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                         TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.

—Superscripts have been rendered as a^{b}.

                          LORENZO DE’ MEDICI

                               VOL. II.

                          LORENZO DE’ MEDICI

                           _THE MAGNIFICENT_


                          ALFRED VON REUMONT


                            IN TWO VOLUMES

                               VOL. II.

                SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE

                        [_All rights reserved_]




FOURTH BOOK—_continued_.





  Lorenzo’s Letter to Don Federigo of Aragon accompanying a
  Collection of Old Italian Poems—Opinions on Italian Poetry—The
  Poets of the Thirteenth Century—Dante and Successors—The Italian
  Vulgar Tongue—Lorenzo’s Position in Literature—Influence of
  Antiquity and the Dantesque Period—The Feeling for Nature in
  Lorenzo’s Poetry—The Love Poems—Lucrezia Donati—The Nature
  of Love—Lorenzo’s Sonnets—Idylls—‘Corinto’—‘La Nencia da
  Barberino’—‘Ambra’—‘The Hawking Party’ and ‘I Beoni’—Prevalence
  of the Burlesque—Dance and Carnaval Songs—Carnaval
  Companies—Mystery-Play of St. John and St. Paul—Spiritual Songs      3



  Platonism—Ficino’s Influence on Religion and Philosophy—The
  Connection of Platonism with Christianity—Speculation and
  Reality—Marsilio Ficino and Dante—Ficino’s Works—Book
  on Christian Learning—Translation of Plato—‘Theologia
  Platonica’—Translation of Plotinus and Dionysius the
  Areopagite—Ficino’s Letters on Personal Relations—His Connection
  with Learned Foreigners—His Manner of life—His Advice to Lorenzo
  de’ Medici and to Cardinal Raffael Riario—His Picture of a Right
  Way of Living—Lorenzo’s Connection with Ficino—Cristoforo
  Landino’s Position and Labours—The Camaldulensian
  Discussions—Leon Battista Alberti with the Medici Brothers and
  their Friends in the Abbey of Camaldoli—Various Phases of the
  Study of Dante—Dante and the Fifteenth Century Biographies of
  Dante—First Edition of the ‘Divine Comedy’—Landino’s Edition,
  with a Commentary—Study of Dante in Landino’s Time                  20



  Matteo Palmieri and ‘The City of Life’—Burchiello and the
  Burlesque—The Romantic Epos—Bernardo and Luca Pulci—The
  ‘Ciriffo Calvaneo’ and the ‘Giostri’—Luigi Pulci and the
  ‘Morgante Maggiore’—The Epopee and the Courts of Medici and
  Este—Luigi Pulci’s Connection with Lorenzo de’ Medici—Angelo
  Poliziano’s Family and Youth—His Homeric Studies—Translation
  of the Iliad—Dedication to Lorenzo—Opinion of Cardinal
  Ammannati—Interruptions in the Work—The Dramatic Piece
  ‘Orfeo’—Tournament of Giuliano de’ Medici—The Stanzas—Small
  Latin Poems—Poliziano as a Latin Poet—The ‘Sylvæ’—Description
  of Lorenzo as a Poet—Description of Fiesole—Dedication of the
  ‘Sylvæ’—Son of Lorenzo, Pier Francesco de’ Medici, Lorenzo
  Tornabuoni, Antonio Pallavicino Gentile—Witches in an Academical
  Lecture—Poliziano as a Popular Song Writer—Rispetti—Poliziano as
  Translator and Letter Writer                                        41



  Poliziano as a Poet and Tutor of the Medici—Poliziano and
  Madonna Clarice—Winter Residence in Caffagiuolo—Ode to Gentile
  Becchi—Poliziano’s Letter to Madonna Lucrezia—Dissension between
  Madonna Clarice and Poliziano—Poliziano in Fiesole—Poliziano and
  others as Teachers of Piero de’ Medici—Giorgio Benigno—Giovanni
  Prato—Antonio Barberini—Piero de’ Medici in his Youth—Bartolommeo
  Scala—Benedetto Accolti—Scala and Lorenzo de’ Medici—Quarrel of
  Poliziano and Scala—Alessandra Scala—Poliziano’s Quarrel with
  Marullus—Alamanno Rinuccini—Bernardo Rucellai and the Platonic
  Academy                                                             63



  Bernardo Bembo—Ermolao Barbaro—Barbaro’s Visit to Florence
  and to Lorenzo de’ Medici at the Baths—Lorenzo’s Exertions in
  favour of Barbaro—Giovanni Pico de’ Mirandola—Pico in Florence
  and in the Medici Circle—The Cabbala—Pico’s Amorous Adventure
  at Arezzo—Disputation at Rome and Opposition—Denunciation and
  Apology—Lorenzo’s Interposition on behalf of Pico—Pico’s Country
  Life and Studies—Lorenzo’s Defence of Pico against his Romish
  Adversaries—Final Issue of the Difference—Pico’s Poetical and
  Philosophical Works—Pico a Type of the Age—Stefano Porcaro and
  Pandolfo Collenuccio                                                79



  Latin Poets—Ugolino Verino—Alessandro Bracci—G. B.
  Contalicio—Tommaso Baldinotti—Pierio Riccio—Pisa and its
  University before Lorenzo’s Time—Lorenzo de’ Medici and
  Pisa—Restoration of the University—Filelfo’s Endeavours after a
  Professorship—Difficulties of the New Establishment—Professors
  of the University—Bartolommeo Sozzini—the Brothers
  Decio—Waldo Bartolini—Francesco Accolti—Pierio Leoni—Lorenzo
  Lippi—Bartolommeo von Pratovecchio—Francesco de’
  Massimi—Studies in Florence—Fontius and Chalcondylas—Johannes
  Lascaris—The high Development of Greek Studies—Platina and
  Pomponius Leti in connection with Lorenzo—Examination of
  Manuscripts—Emendations—Poliziano’s Critical Works—Collation
  of the Pandects—Translations—The Art of Printing—Bernardo
  Cennini—First Printing in Florence—Increased Diffusion of
  Literary Treasures—Manuscript Collectors in Florence—Lorenzo de’
  Medici as a Manuscript Collector—Poliziano in Venice—Cassandra
  Fedele—Piero de’ Medici and the Medicean Collections—The
  Books of Mathias Corvinus—Intercourse between the Learned of
  Hungary and Florence—Collections of Inscriptions—The Academy at
  Rome—Fra Giocondo of Verona—Lorenzo de’ Medici as the Centre of
  the Learned World—Assemblies of the Platonic Academy—Platonic
  Symposia—The Exact Sciences—Paolo Toscanelli—Amerigo Vespucci       96





  Revolution in the Direction of Art when Cosimo was
  young—Architectural Questions—Brunelleschi—Re-building
  of San Lorenzo—Abbey of Fiesole—Michelozzo—Church and
  Convent of San Marco—Other Works of Michelozzo—Chapel
  of the Annunziata—Tabernacle in San Miniato—Tornabuoni
  Palace—Brunelleschi’s Buildings—Pazzi Chapel—Pitti Palace—Luca
  Fancelli—Leon Batista Alberti—Rucellai Palace and Loggia—Holy
  Sepulchre—The Annunziata Choir—Sculpture—Donatello and Cosimo
  de’ Medici—Lorenzo Ghiberti—Glass Painting and the Jesuates—Luca
  della Robbia—Works in Glazed Earth—Sepulchral Monuments—Noferi
  Strozzi—Neri Capponi—Orlando de’ Medici—Splendour of the
  Monuments—Desiderio da Settignano—Bernardo and Antonio
  Rossellino—Chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal—Mino
  da Fiesole—Ornamentation—Giuliano da Majano—Antonio
  Filarete—Niello—Maso Finiguerra—Painting—Masaccio and Fra
  Angelico of Fiesole—Benozzo Gozzoli—Paolo Uccello—Andrea dal
  Castagno—Domenico Veneziano—Filippo Lippi—The Peselli—Flemish
  in connection with Tuscan Art—Art-Treasures and Antiquities in
  the House of the Medici—Personal Intercourse of the Medici with
  Artists—Antonio Squarcialupi _degli Organi_—Domenico Veneziano to
  Piero de’ Medici—Benozzo Gozzali to Piero de’ Medici—Fra Filippo
  Lippi and the Medici—Beginnings of Art History—Cennini and
  Ghiberti                                                           120



  Lorenzo’s Knowledge of Architecture—Giuliano da Majano at Home
  and Abroad—Benedetto da Majano—The Strozzi Palace—Giuliano
  Giamberti da Sangallo—The Castle of Ostia and the Villa at Poggio
  a Cajano—The Convent of San Gallo—The Gondi Palace—Antonio
  da Sangallo—Plan for restoring the Façade of Sta. Maria del
  Fiore—Façade of Sto. Spirito—Palace of the Signoria—Clock of
  Lorenzo della Volpaia—Simone del Pollaiuolo called Cronaca—New
  Buildings and Streets—Works of Art in Town Houses and Country
  Villas                                                             146



  Andrea del Verocchio—Sepulchre of Piero and Giovanni de’
  Medici, and other Works—Antonio del Pollaiulo—Benedetto
  da Majano—Monuments of Giotto and Squarcialupi—Chancel
  of Sta. Croce, &c.—Mino da Fiesole—Monuments of Bernardo
  Giugni and Marquis Hugo—Ornamentation—Sepulchres of the
  Sassetti—Woodwork—The Art of the Goldsmith and Die-cutting—The
  Dossale in the Baptistery—Antonio del Pollaiuolo—Bertoldo—Andrea
  Guazzalotti—Gem-cutting—The Medici Collection of Gems—Giovanni
  delle Corniuole—Painters—Verrochio—Pollainoli—Alesso
  Baldovinetti—The Dante Picture in the Cathedral—Historical
  Compositions—Sandro Botticelli—Filippino Lippi—Cosimo
  Rosselli—Ghirlandajo—Mosaics—Baldinovetti and Ghirlandajo—Garden
  and Casino of San Marco—Michel Angelo Buonarroti—Leonardo da
  Vinci                                                              163





