the business of every-day. But the
leadership was always in one hand. Those who had insight into the state
of home affairs and those abroad were by no means deceived regarding
them. Lorenzo believed he should be left undisturbed. His brother does
not seem to have been a hindrance to him. The plan of making Giuliano
a cardinal had been given up, and an alliance with the daughter of
the seigneur of Piombino and Appiani had been spoken of. Letters and
petitions from abroad were addressed to both brothers, but we never
hear of Giuliano’s interfering in affairs of State.

The danger arose from a combination of home and foreign affairs. Like
his grandfather, Lorenzo had always been careful not to allow any of
the families attached to him to become powerful enough to cause him
anxiety. It may be easily understood that this constant endeavour to
gain the upper hand, although it secured his position, gave rise to
disaffection and hatred. Thus it was with the Pazzi. We have seen
how this family, who at first did not find it easy to obtain popular
favour, rose to high honours, and how closely they were allied to the
Medici. Guglielmo de’ Pazzi had for years always been present at the
tourneys, fêtes, and amusements of his brother-in-law. But in his case
as in others Lorenzo does not appear to have deviated from his usual
policy. He avoided allowing the Pazzi any part in such public offices
as they might well claim, considering their position, and at times he
appeared almost envious of the rising wealth of this family. Still,
for several years harmony was preserved between them. Two letters
directed to Lorenzo in 1474 by Jacopo de’ Pazzi, then at Avignon,
professing gratitude for services rendered to him, and the hope of
future good understanding, are preserved in the archives of the family.
This, however, could not last long, nor was the fault all on the Pazzi
side. In the year 1476, Lorenzo caused a law on the inheritance _ab
intestato_ to pass, which deprived Giovanni de’ Pazzi of the rich
Borromeo succession to which his wife had a claim. Giuliano warned
his brother, but in vain. Francesco de’ Pazzi, Jacopo’s nephew, who
resided in Rome, considered himself ill-used by the magistracy of the
Eight. Still it is hardly to be believed that the Pazzi would have put
themselves at the head of a perilous enterprise in their native town,
if complications in Rome had not brought on a crisis. In the ensuing
tragedy, the Pazzi appear as chief actors, but it is more likely they
were merely the instruments of Girolamo Riario.[223]

The connections between the Florentine family and the Pope arose from
pecuniary affairs. We observed before how the money matters of Rome
were chiefly in the hands of the Florentines, and, from the time of
Pius II., in those of the Sienese. The Via de’ Banchi, leading to
the bridge of St. Angelo, was filled with their counting-houses, and
the names of the Altoviti, Niccolini, Strozzi, Chigi, still exist on
the houses and various other buildings of that part. The Pazzi had
also their banks in the vicinity of the bridge, and the then director
was Francesco the nephew of Jacopo. The principal occasion of the
misunderstanding between them and the Medici was afforded by the sale
of Imola. Lorenzo was said to have attempted to render it impossible
for the Pope, who had no spare cash, to raise the sum necessary by
gaining over the other banking-houses to his interests. With the Pazzi,
however, who had at first also consented, he could not succeed in the
end, and by means of 3,000 gold florins advanced by them Girolamo
Riario had become master of Imola. That this circumstance, if really
true, must have led to a closer connection between the latter, is
clear. When the relations between the Pope and Florence were disturbed
by political events, the former took from the Medici the management
of the finances of the Curia, the so-called ‘Depository,’ and handed
over the business to the Pazzi. Sixtus IV. afterwards declared, when he
reproached the Medici for their ingratitude, that it was through him
that they had amassed wealth. It is uncertain whether, apart from the
above circumstances, the adverse reports of the pecuniary position of
the Medici, which had lately spread and were not groundless, and more
especially of the bad state of their banking business in Flanders,
were the real cause of this measure, so keenly affecting them and
so hurtful to their credit, or whether they were a mere pretext for
its adoption. Certain it is that thenceforward the Pazzi were closely
attached to the Papal interest, and to that of Girolamo Riario, which
was in this case identical with it. It is, however, evident from
the whole course of events that the Medici, notwithstanding these
circumstances, felt no distrust of their fellow-countrymen. Girolamo
Riario had long been aware that the Florentines would constantly
oppose his attempts to extend his dominion on their frontier. To them
he ascribed the turn which the affair of Città di Castello had taken,
which made it difficult, if not impossible, for the Pope to support his
intentions with regard to that town. He did not think himself safe in
the possession of Imola, so long as a good understanding lasted between
the Republic and Taddeo Manfredi. After the death of the Duke of Milan,
who had kept him in a sort of imprisonment, Manfredi had gone to
Venice, and there openly complained of the violence which had been done
him in the matter of the cession of the above named city to Sforza.
Girolamo foresaw that his projects of annexing other possessions of the
Manfredi, and his subsequent intentions on the Ordelaffi vicegerency,
would meet with like obstacles. He erred in supposing that such plans
would succeed better if an end were put to the influence then dominant
in Florence; for the effects which he attributed to the special action
of that influence were merely in accordance with the traditional maxims
of Florentine policy. It was even a political necessity as long as the
old system of balance of power existed, which, in regard to Romagna and
Umbria, only ceased with the death of its last representative, Lorenzo
de’ Medici. But it lay in the character and position of an upstart
like Girolamo Riario, who knew that his rise and fall depended on the
duration of one life, that of the Pope, to confuse what was nearest
and most palpable with conditions which were dependent on individual
persons and expressions of their wishes.

We shall certainly not be mistaken if we suppose that the Pope’s
nephew first entered into connection with Francesco de’ Pazzi, who
superintended the finances in Rome, and that both succeeded in gaining
over the Archbishop of Pisa, who, having only entered upon office the
preceding year, was just then in Rome. The removal of Lorenzo de’
Medici proved the turning-point of the whole undertaking, in what way
appeared indifferent to the accomplices. That they could not reach him
by so-called legal means, such as served in Florence to rouse a spirit
of rebellion, must have been clear to them. Force must therefore be
employed. The three were probably from the first agreed upon this.
It was only a question of how and where. It was of importance to
ascertain how the Pope would regard the plot, for without his consent
nothing could be done. This was all the more necessary because Jacopo
de’ Pazzi, when Francesco first revealed to him in Florence the plan
of overthrowing the Medicean supremacy, did not show the least desire
of taking part in such a venture, and it became clear to the others
that they would achieve nothing by themselves. That Sixtus IV., in his
irritated feeling towards Lorenzo and the Republic, would willingly
offer a hand in the attempt to remodel affairs in Florence, was not to
be doubted. But Girolamo Riario was also obliged to confess that his
uncle would lend himself to no undertaking which would leave any stain
on the honour of the Papacy. It was necessary, therefore, to keep a
free hand for a revolution in Florence, and not to let the Pope see
through their plans, and at the same time give him a false impression
of the feeling prevailing in the city with regard to the Medici and the
support they might expect. The nephew undertook this, and succeeded in
it with a man whose many praiseworthy and even brilliant qualities were
not sufficient to keep him out of the power of those who eventually
brought dishonour on his name.

One of the difficulties of the undertaking consisted in being obliged
to secure both brothers at the same time, for they perceived that
the thing would fail if the possibility were afforded to the younger
one of treading in the other’s footsteps. The attempt was first made
of enticing Lorenzo to Rome, as, in his absence, they hoped to make
away with Giuliano more easily. ‘That my wish may be fulfilled,’ wrote
Girolamo Riario to him on January 15, 1478,[224] ‘that the public and
private affairs of your Magnificence take a prosperous course, and it
is known to me that various things have happened between his Holiness
and the illustrious Signoria, in which your Magnificence, as the most
distinguished citizen and head of the State, have had occasion to
share, and which have somewhat disturbed his Holiness, it would please
me much for the State and on account of your personal position if your
Magnificence would resolve to come to Rome and present yourself to the
Pope for the removal of all misunderstandings and doubts. I do not
in the least doubt that the Holy Father would receive you with joy;
while I, with the affection which I owe you from our mutual friendly
relations, would behave so as fully to satisfy your Magnificence,
and all considerations of grievance which may have arisen from the
afore-named events would vanish.’

Lorenzo did not say No. He had no particular grounds for believing in
the asseverations of Riario’s friendship, for his conscience told him
he had not deserved them. But he might well wish to settle differences
with the Pope while it was yet possible, he therefore had no desire
to refuse the hand apparently extended for reconciliation. Owing to
the uncertainty of his coming, his opponents resolved to be beforehand
at all events, and prepare the means for executing their projects.
For this it was certainly important to secure trusty adherents in
Florence, to entrust a soldier with the guidance of affairs, and to
take measures on the frontiers so as to follow up the advantage, if
the _coup_ succeeded, by advancing immediately an armed force. The
leader, who could only be selected from Riario’s intimate friends,
must at the same time make preparations in Florence. Giovan Batista
da Montesecco, a captain of Abruzzi in the service of the Count,
was the man who was considered suitable for the execution of this
plan.[225] He was not unknown to the Medici. On September 24, 1477,
he had communicated with them from Imola, regarding the soldiers of
Marradi, who had announced themselves for service with Riario.[226]
The first negotiation between the latter, Francesco de’ Pazzi, and
the _condottiere_, took place in the Archbishop’s residence after
Montesecco had sworn to betray nothing that might be confided to him.
Salviati revealed to him that it was in the matter of a revolution at
Florence that they counted on his support. When Montesecco, who was
apparently a sensible and quiet man, remarked that he was not his own
master, and could not undertake anything without the permission of the
Pope and his nephew, he was answered that everything was undertaken not
only by the consent of the latter, but precisely for the preservation
and strengthening of his position; for if things in Florence remained
as they were then, Riario’s rule would not be worth powder and shot on
account of Lorenzo’s enmity, which, after the Pope’s death, would set
everything in agitation to take from him his little state, as a quarrel
had long existed between the two. The captain only answered that he
should be ready for everything which should suffice to the honour and
advantage of the Count and themselves, but all depended on the first
step. Thus they parted to consult over the matter further on a suitable
occasion. This was soon found. The Archbishop and Montesecco met in
Riario’s house. A revolution in Florence, they said, was necessary,
in order to secure the Count from Lorenzo’s evil intentions; but this
revolution would be impossible if both Medici were not got rid of. The
families of Salviati and Pazzi were so influential that half Florence
would adhere to them; troops must be held ready near the frontiers in
order to advance immediately on the city. Montesecco expressed concern.
‘My lords,’ he said, ‘see what you are bringing upon yourselves.
Florence is no trifle, and, according to what I hear, Lorenzo has
powerful adherents.’ Riario replied, ‘Others say the contrary; they
are disinclined towards him, and the people would thank Heaven if
both brothers were made away with.’ ‘Gian Batista,’ interposed the
Archbishop, ‘you have never been in Florence, and we know better than
you how it is with Lorenzo; that is our affair. It is only necessary
to agree upon the method of proceeding. Above all, it is necessary to
warm Jacopo de’ Pazzi, who is like a block of ice. If we are certain
of him, we cannot doubt the result.’ ‘All very well,’ remarked the
captain, ‘but our master, the Pope, what will he say to the matter?’
‘Our master,’ replied the other two, ‘will always do what we advise
him, and he also is prejudiced against Lorenzo, and wishes this more
than anything.’ ‘Have you spoken with him about it?’ ‘Certainly, and
we shall so arrange it that he will speak to you about it also.’
Upon this, measures were debated as to the time for drawing troops
together in the Papal territories adjoining Florence, which were to be
employed in a given case against the city,and to support the projected
movements within her walls. Napoleone Orsini was to hold himself ready
in the territory of Todi and Perugia; Lorenzo Giustini, the enemy of
the Vitelli, in Città di Castello; Giovan Francesco da Tolentino in the
district of Imola.

Soon afterwards Montesecco was summoned to the Pope, and there, in the
presence of Francesco Salviati and Girolamo Riario, the Florentine
affair was discussed. In the collection of paintings in the Vatican, a
fresco may be seen (formerly in the old library hall, now transferred
to canvas) by the hand of Melozzo of Forli, representing Pope Sixtus
IV. on his throne, Bartolommeo Platina, the new keeper of his literary
treasures kneeling before him, in the background Girolamo Riario and
others of his family and court. The scene which now passed in the
Pope’s chamber was very different to this peaceful one. It was a
question of overthrowing the Medici and their Florentine government.
The Pope declared his consent to a revolution in the State, but he
demanded that it should not be a sanguinary one. And when Montesecco
remarked, ‘Holy Father, it is difficult to execute such an intention
without the death of Lorenzo and Giuliano, and several others perhaps,’
Sixtus replied, ‘In no case will I have the death of any one; it is not
my office to cause the death of a man. Lorenzo has behaved unworthily
and badly towards us, but I will not hear of his death, though I wish
for a revolution in the State.’ Girolamo Riario interposed, ‘We will
do our best that no one may fall a victim; should it, however, be
unavoidable, your Holiness will pardon him through whom it happens;’
on which the Pope answered, ‘You are a villain; I tell you I will have
no one die, but only the government overthrown. And to you, Giovan
Batista, I say that I wish the revolution to proceed in Florence and
the government to be taken out of the hand of Lorenzo, for he is a
violent and bad man, who pays no regard to us. If he were expelled,
we could do with the Republic as it seemed best, and that would be
very pleasing to us.’ ‘Your Holiness speaks the truth,’ said Riario
and the Archbishop. ‘If you have Florence in your power, after it has
come into the hands of others, your Holiness can soon prescribe laws
to half Italy, and everyone will be desirous to assure himself of your
friendship. Be then satisfied that we shall do all in our power to
attain this end.’ Whereupon Sixtus said, ‘I say again, I will not. Go
and do what you will, but no lives shall be lost.’ As he now dismissed
the three, he gave his consent to the employment of arms. Salviati said
in going away, ‘Holy Father, be satisfied that we guide the bark; we
will steer safely.’ The Pope answered, ‘I am content, but give heed to
the honour of the Holy See and the Count.’

After the audience the three repaired to Riario’s lodging, where the
latter and the archbishop came to the conclusion that without the
death of the two Medici, the thing could not succeed. A high aim could
not be reached with insignificant means. It was now resolved to make
preparations for executing their design. Francesco de’ Pazzi had, as
we have already seen, repaired to Florence, it was said on account of
business, but in fact to note the inclination of the people better,
and to sound his uncle Jacopo. Riario and Salviati now considered
it necessary to send Montesecco thither in order to make himself
better acquainted with persons and places. A pretext for the visit
was afforded by a dangerous illness of Carlo Manfredi of Faenza, a
part of whose possessions at his decease Riario wished to unite with
his own. This he pretended to wish to arrange with Lorenzo. Lorenzo
had no idea of what was passing, and seems, instead of hindering the
intentions of the Pope’s nephew in any way, to have, on the contrary,
embraced the opportunity of settling former differences with him by
furthering his plans and wishes. But Montesecco had yet another errand;
that of concerting with Jacopo de’ Pazzi and taking measures for the
intended warlike operations. The latter came to him at the inn—his
nephew Francesco happened to be in Lucca—where the captain delivered
to him letters from the archbishop and the count. But still Jacopo
did not show the slightest wish to enter into the matter. ‘I will have
nothing to do with the project,’ he declared. ‘They will only run into
danger. They wish to be masters of Florence, but I understand matters
better than they. Do not speak to me about it again, for I have heard
enough.’ But then, as Montesecco informed him of the conversation with
the Pope, he was undecided. ‘Go to Imola,’ he said, ‘and come again on
your return; Francesco will have returned in the meantime, and we can
consult further about the matter.’

It had thus been introduced, and Jacopo was half-won over. Montesecco
went to the Romagna to watch over the interests of Riario, and as
he met Lorenzo at Cafaggiuola on his return from Florence, he gave
the latter an account of his mission, and received from him repeated
assurances of his readiness to be useful to the count. In Lorenzo’s
company Montesecco rode towards the city, where he had another
conversation with the two Pazzi by night. Jacopo had allowed himself
to be persuaded by his nephew; but their views as to the execution of
the plot were very different, especially as to whether it were not
advisable to kill the brothers at once and in Florence itself. Both
gave it as their opinion that the archbishop must come to the city
under some pretext, in order to take part in the execution. Montesecco
now returned to Rome, where the resolution was taken at Riario’s that
Francesco Salviati should repair to Florence, but that the captain
should lead all the mercenaries of the count who could be spared
in Rome to Romagna, and hold himself ready. Various circumstances,
however, hindered the speedy decision. A chance absence of Carlo
Fortebraccio in Florence made it seem dangerous for the conspirators
to venture the blow at that moment. Then it was said that Lorenzo
intended to go to Rome at Easter, which caused fresh indecision. When
this did not happen, the conspirators recognised the necessity of
acting, in order not to expose a plot in which many were now initiated
to the danger of discovery. The amassing of troops at Imola must rouse
suspicion if they delayed longer.

It was in April 1478 that Francesco Salviati came to Florence in
order to execute an errand with reference to the affairs of Romagna.
Everything was talked over in the houses of the Pazzi and in their
villa at Montughi. The number of accomplices was so considerable that
we can hardly understand how the project never came to the hearing
of the Medici. A nephew of Girolamo Riario, Raffaello Sansoni, was
studying at the time at the university of Pisa. Sixtus IV. had
granted, on December 10, 1477, the cardinal’s purple to this youth of
sixteen, who was not exactly distinguished by brilliant intellectual
gifts, still less by learning. The young man, who henceforward bore
his mother’s name, began his long career as ecclesiastical prince,
a position for which he was but little suited, among circumstances
the memory of which was revived when he, as an aged man, was again
involved in an intrigue against the Medici. Girolamo caused his nephew
to be summoned to Florence, in order to employ him in the execution
of the plot as a tool without a will. The other instruments were of
a different kind. Jacopo Salviati followed the inspirations of his
brother, the archbishop, with whom two other relations were associated.
Jacopo Bracciolini, the son of Poggio, a clever literary man, forgot
the old connections of his father and his own with the Medici in order
to join with their enemies. He had come to Florence in the second half
of January, and delivered a letter from Riario[227] to Lorenzo, which
said that the writer had chosen this learned, virtuous, and upright
man for service with the young cardinal, to instruct the latter in
moral conduct, and begged Lorenzo to grant him full confidence in all
that regarded the aforesaid cardinal, and support where he needed it.
Of Antonio Maffei of Volterra, the brother of the learned Raffaello,
it is said that no personal motives led him to take part in it, but
sorrow over the misfortunes of his native city, of which he regarded
Lorenzo as the destroyer. Bernardo Bandini, the descendant of an
ancient family, son of a man who under King Ferrante had presided over
the first Court of Justice in Naples, is said to have been induced to
join by the ruinous state of his fortune. The clerk Stefano da Bagnone
had served Jacopo Pazzi as scribe, and was then pastor at Montemurlo,
in the territory of Pistoja, the castle which nearly sixty years
later was celebrated by a defeat of the Strozzi and their friends
in a battle against Cosimo de’ Medici, the second Duke of Florence.
Another accomplice was Napoleone Franzesi, of San Gemignano, belonging
to a family which had attained no enviable fame at the beginning of
the fourteenth century, through that Musciatto who, with Guillaume
de Nogaret, organised the attempt against Pope Boniface VIII., and
was also one of the most important tools in some of King Philip the
Fair’s dishonourable money transactions. All were ready to strike the
blow when the young cardinal was residing at the Pazzi villa, from
whence he kept up a friendly intercourse with Lorenzo and his brother,
and among other things recommended to the latter a priest for the
vacant dignity of the Prior of SS. Annunziata.[228] An invitation
of the Medici brothers to visit them at their villa, whose pillared
halls overlook the rich and beautiful country from a lovely hill in
the immediate neighbourhood of Fiesole, seemed to offer the suitable
opportunity for carrying out the conspiracy; but a delay ensued,
because an indisposition of Giuliano hindered him from taking part in
the festival, and the conspirators did not deem it advisable to seize
the brothers separately. It was then determined to proceed to action
on April 26. It was the Sunday before Ascension day. The cardinal was
made to announce his intention of visiting the Medici in their palace
in the city, and at the same time of being present at high mass in
the cathedral near by. He did not dream of the project in which a sad
though inactive part was thus assigned to him.

The brothers prepared to receive the Pope’s nephew worthily. The rich
art treasures of their house, silver-plate and costly furniture, were
exhibited in honour of their guest. A brilliant company was invited,
consisting of the ambassadors of Naples, Milan, and Ferrara, Marino
Tomacelli, Filippo Sagramoro, and Niccolò Bendedei, and various knights
such as Antonio della Stufa, Antonio Ridolfi, Bongianni Gianfigliazzi,
Luigi Guicciardini, Piero Betti, Bernardo Bongirolami.[229] With a
few companions, the archbishop and Montesecco being among them, the
cardinal rode from the villa to the city, the others, mostly in rich
dresses, followed on foot.[230] Giuliano was still unwell, and sent
a message to say that, if he did not appear at the banquet, he would
certainly not fail to be in the church. This news caused an alteration
in the plan; instead of attacking the brothers at the banquet, the
house of God was chosen for the scene of the murder, and the most
solemn moment, the elevation of the host, was to be the signal. But
another alteration was the result of the first. Giovan Batista da
Montesecco had, not without resistance it seems, declared himself ready
to deal the blow against Lorenzo, but he declined to desecrate the
church with bloodshed. As he persisted in his refusal, Antonio Maffei
and Stefano da Bagnone offered to take his place—two priests felt no
dread of that which a soldier declined to do. The ill-success of the
plot is principally to be ascribed to this circumstance. Francesco de’
Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini were to seize on Giuliano, the archbishop to
surround the palace of the Signoria, and Jacopo de’ Pazzi to proclaim
the freedom of the city. The cardinal had changed his dress at the
Medici’s house, and was just descending the staircase when he met
Lorenzo, who had already heard mass, but returned with his guest to
Sta. Maria del Fiore. The archbishop accompanied them to the church
door, and then withdrew under pretext of visiting his mother. All the
others entered the church. Within the choir, which is beneath the
dome of Brunellesco, the cardinal took his place opposite the altar,
his suite, the friends of the Medici, the accomplices in the plot,
churchmen and laity, stood partly in the choir, partly round it. The
mass and singing had already begun when the conspirators remarked that
Giuliano was missing. The two who had undertaken to murder him hastened
to the Medici’s house and persuaded him to follow them; taking him
between them, they ascertained that he wore no shirt of mail beneath
his doublet. Giuliano entered the choir, Lorenzo standing outside.
The change of the wafer was said to be the signal agreed upon. As the
priest elevated the host, Bernardo Bandini plunged a short sword into
the breast of Giuliano, who stood together with Giovanni Tornabuoni and
Francesco Nori. The wounded man made one step forward and then fell;
Francesco de’ Pazzi dealt him one blow after another with a dagger in
such blind fury that he severely wounded his own thigh. At the same
time Stefano and Maffei attacked Lorenzo, but, unaccustomed to deeds of
blood, they missed their aim. Maffei’s dagger, which was to pierce the
throat of Medici, only wounded him in the neck. With swift presence of
mind, the wounded man tore off his mantle, wrapped it round his left
arm, seized his dagger with the right hand, sprang into the choir, and
hurried past the altar to the sacristy. At the same moment Bandini,
seeing what had happened, rushed to Lorenzo, threw Francesco Nori, who
tried to interpose, to the ground,[231] but could not prevent others
springing to the assistance of the intended victim, who hastened with
him to the new sacristy, the bronze doors of which were closed by
Angelo Poliziano before the pursuers.

All this was the work of a moment. ‘Nothing but noise,’ writes Filippo
Strozzi, ‘prevailed in the church. I was just standing in conversation
with Messer Bongianni (Gianfigliazzi) when a general terror seized the
knights and all present. One fled here, another there; the followers of
Pazzi had all weapons in their hands.’ Only those who stood next the
choir could see what passed; those more distant only saw the tumult and
men running hither and thither. Some even thought that the dome was
about to fall in. The truth soon became clear. While the conspirators
fled in all directions, Guglielmo de’ Pazzi loudly asserting his
innocence, the friends of the Medici crowded together and hastened,
some to the choir, some to the sacristy, to surround Lorenzo. Several
members of the families Martelli and Tornabuoni were the first who
pressed into the church. Those in the sacristy were still uncertain how
things stood until Sigismundo della Stufa ascended the gallery of the
organ and saw their victorious friends.

The cardinal had taken refuge at the altar, where several ecclesiastics
surrounded him and led him to the old sacristy. He declared his
complete ignorance of the plot; two of the Magistracy of Eight, who
came up, conducted him to the palace in safety. Lorenzo now first
learnt the death of his brother; the corpse he did not see. A number of
friends accompanied him home.

Meanwhile, with a band among whom were several emigrants from Perugia,
the archbishop repaired to the palace of the Signoria, where the
Gonfaloniere, Cesare Petrucci, was dining with the prior. When the
latter was informed that the prelate wished to speak with him on urgent
matters, he rose and caused him to be led into his reception-room,
while Salviati’s companions entered an adjoining chamber of the
secretary’s in order to wait for the signal agreed upon. The Archbishop
began by saying he had a commission from the Pope which he must fulfil
with the Signoria; but his words were so confused and his demeanour
so uncertain, that the Gonfaloniere immediately suspected something
wrong, and his suspicions were increased by his visitor continually
looking towards the door as if he was expecting some information.
Petrucci deciding quickly, hastened out, met Jacopo Bracciolini coming
towards the door, seized him by the hair, threw him to the ground, and
called in a loud voice to the guard. When Salviati’s companions heard
the noise they would have come to his assistance, but were unable to
open the lock of the door, which was provided with a mechanism known
only to the household, in order to catch intruders. The whole palace
was alarmed. After a great deal of opposition, the archbishop and his
followers were taken prisoners; every corner was searched and the gates
shut. Even the kitchen utensils had to serve as defence. The square was
filled with uproar; adherents of the Pazzi broke open the palace gates
and pressed into the interior; but Petrucci and his men defended the
staircase to the great tower into which the prior had retreated, and
they succeeded in capturing some of the assailants and obliging others
to take to flight.

Jacopo de’ Pazzi had not, from the beginning, deceived himself as to
the difficulties of the undertaking. But it was he who showed the
most determination. He hastened to the square of the Signoria with a
company of about a hundred armed men, summoning the people to regain
their liberty. It was his men who succeeded in penetrating into the
square. But they were soon thrust out again, and none dared to approach
any more, as they were threatened with stones thrown down from the
battlements, this final attempt of the conspiracy was speedily ended.
The streets around were filled with men. ‘Palle! palle!’ ‘Death to the
traitors!’ This was the answer to Pazzi’s summons. Stones were hurled
against the band, who tried to keep the square occupied, but were
threatened on all sides. There was no time to be lost. The people
already began to hew down the armed men who tried to escape. Messer
Jacopo secured first the Porta la Croce, and then hastened to his
house, where his nephew Francesco, severely wounded by his own hand,
lay concealed in the bedchamber, after he had vainly tried to mount
on horseback and ride to the square. No one could stay; the streets
were fast filling; bleeding heads were carried about on pikes, with
wild cries for vengeance. He saw that all was lost, and two hours
after the occurrence, he rode with a band of his followers, through
the gate we have mentioned. As the people of their own accord executed
judgment, and killed even priests in Salviati’s suite on the square,
the cruel work began in the palace. No sooner had the Signoria heard
of Giuliano’s death, than they determined to hang Jacopo Bracciolini.
This was done before the eyes of the crowd, at a window of the
principal storey. Jacopo Salviati met with a like fate. Meanwhile,
Francesco de’ Pazzi had been discovered and dragged into the street.
He arrived at the palace half dead; it was a wonder that the furious
crowd had not torn him to pieces. But no word could be extracted from
him about the conspiracy and his accomplices; he expired at a window
with the expression of the wild passion which inspired him still
on his features. Beside him, the archbishop met a similar end in
his ecclesiastical robes; in his last agony he is said to have torn
Francesco’s breast with his teeth. The prisoners in the palace were
hewn down without mercy. In all the streets bleeding heads and torn
limbs were to be seen, the ghastly tokens of wild popular justice and
no less wild party hatred. Thus passed the Sunday before the Feast of
Ascension of 1478.

The following days things were no better. Many more of the suspected
were still discovered, and, guilty or not, killed. The number of
victims amounted to about eighty. Jacopo de’ Pazzi, with a little
band of armed men, was on the road to Romagna when he was detained by
the peasants of the village of Castagno, whom the news of events in
Florence had reached. This was in the neighbourhood of the Falterona,
where the Arno rises, after he had passed the Mugello and Casentino.
In vain he begged that they would kill him. They would not listen, but
gave him up to the Signoria. After a painful trial, he was hanged at
the palace windows; the palaces seem, indeed, to have been the scene of
executions. His body was interred in the family vault in Sta. Croce;
but the superstition of the people or the hatred of his opponents left
him as little rest there as in a grave in unconsecrated earth at the
town walls before the Porta della Giustizia, from which a crowd of boys
drew the half mouldering corpse and dragged it through the streets
with frightful jests in order to throw it into the Arno. As if he had
had an anticipation of his fate, the day before the execution of the
plot he put his property and business affairs in order, and satisfied
all those who had any claim on him. The whole family was ruined by
subsequent penal measures, which exceeded all bounds. Renato de’ Pazzi,
a quiet man devoted to study, and who had declined all share in it, was
punished by death because he had not disclosed the conspiracy. Some
others were executed or condemned to imprisonment in the fortress of
Volterra. Only Guglielmo, Lorenzo’s brother-in-law, escaped with an
exile that assigned to him a villa as a residence at a considerable
distance from Florence. We shall speak of the legal measures which
afflicted the family still further, later on.

The other partizans of the conspiracy fared no better.[232] Antonio
Maffei and Stefano da Bagnone had taken refuge in the Benedictine
abbey. For two days they were vainly sought for by crowds of people,
who when they discovered them, mutilated their noses and ears and
then killed them. The monks were preserved with difficulty from
ill-treatment. Giovan Batista da Montesecco was seized in flight on May
1. A long trial was begun of the man who was not groundlessly suspected
of knowing a good deal about the connections of the accomplices at
Rome. In this the judges were not deceived, for the revelations which
Batista made of the consultations of the Pazzi and the archbishop with
Pope Sixtus and Girolamo Riario, enable us to perceive the truth and
falsehood in the unmeasured accusations hurled against the Pope by the
Florentines, as they furnish the proper preface to the conspiracy as it
has been represented above. Had Pope Sixtus IV. played another part in
this story, and stooped to what was ascribed to him, Montesecco, who
must above all have sought to diminish his own guilt, would certainly
not have kept silence upon the subject. In spite of these revelations,
which bore the visible stamp of truth, which have been half taken
in their real sense and half arbitrarily construed, it has been the
fashion, even to the present day, to accuse the Pope of a share in
the guilt of the murder. That the evil effect of the revelations was
feared in Rome, is seen from a subsequent letter of the Florentine
ambassador, Pier Filippo Pandolfini, who advised their dissemination
in order to oppose the Roman accusations. On May 4, Montesecco was
beheaded in the court of the palace of the Podestà. Eighteen days later
Donato Acciaiuoli, Napoleone Orsini, and the Archbishop Rinaldo Orsini,
who had witnessed the bad effect produced in Rome by the trial and
execution, advised that Batista’s property should be restored to his
brother Leone, who was residing there.[233] Napoleone Franzesi fled
with the assistance of Piero Vespucci, who dearly paid for the aid he
afforded him. Bernardo Bandini, who had at first concealed himself in
the tower of the cathedral, reached Constantinople, was given up by
command of the Sultan, and in 1479 shared the fate of his accomplices
during Lorenzo’s absence. Antonio de’ Medici, a distant relation of
Cosimo’s line, had been sent to Constantinople to thank Mohammed II.,
and bring the prisoner home in chains. The deliverance of Bandini,
more, perhaps than any other circumstance, contributed to increase the
idea of Lorenzo’s greatness in the eyes of his fellow-citizens.

Lorenzo de’ Medici must have feared somewhat that his adherents would
go too far, rather than that they would do too little. The whole city
assisted him. Many who were, perhaps, disinclined in their hearts to
the family and their supremacy, showed themselves as their friends
when they knew how the wind blew. In the first moment a pole with a
decapitated head had been erected before the Medici’s house, partly
to serve as the signal for all to flock around one whose life had
been preserved in such a wonderful manner. A numerous crowd of people
soon filled the street, and all called for Lorenzo. Notwithstanding
his wound, he appeared, and was received with acclamations. In his
speech he first complained of the envy and hatred of those who,
instead of opposing him in open fight, attacked him unawares. His own
safety was nothing to him where it was a question of the dignity and
position of the State, for which he would be willing to give up his
position and submit to all. He was most sincerely grateful to those
who had protected and saved him; but the avenging interposition of the
people must now be restrained in order not to afford the enemies of
the Republic a pretext for complaints and attacks. Insurrections and
internal party-strife were bad, but some good results sprung therefrom.
When ill-intentioned citizens had the worst of it, secret evils were
disclosed; yet, in punishing and suppressing wrong-doing, they must not
exceed due measure, but reserve the fulness of their anger for foreign
foes who threatened the frontier. The words had their desired effect;
Lorenzo was famed for his moderation, while he might be certain that,
even without his aid, everything would happen which could promote his

When the wild justice of the crowd had sacrificed their victims,
and their passions had had time to calm in some degree, a decree of
the Signoria, May 23, promulgated by the Gonfaloniere Giacomo degli
Alessandri and the priors, disclosed the penal sentence against the
Pazzi.[234] The name and coat-of-arms of the family should cease to
exist; the localities distinguished by the former should be changed,
and the latter should be erased from all houses and churches; new names
and new insignia to be introduced into the register of the rebels, and
everyone punished who should even pronounce the old name. The property
of the family was confiscated. Whoever should marry into it should be
excluded from public offices. The old ceremony of the Colombina should
cease in respect to the family. Thus ran the sentence. Many of its
provisions were never carried out on account of their exaggeration, and
others only too well. The arms of the Pazzi—two dolphins in a field
covered with crosses—are still seen on many houses in the Borgo degli
Albizzi and elsewhere, which still partly belong to the family; the
name has remained with the beautiful chapel in the cloisters of Sta.
Croce; and the intersection of the streets at the Palazzo Quaratesi,
which once belonged to Messer Jacopo de’ Pazzi, is still popularly
termed the Palazzo della Congiura. But a considerable part of their
possessions fell into strange hands—this same palace, for instance,
and the villa of Montughi, which will be spoken of later.[235] Another
decree of the Signoria ordained, according to the custom in such cases,
that the sharers in the conspiracy should be painted on the wall of the
tower of the Podestà, as hanged men with their heads downwards.[236]
On the other hand, life-size statues of Lorenzo, with the head and
hands of wax, in his usual dress and strikingly resembling him, was
set up in SS. Annunziata and the convent church in Via San Gallo, as
well as in the Madonna degli Angeli below Assisi. Andrea del Verrocchio
furnished the drawing for the figures, which were executed by a clever
sculptor in wax called Orsini. The figure in Via San Gallo was attired
in the robes which Lorenzo had worn when he appeared in his wounded
state before the crowd.[237]

The solemn interment of Giuliano had taken place on the fourth day
following the deed in the church of San Lorenzo. His mortal remains
rest in the porphyry sarcophagus which had received those of his father
and uncle and were destined to contain his brother’s. The corpse showed
nineteen wounds. The grief at his loss was unfeigned, especially among
the young men, and many wore mourning. Giuliano de’ Medici left one
son, respecting whose birth and origin different reports have been
circulated. Many assert that he came into the world after his father’s
death. According to others, Antonio da San Gallo, the architect, is
said to have informed Lorenzo shortly afterwards that his brother had
a son, who was now about a year old, by a girl of a burgher family,
whose house was opposite his own in the Borgo Pinti. Lorenzo, so it
is said, repaired to the said house, and, listening to the entreaties
of the mother, took the child home with him and had him educated
with his own sons. When Giulio de’ Medici, which was the name of the
child, who afterwards became the head of the family, was raised by his
cousin Leo X. to the archbishopric of Florence, the Pope granted him a
dispensation for his lack of the legitimacy required by the canon. But
when, shortly afterwards, he received the red hat, witnesses appeared
who declared that his mother Fioretta, the daughter of one Antonio,
had been united to Giuliano by a marriage of conscience. In 1487
Lorenzo wrote a letter to the ambassadors in Rome, with the consent
of King Ferrante, to recommend the boy, then ten years old, for the
rich priorate of the knights of St. John in Capua, remarking that his
mother had been unmarried.[238] But in the time of Lorenzo de’ Medici
nothing else was known of Giulio de’ Medici than that he grew up with
his cousins a grave, well-educated boy. Later on, Florentine history
learned to know him only too well.



IN the speech which he addressed to the people after the murder of
his brother, Lorenzo alluded to the danger then threatening the
Republic from foreign enemies. His anxiety was only too well founded.
Girolamo Riario had taken measures to support the enterprise of the
conspirators. Giovan Francesco da Tolentino advancing with a band of
a thousand foot from the district of Imola, had already passed the
Florentine boundary, and Lorenzo Giustini had set out from Umbria with
an equal number of armed men. Lorenzo’s first thought was to cover the
passes of the Apennines, thus rendering any attack on that side very
difficult for the enemy, as the German freebooters experienced to their
misfortune about the middle of the fourteenth century. However, the
first news of the events in Florence sufficed to induce the intruders
to retreat. But Lorenzo was not at ease. The revelations of Montesecco
had fully explained to him Riario’s fierce hatred and the Pope’s
dangerous indulgence towards his nephews. It was necessary to prevent
future plots, either by reconciling opponents or by rendering them
harmless, and to gain friends abroad Lorenzo spared no labour. The
city was provisioned, the guards at the gates were strengthened, and a
sharp eye was kept on all who passed in and out. A band of armed men
whom Giovanni Bentivoglio caused to advance as far as the Mugello, for
the protection of Florence, secured the Apennine side from a sudden
attack. Lorenzo took care to win over those who belonged to families
involved in the plot, and who were in continual dread of discovery.
He calmed and assured by friendly advances Averardo Salviati, a near
relation of the archbishop, who kept hidden from fear.

His chief cause of anxiety was Sixtus IV. A cardinal was in the palace
of the Signoria deprived of his freedom. An archbishop had been
shamefully killed without a trial, and several ecclesiastics had lost
their lives.

When the news arrived in Rome Donato Acciaiuoli was there as ambassador
of the Republic.[239] It was the second time that he had represented
his native city under Sixtus IV., and his caution and shrewdness seem
to have succeeded in restoring a tolerable feeling between the two
neighbours when this new complication arose and threatened a dangerous
crisis. Acciaiuoli, to whom Riario’s plans had remained a secret,
saw the danger immediately, but he was not prepared for the violence
to which the Pope’s nephew resorted. When the latter heard what had
happened he flew into a great rage. Exasperated at the ill-success of
his enterprise, and the insult done to his family, he urged the Pope
and the Sacred College to violent measures. He then hastened, with
a company of 300 mercenaries, with halberds on their shoulders, to
Acciaiuoli’s lodging, and summoned him to follow him. Donato answered
that he was much surprised at a demand which insulted both himself
and the Republic he represented, which was contrary to all custom,
and the respect befitting foreign ambassadors, so that he could not
believe that it had happened with the knowledge of the Pope and the
College of Cardinals. He, the count, might go wheresoever he pleased:
the Signoria would know how they ought to avenge a slight shown to
them in the person of their ambassador. Girolamo Riario in his rage
scarcely deigned an answer, so that Acciaiuoli, to guard against
worse violence, commissioned his chancellor to bring the ciphers and
important papers in safety, and instantly to inform those at home
of the occurrence; after which he prepared to leave. Surrounded by
armed men, he reached the Vatican, where he demanded an interview
with the Pope. Before the Holy Father he complained bitterly of the
undignified proceeding, and then turned to Riario: ‘Count,’ he said,
‘I am astonished at the insolent daring with which you came armed to
my residence, the residence of the Florentine ambassador, and led me
like a criminal through the city to the palace. I declare to you that
the insult done me is so great that the Republic will not rest till
you have been brought to reason.’ Hereupon he represented to the Pope
that His Holiness had done wrong in allowing such a thing, contrary
to all custom and the respect due to all foreign ambassadors. Sixtus
protested with an oath it had happened without his knowledge, and that
he regretted the event, upon which he dismissed Donato to his lodging
in the city.

The latter was so affected at the insult to himself, the slight cast
upon his native city, and the prospect of irremediable evils, that
he fell into a dangerous illness, from which he never recovered. He
immediately wrote to Florence an account of what had happened, and
urged most pressingly that the cardinal should be set at liberty
without delay. The Signoria had announced to the Pope that he had been
brought to a safe place to protect him from the popular fury, and was
now at the disposal of his Holiness. The ambassador confirmed this
statement, and urged his government to fulfil it, if they did not
intend to plunge him into still greater difficulties. King Ferrante
commissioned his ambassador to the Republic to act in a like manner.
But in Florence they seem to have listened to other counsels from Rome
than these commendable suggestions, and only increased the seriousness
of the situation. The execution of Montesecco, and the disturbance
made about his revelations, irritated the Pope and Girolamo as much
as the imprisonment of the Cardinal. The demand of the former, that
Lorenzo should be banished and complete satisfaction given for all that
had taken place, a demand which seems to have been supported by King
Ferrante, added fuel to the flames in Florence. It is said that the
Pope intended to put Acciaiuoli in the castle of St. Angelo, and the
reason it was not done was that the Venetian and Milanese ambassadors
declared they would share the fate of their colleagues. Certain it
is, that the Florentine feared to leave his house, and as matters
grew daily worse he soon begged permission to quit a post in which he
could no longer work for the good of his native place. But it was only
towards the end of June that he reached Florence, seriously ill.

What had been threatened against the ambassador actually happened to
the other Florentines in Rome. Many of the merchants and bankers were
taken to the Castle and had their property confiscated in order to
prevent them leaving the city with it, according to a summons which
they had received from home. A migration like that would have excited
public attention and brought serious loss to many persons of the Pope’s
court, who had deposited considerable sums in their banks. Scarcely,
however, had they been shut up when the matter was reconsidered, and
the prisoners set at liberty again, on their promising not to leave
Rome. Thus four weeks slipped by without either party arriving at
a decision, one way or the other, while they naturally irritated
each other more and more. On May 24 the bishop of Perugia was sent
to Florence to fetch the cardinal and accompany him to Rome, and he
delivered a letter addressed to Lorenzo by the Cardinal Camerlengo
Guillaume d’Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen, who knew Florence
and the Medici well, since Cosimo’s time, and had gone in person to
Castle Sant’Angelo to effect the liberation of the prisoners. The
letter announced that the Pope and College of Cardinals had determined
to proceed to measures against the Republic if the cardinal of San
Giorgio (Riario) were not immediately set at liberty, and a commission
consisting of five cardinals had already been appointed to commence
legal proceedings. Lorenzo might thus, in order to avoid anger and
injury, use his influence to a conciliatory purpose. The imprisonment
and liberation of the Florentine merchants were explained by the
circumstance mentioned above, and would, it was said, give the Republic
no cause to complain.[240]

In Florence they were by no means inclined to push matters to extremes,
because the Venetian Signoria, when asked for advice respecting the
cardinal, gave it as their opinion, on May 22, that his captivity
not only served no purpose, but afforded the enemies of the Republic
ground for accusation, and that it would be most rational to announce
at Rome that from respect to His Holiness and the Sacred College,
they had protected the cardinal from popular fury, and would leave
him entire personal freedom.[241] Ample time had been afforded them
to convince themselves of the innocence of young Riario. On June 5 he
quitted the palace and repaired first to the Servite cloister by S.
Annunziata, from whence he addressed to the Pope, on the 10th of the
same month, the following letter which may have been dictated to him,
but which did not describe the situation of affairs incorrectly. ‘A
few days ago I informed your Holiness that perfect freedom over my
movements had been granted me. Besides this, I said how much I was
obliged to the Government here, and especially to Lorenzo de’ Medici
for their great kindness to me. Finally, I begged your Holiness to
grant the Florentines some favour in return for the benefits shown
me in your name. My hope has, however, been bitterly disappointed on
learning that Lorenzo and the Florentine people have been laid under
an interdict; and I, unhappy man that I am, expected and wished that
good might befall them, whereas the contrary has happened. But I cannot
say, Holy Father, how much it grieves me that my requests have so
little weight with your Holiness, and that I should appear ungrateful
towards those to whom I owe so much, and it seems to me not fitting
I should leave this city before such a sentence should be reprieved.
Were the attachment of this people to the Medici fully known to your
Holiness, you would not hate them as you do. As I rejoiced when your
Holiness granted me the cardinal’s dignity, just so and even more will
I rejoice if I hear that these men, who have deserved so much from us,
have received grace for my sake. I shall then believe that I am in
favour with your Holiness when this senate, and Lorenzo above all, have
a share in your favour. From the cloister of S. Annunziata, June 10,

On June 12 Riario set out on his journey to Siena. A Sienese chronicler
relates that the cardinal reached the city June 13th, and alighted at
the house of Messer Tommé, bishop of Pienza, more dead than alive from
the terror he had undergone, which was still so bewildering in its
effect that he thought he felt the rope round his neck.[243] The scene
of which he had been an involuntary spectator, and the danger which he
had incurred of being seized by the furious crowd, had made the deepest
impression on him. If it is true, as some say, that he never recovered
his natural spirits, his whole later life proves at least that his
frivolous disposition suffered no change; for forty years he lived in a
turmoil of gaiety, splendour, and luxury, occupied with the execution
of works of art, and sharing in amusements and intrigues which, towards
the end of his worldly career, involved him in a far worse complication
than did the conspiracy of the Pazzi.