  Position of Lorenzo de’ Medici—Public and Private
  Finance—Constitutional Reform—General and Select
  Council—Council of Seventy and their Functions—Opinions of
  Contemporaries—Alessandro de’ Pazzi on Lorenzo’s Financial
  Position—The Taxation—Progressive Change of the Constitution—The
  Magistracy—Signories, Collegia, Councils—The Podestà and his
  Court—Magistracy of Eight—Guardians of the Law—The Council of
  Ten for Peace and War—Capitani di Parte Guelfa—Officers of the
  Customs and of the Public Debt—Officers of Trade—Guilds and
  Philanthropic Institutions—New Conspiracy against Lorenzo de’
  Medici—Re-capture of Otranto                                       187



  Dispute of Venice with Ferrara—The Allies of Both—Beginning
  of the Campaign at the Po—Preparations in Rome—Sixtus IV.’s
  Oppression—Proposals to Louis XI.—Battle of Campomorto—Danger of
  Ferrara—Bad Management of the War—Threat of a General Council
  against Sixtus IV.—Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Participation in the
  same—The changed Policy of Sixtus IV.—Sixtus IV.’s Agreement with
  his Adversaries—Lorenzo de’ Medici as Florentine Plenipotentiary
  at the Peace Congress of Cremona—Opposition of Venice and
  Continuation of the War—Ludovico il Moro and the Affairs of
  Milan—Lorenzo do’ Medici and Ludovico il Moro—Ludovico il Moro
  on Milan Affairs—Ludovico’s Negotiation with Venice—The Peace of
  Bagnolo—Unfavourable Conditions for Ferrara—Death of Pope Sixtus
  IV.—Confused State of Politics—Città di Castello and Siena—The
  Sarzana Controversy—Occupation of Pietrasanta                      197



  State of Rome in the Last Days of Sixtus IV.—Girolamo
  Riario—Confusion on the Death of the Pope—Pope Innocent
  VIII.—The Cybò Family—Character of Innocent VIII.—Congratulatory
  Embassies—Florentine Embassy—Piero de’ Medici—Lorenzo de’
  Medici’s Advice to his Son—Lorenzo on his Relations with the
  Papal Chair—Latter Days of King Louis XI.—His Connection
  with Florence—Louis XI. to Lorenzo de’ Medici—The Ring of
  S. Zanobi—Extinction of the House of Anjou—Death of Louis
  XI.—State of French Affairs after the King’s Death—Anne of
  Beaujeu Regent for her Brother Charles VIII.—Opposition of the
  Nobles—Anne de Beaujeu and Florence—Efforts of the French against
  Maximilian of Austria at the Court of Innocent VIII.—Lorenzo’s
  Foresight—Refusal of the Pope                                      213



  The Sarzana Dispute in Presence of Innocent VIII.—Lorenzo de’
  Medici in connection with Milan and Siena—Disturbances in
  Siena—Political Balance—Political Situation of the Kingdom
  of Naples—Ferrante of Arragon—Alfonso of Arragon, Duke of
  Calabria—Alliance of the Barons—Capture of Aquila—Outbreak of the
  War of the Barons—The Barons, the King, and the Pope—Innocent
  VIII., Venice, and the Barons—Neapolitan Affairs and the People
  of Florence—Unsettled Position of Affairs—Lorenzo de’ Medici in
  Favour of King Ferrante—Lorenzo’s Counsel to the Arragonese 226



  Florence and the Neapolitan Controversy—Archbishop Rinaldo
  Orsini—Beginning of the Conflict—Alfonso of Arragon in the
  Campagna—Alfonso of Arragon in Pitigliano—Progress of the
  War—Battle at Campagnano—Differences of Opinion in Rome—Proposals
  for a Treaty—Duke René of Lorraine—Peace between Innocent VIII.
  and Naples—Slight Satisfaction of the People of Florence—Roberto
  da Sanseverino King Ferrante and the Barons—Effect of the Barons’
  War upon the Fortunes of Naples—Lorenzo’s Difficulties and
  Despondency—Connection with Naples and Ludovico il Moro—Attack on
  Sarzana and Capture of the Town—Ludovico il Moro and Genoa         243



  Lorenzo de’ Medici and Innocent VIII.—Affair of Osimo—Boccalino
  de’ Guzzoni—Surrender of Osimo—Boccalino in Florence—Boccalino’s
  End—House of Medici—Death of Madonna Lucrezia—Maddalena de’
  Medici and Franceschetto Cybò—Negotiations with King Ferrante
  concerning the Marriage of Maddalena—Life and Character of
  Franceschetto Cybò—Fresh Breach between Rome and Naples—Lorenzo
  de’ Medici’s Despondency—Negotiations between Innocent VIII.
  and King Ferrante—Lorenzo’s Opinion on the Relation of the
  Pope to the King, and on the Political Situation—Weakness
  of the Pope—Gian. Jac. Trivulzio in Florence—Mission of
  Jacopo Gherardi to Florence and Milan—Lorenzo’s Exhortations
  to Prudence—Lorenzo’s Instructions for the Negotiation with
  Milan—Proposed Basis of Agreement—Illness of Lodovico il Moro      260



  Clarice and Maddalena de’ Medici in Rome—Maddalena’s Marriage
  Contract and Dowry—Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Opinion of his
  Son-in-Law—Connections of the Medici in Rome—Piero de’ Medici’s
  Journey to Rome, and his Marriage—Alfonsina Orsini—Rejoicings
  in Florence on the Visit of Franceschetto Cybò—Illness of
  Madonna Clarice—Maddalena Cybò in Florence—Death of Clarice
  de’ Medici—Her Character—Lorenzo de’ Medici on the Loss of his
  Wife—Maddalena Cybò’s Return to Rome—Death of Ippolita Maria,
  Duchess of Calabria—The Marriage of Gian Galeazzo Sforza—Piero
  de’ Medici in Milan                                                278



  Girolamo Riario in Imola and Forlì—Death of Girolamo
  Riario—Catarina Riario Sforza—Disturbances in Forlì—Forlì
  remains in the Possession of the Riarii—Dispute about
  Piancaldoli—Conflicting Interests in the Affairs of
  Romagna—Dissatisfaction against Milan—Faenza and the
  Manfredi—Murder of Galeotto Manfredi—Revolt in Faenza—Lorenzo
  de’ Medici and Giovanni Bentivoglio, and the Disturbances in
  Faenza—Caterina Riario Sforza—Unhappy State of Affairs in the
  Romagna—Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Neighbouring States—Piombino
  and Siena—State of Parties in Siena—Lorenzo de’ Medici and
  Siena—Lorenzo de’ Medici and Lucca—The Connection of Città di
  Castello and Perugia—Franceschetto Cybò in Perugia—Lorenzo de’
  Medici’s Opinion of Affairs in Perugia—Victory of the Baglioni
  Faction in Perugia—Violence of the Factions—Affairs of Ascoli—The
  Papal Authority and the Jealousy of Neighbouring States—The
  Orsini in connection with the Pope and Naples—Gentil Virginio and
  Niccolò Orsini                                                     294





  The Ruling Party and Old Enemies—Albizzi, Soderini,
  Pazzi—Francesco Guicciardini’s Description of Florentine
  Affairs—Alessandro de’ Pazzi on the Position of Lorenzo de’
  Medici—Progressive Personal Authority—Supplications and
  Recommendations—Alessandro Farnese—Requests and Compliments of
  Foreign Princes—Friends and Dependants of the Medicis—Giovanni
  Lanfredini—Lorenzo’s Behaviour towards his Dependants—The
  Gonfalonier Neri Cambi—Weakness of the Administration—Committees
  for the Choice of Magistrates and for Finance—Reform of the
  Coinage and Currency—Finance of the Medicis—Losses of the
  Banks—Employment of Public Moneys—Institution for the Dowry of
  Daughters—Reduction of the Payments of the Institution—The Bank
  in Lyons, and Philippe de Commines—Commines’ Last Letter to
  Lorenzo de’ Medici                                                 317



  Benedetto Dei’s Comparison of Florence and Venice—Description of
  Florence in the latter Part of the Fifteenth Century—Industry
  and Trade—Interest on Money and Money-Lenders—Mode of Life
  of the Higher Classes—Splendour of Festivities—Benedetto
  Salutati’s Banquet at Naples—Life in Florence—Town and
  Villa—Amusements—Athletic Exercises—Hunting—Plays—Religious
  Representations and Processions—The Potenza and
  its Growth—Carnavals and Parades—Reaction against
  Carnavals—Historical and Mythological Processions—Bartolommeo
  Benci’s Carnaval Procession—Buffoonery—Piovano Arlotto—The
  Fat Carpenter—Good and Bad of the Social Condition—Benedetto
  Varchi’s Description of the People of Florence—System of Family
  Life—Distinguished Women—Knighthood—Cavalieri di Popolo—The
  Embassies—Splendour of Embassies in the Fifteenth Century          338



  The Medici as Collectors and Art Patrons—Wealth of the House
  of Medici—Traders and their Purchases—The Garden and Casino of
  San Marco—The Villas of the Medici—Poggio a Cajano—Lorenzo de’
  Medici’s Mode of Life—Meal-times—Grandeur and Simplicity—Visit
  of Count Eberhard of Würtemberg—Horses and Races—Hawking—Visits
  to Pisa—Agnano and other Estates—Journeys to the Baths—The
  Baths of San Filippo and Vignone—Love Affairs—Bartolommeo Nasi
  Benci—Embassies and Presents of the Egyptian Sultan—Festal
  Reception of Travellers—Companions and Friends at
  Home—Lorenzo de’ Medici in Confidential Intercourse—Musical
  Entertainments—Antonio degli Organi—Music and Poetry—Piero
  and Alfonsina Orsini de’ Medici—Lorenzo’s Daughters—Homely
  Appearance—Lorenzo in Jest and in Earnest                          366



  Innocent VIII. and Franceschetto Cybò—Lorenzo de’ Medici’s
  Intercession for Franceschetto—Giovanni de’ Medici and Church
  Benefices—The Abbeys of Passignano and Monte Cassino—The Dignity
  of Cardinal—Giovanni Lanfredini—Lorenzo’s Impatience at the
  Pope’s Hesitation—Giovanni de’ Medici created Cardinal—Rejoicings
  in Florence—Lorenzo’s Thanksgiving—Impression made by the
  Nomination—Death of Giovanni Lanfredini—Canonisation of
  Archbishop Antoninus                                               394



  King Ferrante’s Behaviour towards the Pope—Niccolò Orsini
  as Papal Captain-General—Lorenzo de’ Medici on the Quarrel
  between Pope and King—Position of Milan and Venice—The Pope’s
  Proceedings against the King—Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Proposals—The
  Pope on the Interference of Foreign Powers—Ferrante’s Opposition
  to an Alliance—French Propositions to the Pope—Innocent
  VIII.’s Complaints of the King—Innocent VIII. and Foreign
  Countries—Giovanni Pentano on the Agreement of 1486—Neapolitan
  Proposals for a Treaty—Peace between the Pope and Naples—French
  Affairs—King Ferrante’s Family Troubles—Gian Galeazzo Sforza
  and Ludovico il Moro—Breach between Alfonso of Arragon and il
  Moro—Neapolitan Embassy to Milan                                   408



  Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Clergy—Girolamo Savonarola in his
  Youth—Savonarola’s first Residence in Florence—Fra Mariano
  of Genazzano and the Monastery of San Gallo—Fra Mariano and
  Lorenzo de’ Medici—Fra Mariano as Preacher—Savonarola’s
  increasing Zeal for Teaching—Savonarola as Preacher—Francesco
  Guicciardini on Savonarola’s Influence—The Philosophers and
  the Monks—Representations of the Medici Circle concerning
  Savonarola—Savonarola’s Excesses—Savonarola and Fra Mariano        425



  Giovanni de’ Medici in Pisa—Delayed Publication of the Brief
  making him Cardinal—Doubtful State of Health of Innocent
  VIII.—Publication of the Brief—Festival in the Abbey of Fiesole
  and in Florence—Giovanni de’ Medici’s Journey to Rome—Reception
  in Rome—Lorenzo’s Letter to his Son the Cardinal                   440



  Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Illness—Remedy for his Sufferings—Changes
  between Better and Worse—Lorenzo’s Intention of transferring his
  Affairs to his Son Piero—Political Position—Moral and Religious
  Views—Lorenzo’s Advice to his Son—Lorenzo with Angelo Poliziano
  and Pico—Savonarola at the Death-bed—Death of Lorenzo de’
  Medici—Prodigies and Obsequies—Decree concerning the Position
  of Piero de’ Medici—Roman Obsequies—King Ferrante on Lorenzo’s
  Death—Innocent VIII. and the House of Sforza—Entombment in San
  Lorenzo—Elegy by Angelo Poliziano                                  453


  Lorenzo’s Characteristics—His Public Policy—His Tampering
  with the Constitution—His Financial System—Progress
  towards Monarchy—Lorenzo’s Son Piero—King Charles VIII. in
  Florence—Fruits of Florentine Culture                              469


    I. Chronological Review                                          477

   II. Pedigree of the Medici                                        483

         ”          ”  Pazzi                                         484

         ”          ”  Soderini                                      485

         ”          ”  Visconti and Sforza                           486

  III. Last Hours of Lorenzo de’ Medici                              487

FOURTH BOOK—_continued_





IN April 1465, as already stated, Federigo of Aragon, Prince of Naples,
and Lorenzo de’ Medici, then seventeen years old, met at Pisa. A letter
addressed by the young Florentine to his royal friend, probably in
the following year, begins thus:[1] ‘When thou, illustrious Federigo,
didst visit the most ancient city of Pisa, thou didst turn our
conversation to the subject of those who have written poetry in the
Tuscan language, and didst manifest a laudable desire to see all their
works collected by my care. Endeavouring to fulfil thy wishes, I had a
diligent search made for all the old manuscripts, and chose from them
the least imperfect, which I now present to your Highness, arranged in
order in a book which I earnestly desire thee approvingly to accept,
as a token of especial goodwill. Let no one despise this Tuscan tongue
as poor and rude, for he who can rightly estimate its value will find
it rich and well cultivated. There is, indeed, nothing vigorous or
graceful, impressive or ingenious, witty, harmonious, or majestic, of
which examples may not be found in our two greatest poets, Dante and
Petrarca; and after them, by those whom thou, Prince, hast recalled to

‘Petrarca shows in one of his letters that the ancient Romans were
acquainted with rhyme which, after a long interval, revived in Sicily,
spread through France, and was restored to Italy, its original home.
The first who gave our modern poetry its peculiar form of verse were
Guittone of Arezzo and his Bolognese contemporary Guido Guinicello.
They were both well versed in philosophy, and wrote profoundly; but the
first is somewhat harsh and rude, deficient in ornament and eloquence.
The latter, who is far more clear and elegant, was called by Dante
“his father,” and the father of all who write sweet and graceful love
songs. He was unquestionably the first to impress on our beautiful
language that attractive colouring which the bard of Arezzo had but
faintly indicated. After these shone Guido Cavalcanti, one of the
keenest dialecticians and most admirable philosophers of his time.
He was handsome in person, and his writings are to me in the highest
degree attractive; his imagination is rich and wonderfully grand; his
reasoning is weighty; his tone extremely dignified. These qualities
are heightened by the rich charm of a style that sets them off like
a resplendent robe. He needed but a wider field to have attained the
highest honours.

‘Bonagiunta of Lucca and the notary of Lentino must not be overlooked;
but though earnest and weighty writers, they were so destitute of
refined taste, that they must be content to find a place in this
collection of honoured names. Another contemporary of Guittone was
Pier delle Vigne, of whom Dante said that “he had both the keys of
Frederick’s heart.” Only a few short pieces by him remain, and they are
not wanting in depth or earnestness.

‘And now come the two glorious suns that have illuminated our
language—Dante, and he who stands hardly below him, Francesco
Petrarca. In praise of them, silence, to use the words of Sallust
concerning Carthage, is better than halting speech. Greatly in need
of their polish stood Onesto, and the Sicilians who in order of time
preceded them, and who were not without spirit or purpose. Cino of
Pistoja, tender and full of feeling, deserves his reputation. He
was the first, in my opinion, who thoroughly surmounted the antique
roughness which Dante, so admirable in other respects, could not
entirely avoid. A host of writers follow, ranking far below those
I have named. All these of the past, and some of our own time, owe
lasting thanks to thee, O Prince, who hast bestowed on them life, and
light, and fame, acquiring for thyself a claim to greater renown than
that of the Athenian Peisistratos, who rescued from oblivion the lays
of Homer. He restored life to one; thou hast revived a whole host. At
the end of the book, as it seemed not unpleasing to thee, I have added
some sonnets and canzoni of my own, that when thou readest them, my
goodwill and affection may be vividly recalled to thy mind. Though in
themselves unworthy of a place beside the admirable works of the past,
it may be useful to set them side by side for a comparison which can
but enhance the perfections of the latter. Pray take then, O Prince,
not only into thine house, but into thy heart and mind, both them and
me, even as thou abidest a welcome guest in my heart and soul.’

Thus wrote Lorenzo de’ Medici apparently in 1466. On a subsequent
occasion, in a gloss on his own poems such as it was the custom then
for an author himself or some of his friends to write, he gave his
opinion on the much-disputed question of the value of the vulgar tongue
as the language of poetry. ‘If we want,’ he wrote, ‘to prove the
worth of our language, we need only apply this test: does it express
with ease all our thoughts and all our feelings? Nothing can be more
satisfactory than the answer given us by experience. Our countrymen
Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio, have in their verses and discourses,
whether grave or gay, proved clearly that every thought and feeling
finds easy and natural expression in this tongue of ours. Whoever reads
the “Commedia” sees various questions of theology and nature discussed
with as much skill as success. He finds there the three degrees of
style specified by orators—the simple, the florid, and the sublime,
nay, more—Dante in himself presents a union of all the qualities which
Greek and Latin writers display separately. Who again can deny the
warmth, tenderness, and gaiety of Boccaccio? In his love poems he shows
a mingled grace and fervour that neither Ovid, Tibullus, Propertius nor
Catullus have equalled. Dante’s pithy sonnets and canzoni are scarcely
surpassed by anything in prose or verse, and the readers of Boccaccio,
whose learning was as great as the polish of his style, must admit that
in him the faculty of invention contends with the variety and eloquence
of his language. Any one who examines his “Decameron” with its endless
diversity of subject, its descriptions of every conceivable situation
produced by love and hate, hope or fear; its exhibition of countless
intrigues and artifices; its characteristic representation of diverse
natures, and its expression of every passion, will be convinced that
for all this no language can be better adapted than our own. It is not
the language that has been unfavourable to writers, but there has
been a dearth of authors who could use it. To any one with a little
practice, it is full of power, harmony, and grace. It appears to me
richly endowed with all that constitutes the excellence of a language,
and I am persuaded that a knowledge of what has been written in it is
not only useful but necessary—more especially the works of Dante,
which are both solid and profound. The commentaries of learned men on
the “Commedia” bear witness to this no less than the allusions made
to the work from the pulpit. We may look forward to the appearance
of other excellent works in this language, which still preserves its
freshness and is growing in elegance and copiousness. A prospect of
still greater perfection is before it, should the dominion of Florence
be extended, a thing not merely to be hoped but to be striven for by
our gallant citizens with all their energies of body and mind. Though
such a consummation cannot positively be predicted, since it depends on
fate and the will of God, yet it is within the limits of possibility.
For the present the following conclusion is enough. Our native speech
has all the excellencies of a language in abundance, and we ought not
to be dissatisfied with it, nor ought any one to blame me for writing
in a tongue to which I was born and in which I was educated. Hebrew
and Latin originally were no more than vulgar tongues, yet those who
hold an honoured place in literature cultivated them to a degree of
perfection that was never attained by the mass of the people.’