Four days before Riario’s liberation on June 1st, Sixtus IV. had
published the bull of excommunication against Lorenzo de’ Medici
who, according, to the usual style of such documents, was termed
‘iniquitatis filius et perditionis alumnus.’ His adherents and
the members of the government were included. The bull begins with
the enumeration of the old differences existing between the Pope
and Florence, the protection afforded to Niccolò Vitelli, Carlo
Fortebraccio, Deifebo dell’Anguillara, the attacks on the Papal
territory in the valley of the Tiber, the hindrance to those journeying
to Rome, whether they came to the city by land or by water, and
the refusal to allow Francesco Salviati to take possession of his
archiepiscopal chair. It then passed on to mention recent events, the
murder of the archbishop and other priests, and the imprisonment of the
cardinal on account of civil and family feuds, which had arisen because
the Medici and their party had seized all power for themselves and had
exercised it to the prejudice of others with severity and despotism.
On these grounds the ban of the church was pronounced against Lorenzo,
the priors, the Gonfaloniere, and other magistrates, and everyone who
should afford them assistance, or had done so, as against traitors
and desecrators of the Church. They were declared to be deprived
of all possessions, all honours and offices, and the capability of
bequeathing to their heirs. All their male descendants were included in
this sentence. If Florence did not deliver up Lorenzo and his fellow
culprits within a month, she should be deprived of her archbishopric,
and with her entire territory, and those of Fiesole and Pistoja, be
placed under an interdict.[244] It is a singular fact that, even after
the publication of the bull, Cardinal d’Estouteville wrote to Lorenzo
to acquaint him with the Papal grants of tithes in the territory of the

Thus war was declared. On both sides it was necessary to collect forces
and gain allies.

The history of the events of the last years has shown how intimate
the connection of King Ferrante and his family was with the Medici.
Outwardly this connection was still existing when the strife between
Florence and the Pope began. In November 1477, the Duke of Calabria,
when he wrote to Lorenzo, styled him ‘my dear and most beloved;’ the
Neapolitan ambassador, Marino Tomacelli, had the best position in
Florence; the king sent horses and falcons to Medici, and entrusted
Giovan Batista Coppola, on March 23, 1478, with a mission, the aim
of which is unknown. A letter of April 30 of the same year, four
days, therefore, before the terrible event, begins with the words:
‘Illustrious lord, dearest friend and gossip.’ But there was no lack
of grounds for displeasure and disunion. Ferrante, who was as shrewd
as he was ambitious, soon discovered that Lorenzo stood in the way of
his endeavour to attain the preponderating influence in Italy, and if
he had earlier sought to use the position of the Medici for his own
purposes he easily offered his aid to overthrow them when he found
them to be no mere tools of his. There is no record that he knew of
Riario’s plans; but we know from Sixtus’s own words that he not only
agreed to the enraged Pope’s proposal to proceed against Florence, but
fomented his hatred of her. Causes easily to be understood contributed
to render a change in Florence desirable to the king. Whether the
supposition be true or not, that Ferrante had once projected a marriage
between his second son and the duchess dowager of Milan, but that the
plan was frustrated by Lorenzo, cannot be decided. But other facts
are undoubted. It was the ancient policy of the rulers of Naples to
employ the Sienese against their neighbours. Even King Manfred had
pursued this. Ferrante, and still more his son Alfonso, cherished the
secret hope of gaining firm footing in Siena, which wavered like a
reed in every wind, and thus keeping Florence in check. By her very
dubious conduct in the predatory attack of Fortebraccio, of whom it
was supposed that, had he succeeded in getting possession of Siena, he
would have delivered it to the Florentines, the latter had played their
enemies’ game. We shall see how it was by the merest chance that the
plans of the Aragonese were not realised.

The result of such mistakes was that the connection between the Sienese
and the King and the Pope became closer, and the confirmation of the
alliance between them had been published in Siena on February 8, giving
general satisfaction. It may be easily understood that Ferrante made
use of these circumstances, and after the Duke of Calabria had arrived
at Rome on May 12 to consult with the Pope and his captains respecting
military measures, the valley of the Chiana was chosen as the basis of
the operations which should receive support from Umbria. The Duke of
Urbino, as captain-general of the church, undertook the chief command
in conjunction with the Neapolitan prince. Not only the military skill
of Federigo di Montefeltro, but the affairs of Romagna, rendered his
accession important.

We have already pointed out the disturbed state of this province, and
the different interests which prevailed among its dynasties. Several
of these remained faithful for a long time on the side of Florence,
others only waited for an opportunity of declaring themselves for the
Republic. Sixtus IV. fully perceived how serious was the position of
affairs. Bologna especially inspired him with anxiety, on account of
the friendship of the Bentivogli with the Medici, so that he sent
thither the legate of the city, the Cardinal of Mantua, as Francesco
Gonzaga was commonly called, in order to win and preserve them in
fealty to the Holy See. The instructions that he gave him plainly
betrayed his anxiety as well as his consciousness of the bad impression
which the events at Florence had produced. After he had spoken of
his duty to watch over the whole State, and especially over a city
which was the first and most illustrious after Rome, and exhorted its
inhabitants not to waver in their fidelity nor allow a passage to
hostile troops which might be intended to attack the Papal army, but
to abstain from all communications with the Florentines, he continues
thus: ‘That on the first news of the Florentine disturbances our
Bolognese assisted their neighbours, has not been taken amiss by
us, nor blamed, but we have regarded it as an act of sympathy, as
they had as yet done nothing against the dignity of the Church, and
we, too, lamented the first occurrence, to which we testified in a
letter to the Florentines. But as the latter subsequently showed
such unworthy slights and insults to the ecclesiastical order, every
honourable ground has been removed for the Bolognese assisting a
people obstinately offending the dignity of the Holy Roman Church,
and rightly condemned by her on account of public crimes; for aid to
them would be rather a personal insult to us.’ If any projects for aid
were in progress the legate was first to exhort paternally, and if
this did not avail, to excommunicate the offenders, and, in the last
extremity, to lay the city under an interdict and shake the dust from
their feet. In like manner he was to proceed with Giovanni Bentivoglio,
who, as he took a privileged position in the city with Papal consent,
was especially bound to the Holy See as feudatory and vassal. But the
Pope hoped that the inhabitants would show themselves good and loyal

If Sixtus IV. found allies, his opponents did not lack them either. In
the foremost ranks were Venice and Milan. The Republic had already, on
April 28, despatched a letter of condolence to Florence,[247] at the
same time announcing that they had immediately resolved upon decisive
measures if necessary, in concert with the ambassadors from Milan and
Ferrara. Giovanni Emo arrived in Florence with the commission, to
confirm these friendly intentions and inform himself of the position
of affairs. Serious representations were made in Rome, first in
order to hinder the Pope from giving free course to his rage against
the Florentines; and, secondly, in order to persuade him to retract
the bull. When both failed, the Republic assumed a decided tone of
command. ‘Because his Holiness,’ so she wrote to her ambassador, ‘on
the urging of others, and to satisfy their unjust demands, attacks the
Florentines with spiritual and temporal weapons, we wish that the Holy
Father should know that we, of one accord with them, and the state of
Milan, will defend the possessions, honour, and dignity of our ally in
spiritual and temporal things. The Holy Father must not flatter himself
he can conceal the purpose of his evil thoughts by asserting that he
does not fight against Florence only, but against Lorenzo personally,
for we all know perfectly well that this attack is not only upon
Lorenzo, who is entirely innocent of the false accusations heaped upon
him, but the present form of government in Florence, which they wish to
overthrow, and change according to their will, with the whole of Italy.
We wish, also, that the Holy Father should be assured henceforth that
if he does not recall the ban, and refrain from warlike preparations,
but continues his attack, we three will recall our ambassadors, and
take such measures that he shall soon perceive that we have said the
truth respecting our intentions, and that whoever causes him to take
hostile steps deceives him in order to make him the instrument of views
which are in themselves shameful and dangerous to the States of the
Church, and especially to his Holiness.’[248] That the duchess-regent
of Milan, guided by Simonetta, in whom the tradition of Francesco
Sforza’s policy lived, acted in concert with Venice, is proved by this
declaration. On the side of Savoy there was as little to fear as from
Ferrara, for although the duke was son-in-law of the King of Naples, he
was yet entirely powerless in the presence of his neighbour, even if he
had intended to obey Ferrante. Thus it stood with Upper Italy. Abroad
the Florentines could likewise count on allies; the most important of
whom, if not in reference to actual assistance, yet on account of his
position, was the French king.

We have remarked before upon the intimate connections of Louis XI.
with Florence and the Medici. But it was not only the wish to preserve
connections which were beneficial to his country which induced the
king to take the side of the Republic. The strange mixture of bigotry
and gross superstition with extreme contempt for the persons connected
with the Church, even her highest dignitaries, which certainly never
existed in such a degree as with this prince, are here revealed. The
man who had faith in amulets and portable altars, who, as the Bishop
de Seyssel informs us in his panegyric, knelt from time to time before
lead and tin figures of the Madonna fastened to the brim of his hat,
so that the people thought him mad, allowed the disputes of his clergy
to grow to a schism when he found them opposed to his projects, or
thought them connected with the attempts at conspiracy by which he
constantly believed himself threatened. Wherever his authority was
questioned, he regarded the Pope and clergy as hostile powers, and
their conduct unfortunately often added strength to such views. When he
confined the Cardinal La Balue in an iron cage, which still may be seen
in the castle of Loches in Touraine, the latter had deserved severer
punishment for his dishonourable treason. Just at this time many
reasons combined to irritate him, and the accusations hurled against
him in the sermons preached at Paris by the Franciscan Antoine Fradin,
which found their echo in popular tumults, did not help to pacify him.

Louis XI.’s relation to Pope Sixtus IV. had always been uncertain.
The king had, from the beginning of his reign, held out the Pragmatic
Sanction and the Council as a bait and a terror. He had not even always
observed outward respect; anger and sorrow at the slighting treatment
shown to him during his French legation, had shortened Cardinal
Bessarion’s life. He was on the verge of open hostility when the Pope
appointed Giuliano della Rovere legate of Avignon, which dignity was
filled by Charles de Bourbon. The king accused the new legate of
being implicated in Réné of Anjou’s plans, who, at variance with Louis
XI., hoped to obtain the county of Provence for the Duke of Burgundy.
After appointing his only remaining nephew, Charles, Count of Maine,
as his heir, the old king entered into an agreement of the kind with
Charles the Bold in 1474, who by this means, and the reviving of the
superannuated royal title of Arelat, hoped to attain the dignity, for
the grant of which he had vainly negotiated with the Emperor Frederick
III. Louis XI. had formerly garrisoned the province of Anjou, and taken
the precautions necessary to hold both Charles and Réné in check.
Towards the end of the winter of 1476 the terrible defeat of Charles at
Granson left the hands of Louis free, and he immediately commenced a
trial against Réné in Parliament for high treason, and forced him and
the other branches of the house of Anjou at Lyons to cede all rights
and claims to him. Réné, who was then sixty-eight years old, still
retained the government of his States, but the king took precautions
against future vagaries by fortifying and by gaining over to his
side the principal councillors of his wavering and incapable cousin,
precautions which future events proved useless.

The influence on the destinies of Italy of this transferring of the
claims on Naples from a weak collateral line to the royal house of
France, need not be indicated here. In order to punish the Holy See for
the share ascribed to her legates, the king had an idea of garrisoning
Franche Comtois, Venaissin and Anjou, and he refrained only because
Charles the Bold, who had speedily collected his army, threatened to
advance into Provence in case the Pope were annoyed in his French

It was his relationship with the Duke of Burgundy which so violently
excited Louis XI. against Sixtus IV.’s ally, the king of Naples, and
this was the foundation of French policy towards the Aragonese. It has
been observed already that King Ferrante declined Louis’s proposals of
a family alliance, out of regard for his connections with Spain and
Burgundy. He held firmly to his alliance with the latter, even when,
after the battle at Granson, Milan and Savoy turned aside from the
vanquished party and joined the king. In the autumn of 1474 Ferrante
had sent his younger son Federigo to the duke to deliver to him the
order of the Ermine, and the prince had married a daughter of the duke
of Bourbon, Charles the Bold’s adherent, and had only returned home two
years later. Among his companions was the same Cola di Campobasso, who
remained in the duke’s service, and exercised, by his shameful treason,
only too great an influence on his tragical fate.[249] In April 1475
the Bastard of Burgundy, Antony, brother of the Duke, was in Naples,
where he lived in the house of Diomed Carafa, and was most honourably
treated by the King.[250] Charles the Bold’s death, in the battle near
Nancy, January 5, 1477—an event which made Louis XI. entirely master
of France, although it did not diminish the discontent excited by his
covetousness, cunning, and cruelty—was a heavy blow for Ferrante’s
entire policy, and later forced him into compliance when affairs in
Italy also took a turn not in accordance with his expectations.

From Arras, which the king had taken May 4, 1478, in war against Mary
of Burgundy, Charles’s daughter, by means of a capitulation which
seemed concluded only to be broken, Louis XI. addressed a letter to the
Florentines, May 12, in which he expressed his sorrow and indignation
at what had occurred, and announced the arrival of an ambassador: ‘Our
regret is as great as if the matter had concerned ourselves, and our
honour is as much insulted as your own, the Medici being our relations,
friends, and allies. We hold the attempt against you, and the murder of
our cousin Giuliano, as equal to an attempt against ourselves, and we
consider the Pazzi as guilty of high treason. On no account do we wish
that their crime go unpunished, but desire with all our heart that a
chastisement may be inflicted which shall serve as an example for ever.
Thus we have determined to send our beloved and faithful chamberlain
to your Excellencies, the Lord of Argenton, seneschal of our province
of Poitou, at present one of the men who has our complete confidence,
in order to make known our intentions to you. He will inform you of
various things concerning these matters.’[251]

It was no unimportant man whom the king sent to Italy. Philippe de
Commines delineates in his memoirs an ambassador as ‘a complaisant
man, who takes liberties with things and words in order to attain his
end.’ It was he who wrote thus, whom Louis XI. selected. During the
days of Peronne, when the king had voluntarily put himself in the power
of his mighty opponent, Charles the Bold, he recognised Commines’
acuteness and knew his obligations to him, so that when the duke in
his inconsiderate haste was plunging himself into destruction, the
king employed every means in his power to gain over this most capable
councillor. The youthful companion and confidant of Charles went
over to the enemy’s camp in 1472, and his new master so overwhelmed
him with honours and gain that the motives of his change of party
and faithlessness now seem even worse than they perhaps really were,
however unfavourable certain expressions attributed to him on other
occasions may appear. When the Duke of Burgundy at last met before
Nancy, the death he had challenged so often, the king dreaded to employ
Commines to execute his plans against Flanders; he employed him first
in Burgundy itself, and then entrusted him with the Italian embassy.
Florentine affairs formed only a part of his mission. A question arose
concerning the intentions of Sixtus IV. and his predominating influence
in Central Italy, limiting the ambition of the Aragonese who promoted
these views for the time, and thus forced Florence, as well as Savoy
and Milan, to adhere closer to the French interest.

In the middle of June the lord of Argenton—Commines bore this title
after his marriage with Hélène de Jambes, heiress of Ortes—arrived at
Turin. The duchess of Savoy, Jolante, widow of Amadeus IX., regent for
her son Philibert I., was the King’s sister, and he had always managed
to make use of the relationship more in the French interest than in
that of the little neighbour state. He must have repented frustrating
Philibert’s marriage with Mary of Burgundy when the archduke Max
obtained her hand. He promoted the betrothal of the latter with Bianca
Sforza, who was destined in later years to become the consort of the
Emperor. Commines was to negotiate this affair in Milan with Bianca’s
mother, Bona of Savoy. He repaired thither after two days’ halt in
Turin. The promise of the renewal of the investiture of Genoa and
Savona, in favour of Giovan Galeazzo Sforza, was to ally the regent
of Milan more closely to France, and confirm the common alliance with
Florence. The Italians soon observed, however, how the matter stood
respecting the king’s intentions towards the Holy See, even before
Commines expressed himself on the subject to Bona of Savoy. On June
16, during Commines’ residence in Turin, Antonio d’Appiano, Milanese
ambassador at the court of Guglielmo Paleologus, marquis of Montferrat,
wrote from Casale to the duchess, ‘The marquis imparted to me to-day
that the French king has long been labouring to produce a schism in the
church. What has occurred in Florence seems to afford him a suitable
means to this end; on which account he sends the lord of Argenton to
the duchess of Savoy, to your Excellence, and to Florence. To Venice
he will not go, because the king is certain that, in respect to the
alliance entered into, a simple letter will suffice to persuade the
Republic to comply. The purpose is to complain of the Pope, because,
instead of protecting Christendom against the Turks, he thinks of
nothing but elevating and enriching his relations, by suffering all
wickedness and treasons, and allowing them to be carried out without
hindrance, as is the case in Florence. For this reason he wishes that
the Duchess of Savoy, your Excellency, and the Venetians may let
none pass to Rome from beyond the mountains. Without taking up arms
against the Pope, he wishes thus to awake in him bitter repentance
for his errors, and to proceed gradually, day by day, according to
circumstances and information and careful calculation.’ It was said the
Bishop of Clermont was to go to Rome to make representations to the
Pope and to threaten Riario personally.[252]

On June 22 Commines left Milan with a suite of twenty-five horsemen.
‘The lord of Argenton,’ thus wrote the duchess to her ambassador in
Rome, ‘leaves us to-day for Florence. He is commissioned to persuade
all the powers to withdraw from their obedience to the Pope, the king
of France deeming it necessary for the weal of Christendom to assemble
a general council as soon as a disposition favourable to it evinces
itself. His Majesty will immediately summon one in the kingdom.’ Three
days before, Lorenzo de’ Medici had thanked the king for his sympathy,
and given him information of the excommunication proclaimed against him
and the strife in prospect. ‘God is my witness that I am conscious of
having done nothing against the Pope but that I live, that I did not
allow myself to be killed, that grace from above protected me. This is
my sin; this my crime for which I deserve destruction and exclusion
from the Church. But we have the canon laws, we have natural and
political justice, we have truth and innocence, and we have God and

The lord of Argenton, who had obtained auxiliary troops as well from
Savoy as from Milan, was received at Florence with open arms. ‘We went
to meet him,’ wrote the Milanese ambassadors,[254] ‘with the deputies
of the league and many citizens, with the Lord Lorenzo, Lorenzino his
cousin, and a troop of armed men for his guard.’ Commines found the
city in the midst of preparations for war. He offered the assistance of
the king against the Pope’s measures, both spiritual and military. In
his memoirs he does not say much of this embassy. ‘The favour of the
king was useful to them in some measure, but not so much as I could
have wished. I could offer them no army, and had nothing excepting my
suite.’[255] Of his journey to Rome and the affairs there, he says not
a word. That they were not without fear in high ecclesiastical circles
is shown by a letter addressed to the Pope by the Cardinal of Pavia
on July 16, from San Lorenzo alle Grotte on the Lake of Bolsena, in
which he speaks of the opposition extending within and without Italy,
and gives the advice to gain time till the cardinals were again more
numerously assembled in Rome. ‘Certain intelligence has reached me
that the French king is sending an ambassador to us, a man of high
standing in France, who has received peremptory instructions. If
the ban against the Florentines be not removed, if the sharers and
accomplices in the murder of Giuliano de’ Medici be not punished, and
if peace be not restored, the king will have no scruple in pronouncing
the withdrawal of obedience, and appealing to the council.’ When the
cardinal wrote thus, Commines must have been long in Rome, as he passed
through Perugia on July 9, accompanied by the Florentine ambassador
Guid’Antonio Vespucci. Of the negotiation with the Pope nothing is
known. That Sixtus IV. did not allow himself to be frightened by the
king’s threats is shown by the fact that the war began at once. That
the circumstances of the Papal States made no unfavourable impression
on the ambassador is proved by his remark that the Popes were prudent
and well-advised, and the inhabitants of the States would be the
happiest people in the world but for the quarrels of the Colonna and
the Orsini, for they paid no taxes nor any impositions worthy of
consideration. After a few days, Philippe de Commines was again in
Florence without having accomplished anything. We shall speak of his
later activity further on.



WHEN the Florentines saw that war was inevitable, they appointed,
on June 13, the magistracy usual in such cases, the Ten of War,
among whom, beside Lorenzo de’ Medici, were Tommaso Soderini, Luigi
Guicciardini, Bongianni Gianfigliazzi, &c. At first the opinion
prevailed that it would be advisable not only to put the frontier
in a state of defence on the side of Siena and Umbria, but to make
a dangerous diversion for the enemy by an attack on Imola, the city
and territory of Girolamo, a plan, however, which they were compelled
to abandon by the swift and powerful inroad of the enemy in the
Chiana valley. They were not prepared for war, and had to provide for
everything in a hurry, and were thus unable to gain an advantage over
the enemy. It was to Lombardy that they turned for leaders and men,
and also for horses and all materials for war. Among the captains
chosen was Niccolo Orsini, Count of Pitigliano, who in later years
made himself a name in the service of the Republic of Venice, which
he retained even after the defeat at the battle of Ghiaradadda in the
war of the League of Cambray; Rodolfo Gonzaga, brother of Federigo,
Marquis of Mantua, with two of his sons; and several others. Venice
and Milan sent auxiliaries, the former under Galeotto Pico, lord of
Mirandola; those of Milan under Gian Jacopo Trivulzio, who, then
thirty-seven years old, was destined to become a celebrated leader
in the transformation of Italian tactics, Alberto Visconti, and
Giovanni Conti. The assistance of Milan was far less than had been
hoped for in Florence, owing to her own need. King Ferrante managed
to make a formidable diversion for the duchess-regent. Even before
the present complication began, he seems to have been gained over by
Sforza Maria, Duke of Bari, who had been in Naples since the November
of the preceding year, while the Duchess of Calabria took part with
her brothers against her sister-in-law, so that when the war against
Florence began, the king, with the aid of the exiles, attempted a new
enterprise, which we shall soon describe more fully, against Genoa,
the weakest point of the territory of Sforza. An enterprise so well
begun must have been the cause of very great anxiety and fear to the
regent, and made the Florentines tremble for their frontier on the side
of Liguria, where Sarzana might be exposed to an attack; and to be
prepared for this the Marchesi Gabriello and Leonardo Malaspina were
sent thither with a squadron of soldiers.

One other means was tried to withdraw the Milanese regent from the
Florentine-Venetian alliance. The Duke of Urbino endeavoured to
effect a change of opinion and bring about an alliance with Naples.
In a long letter addressed from Gubbio to his agent in Milan, Ser
Matteo,[256] he commissioned him to labour for this end with Cecco
Simonetta and Gian Jacopo Trivulzio. He was to represent to them that
Venice was the natural enemy of Milan, from whom danger was always
threatening, and that Lorenzo was a most untrustworthy ally. ‘It cannot
please me in the least that Milan relies upon her own strength or the
friendship of Lorenzo de’ Medici. For in herself she is not secure,
but endangered, and we cannot at all depend on Lorenzo’s friendship.
We have always seen, and still see plainly, that he neither desires
the peace nor safety of that State. Had he ever wished it, or did he
care for it now, he would not have chosen Messer Tommaso Soderini as
ambassador immediately on the death of Duke Galeazzo, for the former
is a thorough Venetian and more inclined to the Signory of Venice than
any one in the council. Lorenzo would not by means of this man have
urged so strongly the renewal of the bond between Venice, Milan, and
Florence, adding the declaration that the latter state would always
go hand in hand with Venice, and objecting to an agreement with the
king’s majesty. He would not twice have hindered my appearing in
Milan when he was certain that nothing was so dear to my heart as
the honour and advantage of that state. He would not have constantly
formed plots against the Milanese government with the brothers of the
deceased duke and Lord Robert (Sanseverino). He would not have taken
the trouble to lull the suspicions of the king, who desired the renewal
of the alliance with Milan and Florence, or pretended that it was not
the fitting time at present, and that it would be better to wait and
see how matters would arrange themselves at Milan. He would not have
behaved as he did lately in reference to Lord Robert, by undertaking
his defence in Florence, accusing Messer Cecco, seeking to gain the
commander over to Florentine pay, and when this failed, recommending
him to the Venetians with the same intention (Messer Cecco may be
certain of it), so that he may guide affairs there according to his
will, as long as men remain in dread of the Turks. Had he known how
lovingly the Pope behaved to the serene Duke and Duchess of Milan, he
would not have acted towards his Holiness in the manner he did. For he
has often stirred up the count (Fortebraccio) against Perugia, and then
irritated him against the Sienese, without considering how dangerous
it is for that state (Milan) to enkindle war in Italy, especially by
an old opponent of the house of Sforza, like Count Carlo, whom he
has in a certain way restored from death to life. He would, on the
contrary, have preferred the friendship of the king before every other
friendship, not only because it is more sincere, but also on account
of his relationship and greater power. If Messer Gian Jacopo says
that he suspects Lorenzo of sinning against the Holy Ghost, I am of
the same opinion, and think that he doubts God’s mercy. As he has most
indecorously insulted the king and me, who am, indeed, nothing but a
poor nobleman, he will never again trust the former, and has therefore
thrown himself into the arms of the Venetians.’ The letter finishes
with the proposal that Milan should conclude a secret compact with the
king (of Naples) in order to assure himself of his assistance in case
of need. The king’s interests were identical with those of the house of
Sforza, the rivals of Venice. Only by being in league with Naples could
they oppose Florentine machinations with decisive effect. ‘The safest
way seems to me not to wait till things have taken a turn that may
allow of no alternative. I have repeatedly remarked to Duke Galeazzo
that the state of Milan is so composed that with the first buffet
of fortune, whether coming from Lodi, or Cremona, or Ghiaradadda or
elsewhere, his power may be said to come to an end.’

Feltriers, who knew Tuscan affairs as well as those of his own little
country, and who was by no means a man given to violent impulses,
explains in a letter the frame of mind which Lorenzo’s policy had
produced in King Ferrante and Sixtus IV. even before the late events.
The principal matter, Medici’s behaviour and feeling towards Milan, may
have been falsely represented. Some facts may have been imagined—and
even a certain amount of justification is not to be denied to some of
the accusations—and who knows if, as the duke suggests, Lorenzo was
not conscious of it himself. However, the letter produced no result,
for the insufficient number of troops which came from Milan arose, as
we have said, from other causes. Even the preparations of Florence were
insufficient. In order to cover the expenses, the Ten levied taxes and
borrowed money from the banks, without, however, obtaining what they
required. The clergy were exhorted to a contribution of 50,000 gold
florins, at which the monasteries broke forth into endless complaints.
On the enemy’s side they were ready first, and the promptness with
which Siena promoted the designs of the Duke of Calabria, as well
as the docility of the Perugians, who, at the Pope’s command,[257]
dissolved the compact concluded with Florence, afforded the opponents
a great advantage. Alfonso of Calabria led twenty-five squadrons,
and five hundred select mercenaries (Provvisionati); Federigo of
Montefeltro twenty squadrons of heavy cavalry, each consisting of
twenty men-at-arms and forty archers, with the attendants mounted on
auxiliary horses. The attack was expected in the Val di Chiana.

This valley is an inland province of Tuscany, stretching from north
to south, its length, from the southern slopes of the Casentino above
Arezzo, to the southern end of the Lake of Chiusi, some forty miles,
and its greatest breadth between the suburbs of Cortona and the Poggia
di Sta. Cecilia, where a chain of hills descends along the Sienese
valley of Ombrone, about five-and-twenty miles. The Arno, coming from
the Casentino, touches the north-western end of this valley, where,
instead of pursuing a southward course seemingly prescribed by the
nature of the ground, it ‘contemptuously turns its back,’ according
to the poet’s expression,[258] on the town of Arezzo, and by a sharp
turn, created possibly in old times by an artificial cutting, takes a
direction almost parallel to its earlier one and flows towards Florence
in the north-westerly direction. At a small distance west of Arezzo it
unites with the principal Tuscan branch of the river, which gives its
name to the valley watered by it along its whole length, the Chiana or
Clanis of the ancients, the original form of which is still an unsolved
riddle, for it presents the singular appearance of its course and falls
being divided between two larger streams, the Tiber and the Arno, to
both of which it bears its waters, the drainage of the flat valley
being now facilitated by hydraulic works. It is these works which have
entirely altered the appearance of this valley in the present time,
and created a flourishing fertile land where, throughout the Middle
Ages, the miasma prevailed so terribly that the poet was reminded of
its misery in his wanderings through the place of punishment for the
makers of discord.[259] When we view the wide plain from the loftily
situated Cortona, the horizon of which is bounded by a chain of hills,
above which on the south rise the volcanic peak of Radicofani and the
immense trachyte mass of Montamiata, a splendidly green and excellently
cultivated fertile land lies before us. There are numerous hamlets
mostly elevated on the western hills, at the southern end, where
two small lakes seem to announce the neighbourhood of the greater
Trasimene—Chiusi, Chianciano, Montepulciano, Torrita, Asinalunga,
Fojano, Lucignano, Marciano, Monte San Savino. Three states join here:
the State of the Church, with its province Umbria; the land of Siena,
with the valleys of Orcia and Ombrone; and the Florentine territory,
to which by far the greater part of the Val di Chiana belonged. From
the most ancient times this Val di Chiana has always been chosen as a
battle-field, on account of its situation and uncertain boundary, as
well as on account of level suitable for military operations.

About the middle of the fifteenth century, in the Neapolitan war with
King Alfonso, this place was celebrated, as also a century later, when
Siena fell in the heroic defence of her independence.

On July 11, the enemy crossed the Florentine frontiers, and encamped
two miles below Montepulciano.[260] This lofty town was safe from
sudden attack, but the surrounding country had to suffer heavily from
the troops, who destroyed the mills, drove away the cattle, and made
numerous prisoners, spreading terror around. The principal force of
the Florentines encamped farther north, between Arbia and Chiana.
Scarcely had the news of a foreign inroad reached Florence, when a
trumpeter of the Duke of Calabria brought a brief from Sixtus IV.,
dated July 7, and addressed to the Republic. The Pope declared that
for a long time he had been unable to endure the insults offered by
Lorenzo de’ Medici to the Holy See, and that at last he had resolved
on war, in order to liberate Florence from a despotism which would
make it impossible for him to devote himself to the crusade conjointly
with the other princes, who had already once before been prevented by
this man’s fault. He hoped, therefore, that the Republic would take
reasonable measures; he demanded nothing from her but that Lorenzo
should be removed, with whom alone he was at enmity. Only the cessation
of such shameful servitude was the goal towards which he strove; and
only from these measures could he or any clear-sighted person expect
safety. Lorenzo knew the prevailing feeling too well to be seriously
alarmed at a move which sought to check him personally. But he was
obliged to bring the matter to instant decision. After the brief had
been read aloud in the Senate, he begged to be allowed to speak to the
people. Before an assembly of citizens called together in the palace,
he declared he was ready to make any sacrifice whereby the safety of
the State could be purchased, either by his banishment or death, as
their interests had always been as near to his heart as they had been
dear to his father and grandfather. He would not go over the past nor
seek to justify himself or accuse others, as the Republic had already
sufficiently displayed her sentiments on these points. But he could
not refrain from remarking that it was strange that the vicegerent of
Christ should think it right at such a time of anxiety and care to show
hatred to a single man by inflicting ruinous war on a peaceful and
flourishing neighbour. In such a condition of things he did not know
if his gratitude towards heaven for the affection shown him should be
greater, or sorrow for the variously threatening ills which without
his fault had already befallen them. He hoped that the assistance of
God, and the activity and prudence of numerous citizens, would help the
Republic to save her honour and preserve her fame. If his life would
better serve the attainment of this end than his exile or death, he
offered it and his family and possessions willingly and joyfully. As we
can easily understand, all declared themselves of one accord with him.
The result of the Pope’s letter was that all Florence declared that
it regarded Lorenzo’s cause as its own, and gave the threatened man a
guard of twelve men to protect his person.

Several great canonists and others learned in the law were questioned
as to the validity and effect of the Papal censures, and gave their
opinion that the Republic, by appealing to the future council, was,
notwithstanding the interdict, justified in letting divine service
be celebrated in the city and territory as before. The storm raged
high; the Pope and the Florentines mutually excited one another. On
June 20, the bull with which Lorenzo and the Republic were threatened
was enforced; commerce with them, and service under their flag were
forbidden.[261] A letter written on July 21 by the Signoria to the
Pope[262] contains expressions which scarcely keep within the limits
of deference to the head of the Church, making accusations against
the Senate, and appealing to the protection of the French king. It
was not calculated to soften Sixtus IV. Neither did it stop here. The
uncontrolled passion of the Pope and that total want of moderation
which made him seize the weapons of the world in order to attack
his enemies and enkindle a terrible war, affected not only the
Florentine laity, but the clergy also. Again was repeated what had
been experienced a century before under the reign of the last Pope
of Avignon, that is to say, a part of the clergy took part with the
state. A synod in Sta. Maria del Fiore was to investigate the facts of
the case, and the question of right in the Pazzi affair, and publish
its decision. Whether the assembly really took place is questionable;
a rambling document from the hand of Gentile, Bishop of Arezzo, the
head of the clerical opposition to the Pope, certainly would lead us
to suppose that the synod was convened.[263] But the tone of this
composition is so violent, the accusations against Sixtus IV. are so
immoderately passionate, exaggerated, and irreverent, the temper is
so unworthy a society of clericals and sons of the Church assembled
for a serious deliberation, that we must, for the honour of the Tuscan
clergy, believe that we have here a sample of individual invective
merely. The signature ‘Given in our cathedral of Sta. Reparata on July
23, 1478,’ which only befitted the Archbishop of Florence, Rinaldo
Orsini, whose name is not mentioned in this confused epistle, confirms
this supposition. In any case, such a declaration in a cause which
it was to defend would do far more harm than good. That even the
mere mention of the council, and especially of the council of Bâle,
embittered and disturbed the Pope, is shown from the impression made
upon him by a subsequent and most unimportant attempt to revive once
more that ecclesiastical assembly, the constant terror of the successor
of Eugenius IV., to kindle its ashes into flame, and effect on the
other side of the Alps an opposition to the unspiritual tendencies
of the Holy See which became more and more apparent. The official
defence which the Republic caused to be drawn up by their chancellor,
Bartolommeo Scala, on August 10, seems dignified and moderate
beside such attacks. The principal contents are the declarations of
Montesecco, which the composer of the letter above mentioned had also
seen, and which are followed by a short account, limited to facts, of
the events at Florence; while the assistance of the Emperor Frederick
III. and King Louis XI. is appealed to against the threatened
violence. The emperor is especially reminded that it concerns his most
faithful city of Florence and her people, always devoted to his sacred

After receiving the Florentine answer on July 21, the Pope addressed
an autograph letter to the Duke of Urbino, in which he remarked that
the tone and contents of the answer had not alarmed him, but had only
shown that God, to punish his enemies for their sins, had deprived them
of their understanding. His cause was just. He demanded nothing but
the punishment of Lorenzo, who had behaved inimically towards God and
His church, and ungratefully to the Pope, who relied upon the duke’s
valour and devotion, and that of the Neapolitan prince. He had answered
the Venetians, God would chastise them if they acted wrongly. He had
sent Nuncios to the emperor, the Kings of France, Spain and Hungary,
to justify himself. The bull was printed; everyone would know of it.
French ambassadors were announced, and he hoped that God would inspire
him with a proper answer. They threatened disobedience and schism; it
would be as God wished; it would at all events serve some purpose, if
he, the duke, would write to the King of England, King Ferrante, his
ally, and Louis XI.[264]

They did not content themselves with writing; the Pope must have
perceived that a dangerous contest had begun. Guid’Antonio Vespucci
was sent to Rome in order to show that they would not submit to the
interdict. The government reckoned on support from the French side; not
one of the Italian allies joined the demonstration. Donato Acciaiuoli,
who still resided at home, received a commission to repair to France
to keep the king favourably inclined. He had never really recovered
from the excitement which the events in Rome had caused him, and
undertook the commission very unwillingly. As Vespucci was to thank
the Perugians, who seemed to wish to join the Florentines again, for
their friendliness, Acciaiuoli received a command to negotiate in Milan
regarding further action in common. Scarcely arrived, he fell ill, and
died on August 28. It was a heavy loss for the Republic, who honoured
his memory, as Florence possessed few abler or more respected citizens.
The moment when he arrived in Milan was not a fortunate one, for the
revolution had already taken place in Genoa, which immediately produced
a reaction on the Tuscan war, as a part of the troops in Tuscany were
called home. King Ferrante had managed the matter more cleverly. Not
only, as was easy for him, did he stir up the brothers Sforza and
Roberto Sanseverino against Genoa, but succeeded in reconciling for
the moment the chief of the great parties in the city to one another;
and meanwhile he won over Prospero Adorno, who governed Genoa for the
duchess, in order to bring thither the former doge, Lodovico Fregoso,
who lay in wait at Piombino. The Milanese garrison held out with
difficulty against the city, which had declared itself free, and had
received from Naples artillery, munitions, and men. The Duke of Atri,
Giulio Acquaviva, sailed from thence on July 22, and when a Milanese
army approached, it was completely defeated on August 7 by Sanseverino.
So far all things had prospered according to King Ferrante’s wish. But
the quarrels which never ceased to divide the nobility came to the aid
of the regent, who, in order not to leave the city in the hands of her
brothers-in-law and their faction, secretly negotiated with Battista,
one of the Fregosi, and caused Castelletto, still garrisoned by her
troops, to surrender to him, on which he took possession of the city,
which proclaimed him doge, and if not subject to Milan, was as little
dependent on Naples.[265]

Meanwhile the campaign had begun in a manner which showed beforehand
that, even without decisive battles, the Florentine territory would
be ruined. The enemy was three times as strong as the Florentines,
who were unprovided in many ways, but whose most serious deficiency
at the beginning of the war was that they had no captain-general, and
consequently failed in unity of leadership and a plan of war. The
troops were in a bad condition. The reports sent to Milan by Gian
Jacopo Trivulzio show a sad picture of the circumstances. Having set
out from Milan with a hundred men-at-arms, he had come by Pontemoli
into Tuscany, and at length reached the Aretine territory. There, at
Olmo, three miles from Arezzo, at the entrance to the Chiana valley,
where the roads divide to Cortona and Siena over Monte Sansavino,
he halted and awaited the Florentine army. His people produced a
favourable impression on the Florentine commissaries, but not so those
of the allies on him. ‘The Florentine troops,’ he writes on July
16,[266] ‘passed in such a wretched state that I was disgusted—without
order or connection, the different troops mingled together, so that I
could not distinguish them, one squadron half a mile distant from the
other.’ In the camp there was similar disorder; only a few infantry,
and those badly armed, and no sappers and miners. Besides this,
insufficient means for provisioning, so that the Milanese _condottiere_
complained that the government only seemed to think of their own
advantage, and not of the welfare of the troops. No prices were fixed;
they opened door and house to the usurers, and sought by the taxation
of imported provisions to procure money, instead of providing for the
first necessities. Under such circumstances, it availed little that
illustrious men arrived in the camp, among them Ghiberto da Correggio
and Teodoro Trivulzio, Gian Jacopo’s cousin, and, like him, afterwards
Marshal of France. The two commissaries of the army, Luigi and Jacopo
Guicciardini, with whom the Venetian ambassadors Giovanni Emo and
Bernardo Bembo were associated, could not hide the want of united
military guidance, a want which remained perceptible even when a
commission of four captains was entrusted with the representation for
the time of the captain-general. These were the Count of Pitigliano,
Galeotto Pico, Gian Jacopo Trivulzio, Alberto Visconti.

The enemy had quitted Montepulciano and turned northward, with the
evident intention of gaining the road to Florence. Without venturing
a battle, the Florentines slowly retreated, at first towards Arezzo,
then, as they saw the enemy take the direction to Siena, to cover the
Elsa valley, in which they set up their camp on the Poggio Imperiale
on a broad and flat hill overlooking the whole district by Poggibonzi,
which once bore the old castle destroyed by the Guelphs, where the
Emperor Henry VII. spent the last years of his life. Without being
molested, the enemy took in the meantime several small places situated
in the neighbouring province of Chianti, some of which offered a
gallant resistance. The open country suffered dreadfully from the
destruction of the mills and of such provisions as the soldiers
could not carry away. The havock made in the Sienese territory and
an attempt of the Florentines to win over Perugia so exasperated the
Pope as to make him publish, from the Orsini castle of Bracciano, on
August 10, a new and stronger bull against the Republic. It was on the
same day that Commines paid a visit to the Florentine head-quarters
at Poggibonzi.[267] Here at last they got a captain-general, Ercole
d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. Though son-in-law to the King of Naples
he accepted the command of the Florentine and Milanese troops, and
arrived at Florence on September 8. The Venetians were displeased
at this choice, and had protested against it in Milan and Florence
without avail. On the same day with the duke the Marquis of Saluzzo
had arrived, with nearly two hundred foot, at Pisa. It was high time.
The duke stayed four days in the city, which received him with great
distinction, and presented him with the house of Renato de’ Pazzi,
the most innocent victim of the conspiracy. On the 13th he set out for
the camp. Before the staff of command was delivered to him, which was
done for the Republic by Lorenzo, for Milan by Gian Jacopo Trivulzio,
the stars were consulted by an astrologer according to the fashion of
the times, and the afternoon of September 27 declared favourable. It
might have been expected that a more active prosecution of the war
would now begin. But the new captain-general ventured as little as
his predecessors to attack the enemy, notwithstanding his augmented
forces; and when the former considering an advance upon Florence
unadvisable, gave up his position in Chianti, and, turning again to the
Chiana valley, began the siege of Monte San Savino, it needed the most
express commands of Florence to persuade Ercole d’Este to break up his
head-quarters and approach the enemy.