These remarks, which are followed by others on the sonnet and on Tuscan
rhythm and metre, show that from his youth up Lorenzo de’ Medici
thought much of the nature and history of the language of his country.
His poems opened out no new path, but served with those of many among
his contemporaries to give more freedom and grace of movement to the
language, more facility for applying it to manifold aims and objects,
and a richer variety of idiomatic forms. His masterly handling of
the language was equalled by his command of versification. Harshness
he has, and that force which will not avoid a difficulty. Nor is he
wanting in archaic forms and illegitimate turns of expression, while
he has echoes of the artificial manner which in the poet’s youth
was regarded as modern classicism. We do not always meet with the
refinement of ear, accuracy of taste, and fulness of harmony, which
give such importance to his contemporary Poliziano, and mark him
as the true leader of the great literary movement of the fifteenth
century, a movement which, in its last decade, put an end to a state
of things in which it is hard to say whether stagnation or perverted
energy was the worst feature. Nevertheless, Lorenzo de’ Medici takes
a conspicuous and peculiar place in this movement. Had he been only a
literary man, he would have shone as such. As in his whole character,
so also as a poet, is he the true representative of his time, a time
that strove with pious care to restore the old, while it joyfully
if doubtfully anticipated the opening of new vistas and formed the
threshold between two great epochs, the blending of the sunset and
the dawn. Lorenzo de’ Medici, while rightly estimating the character
of the literature of Dante’s age, and perceiving that it and not the
pedantry of the humanistic poets contained life and hope for the
future, was, nevertheless, still influenced by the great fact of the
first half of his century, the revival of classical culture. Even
when he most nearly approaches the lyric poets who preceded him, it
is not in imitation, like Bembo’s imitation of Petrarca. Even when
Dante or Guido Cavalcanti, with their subtle dissection of feelings,
partaking somewhat of the character of scholasticism, and their habit
of treating even earthly things with a certain unearthly solemnity
of tone, have been most evidently his guiding lights—still, through
all, there pierces a spirit which could only have been aroused by the
contact of modes of thought derived from the antique with modern life
and experience, and by a direct knowledge of the creations of Hellenic
genius, which to the fathers of Italian poetry were sealed books,
whose very titles were unknown to most of them.

Lorenzo de’ Medici is no imitator of Petrarca, although echoes of
Petrarca and even, through the latter, of the poetry of the Troubadours
occur frequently in his compositions. But, apart from other details,
he has one conspicuous trait in common with Petrarca—a quick sense of
the beauties of nature. The hermit of Vaucluse and Arquà is, of all
modern poets, the first to whom nature seems to have been especially
revealed in her inner life and in the impression which she makes on the
feelings; for in Dante it is rather the historical character of the
landscape and the plasticity of sharply defined individual phenomena
which come out most strongly. Like Petrarca, he who dwelt in the Tuscan
villas and among the wooded Apennines found in nature an inexhaustible
fountain whence flowed forth an ever-fresh stream of forms and images
clothed in the most varied and brilliant colours. The richness and
freshness of his treatment proves how quick were his eyes to receive
and his mind to realise such impressions. He delighted to consecrate
to the mental and moral refreshment of a residence in the country the
hours and days which he could steal from his varied and often vexatious
cares and occupations. If his poetic descriptions did not sufficiently
declare it, his whole life would furnish a proof that there was in him
not merely an active fancy, but an actual need, as well as a true and
quick apprehension of nature. He has shown in the ‘Selve d’amore,’ and
in the idyl of ‘Ambra,’ what were his powers of describing nature,
not merely in the illustration of thoughts and feelings, but as an
independent picture complete in itself.

The greater part of his sonnets and canzoni consists, as may be
imagined, of love poems. But the individualising characteristics of his
poetry save them from the monotony usually inseparable from this style;
for where there is no variety of tone, there is a variety of situation
and colouring. The lover and poet is with Lorenzo always a disciple of
philosophy, and the subject of his poems, decked in all the brilliant
colours of fancy, retreats into the background infinitely more than
with the great poets of the Trecento. In reading Lorenzo’s poems, one
gives little more than a passing thought to Lucrezia Donati, whose name
even is revealed to us only by the poet’s friends. Beatrice and Madonna
Laura have been the objects of careful historical research—scarcely
any one has troubled himself about the fair Florentine, sprung from a
race whose name filled the history of the city when that of Medici was
still unknown. The reason is not merely that Lucrezia’s bard was no
Dante or Petrarca, and that his poetry, however fresh and genuine, and
however important as completing a character unique in its way, yet held
but a secondary place in the mind and life of Lorenzo de’ Medici; but
the ideal creation threatens to swallow up the personality. The story
connected with the beautiful girl lying on the bier, in which the poet
sets forth how he sought and found a worthy object for his affection,
sufficiently indicates that he rather transferred to this object what
had already assumed a living shape in his own mind than received his
impulse from it. To the greatest of Italy’s poets the angel-bride of
his early youth became the ideal in which all his thoughts and feelings
were wrapt up; the ideal stood before the eyes of Lorenzo de’ Medici
before he knew her whose form he clothed in the magic of spiritualised

The disciple of the Platonic philosophy, giving a description of
his beloved one in the commentary on his sonnets,[2] thus declares
himself in his definition of the nature of love. ‘Whoever seeks the
true definition of love, will find that it consists in the desire
for beauty. This being so, whatever is ugly repels him who truly and
worthily loves. The beauty of the countenance and soul of our beloved
one impels us to seek beauty in other things; to rise to that virtue
which is beauty on earth as in heaven, and to reach at length the
highest beauty—the Divinity, our final goal and resting-place. The
necessary conditions of a true, worthy, and elevated love, appear to
me to be two: first, that the object shall be one, then that the love
shall be constant. It is not given to all to fulfil these conditions,
seeing that but few women possess the lofty power of attaching men
so entirely to themselves that they shall never offend against
the two conditions without which there is no true love.’ But his
philosophical view of life and human happiness is contained in a longer
poem in terza rima, (‘L’Altercazione’), in which Marsilio Ficino is
personally introduced as teacher, and decides between the poet and his
interlocutor. The former has left the tumult of the city, the confusion
of party politics, the throng of the market, to bring his soul to a
haven of rest, a life free and secure from anxiety, in the solitude
of the country. He describes what he seeks and hopes to find in this
retreat to the shepherd whom he meets; the latter points out to him the
toils and troubles of his humble lot, and how he drags on day after
day beneath ever-renewing cares. Then Marsilio comes to place in their
true light the worth and the worthlessness of sublunary things; to show
how happiness depends neither on the high position of the one nor the
lowly station of the other, but is to be found in the knowledge and
love of the Author of all things. As may be seen from this sketch of
its contents, the poem contains nothing original, but it is pleasing
from its life-like description of contrasts, and interesting as a token
of the earnest self-introspection of a richly and variously endowed

The three idyls which we possess of Lorenzo de’ Medici are so many
witnesses to the many-sidedness of his genius. The first, ‘Corinto’
(the name of the shepherd who sings his love), resembles the eclogues
of the ancients, which were soon to become the models of so many
writers, and especially of Sannazaro. Following the precedent of
Boccaccio, it is in terza rima, a metre better suited to a series of
narratives and descriptions than to a subject in which the lyrical
element preponderates. ‘Nencia da Barberino’ is pure nature—in some
parts severe nature, with a rich vein of quaint humour and a charming
local colour. It is an idyl in eight-lined stanzas, redolent of Tuscan
soil, describing the Tuscan people, their manners and modes of speech,
with a succession of apostrophes, eulogies, and comparisons, including
some that are strange enough. Such are the so-called _rispetti_,—those
songs of the people, especially country people, which sometimes in
their fantastic flights soar up to the sun and stars, and sometimes
borrow their similes from the humblest things. Lorenzo has, in fact,
here put together a whole poem of _rispetti_, in which the serious
and the comic alternate, and through the mouth of a lover has applied
to one rustic beauty what would have sufficed for a whole bevy of
maidens. These _rispetti_ are evidently learned from the people, who
to this day produce thousands of these half-lyric, half-epigrammatic
songs, particularly in the hill-country of Pistoja, for, as an old
proverb says, ‘the mountaineers have thick shoes and fine brains.’[4]
They are to be heard also in other parts of the Florentine and Sienese
dominions, as far as the Maremma, from whence they extend into the
Roman Campagna. Some of the rustic verses are peculiar to the poet, who
exercises himself freely in a style that permits great variety, and who
rivals the people among whom he mingles in fantastic flights and quaint
similes, producing a somewhat motley but richly coloured and life-like
picture. Luigi Pulci has furnished a companion piece to ‘Nencia.’
Poliziano, without confining himself to a special subject, has also
tried his hand at these little songs, which seem to flow spontaneously
from Tuscan pens, and form a branch of literature highly important in
its relation to the character of the people.

While in ‘Nencia’ the popular and burlesque element prevails, the
third of these idyls, ‘Ambra,’ belongs to the province of mythology.
Its importance lies far less in the story itself—one of the oft-told
tales after the Ovidian pattern—than in the grand descriptions of
nature to which the fable gives rise. The scene is the villa of Poggio
a Cajano, on the decoration of which the princely owner bestowed so
much trouble and expense, the results of his work being repeatedly
destroyed by the overflow of the Ombrone in its descent from the
Pistojan mountains to the level ground around the low hill on which
Cajano stood. A small islet in the river bore the name of Ambra,
which was transferred to the villa itself. The dykes raised for its
defence did not fulfil Poliziano’s hope that the stream would spare the
flower-garden. In the poem, Ambra is the nymph beloved by the shepherd
Lauro. Her charms, seen when bathing, attract the river god, and she
only escapes from his wild pursuit by the help of Diana, who, at her
entreaty, changes her into a rock, on which the villa is then built. As
in ‘Nencia’ the ottava rima adapts itself to a burlesque and popular
subject, so here it developes a surprising power in descriptions of the
natural occurrences that caused the destruction of the pleasant rustic
dwelling, and of the events which are made to precede them.

As ‘Ambra’ inclines to the descriptive, so does another little poem
in eight-line stanzas called ‘The Hawking Party’ (‘La Caccia con
Falcone’), a lively picture of a universally favourite pastime to
which our poet was almost passionately addicted. The fresh morning
on which the party sets out, the adventures and intermezzos on the
way, the rivalry and excitement of the huntsmen, the manœuvres of the
chase, with the birds and dogs, carefully trained, yet not always to
be relied on, the return in midday heat, and the cheerful meal, which
reconciles the tired disputants and brings the day to a close,—all
this is described with the most vivid reality, and with an amount of
detail that could only come from an initiated sportsman. We are in the
midst of the cheerful company that crowded around the gay and stately
young man. For the poem dates some time before the year 1478, as is
proved by the circumstance that Lorenzo’s brother-in-law, Guglielmo
de’ Pazzi, is one of the chief persons present, together with Luigi
Pulci, Foglia Amieri, Dionigi Pucci, and several others less easy to
distinguish by name. A whole stanza is taken up with the names of the
falcons, the number of which shows that this was indeed a princely
hunt, such as often took place at Pisa or Poggio a Cajano.

The poem in terza rima which bears the name of ‘I Beoni’ (‘The
Drinkers’), or ‘Simposio,’ resembles the ‘Nencia’ and the ‘Hawking
Party’ in so far as it describes Florentine and Tuscan manners. In
rhythm, tone, and manner, it is very different from the others; for
although in ‘Nencia’ peasant life sometimes receives a burlesque
covering, the poem never becomes satire, nor sinks to that degree of
low comedy which degenerates into vulgarity. This, however, is the
case in the ‘Beoni,’ a series of chapters in which the poet describes
the manners and adventures of a company of jolly fellows, whom he
meets near Porta Faenza as he is returning from Careggi, at the moment
when they are setting out for Ponte a Rifredi, a little place about a
mile away from the town, and which takes its name from a bridge over
the little stream Terzolle. The business of the company is to taste
a cask of wine which they have heard highly praised. The poem is not
wanting in humour, and offers a lively picture of convivial rather
than social manners, such as long existed in Tuscany, and of which we
possess many literary monuments. Although unfinished, it is long, and
monotonous in spite of the variety of its situations; its dry comedy
often degenerates into downright coarseness, such as might lead to
very unfavourable conclusions with regard to the morals even of the
higher classes and the clergy, who in part are represented here. ‘I
Beoni’ makes an unpleasant impression from another point of view.
Not only is the metre that of the most sublime poems in the Italian
language; the outward arrangement of the poem, as well as a number of
particular turns, are burlesque imitations of the great poets. This is
a proof of keen observation, of wonderful and many-sided power; but
it has a darker side. If we are to recognise in this production the
beginning of Italian satire, we can all the more justly measure the
distance between these ‘chapters’ and those brilliant mirrors of the
time which immediately followed that of Lorenzo de’ Medici—the satires
of Lodovico Ariosto.

Like the ‘Beoni,’ the dance-songs (‘Canzoni a ballo’) and the songs of
the carnival (‘Canti carnascialeschi’), especially the latter, often
pass the limits which separate social gaiety from burlesque and satire.
Yet the nature and object of these songs demand the predominance of the
lyrical element. The dance songs are explained by the old traditional
customs of the Tuscan people, and Lorenzo did but follow examples
furnished by the age of Dante; examples differing in character of all
degrees, from the grave and sententious to the popular and comic. The
musical accompaniment, in which popular old tunes alternate with later
compositions, naturally influences the form of these songs; but the
poet handles the form with the greatest ease, and knows how to give to
metre and rhyme a variety that corresponds with the changes of mood,
and prevents the monotony which the matter and subject might produce.
For the subject is love and its enjoyments, in which the sensual and
humorous preponderate. Here prevails the sway of that epicureanism
which sees in the material satisfaction of our desire for enjoyment the
solution of the problem of life, which regards as lost the time spent
on all else, snaps its fingers at a severe moral judgment, and ends
in outspoken nihilism, mocking even at love and happiness. The sum of
worldly wisdom here taught is—enjoy yourself as much as you can, and
lose no time about it; it is not the action that matters, but only
that it should not reach the ears of those who would be sure to give
it a bad name; ill-will and the conflict of interests bring blame, not
things in themselves. Even more clearly than in the dance-songs is this
cynicism seen in the ‘Lays of the Carnival,’ which, like the former,
are intended for choruses, mostly with alternate parts.

The following pages, which treat of the manners of the time, will
describe the bacchanals, which were not new in Florence, but which
Lorenzo de’ Medici increased, and not merely for the humour of the
thing, to a degree that has cast on his memory a reflection which
an exact comparison of the poet’s circumstances with the past would
hardly justify. The abundant imagination and many-sided wit of these
gay compositions may be admired, but, even were the licence less, it
would be impossible to take real pleasure in them when once the purpose
underlying them is perceived. Such songs were traditional in Florence
and other places, as were also the people’s carnival societies, of
which Lorenzo made use for his popular festivals, and for which he
wrote even in the days of his highest authority—perhaps even more
especially then. To these songs the accomplished choir-master of San
Giovanni, the German Heinrich Isaak, commonly called Arrigo Tedesco,
composed melodies for three voices. Even before the event which
exercised so great and injurious an influence on life and morals—the
plague of 1348—songs were openly sung, the levity and revolting
coarseness of which contrasted strangely with the pious canticles which
resounded in the evening before the image of the Madonna and other
shrines. The ‘Decameron’ refers to them, and the Chronicles of Modena
give us the beginning of a drinking-song which bears witness to the
confusion of tongues that had arisen, probably among the mercenary
bands: ‘Trinche gote Malvasie—mi non biver oter vin.’ The poems
destined for singing increase in number from the fourteenth century
onwards.[5] Lorenzo only perfected in form, rendered more significant,
and finally turned to account for other purposes, what he found ready
in the life of the people. A greater contrast to these frivolous
productions than even his wanderings on the heights of speculation,
his effusions of philosophic poetry and tender aspiring sentiment, is
offered by the poems on religious subjects, of which Lorenzo found
examples in his own family. The mystery-play, ‘Rappresentazione dei
SS. Giovanni e Paolo,’ composed, according to the prologue spoken by
the angel of the Annunciation, for the brotherhood of San Giovanni,
is said to have been acted at the festivities which celebrated the
marriage of Maddalena de’ Medici. It is certain that Lorenzo’s son,
Giuliano, then just ten, and perhaps also Piero, took part with other
youths and boys of noble houses in the representation held by the said
company in 1489. The legend of Constantia, daughter of Constantine the
Great, who was said to have been cured of leprosy at the tomb of St.
Agnes on the Nomentan Way, and that of the martyrs John and Paul, who
suffered death in Rome on the Cœlian, are here blended with the story
of the division of the empire among Constantine’s sons, of the reign
of Julian the Apostate, and his death in the Parthian war, and formed
into a whole in which strange confusion and leaps from one subject to
another do not prevent much poetical beauty and moral and political
teaching. Like other earlier and contemporary pieces of this kind, it
is more lyric than dramatic; in particular it has no dramatic unity.
But if the dramatic element is weak, the historical character of one
of the two chief persons, the Emperor Julian, shows an accuracy of
conception which, with regard to this prince, must have been rare
at that period. In this respect Lorenzo’s drama commands an interest
far superior to that which we take in most productions of this class.
Since the statue of Victory was taken away from the Curia—so speaks
the Emperor—success no longer crowns the Roman arms, which once
subdued the world. Only by returning to our old gods can we recall
victory to our standards. But the object is not to be attained by this
alone, or by taking from the Christians wealth and goods which should
be forbidden them by the teachings of their own faith. The head of
the empire must again command the old reverence, and this cannot be
if the ruler hands over the cares of government to others, while he
heaps up treasure and thinks only of amusement. If he is rich, his
riches are but lent him to share with his people, and relieve necessity
wherever he finds it. Power and property belong not to him, but to the
community; he is the steward who has the satisfaction and the glory of
distributing to others what fate has placed in his hands.

Julian is a man of energy, conscious of the extent and difficulty of
his task; Constantine in his old age is the representative of the
melancholy which overcomes him, who feels that the burden of government
has become too heavy for his shoulders. Who knows whether the poet is
not drawing from the experience of his own heart when he puts into
the mouth of his hero the description of the labours and dangers of
sovereignty, which wear out body and soul, while others see in it the
height of happiness, never reflecting that _they_ can sleep while one
is watching who holds the scales in his hand, to whom all eyes are
turned; who lives not for himself, but for others, who must be the
servant of servants:

  How often does the man that envies me
  Not know that happier far than I is he.

Strange contrasts of height and depth there were in this
man—contradictions in his life as well as in his poetry. Like his
mother, he tried his hand on spiritual songs, and his hymns of praise
display an individuality and fulness of conception wanting to other
compositions of this kind which perhaps surpass his in freshness and
simplicity. Besides songs in which the teachings of Platonism give a
peculiar colouring to the faith of the Church, we find others in which
the tone of the older hymns to Mary has been successfully adopted.
If these lauds have not the same ardently soaring strain as those of
Benivieni; still we can well imagine that they were sung alternately
with the latter when the opposition to the worldly spirit encouraged by
their author had gained the victory. This, too, is one of the contrasts
which abound in the history of Lorenzo de’ Medici. The lauds give us
a deep insight into his mind. They are, in some degree, the agonised
cry of a soul which, instead of finding satisfaction in the glory and
splendour, the wealth and enjoyments of the world, is repelled by its
emptiness, and feels driven further and further away from the highest
good, of which the love once kindled within it had grown cold amid the
cares and pleasures of this life:

  Thou seekest life where nought hath living breath;
  Thou seekest joy where nought avails save death.



IN order to gain a complete view both of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s own
life and of his influence on the scientific progress of his time, it
is necessary to contemplate the circle in which he was placed in his
youth, and which, though greatly modified in the course of years,
preserved the same character in essentials to the end. The persons of
whom it was composed carry us back to the time of Cosimo. The first we
meet are Marsilio Ficino and Cristoforo Landino. Both owed their rise
to the house of Medici; both contributed to its glory.