The slowness of his movements and the numerous difficulties that
were raised showed how little he was disposed to advance. When the
armies had approached one another the Royalists proposed a truce of
several days, which the duke gladly accepted, and when the truce
was over, Monte San Savino capitulated on November 8. From its
protected situation and the easy provisioning of the place it was not
unimportant, and the Florentines felt the loss severely. For as at
the same time an attempt to reconquer Castellina by surprise failed
on account of the unskilful leadership of the army, the Chiana valley
and the Chianti were exposed to the devastations of the enemy, and
reprisals on the Sienese domain afforded but slight consolation. They
were not without anxiety either for other parts of the territory. In
Pistoja a project was discovered to give the town into King Ferrante’s
hands, who longed to compete with the Florentines with the help of the
Genoese and to take possession of their trading ships. Lucca was not
considered safe either; Piero Capponi represented here the interests of
the Republic. So ended the year 1478, a fruitful but unhappy year. The
war had consumed much money, ruined the country people in flourishing
districts, much injured a number of villages, and produced not one
warlike deed.

Things could not continue thus. If Milan and Venice did not fulfil
their duty to their allies better, Florence, which was in such a
bad military condition and had the war in her territory, could not
offer resistance to her enemies. Bernardo Bembo, a respected and
business-like man whom the Republic of Venice had sent as their
permanent representative, might well see the situation of affairs
without being able to cause a more energetic interposition, for they
were always negotiating with the Pope, while the Papal and Neapolitan
troops made daily progress. Tommaso Soderini went to Venice to
represent to the Republic the state of affairs. Girolamo Morelli did
the same in Milan. The Florentines proposed to attack the King of
Naples by invading his shores and summoning the Angevins once more
to Italy, and at the same time to disturb the Pope in his own states
in Romagna as well as in Umbria. But in Milan, however good the will
might be, little was to be gained, because of their own embarrassments.
The Swiss, misled by Papal and Neapolitan intrigues which broke the
treaties confirmed at Galeazzo Maria’s death, marched once more
against the frontiers of the Alps, overran Bellinzona, and defeated
the ducal troops. At the same time, on account of Genoese affairs and
disturbances in the reigning families which will soon be mentioned, the
Venetians were opposed to the removal of the war to Romagna. The other
projects seemed too complicated and uncertain. After long negotiation,
it was agreed that the Marquis of Mantua should strengthen the army
of the Duke of Ferrara and that Roberto Malatesta of Rimini, who had
dissolved his connection with the Church and passed over to the service
of Florence, should make a strong diversion in the territory of Perugia
with Carlo Fortebraccio. At the same time, the treaties with Louis XI.
had arrived at a conclusion which, though not all that could be wished
by the allies, certainly promoted their cause.



PHILIPPE DE COMMINES returned to Florence after a short, and, as we
must suppose, fruitless residence in Rome. That he returned thither on
July 25 is seen from a letter to the Milanese ambassador, who informs
us that they had not failed in accordance with the admonition they had
received to attend upon him and show him all honours.[268] His visit
to the camp and his presence served, at all events, to strengthen the
belief in the French king’s friendship. But the impressions which he
received from this visit were not favourable, and are expressed in
the opinion he gave of things. ‘The Florentines,’ he observes,[269]
‘might consider it good fortune that they were not defeated on all
sides, for as it was long since they had been engaged in war, they
could not measure the danger in which they were. Lorenzo de’ Medici,
who guided affairs in the city, was young, and influenced by young
people. His opinion was held in high estimation. They had few leaders
and a small number of troops. The enemy took all the places which he
besieged, but not so quickly as is usual with us; for in a war of
fortresses they are not so skilful either in siege or defence, while
in the formation of a camp and the preservation of good order and all
the requisites necessary for provisioning, and in all the arrangements
of a campaign, they surpass us.’ To judge from the last words, the
condition of the camp must have improved since the time when Gian
Jacopo Trivulzio described it. On July 28 Commines obtained the royal
warrant which empowered him, in conjunction with Lorenzo de’ Medici,
‘nostre très-chier et amé cousin,’ to conclude the alliance with the
Duchess-regent of Milan, which made the investiture of Gian Galeazzo
Sforza with Genoa and Savona one condition.[270] On the following
day he showed Bona of Savoy and her private secretary the commission
he had received. On August 18, Lorenzo and Commines concluded an
alliance[271] with the Milanese ambassadors in Florence, Gian Angelo
de’ Talenti and Filippo Sagramoro. Six days later Commines quitted
Florence and repaired to Milan, where, in the king’s name, he invested
the young Duke in the person of his mother with the two towns and
their territory. In his Memoirs he only mentions this occurrence in
a few words, but there are detailed accounts of how Bona of Savoy,
representing her son, kissed the document of investiture and then gave
the oath of fealty for him with her hand on the Gospels, to be a true
vassal of the French king, to have friends and foes in common with him,
and conform to his will in peace and war.

Commines writes respecting his departure from Florence, ‘I was
excellently lodged by the inhabitants and at their cost, and more
liberally on the last day than even the first.’ That means that the
Republic sent him silver-plate of fifty-five pounds weight, while the
Signoria expressed their gratitude to the king for sending such a
distinguished man, and expressed hopes of his favour, ‘surrounded as
they were by cruel enemies, who had already caused them many losses,
as they had been attacked unprepared.’ According to the Milanese
ambassadors, the value of the presents offered to him was between four
and five hundred ducats, to which Lorenzo added jewels worth about
three hundred. ‘We are continually,’ writes Lorenzo de’ Medici to Louis
XI., ‘at war with our opponents, who seek to defeat and humiliate
us. The lord of Argenton will inform you by word of mouth what has
happened, and in what state he leaves our affairs. I beg you all to
believe what he says on my part, as if I myself spoke to you. To-day,
as always, I think I shall need the assistance, favour, and protection
of your Majesty, to whom I shall turn in confidence for all that
concerns me, as to my true lord, protector, and patron, my hope and my

During Commines’ Italian embassy Louis XI. had not been inactive.
On August 16 he had published an _ordonnance_ at Blois, by which,
in regard to the Pope’s behaviour in the Pazzi affair, he declared
that French money should not serve to promote such things, and
had strictly forbidden all remittances of money to Rome for the
fulfilment of expectations and other things. An assembly meeting at
Orleans in September was to ratify this decree, but it restricted
itself to leaving the king free either to call a Gallican national
council at Lyons in the following year, or to persuade the Pope to
summon an œcumenical council. Louis XI. considered it best to try the
latter. He had his hands full at the time. His sister of Savoy died
before Commines returned, and it was most important for him firmly
to establish the Government in the duchy, and to get the duke, then
twelve years old, into his power, in which he succeeded. He sought to
make a diversion for the King of Naples in his own house, by enlisting
his younger son Don Federigo in his interest through a marriage with
his niece of Savoy; while on the other hand he kept alive the Angevin
claims on Naples as a means of terrifying Ferrante. It was under such
circumstances that the unfavourable news from Tuscany, which Philippe
de Commines confirmed, hastened his determination to attempt to
influence the Pope.

From Plessis-les-Tours, Louis XI. had announced to Lorenzo de’
Medici on November 1 that an embassy consisting of six members, the
chamberlain Guy d’Arpajon, viscount of Lautrec, the president of the
Toulouse Parliament, Antoine de Morlhon, and others, would repair to
Italy, in order to effect a union for the purpose of a war against the
Turks. Soon afterwards the instructions for the treaty with Sixtus
IV. were drawn up. The ambassadors were to represent to the Pope how
the advance of the Turks in Greece and Bosnia, on the Hungarian and
Polish frontiers, and in the Venetian possessions, threatened the whole
of Christian Europe, and made indispensable their union against the
common enemy, and the summoning of a general council to consult upon
all spiritual and temporal affairs. Lyons would be the most suitable
place for such an assembly, and this praiseworthy and sacred purpose
was hindered by nothing so much as by the war which had broken out in
Italy between the Pope and Naples on the one side, and on the other the
league of Milan, Venice, and Florence. The king wished to fulfil his
duties on both sides—the duty of a devoted and faithful son of the
Church, and that of a warm friend of the Florentines, who had always
shown themselves true and loyal adherents of France. The Pope, as
vicegerent of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, was called especially
to mediate and restore peace. If he had laid city and Republic under
an interdict with penalties and confiscations on account of what had
happened in April in Florence, the king certainly did not wish to
defend a crime against the Holy See and the Pope, nor interpose between
his authority and his rights. But they must investigate the matter
well, and see what had caused those events, and whence the attack had
proceeded. The other side must be listened to. If the Florentines were
in the wrong, the king would endeavour to bring them to reason. If
the wrong were on the side of the representative of the Holy See, the
Holy Father must grant redress. The king could not believe that the
attempt of Count Riario against the Florentines had taken place with
the knowledge and consent of the Holy Father, for it was a breach of
the general Italian league, a disturbance of peace, an aid to the
enemies of Christendom, a summons to bloodshed, to which, in the king’s
opinion, the Pope must have been averse. If matters had proceeded too
far to allow of the conclusion of peace at once, a truce might at least
be permitted, that the proposals might ripen which the council would
bring up for consideration.[273]

Sixtus IV. had had time to look carefully into the situation of
affairs. The king’s proceeding did not find him unprepared. The
Cardinal of Pavia had above all pointed out the necessity of no
over-haste and the wisdom of letting the storm spend itself. The
Cardinal of Mantua, who has been already mentioned, went as legate to
the Emperor Frederick III. On January 10, 1479, the French ambassadors
reached Florence, where they made a solemn entry, and were welcomed
joyfully. On the 16th they continued their journey to Rome, after
having consulted about everything with the Signoria and magistracy
of war. Two days after them, ambassadors from the Emperor Frederick
also arrived and repaired to Rome on the same errand. On January 27
the Pope received the ambassadors, who fulfilled their commissions,
and then delivered in writing the demand for summoning a council. In
his answer, Sixtus contested the right of the French king to give an
opinion on a matter decided by the Pope, and held up to him the example
of Charlemagne, from whom he boasted his descent. The Pope was not
obliged to answer for his decisions. The fate of the Archbishop of Pisa
had shown how little spiritual immunities were protected by temporal
magistrates. A council would preserve the rights of the Church, but it
could only be summoned by the Pope in agreement with the emperor and
other kings; its assembly did not depend on the sovereign of France.
Councils were generally summoned for three objects—for the extinction
of heresies, the restoration of peace among Christian powers, and the
reform of manners. There were no heresies now. And that mediations
had sometimes more hindered than promoted peace had been shown by
the Synod of Constance, while much that was annoying, and especially
disadvantageous to the princes, would come to light. The summoning of
the council would be a glorious thing, but for the reasons mentioned
he must against his will decline it. If the renewal of the Pragmatic
Sanction were threatened, it was really a question of the king’s honour
and conscience. The summons to the French prelates was unlawful. If
Lorenzo de’ Medici would acknowledge his sin before God and man, and
endure with a penitent heart the punishment laid on him, all the rest
would be easily adjusted.[274]

For the rest, Sixtus IV. expressed himself willing to treat, and
ordered for this purpose a commission of ten cardinals who should
investigate the matter. Of the demand for Lorenzo’s banishment nothing
more was said, but from the beginning it was plain how far asunder the
two parties were. Matters did not proceed till, in the middle of March,
a rumour spread in Rome that Louis XI. intended to summon the council
at Lyons in a month’s time if the Pope did nothing for the restoration
of peace. An English embassy had also arrived to support the demand of
the friendly States. On April 4, Sixtus IV. ordered a suspension of the
spiritual ban and a truce to hostilities for the time. Negotiations
for peace were to be carried on at Naples. Not without difficulty had
they obtained this concession, nor until the ambassadors of Florence,
Milan, and Venice, supported by the rest, had declared that, if no
measures were taken, they would protest solemnly, appeal to the council
and quit Rome. Venice had exerted herself most in this affair. After
all representations to the king had been unavailing, the Republic had
taken steps with the emperor and French king in order to bring Sixtus
IV. to a better mind by threatening him with a council, and when the
ambassadors of both those powers went to Rome, the Venetians sent
thither Sebastian Venier, to support their petition.[275]

So much was accomplished; but the demands of the Pope to the
Florentines did not afford a prospect of quieting the strife. The
Republic was to humiliate herself before the Holy Father, beg
for forgiveness of her sins, celebrate a solemn service for the
reconciliation of those killed in the Pazzi conspiracy and give
alms for their souls, and destroy all libellous pictures painted to
commemorate the events.[276] They were to expel Niccolo Vitelli from
their territory; deliver to the Holy See the fortresses of Borgo San
Sepolcro, Modigliana, and Castrocaro; pay compensation for the war, and
engage never again to undertake an attack on the Papal territories.
On the side of Florence the demand of a public service to acknowledge
their guilt was refused, on the ground that such a revival of the
memory of the sad event would prejudice the dignity of the state.
The destruction of the paintings was agreed to, the expulsion of
Vitelli refused, but it was promised that they would prevent him from
attempting anything against the States of the Church. In respect to the
places mentioned, it was answered that these had nothing to do with the
questions on hand, and they could only treat for the restitution of
such as had been garrisoned in the course of the war. Thus not even a
basis for treaties was obtained.

Affairs dragged on hopelessly. What passed meanwhile outside Rome
contributed still more to this state of hopelessness. Things could
not remain thus. On May 18, a command was given to the ambassadors of
the allied states to leave Rome, if the work of peace were not begun
within a week. On the 31st the Pope summoned to him all the foreign
plenipotentiaries who had a share in the negotiations. On the question
addressed to the representatives of the three allied states, whether it
were the intention of their governments to begin the campaign against
the Turks immediately upon the conclusion of peace, the Venetian
ambassador answered that his Republic had maintained for seventy years
a cruel and exhausting war against an enemy that daily became more
terrible. At length she had concluded a compact with them which was
advantageous for Christianity, and this compact she should keep to the
best of her power. He referred to the most fatal agreement, perhaps
necessary under the oppressions that then prevailed, which Venice had
concluded on January 25, 1479, with Mohammed II., and published three
months later; by which, among other places, Skodra, which had been so
long and valiantly defended, was lost with others in the Morea, and
considerable sums besides accorded to the Grand Turk.[277] The deputies
from Florence and Milan agreed to this declaration. But when the Pope
announced that under such circumstances he would decline to treat, the
Venetian ambassador made a protest and appealed to the council. The
moment the French ambassador began speaking, Sixtus IV. dissolved the
meeting. It was evident, that his one desire was to gain time. The
three ambassadors then repeated their protest on leaving Rome, and
summoned the prelates belonging to their territories to take leave of
St. Peter’s Chair.[278]

In this manner the winter and time of truce passed without bringing
matters to any agreement. If the position of their opponents was in
some degree more favourable than that of the Florentines and their
allies, yet it was at the same time such that this agreement must
have been most desirable to them. In the Papal Neapolitan army there
prevailed a great dearth of provisions. Long processions of mules with
flour and bread traversed the Patrimony and Siena, and their guards
were not always able to repulse hostile attacks. When the troops went
into winter quarters, the greatest disorder prevailed; and had not the
weather been very mild, the evils would have been felt still more. As
the Neapolitan troops were quite in rags, the king sent a number of
articles of clothing, while he caused great quantities of corn to be
bought up in Piombino and the port of Telamone. The Pope commissioned
the Commandant of Sto. Spirito, the great Roman hospital, with the
provisioning of the camp. Two hundred mules from the Papal court
were continually passing through the territory of Viterbo, to bring
provisions to Acquapendente and the district of Siena. It may be easily
understood that the cost was immense; and Sixtus IV. was compelled
to borrow money continually, and mortgage a number of places to the
rich cardinals and others. The parts of the Florentine and Sienese
territories adjoining the States of the Church suffered severely
from the march of the troops and scarcity of provisions, though not
immediately touched by war.[279]

The announcement of the armistice being ended was not necessary to
make the combatants take up arms; for though in the Chiana valley,
and from Urbino, nothing was undertaken against the enemy on the
part of the Duke of Calabria, everything was in preparation in the
western districts of the Republic. The increasing annoyances here were
connected with the insurrection of Genoa and the Milanese troubles.
Roberto Sanseverino, compelled to quit Genoa, had repaired to France
and put himself in communication with Louis XI. for the purpose of
enlisting an Italian corps of mercenaries for the Burgundian war. At
the end of January 1479, he had arrived at Asti, in order to effect
enlistments there, but the Duchess-regent of Milan, rightly dreading
the proximity of this restless man, forbad all her subjects to take
service with him; a prohibition in which Venice, Florence, Mantua,
Ferrara, Bologna, in short the whole league, joined. In vain did the
king mediate with his sister-in-law. Roberto could not obtain what he
desired, but he was all the more confirmed in the scheme, which seems
to have been the real ground of his proceedings. At the beginning of
February the report had already been spread that the Duke of Bari and
Ludovico Sforza had appeared in the Lunigiana, in order thence to
operate on the one side against Florence, on the other against Milan.
It soon proved to be no empty rumour. In the neighbouring district of
Parma, seditious proclamations of the two Sforza were soon spread;
they wished, they said, to liberate their nephew, the young duke, from
the servitude in which he was held. Among the Milanese mercenaries
alarming movements were observed. At the end of February, the brothers,
with Roberto, set up the flag of rebellion, and immediately afterwards
the latter appeared with 400 foot and 500 to 600 horse, mostly people
from the Genoese coasts, before the gates of Pisa.[280] The attack
on the town failed, but he devastated all the more unsparingly the
whole country round, while a Neapolitan corps advanced through the
Cecina valley. Without the aid of the Lucchese, who were ill disposed
towards Florence, it would have been impossible for Sanseverino to
carry out his plans. The disinclination of the people in Lucca to their
neighbours was, however, so great, that Piero Capponi, Neri’s energetic
grandson, who was there as the Florentine plenipotentiary, had some
trouble to hinder a formal alliance of the Republic with the enemies
of Florence, and was in danger of his life when the mob, in defiance
of the warning of more sensible people, stormed his house.[281] The
Duke of Ferrara was obliged to come to the assistance of the threatened
province with a portion of the troops encamped on the Poggio Imperiale;
and as the Duke of Calabria meddled in the affair from the Riviera, it
would have been a most dangerous diversion, if the fear of being cut
off by the Milanese troops had not induced Roberto to withdraw about
the middle of April.

It was high time; for scarcely had the termination of the armistice
been published when the hostile leaders stood in the Chiana valley with
their armies reinforced. This time the Florentines showed no lack of
sensible dispositions. From Poggio Imperiale to the frontiers, their
corps were so stationed that it would be difficult for the enemy to
break through. On the side towards Poggio, where the head-quarters
were, stood the Marquis of Mantua, and Deifebo dell’ Anguillara; while
from the Romagna, Roberto Malatesta was marching towards Perugia, where
Carlo Fortebraccio was to support him. They relied much on the latter,
on account of the old connections of his family with Perugia; but he
fell ill on the road, at Cortona, where he died on June 17. Meanwhile
his son Bernardino had taken his place, and the troops had crossed the
Papal frontiers on June 9. The treaties with Perugia with a view to her
joining the league did not affect their purpose. The enemy had had time
to send a considerable number of troops, chiefly cavalry, under the
command of Matteo da Capoa and the prefect of Rome, to Umbria. On June
27 they met Malatesta between Cortona and Perugia, in the neighbourhood
of the lake of Trasimen, where Hannibal had destroyed the Roman army.
The little town of La Magione reminds us of one of the most eventful
occurrences in the history of Cæsar Borgia. Here they were entirely
defeated. But this advantage led to nothing but a renewal of plundering
and depredations from which the country suffered severely, from the
gates of Perugia to the valley of the Tiber towards Città di Castello
on the one side, and the Chiana and Arno valleys on the other.

The miserable management of the war, which cost the Florentines more
dearly than their enemies, because their territory, more than any
other, was the theatre of war, avenged itself in another way. In the
Florentine head-quarters nothing but discord prevailed, and the more
incapable and irresolute the captain-general showed himself, the higher
rose the insubordination of the officers. The old quarrel between the
Sforzas and Braccios, which had once divided the Italian mercenaries
into two camps, broke out here among the Florentine troops, which
were composed of the two factions. During the skirmishes in Perugia,
whither a considerable part of the hostile army had marched in order to
avenge the repulse they had received, and hinder Malatesta’s further
progress, the Florentine army advanced, and stormed and plundered
the little Sienese town of Casole. Here the troops of the Duke of
Ferrara and those of the Marquis of Mantua quarrelled so fiercely
over the division of the booty, that the Florentine commissaries with
difficulty separated and pacified them. On the other side, Roberto
Malatesta and Costanzo Sforza were so much at enmity that it was not
possible to leave one in the neighbourhood of the other. Thus a union
of the hostile powers was not to be thought of. But now another and
more serious complication arose. In Milan the crisis happened which
had long been threatening. Roberto Sanseverino had, after quitting the
territory of Pisa, kept himself till the summer in the Val di Taro,
whence he continually annoyed Parma. He had then, believing he could
not advance, and seeing that he was hindered by Gian Jacopo Trivulzio,
turned to Liguria, where the Duke of Bari died after a short illness.
When it was felt in Milan that they might at last give way to a feeling
of security, the warlike Roberto, with Lodovico Sforza, who now bore
the title of Bari, descended the inaccessible pass of the Apennines,
Le Cento Croci, which was unguarded because it was held impracticable
for great bodies of troops, into the valley of the Po, and on August
23 seized Tortona, where Lodovico had partisans. The greatest alarm
arose in the capital. An army of 12,000 men was despatched to Tortona,
whither the Marquis of Montferrat also hastened. It did not seem enough
to oppose the formidable enemy. The Duke of Ferrara and the Marquis of
Mantua were recalled from Tuscany with a part of the Milanese troops.
On September 2, Ercole of Este arrived at Parma with 400 horse and 200
foot, whence on the following day he advanced to Piacenza. He had not
yet crossed the Po when, at Voghera, the Marquis of Montferrat’s men
fell in with those of Sanseverino, and inflicted severe losses on them.
From Venice came the news that the Republic would send 1,000 horse
and 2,000 foot to their assistance, but at the same moment, when the
affairs of the Milanese Government seemed about to take a favourable
turn, an unexpected mischance occurred. On September 6 a bonfire
was lighted in the rebel camp, and joybells rang. In the ducal camp
appeared a trumpeter of Sanseverino, with the information that peace
was restored, and Lodovico Sforza, invited by the regent was on his
way to Milan. The Duke of Ferrara had urged Bona of Savoy to reconcile
herself with her two still remaining brothers-in-law. To her misfortune
and that of the state, she had complied, in opposition to her trusty
counsellors, who plainly foresaw the result of such a step. On
September 7, Lodovico had arrived in Milan, and was joyfully received
by a crowd of people. On the following day the duchess received him; he
begged her pardon for the past, and promised allegiance. Immediately
afterwards he was appointed governor-general of the duchy. The first
thing which then happened was the arrest of Cecco Simonetta. The regent
was obliged to put her signature to the decree which sent him, to whom
more than to any one she owed the preservation of the state after her
husband’s death, into a prison at Pavia, while the mob plundered his
and his friends’ houses in such a way that even window-shutters and
iron bars were carried off.[282]

The Tuscan war felt the reaction of these events, even before they were
fully developed. Sigismondo d’Este had undertaken the supreme command
for his brother, the duke. But the men were not only diminished in
number, they were also careless in service. This was not unknown to
the enemy, and he availed himself of it. The Duke of Calabria selected
the most skilled among his captains, Matteo da Capoa, Giulio Acquaviva
of Atri, Gentil Virginio and Giordano Orsini of Bracciano, &c., in
order to attempt an attack on the Florentine side. From Chiusi they
marched through the Arbia valley to Siena, and surprised Mont’Imperiale
at the dawn of September 7, the day on which Lodovico Sforza entered
Milan. The attempt succeeded perfectly. The confusion soon became so
great that, notwithstanding the natural strength of the place, no one
thought of serious opposition. Every obstacle was scattered in the
shortest possible time. Most sought their safety in hasty flight.
Of the combatants some were slaughtered, some captured; among the
latter Galeotto Pico, Rodolfo Gonzaga, Niccolò da Correggio, and
other captains, and about a hundred and fifty men-at-arms. Costanzo
Sforza, pursued by Jacopo Appiano, lord of Piombino, on the road to San
Gemignano, not only took his pursuer captive but saved the large banner
of the Republic, and assembled in San Casciano as many as he could of
the fugitives and those who had dispersed.

It was a severe blow. Florence saw herself threatened by the enemy, who
took the castles of the Elsa valley one after the other, and attacked
Colle, the most important place in this province, with greatly superior
forces. Roberto Malatesta was ordered to protect Arezzo and the Arno
valley. Costanzo Sforza covered the capital on the Sienese side, and
drew reinforcements to himself from all quarters. In Poggibonzi and
the lofty San Gemignano smaller corps were stationed. But all this only
just sufficed to turn aside the most threatening part of the danger.
Colle defended itself heroically, and did much injury to the Duke of
Calabria, who conducted the siege in person, but the capitulation
took place on November 14. Malatesta, who had quitted Umbria, where
he expected the fall of Perugia, was displeased at the conduct of
the war, the misfortunes of which he ascribed more to the constant
interference of the Ten than to the captains or men, and employed the
time of inaction which followed the taking of Colle to repair to Venice
and withdraw from the Florentine service. The foreign affairs were
not more consolatory. Little confidence was felt in Milan. Venice,
whither Luigi Guicciardini went as ambassador, in order to represent
the oppressed state of the Florentines and to entreat more powerful
assistance, showed itself lukewarm, and was more disturbed by an attack
of the Turks on Hungary than by the threatening of Florence by the Pope
and Naples. If the season had been more favourable, the position might
have become still worse. But even the enemy needed rest. The Duke of
Calabria was in Siena; Urbino, aged and sick, in Viterbo. On November
24 a trumpeter of the former entered Florence with the offer of a
truce. Two days afterwards it was proclaimed.



THE moment for decision had arrived. It was acknowledged in Florence
that matters must come to a crisis one way or the other. A considerable
part of the territory was in the enemy’s power, the valleys of the
Chiana and Elsa terribly wasted. The chief portion of the army,
demoralised by the late losses, was driven back the small distance of
seven miles from the city. From one of the allies no active help could
be expected, and the other was already in treaty with the enemy.

Since the defeat of Poggibonzi, Lorenzo could no longer deceive himself
respecting the position of the Republic or his own. He knew that all
sources of help were exhausted. He knew also that Florence could obtain
peace without any difficulty if she would consent to sacrifice him,
and he understood the position of affairs too well not to foresee the
result of the struggle. During the whole course of the war, in which,
being no warrior, he naturally held aloof, the best of the illustrious
citizens who were devoted to him went as commissaries to the army, and
gave him ample opportunities of studying the state of feeling at home,
and the possibility of a compromise.

His industry had been great and various. On account of the sickness
prevailing in Florence, which swept away thousands, he had, soon after
the outbreak of hostilities, sent his wife and children first to
Pistoja, and then to his villa Cafaggiuolo, under the protection of his
uncle Giovanni Tornabuoni. This left him free to act as he liked, and
he did not quit the city, where there was enough for him to do. Since
the conspiracy, the administration of affairs was more than ever in
his hands, for a constitution which had such a complicated machinery
made a safe and consistent guidance more necessary than ever in those
stormy times. During the first year of the war, notwithstanding the
greater numbers of the enemy, they could still hope for success from
the languid manner in which the contest was carried on. The second
spring brought no decision, for the successful skirmish at Trasimene
was more than outweighed by the occurrences in the Elsa valley.
Lorenzo was forced to think of negotiation, if he would not expose
himself to the danger of having to conclude a treaty disadvantageous
to himself. For while so little was accomplished with weapons, there
was not much more to be hoped for from diplomatic arrangements. The
slight advance negotiations had made in Rome we have already seen.
It was not to be expected that a more favourable result would occur,
when the allies were at such decided disadvantage from a military
point of view. They had never ceased to intrigue with Louis XI.; Milan
through Carlo Visconti and Giovann’Andrea Cagnola, Florence through
Francesco Gaddi, who belonged to a family which had always remained
in friendly relations with the Medici. The French king was the only
one who received these two members of the alliance with warmth—he had
often differences with Venice. But he had other things to disturb his
peace of mind, and the war in Picardy and in the Franche Comté with the
heiress of Burgundy, and partly, also, the feuds in Milan and Piedmont,
afforded him the wished-for opportunity of allowing his own intriguing
spirit full play, whatever might be the end of negotiations with the
Pope. During those negotiations he had a real pleasure in expressing
his grudge against Sixtus IV. and King Ferrante. At the end of December
1478 he said to the Milanese ambassadors that he would himself head an
enterprise against the Turks (the usual assurance and bait of princes
in the fifteenth century) if Italy were in peace, ‘and especially if
they had a Pope as he should be.’ ‘Upon this he indulged in a flood
of evil words against the Pope, King Ferrante, and Count Girolamo,
speaking for two hours with such a flow of words, that we were obliged
to restrict ourselves to listening, and it seemed unadvisable to us
to touch upon anything else.’ Even in the presence of Don Federigo
d’Aragona, who was then in France, the king did not moderate his
expressions ‘de mala natura’ against the Pope and Ferrante, the latter
of whom he spared no humiliation. After having once said to the
Neapolitan ambassador that his master interfered in matters more than
he ought, he asked, ‘Your king, such as he is, do you then believe
him to be King Alfonso’s son?’[283] Such things certainly could not
surprise a sovereign who before a foreign ambassador could insult his
own good and patient mother by saying he did not know whose son he was.

Nevertheless Louis XI. was resolved not to leave Milan and Florence
to the will of their opponents. He remained firm to his old affection
for the Medici. Even after he had resolved to leave the hands of
Cecco Simonetta’s enemies free, whereby those who caballed with King
Ferrante must cling to the rudder, he held firmly to Lorenzo. ‘For
nothing in the world,’ wrote Philippe de Commines on October 3, 1479,
from Plessis to an agent of the king in Italy, Pietro Palmieri, at a
time when the Milanese affairs were still undecided—‘would the king
allow the Florentines, and especially Lorenzo de’ Medici’s person,
to come to harm. If they decided in the enemy’s favour at Milan, the
king would assist the Florentines and Lorenzo with all the means in
his power.’ In June the Pope had proposed to the French ambassador,
who was still staying with him, to leave the settlement of their
differences to a council composed of Edward IV., king of England, and
a legate _a latere_. A courier was despatched to France, where an
ambassador of Girolamo Riario was active against Lorenzo de’ Medici.
The Milanese ambassador suspected that the French diplomatists in
Rome were to be won by gold. But Louis XI. would know nothing of the
matter; he answered that in case the position of umpire were offered
to him, in conjunction with king Edward, he would perhaps accept it,
although he was occupied enough. The joy at the advantage gained by
the Florentines at Trasimene was cooled by the loss of the battle of
Guinegate, near St. Omer, where, on August 7, Maximilian of Austria
defeated the French. The president of the Toulouse parliament and head
of the Roman embassy had returned shortly before. The king had received
him very badly; Commines and others were obliged to mediate to obtain
a hearing for him. The Pope represented himself as not disinclined for
mediation, and Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere confirmed this, but for
the present those in Rome attempted to prolong the matter in order to
tire the Florentines. At the end of August a Papal plenipotentiary,
Giovan Batista of Imola, came to the French court. Philippe de Commines
received him by command of the king, who at first would hear nothing
from him. The conference took place in the presence of Don Federigo

Sixtus enumerated once more all the complaints which he had against
Florence and Lorenzo. The principal cause of war, he said in the brief
he had given to his ambassadors, was not to be sought for in the events
of April 1478, but in what had preceded them, in the affairs of Città
di Castello and Faenza, in the personal position of Lorenzo de’ Medici.
He could not agree to the proposals of accommodation hitherto made.
The restitution of the places taken would imply a self-accusation, as
though he had begun an unjust war. He must demand a guarantee for the
Sienese before his troops and those of the Neapolitans could evacuate
the Florentine territory. A treaty respecting Genoa could only begin
with the consent of the Genoese themselves. The Pope was nevertheless
inclined to leave the decision to the king, with a reservation of the
aforesaid points, and deliver up to him the occupied castles. Louis
XI., by whom the ambassador was personally disliked on account of
matters which had taken place formerly, received these advances very
coldly. He suspected that the Pope wished to sow discord between him
and the English king, who had already been publicly designated as
umpire. He repeated his former demands, a formal abrogation of the
spiritual interdicts, evacuation of the territory, and restitution
of the fortresses.[284] The Papal negotiator departed with this
unsatisfactory demand. Francesco Gaddi had been present at the whole
of this interview; the Milanese ambassadors, summoned to Orleans from
Paris, had arrived too late, but were acquainted with all that had
taken place. Then followed the events unfavourable to the allies in
the Elsa valley. Even if the Pope and Ferrante had intended to resume
negotiations with France, it would have been impossible to expect any
good result from them. Lorenzo de’ Medici was obliged to make a direct
compromise with at least one of his enemies.

The choice of this one could not be difficult. If the Pope himself had
been personally less irritated, the hatred of Girolamo Riario against
the Medici, a hatred which still found vent in low intrigues[285] in
the summer of 1479, would have made a negotiation difficult. It was
otherwise with King Ferrante. He had done everything, military and
diplomatic, to conduct the war with energy. The Duke of Calabria, who
had hoped to fix himself as firmly in Tuscany as the Angevins once had
done, had supplied the majority of the troops; the rising in Genoa, the
attack on Pisa and the Lunigiana, were his work. In France no less
than four Neapolitan ambassadors were active in persuading Louis XI.,
in which, however, they did not succeed. But Ferrante was acute enough
to see that nothing but an agreement with Florence could calm Italy,
and only the authority of a capable man, which Lorenzo showed himself
to be more and more, could give permanence to this agreement, while the
Papal policy was too changeful to offer security. Lorenzo had known for
some time of the king’s inclination to treat. But it was distasteful
to him to meet his advances, not because he suspected personal danger
therein, but because he saw that an agreement with King Ferrante would
have political results for Florentine affairs which must have seemed
important to him. He said to himself that his position would be quite
different if he could begin the treaty from a more favourable point,
and only the powerful support of his allies could help him in this,
especially the mediation of Lodovico Sforza, who, since he had become
Duke of Bari, had entered into still closer connections with the ruling
family in Naples, to which his sister belonged. With Lodovico, who
was daily obtaining greater influence in Milan, Lorenzo now stood in
constant communication direct and indirect. His opinion on the position
of affairs is expressed most clearly in a letter which he sent to
Girolamo Morelli at Milan, on September 25.[286] ‘The observations
made,’ he says in this letter, after mentioning the proposals in regard
to the Pazzi, ‘can only proceed from an ill opinion which is held
there of our affairs; and although what has happened partly justifies
that opinion, the matter does not stand as is believed there, but the
unfavourable opinion is explained by a misunderstanding which you
yourself hint at. I wish to impress this truth on Lord Lodovico, when
I show him how our position will be strong or weak at his lordship’s
will. For here at home there is not one who will raise a finger; and
even if they do leave us there in the lurch, I have little fear
respecting the direction of affairs. But I fear that if our forces
cannot make head against the enemy, it will be necessary to take steps
contrary to our freedom, and allow to others an influence in our
government which will first of all be injurious to us, and then give
others cause of alarm. If, therefore, apart from old friendship and
good services, his lordship is of opinion that our preservation is of
use to himself, he might take measures to this end, for I do not doubt
for one instant that we shall only thus attain what we desire, if our
enemies perceive that they can do nothing against us, while we have
proofs enough of their will. Although I have received many friendly
words from the Duke of Calabria for many months, and much encouragement
to throw myself into the king’s arms, he attempting to show me that
only in this manner can I save myself and the state, a penny from you
would be worth more than a florin from the others. It is good that Lord
Lodovico should know these things, and that if he wish to save us, he
must take up the matter with more energy and act with more decision.
If he does this, I have no anxiety respecting affairs here; if this,
however, does not happen, he will see how it will be with our cause,
and partly also with his own. For if nothing else should occur he will
give into other people’s hands the reins of Italy, which are now in
his, as I wrote to you in my long letter, which is so long that I do
not believe he has read it in the midst of his many employments, and
which I beg you to deliver to him again, for I have continually more
than enough to do.’

In this letter the position of affairs was clearly indicated. But
Lorenzo deceived himself when he hoped that Lodovico Sforza would
agree to his views and seek to withdraw him from the necessity ‘of
throwing himself into the king’s arms.’ Whether the will or ability
were here wanting may remain a question. Lodovico approached the goal
of his desires. His nephew, Gian Galeazzo, was crowned duke with great
solemnity while yet in exile, on April 24, 1478, but the government
had of course remained with his mother, from whose hands Lodovico now
took it more completely, having at first employed a favourite of the
duchess, a Ferrarese named Antonio Tassino, to make her agree to his
plans. He soon became even to foreigners the lord of Milan. From his
early years his subtle nature showed itself, although his character was
only fully developed under the influences of the changing fortunes of
his busy life.

Lodovico il Moro—a name which Sforza received in youth on account of
his dark complexion, and continued to bear in later years, so that
it became the war-cry of his partisans—was no ordinary man. Born at
Vigevano on August 3, 1451, after his father had ascended the ducal
throne, a circumstance from which he seemed inclined to claim a right
of succession to the prejudice of an elder brother and his son, he
was in his eight-and-twentieth year when he attained to power in
Milan. Galeazzo Maria had never trusted his restless ambition, for
indeed he never ceased to conspire in one way or the other till he was
lord of Milan; and even then he continued to weave intrigues against
enemies when he could not reach them otherwise, against friends when
his plans crossed theirs. He could not live without plotting. An ally
was never safe with him, and in time he wove a net which not only
extended through Italy but through Europe, and in which he himself was
taken. Of moral courage he was exceedingly destitute. ‘The aforesaid
Lord Lodovico,’ says Philippe de Commines, ‘was very clever but very
timid, and extremely subservient when afraid, of which I can speak
fully from personal knowledge, as I have had much to do with him. He
was besides destitute of truth and faith where he thought to gain an
advantage by breaking his word.’ This passion for intrigue became his
own ruin and that of his country and Italy, for the confidence which
inspired him, his reliance upon fortune, whose son he called himself,
and his measurement of matters according to a mere calculation of their
advantage, darkened in time a perception which was otherwise not
deficient in acuteness, while his entire want of moral consciousness
falsified his judgment. This confidence he had never so naively
expressed as in 1496, when, after Italy had been evacuated by the
French, the Emperor Maximilian married to his niece, Venice allied to
him, and Florence crippled, he fancied he held the fate of Italy in
his hand. ‘The Duke of Milan boasts of having at present a chaplain,
a _condottiere_, a chamberlain, and a courier, who are all at his
service. The chaplain is Pope Alexander, the _condottiere_ Maximilian,
the chamberlain the Signoria of Venice, which freely expends what he
orders, the courier the French king, who comes and goes at his good
pleasure.’[287] ‘It is terrible to think of,’ adds our informant.
He knew no scruples where there was a question of satisfying his
selfishness. The slow torture inflicted on his unhappy nephew, and his
treatment of his consort, are among the most fearful episodes of a
time which abounded in wickedness. In order to attain to power he had
employed other rebels; when his end was attained he discarded them,
especially Roberto Sanseverino, and sought to make friends with the
opposite party, hoping thus to render them harmless.

As a ruler, not to speak of his vivid interest in art and intellectual
efforts generally, which he shared with most princes good or bad of his
time, Lodovico Sforza had some praiseworthy qualities. He was neither
a profligate like Galeazzo Maria, nor cruel from an inhuman pleasure
in other people’s sufferings, nor a wild spendthrift like him. He was
active, watchful, clever, considerate of the material welfare of the
country which he carefully governed, fostering rather than exhausting
her resources, while his own treasuries were always filled, so that he
could dispose of considerable sums for political and military purposes.
Commines, it is true, accuses him of fiscal oppression, and traces the
popular discontent to this. ‘I have never seen more beautiful and
fertile land than this duchy. If its master were content with drawing
500,000 ducats from it annually, his subjects would remain wealthy
and the master would live in security, but Lord Lodovico makes from
650,000 to 700,000, which is a real piece of tyranny, so that the
people only long for change.’[288] This is, however, only applicable
to later times, and even then il Moro had always a strong party, which
the misgovernment of the French strengthened, though they succeeded
in expelling him with the help of his enemies from Milan. Giovan
Pietro Cagnola, who belonged, indeed, to the unconditional adherents
of the Sforzas, and dedicated his history to il Moro, is never tired
of praising his wisdom and ripe judgment—how he had brought the
state into such excellent order, how he had enlarged and enriched it
in extent and respect, had cherished peace, regained Genoa without
arms, and protected the country on the side of Switzerland.[289] He
was vain, not of mere show like his brother, but of position and
name, and he sunned himself in deceptive appearances of good fortune,
when his praise resounded day and night in the people’s voice and the
poet’s mouth as that of the dictator of the fate of Italy. His own
unscrupulousness caused him to judge all others in the same light,
and the times were such that he did not always deceive himself. He
bought people in Rome as well as in France. Can we blame him from his
point of view when a man like Commines, of so much higher intellectual
standing, though stained with many of the sins of his century, mentions
the bribing of Etienne de Vescq and other councillors of Charles VIII.
with 8,000 ducats, with the cold remark, ‘If they were obliged to take
money, they might have demanded more.’ Commines apparently was of the
opinion that perjury was only wrong when it was unprofitable.

Many years afterwards, when his equally ambitious and no less clever
consort, Beatrice d’Este, had been taken from him in the bloom of
life—a loss which he felt severely even in political affairs—Lodovico
il Moro drew up a political testament for his son and successor in
case he should come to the government in early youth, respecting all
branches of the administration.[290] ‘As our first command since all
power and dominion are given by God, we wish and appoint that those
who have to conduct the government after us, and be entrusted with the
education of our son, should instruct him in religion and teach him to
recognise his Creator as the giver of all good bestowed on him upon
earth, as also that they should show him that, with the reservation of
the respect due to his Papal Holiness as vicegerent of Christ, he has
to consider the Holy Roman Empire as the authority set over him in all
devotion and affection, especially the person of the Most Serene and
unconquered Lord Maximilian, the Roman king, or in case he should no
longer live, he who has succeeded him, for so commands our duty to His
Majesty and the Holy Empire, through whose goodness we have obtained
our dukedom.’

Such was the man who was then but at the commencement of his great
political career, and to whom Lorenzo de’ Medici, a little older than
he, and connected with the house of Sforza by inherited ties, saw
himself principally referred by the conjunctures of the time. Lodovico
had on November 12 caused Niccolo Martelli,[291] then in Milan, and
a friend of Lorenzo’s, to disclose to him Ferrante’s inclination to
treat, and to impress on him not to refuse the proffered hand. He was
to take the whole situation of affairs into consideration, forget the
past, and seize the opportunity without delay. It would be important to
decide what conditions the Republic would make or accept respecting the
places occupied, the dynasties of Romagna, and Count Girolamo. It might
be good to send his eldest son to Naples (Piero was then only eight
years old). Above all he advised him to hasten the matter; ‘for the
hand of dark fate hovers between cup and lip.’ He might cast the die.
Ten days later Lodovico renewed his representations to the ambassador
of the Republic, Piero Filippo Pandolfini. They would accomplish
nothing by persisting in the beaten course at Florence, as announced
by the Milanese ambassador, Filippo Sagramoro. They should look into
the matter closely and not irritate the king by defiance. They must not
rely on Venice, for when she could defend her own interests, she would
not think of Florence. From Milan little was to be expected on account
of its own troubles: he said so openly that they might not have to rue
it too late. If they agreed, he was ready to mediate in Naples, but
if they should not come to a resolution, or should make unacceptable
conditions, he must lay the responsibility on the Republic.[292] It
was clear that Sforza acted in concert with Ferrante. The offer of the
truce, which followed two days afterwards, showed that the king was in
earnest in his wish for reconciliation. We shall soon see that Sixtus
IV. did not deceive himself in respect to the feeling of his allies,
however displeasing to himself.

On the same day on which the trumpeter of the Duke of Calabria entered
Florence, a distinguished Florentine set out on a confidential mission
to Naples. It was Filippo Strozzi, who had long lived in business at
Naples, and whose connections with King Ferrante were known. In his
memoirs of the events connected with the Pazzi conspiracy he mentions
this mission.[293] ‘The situation of affairs appeared serious to all,
especially to Lorenzo de’ Medici, on whose account, as they said, war
was made. The aforesaid Lorenzo sent me to Naples. On November 24 I
set out, to say to the king’s majesty, he threw himself entirely into
his arms, and would willingly agree to that which his majesty wished,
whether the king should decide on high or low, within or without,
provided he restored peace to the city and gave up the places he
had taken. I found the king hunting at Arnone (at the mouth of the
Volturno). After I had delivered my message, he answered me that he had
later news: Lorenzo would come in person, and so we must wait to see
what will result from his visit.’ Shortly after Filippo’s departure,
Lorenzo made up his mind to go himself, a determination to which the
revelations of Lodovico Sforza, which took away all hopes of a powerful
support from Milan and Venice, undoubtedly contributed. He acted quite
independently, and though he took counsel with his confidants, he only
imparted the matter to the official representatives of the Republic
when he was himself resolved.

On December 5 he caused an assembly to be summoned by the magistracy of
Ten, of about forty of the most respected citizens, in the palace of
the Signoria. He said he had called them together in order to inform
them of a resolution he had taken without asking their advice. He had
considered how much the city needed peace, as it would be impossible to
defend her alone against such powerful opponents while her allies would
not fulfil their obligations. But as these opponents always asserted
they had more to do with him personally than with the city, and the
king in especial always declared he was no enemy to the latter, but
loved her and desired her liberty, and sought to secure her friendship
by redressing her wrongs if every other way were closed to him, he had
determined to go to Naples. This seemed to him the best in all cases.
If the enemy wished for him only, they should have him in their hands
and need not molest the city further. If they did not wish for him,
but the friendship of the city, this would be the means of coming to
an understanding sooner, and obtaining more favourable conditions.
If they wished something else, he should learn it and obtain the
possibility of protecting their freedom and the city better. He knew
that he was going into danger, but he considered his own welfare less
than the common good, and the duty of any citizens to the fatherland
less than his duty, for none had attained to favour and respect as he
had. But he hoped the citizens here present would preserve his position
for him, and commended himself, his family, and his house to them.
But, above all, he hoped that God, in consideration of the justice of
his cause and his good intentions, would promote his purposes, and
that a war begun with the murder of his brother would be ended by his

Lorenzo had announced from the first that his resolution was taken.
Many might think this resolve daring, but they knew that persuasion
would avail nothing. It was natural that King Ferrante’s reserved
character, which had not yet revealed itself as it did in the second
barons’ war, should frighten many who remembered the fate of Jacopo
Piccinino, whose bleeding ghost pursued the king to his end. But
Lorenzo, though he might not be quite without anxiety, appreciated
too well the distinction between his position and that of a wandering
_condottiere_, and trusted also to the real love of peace of the
Aragonese. The armistice offered by the Duke of Calabria was a
favourable sign.[295] He set out without delay. From San Miniato on
December 7 he informed the Signoria of his resolution, which he founded
on the same reasons which he had given to the assembly before his
departure.[296] He added that if he had not revealed his intention
before, this was not from pride, but because it seemed to him that in
the straits in which the city now was, action was more necessary than
speech. As the city needed peace, and the means employed for attaining
the same had proved ineffective, it seemed better to him that one
should run into danger than that the whole people should be exposed
to it. On the preceding day he had already sent a confidential man,
Baccio Ugolino, to the Duke of Ferrara, to give him information of
his resolution,[297] and at the same time announced his approaching
departure to the Dukes of Calabria and Urbino, and told them that M.
Francesco Gaddi would present himself before them, and if they thought
fit would proceed to Naples.[298] At Pisa he received a letter from the
Signoria which empowered him to act as ambassador to King Ferrante.
Bartolommeo Scala, who had drawn it up, on sending it to him, added,
‘All rely upon your wisdom and your authority. But they do not judge of
the king’s inclination by the present condition of things, but looking
back on our former relations by the sympathy which he once showed to us
and the service he already has rendered us.’[299]



ON the evening of December 10 two Neapolitan galleys arrived at the
little port of Vada, not far from the mouth of the Cecina in the Pisan
Maremma, having on board Gian Tommaso Caraffa, son of the Count of
Maddaloni, chief counsellor of the king, and Prinzivalle di Gennaro,
the confidant of the Duke of Calabria. On the following morning Lorenzo
entered Vada. ‘Pray God,’ he had written from Pisa to the Ferrarese
ambassador,[300] ‘I may journey there and back in safety, and my
purpose may be attained.’ On the afternoon of the 18th, a Saturday,
the galleys ran into the port of Naples. Informed of his approaching
arrival, the king not only sent vessels to meet and welcome him,
but his son Federigo and Ferrandino, Prince of Capua, were on the
landing-place to receive him. A great crowd had assembled to see
the man whose name had long been in the mouths of all. The house of
Pasquale Diaz Garloni, Count of Alife, opposite the Castelnuovo, the
usual residence of the king, was destined for the guest.[301] The
reception was honourable, and the first meeting with the king very
cordial.[302] Ferrante could not shake off the impression which Lorenzo
made on him personally. It must have been clear to him that if he
made it up with this man who exhibited in his youth so much shrewdness
and skill, and such great political sagacity, he could rely directly
on the Republic; and, while securing Lorenzo’s authority at home by
peace and by alliance, he would be strengthening and establishing his
own influence on Italian affairs. Thus far it must have been easy
for Lorenzo to persuade the king, who was not expected to give the
preference to a popular form of government. But a number of the most
varied considerations had to be weighed by Ferrante. He had to consider
the Pope, of whom he was not fond, and whom, remembering the position
of the Holy See at Naples, he did not trust, but whom he neither dared
nor wished to offend on account of this very position. The Venetians
had to be considered; they were dangerous neighbours for him as well
as the Pope, on account of their constant endeavours to extend their
dominion on the Adriatic coasts; while a good understanding with them
was all the more uncertain because their policy was mostly determined
by conjunctures which were foreign to the relations of the other
Italian States. Siena, too, must not be overlooked, which the king and
his son had their eye upon; nor Milan, where a change was in progress
the extent of which could not be appreciated. All this, combined with
the traditions of the policy of the times—namely the policy of a ruler
surrounded by foreign and domestic difficulties from the beginning of
his reign—must have caused Ferrante to hesitate long. Besides, it
cannot be doubted that he wished to see what turn Florentine affairs
would take in Lorenzo’s absence.

From various causes things were still unsettled in Florence. Lorenzo’s
determination and sudden journey had not made the same impression on
all the allies. Lodovico il Moro had assisted in it, and the Venetians
were taken by surprise. They expressed their distrust and vexation in
plain language. The Venetians, relates Francesco Guicciardini,[303]
persuaded themselves that peace had been concluded between Naples and
Florence; that Lorenzo had only gone thither for the ratification of
peace, and that they were left at their enemies’ discretion. But in
order to hinder the treaty in case it were not yet concluded, or, in
other words, to secure themselves, it seemed necessary for them to be
as well armed as possible. They recalled their troops from Tuscany, but
at the same time offered to Milan and Florence a renewal of the compact
hitherto existing. The news had spread as far as Rome and elsewhere
that this alliance had been dissolved on account of non-fulfilment of
the conditions, so that it seemed necessary to renew it formally. In
order not to render the negotiations with Naples more difficult, the
offer was declined in Florence. When the Venetians offered the command
of their troops to Roberto Malatesta—who would have been unable to
accept it without the consent of Florence—permission was granted him
by the latter, though unwillingly, in order not to offend Venice.
‘The ambassadors of our allies,’ wrote Bartolommeo Scala, on January
4, 1480, to Lorenzo,[304] ‘give us trouble enough. They have become
suspicious, but I do not believe they are agreed among themselves.
They besiege us daily, officially and privately, in order to obtain
news. It will not be easy to come to an understanding, especially with
the Venetians; but we must keep to that which was given to you at
your departure. The affair has its difficulties, and it will be best
to conclude it with your aid. Now when you are far away, we, like the
fools we are, have learnt to know you better.’ The Venetian ambassador
in France expressed the same anxiety that in the new alliance which
Lorenzo was endeavouring to effect at Naples, Venice would not only be
excluded, but would have to suffer herself.[305]

That the most varied tendencies were manifested at home was but
natural. Not only the ancient opponents of the Medici raised their
heads but even a few of their own party showed themselves lukewarm
or disaffected. The heavy losses made the game easy for the former.
It was said to be time to change a system which had lasted so long,
and united all political power in the hands of a comparatively small
number of families. Offices as well as burdens should for the future
be no longer dispensed at the will of these few, but be granted and
distributed by the old councils. The uncertainty of Lorenzo’s fate gave
this party courage, while it made many of his adherents inclined to
come to terms with them by a compromise. It seems, indeed, that they
thought of choosing Girolamo Morelli, the former ambassador in Milan,
as a new leader. The friends of the Medici thought they had gained much
if they prevented a change till Lorenzo’s return. Piero Guicciardini,
the historian’s father, was one of those most active in his behalf. The
unfavourable position of foreign affairs had been rendered still worse
at the moment of his departure. Without regarding the armistice still
existing, Lodovico and Agostino Fregoso had by a _coup-de-main_ seized
upon Sarzana, which had been only eleven years in the possession of
Florence. When the Republic complained to the leaders of the Neapolitan
and Papal army, these expressed themselves angry at the breach of peace
by the Genoese, and commanded them to leave the city. But they were
not expelled; and the Florentines suspected, certainly not without
ground, that the Duke of Calabria had had a hand in the game, in order
to increase, for his advantage, the number of claims in the forthcoming
treaties of peace. The military situation was likewise much injured by
the departure of the Venetians, and the exhaustion and disunion of the
Florentines gave no prospect of improvement.[306]

The connection with the lords of Romagna was also uncertain. As may
easily be understood, the latter followed the negotiations of the
Florentines with their former enemies with the greatest anxiety, for
their very existence depended on the result. This was particularly
the case with Galeotto Manfredi. After the defeat at Poggio Imperiale
Costanzo Sforza had marched to Romagna with as many men as could be
spared, in order to protect his own territories and those of the
Malatesta and Manfredi from an attack which was most to be dreaded by
the latter if it came from Imola. But the precaution was not sufficient
to pacify Galeotto. On the other side the Florentines could not submit
to the capture of their best general Roberto Malatesta, so they
ordered an ambassador and 200 men to Faenza in order to protect its
master. Gismondo Manfredi, Taddeo’s son, remained in the service of
the Republic, and also Antoniello Ordelaffi, Cecco’s son, the rightful
heir to Forli, which was withheld from him by his uncle Pino, whom the
Pope favoured. Costanzo Sforza felt safer than the other petty lords on
account of the Milanese relationship; but a real mutual confidence was
not to be thought of, even here.[307]

While affairs were in this state in Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici was
occupied with troubles of another kind.

His appearance in Naples was exceedingly distasteful to the Pope. From
the first Sixtus had perceived the king’s inclination to agree to
favourable terms, the final result of which he easily foresaw. But,
if powerless to prevent an understanding, he would at least have a
personal share in it, and insisted that Lorenzo should come to Rome.
However, the latter showed no inclination to take the journey, and
was strengthened in his objection by Ferrante.[308] Lorenzo Giustini,
who had been deputed to Naples by the Pope, left no argument unused
to persuade him. When all this resulted in nothing, and the treaty
between the king and Florence seemed to take a favourable course,
Sixtus IV. despatched a special plenipotentiary Antonio Crivelli.
The detailed instructions given to this man put the whole course of
affairs and the relations of the Pope and king in the clearest light.
‘After the events in Florence had taken a course so displeasing to the
Church,’ says the Pope in this remarkable document,[309] ‘we held it
best to hear the king’s opinion of the imprisonment of the cardinal and
other things; and, as his Majesty by several writings not only agreed
with us, but called upon and encouraged us to take up arms, with the
offer and promise to make every exertion and put his son’s and his own
life at stake, in order to avenge this insult shown to the Holy See,
it was unanimously determined to begin the war against Lorenzo and his
adherents as the stumbling-block and disturber of the peace of Italy.
At the same time the freedom of Florence must be restored, to which we
and the king’s Majesty have pledged ourselves by autograph and other
documentary writings, being moved thereto by Lorenzo’s evil proceedings
and the disturbances caused by him in Italy. Lorenzo likewise has
endeavoured to sow dissension between us and the king, and to dissolve
the alliance in favour of one drawn up by himself.’

After the Pope had remarked that the ingratitude of Lorenzo was all
the greater because he had won treasure by means of the Holy See,
he expatiated on the course of the war, which was only begun when
spiritual weapons availed nothing, on the attempts of foreign powers
to terminate the strife with due respect to the Holy See and the king,
and the great advantages obtained in 1479. When peaceful overtures were
made by Milan, the king declined them. At the time it had been remarked
by several cardinals that he only did this in order to transfer the
negotiations to Naples, and be able to ascribe all the merit to
himself, and likewise to negotiate with Lorenzo without any regard
to the Holy See, as at present was actually the case, according to
the report of the royal ambassador. While the Pope was led to believe
that the king agreed with him in views and treatment of affairs, the
latter had let a number of other considerations influence him. They
had decided to insist upon Lorenzo’s banishment from Florence; and
then came the king’s doubt as to whether it would be possible to
attain this, and whether there was not danger of his returning like
his grandfather Cosimo. Little as the Pope believed in the validity
of the reasons urged, as he thought that the principal end of the
undertaking was overlooked, and that Lorenzo, having shown himself to
be so bad when they were doing him good, would be found still worse
now that he was irritated, he had yet persuaded himself to agree to
a reconciliation with Lorenzo as the king wished, if the conditions
demanded by him through his ambassador could be obtained, while,
if this did not happen, the war should be continued. The king had
commanded the captains of his army to continue operations although they
thought of pacification, and on the showing of the Duke of Calabria the
prospect of reconciliation offered by the enemy diminished the prospect
of success. He had answered that by negotiation he would neither tie
his own hands nor those of the army. Even then the Pope had complied
with the king’s wishes, although his son’s opinion had seemed to him

‘Scarcely had this occurred,’ continued Sixtus, ‘than the armistice
followed, which filled us with surprise and displeasure, and confirmed
us in the suspicion awakened. Therefore we refused decidedly to
acknowledge it, and only yielded to the ambassador’s urgency, and
because we perceived that we could not continue the war alone; under
the express stipulation, however, that, if the conditions of peace
should suffer thereby, we should never pardon the king for it. We made
a virtue of necessity, but to our serious displeasure, for we saw how
we missed the victory while we were deprived of the satisfaction of
liberating Florence from these tyrants, and restoring freedom and quiet
to her and peace to all Italy. The hope still remained to us that as
the king had turned us whither he wished, he would at least conclude
peace on the conditions mentioned, and would have some regard to the
honour of God, the Church, and himself. Lorenzo went to Naples. The
king announced to us he knew nothing of his movements, but in spite of
all, if Lorenzo should refuse to accept the stipulations agreed upon,
he would dismiss him. In a case of this kind we must stake the tiara
and the whole States of the Church, and his Majesty would venture the
crown and ten kingdoms, if he had them, to effect Lorenzo’s expulsion
and complete ruin.’ The Pope had demanded that Lorenzo should come
to Rome and beg for forgiveness, and that the lords of Romagna, who
were guilty of rebellion, should do the same. Lorenzo so decidedly
declined the former, that the king requested the Pope to withdraw this
demand. He, Sixtus, refused this, however, for it was a point which
the king disregarded—the only satisfaction he would receive in the
whole affair. Respecting the lords of Romagna, the king desired that
time might be afforded to them to fulfil their obligations, if the Pope
would not leave it to the king to arrange the matter with them. Both
conditions were refused, as also the proposal to send ambassadors to
Milan at the same time as the king, to settle the other conditions of
peace. The Pope had repeatedly shown that the king had it in his power
to terminate the matter by force of arms if he fulfilled the conditions
of alliance; and as Lorenzo was in his power, and would yield to him
whether willing or not, he might also be induced to negotiate. Instead,
however, of breaking with Lorenzo as he had hinted he should in case
the latter refused to accept the conditions offered him, he treated
him more kindly every day he was in Naples. The Pope wished for peace.
In order to attain this peace he had begun the war, which had already
cost him a heap of money. But he would purchase no peace with his

The position of affairs is rendered quite clear by these instructions.
Ferrante was inclined to come to terms with Lorenzo, but the Pope’s
representations could not fail to make some impression on him. Lorenzo
did not conceal this from himself, though he appeared content and
cheerful before others, but when alone he had many heavy and anxious
hours. His letters to the Ten prove this, by the manner in which he
describes the rising and falling of his hopes. The affairs of Romagna
increased the difficulties considerably; for if Ferrante believed that
he had freedom to act in regard to Florentine affairs, inasmuch as he
had not to pay attention to Siena, he found himself tied here towards
the Pope. Florence did not cease to urge including the dynasties of
Romagna in the peace. ‘The lords of Romagna who are in our pay,’ wrote
Agnolo della Stufa on January 4, 1480,[310] ‘are warmly commended to
you for our own honour’s sake. For if they are left to the will of
the Pope, I consider them as lost, for I know how the priests act. No
one will believe in our protection any more. If the king, as I hope,
receives us as his devoted sons, he must be also careful to preserve
us this reputation as long as he can.’ No less skill was needful to
continue the negotiation, as the Duke of Calabria, who speculated on
the weakness of the Florentines, was exceedingly disinclined towards
it. Perhaps Lorenzo’s aim would not have been attained had he not won
over the most distinguished counsellor of the king, Diomede Carafa,
Count of Maddaloni, son of that Malizia Carafa who had been so active
in the cause of King Alfonso of Aragon. In the endless street which
the people had named Spacca-Napoli, near the Dominican convent, is the
palace where he resided—a building of architectural value. In the
court of this house, once adorned with the colossal antique horse’s
head, the arms of the city, King Ferrante had on one occasion stood
waiting for the faithful servant who was to accompany him. Diomede
Carafa was a man of distinction. He had served under King Alfonso,
aided in the conquest of Naples, and penetrated within a few miles of
the capital in the Florentine war of 1452. As superintendent of finance
he had great influence on the administration—an influence which
brought him into violent opposition to the king’s private secretary,
a quarrel the fatal ending of which cast a dark shadow on the later
period of Ferrante’s reign. With the king and his children, especially
the second son Don Federigo, he stood in the most intimate connection.
He shared Lorenzo de’ Medici’s interest in literature and art; and, if
he was far from rivalling him in his high literary gifts, he showed
in several smaller works of a didactic kind, in books on war and
courtlife, in the rules of behaviour for the king’s daughters Beatrice
and Eleonora, a practical understanding, knowledge of business, and
experience of the world that was very rare.

The Count of Maddaloni was not the only one whom Lorenzo gained over
to his interest. Naples at that time was a city full of busy life and
varied culture, which had been promoted first by King Alfonso and then
by his sons, in which Lorenzo must have felt himself all the more at
home as the literary connections with his native city were various, and
many of the artistic circle which had been so intimate with his family
for three generations, beginning with Donatello, had laboured here,
while the Florentine banking-houses had the greater part of the money
matters of the Neapolitans in their own hands. From the royal family,
members of which had repeatedly been his guests, to the citizens and
country people, increasing affection was shown him, as Pope Sixtus had
said. The Duchess of Calabria, remembering old friendship, became,
as the king expressed it, his fellow-ally, and reminded him in later
years of their wanderings at the villa—probably that near the Riviera
di Chiaja of the present day—between the banks and the heights of
Vomero, then with a free prospect over sea and shore, which is now
changed into the Ferrandina palace with the adjoining gardens and
buildings. ‘The present letter will not be one of those which refer to
alliance and State affairs, but will merely bring to your remembrance
that we always think of you, although we are by no means certain that
you often think of our garden, which is now most beautiful and in full
bloom.’[311] The century was not wanting in highly-cultivated women,
but Ippolita Maria, who excelled so many in grace, also exceeded the
ladies of her time in literary knowledge; and as her familiarity with
Cicero’s writings was praised, so did she also shine in her knowledge
of Greek, in which Constantinos Lascaris had been her teacher. Her
learning did not diminish her womanly charm.[312] Lorenzo lived in
Naples _en grand seigneur_, spared no expense, gave banquets and made
presents, and dowered poor girls who came to him from the provinces.
He purchased the freedom of a hundred galley-slaves, and gave them new
clothes.[313] But that he urgently wished to attain his purpose and be
able to return home may be well understood, for the ground under him
was not safe either here or there. When the king presented him with a
beautiful horse, he remarked, in thanking him, that the man who would
be the bearer of good news needed indeed a swift steed.

At length the main conditions of the treaty were agreed upon, and
without having come to a formal conclusion Lorenzo deemed it possible
to quit Naples, and to leave further steps to the Republic. At the end
of February he departed by sea as he had arrived. Three months had
passed, a time full of doubts and fears, but crowned with success.
‘He landed,’ says Niccolò Valori, ‘in Livorno, from whence he went to
Pisa. In the harbour and town he was received with such a manifestation
of joy, with such signs of attachment and shouts of applause from
the whole population, that the place itself seemed to join in the
rejoicing. But it is impossible to describe how he was received at his
entry into Florence. Young and old, men and women, flocked together.
The people and the nobles rejoiced together to see him return safely.
To all he gave his hand kindly and gratefully. The people embraced each
other for joy.’ But a reaction soon set in. On the evening of March
17 a compact was published, which had been concluded on the 13th at
Naples by Agostino Biliotti and Niccolò Michelozzi in the name of the
Republic.[314] They had made peace; but the conditions were not easy,
and the suspicion arose among the people that the most oppressive
articles were kept secret. If all the circumstances are considered,
however, the conditions were supportable. The Florentines had been
conquered, and from whatever point of view the cause of the war might
be judged, the fact of defeat could not be denied.

On March 25, 1480, the feast of the Annunciation, peace and alliance
were formally proclaimed throughout Florence, and a grand procession
took place headed by the statue from Sta. Maria dell’Impruneta, which
was brought into the city for the purpose. The two opponents bound
themselves mutually to defend their states; the occupied places should
be restored to the Florentines, but at the king’s own time, and with
the exception of Castellina and a part of the Chianti, which was
to be given to Siena. The Duke of Calabria was to be paid a salary
under the name of _condotta_. The Pazzi imprisoned in the tower of
Volterra were to be restored to freedom. The lords of Romagna were
not included in the treaty of peace but the king pledged himself to
preserve their interests. Lorenzo had exerted himself in vain in this
respect. Ferrante out of regard for the Pope was not to be moved. The
dynasties, with the exception of the Ordelaffi, had not to complain
later, as we shall see. Efforts on behalf of the Chianti had likewise
been fruitless. Lorenzo endeavoured to show how advantageously it would
affect the future connections of the Republic with the king if their
territory remained undiminished.[315] It offended the Florentines most
of all that they did not even receive a promise respecting Sarzana, the
restitution of which they had tried to obtain during the negotiations,
in order to diminish the number of claims of compensation from their
opponents. The demand of payment to Girolamo Riario which had been
threatened them, and would indeed have been an insult, was allowed to
remain in abeyance. ‘The conditions,’ remarks Francesco Guicciardini,
‘were not unfavourable to the vanquished.’ But the populace in Florence
were not of the same opinion. That they were not satisfied with the
demeanour of Lodovico Sforza and his influence on the negotiation is
shown by a letter of the Duke of Ferrara to his ambassador, wherein he
requires him to represent to Lorenzo that he would do well to go as
much as possible hand in hand with Milan, even if some things in the
compact were displeasing. He was not to forget that Florence and Milan
were two states whose interests coincided, and whose true union would
be useful to both, as it had been before.[316]

At Rome and Milan the compact was made known on the same day as at
Florence. In the presence of the Pope and his cardinals, Ambrogio
Cerano, general of the Augustinians, announced peace[317] from the
pulpit in Sta. Maria del Popolo, where the Papal service took place on
the feast of the Annunciation.

The position with regard to Sixtus IV. remained, however, as uncertain
as before. Scarcely had Lorenzo left Naples when the king received
through Lorenzo Giustini, new proposals of agreement which appeared
to him of sufficient importance to justify his sending after Medici,
and requesting him to return from Gaeta or Pisa in order to effect an
agreement with Sixtus. The latter, so wrote the king, had displayed
the greatest readiness to agree to the proposals made by Florence and
Milan; and as Girolamo Riario had expressed himself in like manner,
Lorenzo’s return appeared to him highly desirable to bring the matter
to a conclusion, all the more so as the Pope had regarded his departure
as a sign of ill-will. He, the king, had indeed answered that this
departure had been caused by affairs at Florence; but he advised him
to announce at home that bad weather had hindered him on the way, and
as, meanwhile, the Papal decision had arrived, he had considered it
necessary to return in order not to delay the complete conclusion of
the affair. In this manner he would render the League and Milan a real
service, put an end to the Pope’s suspicion, recover his affection,
and promote the king’s interests also. The negotiation could then
proceed without delay on the part of the Milanese ambassadors, who
had a time of departure appointed them, and he would return with the
fame of having completed his work.[318] In this suggestion a cunning
intention has sometimes been suspected, as if the king, enticed by the
new proposals of the Pope, had repented his compact with Lorenzo, and
tried to get the latter into his power again in order to dictate his
will to him. Ferrante’s whole subsequent behaviour affords no ground
for such a suspicion. But that Lorenzo did not accede to the king’s
wishes is explained sufficiently by the painful suspense in which the
Papal policy had kept him so long, and by the necessity of his presence
at home. Probably, too, the king expected no result from this step,
which he was obliged to take for the sake of the Pope. Sixtus IV.
did, indeed, ratify the peace, as we have seen; but he was very ill
satisfied with the whole course of the matter, and Lorenzo Giustini,
who had conducted the negotiation, lost the confidence of the Pope
and his nephew, which he had long enjoyed.[319] Antonio Ridolfi and
Piero Masi were sent to Rome to defend the cause of the Republic. They
accomplished little. The Pope demanded that Lorenzo himself should come
to Rome, for which the latter showed no inclination, and which was also
advised against by others, Ferrara for example.[320] Sixtus complaining
that the agreement and new alliance were to the disadvantage of the
Church, allied himself with the Venetians, who regarded their ancient
relation to Milan and Florence as dissolved, and left the Florentines
still under the pressure of the interdict laid upon them.

Evils soon followed this policy in Romagna. Costanzo Sforza was in
a difficulty, but his powerful relations came to his aid this time
also against the plans of the Pope’s nephew. In Forli, on the other
hand, affairs took a turn very unfavourable for the Republic. Pino
degli Ordelaffi, whom we saw in 1466 violently freed from his brother
Cecco, almost the only one of these lords of Romagna who took the side
of Sixtus IV., had died on February 10, worn out by his dissipated
life, which made it impossible for him to support the fatigues of a
short campaign, which did not tax him heavily. In 1473 be had obtained
from the Pope the renewal of his vice-regency for his own natural
descendants, to the exclusion of his nephew Antonio or Antoniello, to
whom, according to previous family statutes, the joint government of
Forli belonged, and who, like his father, held to Florence as firmly as
Pino to the opposite party. The natural son of the latter, Sinibaldo,
a boy of thirteen years, had been acknowledged by the inhabitants of
Forli as his successor. His stepmother and guardian, Zaffiera Manfredi,
soon made herself so hated that an insurrection broke out as early as
the beginning of July, in consequence of which Antoniello on the 8th
entered Forli. Here the people were still fighting the mercenaries
of Sinibaldo, who had sought protection in the fortress of Ravaldino.
Sixtus IV. took advantage of this opportunity. The Duke of Urbino
received a command to march to Forli; Antoniello was declared deprived
of all his rights, and as the boy Sinibaldo died about this time—how
is unknown—the Pope granted Forli to Girolamo Riario as a lapsed fief.
The citizens at first showed themselves willing to defend the cause
of the rightful heir; but when the duke approached the city, and a
few skirmishes had ended unfavourably, neither provisions nor money
for a longer opposition were existing, and Antoniello recognised the
impossibility of maintaining himself. On August 8 he quitted Forli and
repaired to Florentine territory, and on the following day the Papal
army entered, and Riario was proclaimed lord of Forli. How displeased
they were in Florence to see these embittered enemies at their frontier
with increased powers, may be understood. Two conspiracies in favour of
the Ordelaffi, which broke out in the course of the year, failed, and
Antoniello, who remained in the service of the Republic, awaited better

Far more serious cause of anxiety was afforded by affairs in Siena.
Peace had been proclaimed on March 25 at Siena, but the Duke of
Calabria made no sign of evacuating the territory of that Republic.
During the winter he had been frequently in the city, and he managed
to make himself beloved by the inhabitants. They gave him festivals in
the palace, balls, banquets, and masquerades; and in return he bestowed
knighthood, stood sponsor for children, and was present at the election
of magistrates. In February he had been with troops in the Maremma,
whence an attack from the Duke of Lorraine was feared. Three days after
the proclamation of peace Alfonso went to Viterbo in order to consult
with the Duke of Urbino, who was taking the baths there; and when he
returned, the city sent him to Buonconvento, where the greater part
of his troops were encamped, to meet three illustrious citizens with
the ostensible object of welcoming him, and inviting him to Siena—in
reality, to discover his intentions. For suspicion was already roused
regarding Neapolitan affairs, and not without reason. Twice already
in King Alfonso’s as well as in Ferrante’s days, the Aragonese had
sought to gain ground in Siena. The discord which had always prevailed
more in this city than in any other offered frequent opportunity for
intervention. One happened at this very time. The Duke of Calabria,
who had a residence in Siena, although he was chiefly in the camp, had
put himself in communication with the disaffected of the aristocratic
party, the Monte de’ Nove, the heads of which had lived in banishment
since 1456 or stood aloof from government. His repeated endeavours to
obtain the recall of the exiles had remained without result. It was now
attempted in another way. On the morning of June 22, the friends of the
duke, with the help of some of his troops, who were secretly admitted
into the city, seized on the piazza and palace of the commonwealth,
summoned a council of the people to which only their own adherents
were admitted, abolished the government which had existed hitherto,
and excluded its heads and partisans from office, appointing for the
next two months a new magistracy composed entirely of members of their
party. Without violence or bloodshed, an entire faction of the citizens
which had ruled the city for seventy-seven years was expelled from home
and position.

The duke was in Buonconvento when this revolution took place, either
in order not to seem to countenance it, or to avoid danger in case the
citizens rose in favour of the government, as they had done once before
in the Emperor Charles IV.’s time. He calculated that the victors would
call upon him, if only to accept the military aid without which they
were too weak to maintain themselves permanently—and he calculated
rightly. The Signory and magistrates went to meet him at the gates
on his entry; and during his stay of several days the people were
so amused by festivities that the new rulers had time to recall the
exiles, and weaken their enemies by banishment and fines. All this was
of a kind to inspire the Florentines with the most serious anxiety;
for if the Aragonese obtained a firm footing in Tuscany, their own
independence was much more endangered, for late events had shown how
inferior their military power was to that of the king. ‘Suspicion,’
remarks Machiavelli, ‘seized not only the people, but the heads of the
State likewise;’ and it is considered that the city had never been in
such danger of losing her freedom. This suspicion was strengthened by
events on the Ligurian frontier, in which from the first the Duke of
Calabria’s hand had been recognised. Sarzana was not only not given up
to the Republic, but the garrison disturbed the neighbouring territory
so that Giovanni Aldobrandini, commander of the fortress of Sarzanello,
received commands to repel force by force.

Such was the position of affairs when an unexpected occurrence
produced a decided reaction in the political situation of Central
Italy. The quarrels of the Christian princes, which armed Louis XI.
against Maximilian of Austria, and Mathias Corvinus against Ladislaus
of Poland, the Tuscan war, and the Venetian peace, had been very
advantageous for Mohammed II. The aged sultan wished to crown the
series of his conquests with a brilliant feat of arms. The Sicilian
coasts had been threatened in 1479. In May 1480 a numerous Turkish
fleet attacked Rhodes. The heroic courage of Pierre d’Aubusson and
his knights saved the island, which was held to be the bulwark of
Christendom. Returning from the fruitless siege, a part of the squadron
took a westerly direction, and, sailing by the Venetian islands of
the Ionian sea, landed a considerable number of troops—about seven
thousand men—on the southern coast of Apulia (July 28), where, after
a terrible slaughter of the neighbouring population, the blockade of
Otranto began. On August 11, after a hard struggle, the town fell into
the hands of the inhuman opponents of the Christians.

The blow was stunning. The whole of Italy was in a flame. The threat
of Mohammed to plant the Crescent instead of the Cross in Rome was
remembered. It is said that in his first terror the Pope thought of
quitting the city and retiring to Avignon. But Sixtus IV. was not a man
to lose courage. He wrote to all the Christian princes, representing
the urgent danger to them. Cardinal Gabriele Rangoni went to Naples,
Cardinal Savelli to Genoa, to mediate between the disputants, Cardinal
Giuliano Cesarini to France and England. A French fleet was to combine
with the Neapolitan. The first result for the Florentines was the
return of the Duke of Calabria to Naples. On August 1 the king had
received news of the Turks, and he immediately recalled his son.[321]
The advantage accruing to the Florentines from the new position of
affairs was so great and so evident that many voices were heard
accusing Lorenzo de’ Medici of having encouraged the sultan to attack
Apulia. The friendly relations with Mohammed II., which had been proved
at the Pazzi conspiracy, must have likewise afforded grounds for such
an accusation, the influence of which is, however, not discernible in
the subsequent attitude of the king.[322] On August 7 the duke quitted
Siena. If he accused fate of wresting from him the fruits of his two
years’ exertions in Tuscany the very moment he believed himself certain
of success, he caused those to complain who had calculated on his
assistance, and now feared having to yield for want of it. The same
Prinzivalle di Gennaro who had accompanied Lorenzo was entrusted with
the superintendence of the place which, for the present, was to remain
in the king’s hands, and be given back to the Florentines at the end
of March of the next year. The reconciliation of the Republic with
the Pope could be no longer delayed. It must have been especially
important to him to leave no cause for discontent in Florence when such
danger threatened Christendom.

At the request of King Ferrante, the Signoria, who had conducted
the government during the two last months of the year 1480 with the
Gonfaloniere Bernardo Rucellai, appointed a solemn embassy which
should request Sixtus IV. to revoke the spiritual interdict. The
most distinguished men of the city undertook the mission: Francesco
Soderini, Bishop of Volterra, and afterwards Cardinal, Luigi
Guicciardini, Bongianni Gianfigliazzi, Piero Minerbetti—who all three
possessed the dignity of knighthood—Guid’Antonio Vespucci, Maso
degli Albizzi, Gino Capponi, Jacopo Lanfredini, Domenico Pandolfini,
Giovanni Tornabuoni, Antonio de’ Medici—names some of which have
already appeared in the course of this history, others yet to be
seen. Antonio Ridolfi, who was in Rome holding the office of regular
ambassador of the Republic, was to join them. The instructions given
to the deputies[323] were conciliatory, but moderate and dignified.
‘After the disturbances permitted by God,’ it says, ‘which have been
principally pacified by the grace of his Holiness, peace and quiet
never appeared so sweet to us as at present, for the true peace of our
people devoted to the Holy See depends on the right understanding with
him whom Divine Providence has placed there, and appointed vicegerent
of Christ and successor of Peter. We know that in public and private
we have committed various errors from human weakness, which the Holy
Father has perceived better than we, and therefore send you to entreat
pardon for the same and acknowledge our guilt, and commend our city
and citizens, clergy and laity, to his protection for the future.’
But the ambassadors were at the same time recommended to watch over
the honour and interests of city and State, to give way in reasonable
matters, to refuse unreasonable and dishonourable demands prompted by
secret motives, whether they referred to a public demonstration of
obedience, payments of money, or other things; they were to depart with
their protest in case it should not seem suitable to send for fresh
instructions. The affairs of Lorenzo de’ Medici were to be included in
the general instructions; for special cases Antonio de’ Medici was to
represent him. The Archbishop Rinaldo Orsini, residing at Rome, should
be informed of all, and his mediation with the Pope claimed.

Sixtus IV. had long resolved on reconciliation. On St. Catherine’s
day, November 25, the ambassadors arrived at Rome, welcomed only by
their adherents in the State and friends, as the interdict was still
in force. Two days later they were admitted to the secret consistory,
where the Bishop of Ferrara made a suitable and well-composed speech.
On the first Advent Sunday, December 3, the solemn abrogation took
place in the portico of St. Peter’s. Before the closed bronze gate
of the central nave of the basilica, seated on a throne covered with
purple silk, surrounded by the cardinals, prelates, and officers, and
in presence of a great crowd, the Pope received the ambassadors, who
kissed his foot, and on bended knee besought his forgiveness in the
name of the city, and promised to fulfil the conditions prescribed.
Luigi Guicciardini, an aged man, spoke, but his address was brief,
and difficult to be understood from the noise. An apostolic notary
then read aloud the conditions in the presence of the fiscal advocate
and procurators, to which the ambassadors bound themselves by oath.
The Pope then addressed them, reproved them briefly for what they had
done against the Church, and then declared them free by touching the
shoulder of each lightly with a staff such as penitents were accustomed
to carry, with the words ‘Miserere mei Deus,’ to which the cardinals
responded. Hereupon the ambassadors again kissed the Pope’s foot, and
received his blessing, after which the gates were opened, and Sixtus
IV. being raised on his throne, all went into church, and high mass was

Peace was restored. Most of the members of the embassy returned
immediately to Florence. Only Francesco Soderini and Guid’Antonio
Vespucci remained in order to arrange matters. They also quitted Rome
on December 18 with small pomp and suite, and by no means in a cheerful
frame of mind. For among the conditions imposed on them by the Pope
was the one that the Republic should furnish fifteen galleys for the
war with the Turks;[324] a severe condition considering the depressed
position in which Florence found herself at the end of a war which had
required the hardest pecuniary sacrifices, and desolated a great part
of her territory.







DURING the first half of the fifteenth century the great revolution
was accomplished which introduced a new era. The antique classical
world entered the lists against the Middle Ages. The contest had
already begun before events which properly extended beyond the learned
circles produced a swift and irresistible reaction. At a time when
ecclesiastical schism was already throwing its dark shadow over
the general disturbances in Western Christendom, two great poets,
Petrarch and Boccaccio, died, after having brought the ancient world,
of which they themselves possessed but an imperfect view, closer to
their contemporaries and those who followed them than had been the
case during the eight centuries which had elapsed since Theodoric the
Ostrogoth. Between the first humanists who pursued the road taken by
these writers and the faction who held fast to ecclesiastical and
learned traditions, a contest had arisen which, properly speaking,
never ceased in life and literature, however different might be the
forms under which it was designated. The Florentine chancellor,
Coluccio Salutati, to whom in the latter third of the fourteenth
century the first place belongs in State documents and learned
treatises, had displayed more Pagan learning than Christian views in
his book ‘De Fato et Fortuna.’ The Dominican Fra Giovanni Dominici,
afterwards cardinal of Ragusa, in his treatise on family life,[325]
spoke against a school which made youths, nay children, ‘rather heathen
than Christian, taught them rather of Jupiter and Saturn, Venus and
Cybele, than of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; would poison the
tender and helpless minds by sacrifices before false Gods, and train
Nature’s apostate from the truth in the bosom of infidelity.’

Another contest was beginning now. The Latin language asserted an
exclusive pre-eminence in the learned world. It had discarded the
ungainly form of preceding centuries; but although it claimed to
emulate Cicero and Virgil and renew the Augustan age, many decades
were to pass before learning clothed itself in the originality of a
living idiom. The authors of the time we are now considering, however
high they stand above those of the preceding epoch, among whom only
Petrarch possessed a shadow of true Latinity, were never otherwise
than imitators. Their true services are not to be sought for in
their own intellectual work as poets, rhetoricians, historians, or
letter-writers. While they retarded, if they did not prevent, the
development of the vulgar tongue, they created nothing new in the
direction they themselves pursued. The last third of the fifteenth
century was the first to witness the sudden and simultaneous revival
of Latin and Italian poetry. The first assumed a peculiar tone, while
the latter rose to a lofty flight by an independent use of the models
of its grand youth and a liberal appropriation of new elements. The
literature of the first epoch of humanism had played its part then.
Its importance did not so much consist in original productions as in
the ground it prepared and fertilised, in the ideas it smoothed the
way for, the intellectual material which it collected, and in the
superannuated things which it abolished for ever. This limited and
conditional recognition, which its representatives would have proudly
repelled at a time when they thought they governed the world, and
really did so in certain respects, includes both praise and blame. For
while the revival of classical spirit and forms called forth in the
plastic arts great works which will endure through all centuries by
their own merits, it left not a single independent typical monument in

To Florence belongs the praise of being first in this field as well
as the other. Her inhabitants were not able to attach to their city
Francesco Petrarca, who was not only the greatest poet, but the
greatest connoisseur and most passionate worshipper of antiquity in
his time; but his spirit seems to have remained with them. At a time
when in general the sciences were strictly separated from literature,
properly speaking, they were here united in many cases in a harmonious
whole. Lapo da Castiglionchio and Luigi Marsigli, in the latter part
of the fourteenth century, were brilliant examples of this.[326] The
first, a scion of a noble family, united to the most thorough knowledge
of the law, especially the canon-law, extensive scientific learning,
which was of great use to him in learned intercourse and literary work,
as well as in his commissions from the State. After having seen his
house burnt to the ground in the anarchy of 1378 and himself sentenced
to exile, his misfortunes procured him an honourable reception in
Rome, where he became senator, and played an important part under
Pope Urban VI. With Luigi Marsigli begins the illustrious series of
men who did not limit their usefulness to their own achievements, but
formed a centre of learning for their contemporaries, especially the
younger ones, which was most fruitful in results. Having entered the
order of the Augustinians when young, he was sent to Padua to complete
his studies, where Petrarca looked forward for him with the brightest
hope, and encouraged him to cultivate science as well as theology,
since it formed, as he said, the proper complement to this study. How
he entered into the ideas of his renowned countryman is shown by the
extensive knowledge he attained of Latin literature and most branches
of learning, according to the testimony of his contemporaries, many of
whom owed to him their first encouragement and guidance. His monk’s
cell at Sto. Spirito was a place of meeting for all who had any share
in intellectual attainments. The Republic was accustomed to seek his
counsel in numbers of difficult questions, especially during the
Great Schism which gave the State authorities so much trouble, and on
his death on August 21, 1394, it was determined to honour him by a
monument.[327] His collection he bequeathed to the convent in which he
had spent the greatest part of his life.

Luigi Marsigli was teacher of theology at the Florentine university,
the fortunes of which often varied, but which from the middle of the
fourteenth century till near the end of the fifteenth exercised a
powerful influence on the revival of scientific life. The first idea
of the foundation of a university, _studio pubblico_, seems to have
arisen in 1321.[328] Thirteen years later we find Cino da Pistoja,
the celebrated poet, as teacher of law; but it was in the late autumn
of 1348 that the institute was really founded, full ten years after
Pisa had given new provocation to the jealousy of the Florentines by
a revolution in her own college.[329] Matteo Villani, who begins his
chronicle with the year just mentioned, observes that the Government,
being satisfied of the extinction of the great pestilence, had intended
thereby to attract new inhabitants, to increase their fame and glory,
and afford the citizens an opportunity of gaining knowledge and skill.
Eight of the most illustrious citizens were chosen as superintendents
of the new institute, and a site selected between the cathedral square
and that of the Signoria, which, as already mentioned, is now occupied
by the Collegium Eugenianum. Among the superintendents we find Tommaso
Corsini, Jacopo degli Alberti, Bindo Altoviti, Giovanni de’ Medici, men
of illustrious names, and the first of whom, the teacher of law, had
already made himself of use in various embassies and public offices,
for at all times we meet with a combination of official activity and
learning which was profitable in both ways.