The last twenty-five years at least of Ficino’s life were occupied
with the endeavour to reconcile Platonism and Christianity, to make
the one expand within the other. At the end of 1473, when forty years
old, he entered holy orders, after seriously weighing the duties and
obligations of that sacred office, and after coming to the conclusion
that there is nothing on earth nobler than a good priest, nothing
more vile than an unworthy one. At the same time he held counsel with
his own mind as to the direction of his philosophical studies. The
example of St. Augustine, who, after he became a Christian, inclined
to the Platonics of the Christian era, decided him the more easily,
because it confirmed the direction of his whole previous life. When
he became aware how Platonism recognises Christian dogma on account
of the analogies which the latter presents to its own doctrines, he
thanked God, and felt himself confirmed in his Christian faith. He
did not, however, long remain free from a suspicion of the divergence
which Platonism had caused in the mediæval development of Christian
teaching from the Aristotelian system, which was the standing-ground of
scholasticism, in its efforts to reconcile the faith of the Church with
the researches of reason. He had started from the view that religion
and philosophy are sisters. As true philosophy, he says, is the loving
study of truth and wisdom—as God alone is truth and wisdom—so true
philosophy is nothing but genuine religion, and genuine religion
nothing but true philosophy. Religion is innate in every man; every
religion is good, in so far as it turns to God, but Christianity is
the only true one, inspired by the divine power which dwelt in its
Founder. For himself, he declares he needs nothing but the teaching of
Christ. He would rather believe divine things than know human ones; for
divine faith is more secure than human knowledge, and what proceeds
from it is confirmed by true science. But there are spirits for whom
the authority of the divine law is not enough, and who require the
arguments of reason. Divine Providence has ordained that the teachings
of Platonism should agree in many things with those of Christianity,
in order to bring such spirits to Christ; for, as Augustine said, with
the exception of a few things the Platonists were Christians. As Plato
always connects religion with philosophy, and does not merely disclose
to us the principles and order of natural things, like Aristotle,
but teaches us our duty towards Him who orders all things by number,
measure, and weight; so he himself has no other object than to make
this intimate connection clear, so far as his weak powers permit.

Any one who puts together his numerous remarks on Christianity, dogma,
and morality, although he may deem some of his views peculiar, cannot
reproach him with constructing a Christianity of his own. Though he
found such an agreement between Moses and Plato that he saw in the
latter only a Moses writing in the Attic tongue, and though he compared
the life of Socrates with the life of Jesus, yet he acknowledged in
the Socratic doctrines only a confirmation of the Christian, and
guarded himself against seeing in the Greek philosopher a shadow of
the Saviour, and from interpreting the Christian mysteries by Platonic
writings. Strange was the position of the thinkers of that time, placed
as they were between Christianity and the strongly-reviving influences
of heathen antiquity, and we should do them great injustice did we not
consider the spirit which governed the whole of that period. Giovanni
Pico della Mirandola believed he had found in the Cabala the foundation
of the faith and the explanation of the Christian mysteries; both he
and Marsilio held confidential evening discussions with learned Jewish
doctors on the divine inspiration of the Prophecies, and plunged deep
into both ancient and mediæval Hebrew lore. By a gradual enlightenment
of his mind, filled with the fantastic images of the later Platonism
and the half rationalistic mysticism founded on it, Pico came back
to the pure Christian faith, which finds in Holy Scripture a living
heavenly force whose wonderful power raises man to the height of divine
love. Marsilio Ficino’s mysticism, increased by his strong tendency to
astrology, assumed in more than one of his writings a colouring which
made his friends uneasy. In 1489 he was even accused of magic before
Pope Innocent VIII., but was cleared of the charge partly by his own
apology, partly by his friends, Francesco Soderini, Ermolao Barbaro,
and the archbishop Rinaldo Orsini, who was then at Rome.

Marsilio Ficino always keeps in view the connection between
Christianity and philosophy, both in his speculations and in the
practical application of his principles and their corollaries. If we
are astonished at the fantastic flights which seem to lead him far away
from the course he had traced out for himself, we yet gain a clear
and comprehensive development of the aim of his whole teaching, the
attainment of the highest happiness by the individual as well as by
the community, the end for which God created us. In the harmony between
the spirit of government and the divine law, whence the written law is
derived, he recognises the essential element of general well-being.
As regards forms of government, he decides that many are good, if
rightly administered—aristocracy, if its limits are not too narrow;
democracy, if it produces respect for law. Mob rule is a polypus,
all limbs and no head; tyranny has no legal ground and no legitimate
limits. Monarchy would be preferable, if it could be maintained
according to Plato’s ideal, by power and wisdom united. But the true
end of all forms of government and civil constitutions, both in theory
and practice, can be reached neither by the few nor by the many, but
only by the co-operation of the united forces of the human race, by
the maintaining and enforcing of uniform laws by a ruler who is raised
above all enmity, ambition, and envy, because he is acknowledged and
loved by all. The Christian Platonist, who lived to see the beginning
of the new era, the dawn of which had been heralded by the school to
which he attached himself, arrived at the summit of his philosophical
and political speculations exactly at the same standpoint which the
greatest poet of the middle ages had reached more than a century and
a half before him, amid the conflict of parties in the State. Wide as
was the difference between their positions and experiences of life, and
between the civil and political conditions both of their own immediate
home and of a large part of Italy, this is a remarkable circumstance,
which explains the interest felt by Marsilio Ficino in that book,
so diversely judged, in which Dante Alighieri developes his theory
of monarchy—a work well-nigh forgotten, despised by the learned on
account of its style, and sealed to the generality, till the Platonist
of the Medicean times made it accessible to his contemporaries by a

Numerous works were composed by Marsilio Ficino, who occupied himself
not only with philosophy but with theology, medicine, and music, and
was wont to say that they belonged to each other like body, soul,
and spirit in nature. His book on Christian doctrine, begun after
his entrance into the priesthood, seems to have been finished in
the beginning of 1475, and appeared in the following year, with a
declaration that the author submitted himself in all things to the
judgment of the Church. He presented his work to Lorenzo de’ Medici.
Rather more than two years later he seems to have finished his
translation of Plato’s works from the manuscripts given him by Cosimo
and by Amerigo Benci. These he submitted to the revision of Demetrius
Chalcondylas, Antonio Vespucci, and Giovan Battista Buoninsegni, and
also sought advice from Angelo Poliziano, Landino and Bartolommeo
Scala. Filippo Valori bore the expenses of the printing, which seems
to have been completed at the end of 1482—a proof how men of high
Florentine families assumed the character of Mæcenas. Meanwhile,
the industrious writer had concluded his great work on the Platonic
doctrine of immortality (‘Theologia Platonica de immortalitate
animarum’), which came out at the same time with the translation of
the writings on which it was founded. The Laurentian library possesses
the parchment manuscript which was given to Lorenzo. It contains ideas
new and old blended together, and comprising the philosophic system of
its author and the defence of the supernatural against Materialism and
Pantheism, which at that time numbered many disciples, in opposition to
the Platonic school. The scientific value of this work, in which the
doctrines of Plato and the teachings of his most dissimilar scholars
in ancient and modern times are not easy to distinguish, must rest
on its own merits, as must the validity of Lorenzo’s remark that the
Materialists, for whom there is no life in the next world, are already
dead in this. But we cannot deny the importance of Ficino’s great work
in the history of civilisation, nor question its beneficial influence
on the time.

Then followed a series of smaller writings on separate questions of
philosophy, translations connected with them, and a life of Plato.
Cosimo de’ Medici wished to see the works of Plotinus translated
by Ficino, an undertaking to which the latter only devoted himself
long after the death of its originator, and to which he was chiefly
encouraged by Pico della Mirandola. According to his own words, he
recognised in this new task a leading of Providence. As the Latin
nations had learned to know Plato, the collector of the traditions
of religious philosophy, so they should also learn to know Plotinus,
who first drew forth from darkness the theology of the ancients and
searched into its mysteries. This work was finished in 1486, and a
detailed commentary on it in the summer of 1491. Lorenzo had undertaken
to defray the cost of printing, and promised to do the same for a new
edition of Plato’s works, the former one being inadequate. But the
printing was only completed a month after the death of the generous
patron—‘magnifico sumptu Laurentii patriæ servatoris.’ After this came
a translation of the mystic theology of the writer calling himself
Dionysius the Areopagite. Lorenzo Valla, who surpassed most of his
contemporaries in keenness of criticism and knowledge of antiquity,
had already raised a doubt as to its genuineness, as had also other
writers. But this work, perhaps that of a Platonist of the fifth
century, fitted in with Marsilio’s system too well not to be accepted
by him as valid testimony; another example showing how, like the
Alexandrian school, these later disciples wandered from their original
models without knowing or intending it; with this difference, that the
Neoplatonism of old ran in sharp contradiction to Christianity, while
that of more modern times aimed at a union with it.

The philosophic ‘Macrobioticon,’ an original work, was finished in
1490, and dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici and King Matthias Corvinus.
Far more interest attaches to Marsilio’s correspondence, which
embraces the twenty years between 1474 and 1494—the only product of
his literary activity that has a real value at the present time. In
these letters his opinions and motives are mirrored with life-like
originality, and they afford much information as to his life, his
occupations, his social relations, and his friends. The twelve books
(which he, following the example of many contemporaries, arranged
himself, because apocryphal writings were in circulation) are all
dedicated to men of high position or friends of the author: Giuliano
de’ Medici, Federigo of Montefeltro, Matthias Corvinus, Bernardo Bembo,
Filippo and Niccolò Valori, and others.

Marsilio’s extraordinary literary activity, the more astonishing in a
man of delicate health, did not interfere with the performance of his
duties as a priest or as a secular teacher. He preached often, not
only in his own parish church at Nevoli, but also in Florence, at the
church of the Angeli and in the cathedral. His personal relations,
to which his correspondence bears witness, were very numerous. Paol’
Antonio Soderini, Giovanni Cavalcanti, Carlo Marsuppini the younger,
Piero and Giovanni Guicciardini, Bernardo Canigiani, Bernardo Dovizj
of Bibiena, afterwards cardinal; Lorenzo’s nephew Cosimo de’ Pazzi,
Bernardo Rucellai, Pier Filippo Pandolfini, Francesco Sassetti, Ugolini
Verini, and many others, were his pupils and remained attached to him;
while from Leon Battista Alberti and Cristoforo Landino downwards, all
the learned men whom Florence or Italy possessed were in communication
with him. At an important moment of his life he called three of these,
namely, Piero Soderini (afterwards Gonfaloniere for life), Piero
del Nero, and Piero Guicciardini, his three brothers in the search
after truth; and on March 6, 1482, he stood sponsor to Guicciardini’s
son, afterwards the famous statesman and historian. Foreign lands as
well as Italy sent their sons to hear his lectures, and more than
one of these foreigners remained gratefully attached to him. Among
others he became acquainted with several Germans; Johannes Reuchlin
and Ludwig Wergenhans (Nauclerus), provost of Stuttgart, who with
Gabriel Biel, professor of scholastic philosophy at Tübingen, and the
learned theologian Peter Jacobi, of Arlon in Luxemburg, accompanied
Count Eberhard of Würtemberg when in the spring of 1482 he undertook
the expedition to Rome, which will be mentioned hereafter. Marsilio
maintained the most intimate personal relations with Martin Preninger,
chancellor of the bishopric of Constance, and afterwards professor of
canon law at Tübingen. This man was twice in Italy in the year 1492
on business of Eberhard’s, and his correspondence with Marsilio bears
witness to a friendship and agreement of opinions rare to meet with.
Marsilio was wont to say that he possessed two friends, one in Germany,
the other in Italy, who represented the alliance between philosophy
and jurisprudence, namely, Martinus Uranius (Preninger’s literary
name) and Giovan Vittorio Soderini. He had Greek manuscripts copied
for his Swabian friend, and kept him informed of what was going on in
the field of science, as well as of what he was doing himself. Another
of his German correspondents was Georg Herwart of Augsburg, who made
his acquaintance in Florence; Reuchlin’s younger brother Dionysius
and Johann Strehler of Ulm also received introductions to him, when
being sent by the Count of Würtemberg to study in Italy they enjoyed
the notice of Lorenzo de’ Medici and were received into the house of
Giorgio Antonio Vespucci. Numerous princes, temporal and spiritual,
beginning with Matthias Corvinus, who tried vainly to attract him
to Ofen like Argyropulos, were in regular correspondence with him,
asked his advice on points of theology and philosophy, and sought his
criticism on various works.

Amid all these unsought testimonies of honour and confidence, Marsilio
Ficino remained simple, unpretending, easily satisfied. His delicate
health compelled him to lead a quiet life, and suffices to explain the
melancholy humour that often stole over him when alone. Yet in company
which he liked, and which afforded food for his mind in unrestrained
intercourse, he was cheerful and sympathetic. His musical talents,
bringing change and refreshment from serious studies, helped to season
his conversation. With his plectrum, an instrument which he himself
perfected, he resembled the poet-sages of the mythic age. He was
seldom absent from Platonic banquets, and had been an habitual guest
of Lorenzo’s grandfather when the latter invited learned men to his
house. He loved a country life above all things, and passed a great
part of his time on the little estate of Montevecchio. In later years
he often went to see Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano, when they
were staying in his neighbourhood—the one at Querceto, the other at
Fiesole; and still oftener to Lorenzo, when he was living at Careggi.
He was received as a welcome guest at the villas of Valori, Canigiani,
Cavalcanti, and others. At Montevecchio he instituted a peculiar yearly
festival. On SS. Cosmo and Damian’s day he assembled the old tenants
(‘coloni’) of his first and greatest patron and entertained them with
music and singing. His independence of mind was in no way diminished
by intercourse with those who, through birth or a successful career,
held a higher position in life. He once wrote thus to Lorenzo de’
Medici, whose fondness for pleasure in his earlier, perhaps also in
his later days, appeared to Ficino excessive, and caused him anxiety:
‘In the name of the eternal God I intreat thee, my dearest Prince, to
economise every moment of this brief life, lest there come over thee
vain remorse for dissipation and irreparable harm. The consciousness of
lost time drew deep sighs from the great Cosimo in my presence, when he
had reached the age of seventy. Trifling occupations and empty pastimes
rob thee of thy true self; they make thee a slave, who art born to be
a ruler. Free thyself while thou canst from this miserable servitude;
only to-day canst thou do so, for only to-day is thine own; to-morrow
it will be too late.’

When the young Raffaelle Riario was made a cardinal, he addressed to
him warnings and counsels similar to those given in a like case,
fourteen years later, by Lorenzo to his son, who was departing for
Rome. He reminded him that, since he owed his high rank not to his own
merits, he was the more bound to justify by his manner of life the
preference bestowed on him. His memorable appeal to Pope Sixtus IV.
during the war of 1478[6] shows how he could combine outspokenness with
reverence for the head of the Church, which the Bishop of Arezzo, a far
higher dignitary than he, and Francesco Filelfo made light of. His was
the frankness of a lover of truth whose soul was filled with grief for
the evils which had befallen the flock, and no less for the blots which
in an unhappily complicated affair had fallen on the reputation of a
supreme pastor who ought to be revered for his wisdom and goodness.

Like a true philosopher, Marsilio Ficino never strove after outward
splendour. His income was most modest. Besides his little farm, he
received from Lorenzo two benefices of which the revenue was small,
as he was obliged to entrust them to curates, but which would have
sufficed for his modest requirements had he not been besieged in his
later years by a swarm of needy relatives. Without the aid of rich
friends, the publication of his works would have been impossible. Amid
the restlessness and discontent of the learned men of his time, who
were rushing breathlessly after wealth and honours; amid the greediness
for ecclesiastical benefices, even among those who were not priests
like himself, Marsilio Ficino, contented and devoted to science, is a
fine example of the realisation of those philosophic doctrines which in
the case of so many were only spiritual luxuries or a means of making
money. It is this that gives interest to his character and work, though
his writings have lost their value except in their connection with the
history of learning. Lorenzo’s attachment to him remained unchanged
till his last hour; it shows itself in his poems as vividly as in his
letters. ‘Write to me,’ he says in a letter addressed to him from
Pisa, about 1473,[7] ‘whatever occurs to your mind, for nothing ever
comes from you that is not good; you never have an unworthy thought,
so that you can never write me anything that will not be useful or
agreeable. What makes me long for your letters is that in them you
combine elegance of expression with solidity of contents, so that in
both respects they leave nothing to be desired.’ And in the philosophic
poem mentioned above, on the independence of happiness from outward
position, he thus describes Marsilio’s appearance, with a touch of the
warm feeling that inspired Dante on meeting his master Brunetto, at the
sight of the ‘dear, good, fatherly face:’

  Marsilio is this, of Montevecchio,
  Whom heaven has filled with its own special grace,
  That to the world its mirror he may be?
    This is that faithful follower of the Muses,
  In whom are grace and wisdom aye united,
  And never separated one from other;
    From us and all worthy of highest honour.[8]

Cristoforo Landino stands far below Marsilio Ficino in scientific
importance. But both as a professor and in the learned circle of the
Medici he held a peculiar position; and by one of his literary works
he opened out a path which hundreds trod after him without taking away
the relative value of his labours. His life was not like that of his
contemporary and friend, dedicated solely to literature. As Chancellor
of the Magistracy of the Guelphic party, and one of the secretaries
of the Republic, he was concerned in public affairs till a late period
of his life.[9] During the lifetime of Pope Eugene IV. he passed some
time in Rome, and studied those antiquities the decay of which made a
painful impression on him, as on other Florentines of his time. But
when complaining, like others, that the travertine of the amphitheatre
is broken up and burnt for chalk, and that the antique sculptures lie
about mutilated, he exaggerates strangely when he says:[10]

  Though round the mighty city thy gaze contemplative wanders,
  Vainly around does it look for monuments vanished and gone.

In January, 1458, he accepted the professorship of eloquence and poetry
at the University, and gathered round him a continually renewed circle
of hearers, his influence being equalled by that of no contemporary
save Ficino. In 1460 he began to lecture on the Italian poems of
Petrarca, being desirous to stem the tide of contempt for the vulgar
tongue which still existed in learned circles. Though in this respect
he deserves all praise, yet his remarks on contemporaries, on Bruni,
Alberti, Palmieri, show how he was himself still prejudiced in his view
of the philological treatment of the language. His labours in the field
of classical philology have no great weight. He wrote a commentary
on Horace and one on Virgil, the former of which he dedicated to
Guidobaldo of Montefeltro, and the latter to the young Piero de’
Medici. He also translated Pliny’s ‘Natural History,’ and undertook
translations of modern Italian works, such as Giovanni Simonetta’s
Latin ‘History of Francesco Sforza,’ which was published at Milan
in 1490. He composed a letter-writer and a formulary for speeches,
which was printed two years later, with a dedication to Duke Ercole
d’Este. But the true centre of his activity and its importance lies
elsewhere—in his relation to and share in that intellectual movement
amid which the Medici lived, and in his position as a leader of the
revival of the study of Dante. In illustration of the first point, his
‘Disputationes Camaldulenses,’ which belong to the history of Lorenzo’s
youth, deserve especial consideration.