That it was prohibited under heavy fines to resort to foreign
universities, is a proof of municipal exclusiveness increased by
hatred of their neighbours. Pope Clement VI., who indeed needed
the Florentines, was more liberal-minded than they, and granted
from Avignon on May 31, 1349, the privileges of Bologna to the new
university. At first they seem to have cherished the hope of gaining
Petrarca for the university; and when, in order to win him over, they
redeemed his confiscated paternal inheritance (a tardy restitution),
Boccaccio was sent to him at Padua. The matter remained without any
favourable result, probably on account of the disinclination of the
celebrated man to bind himself to permanent residence there, although
the customs of university life at that time, which allowed the
teachers to withdraw after a short interval, would still have left a
wide scope for his wandering propensities. The first period did not
fulfil the hopes which had been entertained. The plan seems to have
met with many opponents; while even the payment of the subvention of
2,500 gold florins seems to have fallen very hard on the city, then
in its first contests with the Visconti and the mercenaries. The
school revived in the autumn of 1357. Lapo da Castiglionchio gave
lectures there then, and three years later we meet with the first Greek
teacher, the Calabrian Leonzio Pilato, who had been drawn thither
from Venice by Boccaccio and remained three years. In 1364, Piero
Corsini, Tommaso’s son, and Bishop of Florence, obtained from the
Emperor Charles IV. imperial privileges for the school. The residence
of the most celebrated legal teacher of his time, Baldo of Perugia,
was but a short one. In 1368 the number of the teachers amounted to
seventeen. The disturbances leading to the mob-rule of 1378 seem to
have resulted in closing the university anew. Among those who taught
after it had been re-opened in 1385 was Francesco Zabarella of Padua,
subsequently Bishop of Florence and cardinal, an influential member of
the Council of Constance. About the same time Pier Paolo Vergerio, of
Capo d’Istria, then a young man, but afterwards renowned as a legal
scholar and humanist, lectured on dialectics. Two years later the
school received its statutes under the name of _Ordinamenta Studii
Florentini_, from an assembly of superintendents, professors, and
students in the Benedictine abbey. In 1397, Florence gained two men who
powerfully contributed to the revival of classical literature. The one
was Giovanni Malpaghini of Ravenna, who had been Petrarca’s companion
for fifteen years, and who taught the Latin language and literature for
many years with great success; the other, Manuel Chrysoloras, with whom
a branch of classical knowledge hitherto neglected began to develop
with great vigour.

The study of the Greek language and literature began at Florence with
Manuel Chrysoloras, and through her and Venice, always intimately
connected with the Levant, it spread over the rest of Italy. Petrarca
and Boccaccio had rather followed the Greek authors with a longing
gaze than been able to appropriate them; and though the poet of
the ‘Decameron’ transplanted, as he boasted, the Homeric poetry to
his native land, yet several decades passed after his death before
these isolated endeavours gained any real influence. Leonzio Pilato’s
activity was but transitory. Manuel Chrysoloras, who had originally
come to Italy on a diplomatic mission for John Paleologus, the
oppressed Emperor of the East, laid the foundation of the earnest
and successful studies which, as it were, opened a new world to the
West. For it was these studies which led to the living fountain of
Hellenic intellect men of mature age as well as aspiring youths, who
had hitherto only moved within the beaten track of the university
instruction of that time, and the still narrow circle of classical
literature. The fate of Greek writings is essentially different from
that of the Latin. The dark ages passed over the East also. Even
before the end of the Western Empire Greece was heavily visited, its
people mixed with foreign elements, its language corrupted, and much
of its great literature lost. But when Rome relapsed into barbarism,
Constantinople remained the centre of an ancient but decaying
civilisation which was never thoroughly extinguished.

Manuel Chrysoloras, who publicly taught in Rome, Venice, Milan, and
Padua, found the most fertile soil for his teaching in Florence,
whither he was summoned towards the end of 1396 at the suggestion of
Messer Palla Strozzi. It was he who undertook to satisfy the desires
awakened by Petrarca and Boccaccio by a thorough knowledge of his
mother-tongue, and by an introduction to the works of the great classic
authors and fathers of the Church, which he gave to eager scholars.
By his Greek grammar, the ‘Erotemata,’ as the title names it, first
printed at Venice in 1486, and introduced by Reuchlin, during the
latter years of his life, at the Tübingen University, he prepared the
way in the West for a scientific treatment of the language. When,
accompanied by Demetrius Cydonius, he arrived at Venice on his second
Italian journey, with the intention of giving lectures on the language
and literature of his native country, two Tuscans, the Florentine
Roberto de’ Rossi, and Jacopo Angelo of Scarperia in Mugello, repaired
thither to enrol themselves among his students. The latter then himself
visited the East. Coluccio Salutati, who still belonged entirely to the
school of the times of Petrarca, but who felt strongly the strivings
of the new spirit, wrote at that time to Demetrius:[330]—‘Still more
than at your greeting do I rejoice at the favour of heaven shown to us
in your arrival. When the study of Greek was, so to say, extinct among
us, you and Manuel have appeared like light in the darkness. God has
led you to Latium. By receiving and instructing Roberto so kindly, you
have inspired many with a desire to know Greek, and I already see in
spirit what a crowd of eager students of Hellenic literature will have
gathered together in a few years. Happy I, if happiness be yet reserved
for a man at my age (to-morrow I complete my sixty-fifth year), if I
am yet able to see the fountain-head, the source of all the knowledge
of Latium! Who knows if I be not destined, like Cato, to obtain a
knowledge of Greek literature in my old age, and unite the fruits of
this study to my native learning!’

It is a characteristic feature in the history of the revival of classic
literature generally, and especially of Greek, in Italy, and above
all in Florence, that so many men and youths of the higher classes
devoted themselves to such studies. Classical literature was not a mere
ornament and secondary matter, nor was it restricted to schools and
convents or to the purposes of self-maintenance. It was used in the
palaces of the commonwealth as well as in ordinary business. To many
it was the companion for life in fortune and misfortune—a cheering
friend at home, a consoler in the gloomy days of exile. Florence can
boast of a whole series of statesmen who were intimately acquainted
with the Greek classics, whose works they translated in their leisure
hours. Among Chrysoloras’ scholars were men of the first families,
and many men who rose to the most important offices of State. Palla
Strozzi was himself one of them, and in his banishment he never ceased
to enjoy the fruits of his studies in earlier years. Roberto de’ Rossi
instructed a number of younger pupils. Leonardo Bruni of Arezzo, for
many years chancellor of the Republic, was among those who attained
the most thorough knowledge of Greek. In Florence they did not wait
till the fall of Constantinople scattered the ruins of the Grecian
world over Italy to become intimate with Greek literature, to attract
Greek teachers, and to purchase Greek literary treasures. Many went
to the East not only to collect manuscripts, coins, works of art, and
inscriptions, but also to study the language and literature in the
country itself. Even Pope Pius II., in the speech by which he announced
the plan of the crusade, testified that Constantinople had, till the
day of the conquest, proved itself the monument of antique wisdom, the
seat of science, and the stronghold of philosophy; the Italians had
only thought they could attain the palm of excellence when, as the
Romans did in Athens, they had pursued their studies in Constantinople,
whence so many excellent works of antiquity had come to the West, and
others were still to be expected. That the Byzantine school exercised
as much influence on Italian travellers as the later Athenian did on
the Romans is evident; the humanistic rhetoricians and philosophers
retained some habits of mind which profound and extensive study of
the great authors was not always able to overcome. But the good of a
wide diffusion of classical learning outweighed the disadvantages. The
rapidity of its dissemination in a short time was astonishing. The
Greek fathers assembled at the Florentine conference were not a little
surprised to find men among their native colleagues who knew far more
of Greek language and literature than they did.

Cosimo de’ Medici was in the prime of life when this great revolution
passed through its first stage. It was the epoch in which Greek
literature broke like a mighty wave over Italy, while the limits still
restricting Latin were broken through as with an enchanter’s rod. The
Council of Constance, which restored peace and unity to the Western
Church, opened also the libraries of German and French convents, in
which numerous treasures, especially of Roman literature, lay unread
and long forgotten. Poggio Bracciolini,[331] born at Terranuova, in
the Upper Arno valley, in 1380, was thirty-five years old when he
accompanied Pope John XXIII. to Constance. He was the most successful
discoverer the world has known in the field of literature, which he
has enriched in an undreamt-of manner. Nor was he merely a discoverer,
but also one who could turn these treasures to good account—learned,
skilful, acute, witty; a true child of his age in the literary quarrels
which often degenerated into mere janglings, in the slander, equivocal
wit and anecdotes, in the restlessness and disquiet which seemed
to have seized the humanistic class generally. The papal treasury,
to which he was attached all his life long without forfeiting his
attachment to his native land, appointed him her chancellor, when he
already numbered seventy-three years. Of no pre-eminent importance
as an historian and antiquarian, he had that lively feeling for the
grandeur and glory of the Roman epoch which had inspired Petrarca,
and in him it was united with a wider view and surer knowledge of the
monuments which had emerged from the mediæval world of fables. It was
Poggio above all who abolished the Rome of the Mirabilia. The literary
endeavours which began in St. Gall continued in operation during years
and decades, even into the time of Leo X., and extended over Germany
and France as far as Scandinavia. The movement affected the convents
of Italy, which were not more respected than foreign ones, and it
created a new life at the same time in literature by multiplying and
disseminating the old supplies of learning and those newly gained. The
book trade, in the proper sense of the word, then first began.

Books were exceedingly rare and proportionately dear till the fifteenth
century. Petrarca’s and Boccaccio’s testimony brings vividly before
our eyes the straits in which learned men often found themselves; and
even those in high stations copied with their own hand works that they
would otherwise have been unable to procure, either on account of the
extravagant prices, or in cases where the originals could not be bought
on account of a deficiency of copyists and the difficulty of obtaining
them. When we regard with a feeling of gratitude the copies of Cicero’s
‘Meditations’ made by Petrarca, and now preserved in the Laurentian
library, one of which replaces the original for us, we can estimate,
in some degree, the value which these men placed on the discovery—for
discovery in a certain sense it was—of those antique models, which
became to them examples of life and conduct. This reflection brings us
back to the times which we are contemplating, when we find emendations
and conjectures of the text written on the margin of the manuscripts
in Coluccio Salutati’s hand. It but seldom occurred that learned men
copied for others, as Poggio Bracciolini, who wrote a beautiful hand,
did in his youth, when he had to live on such work. The copying for
money had in general become the business of very ignorant persons, of
whose negligence Petrarca, who had a skilful assistant in his companion
Giovanni da Ravenna, gives us an idea when he asks if Cicero, Livy,
and Pliny, would recognise their own works in this shape, or would not
rather consider them productions of the barbarians. Coluccio Salutati
wrote a special treatise on the unfortunate condition of books, and
the means of preventing harm arising to literature. Not only works
of antiquity were considered here, but modern authors also. ‘I cannot
express,’ says the Florentine chancellor once,[332] ‘how repulsive the
universal corruption which has crept into books is to me. We scarcely
find one manuscript of Petrarca’s and Boccaccio’s works which does not
deviate from the original. They are not texts, but coarse caricatures
of texts (_similitudines_), while the real texts are in a measure seals
(_sigilla_) of the original documents. What we have deviates more from
the originals than statues from the men whose counterfeit they are.
They have a mouth, but they say nothing; or worse, they frequently say
what is false. In Dante’s book this calamity is the greatest, as the
uninitiated are often unable to follow those who are at all acquainted
with the poet.’

Nevertheless a certain kind of book trade was an old-established
calling;[333] not to speak of single sales, as for example the sale, at
the little town of Poggibonzi, of a perfect copy of the ‘Corpus Juris,’
as well as the decrees of Gratian, of which we possess a notary’s
deed of transfer bearing the date 1215. The _stationarii_ at the
universities, an expression preserved in the English word stationer,
were persons who kept a supply of text-books used in the lectures,
for the purpose of copying, in which learned and unlearned, and even
women, were employed. The thronging of the ignorant to this business,
which seems to have been lucrative, necessitated superintendence,
which was exercised by Peciarii, selected among the students, and
all of the clerical order. We can easily understand that, except at
the universities, in which Bologna and Padua took the lead, such
superintendence (for which, and for the trade in manuscripts generally,
special directions were issued in the fourteenth century) could not be
organised, so that much always depended on the pleasure and ignorance
of dealers and copyists.

Copying and painting were certainly favourite employments in the
monasteries; but either the requirements of the special community
were principally kept in view, or it was chiefly a question of
ecclesiastical and devotional books. As towards the end of the Gothic
period, Cassiodorus, one of the last who witnessed antique culture
still alive, recommended copying to the monks of Squillace, so did
Fra Giovanni Dominici in the beginning of the fifteenth century, when
he remarked that such employments raised monks and nuns to pure and
holy thoughts, words which plainly show what kind of books were meant.
Even in the cloister the want of books, and those the most necessary,
was at times felt. Most of the convent libraries were poor in ancient
manuscripts. It was worse in the more recently founded ones and in
nunneries. The sainted Chiara Gambacorta,[334] daughter of a ruler of
Pisa, towards the end of the fourteenth and at the beginning of the
following century, repeatedly complains of the destitution prevailing
in her convent of Dominican nuns, and rejoiced when any book was
promised as a legacy. Once she begs for information where a Book of
Lessons or a Bible may be found. ‘We are very poor in books, and need
them for Divine service. Copying is too expensive for us to be able
to think of it. If we should find any ready made, however, I hope to
God that I shall be able, by the assistance of good people, to pay for
them.’ Three and a half to four gold florins were paid at this time for
a devotional book, the offices of the Virgin, not only by noblemen but
by wealthy citizens. Rinaldo degli Albizzi considers it worth noticing
in his memoirs,[335] that in the summer of 1406 he paid eleven gold
florins for a Bible at Arezzo. Even in a city like Florence it was not
easy to procure books of devotion, because of the small number of good
copyists. An Augustinian brother of Sto. Spirito, a skilful writer, was
engaged in 1395 by the Cardinal Piero Corsini for full two years.[336]
The materials were also costly. The parchment for a book of Epistles
cost ten silver florins. The expense of illustrating manuscripts with
miniatures and ornaments was very considerable. The convents would not
have been able to obtain so many manuscripts of this kind had not the
industry of their inhabitants been specially directed to the art of

The rapid diffusion of learning and the equally swift increase of
literary material created the book trade properly so-called, which
till then had been pursued occasionally by persons of every calling,
among others by tavern-keepers. One of the centres of this trade was
Venice, which was materially assisted in her dealings by her extensive
commercial connections. When the study of Greek began to revive,
numerous codices were imported from Candia, among other places,
where copying had become a fruitful source of gain, and were eagerly
bought up by native and foreign collectors.[337] Of course this trade
presupposed the formation of a special class of copyists, who were
under the direction of such persons as specially devoted themselves
to this branch of business, undertook large and small orders, and had
them executed by hundreds of workmen. A certain degree of literary
cultivation was requisite in those whose duty it was to control the
workers. The great mass of manuscripts of classical works belongs
to the fifteenth century. In some cases they represent for us the
originals, which have disappeared since, especially after the invention
of printing by types, for as we know from Aldo Manuzio’s complaint,
the parchment of manuscripts which had been printed from was often
used for binding purposes. In other cases they are to be counted of
especial value, because the originals were then already in a very
injured condition, like the manuscripts of Quintilian and the ‘Sylvae’
of Statius, which Poggio found in St. Gall and in France, as was the
case also with the manuscripts of Constantinople. A numerous progeny
of errors may be derived from such copies, of which the earliest, even
when made by learned men, were not always perfectly exact, not those of
Petrarca nor Poggio, who were occasionally forced to work in a hurry
(_velociter_). The costly parchment was by no means employed for all
new manuscripts. The paper manufacture, which, if not revived in the
fourteenth century, was at least developed then in a greater degree,
wherein the first place seems to belong to the town of Fabriano, which
still furnishes the best paper in Italy. This manufacture was begun as
early as 1379 at Colle, in the Elsa valley,[338] and was of essential
service to the book trade. Of this most brilliant but brief period
of the preparation of manuscripts, and the trade in them, an epoch
which immediately preceded that of the invention of printing, and the
memorials of which are to be found in all the libraries of Italy and
elsewhere, we shall speak again later.



NEXT to Poggio Bracciolini, Leonardo Bruni and Ambrogio Traversari
were those who did most effective service to the knowledge of classic
antiquity. Leonardo Bruni[339] was descended from a burgher family in
Arezzo, whence he derived the name of Aretino, which, after having
been held in honour, was dragged through the mud a century later by
one of his own countrymen. Although eleven years older than Poggio,
and instructed in Greek by Chrysoloras at Florence, he did not
appear till much later in the Papal exchequer, owing, it seems, to
his being disgusted with events passing at Constance. He remained at
home when Pope Martin V. returned, and the office of chancellor was
there bestowed on him in 1427, a post he filled with dignity till his
death on March 8, 1444, at the age of seventy-five. Like Coluccio,
Poggio, Gregorio Correr, the highly educated kinsman of Pope Gregory
XII., and others, he laid the foundation of a criticism which kept
his fame alive for centuries in the emendation of manuscripts; while
by the translation of Greek authors into the Latin language, he made
them accessible to a larger circle of readers, among whom a knowledge
of Greek had not found its way. Everyone who had any pretensions to
cultivation understood Latin more or less. All speeches on festive
occasions, and even some private conversations, were in Latin. Official
documents were drawn up in the same language, and most business
transactions were conducted in it. Pope Martin V. spoke Latin with his
Tuscan secretaries, even when angry at the rudeness of the Florentine
street boys. But Greek remained a subject of study which never, even in
the happiest times, extended beyond a circle privileged by exceptional
knowledge and position. Though Leonardo Aretino wrote a small treatise
in Greek[340] on the Florentine constitution, he composed his principal
works in Latin. His history of Florence, extending from the origin of
the city to the strife with Gian Galeazzo Visconti, was, so to say,
completed by Poggio’s last work, which concludes with the year 1455.
Men of the fifteenth century, who longed to see the classical form of
historiography employed on events at home, attributed an imaginary
value to this work, and believed that Florence could rival Athens,
and her two historians, statesmen as well as scholars, might compete
with Thucydides and Xenophon. Whoever wishes to study Florentine
history will not turn to the Latin historians of the humanistic epoch,
whose style, however, exercised a decided influence not merely on
contemporary works in the vulgar tongue, but on much later writings.
The importance attributed to these works is shown by the excellent
Donato Acciaiuoli having been publicly commissioned to translate into
Italian the history of his master Leonardo, which had been bought by
the State, while Poggio’s son Jacopo did the same with that of his
father. The veneration in which Leonardo Aretino was held was expressed
by a grant of the rights of citizenship to him in 1416, by the
immunity from taxation decreed in his favour twenty-three years later,
by the purchase of his principal work,[341] and by the laurel wreath
at his funeral, a distinction granted to many deserving men. On March
9, Alamanno Rinuccini wrote to Giovanni de’ Medici, Cosimo’s son, then
residing at the baths of Petriolo:[342] ‘I do not doubt that letters
and messengers will have outstripped this letter in speed, but for the
sake of our mutual friendship I will speak of him who quitted this life
but yesterday. How could I be otherwise than deeply moved when so many
undying virtues are suddenly removed from our sight, virtues which
were not only an adornment to him in whom they shone, but sufficed as
an ornament and benefit to the whole town? Who felt and exercised such
beneficence towards all, friends and strangers? who assisted friends
with advice like him? who distinguished himself by excellent qualities
and knowledge to such a degree? It is amongst ancient Romans we must
search to find men who resemble him.’

Ambrogio Traversari,[343] born in 1386, the son of poor peasants at
Portico, a little village of Tuscan Romagna, was younger than Leonardo
by seventeen years, than Poggio by six. If he were one of Chrysoloras’
scholars,[344] it must have been at a very youthful age. At all events,
he attained an unusual knowledge of Greek, while he was considered
the best Latinist in Florence equal to Leonardo; joint praise which
the latter, who laid claims to the first undivided place, took so
amiss that he quarrelled with his rival and friends about it. As a
boy, Ambrogio entered the order of the Camaldolese monks, in which he
attained to the highest honours. When a man, the fame of his virtues
and knowledge attracted all who were interested in learned studies in
Florence to the convent of the Angeli in Via degli Alfani. This church,
which has been lately restored, is at present disused for Divine
worship, and empty. Like the great mother-house in the Casentino, the
city convents have been taken from the Camaldulese, who seemed to have
grown with Tuscan history, and yet fell a sacrifice to a revolution of
which there is yet no history. But whoever enters the pillared court
is reminded by the marble bust of Ambrogio Traversari of the time when
this spot was a centre of brilliant intellectual light illuminating the
houses of Florentine patricians, and through them the whole world. The
most illustrious and talented men flocked to Fra Ambrogio (as formerly
to Marsigli), who not only gave lectures for the clergy and laity on
Greek and Latin language and literature, but discussed philosophical
and theological questions in public conferences. In addition to the
various works of his regular calling he was employed in the translation
of Greek writings, especially the Fathers of the Church. Cosimo de’
Medici testified to his skill therein when he related how Fra Ambrogio
dictated the Latin translation of St. Chrysostom’s ‘Commentary on the
Epistles of St. Paul’ to Niccolò Niccoli, who wrote a ready hand, so
quickly that the latter was hardly able to follow him, Cosimo, who,
with his brother Lorenzo, was one of the most frequent visitors to the
convent of the Angeli, assisted Fra Ambrogio, who was not rich, with
money as well as books. The latter translated for Cosimo. Diogenes
Laertius’ ‘Lives of Philosophers,’ a work which he, having devoted
himself entirely to theological studies, undertook unwillingly, but
yet could not refuse to his generous friend. The men whom the two
Medici met most frequently at Traversari’s were Niccolò Niccoli, Carlo
Marsuppini, and Gianozzo Manetti. Such a lover of books as Niccoli
had never been seen in Florence. The son of an affluent merchant,
he devoted himself when independent zealously to literature; while
he displayed scarcely less sympathy for art, with the most famous
disciples of which he stood in intimate relations. Like Fra Ambrogio’s
cloister, his house was a centre for literary effort and learned
conversation. At the commencement of the dialogue ‘De Infelicitate
Principum,’ Poggio describes his meeting Cosimo de’ Medici and
Marsuppini at the time when he was at Florence in the suite of Pope
Eugenius IV. A conversation on the instability of human things afforded
the opportunity for holding the dialogue mentioned. Poggio observed
then, among other things, that during his thirty-four years’ service at
the Papal court he never remained more than two years in one and the
same place. Thoroughly versed in the Latin language, and instructed in
philosophy and theology under the guidance of Marsigli, Niccoli was one
of those who caused Chrysoloras to be summoned to Florence, and was one
of his most earnest scholars. His knowledge was extensive also in other
branches; no one was more at home in geography. His love for books
became a passion. He had agents everywhere, and manuscripts came to him
from all sides. If he could not obtain possession of the originals,
he borrowed and copied them himself. His copy of Lucretius, kept in
the Laurentian library, after another manuscript of Poggio had been
lost, became the original of all which were written in the fifteenth
century. He employed all his fortune on his library—no mere ornament
to his house, nor was it dead capital. Liberal and sympathetic, he
placed his treasures at the disposal of all. Many owed their progress
in studies to him. Where his own means did not suffice, he persuaded
friends to purchase, especially Cosimo de’ Medici, who cherished a
great affection for him, and in 1420, when he quitted Florence on
account of the pestilence, took him and Marsuppini to Verona. Neither
Cosimo nor his brother could refuse him anything. When he had expended
so much that his income no longer sufficed to support the modest
household which he maintained with a single aged servant (he had not
wished to marry, in order not to be interrupted in his studies), the
two Medici commissioned their banking agents to pay him as much as
he might demand, and to put it to their account. Niccoli repaid the
friendship they always showed to him. In 1433 he expressed himself
so unguardedly against Cosimo’s enemies, that he would have shared
their fate had not the change come soon. He was the most open-hearted
man in the world—cheerful, conversational, eloquent, accessible to
all, and obliging. By sincere sympathy he richly compensated for the
irritability of his temper, which more than once led him into mistakes
and often exposed him to literary attacks. His exterior was dignified,
his dress careful. Beside books, his house was full of objects of
art of various kinds; and if his food was of the simplest, he loved
to decorate his table with delicate porcelain, crystal, and fine
table-linen. He was the first to conceive the idea of a public library,
and caused the manuscripts which Boccaccio had bequeathed to the
convent of Sto. Spirito, and which were treasured up in coffers, to be
laid open for common use by having book-shelves and reading-desks made
at his own expense. We shall speak later on of the way in which his own
library was disposed of.

Through Niccoli, Carlo Marsuppini[345] was brought into contact with
the Medici, which proved the turning-point of his whole life. His
intimate relation with them is shown by the fact that at Cosimo’s wish
he made the funeral oration on the death of his mother Piccarda. Born
at Arezzo of affluent parents, at the end of the fourteenth century
(his grandfather was secretary to King Charles VI. of France, and
governor of Genoa conjointly with the Marshal of Boucicault), he came
in early youth to Florence, where he attained considerable knowledge
of the Latin and Greek languages and literature, made himself a famous
name, as a public teacher, by his eloquence and excellent memory,
and subsequently became chancellor. The numerous official duties he
undertook in later years hindered him from cultivating literature as
much as he desired. Thus he laid aside the metrical translation of
the Iliad, which aroused in Pope Nicholas V. the wish to have the
author near him, that he might devote himself undisturbed to Homer.
After some time it was taken up by a greater poet and Latinist, who,
however, also left his task unfinished.

How honourable was the position held by both Leonardo Bruni and Carlo
Marsuppini is shown by the beautiful monuments erected to them, as
well as the laurel bestowed on them after death. Giannozzi Manetti had
greater literary and political importance than the latter.[346] He was
descended from an illustrious family, and was born in 1396. While he
devoted himself to science with as much zeal as if he considered study
the main duty of his life, he developed an activity in public affairs
which extended his connections beyond the narrow limits of his country
throughout all Italy. He learnt Greek with Traversari; Latin he spoke
and wrote with equal elegance, so that he made impromptu speeches at
festivals, as at the Emperor Frederick III.’s entry into Florence, when
he answered Eneas Silvio Piccolomini’s address extempore. To aid his
theological studies he learned Hebrew, then a rarity, and disputed with
Jewish scholars over the words and meaning of the Holy Scriptures. With
three books he was so familiar that he might almost be said to know
them by heart. They were the Epistles of St. Paul, Augustine’s ‘City
of God,’ and Aristotle’s ‘Ethics.’ He translated the New Testament,
and wrote a treatise on the Psalter. He devoted himself likewise to
contemporary history, in which his extensive circle of personal friends
was of great assistance to him. Continually employed in embassies,
in which he did his native city essential service, he investigated
with unusual acuteness the nature of sovereigns and governments. He
has delineated Pope Nicholas V. and King Alfonso, while he attempted
biographies of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, and celebrated the
merits of distinguished contemporaries like Leonardo Bruni and
Giannozzo Pandolfini in memorial speeches. More perhaps than others of
the time was he subject to that literary pedantry (a strange feature
in a statesman) which appeared so strongly in the eulogy of Bruni,
for example, that Poggio Bracciolini felt himself obliged to treat
the same subjects in a freer and more independent manner. Manetti’s
many services to the State in peace and war were ill requited. When in
Cosimo de’ Medici’s later years the party came to the helm who suffered
no independent position outside their own circle, Giannozzo Manetti,
who could not be injured otherwise, was ruined by taxes, and ended his
days in a foreign country.

The men we have mentioned, whose activity extends beyond the limits
of the fifteenth century, were the most illustrious of those on whom
Manuel Chrysoloras exercised direct or indirect influence. If we
return to their training-time, we find the university so flourishing
at the beginning of the century that undisturbed continuance of its
prosperity might have been prophesied. In 1401, especially famous among
its teachers of jurisprudence was Paolo di Castro, whose name was
considered to rank only second to that of Bartolo di Sassoferrato. He
was variously employed by the Government, and took a prominent share in
reforming the Florentine statute law; a reform at which several clever
lawyers, like Bartolommeo da Soncino and others, worked for years.
This revised code, concluded and accepted in 1415, remained in force
till the abolition of all the numerous civil corporate and individual
rights in the time of the Grand Duke Leopold I.[347] Citizens of the
most illustrious families gave instruction then, as later. Not only
youths but men of mature age filled the lecture-rooms, for literary
and scientific knowledge was considered necessary in the higher ranks,
where wealth excluded the necessity of gaining bread by scholarship.
It was a noble emulation; and many, amid the sudden changes which
brought rich families to beggary, did find means of subsistence in what
they had once only regarded as an ornament of life. How many found the
studies which delighted their youth the comfort of age in desolation
and exile! The favourable prospects of the university did not last,
however. Soon after 1404 the school seems to have been closed for
eight years, in consequence of the disturbance and expense caused by
the Pisan war and the oppression of King Ladislaus. After its being
re-opened, Guarino of Verona was for a short time professor of Greek,
a knowledge of which he had gained from Giovanni of Ravenna, and then
perfected in Constantinople. In the spring of 1414 we meet with Palla
Strozzi as one of the reformers, an office which he again undertook
in the year 1428. On both occasions he rendered great services to the
state, as it was he who obtained from Pope Martin V. the taxation of
the clergy for purposes of public instruction.

We have made the acquaintance of Palla Strozzi in our description
of political life in his native city. His family was noble, and
he ennobled it still more by the high character and position he
attained. He had learned the Latin language thoroughly in his youth,
and his longing for a knowledge of Greek had essentially contributed
to the appointment of Chrysoloras. He entered the Greek’s circle of
scholars, and took care to procure books and means of assistance
from Constantinople and the Levant. His house was prudently kept,
his sons most carefully instructed. Giovanni of Imola was their
first tutor, and then Tommaso of Sarzana, who was destined for high
honours. The perplexities in which this excellent man was involved
in the disturbances of 1433-34 have been already related. The heads
of the opposite party could hardly have considered him dangerous,
but he was inconvenient to them. They said they wished for no court
of appeal in Florence,[348] and Cosimo de’ Medici who yet had had
more opportunities than others of knowing Palla’s great qualities and
honest intentions, was not magnanimous enough to lay aside hatred and
envy and restore him to his home. In his influential days the guidance
of the State was placed in the hands of men who were interested in
intellectual as well as political matters. Rinaldo degli Albizzi was
occupied all his life with public affairs, perhaps more than any other
citizen. If we consider that for more than fifteen years he was the
real and, so to say, hereditary head of the aristocratic party, we
scarcely understand how he could possibly undertake one embassy after
another, commission after commission. The astonishment increases when
we review the numberless reports and memoranda composed during his
missions, which lasted to the beginning of 1433. They are some of the
oldest of the large collection of documents the Republic can boast
of. They are memorials drawn from the cultivated mind of an acute
observer and practised business man, who treats the smallest things
with the same conscientious care as the greatest; a virtue which was
peculiar to this time and people, and the brilliant results of which
are displayed in various fields. The vulgar tongue, in general still
excluded from the treatment of scientific questions, or even political
affairs, as far as it was a question of real representation (even
in the discussions of the guilds it was first employed in 1414),
appears here with a precision and skill which forms a prelude to the
political writings of Lorenzo de’ Medici and Machiavelli. That Rinaldo
selected Tommaso of Sarzana as well as Palla Strozzi to be the tutor
of his sons shows what value he placed on good training, such as he
had enjoyed himself. A physician who united medical science with
philosophical studies, Giovanni Baldi de’ Tambini of Faenza, teacher
at the Florentine university, and burgher of the city, in intimate
connection with Rinaldo and Cosimo de’ Medici in their youth, has noted
a disputation which he held with the latter on the question as to
whether science was opposed to the Christian faith. The illustrious
youth replied in the affirmative, like Pietro Pomponazzo a century
after him, and supported his opinion by expressions of Aristotle.[349]
His eloquence was praised by several of his contemporaries; Giovanni
Cavalcanti says expressly that he maintained the honour of eloquence in
Florence. It is more than probable that he wrote political poems.[350]
Leonardo Aretino addressed a treatise on war to him. Among those who
were active at the university we do not find his name; but we find
among its promoters Niccoli, as well as Niccolò da Uzzano, the latter
of whom evinced the interest he took in science by a munificent
bequest for the foundation of a college for fifty scholars, a gift
unfortunately employed for other purposes.

Although the clouds which gathered more and more at the close of the
third decade of the century threatened disturbances and war, a busy
scientific life flourished at Florence. In April 1429, Francesco
Filelfo of Tolentino, persuaded by Palla Strozzi, was appointed teacher
of Greek literature.[351] He had studied for years at Constantinople,
and latterly taught at Bologna. Never, perhaps, had a philologist such
influence on the public, or was able to assemble such a brilliant
circle of listeners, not even Pomponio Seto. However much allowance
we may make for the boasting of a man vain beyond belief, who ranked
himself in serious earnest above Virgil and Cicero because he found
in himself the poet and orator combined, and because Greek and Latin
were alike familiar to him, he yet possessed extraordinary talents.
His versatility was as great as his industry, supported by the most
powerful constitution, which enabled him to continue the usual
fatiguing life of the humanists unharmed to a great age. After having
explained Homer and Thucydides, Cicero and Livy, he gave lectures in
Sta. Maria del Fiore on the Divine Comedy. In the spring of 1431 the
rights of citizenship were awarded to him. But his sharp tongue and
his vanity, which led him to interfere in the civil factions, made him
numerous enemies. A decree of banishment[352] promulgated against him
in April, 1432, on account of an insult to the Republic of Venice,
was not executed, but he was unable to save himself in the confusion
which led to the fall of the Albizzi. With a degree of self-assertion
which his position outside the political circle did not justify, he
placed himself on the side of the now defeated optimates, with whom
he remained in close connection even in their misfortunes. In his
confident expectation of success he put no limits to his expression
of hatred of the Medici, whom he accused of personal malice and
disloyalty. When Cosimo was imprisoned, Filelfo went so far as to call
upon his enemies in hexameters to prevent future quarrels and bloodshed
by the death of that one man.[353] This would have been sufficient,
even if he had not indulged in bitterness against the friends of the
Medici—Niccoli, Marsuppini, Poggio, the latter of whom was not far
behind his opponent in virulence. When Cosimo returned, Filelfo fled
to Siena, and for years the most undignified strife went on, not only
in books and letters, but even with sharper weapons and criminal
investigations; the effusions of the celebrated scholar himself gave
the saddest proof of his unbridled temper.

Cosimo de’ Medici was inferior to many of his illustrious
fellow-citizens in classical knowledge, but to few in scholarly
interest and vivid appreciation of those tendencies the pursuit of
which imparted to his epoch such great splendour.[354] Trained, even in
his youth, by a skilful father to the business of a great mercantile
house, gifted with rare insight into financial and mercantile affairs,
he and his brother Lorenzo received a thorough education. Lorenzo
rivalled him in respect to scientific interests. Antonio of Todi, a
pupil of Filelfo’s, extols Lorenzo by saying that, though not eloquent,
he always displayed correct understanding and ripe knowledge, which,
besides the example afforded him by excellent parents, he had obtained
through good teachers, by attending to his studies from his youth,
and collecting a number of valuable books in addition to the other
treasures of his house. Poggio, in his memorial addressed to Marsuppini
on Lorenzo’s death a quarter of a century before that of his brother,
specially dwells on his correct and refined taste, his good sense
and his urbanity of manner, and says that he has lost in him father,
brother, and friend, one who had always assisted him when he required
it, and abundantly supported him.[355] Thus we can understand how the
two brothers lived in perfect harmony together, and supported one
another in their patriotic labours.

It was Roberto de’ Rossi who instructed the two young Medici and
several of their contemporaries of the families Albizzi (Rinaldo’s
brother Luca for example), the Alessandri, Buoninsegni, Tebaldi, &c.,
in the Latin language and literature. When this man, of ripe age and
quite alone in life, walked out, the young men who were distinguished
in study and general conduct, and who sometimes shared his meals, were
seen following him. From his youth upwards, Cosimo always had a great
predilection for Latin literature and scientific labours generally.
Preferring grave conversation he soon turned his back on pleasures
which he took up for the moment, and habitually spent his leisure
hours in talk with the learned. A love of books was developed in him
in the course of time by his endeavours to place what he collected at
the disposal, first of friends and then of the city in general. This
predilection, united to a love for antiquities, was doubtless fostered
by Poggio, with whom he formed an intimate acquaintance at Florence at
the time when the latter came thither with Pope John XXIII., and later
in Constance. Poggio seldom writes a letter to a Florentine friend
without sending messages to Cosimo and Lorenzo. He took an interest
in all that concerned them. On February 28, 1429, he wrote from Rome
to Niccoli: ‘I have heard of the death of the excellent Giovanni de’
Medici, who has so well served his country. My sorrow is great, as well
because the land is poorer by the loss of such a citizen as because
his sons have lost such a father and we such a serviceable friend and
patron. I can imagine how grieved Cosimo and Lorenzo are. It cannot
be otherwise, with their excellent qualities and the merits of their
sainted father.’[356] In political affairs Poggio stood on the Medicean
side; and in his letters to Niccoli about the war against Lucca,
and its cause, he expresses himself often with great asperity, and
anticipates nothing but mischief to those engaged in it.[357]

The friendship between Cosimo and Poggio seems to have been unsullied.
The ever-ready Papal secretary always praised his patron, both before
and after the time when the latter placed the conduct of affairs in his
hands. This was in 1430, when Cosimo was residing at Rome for a time,
on business which after his father’s death had devolved upon him and
his brother, who had been there in April 1429. Cosimo always managed
to unite business with his various studies and favourite pursuits.
In a letter to Niccoli, Poggio informs him of a visit made with his
countryman to the site of Ostia, where the ruins of a mediæval castle
were raised on those of the Roman town. ‘When Cosimo and I visited the
harbour, we found no inscriptions. The temple, which has been ruined by
the people for use in lime-burning, presents none. The epigram from a
monument consisting of a single block of marble with fasces sculptured
on it, found on the banks of the river on the Via d’Ostia, I have
already sent to you.’ When Cosimo went into exile, Poggio addressed a
long consolatory letter to him. He showed him what he had lost, and
what remained to him; how rich the compensation, and what a comfort it
was he had nothing to reproach himself with, and that the consciousness
of the services he had rendered his native country was his. The letter
does not speak of a prospect of a speedy return home.[358] Poggio, who
came to Florence during the exile of his patron, did not, perhaps,
believe in it. When it occurred, however, he compared it to the return
of Cicero, as Paolo Giovio did long afterwards.

After the year 1434, Cosimo was very seldom absent from home, but
antiquities and objects of art came to him from all quarters. He
even seems to have become Poggio’s rival, for Greek sculptures
originally destined for the latter came into his possession. Everywhere
manuscripts, intaglios, inscriptions, and coins were offered to him,
even long before he began to make the large collections for his own
and others’ use, as will soon be mentioned. The most travelled and
skilful collector of antiquities of this time, the father of the race
of wandering antiquaries, a scholar and trader too, though not always
trustworthy as either, Ciriaco Pizzicolli of Ancona, has given eloquent
expression to the gratitude he owed to Cosimo. This man travelled
through Italy and the Levant at a time when the rule of the Venetians
in a part of Greece, in the Ionic and Ægean Sea, and the residence of
Italian families on the Greek islands, the Lusignans in Cyprus, and
the order of St. John in the island of Rhodes, afforded facilities for
travelling. He visited Roumania and Anatolia, which were for the most
part under Turkish rule, and went into Egypt which already maintained
many connections with the West. His eyes were directed towards the far
East, when death surprised him soon after the middle of the century. It
was Ciriaco who served as cicerone in 1433 to the Emperor Sigismund,
whom he had accompanied from Siena to Rome, the inhabitants of which
were severely and not unjustly condemned for their Vandalism by the
orderly Florentines, accustomed to a city that was growing daily richer
in ornament. The Romans made lime from the marble of their monuments,
but furnished no native antiquary to guide across their wide fields
of ruins the ruler of the empire named after Rome.[359] Ciriaco stood
in connection with the whole learned world of Florence, and many may
have availed themselves of his services, but not all spoke well of him,
for Poggio complains repeatedly of his boastfulness, a fault which was
shared by his successors.[360]

In the Medicean household renowned scholars were employed as
instructors of the two sons, of whom Pietro, the elder, was eighteen
years old when his father returned from exile. We find Antonio Pacini
of Todi and Alberto Enoch of Ascoli often named both in the literary
history and letters of the time. Enoch of Ascoli taught the Medici and
Bardi in Florence, gave public lectures in Perugia, and was variously
employed by Pope Nicholas V. in the formation of the Vatican library,
and in Germany. In the year 1451 the Pope sent him as far as to the
Grand Master of the Teutonic order in Prussia to make researches in
monastic and other libraries.[361] ‘Our Enoch,’ writes Traversari
(1436) to Cosimo[362]—‘you know whom I mean, since he was your sons’
tutor—begs pressingly to be commended to you. What the question is
he will tell you. According to my opinion, he deserves your support
both for his unusual learning and his modesty, and the confidence he
places in you and your goodness. I do all for him on my part that I
can, but your authority will do more for him than another’s.’ Antonio
of Todi[363] came from Filelfo’s school. He was very intimate in the
Medicean house, and seems especially to have attached himself to the
younger sons. ‘I have received a letter from you,’ he writes once to
Giovanni de’ Medici, ‘as welcome as it is pleasing, for I see in it
how much you aspire after virtue and good report, by accepting the
admonitions that are intended for your good. This lies at my heart as
much as at yours, on account of our mutual affection as of my love to
Cosimo, whom nothing in the world can render more happy than to see
that his son is sensible and fears God.’ Antonio of Todi’s merits of
style cannot have been great, if Cardinal Ammanati, a reasonable judge,
calls unreadable his translations of Plutarch’s Biographies, of which
he speaks in the letters to the youthful Medici.



LEARNED studies were at their height in Florence when Pope Eugenius
IV. arrived on June 23, 1434, and soon afterwards saw his court
assembled around him. It was, as we have said, the time when Rinaldo
degli Albizzi felt the ground unsafe beneath his feet, when he hoped
to secure power to himself by proceeding against Cosimo de’ Medici,
and had been urged to the violent attempt which ended in his own
ruin. Except in the removal of Francesco Filelfo, the peaceful but
decisive revolution seems to have exercised no influence on literary
affairs. The presence of the Papal court was of service to studies of
science and those who fostered them: their long residence in the city,
which was then the centre of all scientific and literary effort, had,
too, a powerful and decided influence on the course pursued by that
court under Eugenius’ successor. This successor, Tommaso of Sarzana,
was the former tutor of the sons of Rinaldo degli Albizzi and Palla
Strozzi and, as secretary to Cardinal Niccolò Albergati, the excellent
bishop of Bologna, revisited the city in which he had once resided in
comparative poverty. The two men who had been most intimate with him
were forced into an exile which only terminated in death. Tommaso,
however, who showed himself grateful to their descendants in the
days of his greatness, found friendly reception and patronage from
Cosimo de’ Medici; and till the death of Nicholas V. this friendship
continued to be a great assistance to them and to science generally.
Vespasiano da Bisticci, who has left us an attractive picture of the
good and learned Pope, describes how Tommaso, after he had accompanied
his cardinal to the palace, met in the corner of the square the men
who represented learning in Florence at that time, namely, Leonardo,
and Carlo of Arezzo, Gianozzo Manetti, Giovanni Aurispa, Gasparo of
Bologna, and Poggio Bracciolini. The latter, after much danger from
Piccinino’s mercenaries, into whose hands he fell in his flight to
Rome, had been liberated for a heavy ransom and had followed Pope
Eugenius.[364] Here they conversed on learned subjects morning and
evening in the open air, with the simplicity which characterised the
manners of the time. Carlo Marsuppini, freed from a troublesome rival
by Filelfo’s removal, was the most celebrated teacher. Cardinals and
prelates might be seen among his listeners.

We now approach an occurrence, the result of which was rather a
great stir than any practical effect in the history of the Church.
The Council of Florence exercised great influence on the progress of
learning at a time when the impetus had been already given in a certain
direction. But a small number of the Greek fathers who came to Italy
were able to participate in scientific research, and the majority of
them were surpassed by the Florentines; yet the presence of so many
Greeks did exercise a decided influence on the connection between
Eastern and Western Europe, especially as the final destruction of
the eastern empire happened scarcely more than a decade later. Many
Greeks who sought a new home after the conquest of Constantinople had
the way shown to them by the council, although the Rome of Nicholas V.
had already begun to rival Florence. Among the Greek fathers, Cardinal
Bessarion, who promoted the interests of learning to the end of his
life, was perhaps the only man of scientific importance for the West.
Among the assistants and interpreters, many may be named who made
themselves famous in the history of the revival of classical literature
in Italy. In the foremost of these rank Georgios Gemistos, surnamed
Plethon, Nicolas Secundinus of Eubœa, and Theodore Gaza of Thessalonica.

Georgios Gemistos,[365] a native of the Morea, had been tutor to
Chrysoloras, whom he survived many years, attaining to a great age. He
had also instructed Bessarion. Plato’s writings and doctrines formed
his chief study. His zealous research into and dissemination of them,
and his labours for the construction of a new philosophical system
with their aid, was so great that he gave lectures everywhere on his
favourite author. He did so in Florence, where Cosimo de’ Medici
mingled among his hearers, and soon gained an interest in doctrines the
intellectual meaning of which made a deep impression on one who, like
him, inclined to peaceful meditation, seems to have found as little
to satisfy him in the lectures of the theologians of the time as in
the disputations of the philosophers, which commonly degenerated into
dialectic subtleties. As Cosimo did not understand Greek, Gemistos must
have employed the Latin language. It was his lectures which awoke in
Cosimo the idea of reviving the study of Platonic philosophy in his
native country. This is shown by the words of the man whom he chose to
carry his intention into execution. ‘The great Cosimo,’ says Marsilio
Ficino, in the translation of the works of Plotinus, dedicated to the
grandson of his first patron not long before his death, ‘at the time
when the council of Greeks and Latins summoned by Pope Eugenius IV.
was sitting at Florence, frequently heard the lectures of the Greek
philosopher called Plethon, who disputed on Platonic mysteries like
another Plato. The lively style of this man inspired him with such
enthusiasm, that there arose immediately in his lofty mind the thought
of forming an academy as soon as a favourable moment should be found.’
The history of the origin of the Platonic Academy presents two peculiar
phenomena: first, that a man who had already passed middle life should
be so strongly attracted by an author whose acquaintance he had made
through the medium of a foreign language; secondly, that he selected
as his chief companion and special instrument in carrying out his
intentions a boy who, at the time when the project was thought of,
scarcely numbered seven years.

Marsilio Ficino[366] was born in October, 1433, the turning-point in
the fortunes of the Medici, at Figline, a not insignificant place in
the upper valley of the Arno. His father was a skilful surgeon, who
removed to Florence, where the Medici among others employed him. The
son, educated at the university, seems to have entered the Medicean
house at the age of eighteen or nineteen years. He says himself that
he had two fathers, Ficino and Cosimo de’ Medici. He owed his birth to
the one, and his second birth to the other; the first had dedicated
him to Galen, the second to the divine Plato. Both were physicians,
one for the body and the other for the soul. The youth did not deceive
Cosimo’s expectations. Of a delicate constitution, he united a keen
feeling for poetry and music with a profound and delicate faculty for
investigating natural phenomena and the doctrines of ancient wisdom. He
began the study of Platonic doctrines before he understood Greek, but
even without the counsel of Cosimo and his friend Landino, his senior
by nine years, he would hardly have satisfied himself with knowledge
derived from later Roman authors, as not only the prevalent tendency
of the time, but his own intellectual bent must have urged him to seek
the fountain head. When Marsilio began his Greek studies, namely in
1456, John Argyropulos, who about the middle of the century did as
much for a knowledge of language and literature as Chrysoloras at the
beginning, must have already begun his lectures at the university,
and these were probably of assistance to Marsilio. During his exile
at Padua, Palla Strozzi had attracted him, and Cosimo de’ Medici
afterwards gained him for Florence, where for fifteen years he taught,
besides Greek literature, Aristotelian philosophy, and in 1464 was
presented with the rights of citizenship. The favour shown by Cosimo to
the Peripatetic Argyropulos was continued to his sons and grandsons,
and we shall find this useful man busy in later years, while at the
time now under consideration many who made themselves an honourable
name were among his disciples; as, for instance, Donato Acciaiuoli,
Pandolfo Pandolfini, and finally Poliziano, and Lorenzo de’ Medici.

Marsilio was thirty years old when, at Cosimo’s wish, he undertook
the translation of the Hermetic writings, and Plato’s works. That
the former, a production of scientific mysticism and sentimentality
of the new Platonic school at Alexandria, excited so strongly the
interest of a new school, which aimed at and laid claim to the revival
of Platonic tradition, shows clearly what danger this school was in
of amalgamating true Platonism with its Alexandrian outgrowths, and
of falling, like the new Platonists, into the fundamental error of
confounding true doctrine with arbitrary forms. But the circumstance
that Argyropulos translated writings of Aristotle for Cosimo at the
same time indicates, in a manner most honourable to the latter, how
anxious he was to form an independent opinion for himself by comparison
of the doctrines of the two great philosophers in whose systems all
ancient and even the germs of modern thought were preserved for later
times. This was an aspiration which certainly deserves recognition,
however imperfect the results may have been compared with the means
employed. Cosimo’s kindness towards Marsilio Ficino remained unchanged
to the end. He presented him with a house in the neighbourhood of Sta.
Maria Nuova, and a country residence at Careggi, where the little farm
of Montevecchio still reminds us of the friendly and pious man. When in
the summer of 1464 Cosimo retired seriously ill to Careggi, he invited
Marsilio thither.[367] It was in listening to the books on the One
Origin of Things and the Highest Good that the last days of the sick
man were spent. The epoch of the perfect development and most important
labours of Marsilio Ficino belongs, however, to the times of Cosimo’s

The most fruitful labours of a man no less intimately connected with
the Medicean house belong to the same time. In the village of Borgo
alla Collina, right in the heart of the Casentino, not far from Poppi,
on the right bank of the Arno, are still to be seen the mortal remains,
dried to a mummy, of Cristoforo Landino,[368] who, descended from
a family of the neighbouring Pratovecchio, was born at Florence in
1424.[369] A papal secretary, Angelo of Todi, facilitated by a legacy
the youth’s studies, first in Volterra and then in Florence, where he
was soon recommended to Cosimo. He has gratefully acknowledged what
he owed to his patron in verse and prose,[370] and, as with others,
the affection of the head of the house was transmitted to sons and
grandsons. Among learned men Carlo Marsuppini seems to have exercised
especial influence on him; Landino himself assisted in determining the
bent of Marsilio Ficino’s studies. He soon formed friendships with all
who devoted themselves to science—with the excellent Jacopo Ammannato,
who rose from poverty and distress to the ecclesiastical purple, and,
as an affluent man, preserved an affectionate feeling for the city in
which he had gained a scanty living as teacher. Cristoforo also became
acquainted with literary men, and such as associated themselves with
them, as Antonio and Bernardo Canigiani, Giovanni Cavalcanti, Roberto
Salviati, &c. In 1457, the three-and-thirtieth year of his life, the
chair of rhetoric and poetry at the university was confided to him,
and a career began for him in which we shall meet him again an aged
man. If he had had no other pupils than Lorenzo de’ Medici and Angelo
Poliziano, they would have sufficed to prove the superiority of his

While the Council of Union contributed directly to promote Greek
studies and the adoption of Greek philosophy, it had no influence in
the province of native theological literature. He who made himself the
greatest name as a theological writer, and took an active part in the
ecclesiastical councils, was entirely outside the literary circle. The
character of Antonio Pierozzi, who is venerated by the Florentines of
the present day as Saint Antoninus, and was the model of a pious and
active pastor, shone alike in his writings and his life—godfearing,
zealous, learned, untiring, simple and modest withal, and void of all
pomp and studied form. Born in 1389, he entered priestly orders when
about sixteen years old, and the cell in St. Mark’s convent which he
inhabited, and which preserves many memorials of him, is still shown.
His youth coincided with the first active movements of the learned
class styled humanists, but it did not concern him. His studies were
strictly theological; but as he never withdrew from public life when
the commissions given him did not clash with his pastoral duties, so
he included in his labours the field of history, which often afforded
him guidance in the science of his calling. His ‘Summa Theologiæ,’
first printed entire eighteen years after his death, and republished
in the last century, is considered in his native country as the first
text-book of moral theology. His letters, chiefly addressed to a
pious lady of high rank, Madonna Diodata degli Adimari, are moral and
theological treatises, full of apostolic zeal and love, with correct
and clear judgment, that knew how to combine active and contemplative
life; and though he advises his reader to occupy herself rather with
edifying literature than with the heroic deeds of the Paladins, he
by no means neglects the affairs of this world.[371] His chronicle,
reaching down to the year of his death, 1459, makes no pretensions to
artistic form, and the humanistic historiographers would have certainly
looked with some scorn on the work, which appeared in 1474, if they had
noticed it at all. Entire portions of this work are taken from others,
a proceeding which we meet with in the nineteenth century, and which
was less scrupled at in the times of the pious archbishop than later,
as such works were often only intended for the most intimate circle
of friends, or for a single convent. Nevertheless, the chronicle had
a value of its own for the fifteenth century, so that the number of
editions which it passed through is explained. His biography relates
how Saint Antoninus himself practised in his life what he taught and
advised in his writings, how he influenced the moral and religious
conduct of the Florentines, and put down disorders, which had become
prevalent under prelates like Vitelleschi, Scarampi, and Zabarella,
archbishops only in name or for a short time. His example had an
encouraging and elevating effect on Orlando Bonarli, his immediate
successor. ‘As much as lay in him,’ says Vespasiano,[372] ‘he attempted
to emulate the pattern afforded him by his predecessor. Although
some in the city endured him against their will, for every one tries
to escape as much as he can from the effects of the laws, he never
allowed himself to falter in the fulfilment of his duty, and knew no
respect of persons where it was a question of reason and justice. He
thus left his diocese in a praiseworthy state. Would to God that this
had lasted so!’

Cosimo de’ Medici’s position, his warm sympathy for intellectual
effort, his liberality towards men of letters, explain the number of
addresses and petitions that reached him from all sides at a time
when patronage was at its height. No treatise or dialogue could be
written, no ode or elegy composed, no book translated from a classical
author without a dedication to him—a practice connected with the
epistolography of the fourteenth century, which arose less from the
requirements of personal intercourse than from its adaptation to
learned purposes, besides being an imitation of classical models which
scholars thought to excel by remodelling letters into treatises.
Letters always remained in fashion from the days of Petrarch; and
though a good portion of the literary and even political history of
the time is found in printed collections of letters, which might be
indefinitely increased, in most of these epistolaries there is much
mere wordiness. In the matter of dedications even men of high standing
were not unfrequently influenced by pecuniary considerations. Many
made an actual business of it. Of course this circumstance did not
exclude friendly relations. When Poggio on his marriage in 1435, at
the age of fifty-five, with Vaggia Buondelmonti, then only eighteen
years old, dedicated to Cosimo the dialogue ‘Shall an old man marry?’
(‘An seni uxor sit ducenda’), in which Niccoli and Marsuppini appear
as interlocutors, it was only an expression of old friendship. The
Medicean manuscripts are full of dedications. The most striking,
however, is that of a book which has left a mournful name in the
literature of the Renaissance, and which only in later years, and in
other lands, was allowed to appear in print—the century accustomed
to grossness even to satiety having lacked the courage to print
it. This was the Hermaphroditus, the licentious production of an
otherwise learned and elegant author, Antonio Beccadelli, usually
named, after his birthplace, Panormita. When King Alfonso of Naples,
the enthusiastic admirer of antiquity, patronised and rewarded the
poet, and the Emperor Sigismund bestowed on him the laurel which had
once adorned Petrarca’s chaste and noble muse, we should scarcely be
surprised that Cosimo de’ Medici accepted the dedication, if it were
not that the work, which revelled in indecent allusions to modern
circumstances and persons, was so little in conformity with his whole
character. Beccadelli’s connections with Cosimo originated in the
year 1432, when the former taught ecclesiastical law so successfully
in Florence, that they could not part with him when Padua and Bologna
attempted to gain him for themselves.[373] Strange contrasts! on
the one side, the council and the pious archbishop; on the other,
productions of the worst paganism. The popular orators of the time,
Bernardino of Siena and Roberto of Lecce, burned the book of Panormita
at Milan and Bologna in the public square (that it was done at Ferrara
in the presence of Pope Eugenius is not proved). Poggio, Filelfo,
and Valla appeared in arms against it. Would that they had observed
morality and decency better in their own writings instead of drawing
down upon the entire literature of humanism the deserved reproach of
cynical immorality and indecency on the one hand, and servility and
unbounded vanity on the other!

It is an honour to the learned Florentine world, in the epoch here to
be considered, to have remained freer from these sins and offences
than was the case in most other places. If we except the undignified
disputes which were principally caused by a foreigner, Filelfo,
and ascribe Poggio’s reported dishonourable quarrel with Valla to
Roman tradition, Cosimo’s time offers hardly anything of this sad
kind. The circumstance that so many disciples of learning in the
higher orders did not consider it as a means of gain,nor belong to
that class of literati who consider themselves bound by no personal
considerations, certainly contributed to this pleasing state of
things. How beneficially the share in literature eagerly taken by
those highly placed affected the attitude and position of literature
in general life, we see from many accounts. They afford an insight
into the circumstances of the time when patriarchal manners still went
hand in hand with the requirements of freedom of thought and more
general culture in the city as well as in the country-houses. Pastime
alternated with serious conversation in which such as filled the first
offices of State and went repeatedly as ambassadors to Popes and
princes associated themselves with the literary men whom they often
fully equalled in scientific cultivation. The meetings at Careggi were
not the only ones. Agnolo Pandolfini did even more than the Medici,
in his beautiful villa at Signa, where the Arno, on leaving the
Pistojan plain, flows to the mountain pass of the Golfolina—a villa
which received Pope Eugenius and René of Anjou, Francesco Sforza and
Niccolò of Este.[374] This distinguished and wealthy man, who filled
the highest offices with honour, and had gained a large experience
which doubly disgusted him with the factions that had got the upper
hand in the latter times of the Albizzi, had exercised a pacifying
influence on the conflict of 1433. All the more deeply was he pained
by the inconsiderate use of that victory, and by the circumstance that
Cosimo should allow free course to the hatred and covetousness of his
partisans. He resided, therefore, much at his villa in order to avoid
city matters, and exercised the noblest hospitality in a circle of
the most important men, scholars and others. Domestic politics were
not allowed to be discussed. The much-read book on the government of
families was once ascribed to this country life, and stands in high
repute as a mirror of the times and the expression of the feelings
and views of a benevolent, sensible, and experienced man: a book of
which we shall speak more further on (p. 483). We obtain a view of the
country life of a learned and respected citizen in the characteristic
sketch of Franco Sacchetti, a grandson of the well-known novelist.[375]
He was not rich, but lived very respectably. He had no lack of honours
and experience, as he had been ambassador to Pope Pius II. and King
Alfonso, and had attained the highest honours. On friendly terms with
the Medici, he remained aloof from party-spirit. His knowledge of Greek
and Latin literature was extensive. He was intimately connected with
John Argyropulos and supported him whenever he could. When he resided
at his villa, situated in the neighbourhood of the city, the learned
Greek frequently visited him accompanied by his pupils, and the time
passed in erudite conversation. Twice in the year he arranged great
banquets where only respected and cultivated men were invited.

Even under the more modest circumstances that generally prevail among
literary men properly so called, villas and meetings there were not
uncommon. When Poggio Bracciolini, to whom the Florentine citizenship
had been granted in 1415,[376] was still in the service of the Pope,
fifteen years and more before he entered the Florentine exchequer, he
purchased an estate near his birthplace, Terranova.[377] ‘I will,’ thus
he wrote to Niccoli, ‘adorn with the collected remains of antiquity,
my Valdarnesian academy, where I hope to rest when rest be granted
me from the stormy sea of life.’ Sculptures, Greek and Roman, gems,
coins, and inscriptions embellished not only the library but the
house and garden. He has expressed his admiration for antique art in
a letter to the dealer in antiquities, Francesco of Pistoja.[378]
‘When I see nature so admirably imitated in marble, an awe of artistic
genius inspires me. Every one has his weakness; mine is to admire
the works of distinguished sculptors with a perhaps too lively
enthusiasm. But how should I not wonder when I see the expression given
to lifeless material by art?’ Learned friends, among them Lorenzo,
Cosimo’s brother, and Niccoli, came to visit him and inspect his
collection. Of these visits and conversations traces remain to us in
the literary history of the time and the traditions still preserved in
the Valdarnese Academy, a learned society which, combining the names
of two sons of the Arno valley, Petrarca and Poggio, has its seat in
Montevarchi opposite Terranova, which lies on the right bank of the
stream surrounded by green hills. When, in later years, Poggio bought
another villa in the Piano di Ripoli, only four miles to the south-east
of Florence, it may be easily understood that there was no lack of
visitors from the adjacent city.

The brilliancy of the learned society and intellectual life in Florence
extended into foreign countries. The connections with England were
various. Poggio was disappointed in his expectations of Cardinal
Beaufort, an acquaintance from the Council of Constance; and even Duke
Humphrey of Gloucester did not answer to those of Leonardo Bruni. But
William Gray, afterwards Bishop of Ely, who, after he had pursued
his studies at Cologne, continued them at Padua and Ferrara, and
represented his native country, England, at Rome in Pope Nicolas V.’s
time, had influential connections with the learned world in Italy,
particularly with Niccolò Perotto of Sassoferrato. The latter was
intimate with the Florentine circle and became subsequently Archbishop
of Manfredonia, owing his advance to Gray. Many literary treasures
bought by Gray at Florence and elsewhere went to England. So did those
which were afterwards collected by John, Earl of Worcester, who, at
the expulsion of King Edward IV. in 1470, fell a victim to the hatred
excited by the cruelty with which he had exercised his office of
Constable. He purchased manuscripts everywhere when on his return from
a pilgrimage to the Holy Land he stayed for a time in Italy. ‘On his
residence for several days in Florence,’ relates Vespasiano, ‘he wished
to inspect the whole city, and wandered about without any servant
except a guide at his left hand. As the name of John Argyropulos
was well known to him, he wished to hear his lectures, repaired one
morning to the university incognito, and was much pleased.’[379] Even
at the time when Pope Eugenius IV. still resided at Florence, the
English representative at the Papal court, whom Vespasiano[380] calls
Andrea Ols (Holles?), maintained friendly intercourse with Marsuppini,
Manetti, Palmieri, &c., and had collected such a number of manuscripts,
old and new, that he was obliged to engage a vessel to transport them
to his native country. Eneas Silvio Piccolomini had more influence than
the Florentine circle on the connections with Germany. We shall speak
later of those with Hungary.[381]

Cosimo de’ Medici lived long enough to see the entire generation
of the first Florentine humanists descend into the grave. Leonardo
Bruni, Carlo Marsuppini and Poggio Bracciolini died as chancellors of
the Republic; Ambrogio Traversari as general of the Camaldulese, a
dignity to which Pope Eugenius IV. had elevated him, a promotion by
which he was removed from his true field of action, that of science
and literature, into an overwhelming current of petty affairs;
Roberto de’ Rossi and Niccolò Niccoli had died in their native land
years before; Giannozzo Manetti in voluntary exile at Naples; Palla
Strozzi, at the age of ninety, in the spring of 1462, at Padua, after
eight-and-twenty years of exile borne with noble resignation. Cosimo
lived to see the man whom he had known as a humble teacher and whom
he afterwards supported as Pope Nicolas V., emulate him in the most
earnest and discriminating fostering of science, during the few years
of his papacy. For but a few weeks did Æneas Sylvius the successor of
Nicolas survive him. In Sylvius humanism ascended the Papal throne,
for Pope Pius II. had the most elegant and in many respects the most
comprehensive intellect of the time. A new world arose round the man
who nearly all his life had guided the fortunes of his native land.
Much which he had planted flourished luxuriantly; much also assumed
a new shape. Classical literature had become the principal object
in his time. The most illustrious humanists wrote only in Latin.
The unassuming sister of this classical literature, who spoke the
popular language, studded as it was in the preceding century with the
most brilliant flowers, but not yet considered equal in birth, lived
unhonoured by a glance from the learned men who, uninstructed by the
fate of Petrarca’s ‘Africa,’ continued to sing the deeds of Alfonso of
Aragon and Francesco Sforza in Latin, and were guilty of a far greater
error than that of Petrarca. Yet the time was not far distant when this
despised language of the people should once more spread its wings in
freedom and soar aloft.



WHILE such a busy life was developed under the influence and continual
encouragement of Cosimo de’ Medici, the two great collections had
originated through him which at that time supplied a centre for
literary work, and now have combined their most important contents in
the same locality and form the most considerable part of the celebrated
library to which (as to a sanctuary of the literature of antiquity
and the Renaissance) learned men of all countries continually direct
their steps. In the days of his exile, Cosimo, in conjunction with his
brother, by the erection of the library-hall of San Giorgio Maggiore
at Venice,[382] had bequeathed to a foreign city where he found eager
fellow-labourers—especially one, Francesco Barbaro—a monument of his
gratitude and munificence. Should he not do the same, and even more,
for his native city? In San Marco he would not only found a monument
of his piety but of his love of knowledge. In the third dormitory of
the convent we see two cells which, according to tradition, Cosimo
retained for his own use when he resided here in pious intercourse with
St. Antoninus and his holy companions, and where, as the inscription
says, Pope Eugenius IV. spent the night after having been present
at the consecration of the church on the day of Epiphany, 1442. Fra
Angelico painted the Epiphany here, and later the cell was adorned with
an excellent portrait of Cosimo by the hand of Jacopo da Pontormo. The
library-hall makes the greatest impression. It is more than fifty yards
long by ten yards broad, and has along its whole length a double row
of eleven slender columns supporting the roof, and at the end a square
space shut off by transverse walls, from the large windows of which
the inmates formerly looked over broad quiet gardens, now turned into
streets.[383] On the narrow outer side of this hall we see the Medicean
arms with the balls as they were before the alterations made by King
Louis XI. On the book-shelves, now set up along the rows of columns,
lie more than eighty choir-books—partly belonging to the convent of
San Marco, partly to other convents and churches—with miniatures from
the hands of celebrated artists of the fifteenth century.

While the building was in progress Niccolò Niccoli died in 1437.
The wish he had always cherished of seeing his valuable collection
of books useful to the community, as he had always placed them at
the disposal of his friends, was fulfilled. In his will he directed
that a commission of sixteen members should dispose of his literary
property so that it might best serve the community. Ambrogio
Traversari, Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini, Carlo Marsuppini,
Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici, Giannozzo Manetti, and Francesco
Sacchetti, were among these sixteen.[384] As Cosimo de’ Medici, who
had long supported Niccoli, undertook to satisfy his creditors, the
disposal of the property was referred to him. The entire value of the
manuscripts, about 800 in number, was estimated at 6,000 gold florins,
a considerable sum which yet hardly corresponded with their real value
at that time. When in 1441 the hall was finished, 400 manuscripts were
laid out on sixty-four long reading-desks such as we still see in the
Laurentian library, all inscribed with Niccoli’s name.[385] At Cosimo’s
request Tommaso of Sarzana made regulations for the arrangement of the
books,—rules which then served for the Fiesolan library, for that at
Urbino, and that of the Sforzas of Pesaro.[386] ‘Whoever has to arrange
a library,’ remarks Vespasiano in Pope Nicolas V.’s life, ‘cannot
dispense with that inventory written by Tommaso’s own hand.’

Of the remains of Niccoli’s manuscripts Cosimo retained a part
to increase the literary treasures of his house, which, enlarged
by his sons and grandsons, formed the nucleus of the subsequent
Medicean-Laurentian library. He divided others among his friends. But
he continually thought of filling up the vacancies in the collection of
San Marco, for which he made purchases and copies. A part of Coluccio
Salutati’s books had gone thither with Niccoli’s library; Cosimo bought
and presented it with another part,[387] as well as manuscripts of
Filippo di Ser Ugolini, one of the cleverest and best-informed men in
the public service of the State.[388] Vespasiano and the Dominican Fra
Giuliano Lapaccini were especially occupied in Lucca and Siena with
purchasing and copying. Cosimo, so variously occupied, had ordered
that one of the monks of San Marco should send in the receipt to his
bank in order to receive the necessary sums. Death alone prevented him
from making this library complete according to the requirements of the
times; Biondio Flavio, the Roman annalist and antiquary, declared that,
as it was, it was the finest of the age. In 1453 the hall and a part of
the books were seriously damaged by an earthquake, but were restored by
Cosimo and his son Piero.

This one collection, however, was not sufficient for the active and
liberal man. When he rebuilt the abbey of Fiesole, he determined to
furnish this also with literary treasures. Vespasiano, whom he employed
in this, describes how it was done.[389] ‘When I was in his chamber
one morning, he asked what means I could suggest for forming this
library? I answered that it was impossible to procure it by purchase,
as the requisite books could not be collected. He answered, And how
are they otherwise to be obtained? On my answering that new copies
must be made, he asked further if I would undertake such copies? I
declared myself ready to do so. Thereupon he empowered me to begin
the work, the execution of which he left to me. The payments would be
made by his bank on presentation of the receipts by the prior of the
abbey. So I went to work; and as he wished it to be done as speedily as
possible, and there was no want of money, I engaged in a short time 45
copyists, and furnished 200 volumes in 22 months. The arrangement was
the excellent one suggested by Pope Nicolas, which was used in his own
library. As all the works were not to be found at Florence, we sent to
Milan, Bologna, and other places. Thus Cosimo saw this collection and
an inventory of it finished, and had great pleasure in it, while he
rejoiced at the speed with which it had been completed.’ The present
Medicean-Laurentian library preserves, beside the literary treasures
of the Medici house, the principal part of the collections made by
Cosimo. In 1783 the manuscripts from the dissolved abbey of Fiesole,
223 in number, were added to the Laurentiana, and in 1808 those of San
Marco. The latter, at the time of the abolition of clerical orders by
the Napoleonic government, amounted to about a thousand, many of which
have, however, been lost, and others returned to their former place at
the restoration of 1814.[390] As with the collection of the Dominican
convent, Cosimo and his sons and grandsons continued to increase that
of Fiesole by new acquisitions and presents. The magniloquence of the
inscriptions of many of the volumes, in which the regular clergy of
the abbey praise the liberality of their patrons, may be carried too
far. Nevertheless it is pleasing to meet with these proofs of the
affectionate interest taken by the men in whose hands the guidance
of the State lay in the institutions connected with ecclesiastical
foundations, and through them profitable to the whole community. They
are proofs, too, of an intimate intercourse between the clergy and
laity which was advantageous to both.[391]

When Federigo of Montefeltro founded the celebrated library of
Urbino, for which from thirty to forty copyists were fully employed
in different towns, so that the copies alone are said to have cost
nearly thirty thousand gold florins; a library, the beautiful hall
of which, in the noble ducal palace, is described to us by Bernardo
Baldi[392] and its wealth by Vespasiano[393]—the library of San Marco
was of great use to him. ‘Illustrious lord and brother,’ he wrote on
January 23, 1473, to Cosimo’s grandson,[394] ‘I have already requested
your Magnificence to charge the brethren of San Marco to deliver to
Vespasiano any of their books which he may require for the use of
the copyists employed for me in your city. I now repeat the request
that it may please you to give these orders, that for my sake they
may be obliging to Vespasiano, whereby your Magnificence would do me
a great favour.’ From this letter, and that addressed to Lorenzo by
the brethren of the convent, in which they sign themselves as ‘Custos
librorum bibliothecæ vestræ in Sto. Marco,’[395] we see that the family
reserved a certain right of possession for themselves.

Vespasiano da Bisticci, to whom we owe so many valuable data for the
history of his times, is the worthiest representative of the book
trade, as it was developed about the middle of the fifteenth century in
consequence of the great discoveries then made and increased literary
activity. His intimate intercourse with popes, princes, prelates, and
great lords, and the numerous and important commissions entrusted to
him, prove his excellence and the high respect he enjoyed. The contents
and tone of his biographies and character sketches, exceeding a hundred
in number, are most valuable for a knowledge of the literary as well as
the moral and general culture of the times. He displays a warm heart
and excellent feeling, nor is his correct judgment weakened by his
benevolence. People of high position were in intimate correspondence
with him; Giannozzo Manetti, Donato Acciaiuoli, Niccolò Perotti, &c.,
for whom he purchased books, while, beside the Medici and the Duke of
Urbino, Pope Nicolas V. employed him in the foundation of the Vatican.
‘I accept,’ thus Manetti[396] writes to him on one occasion, ‘your
offer respecting the books you heard of—the Bible, and “Lives of the
Fathers.” Send them me, I beg, and it will give me much pleasure. But
that you do not mention the “Avicenna” seems a bad sign for medicine.
Try to procure it for me, for I need it. In case you succeed in
finding a “Paulus Orosius,” and Euclid’s Geometry, do the same.’ He
did not pursue his business mechanically. When employed in arranging
the Urbino library he used, for comparison, beside the inventories of
the Vaticana and San Marco, those of Pavia and Oxford.[397] In the
number of new manuscripts which he caused to be prepared, there was
unavoidably a great deal of carelessness. Angelo Poliziano complains
once in the dictata composed in 1481 for Piero de’ Medici, Lorenzo’s
son, of the incorrectness of the Urbino manuscripts;[398] a complaint
which Bottari made, in the last century, in reference to the codex of
Virgil belonging to the time of Vespasiano. But it would be unjust
to lay the blame of this on him. Down to his latest years he was
continually employed by Cosimo’s son and grandson, and seems to have
been considered the first literary connoisseur in Florence. When an old
man, in 1487 and 1490, he presented several books to the library of San
Marco, of which he had himself witnessed the origin.[399]

This man, to whom we are indebted in a variety of ways, belonged to
a burgher family of mediocre means, residing at the little village
of Sta. Lucia, near Bisticci in the upper valley of the Arno, and
was born in Florence in 1421.[400] He had evidently attained by
business practice a certain literary cultivation (which is shown in
his writings, and, with the hearty interest of the author in person
and things, makes us easily forget his deficiencies of style), and he
witnessed the most brilliant epoch of the Italian book trade, in which
one library arose after another and the treasures of antiquity were
speedily multiplied; an epoch in which numerous practised copyists
worked in Florence for natives and strangers. Here, as elsewhere,
many foreigners pursued the same calling; French, German, and Dutch,
ecclesiastics and laymen, associated themselves with the Italians, and
sometimes settled entirely in Italy. The beauty and regularity of the
writing, the richness of the miniatures, the fineness and smoothness
of the parchments, the value of the niellos adorning the bindings,
explain why, long after the discovery of the art of printing by types,
manuscripts such as these retained the favour of those who did not fear
expense. The codex of the Divine Comedy which Cristofo degli Amerighi
of Pesaro, Podestà of Florence in 1457, caused to be executed here
for his wife in that year, and which is now in the National library,
is a splendid specimen of the luxury in books at that time.[401]
The regularity of the writing on the finest parchment is such that
at first we are rather reminded of mechanical reproduction than of
penmanship. That those who belonged neither to the learned class nor
to the special trade of copyists were occasionally employed in it, is
shown by the manuscript found in the Laurentian library of the Divine
Comedy, which an Umbrian soldier, Gasparo di Tommaso of Montone, wrote
in ‘semi-Gothic characters’ in 1456 at Ferrara, where he was in the
service of the Podestà.[402]

The prices of books still remained very high, which was unavoidable
considering it was a question of new copies, and the price depended on
the rate of pay of the copyists. In older books their rarity, state
of preservation, &c., had of course to be considered. About 1430
Traversari informs Leonardo Giustiniani that he has found a skilful
man to copy Livy, &c., for thirty gold florins yearly salary and
comfortable board and lodging.[403] About 1442 Poggio sold two volumes
of the letters of St. Jerome to Lionello of Este for a hundred gold
florins. The marquis, a generous and munificent master, found the price
extravagant, and regarded the surplus pay as a present to Poggio, who
considered, however, that the present was too small for a prince, and
that he should receive it as a pledge of future liberality.[404] Even
persons like Poggio paid a good deal; twenty-five golden florins for
a copy of the Bible that was not even complete, ten for a Lactantius,
and seven for some tragedies. Piero de’ Medici obtained a Cornelius
Celsus for twenty gold florins; the price was pretty high, Giannozzo
Manetti thought, but it was a fine and beautiful manuscript.[405] In
the years 1470-72 Vespasiano furnished Cardinal Bessarion with a copy
of the works of St. Augustine for the price of 500 gold florins.[406]
The constant commissions from abroad, especially from King Matthias
Corvinus, Alessandro Sforza, the Earl of Worcester, &c.,[407]
necessarily had an influence on the prices, and it may be easily
understood how the whole business was restricted to a few persons by
the extravagant cost of the books. Just when manuscript copies were at
their dearest, printing by types began. Vespasiano da Bisticci died
fully twenty-six years after the first book had been printed at the
Florentine press;[408] but in his writings, which certainly extended
to the year 1482, we only find one mention of the new discovery, which
so quickly produced the greatest revolution in the field where he had
worked so honourably. This mention is characteristic enough. ‘In this
library,’ we read in the description of the treasures collected by the
Duke of Urbino,[409] ‘all the volumes are of the most faultless beauty,
written by hand, with elegant miniatures, and all on parchment. There
are no printed books among them; the duke would have been ashamed to
have them.’



THE period succeeding Petrarca and Boccaccio gave indications that
the spirit of poetry was extinguished for some time to come. After
Boccaccio’s death, his would-be rival, Franco Sacchetti, a man not only
skilled in grave and gay compositions, but able to unite literary work
with political office at home and abroad, a man capable of thoroughly
appreciating the varied circumstances of life, merrily sang:

  The spring of poetry is now grown dry,
  No living form dwells on the Muses’ mount;
  Nor can we think that Dante could return,
  Since none will slake their thirst at his pure fount.
  Where’er we listen we but hear the tone
  Of horns, that blow the signal to refrain:
  Where’er we look we see but dead leaves strewn,
  And time must pass ere verdure clothes the plain.

Nor were indications deceptive. For many centuries elapsed ere a poet
of real significance arose. Here and there a hand touched the lyre of
Petrarca, as, for instance, the Roman Giusto de’ Conti, the best among
the imitators of Madonna Laura’s poet. We can hardly call poetry the
greater works of the Florentine Antonio Pucci, in which he recounts the
chronicle of Villani in _terzine_ and the Pisan war in _ottava rima_,
the eight-lined stanza. He was a popular poet, who was not wanting in
either feeling or talent, as many of his sonnets testify. Whatever
might be attempted in various quarters passed without leaving a
trace amid the efforts of the humanists, who despised the language of
the people, and thought of nothing but perpetuating ancient culture,
compared to which, according to the prevailing opinion, this language
took the position of an inferior in birth. All its native power,
and the cheerful, calm energy of the Tuscan people, were necessary
to prevent its perishing in the midst of a twofold danger. Contempt
might have excluded the language from any application to nobler ends,
and so caused it to deteriorate. The attempts of the philologists to
elevate the vulgar tongue after their fashion might have robbed it of
naturalness, independence, character, and originality, and made it a
clumsy compromise between old and new, without life or root in the
people. The Tuscan language, which became the written speech of Italy,
was in the fifteenth century threatened with both these dangers from a
want of appreciation of its true spirit and life.

At the commencement of this century we meet with a work which, like
its author, still represents the thirteenth, but which casts some
rays of light over the following period. It is the tract, ‘Del
governo di cura familiare,’ by the Dominican monk Giovanni Dominici,
who has been already mentioned (p. 426). The book originated at the
suggestion of a noble lady, Bartolommea degli Obizzi, who, with her
husband Antonio degli Alberti and four children, were involved in the
fearful persecution which the family had to endure in consequence
of the implication of one of the Alberti in the events of 1378. The
sensible, God-fearing woman, suddenly overwhelmed with all the cares
of the household and the education of her children under the most
distressing circumstances, had turned to a pious preaching friar whose
counsel stood in high repute in and beyond his native town. He answered
with this book, which was preceded by others of the same kind. It is
an introduction to Christian life, and to the duties of a Christian
education, containing many small details inseparable from the opinions
and manners of the time. It is full of a manly spirit, with a clear
recognition of the position and duties of parents and heads of families
in the midst of changes which arose everywhere in consequence of the
newly discovered antique world having already begun to penetrate, as
it were, into a society hitherto hedged about by the narrow limits
of mediæval culture and customs. From a special reference to the
duties of a mother left in some sense in the position of a widow, the
book passes to general remarks and considerations suggested by the
state of a commonwealth torn by sectarian hatred.[410] The domestic
ordinances for a Christian education in reference to respect for
parents and authorities are followed by those which are dictated by
active patriotism, zeal for the common good, and the preservation of
unity. Parts of this book afford us a complete picture of the domestic
condition of the time. The language is still that of the thirteenth
century, but the structure of the sentences has no longer the graceful
simplicity and transparent clearness which characterise more than one
of the author’s brethren in orders.

More than a generation after Fra Giovanni Dominici, a man standing in
the midst of the new classical school took up the same subject from
a wider point of view. He belonged to the family for whose use the
book of his predecessor had been destined. We meet with Leon Batista
Alberti in almost every field—in science, literature, and art—and
only his unexampled versatility hindered him from ascending to the
height which he often approached. In his dialogue, consisting of
several books, ‘La Cura della Famiglia,’[411] Alberti, to whom in a
certain sense all the knowledge of the times lay open, displays, in
his moral and philosophical view of life, the greatest harmony with the
monk who hardly crossed the threshold of his age, and expresses himself
on education and the true relation of the authors of antiquity to
Christian morality in the same sense, and sometimes in the same words,
as Giovanni. Dante and Petrarca had completed and purified by Christian
wisdom the old philosophy as it had appeared to them; Alberti, a
disciple of Greek learning, maintained the doctrine that, without
Christianity, the world would remain in a valley of error, and wisdom
would be impossible or vain. There was no lack of similar tendencies;
out of the theological circle no book has spoken so decidedly.

If we regard the style of this work, which purported to be popular,
we feel the difference between it and that of the book which gave
the author the impulse to its composition. Here is a learned man who
endeavours to make use of a language despised by the learned, if not
for strictly scientific purposes, yet for the discussion of questions
which include a philosophy of life. He will, so he declares, write in
a simple, naked style, though he has always Xenophon in his mind. More
than the lost sovereignty of the world, he laments the loss of the
rich and harmonious language of the world; but he does not understand
why the Tuscan language of his day should excite so much aversion that
even excellent things composed in it should displease. It was only a
question of being easily understood, and knowing how to handle the
language. It would be foolish to despise what was in daily use or to
praise what no one understood. The ancient language had attained such
authority because numerous learned men had written in it. It would
be the same with that of the present day if learned men would expend
real industry and pains to purify and cultivate it. Thus wrote Leon
Batista Alberti about the middle of the century. His words indicate
the direction of the effort then made to impart to the popular language
dignity and euphony, not merely by an imitation of Latin phrases like
Boccaccio’s, but even by a Latin formation of words. The error was not
entirely avoided by this gifted man, who in the book under discussion,
though striving after simplicity and comprehensiveness did not overcome
the pedantry which sought safety in foreign elements only. When the
accomplished scholar, Cristoforo Landino, at the commencement of his
explanation of Petrarch’s poetry, before the ‘Padri Conscripti,’[412]
expressed his opinion of the feasability of cultivating the Tuscan
language which, like the Latin, ought to be subjected to grammar,
he propounded the aphorism ‘He who would be a good Tuscan must be a
Latinist.’ He then praised Leon Batista as the foremost master of the
prose of later times, Leonardo Bruni as the reviver of antique poetry,
and the hendecasyllabics as Sapphic and heroic verses. Knowing all this
we cannot see from whence the fresh spirit was to come that could alone
breathe life into the forms of language.

How far they went in this direction, when dead if learned imitation
triumphed over nature, genius, and the laws of a living language,
which, as a modern writer expresses it, produced a greater reverence
for the dead than for the living, is shown best by the Academy of
Languages held in 1441, principally at the instigation of Alberti,
under the patronage of Piero de’ Medici, in Sta. Maria del Fiore,
to celebrate the presence of Pope Eugenius IV. The rectors of the
university proclaimed a poetical competition, the theme of which was
to be a eulogy on friendship. A silver laurel-wreath was appointed the
prize; from this is derived the name of ‘Academia coronaria;’ the papal
secretaries were the umpires. Before the Signoria, the archbishop,
the Venetian ambassadors, prelates, nobles, and people, eight poets
read their verses, most of them in triplets or _terza rima_, and one
in stanzas or _ottava rima_, on Sunday, October 22. The worst poets
certainly would not have presented themselves; but we search in vain
for poetry in these dry and bombastic productions. The amusing yet
pathetic character of this competition was most manifested in the
dialogues recited by a celebrated man, Leonardo Dati, the first and
second part of which were in hexameters, the third in Sapphic metre,
and the fourth ended in a sonnet, composed, as it was said, after
antique rules. The metres corresponding with the language, neither
Italian nor Latin, were modelled after Latin words and syntax; an
incomprehensible and most indigestible mixture of new and old.[413] The
judges awarded the prize to none of the competitors, but gave it to
the Church, which, in respect to poetry, was accustomed to something
different when the ‘Divine Comedy’ was expounded in her lofty halls.
He who gave the impulse to the competition seems, however, not to have
found this degradation of poetry so dreadful, for he arranged a second
tournament on Envy, which, however, happily did not take place. This
corrupted taste found sufficient defenders in the following century,
and even men of genius retained the morbid taste for mingling languages
and exaggerated artificial forms of words, which these times made a
fashion, and which bore the same relation to the true language as
periwigs to natural hair. Happily a counterpoise to such a caricature
was not wanting—a counterpoise that weighed all the heavier because
connected with the inward nature and life of the people, with their
faith and feeling, their religious requirements and traditions, which,
if much degenerated into superficiality and mere observance, not only
opposed the progress of worldliness, but won before the end of the
century a victory, the echoes of which were long heard. Not to speak
of the low comic branch of popular poetry, the people’s language was
preserved living and fresh in letters, both those relating to business
and those of a religious character, in smaller writings intended for
the people, and in sacred poetry.

Thus in the second half of the fourteenth century, when the schism in
the Church oppressed the minds of men, when that which had been held to
be unchangeable began to totter, as well as in the first half of the
following, when humanism began to develop its necessary but undermining
effects, there still existed a fervent and living religious sense,
which held together many things that threatened to fall asunder, and
explains much that would otherwise be a riddle. Caterina of Siena is
the greatest and most brilliant figure in the first epoch; all the more
significant because in her the purest piety is united to penetration,
blended with mysticism. Her insight into the secrets of the soul and
the nature of doctrine, and her clear perception of the requirements
of the age, were combined with unwearied activity and frank courage.
The respect due and willingly shown by her to popes and princes,
detracts in nothing from the decided character and expressive language
of her discourses. But St. Caterina, unequalled before or since, does
not stand alone. In writings which contain the natural unadorned
expression of feeling and opinion, and in letters which, unlike those
of learned men, were not intended for the public and for national
collections, we find the explanation of many phenomena that contrast
with the facts of public life noted by history. These phenomena must
surprise him who does not regard the domestic life of the people in
all ranks, or who has not sounded the inner working of a religious
feeling, the manifestation of which in architectural monuments in an
age full of violence and predominating worldly activity, attracts
our principal attention, and scarcely seems in accord with the time.
Besides several ecclesiastical representatives of this school, like
Giovanni Dominici and Giovanni delle Celle, who was also canonised,
Chiara Gambacorti—the foundress of the Pisan convent of Dominican nuns
of the Strict Observance, who died in 1420—may be mentioned. We find
others certainly not less important in that class of laymen, who were
as numerous as they were influential in the towns of Tuscany in the two
centuries we have spoken of—men who divided their activity between
public offices and private business, and who with time and power, had
an open eye, and a warm heart for whatever concerned intellectual
interests, especially religious tendencies and ecclesiastical matters.
These fervent natures, whose numbers increased as worldliness became
more threatening, finally gathered round Fra Girolamo Savonarola as
round a fixed centre in their protest against the pagan tendencies
which constantly gained ground, in spite of many contradictory
phenomena, in the second half of the fifteenth century. And the same
natures, thirty years later, at the last flash of this mystic piety
and ascetic reformatory movement in the decisive battle for life or
death of the commonwealth, lent their best powers to the champions of
freedom, who were overthrown for a second and last time.[414]

With this intellectual tendency a style of poetry was connected to
which the philologists of the Renaissance period would have disdained
to award a place in literature, even if they would have noticed it
at all, had not their attention been in a certain measure forced to
it by persons of high standing who guided the general taste in their
circles. Popular sacred poetry was as old as the language of Dante’s
time, and Fra Jacopone of Todi, to whom some pathetic if not grand
Latin hymns of the later Middle Ages are ascribed, touched the keynote
in his Canticles, which was echoed for three centuries in the lauds
or hymns of praise. But Fra Jacopone himself only transmitted the
tradition, which had remained alive since Francis of Assisi. The
great number of fraternities, who assembled after the day’s work in
churches and chapels and at the corners of streets and sang hymns; the
numerous processions and pilgrimages, even if we except those which,
like the processions of the White Penitents, set whole villages and
towns in commotion; the frequent evening devotions, which were shared
in by others than members of the confraternities; the expressions of
pious feeling and religious aspiration, after the labour and toil of
the day—all this contributed to the growth of a species of popular
poetry which bore rich fruit, especially in the fifteenth century. The
continuance of Christian feeling and the desire to manifest it among
the people at a time when paganism had revived in the learned world is
remarkable, and to judge of the general opinions and tendencies merely
by the literary monuments of the age would lead to wrong conclusions.

If, as we have said, the full development of this kind of poetry
belongs to the fifteenth century, the preceding age, when trials of
every kind—sanguinary civil wars, devastating marches of mercenary
and robber bands, pestilence and Church schism—called men to serious
reflection, presents hardly less activity in this direction. The crowds
of Florentine burghers who, during the strife with Pope Gregory XI. on
his return from Avignon, sought compensation for the discontinuance
of Divine worship in the city while under the interdict by devotions
in the open air, by prayer and psalmody before the tabernacles in the
streets, were a remarkable and, in their way, elevating sight. The
oldest company, or _schola_, of the psalm-singers, or _laudesi_, which
originated in a chapel near the cathedral church where the bell-tower
now stands, and was named after the Holy Virgin or St. Zanobi, was
instituted before the end of the twelfth century. From it proceeded the
pious men who founded the order of Servi di Maria (Servites), who had
their residence in Florence, near the church of the Annunziata, on the
wooded heights of the Apennines, in the far-seen cloisters of Monte
Senario, and who are often mentioned in connection with the history of
the Florentine patriciate.[415] Other societies followed: the companies
of Or San Michele, Sta. Maria Novella, Sta. Croce, Sto. Spirito, of
the Carmine and Ognissanti. In short from all the large churches
were formed brotherhoods which, in conjunction with similar ones for
benevolent purposes, included a considerable part of the higher class
of citizens, and several of which still exist. The style of poetry
fostered in and by these fraternities had a long life, and sent forth
aftershoots centuries later, when Vincenzo da Filicaia composed hymns
for the society of St. Benedict, which, in the Jubilee year 1700,
undertook a pilgrimage to Rome at the same time as the last but one of
the Medicean rulers.

Nor do we meet with these phenomena in Florence alone, but in the
neighbouring towns of Tuscany also. In Siena—where, as in adjacent
Umbria, in the midst of all civil disturbances, not seldom accompanied
with bloodshed, a peculiar spiritual life penetrated with mysticism had
been developed and long upheld—arose the society of Jesuates about the
middle of the fourteenth century, originally a congregation of laymen
which formed themselves into an order and, like the Humiliates before
them, combined monastic life with the practice of arts and industry.
When in 1367 Pope Urban V., for whom all the serious and believing
inhabitants of Rome longed, arrived at Corneto on his return from
Avignon to Rome, Giovanni Colombini, the founder of this congregation,
marched with his followers singing lauds through Viterbo to the
sea-shore. With olive branches in their hands they accompanied with
hymns the procession of the Holy Father, who granted the white robe
to them in Toscanella. From its origin this popular order had sacred
poets,[416] by whom the tradition of Fra Jacopone was kept alive,
himself a member of one of the most popular orders. When the Venetian
Antonio Bembo, who belonged to the Jesuates, lay on his death-bed in
Pistoja, the two brethren who tended him began at his wish to sing
the hymn of the saint of Todi, ‘Thou love of God hast wounded me.’
Towards the end of the century we find the fraternity of the Bianchi in
Siena singing lauds like the Florentine brotherhoods. In Lorenzo de’
Medici’s days these consisted principally of artisans who assembled on
Saturdays, after nine, in a church and sang lauds in four voices before
a picture of the Madonna, changing about among themselves with every
hymn. It was partly a kind of _canto fermo_, and partly sung after
popular melodies. If we consider that till the reform of church music,
undertaken at the wish of the Council of Trent by Giovanni Pierluigi of
Palestrina, Divine worship had been accompanied by vaudeville melodies,
we cannot be surprised if the same tunes to which carnival songs were
sung—Italian, French, and Flemish—were occasionally used with the
lauds without anyone taking offence at it. Thus we find them founded
on melodies as those of the ‘Leggiadra damigella,’ or ‘Una donna
d’amor fino,’ ‘O Rosa mia gentile,’ ‘O crudel donna ch’hai lassato
me,’ ‘Vicin, vicin, vicin, chi mol’ spazar camin,’ ‘Plus que je vis
le regar gracieuse,’ and similar ones. Occasionally it is remarked
that the melody is the same as that of dances or _strambotti_, as the
popular songs were called, which might be referred to King Manfred’s
days and make the nearest approach to our street-tunes.

This sacred poetry is very prolific, and though the frequent recurrence
of the same motive is wearying, we are astonished at the endless wealth
of the variations and the delicate expression of effect, elegant in its
simplicity. The form and metre of the hymns, some of which are quite
short and others extending to several verses, are very different. Fra
Jacopone was succeeded by the Minorite, Fra Ugo Panziera of Prato; the
Dominican, Fra Domenico Cavalco of Vico Pisano, who, as an ascetic
writer, has proved himself a master of prose; Bianco dall’Anciolina,
one of the companions of Giovanni Colombini; and, about the
beginning of the fifteenth century, by the learned Venetian Leonardo
Giustiniani, brother of the patriarch Lorenzo who was venerated
as a saint; contemporaneous with him were Fra Giovanni Dominici,
Francesco d’Albizzo, and many others. The succeeding epoch witnessed
the appearance of the two men who have given this popular poetry its
greatest brilliancy and importance: they were Feo Belcari and Girolamo

The birth of Feo Belcari[418] occurred at a time when the sad divided
condition of the Church—which the Pisan Council did not help by the
choice of a third Pope—had excited in Florence a movement which was
only terminated by the restoration of unity. He was born on February 4,
1410, and belonged to a respectable family extinct before the sixteenth
century. He filled many public offices, sat in the magistracy of the
priors in the summer of 1454, was secretary in the office of the Public
Debt, and died on August 16, 1484. He is the best representative of
the tendency, intellect, and feeling which we are now considering.
Feo Belcari was no dreamer, but a man of active life, a sharer in
the cheerful society, principally composed of artists, which was a
characteristic element of the social condition of the time. All that
we possess of him belongs to devotional literature. His book on the
founders of the Jesuates, dedicated to Giovanni de’ Medici, describes
times and circumstances which he knew from oral tradition, being in the
most intimate connection with the orders that had acquired importance
in Florence. His letters—one of which on humility, addressed to
his daughter Orsola, gives a clear view of his opinions—are moral
philosophical treatises, in which the familiarity with the Fathers
of the Church and Christian authors of the Middle Ages would make
us take them for the work of a theologian, had not the knowledge of
this literature been so widely disseminated among a portion of the
laity. His dramatic works are among the most important of the kind
which introduced Sacred History into the circle of festivals, half
ecclesiastical half secular, and claimed the equal attention of high
and low. In 1449 his mystery of the ‘Sacrifice of Abraham’ was acted in
the church of Cestello. But more than all, his _laudi_ have made him a
name. The number of them is very great, for many are only variations
of the same theme—that of Divine love and the powerlessness of human
nature without grace. But the different turns and shades of meaning
are remarkable, and the ease with which the metre harmonises with the
hymn is astonishing, whilst there is no want of reality. In 1455, when
the author was at the height of his powers and activity, a collection
of this poetry had been arranged for the Compagnia de’ Battuti di San
Zanobi, and the plays were kept in use till far into the following
century. The style is mostly simple, as befits popular productions, but
it is not entirely free from Latinisms and affectation in his prose

The death of Feo Belcari, the ‘Christian Poet,’ was sung by Girolamo
Benivieni[419] in _terza rima_, where we read among other things:

  The darkened world has now long missed the star
  Which, while the shade still hung before my eyes,
  Shone like a guide unto my steps afar.

  Ne’er will the sweet and heavenly tones resound,
  Silent the harmonies of that sweet lyre,
  Now only in the angels’ bright world found.

Girolamo Benivieni, as his own words suggest, was in a measure the
successor of Belcari. But while the latter wrote entirely under the
influence of strictly orthodox Christianity, Benivieni sought to impart
to his work the spirit of Greek philosophy which ruled the age in which
he had grown up. While Belcari, again, united public activity with the
contemplative life in which he loved to indulge, we are not informed
that Benivieni, however deeply the events in his native country might
move him, had any share in them beyond that of an author and a friend
of many of the actors. Born in 1453, he survived friends and foes
and the Republic itself. Intellectually active up to his last years,
he kept true to the recollections of his most active years, and to
the convictions he had then formed. Feo Belcari had been his leader
in youth; Fra Girolamo Savonarola was the guiding star of his ripe
manhood. Between the two, the representative of the contemplative man
and the strenuous ascetic, stands a grave, beautiful figure, Pico of
Mirandola, who had no less influence on Benivieni than the others. Only
from its intimate connection with these three has Benivieni’s life—of
which nothing else is known—a significance and importance, that cannot
otherwise be explained. As he sang Belcari’s death, and defended the
truth of Savonarola’s doctrines and predictions—more than thirty years
after his death—before Pope Clement VII.,[420] so did he choose his
last resting-place beside Pico,[421] whose death preceded his own by
half a century. Benivieni illustrated his friend’s canzonets on Divine
Love with a detailed commentary which proved how their minds accorded
with one another.

Benivieni attempted the most various kinds of poetry—eclogues,
canticles, canzonets, sonnets—which give him a place beside the two
men whom we shall soon see taking the first places in poetry, Poliziano
and Lorenzo de’ Medici; while in popular songs, the _Frottole_, he
retained the tradition which, whatever the learned might say, still
represented the popular element in literature. He translated the
Psalms and the ‘Dies Iræ’ into the _terza rima_, remodelled a novel of
Boccaccio’s into stanzas, and made poetic translations from the Greek
and Latin. His poems on religious philosophical subjects show him to
have been in form and meaning one of those who aspired to mediate
between Christianity and Platonism, a tendency also evinced by the
commentary accompanying the poems we have mentioned, and addressed
to Pico’s nephew, Giovan Francesco. Benivieni’s principal historical
importance, so to say, consists in the sympathy he showed for the
movement commenced by Savonarola, which found its especial poetical
expression through him. His lauds, which, in their mysticism tinged
with sensuousness, remind us at times of Fra Jacopone’s sentimentality,
were sung by the people in the streets of the city, by high and low
members of the Dominican order, in places where shortly before Medicean
carnival-songs had resounded, and where piles of worldly vanity were
heaped up to be followed soon by other forms of terrible ruin.

In the style which gives importance to Belcari’s and Benivieni’s poetry
when the former still lived and the latter was in youthful manhood, a
woman appeared who claims peculiar attention, because she exercised
a decided influence on the personage who has given to this epoch the
special stamp of his individuality. Lucrezia Tornabuoni de’ Medici was
eminently gifted; we have seen her in several positions in life which
display her clear understanding, caution, affection for her family,
and care for their welfare, without arrogance or forgetfulness of her
station. Her productions as a poet belong to the intellectual class.
The six lauds[422] which remain of her poetry have this peculiarity,
that they include the ecclesiastical year; and if their poetical
value does not exceed others of the kind, they produce a favourable
impression by avoiding the endless repetitions of similar poems. The
Birth of Christ, the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Passion, the
Resurrection, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Life of Christ on
earth, these are the themes of her hymns, some of which were sung to
sacred, and some to profane airs. Beside these processional songs,
Lucrezia wrote various Biblical histories in _terza rima_ or in
eight-lined stanzas: _e.g._, the ‘Lives of the Virgin and John the
Baptist,’ the ‘History of Esther, Judith, and Tobias.’ Angelo Poliziano
revised her poems, and her grandsons learned them by heart. Another
poetess of the time, whose family was intimately acquainted with
Lucrezia’s, Antonia Giannotti Pulci, attempted sacred dramas, in which
her husband Bernardo made himself a name.

Besides poetry another branch of literature deserves attention,
although the humanistic school diminished its powers, and restricted
its influence without entirely depriving it of importance. It will be
easily understood that, in the native country of Dino Compagni and the
Villani, there could be no lack of such as continued to note down what
they felt and heard, and what they had themselves a personal share in.
Nowhere, perhaps, were such notices, either in the form of annals or
chronicles, or as narratives of personal experience with a predominance
of character drawing, so frequent and so valuable as here. In the last
decades of the fourteenth century several writers had followed in
the steps of the Villani with far more talent than they had. Donato
Velluti, Marchionne Stefani, Gino Capponi wrote a description of the
popular insurrections of 1378, in the course of which the reader
is in danger of losing the thread if he does not keep the separate
elements apart. The following century was active in this department,
but however important in many cases the material may have been, the
form and language betray the lowly position to which the humanistic
literature had condemned this despised sister. Buonaccorso Pitti,
Jacopo Salviati, and Neri Capponi wrote histories and commentaries
which are partly personal memoirs, and all the more instructive because
the epoch was one which claimed so fully the active participation
of capable citizens at home and abroad. We may, perhaps, blame the
weakness of the last-mentioned writer for placing his own deeds and
those of his father, relations, and friends, in the foremost rank in
commentaries, which extend nearly to his death in 1456; but where men
like Gino and Neri Capponi have laboured in such a conspicuous manner,
the circumstantial style is willingly accepted, as the inner life of
a people can only be recognised and understood by a closer view of
important persons. Other chroniclers, like Domenico Buoninsegni and
Goro Dati, from whom less is to be gained for political history, are
the more readily pardoned for their gossiping patriotism because the
subject of their preference is a deserving one, and they furnish us
with a quantity of information that is important for the history of

A special place belongs to Giovanni Cavalcanti, the principal authority
for the time from 1420 to 1440. The humanistic school had exercised
more influence on him than on any of the historians of his day who
wrote in the vulgar tongue, but in a manner which imprints the
strangest character on his history. For we find here, grafted on the
passionate description of a partisan who had fallen out with his own
faction in the course of his work, a rhetorical wordiness and elegant
would-be eloquence which clothes the strife of faction, with its
loves and hatreds, in antiquated speeches and moralising sentences.
The personality of the author in and for itself, as it meets us in
his writings (we know nothing else of him), is characteristic; a
nobleman of one of the oldest families, poor, oppressed, without any
share in the administration, and with a full consciousness of the old
conservative claims of the patricians, with a fierce contemptuous
hatred of the lower classes, and a bitter grudge against the heads
of the State, which leads him to charge Cosimo de’ Medici whom he so
often praises with a diabolical design to destroy freedom. To all these
annalists and historians we may add others, whose works are mostly
printed, and include the times of Lorenzo or later, namely, Benedetto
Dei, Bartolommeo Cerretani, Pietro Parenti, Giovanni Cambi. Similar to
this branch of history, biography placed her achievements in the vulgar
tongue beside those of the humanists, who, rivalling the Greeks and
Romans, created much that was important and permanently valuable in a
higher sense than their great historical works. Most unassuming, and,
in spite of all solecisms and defects of form, most pleasing is the
popular form of biography, in the hundred characteristic portraits by
Vespasiano da Bisticci, to whom we owe innumerable deep views into the
inner life for which we vainly seek among the learned historians.

                       END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.


[1] Vasari, in Michelozzo’s Life (_Vite_, Lemonnier’s edition, Flor.
1846, ff., iii. p. 271); and in Brunelleschi’s Life, a. a. O., p. 228.
Michelozzo was born about the year 1391. It is generally understood
that the building of the Palace took place before Cosimo’s exile, and
they quote from Migliore (_Firenze Illustrata_, Flor. 1684, p. 198
ff.), which specifies ‘circa all’Anno 1430.’ There is no foundation for
this statement. Moreover, Michelozzo was not in Florence in the year
supposed (Fantozzi, _Guida di Firenze_, Flor. 1842, p. 457).

[2] Vasari in the Life of Lorenzo di Bicci, a. a. O., ii. p. 225. The
house came afterwards to the Ughi family. At present it is all built
round, even the adjoining Lorenzi Palace, which up to our day preserved
its ancient, solemn aspect.

[3] _Ordinamenta justitiæ communis et populi Florentiæ anni_ 1293,
a Francisco Bonainio edita, in Archivio Storico Italiano, serie ii.
i. p. 1-93 [1855]. C. Hegel, _Die Ordnungen der Gerechtigkeit in der
Florentinischen Republik_, Erlangen 1867. Compare P. Capei, Arch. Stor.
Ital. ser. iii. vii. p. 132.

[4] Fr. Bonaini, _Della Parte Guelfa in Firenze_, in Giornale Storico
degli Archivi Toscani (Flor. 1857), ii. p. 171, 257; iii. p. 77, 167;
iv. p. 3. Unfortunately this laborious work remains incomplete. The
oldest constitution of the Capitani and the Guelf party was in 1335,
and is printed in Bonaini, i. p. 1-41. The office was in existence up
to the year 1769.

[5] Gio. Villani, xi. chap. 92, 93.

[6] G. Canestrini, _La Scienza e l’Arte di Stato desunta dagli Atti
Officiali della Repubblica Florentina e dei Medici_. Parte 1, L’imposta
sulla ricchezza mobile e immobile. Florenz. 1862. No more has appeared
of this work, which was to be the economical and administrative history
of the Republic and of the first Medici period. The first part treats
of the _Estimo_, of the _Cadastre_, and of the _Decima_ of 1494. Cf.
L. Banchi in the Archivio Stor. Ital., serie iii. i. p. 90 (G. F.
Pagnini). _Della Decima e delle altre gravezze imposte dal Commune
di Firenze_ (Lucca, 1763) has in its first volume, p. 10, a short
account of Florentine taxation, up to the introduction of the _decima_
(p. 214-231.—Provision of May 22, 1427, for the formation of the

[7] The Peruzzi in 1325 were an instance of this. _Storia del Commercio
e dei Banchieri di Firenze._ Flor. 1868, p. 197.

[8] Varchi, _Storia Fiorentina_, at the end of book xiii. (Edit. Arbib.
Flor. 1844, iii. p. 36.)

[9] ‘Ipse quidem nescit si fructus sequetur, vel non; sed, auditis
aliis civibus, idem secutus est.’ ‘Consulta’ of May 12, 1427, by P.
Berti, Nuovi documenti intorno al Catasto florentino, in the _Giorn.
Stor. degli archivi Toscani_, iv. 32. Giovanni Cavalcanti (_Storia
Fiorentina_, Flor. 1838, i. 196.)—a contemporary, who has left us
the most lifelike description of that period, but who must be used
with great caution on account of his decided and enthusiastic party
views—has been followed by all later writers in his opinion of the
Medici. At the head of these is Machiavelli, who took him as the
principal source of information for those times.

[10] Gio. Cavalcanti, l. c. p. 262.

[11] Domenico Moreni, _Continuazione delle Memorie della Basilica di S.
Lorenzo_. Flor. 1816, i. p. 27.

[12] _Monuments Sépulcraux de Toscane_, Flor. 1821. Table xiii. The
inscription is as follows:

‘Cosmus et Laurentius de Medicis v. d. Joanni Averardi f. et Picardæ
Adovardi f. carissimis parentibus hoc Sepulchrū faciendum curarunt.
Obiit autem Johannes x. Kl. Martias MCCCCXXVIII. Picarda vero xiii. Kl.
Maias quinquennio post e vita migravit.

Si merita in patriam, si gloria, sanguis et omni Larga manus nigra
libera morte forent, Viveret heu patriæ casta cum coniuge felix
Auxilium miseris portus et aura suis; Omnia sed quando superantur
morte, Johannes, Hoc mausoleo tuque Picarda iaces, Ergo senex mœret,
invenis, puer, omnis et ætas, Orba parente suo patria mœsta gemit.

[13] G. Cavalcanti, l. c. p. 269.

[14] The xv. and xvi. cantos of _Il Paradiso_ contain eloquent
descriptions of historical importance, to the explanation of which the
translation of Philalethes has contributed valuable materials.

[15] G. F. Berti, _Cenni storico-artistici di S. Miniato al Monte_,
Flor. 1850. The MSS. of Bishop Hildebrand of the year 1013 show that
the reconstruction of the church had already begun at that time.

[16] V. Marchese, _Memorie dei più insigni pittori, scultori, e
architetti Domenicani_. Flor. 1845. I. p. 44 ff. F. Moisè, _Santa Croce
di Firenze_, Flor. 1845. I. p. 42 _et seq._

[17] L. Passerini, _La Loggia di Or San Michele_, l. c. p. 113 ff.

[18] _Regesta florentina internam Reipublicæ historiam spectantia ab
a._ MCCXXV, _ad a._ MD., by Gaye, Carteggio inedito d’Artisti, i. 413
_et seq._

[19] M. Rastrelli, _Illustrazione istorica del Palazzo della Signoria_.
Flor. 1792. F. Moisè, _Illustrazione storico-artistica del Palazzo de’
Priori_. Flor. 1843.

[20] Fr. Becchi, _Sulle Stinche di Firenze, in Illustratore
fiorentino_. Flor. 1840.

[21] Inferno xix. 17 (‘in my beautiful San Giovanni’). Purgatory xii.
100. Even with the present transformation of the hillside a great
flight of steps is to be seen hard by.

[22] Concerning the various kinds of the _macigni_ (Dante uses the
expression, _Inferno_ xv. 63, speaking of the obdurate nature of the
Florentines of his time), the _pietra forte_, _pietra fina_, _serena_,
_bigia_, see Targioni, _Viaggi per la Toscana_, i. p. 18 _et seq._

[23] The opinion expressed in the book of the Carmelite, P. Fr. M.
Soldini—_Delle eccellenze e grandezze della nazione fiorentina_
(Flor. 1780),—respecting the palace Tosinghi on the old market-place,
destroyed, according to Gio. Villani, in the party wars of the middle
of the 13th century, is, no doubt, a modern conjecture.

[24] Gaye, l. c. p. 498 (Anno 1344).

[25] Baldinucci, Professori del disegno (D. M. Manni’s Ausg.), vol. i.
p. 24, Gaye l. c. p. 483.

[26] G. Masselli and G. P. Lasinio, _Il Tabernacolo della Madonna
d’Orsanmichele_: Flor. 1851.

[27] L. Passerini, _La Loggetta del Bigallo_, l. c. p. 89 _et seq._

[28] Benedetto Dei, in Varchi, _Storia Fiorentina_, book ix. (ii. p.
116), names twenty-one loggias on private houses in the latter half of
the 15th century. Lastro, _Osservatore Fiorentino_ (published Flor.
1821), iii. p. 203 _et seq._

[29] _Cronaca di Matteo Villani_, book vii. chap. 41.

[30] L. Passerini, _La Loggia della Signoria_ l. c. p. 99. Gaye l. c.
p. 527.

[31] Passerini l. c.; after him Il. Semper in A. v. Zahn’s _Fine
Arts Annals_, iii. p. 35-37. The tradition respecting Orcagna is in
Lemonnier’s _Vasari_, ii. p. 130.

[32] G. Aiazzi ‘Illustrazione della Capella gentilizia della _Famiglia
Rinuccini_,’ in the _Ricordi di Filippo Rinuccini_: Flor. 1840, p.

[33] Gaye l. c. p. 536.

[34] C. Guasti, _La Cupola di Sta. Maria del Fiore_: Flor. 1857, p. 9,
37, 89.

[35] Plan and sketch in the _Osservatore Fiorentino_, ii. p. 167.

[36] _Book of Statutes_, part vii. book 4.

[37] Inscription on the back: ‘Clarissimi viri Cosmas et Laurentius
fratres neglectas diu Sanctorum reliquias martyrum religioso studio ac
fidelissima pietate suis sumptibus æneis loculis condendas colendasque
curarunt.’ Figured in the _Monuments Sépulcraux_, Table XX. In the time
of the French invasion broken up and destined to be melted down, but
rescued and restored, and now in the National Museum in the Palace of
the Podestà.

[38] Pagnini, _Della decima_, etc., ii. p. 80. S. L. Peruzzi, p. 61.
_Osservatore fiorentino_, iii. p. 185, vi. p. 157.

[39] Gio. Villani, xi. chap. 93.

[40] P. Berti, _Documenti riguardanti il commercio dei Fiorentini in
Francia nei secoli xiii. e xiv._ in the _Giornale storico degli Arch.
Tosc._ i. pp. 163, 217. The most abundant material is contained in
Francesco Balducci Pegolotti’s _Pratica della Mercatura_, 14th century,
and Pagnini, iii.

[41] _Osservatore fiorentino_, iv. p. 124. F. Fantozzi, _Notizie
biografiche di Bernardo Cennini_, Flor. 1839, p. 33. Fantozzi regards
the Calimaruzza as the former Via Francesca, where the magazines of
foreign cloth were, and the Calimala as the place for the sale of the
native fabrics.

[42] G. Gargioli, _L’Arte della Seta in Firenze trattato del secolo_
xv., Flor. 1868. The lists from 1225 to 1337 are printed p. 282-290.
L. Venturi, _Filippo Matteoni_ (the biography of one of the most
intelligent silk-weavers of our time), in verse and prose, Flor. 1871,
p. 321. S. Bongi, _Della Mercatura dei Lucchesi nei sec._ xiii. e xiv.
_Osservatore fior._ iv. p. 103; vi. p. 36. Peruzzi, p. 36, where there
are also the portraits of a crimson-dyer and a silk-spinner, after a
MS. in the Laurentiana.

[43] _L’Inferno_, xvii. 43. Compare E. Morpurgo, _I prestatori di
denaro al tempo di Dante_, in _Dante e Padua, Studj storico-critici_,
Padua, 1865, p. 193.

[44] _Divine Comedy_, ‘Paradise,’ xix. 119.

[45] Kervyn de Lettenhove, _Les Argentiers Florentins_, in the
_Bulletins de l’Académie r. de Belgique_, 1861, pp. 295-312. Compare
also his treatise, _Recherches sur la part que l’ordre de Citeaux et le
Comte de Flandre prirent à la lutte de Boniface VIII. et de Philippe le
Bel_, in the _Mémoires_ of the same Academy, xxviii. On the Franzesi
family see Repetti, _Dizionario della Toscana_, article ‘Figline,

[46] Vol. x. chap. 88.

[47] Fr. Balducci Pegolotti, in Pagnini, p. 198.

[48] Bartolommeo Cerretani, in Fabroni _M. Cosmi Med. Vita_, ii. 63.
Concerning this still unprinted chronicler, see Moreni, _Bibliografia
della Toscana_, i. 249.

[49] Del Migliore, p. 6. See Gaye, p. 424.

[50] Extracts in Gaye, in the registers.

[51] _Paradiso_ xv. 97. _Purgat._ xvi. 117.

[52] L. Mehus: _Ambrosii Traversarii Epistolæ et Orationes_. Flor.
1759, ccclxxiv.

[53] On the Bardi see Ademollo, _Marietta de Ricci_, 2nd edit. by L.
Passerini, Flor, 1815, iii. 1135.

[54] ‘Io confesso—che il concilio non è per me. Ma che debbo fare,
se haggio uno fato che mi ci tira?’—Luca della Robbia, _Vita di
Bartolommeo Valori_, in the _Arch. Stor. Ital._ iv. part i. 262.

[55] _Documenti relativi alla liberazione dalla prigionia di Giovanni
XXIII._, in the _Arch. Stor. Ital._ 429. Writings of Averardo di Medici
to Michele Cossa, Flor. Dec. 31, 1419. Fabroni as above, ii. 11.

[56] Ciacconio: _Historia Pontificum_, etc., Rome, 1677, ii. 795, and
the _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate xi., give an illustration. From
Michelozzo’s Survey-Declaration in Gaye, as above, 117, we see that the
monument was still unfinished in 1427, and the price agreed upon had
been 800 florins.

[57] L. Passerini: _Gli Alberti di Firenze_, Flor. 1870, i. 118; ii.

[58] _Commissioni di Rinaldo degli Albizzi per il comune di Firenze dal
1399 al 1433_. Edited by Cesare Guasti. 3 vols. Flor. 1867-73.

[59] _Gio. Cavalcanti_, 319: _Albizzi Family_. See Ademollo, as above,
ii. 695. _Genealogij_, by Gius. Ajazzi, MS. in possession of the author.

[60] Niccolò’s conversation with Niccolò Barbadoro, in Cavalcanti as
above, p. 380 (copied, with alterations, by Machiavelli in the 4th book
of the _Florentine Hist._), gives the best insight into the feelings of
the party.

[61] Vasari: _Life of Lorenzo di Bicci_, ii. p. 229. The building of
the Sapienza already begun, served later as a cage for lions, and is
now employed as an educational institution.

[62] Vasari: Life of Masaccio, vol. iii. p. 160.

[63] _Vitæ CIII. Virorum Illustrium qui sæculo xv. extiterunt_, auctore
coævo Vespasiano Florentino. (In the _Spicilegium Romanum_, edited by
Cardinal Angelo Mai.) Rome, 1839, reprint. _Vite di nomini illustri del
secolo xv._ scritte da Vespasiano da Bisticci, stampate nuovamente da
Adolfo Bartoli. Flor. 1859. _Palla di Noferi Strozzi_, p. 271. Messer
Leonardo is Leonardo Bruni.

[64] Vespasiano da Bisticci as above, 278.

[65] _Commissioni di Rinaldo degli Albizzi_, iii. 507.

[66] Gio. Cavalcanti as above, 320-327.

[67] Fabroni as above, i. 27; ii. 31, 58.

[68] L. Passerini: _Genealogia e storia della famiglia Guadagni_, Flor.
1874, p. 52.

[69] Cosimo’s own memoranda, Fabroni as above, ii. 96, which give no
information as to the grounds and form of the action, must be compared
with Cavalcanti’s relation, 507, which supplied Machiavelli with his
materials. The protocols of the Signory give no information as to these

[70] Gio. Cavalcanti as above, 558, 610.

[71] _Storia Fiorentina dai tempi di Cosimo de’ Medici a quelli del
gonfaloniere Soderini._ Flor. 1859. Vol. i. of the _Opere inedite di
Fr. Guicciardini, illustrate da G. Canestrini_, p. 4.

[72] ‘Fermare lo Stato’—to give a settled form to a Government,
introduced by the sovereign or a political party. ‘Stato’ means in this
case the rule with which they exercise it.

[73] _I Capitoli del Comune di Firenze Inventario e Regesto_, i. Flor.

[74] Published by D. M. Manni, Flor. 1720. Constantine Höfler has in
his history of King Rupert (Freiburg, 1861) placed the activity of
Buonaccorso Pitti in its right light.

[75] Printed by D. M. Manni Cronachette Antiche, Florence, 1733. The
history of the conquest of Pisa, printed there likewise, is probably by
his son Neri.

[76] _Storia Fiorentina_, chap. i.

[77] P. Litta: _Genealogy of the Acciaiuoli_. L. Taufani: _Nicola
Acciaiuoli_, Florence, 1863. Gaye has published in the _Carteggio
inedita d’Artisti_, i. 57-69, the remarkable letters of the seneschal
for the years 1355-56, on the building of the Certosa. Vespasiano da
Bisticci as above, 351 (on Agnolo Acciaiuoli).

[78] Vespasiano da Bisticci as above, 332. Angiolo Segni: _Vita di
Donato Acciaiuoli_, edited by Tommaso Tonelli, Florence, 1841.

[79] Franc. Guicciardini: _Recordi di Famiglia_, in his _Opere
inedite_, x.

[80] Description and narrative which Vespasiano da Bisticci, 525, gives
of Alessandra de Bardi Strozzi and her sad fate, give a deep insight
into the miseries of this time.

[81] _Commissioni di Rinaldo degli Albizzi_, iii. 651, 669.

[82] _Commissioni_, iii. 672, 677.

[83] _Idem_, 680.

[84] Vespasiano de Bisticci as above, 417.

[85] L. Basserini: _Baldaccio da Anghiari_, in the _Arch. Stor. Ital._,
3, iii. 131, 166. The author is of the opinion that the connections of
Baldaccio to the Pope Gregory IV., still residing in Florence, were the
cause of the Medicean party wishing to get rid of him.

[86] Gio. Cavalcanti, I. c. ii. 195.

[87] Register of 1458, Canestrini, as above, 168. Progressive scale,
_id._ 213.

[88] Gio. Cavalcanti as above, ii. 210.

[89] Etiam nobis esset reputatio et utilitas si Papa hic veniret.
Rinaldo degli Albizzi, _Commissioni_, iii. 589.

[90] C. Milanesi, ‘Osservazioni intorno agli esemplari del decreto
d’unione della chiesa Greca con la Latina che si conservano nella
biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana o nell’Archivio di Stato,’ with Greek
and Latin text of the decree of union, in the _Giorn. stor. degli
Arch. tosc._ i. 196-225. This is not the place to refer to the newest
historico-critical literature on this subject.

[91] Fabroni as above, ii. 163.

[92] _Life of Eugenius IV._ as above, 16.

[93] _Life of Agnolo Acciaiuoli_ as above, p. 357.

[94] Giannone, _Storia civile del Regno di Napoli_, book xxvi. chap. 2.

[95] _Ricordi storici di Filippo di Cino Rinuccini dal 1282 al 1460,
colla continuazione di Alamanno e Neri suoi figli fino al 1506 per cura
di G. Aiazzi_, Flor. 1840, lxxxix.

[96] Letter of Pius II., and his answer, in Fabroni, ii. 254.

[97] Document of the purchase of the ‘sclava,’ twenty-two years old,
for the price of 60 ducats, Fabroni, ii. 214.

[98] Fabroni as above, ii. 251.

[99] _Idem_, 253.

[100] The list of the masses ordered by Piero de’ Medici after his
father’s death, and the grants for mourning habits to the members and
servants of his family, among them five chamber-women and four maids
(_schiave_), are given by Fabroni, ii. 254.

[101] M. Ficino, _Epistol._ i. 85.

[102] Fabroni, ii. 257.

[103] Litta, ‘Family Tornabuoni,’ in the _Famiglie celebri Ital._,
Ademollo as above, iv. 1200. The Tornabuoni became extinct in 1635, and
the name and inheritance of the Tornaquinci, extinct in 1790, passed to
the branch of the Medici which is still flourishing in Florence.

[104] January 1, 1448, after Florentine style (annus ab incarnatione,
_i.e._ from March 25), is the same day 1449.

[105] _Laurentii Medicis Vita_, per Nicolaum Valorium edita ad Leonem
X.P.M. First printed by L. Mehus after a Laurentian MS., Flor. 1749;
more recently in Philippi Villani _Liber de civitatis Florentiæ famosis
civibus et de Florentinorum litteratura principes fere synchroni
scriptores_. Ed. G. C. Galletti. Flor. 1847, p. 161. An Italian
translation had already appeared, Flor. 1568. Niccolò Valori was a
pupil of Marsilio Ficino, and a member of the Platonic Academy.

[106] On Gentile of Urbino, as he was commonly called, see A. M.
Bandini, _Specimen literaturæ Florentinæ_, sæc. xv., Flor. 1752, i.
182; ii. 111. Desjardins-Canestrini, _Négotiations diplomatiques de la
France avec la Toscane_, Paris 1859, i. 317. _Embassy of Becchi and
Piero Soderini to King Charles VIII._, 1493, _idem_, 321-365. _Address
to Pope Innocent VIII. on occasion of the Neapolitan war of the
Barons_, 1485, p. 205-214. Gentile, bishop of Arezzo 1473, died April
19, 1497.

[107] Fabroni, _Laur. Med. Magnif. Vita_, Pisa, 1784, ii. 9.

[108] N. Valori as above, 166.

[109] Politian, _Conjuratio Pactiana_, at the end.

[110] Litta, _Family Pazzi_, Ademollo, as above, iv. 1228.

[111] As above, 372.

[112] For documents referring to the embassy, see Desjardins, as above,
109, 135.

[113] Vespasiano, as above, 375.

[114] L. Passerini, _Genealogia e storia della famiglia Rucellai_,
Flor. 1861.

[115] L. Passerini, _Genealogy of the Soderini_, continuation of
Litta’s _Famiglie celebri_.

[116] Vasari, _Life of Donatello_, iii. 250. For illustration see Litta.

[117] _Cronica di Napoli di Notar Giacomo_, pubbl. da P. Garzilli,
Naples, 1845, p. 100. Giovan. Pietro Cagnola, _Storia di Milano_
(‘Cronache Milanesi,’ in the _Arch. stor. ital._ iii. Flor. 1842),
informs us (p. 170) of Don Federigo’s arrival and the causes of the
delay of the wedding, which was connected with Jacopo Piccinino’s
affairs (see below, p. 219). Ippolita arrived on September 14 at
Naples, after having waited two months in Siena, till her father
permitted her to proceed. (_Cronica di Notar Giacomo_, 112; Cagnola,

[118] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, xcv.

[119] Luigi Pulci’s letter, see Roscoe, App. ix., but more correct in
the _Lettere di Luigi Pulci a Lorenzo il Magnifico e ad altri_ (edited
by Salvatore Bongi), Lucca, 1868, p. 1. There are various notices of
the writer here, but unfortunately no notes to the letters, which are
often unintelligible, and will probably remain so, in spite of all
notes, with regard to various persons mentioned.

[120] Fabroni, l. e., ii. 51 _seq._

[121] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, xcvi.

[122] Fabroni as above, ii. 47; letter of March 22, _idem_, 49.

[123] Desjardins as above, 136-141.

[124] Guicciardini, in whom the traditions of grandfather and
granduncle are united in cap. ii. of the _Storia fiorentina_, p. 18;
Machiavelli, who, in consequence of the death of Girolamo, his ancestor
in Cosimo’s time, could not be very favourable to Luca Pitti and his
adherents, in book vii. of his history. G. M. Bruto, _Florentinæ
historiæ_, book ii.

[125] On this affair, which has never been fully cleared up, see
Ricotti, _Storia delle Compagnie di Ventura_, iii. 191, where the
judgment of contemporaries is referred to; and Canestrini, _Documenti
per servire alla storia della Milizia italiana_, Flor. 1851 (_Arch.
stor. ital._ xv.), series lxxviii. 179-184, where the letters of
Francesco Sforza and the King are to be found.

[126] Vespasiano da Bisticci as above, p. 360.

[127] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, xcix.

[128] _Lettera di Jacopo Acciaiuoli ad Agnolo_, Naples, September 6,
1466. See Fabroni as above, ii. 28. The time of Lorenzo’s journey
cannot be precisely fixed, but it must have taken place before or
towards the middle of August, for the later events leave no time.
Jacopo writes: ‘Lorenzo di Piero fu quà. Il S. Rè li fece carezze

[129] _Paradiso_, xv. 109.

[130] Francis Joseph Sloane, who died in 1871. The villa passed by
inheritance to the Russian family Boutourlin.

[131] The name Camaldoli, which is borne in Florence by two districts
of the city inhabited by the poorer classes—that of San Frediano and
that behind San Lorenzo—is derived from the Camaldulensian church of
San Salvatore, pulled down in 1529, which stood near the city walls on
the left bank of the Arno. To the district of San Lorenzo the name was
transferred from the other behind Sta. Croce, and at Porta San Niccolò
there are other districts so named.

[132] The prevailing opinion among the opponents of the Medici of
the events of 1466 is expressed decidedly in the notices of Alamanno
Rinuccini, who continued those of his father Filippo from the year
1460, as above, coll. xcix.

[133] _Cronachetta Volterrana di autore anomino del 1362 al 1478_,
given by M. Tabarrini in the _Arch. Stor. Ital._ App. iii. 317.

[134] The history of the conspiracy, in Machiavelli, b. vii., entirely
reverses the chronology of the occurrences, excepting the speeches
and letters, which correspond but little to the reality. Jacopo Pitti
_Istoria fiorentina_, p. 19, _seq._, gives a clear narrative of the
proceedings. G. M. Banto, in his third book, is diffuse and tedious
with his imaginary speeches. The version of Cardinal Ammanati in
the _Rerum suo tempore gestarum Commentarii_, Milan, 1506, is to be
consulted. Scipione Ammirato gives in his twenty-third book, as usual,
a useful but very dry relation. The remarkable letters and other
writings of the Acciaiuoli and Neroni, as well as the letters of King
Ferrante’s private secretary, Antonello Petrucci, to Lorenzo, November
10, 1466 (see Fabroni as above, ii. 28-38), reveal the persons and
circumstances better than the declamations of antiquated historians.
The conspiracy in itself would scarcely justify a detailed account if
it did not afford so clear a view of the manœuvres of the political
parties in Florence at that time.

[135] Fabroni as above, ii. 38.

[136] Both letters, see Desjardins as above, p. 141 _seq._

[137] Fabroni as above.

[138] Letter of January 10, 1467, to the ambassadors Antonio Ridolfi
and Giovanni Canigiani; see Desjardins, as above, p. 144.

[139] Instruction for Fr. Nori, do. p. 147.

[140] Diotisalvi to Pigello, Malpaga, October 8, 1466; see Fabroni as
above, ii. 38.

[141] _Inferno_, xxvii. 37. The translation of Philalethe gives in the
historical sketch appended to this canto a careful view of the confused
condition of the Romagna in Dante’s days. We have in the continuation
of Litta’s work by L. Passerini the genealogies of most of the great
families of Romagna, the Malatesta, Ordelaffi, Manfredi, and Da Polenta.

[142] Instead of the exceedingly numerous works on the history of
Ferrara, only Litta’s _Genealogy_ will be quoted here.

[143] R. Reposati _Della Zecca di Gubbio_, Bologna, 1772. James
Dennistoun, _Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino_, London, 1851. F. Ugolino
_Storia dei Conti e Duchi d’Urbino_, Flor. 1859.

[144] N. Ratti _Della Famiglia Sforza_, i. 144 _seq._; Litta, _Sforza

[145] Fabroni, _Cosm. Med. Vita_, ii. 169.

[146] Giovanni Gozzadini, _Memorie per la Vita di Giovanni II.
Bentivoglio_, Bologna, 1839.

[147] The most abundant material for the history of the war and peace
of 1467-68 is afforded by Fr. Trinchera, _Codice Aragonese_, i. (Naples
1866), which contains King Ferrante’s correspondence. S. Romanin,
_Storia di Venezia_, b. xi. (vol. iv.) gives the account, having used
D. Malipiero’s _Annali, Veneti_ i.

[148] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, s. cv.

[149] Malipiero as above, p. 215.

[150] Compiègne, September 18, 1468; see Desjardins as above, p. 151.

[151] Guichenon in his _Histoire de la maison de Savoye_ rather doubts
the strange fact, contrary to Corio. See Muratori, _Annali_, 1468.

[152] Vespasiano da Bisticci as above, p. 228.

[153] The inscription reads:

‘Detisalvio . Neronis . f . equiti. floren. viro. integerr. qui.
domi. forisq. multa. pro. rep. optime. gessit. patriae. libertatem.
vehementer. amavit. demum. inter. fortunæ. procellas. summa. cum.
laude. vixit. ann. LXXXI. mens. VI. dies XII. filii. unanimes. patri.
pient se. et. b. m. pos. obiit. anno Christi MCCCCLXXXIIIIII. kl. Aug.’

In an elegy to Lorenzo de’ Medici, probably written after the end of
the Colleonic war, Angelo Poliziano (_Prose volgari inedite_, &c., p.
219) refers to this man’s fate:

‘Diotisalvi left in hasty flight his home; Pining in exile now, he
mourns the slow-footed time.’

[154] Cronachetta Volterrana as above, p. 326. Pecori, _Storia di San
Gemignano_, Flor. 1853, p. 242.

[155] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, s. cviii.

[156] L. Pulci, _Lettere_, p. 31.

[157] See A. Cappelli, _Lettere di Lorenzo de’ Medici conservate
nell’Archivio palatino di Modena in Atti e Memorie delle R. R.
Deputationi di storia pratria per le provincie Modenesi Parmensi_, i.

[158] Purgatorio xxv. 13. Par. iii. 46.

[159] _Ricordi d’una giostra fatta a Firenze a dì 7 Febbraio_ 1481
(1469), after a Magliabechi MS. printed by P. Fanfani in _Il Borghini_,
vol. ii. (Flor. 1864) pp. 473-483, 533-542. Tournaments were also
publicly proclaimed, as at the carnival, 1467, at Perugia. See
_Giornale d’erudizione artistica_, ii. 208.

[160] In the elegy to Lorenzo mentioned above (p. 260), Politian
alludes to the tournament, which is also sung by Ugolino Vieri (Verino).

[161] See Litta, _Fam. Orsini_, table ix. xxiii. In San Salvator in
lauro at Rome, where Latino Orsini lies buried (his monument belongs
to the seventeenth century) the beautiful monument of Clarice’s mother
is to be seen, with a statue of her reposing in death, and beneath,
Magdalena Ursina pudicitiæ exemplum; in the niches, statuettes of the
Madonna, St. Benedict (missing), and St. Scholastica; above, the Orsini
arms, with the inscription:

Ranaldus. Vrsin. archiepus. florent. parenti. b. m. pientiss. p.

For illustration see Litta.

[162] _Tre lettere di Lucrezia Tornabuoni a Piero de’ Medici ed altre
lettere di vari concernenti al matrimonio di Lorenzo il Magnifico con
Clarice Orsini._ (After the MSS. of the Flor. Archives edited by Cesare
Gnasti), Florence, 1859.

[163] The persons named in the letter are: Giovanni Tornabuoni;
Cardinal Latino Orsini, also called Monsignore, the title
(Illustrissimo e Reverendissimo Monsignore) which the cardinals bore
to the times of Urban VIII.; Clarice’s two brothers—Orso (called
Organtino, who married a Savelli), and Rinaldo (afterwards Archbishop
of Florence); Clarice’s uncle Lorenzo, lord of Monterotondo; her uncles
Latino, Giovanni, Archbishop of Irani and Abbot of Farsa, Napoleon,
lord of Bracciano, and Roberto, mentioned above. Of the three young
girls mentioned, Maria can only be Piero’s natural daughter, the wife
of Leonetto de Rossi and mother of Luigi de Rossi, created a cardinal
by Leo X.; Bianca is the wife of Guglielmo de’ Pazzi. Who Lucrezia is,
is obscure. Guasti (as above, p. 10) is mistaken in thinking all three
to be daughters of Piero and Lucrezia. In the _Ricordo_ quoted by him
(Fabroni, _Laur. Med. Vita_, ii. 9), Lorenzo only mentions Bianca and
Nannina Rucellai.

[164] Guasti, as above, 12.

[165] Guasti, as above, p. 12.

[166] Fabroni, as above, ii. 39.

[167] The different letters, see Guasti, as above, pp. 14-16.

[168] The description of the marriage in _Delle Nozze di Lorenzo de’
Medici con Clarice Orsini nel_ 1469 _informazione di Piero Parenti
Fiorentino_, Flor. 1870. The writer says at the beginning that he
has the details from Cosimo Bartoli, one of the speakers at the
festivities. The Magliabechi MS., from which the writing is taken
(Strozzi MSS. xxv. cod. 574), mentions no author; the list of the
MSS., however, gives Piero, the son of Marco Parenti, the author of a
chronicle which has remained in MS., which will again be mentioned. A
similarity between the writings of the latter and this ‘Information’
would be hard to discover, however. The opinion of the unmentioned
editor, that the report was addressed to Filippo Strozzi the elder then
in Naples, has slight foundation.

[169] This valuable little book is enumerated as No. 27 in the
inventory of valuables found in Lorenzo’s house after his death.

[170] A letter written from Careggi on July 13 by Piero to his wife,
who was in town, and which is difficult to understand on account of
allusions to unknown circumstances, arouses the suspicion that Piero
was not quite pleased with this embassy. ‘Tu sai che mal volentieri
decti licentia a Lorenzo per molti rispecti et maxime per non fare
dimostratione di questa mandata. Di a Lorenzo che non esca dello ordine
in cosa alcuna e non faccia tante melarancie non essendo imbasciadore
ch’io non determino che paperi menino a bere l’oche’ (_Med. Arch._).

[171] Fabroni, as above, ii. 53.

[172] As above, p. 56.

[173] Vasari in Verrocchio’s _Life_, as above, v. 142. _Monuments
sépulcraux_, Plate XIV.

[174] Fabroni, as above, ii. 42.

[175] _Storia Fiorentina_, chap. ii.

[176] ‘Discorso di Alessandro de’ Pazzi al cardinale Giulio de’ Medici’
(Pope Clement VII.) anno 1522 in the supplement to Jacopo Pitti’s
_Istoria Fiorentina_ (_Arch. stor. Ital._ i. Flor. 1842), p. 420
_seq._, and Introduction to the same by Gino Capponi, 413 _seq._

[177] Del Reggimento di Firenze, libri ii. In the _Opere inedite_, ii.
Flor. 1858, 1-234.

[178] Beside Machiavelli, Gio. Mich. Bruto has this story in his book,
and according to custom made Piero deliver a speech to his partisans,
filling many pages (‘Ita ad illos loquutus fertur,’ i. 380 _seq._).
But this author cannot be considered as an authority. A better one is
Vespasiano da Bisticci, who, however, limits the project of recall to
Agnolo Acciaiuoli. The Neapolitan ambassador, Marino Tomacelli, is said
to have been present at Piero’s interview with the heads of the party.

[179] Despatch of King Ferrante to Antonio Cicinello and Marino
Tomacelli, February 26, 1467; see Trinchera (as above), 65.

[180] Despatch of August 14: Trinchera, 209.

[181] Del Reggimento di Firenze, as above, 34, 64, 97.

[182] Niccolo Roberti to Duke Borso, Florence, December 4, 1469;
see Cappelli, as above, i. 250. ‘I quali due ultime (i.e. Pitti
and Martelli) soggiunsero che si aveva a riconoscere uno signore e
superiore che avesse unanime a trattare tutte le cose occorrenti
concernenti lo Stato di questa eccelsa Signoria.’

[183] Guicciardini, _Storia Fiorentina_, chap. ii. Machiavelli has
embellished the story in his fashion, and spoken of Lorenzo and
Giuliano as being present at the consultation, which is very unlikely.
Roscoe, chap, iii., has been led by this incongruous statement and
Lorenzo’s notices to believe the whole affair to be fictitious. On the
day after the consultation they went to the Medici.

[184] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, s. cxiii. cxiv. cxviii.; Guicciardini,
_Storia Fiorentina_, chap. iii.

[185] Fabroni, as above, ii. 47.

[186] _The Medicean Archives_ (divisione avanti il principato), contain
an endless series of letters from princes and great men, which afford a
proof of the widely-spread and intimate connections of Lorenzo and his

[187] Luigi Pulci, _Lettere_, p. 38, and later.

[188] Bern, _Corio_, b. vi. chap. ii. Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, s. cxv.
cxvi. L. Pulci, _Lettere_, p. 51 (Letter from Naples, March 19). G.
Tommasi, _Sommario della Storia di Lucca_, Flor. 1847 (vol. x. of the
_Arch. Stor. Ital_.) 336.

[189] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, s. cxxii. The king is called ‘Re di Dacia o
signore di Norvecia.’ Beneath the arch of the Porta San Gallo, we read
on a marble tablet a remembrance of a successor of Christiern, King
Frederick IV., who visited Venice and Florence in 1708, and had great
pleasure in contemplating the treasures of art. The Medici, whom his
predecessors had seen rise so brilliantly, were then almost extinct.

[190] L. Pulci, _Lettere_, p. 96 (Letter of June 16, 1475).

[191] Fabroni, as above, ii. 66 _seq._ Desjardins, 161 _seq._ The
Dauphin, afterwards King Charles VIII. was born in 1470, Beatrice of
Aragon in 1457. In 1476 she married Mathias Corvinus, King of Hungary.

[192] L. Pulci, as above, p. 63 (Fuligno, May 20, 1472).

[193] _Med. Arch. Filza_, 34.

[194] Cosimo Rucellai, Bernardo’s son and Lucrezia’s grandson; born
1468, died 1495. The marriage with Madonna Argentina, daughter of
Gabriel Malaspina, Marchesa of Fosdinovo, took place only in 1492.
(The widow married Piero Soderini, later Gonfaloniere for life.) The
expression ‘nuova di zecca,’ or ‘zecca al gitto’ for unexpected news,
is still used in Tuscany at the present day.

[195] L. Pulci, as above, p. 83.

[196] When Muratori, in vol. xxiii. of the _Scriptores rer. Ital._,
printed the Commentariolus de bello Volaterrano, a. 1472, by Antonio
Ivano (Hyvaniss) of Sarzana, then Chancellor of Volterra, he remarks
with his usual insight how cautiously one must proceed in employing
this apologetic official account, evidently ordered in Florence, of
a man not well spoken of. (Ivano came to Florence in March, 1473, as
ambassador from Sarzana; see Gaye, _Carteggio inedito_, vol. i. p. 251.
There is a description by him of the ruins of Luni.) The anonymous
‘Cronachetta Volterrana’ already quoted, which M. Tabarrini gives in
the _Arch. Stor. Ital._, App. vol. iii., is also favourable to the
Florentines. Machiavelli and G. M. Bruto, who copied from him, have an
account not only insufficient but incorrect, in respect to the causes
which led to the quarrel; Alamanno Rinuccini, as above, s. cxx., has
only short notices of the war; Scipione Ammirato has no desire of
agreeing with Machiavelli. How Raffael Maffei (Volterranus) regarded
the matter is shown by his ‘Comment. Urb.’ and the whole of his
proceedings towards the Medici. Stan. Gatteschi has in his translation
of Bruto (vol. ii. p. 90, _seq._) investigated the origin of the whole
conflict with the help of documents. The name of Lorenzo de’ Medici
is not to be found in the contract which mentions the members of
the trading company, but in the contemporary ‘Ricordi’ of Zaccharia
Zucchi (see Fabroni, as above, vol. ii. p. 62). Francesco Guicciardini
(_Stor. Fior._ chap, iii.), who had the traditions of his own house at
his disposal, although he remarks that the fact was unknown to him,
also speaks of Lorenzo’s selfish intentions in the affair, and how
he oppressed the Volterrans, because he feared a diminution of their
general respect if he did not succeed in his purpose. Louis XI.’s
letter to the Florentines of June 3O, wherein he complains of the
silence of the Republic about the Volterran affairs, is in Desjardins,
as above, p. 157; the letter from the Signori of July 1, p. 58; and the
answer to the first of July 30, p. 160.

[197] Fabroni, as above, vol ii. p. 63.

[198] Lorenzo to Sixtus IV., November 21, 1472. See Fabroni, vol. ii.
p. 61 (Quello che essa ha a me tanto liberalmente in questa causa
promessa). The letters of Cardinal Ammanati from 1473, idem. pp. 58-61.

[199] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, s. cxxi., cxxii.; _Cronaca di Notar.
Giacomo_, p. 126. Angelo Politiano refers to the presence of Eleonore
in his beautiful elegy on the death of Albiera degli Albizzi—_Prose
volgari inedite_, &c., p. 140. (‘Cum celebres linquens Sirenum nomine
muros—Herculeumque petens regia nata torum,’ &c.)

[200] _Med. Arch._

[201] See Cappelli, as above, p. 251.

[202] L. Passerini, _Manfredi Family_. Ratti, _Della Famiglia Sforza_,
vol. ii. p. 35, _seq._

[203] Litta, _Vitelli Family_. A. Fabretti, _Capitani venturieri
dell’Umbria_, vol. iii. p. 37, _seq._ Roberto Orsi, _De obsidione
Tifernatum Città di Castello_, 1538, reprinted by D. M. Manni in vol.
ii. of J. M. Tartini’s Supplements to the Muratori Collection.

[204] June 28, 1474: Fabroni, as above, vol. ii. p. 105.

[205] Florence, December 25, 1475. See D. Moreni, _Lettere di Lorenzo
il Magnifico al S. P. Innocenzo VIII._ Flor., 1830, p. 1, _seq._ The
letter addressed to Sixtus IV. is here incomprehensibly referred to his

[206] _Ricordi_, s. cxxiii. cxxiv.

[207] _Chronicle of Piero di Marco Parenti_, MS. of the Magliabechiana;
_Letter of Angelo Poliziano to Madonna Lucrezia de’ Medici_ of May 31,
1477, in Poliziano’s _Prose Volgari Inedite_, &c. p. 49.

[208] _Cronaca di Notar Giacomo_, pp. 134-137.

[209] The date results from Morelli’s _Chronicle_. See T. Dellungo in
G. Carducci’s edition of Poliziano’s _Italian Poems_, Flor. 1863, p.
xxvii. Piero de’ Medici mentions the desire of his younger son in a
letter to Lorenzo, then at Milan, Fabroni, _l.c._ vol. ii. p. 52.

[210] Vasari, vol. x. p. 293. C. Quarti, _Le Ville Bandinelli a
Pizzidimonte, in Belle Arti Opuscoli descritivi e biografici_, Florence
1874, p. 345, &c.

[211] _Ricordi_, s. cxxv.

[212] L. Pulci, l. c. p. 99.

[213] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, s. cxxvi.

[214] Rome, Oct. 15, 1474, _Med. Arch._

[215] ‘Ad Franciscum Salviatum,’ 1473, in the _Prose Volgari_, &c. p.
113. He calls him ‘dulcis Salviate,’ and says ‘Parva peto, dare magna
soles; da parva petenti.’

[216] Niccolò Bendedei to Ercole d’Este. See A. Cappelli. l. c. p. 252.

[217] _Chronicles_ of Giovanni di Juzzo, in the _Cronache e Statuti
della Città di Viterbo_, ed. Ignazio Ciampi, Flor. 1872, p. 414.
Fabretti, _Capitani dell’Umbria_, vol. ii. p. 307.

[218] Sixtus IV. to Federigo di Montefeltro, Rome, June 9, 1477.
(_Arch. of Urbino_, in the Tuscan Central Arch., Cl. I. Div. G., Filza,

[219] Malavolti, _Historia di Siena_, part iii. book 4, p. 71.

[220] _Med. Arch._, Filza 34.

[221] Fabroni, 1. c. vol. ii. p. 106.

[222] A 1. c. p. 160.

[223] Guicciardini, _Storia Fior._, p. 34, and _Ricordi di Famiglia_.
Jacopo de’ Pazzi’s letters to Lorenzo, Fabroni, 1. cit. vol. ii. p. 104.

[224] Fabroni, 1. c. vol. ii. p. 105.

[225] The confession of Giovan Batista da Montesecco, in the _Excusatio
Florentinorum_, drawn up by the Chancellor Bartolommeo Scala in
Fabroni, vol. ii. p. 167, gives the clearest insight into the course
of the conspiracy, and the measure of Pope Sixtus IV’s. share in it.
We have not the least ground to doubt the truth of the statements
contained in this document. The best-known contemporary account of
the occurrences is Angelo Poliziano’s _De Coniuratione Pactiana
Commentarius_, printed in the year of the conspiracy, and extremely
rare, reprinted in the edition of Poliziano’s works which appeared at
Bâle, 1553, and then carefully re-edited, with many valuable additions
by Giovanni Adimari. A translation made, as it seems, after the middle
of the sixteenth century, was printed in the _Prose Volgari inedite_,
&c., di Angelo Poliziano, Flor. 1867, pp. 87-105. There was no lack of
later translation. The relation of the facts is undoubtedly correct;
the opinions regarding the acting persons are those of a partizan. The
later ones follow that of Poliziano in all essentials, whom, however,
G. M. Bruto rightly accuses of partizanship. The best and most reliable
representation, according to the documents, is that in Scipione
Ammirato, in the twenty-fourth book of his Florentine History, printed
separately with remarks, Flor. 1826. Fabroni, as usual, has selected
the most important from the documentary materials, as far as they were
at his disposal in Florence.

[226] _Med. Archiv._

[227] Rome, January 15, 1478. (The delivery of the letter followed on
the 22nd, according to Lorenzo.) _Med. Arch._

[228] _Med. Archiv._

[229] List of Filippo Strozzi after a Riccardi MS. in _Vita di Filippo
Strozzi il vecchio, scritta da Lorenzo suo figlio, per cura di Giuseppe
Bini e Pietro Bigazzi_. Flor. 1851, p. 55, _seq._

[230] Piero di Marco Parenti, _Flor. Hist._ MS. of the Magliabechiana.
See above, p. 277.

[231] Filippo Strozzi relates that Nori was slain by the side of

[232] Concerning the different sentences pronounced on command of
the Magnifici Octoviri from April 28 to May 18 and August 3rd, 1478,
see _Sententiæ Dni. Matthæi de Toscanis de Mediolano Potestatis_,
Florentiæ, 1477-1478, from the Strozzi MSS. G. Adimari, l. c. pp.
136-155. A less correct list of those executed and killed after a
Magliabechian MS. in the Appendix to the separate imprint of Scip.
Ammirato’s Report, pp. 86-88. On June 9, 1478, Sforza degli Oddi wrote
to Lorenzo to recommend to him Madonna Andrea, widow of Messer Gentile
de Graziani, a Peruginese emigrant, who had perished in the tumult
(_Med. Arch._, Filza 36, see _Cronache di Perugia_, vol. ii. p. 589).

[233] Letter of May 22, 1478, _Med. Arch._

[234] Fabroni, p. 111. (Ex cod. 170, _Provision. Reip. Flor._).

[235] See book v. The palace in the Borgo degli Albizzi, belonging to a
branch of the family in the present day, with the large garden, whose
portal in the Via dell’Orinolo was ascribed to Donatello, has lately
disappeared in building the National Bank.

[236] Vasari’s assertion that these libellous pictures are by the hand
of Andrea del Castagno arises from an anachronism.

[237] Vasari, in the _Life of Verrocchio_, vol. v. p. 152. According
to this description, one might suppose that the figures were still
existing at Vasari’s time. Other Medicean portraits (Voti), in the
Annunziata were destroyed after the revolution of 1527.

[238] Letter to Gio. Lanfredini of August 18, 1487, _Med. Archiv._ The
priorate of Capua came later to Leone Strozzi, the son of Filippo and
Clarice de’ Medici, Lorenzo’s granddaughter.

[239] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p.

[240] Fabroni, l. c., ii. 116.

[241] Romanin, iv. 389.

[242] In the document, _Synodus florentina_, cap. ix.

[243] Allegretto Allegretti, _Diarj Senesi_; Muratori, _R. It. Scr._,
xxiii. col. 784.

[244] Bull, see Rainaldi, _Annales Eccl._, x. 582 _et seq._, and
Fabroni, l. c. ii. 121 _et seq._

[245] Rome, June 1478, _Med. Arch._

[246] _Instructio pro. R. Card. Mantuano_, &c. Copy without date. MSS.
Capponi, cod. xxii. cat. no. 1230.

[247] Letter of the Doge Andrea Vendramin. Capponi MSS. cod. cccxiii.

[248] Romanin, l. c., iv. 390.

[249] _Cronaca di Notar Giacomo_, pp. 128-132. The statement of Barante
(_Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne_, ‘Charles the Bold,’ b. iv.), that
Campobasso came to France with the Anjou prince, is erroneous according
to this. The condottiere belonged to the Aragonese party. In Naples the
defeat at Nancy was ascribed to his treason, _Cronaca_, 1. c. p. 133.

[250] _Idem_, p. 129.

[251] See first, Fabroni, p. 119; also Desjardins, p. 171; French,
in Kervyn de Lettenhove, _Lettres et Négociations de Philippe de
Commines_, i. 173.

[252] The documents relative to Commines’ mission. See Kervyn de
Lettenhove, i. 173-182.

[253] Florence, June 19, 1478. See Fabroni, p. 132.

[254] Kervyn de Lettenhove, iii. 11.

[255] _Mémoires_, vi. chap. v.

[256] _Archives of Urbino (Tuscan. Central Arch.)_, class i. div. iv.

[257] Brief of Sixtus IV. to the parish of Perugia, Rome, June 10,
1478, in the _Cronache e Storie di Perugia_, ii. 580.

[258] _Divine Comedy_, Purg. xiv. 48.

[259] _Divine Comedy, Inferno_, xxix. 46.

[260] The best details of the campaign of 1478-9 are given in
Allegretti’s _Diarj Senesi Sanesi_, 1. c., 784-797.

[261] Rainaldi, _Ann. Eccl._, 1. c., p. 585.

[262] Roscoe, _Illustrations_, Doc. v., Heidelberg edit., iv. 199.

[263] Fabroni, ii. 136-166. See above, p. 387.

[264] Letter of July 25, 1478, in Fabroni, ii. 130.

[265] G. M. Canale, _Nuova Istoria della Republica di Genova_, iv. 212.

[266] Rosmini, _Istoria di Gian Jacopo Trivulzio_, Mil. 1815, i. 31
_seq._; ii. 31 _seq._

[267] Rainaldi, _Ann. Eccl._, 1. c., p. 591; Kervyn de Lettenhove, 1.
c., iii. 12.

[268] Kervyn de Lettenhove, l. c., i. 185.

[269] _Mémoires_, 1, vi. chap. 5.

[270] Warrant of Louis XI. for Lorenzo de’ Medici and Commines, July
13, 1478. Warrant for Commines to grant the investiture of the same
date, in Kervyn de Lettenhove, i. 185-188. Despatches of the Milanese
ambassadors at Florence, &c., ib. iii. 13-29.

[271] Ib., 1. c., pp. 190, 191.

[272] Letter of the Signoria, August 23, 1478; Desjardins, 1. c.,
p. 172; Kervyn de Lettenhove (French), i. 190; Letter of Lorenzo in
Kervyn, p. 191. When Commines says in his memoirs, ‘Je demourai au dit
lieu de Florence un an, ou dans leurs territoires,’ this is incorrect.
He did not arrive at Turin much before the middle of June; went from
thence to Milan, Florence, and Rome; and at the beginning of October
was again in Lyons.

[273] Letter of Louis XI. to Lorenzo de’ Medici, November 1, 1478, and
instructions for the ambassadors, from the Medici Archives, Desjardins,
1. c., vol. i. pp. 174-184.

[274] Rainaldi, _Ann. Eccl._, l. c., pp. 588-590.

[275] Malipiero, _Annali Veniti_, i. 247; Romanin, l. c., iv. 391

[276] The demand that the caricature of the Archbishop of Pisa should
be erased is dated February 9, 1479. Gaye, 1. c., p. 574.

[277] Romanin, 1. c., iv. 382.

[278] Notices of the treaties in Rome from the documents of the
Medicean Archives, Desjardins, 1. c., i. 184-186; Scip. Ammirato, 1.
c., pp. 131-136; Rainaldi, _Ann. Eccl._ x. 587 _seq._

[279] _Cronache Ec._ di Viterbo, p. 420 _seq._

[280] Scipione Ammirato, book xxiv. Pezzana, _Storia di Parma_, iv.

[281] Vincenzo Acciaiuoli, _Vita di Piero Capponi_, in the _Arch. Stor.
Ital._, iv. pt. 2, p. 17. Tommasi, _Storia di Lucca_, p. 338.

[282] Rosmini, _Storia di Milano_, iii. 82. Pezzana, 1. c. p. 144 _seq_.

[283] Despatches of December 30, 1478, January 13, and July 18, 1479,
in _Kervyn de Lettenhore_, l. c. i. 232, 239, 271.

[284] Despatches of Visconti and Cagnola, Orleans, September 1, 1479,
l. c. p. 283 _seq._

[285] Letter of Antonio Pucci to Lorenzo de’ Medici, Flor. June 18,
1479; see Fabroni, l. c. p. 199.

[286] _Med. Arch._

[287] D. Malipiero, l. c. i. 482.

[288] _Mémoires_, 1. vii. c. 2.

[289] _Cronache Milanesi_, pp. 186, 187.

[290] Molini (G. Capponi), _Documenti di Storia Italiana_, Flor. 1836,
i. 297.

[291] _Instructio D. Nicolai Martelli ituri ad Laur. Medicem_, see
Fabroni, l. c. ii. 189 seq. ‘Inter os et offam multa accidere
possent.’ ‘Jactet aleam.’

[292] Pier Filippo Pandolfini to the Magistracy of Ten, Milan, November
22, 1479. Fabroni, pp. 196-199.

[293] See above, Bk. 3, ch. i. Filippo says: ‘Che totalmentegli si
rimetteva nelle braccia e che in quello modo Sua Maestà lo volessi o
grande o basso dentro o fuori, era contento, di modo che S. M. rendesse
pacie alla città e le terre tolte.’—_Idem._ l. c. p. 58.

[294] Guicciardini, _Storia Fiorentina_, cap. vi.

[295] The danger which Lorenzo de’ Medici exposed himself to has been
made much greater in later times than it really was. Jacopo Pitti (l.
c. p. 25) says clearly that safety had been promised him both by the
king and the pope (?); but it was believed that he gave himself into
Ferrante’s power unconditionally (liberamente), in order to increase
the fame of the latter and the splendour of his own patriotism. The
danger lay less in what might happen at Naples than what might occur
at Florence from a longer absence. Guicciardini hints at this (p.
59). Confidence shown in a man like the king was never without danger

[296] _Lettere de’ Principi_ (Venet. edit. 1581), i. 3. Translated by
Roscoe, i. 221.

[297] _Lettere di Lorenzo de’ Medici_ from the Modena Archives, edited
by A. Cappelli. _Atti e Memorie della R. Diputazione di Storia patria
per le prov. Modenesi e Parmensi_, i. 230.

[298] Malavotti, _Historia di Sienna_, part iii. p. 176.

[299] B. Scala’s Letter (see Fabroni, p. 205) has the date of December
5, which must be a mistake, as the Signoria was first informed on the

[300] Lorenzo de’ Medici to the Ferrarese ambassador Antonio
Montecatino, Pisa, December 10; see Cappelli, l. c. p. 240.

[301] _Cronaca di Notar Giacomo_, p. 145.

[302] Fabroni, i. 103 _seq._, has an address to the king spoken by
Lorenzo, evidently a later oratorical production.

[303] Guicciardini, l. c. chap. vi. p. 58.

[304] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 201, 202. Agnolo della Stufa to Lorenzo de’
Medici, January 4, 1480; _Idem._ pp. 207-210.

[305] Carlo Visconti to the regency at Milan, Tours, January 30, 1480;
see Kervyn de Lettenhove, i. 318.

[306] Guicciardini, l. c.

[307] Bart. Scala to Lorenzo de’ Medici, January 12, 1480; see Fabroni,
l. c. ii. 202-204.

[308] Lorenzo de’ Medici to the Ten, Naples, January 3, 1480; Fabroni,
l. c. ii. 206.

[309] Capponi MSS. xxii. p. 68 _seq._ (_Catalogo_, No. 1212). The date
is wanting in the copy; but the instruction must be of 1459, as this
year is spoken of as the present one.

[310] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 207-210.

[311] Letter of Ippolita Maria, Castel Capuano, July 3, 1480; Fabroni,
1. c. ii. 223.

[312] (Ratti) _Della Famiglia Sforza_, ii. 11. See above, p. x.
Lascaris’ Greek grammar, dedicated to Ippolita, appeared at Milan 1476.

[313] Diarium Parmense, see Muratori, _R. It. Scr._ vol. xxiii. col.

[314] Alamanno Rinuccini, l. c. s. cxxxi.

[315] Agnolo della Stufa, l. c.

[316] Ercole d’Este to Ant. Montecatini, March 19, 1480; see Cappelli,
l. c. p. 253.

[317] Jacobi Volaterrani, _Diarium Rom._, ad. a. 1479 (1480); see
Muratori, _R. It. Scr._ vol. xxiii. col. 100.

[318] Ferrante to Lorenzo, Castelnuovo, March 1, 1480; Fabroni, ii.

[319] Jacobi Volat. _Diar._, 1. c.

[320] Ercole d’Este to Ant. Montecatini, April 20, 1480; Cappelli, 1.
c. p. 253.

[321] _Cronaca di Notar. Giacomo_, p. 146.

[322] Angelo di Costanzo mentions the suspicion in his History of
Naples; but an author of the second half of the sixteenth century is no
authority. That Lorenzo, in a letter to Albino, the Duke of Calabria’s
secretary, who entertained the same suspicion (see Fabroni, l. c. ii.
216), rejoices over Alfonso’s success and speaks of _cani Turchi_,
proves as little on the other side.

[323] See Fabroni, l. c. ii. 217.

[324] Jac. Volaterr, l. c. pp. 113, 118.

[325] _Regola del Governo di Cura Familiare del B. Giovanni Dominici_,
pubbl. da Donato Salvi, Flor., 1860.

[326] L. Mehus, _Epistola di M. Lapo da Castiglionchio_, Bologna, 1653.
Fr. Bocchi, _Elogia_, in G. E. Galletti’s edit. of Philippi Villani,
_Liber de civitatis Florentiæ famosis civibus, et de Florentinorum
Litteratura principes fere synchroni Scriptores_, Flor. 1847, pp. 9, 12.

[327] In the decree of August 27 (Gaye, l. c. i. 573) we read:
‘Cogitantes magnifici viri priores artium et vexillifer virtutem
supremam, vitam sinceram, mores honestos et in omnibus exemplares,
religionis integritatem, doctrinam sanctam utilem et decoram, ac vere
sancte et summæ eloquentiæ vas habundans venerabilis et omni tempore
cum laude memorandi magistri Loysii de Marsiliis de Florentiæ’, &c.

[328] The students were then placed on an equal footing with the
burghers by law, ‘tractentur ut cives populares.’ See Gaye, l. c. i.
461; Prezziner, _Storia del Pubblico Studio di Firenze_, Flor. 1810, i.
3; Fabroni, _Historia Academiæ Pisanæ_, i. 46.

[329] Extract of the decree of August 7, 1348, _apud_ Gaye, 1.c. p. 499.

[330] L. Mehus, _Ambrosii Traversarii_, &c.; _Latinæ Epistolæ accedit
eiusdem Ambrosii vita_, &c., Flor. 1759, i. 356.

[331] G. Shepherd, _Vita di Poggio Bracciolini, trad. da T. Tonelli_,
Flor. 1825. The numerous corrections and additions made by the
translator of the English work which appeared in 1802 are based on
careful investigation. Tonelli arranged later a complete edition of
Poggio’s letters, the first volume of which appeared at Florence in
1831 (_Poggii Epistolæ ed. a Th. Tonellio_), the second long after the
editor’s death, while the third is still wanting.

[332] Mehus, _Ambr. Travers. Epist._ i. 178.

[333] Savigny, _History of Roman Law_, &c., iii. 583 and elsewhere. A.
Kirchhoff, the manuscript collector of the Middle Ages, in Naumann’s
_Serapeum_, 1852, p. 17 _seq._ Fr. Bonaini, _I libri, gli Stazionari, i
Peciari, i Copisti_, &c., in the _Giornale Stor. degli Archiv. Tosc_.
iv. 97 _seq._ The price of the _Corpus Juris_, from the legacy _quondam
Cristofani judicis_, amounted to 112 Sienese liri.

[334] _Lettere della B. Chiara Gambacorta Pisana_ (edited by Cesare
Guasti), Pisa, 1871.

[335] _Commissioni_, i. 86.

[336] _Lettere della B. Chiara Gambacorta_, p. 59.

[337] Marco Foscarini, _Dei Veneziani raccoglitori di Codici_, in the
Appendix to his _Storia Arcana_, Flor. 1843, vol. v. of the _Archiv.
Storico Italiano_.

[338] Gayo, l. c. i. 533.

[339] Information respecting Leonardo Bruni has been collected by C.
Monzani: _Leonardo Bruni Aretino_, in the _Archivio Stor. Ital._,
series ii. vol. v. (reprinted in _Istoria Fiorentina di Leon. Aretino,
tradotta in volgare da Donato Acciaiuoli_, Flor. 1861). L. Mehus’
edition of the letters appeared at Flor. 1741. The literary Academy of
Arezzo planned (Flor. 1856) a reprint of the Florentine history which
had first appeared in 1610, with Acciaiuoli’s version opposite, which,
completed in 1473, had been published at Venice three years later,
while the original remained so long inedited.

[340] With a Latin translation by B. Moneta, Flor. 1755; German by C.
F. Neumann, Frankfort, 1822; and new revision of the text by L. W.
Hasper, Leipsig, 1841.

[341] Gaye, 1. c. i. 545, 554, 560.

[342] Fabroni, _Magni Cosmi Med. Vita_, ii. 217.

[343] L. Mehus, _Ambrosii Traversarii_, &c.; _Latinæ Epistolæ_, &c.

[344] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 240.

[345] Vespasiano da Bisticci, 1. c. p. 439. Letters of Nicholas V. to
Marsuppini and the Signoria, October 24, 1452, p. 441.

[346] Detailed Latin biography by Naldo Naldi, Muratori, _Scr. r.
Ital._ vol. xx.; Vespasiano da Bisticci, 1. c. p. 444 _seq._ For the
introduction to the latter by Bernardo del Nero, with a short outline
and list of Manetti’s writings, as well as an Italian extract from
Naldi by one of the Ricci family, see Galletti, 1. c. p. 129 _seq._
Compare _Apostolo Zeno Dissertaz._, Voss, i. 170 _seq._

[347] The original of the _Statuta Populi et Communis Florentiæ_ is to
be found, with the MSS. of numerous other statutes, in the Florentine
archives; printed in three volumes, said to be at Freiburg, 1778-83.
See Lami, _Antichità Toscane_, i. 522, and N. Salvetti, _Antiquitates
Florentinæ jurisprudentiam Etruriæ illustrantes_, Flor. 1777.

[348] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 283.

[349] _Tractatus quo concluditur: Nullam Gentilium scientiam chatolicæ
fidei christianæ esse contrariam_, addressed to Malatesta de’ Malatesti
by Pesaro as umpire, Rinaldo is termed therein, ‘Nobilis florentinus
juvenis Rainaldus domini Masii de Albicis de Florentia.’ There is a
tract by the same author, _De electione medici ad nobilem florentinum
juvenem Cosmum Johannis Bitii de Medicis_; see _Commissioni di R. d.
A_. iii. 601 _seq._; Mehus, 1. c. p. 394.

[350] On the sonnet generally ascribed to Burchiello, ‘O umil popol
mio, tu non ti avvedi,’ see _Commissioni_, iii. 647.

[351] Rosmini, _Vita di Francesco Filelfo da Tolentino_, Milan, 1808,
i. 35.

[352] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 69.

[353] Phil. _Sat._ ii. 3; iv. 1; Shepherd, l. c. i. 238. Rosmini, p.
75, has no desire to dwell on revolting subjects.

[354] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 246.

[355] L. Mehus, l. c. p. 18; Poggio, _Opera_, p. 278.

[356] _Epist. I._ iii. 29 (in Tonelli’s edit. i. 269).

[357] _Idem._, iv. 16, 17 (i. 333, 339).

[358] Shepherd, l. c. i. 155, 222.

[359] Tiraboschi, _Stor._ lett. vi. 1 (vol. vii.), p. 263. A. Peruzzi,
in Hercolani’s _Biografie d’illustri Piceni_, i. 27, very superficial.
L. Mehus’ edition of _Kyriaci Anconitani Itinerarium_, Flor. 1742, is
insufficient; information about him has been carefully collected in
the preface and in Traversari’s life. For the opinion of Alberto degli
Alberti respecting the state of Rome in Pope Eugenius IV.’s time in a
letter to Giovanni de’ Medici, Cosimo’s son, see Fabroni, 1. c. ii. 165.

[360] Vespasiano da Bisticci, 1. c. p. 511; G. Cantalamessa, Hercolani,
i. 117 _seq._

[361] G. Voigt, _Die Wiederbelebung des classischen Alterthums_, p. 361.

[362] Mehus, 1. c. ii. 335.

[363] Apostolo Zeno, 1. c. i. 318; Fabroni, 1. c. i. 136, ii. 223.

[364] _Histor. de var. Fort._ p.92; Traversari, _Epist._ v. 10 (ii.

[365] Fr. Schulze, _Geschichte der Philosophie der Renaissance_, i.
Jena, 1874.

[366] Gio. Corsi, _Marsilii Ficini Vita_, with introduction and notes
by A. M. Bandini, Pisa, 1771; reprinted by Galletti Philippi Villani,
_Liber_, &c., pp. 183-214. L. Galeotti, _Saggio intorno alla vita e
agli scritti di M. F._ in the _Arch. Stor. Ital._, series ii., ix. 2,
25 _seq._ (A careful collection of Ficino’s opinions, especially on
religion and particularly from his letters.) Edit. of the Works, Basle,
1576, with twelve books of letters in vol. i. There is an Italian
translation of the letters, _Lettere di M. F., tradotte per M. Felice,
Figliucci Senese_, Venice, 1556. Ficino composed his commentary to
Plato’s Banquet and his book on the Christian religion in Italian also.
Edit. of the first, Flor. 1544; the second, Flor. 1568 (Gamba, _Testi
di Lingua_, 1097, 1098).

[367] M. Ficino, _Epistolæ_, book i.; see vol. i. p. 192; vol. ii. p.
29 _seq._

[368] In Lord Vernon’s illustrated edition of the _Inferno_ there is a
representation of Landino’s grave and the body.

[369] A. M. Bandini, _Specimen literaturæ Florentinæ sæculi XV._ Flor.
1748 (_History and Monuments of the Florentine Literature of the second
half of the Fifteenth Century_, in the form of a biography of Landino);
see vol. ii. p. 40 _seq._

[370] _Ad Jacobum Salvettum de laudibus M. Cosmi_, Bandini, i. 102.

[371] _Lettere di Sant’Antonino_, Flor. 1859, pp. 126, 193. On the
embassies to Rome entrusted to the Archbishop in the years 1455 and
1458: _Due Legazioni al Sommo Pontefice per il Comune di Firenze,
presedute da Sant’Antonino arcivescovo_ (edited by Cesare Guasti),
Flor. 1857. Of the works of the Saint, for which see Brunet’s _Manuel
bibliographique_, i. 330, we need only mention here, _Opera a ben
vivere di S. A., messa a luce con altri suoi ammaestramenti e una
giunta di antiche orazioni Toscane, da Fr. Palermo_, Flor. 1858.

[372] L. c. p. 193.

[373] Fabroni, l. c.

[374] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 291.

[375] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 482.

[376] Gaye, l. c. i. 545; see above, p. 528.

[377] Shepherd, l. c. i. 255.

[378] _Idem._ p. 261.

[379] Vespasiano da Bisticci, pp. 210, 213, 402.

[380] ‘Protonotaio apostolico inghilese,’ ‘Messer Andrea Ols,’ l. c. p.

[381] See vol. ii. pp. 141, 142.

[382] Inscription:


The bitter words in the sonnet mentioned on page 451, after the recall
of the decree of 1434, ‘del tuo gran tesoro—ti vota sempre, e empie a
Marco il seno,’ refer to Cosimo’s munificence at Venice.

[383] Plan of San Marco in (Aurelio Gotti’s) _le Gallerie de Firenze_.

[384] Mehus, _Ambr. Trav. Epist._ i. 63.

[385] ‘Ex hereditate doctissimi viri Nicolai de Nicolis de Florentia.’
These and similar words we read in the MSS. also.

[386] ‘Inventarium Nicolai p. v. quod ipso composuit ad instantiam
Cosmæ de Medicis ut ab ipso Cosma audivi die xii Nov. 1463. Ego frater
Leonardus Ser. Uberti de Florentia ord. præd.’ &c. MSS. of the same
library. See Mehus, _Traversari_, i. 65, where are a number of details
respecting the history of the Collection partly from Fra Roberto
Ubaldini’s _Annales Marciani_.

[387] ‘Liber Colucii Pierii de Salutatis cancellarii florentini Liber
Cosmæ Johannis de Medicis de Florentia.’ Such is the inscription on
such Codices.

[388] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 382.

[389] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 252.

[390] (N. Anziani) _Della Biblioteca Mediceo-Laurenziana in Firenze_,
Flor. 1872, pp. 4, 6, 22, 24.

[391] In a MS. of the Epistles of St. Paul (Codd. Fiesolani Laur. cod.
v.) we read the following inscription: Magnifici viri Cosmae de Medicis
ingens liberalitas, eximia virtus et charitas prope singularis ex
omni parte sese ostendit. Sacras has ædificavit ædes, his religiosis
viris canonicis regularibus quæ ad usum vitæ necessaria erant paravit,
postremo illis has epistolas Pauli dono dedit ut nihil relinqueretur
quod esset ab illis ulterius expetendum. Adsit igitur clementissimus
Deus et benedicat ei omnibus diebus vitæ suæ. Ex hereditate Joannis
filii sui.’

In a MS. of the works of the Fathers of the Church (cod. lv.) we
find: ‘Has Sanctorum Patrum Collationes quas Joannes Cassianus
luculentissime edidit Magnificus Cosmus Medices viginti aureis emit et
huic Divi Bartholomæi fesulano monasterio quod a fundamentis erexit
sua pietate dedit anno MCCCCLXII. Inter orandum eius animæ memores
estote. Timotheus Veronensis.