Amidst the fir and beech woods which still cover the Casentino hills,
where they rise towards the Apennines, lies the convent which gave
its name to the order of St. Romuald. For nearly a thousand years
countless pilgrims and travellers have rested within the hospitable
walls of Camaldoli, which now seem threatened with abandonment and
desolation. The Medici had long kept up intimate relations with the
Order. Cosimo and his brother were frequent visitors to the monastery
of the Angeli; and here, in the mother-convent of the Casentino,
Madonna Contessina had built a chapel to the Baptist. The connection
lasted long. Lorenzo’s son Giovanni dedicated some peaceful days in
his youth to contemplation and prayer here, as did many before and
after him who sat on the chair of St. Peter or were reckoned by the
Church among her saints—Gregory IX., Eugene IV., Paul III., Francis
of Assisi, and Charles Borromeo. More than four centuries ago, there
assembled here a select society composed of elements the most diverse
and yet congenial. Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici came to exchange the
noise and glare of the city for the delicious freshness and solitude
of the woods. Piero and Donato Acciaiuoli, Alamanno Rinuccini, whose
youthful studies had been directed by Poggio Bracciolini, and who had
been one of the best pupils of Argyropulos, Marco Parenti, and Antonio
Canigiani, accompanied the youths. Cristoforo Landino and his brother
Piero came up from their home in the valley to the cooler height of the
convent, where they also met Leon Battista Alberti and Ficino. Thus
many of the most eminent men of the Medicean circle assembled round
Lorenzo and Giuliano, who, notwithstanding their youth, were already
accustomed to take part in serious discourse. The abbot, Mariotto
Allegri, as host, was the centre of the circle; but it was Alberti who,
with his many-sided knowledge and easy command of it, gave the tone to
the evening’s discourse.

On the following morning, after the whole company had assisted at
mass in the church of the convent, they all moved along the pleasant
woodland path leading to the summit of the mountain ridge, past the
little group of dwellings and gardens, the place where, according to
the legend, the saint had a dream which led him to change his black
Benedictine robe for the white one which continued to be worn at
Camaldoli, as it is represented in Andrea Sacchi’s fine picture at the
Vatican. We know not whether the travellers reached the neighbouring
mountain ridge, the watershed of Italy, whence the eye looks down
on Romagna and takes in the wide sweep of the far-off Adriatic. The
narrator makes the company halt on the height near a spring, under the
shelter of a mighty beech; a tree which, defying the mountain storms,
overtops all other trees on the Apennines, whose brow it adorns here
in the midst of fine pasture lands. Here Leon Battista, again taking
the lead in the conversation, dilated on the good effects of retirement
and meditation on the mind of the statesman and the scholar, and showed
that only when the mind is set free from contact with the individual
does it become capable of embracing the whole. Then turning to the
two young men the speaker reminded them that their father’s failing
health would probably soon call them to the guidance of state affairs,
which, he said, were already in some degree entrusted to their care.
After a somewhat extravagant eulogium of Lorenzo’s qualities, his
courage, prudence, and moderation, Alberti continued to set forth how,
notwithstanding such qualities and the moderate bearing he had hitherto
displayed, quiet meditation or discourse held with a confidential
circle on the deepest questions of human nature could not but be
beneficial to the community. When the learned man thus adopted the
Platonic principle, according to which complete abstinence from worldly
pursuits brings our nature most surely to perfection, it would not
have been difficult for Lorenzo, who was already well acquainted with
this doctrine, to show that a man who practically applied and followed
this principle must necessarily be brought into contradiction with his
duties as a citizen; whereas the two phases of our nature—the active
and the contemplative life—not divided, but united and balancing each
other, lead to the true fulfilment of the purpose of existence.

From the objection put into the mouth of the young man and directed
against Landino’s own teaching, as well as from the praises bestowed
on Lorenzo’s conduct, it is clear that the date of the conversation
is shortly before the death of Piero de’ Medici, when the Pitti
transactions had given evidence of the prudence and talents of his
son. The visit to Camaldoli may have taken place earlier, but the
‘disputations,’ which are the actual conversations expanded and
embellished, were certainly not composed before 1470. In the discourses
of the three following days Alberti again took the lead, and expounded
the connection of the ‘Æneid’ with Platonic philosophy. What is here
said of the character of Virgil’s poetry, of the ancient wisdom
therein, which has become common property, of the poet’s knowledge
and reverence for antiquity, of the relation between the poetical
garniture and the more solid contents of the work, was probably drawn
from Landino’s own Virgilian studies, for the author of the book speaks
through the mouths of those to whom he attributes the conversations
held in the woods of Camaldoli. He dedicated his work to Federigo
of Montefeltro. If, as it seems, this dedication to the valiant and
accomplished prince of Urbino was made in 1472, the book has a certain
connection with the sad occurrences at Volterra, in which Lorenzo
de’ Medici’s action belied only too strongly the Platonic theory of

If Cristoforo Landino is ever mentioned nowadays, it is only on
account of his studies of Dante, which constitute his only value in
the eyes of posterity. The study of the ‘Divine Comedy’ went through
the most varied phases in Florence as elsewhere. On the petition of
divers citizens (see above, vol. i. p. 80) in 1373, fifty-two years
after Dante’s death, the Republic decreed the establishment of public
lectures on his great poem.[12] On Sunday, October 3, in the church of
Sto. Stefano, Giovanni Boccaccio began the lectures, the interruption
of which by his death shortly after was lamented by Francesco
Sacchetti. Messer Antonio, priest of Vado, and Filippo Villani
succeeded him. A mass of commentaries were composed almost immediately
after the poet’s own time, partly by his own friends. Numerous copies
of the poem were in circulation; that which was formerly in the library
of the convent of Sta. Croce, and is now in the Laurentiana, was
attributed to Filippo Villani. Most of these copies were faulty. ‘I am
trying,’ wrote Coluccio Salutati to Niccolò of Todi, at the beginning
of the fifteenth century,[13] ‘to get a correct copy of the work of our
divine Dante. Believe me, we possess nothing more sublime than these
three poems, nothing more richly adorned, nothing more carefully worked
out, nothing which penetrates further into the depths of knowledge.
What only comes to others in part this one man has mastered as a whole.
His moral precepts are sublime; he throws light on natural history and
theology, and his masterly handling of language and rhetoric is such
that it would be difficult to find equal beauty of style even in the
greatest writers. With him the laws, manners, tongues, the history of
all nations, shine like stars in the firmament with such majesty that
no one can equal him in this respect, far less surpass him. Wherefore
do I say all this? That my eagerness to obtain a correct text may cause
thee less astonishment.’

This enthusiasm for Dante—an enthusiasm which one cannot but feel
was less for the poet than for the man who had mastered more than
any other all the learning of his time—was, however, by no means
shared by all the learned men of the fifteenth century, whose
threshold Coluccio barely crossed. Niccolò Niccoli, by his attacks
on his great countryman, exposed himself to obloquy from which he
never recovered; though it must not be forgotten that the words in
which Niccoli calls Dante’s book reading for cobblers and bakers are
only found in a writing of Leonardo Bruni, who was just as excitable
as Niccoli himself. Niccoli’s rage seems to have been especially
excited by the unclassical Latin in Dante’s letters; but the reproach
which he brings against Dante, that he knew nothing of classical
literature, and drew all his information from monkish compendiums—a
reproach which, strangely enough, he also applies to Petrarca and
Boccaccio[14]—resembles other tokens of the pride of the humanistic
school too strongly to be seriously examined. The lecture given at
the end of 1430 by Francesco Filelfo against the censurers of Dante,
and the controversial treatise composed for the same object by Cino
Rinuccini, father of Alamanno, are sufficiently clear proofs how false
was the judgment of many. Filelfo himself declared, more than forty
years later, that he undertook the public exposition of the ‘Divine
Comedy’ of his own accord, and in deference to a general wish.[15]
About the close of the fourteenth century Filippo Villani wrote a
short life of Dante; a longer biography came out in 1436 written by
Leonardo Bruni; twenty years later he was followed by Gianozzo Manetti.
Not long after the latter, Gian Maria Filelfo, Francesco’s son, who had
many opportunities of acquiring information from the poet’s descendants
living in Verona, wrote a new biography which he dedicated to Pietro
Alighieri, and which the latter sent, at the end of 1467, to Piero de’
Medici and Tommaso Soderini.[16] The erection in Sta. Maria del Fiore
of a monument in the shape of the poet’s statue was decreed in 1465.
Ten years later, the picture painted by Domenico di Michelino was
placed in the north aisle of the church.[17] In literature the great
poet’s countrymen had wandered far away from the path which he had
pointed out; but they guarded his memory faithfully, and the beautiful
manuscripts which appeared about the middle of the fifteenth century,
shortly before the introduction of printing, prove how much his work
was held in honour.

In 1472 a German named Johann Numeister (Neumeister), and a native
of Fuligno, printed the ‘Divine Comedy’ for the first time in that
Umbrian city.[18] Other impressions at Mantua, Jesi, and other
places were followed in 1477 by the first edition at Venice, with a
commentary of the fourteenth century. At last, after Florence had
allowed nine editions to take precedence of her, the first Florentine
edition appeared in the summer of 1481, with the glosses of Cristoforo
Landino. A Silesian named Nicolaus (Niccolò di Lorenzo della Magna)
had the honour of presenting to the poet’s native city the text of his
work, accompanied by the commentary in smaller type, in a form highly
creditable to his still youthful art. The Magliabecchian library
possesses the copy, printed on parchment, which Landino presented to
the Signoria, with a speech which also appeared in print.[19] Rich
miniatures at the beginning, arabesque borders, a medallion portrait
of Dante, and on the binding, striped with the Florentine colours, red
and white, niello-work representing the lion and Hercules, the seal of
the commonwealth, with the lily-shield and that of the red cross, show
with what pretensions this edition came forth. By a decree of somewhat
tardy justice the Republic reinstated the exile of 1301 in his civil
rights and honours, and placed his statue, crowned with laurel, in the
baptistery of San Giovanni. In a Latin address Ficino set forth the
rejoicings of Florence at the restoration of his honour by the hands
of one of his fellow-citizens; and Benivieni celebrated in harmonious
terza rima the fulfilment of the prophecy in which the exile predicted
his future fame, and his ultimate return to his ungrateful city:

  With other voice forthwith, with other fleece,
  Poet will I return, and at my font
  Baptismal will I take the laurel crown.[20]

The Signoria showed itself grateful to Landino. It gave him a tower on
the ramparts of Borgo alia Collina, where he dwelt, and its possession
was confirmed to his descendants in 1563 by a sentence of the supreme
civil court of Florence, the Rota, when the magistrates of the Parte
Guelfa claimed it as public property. His work is not remarkable for
critical thoroughness and correctness, but for the commentary, which
had great influence on opinion at the time and long afterwards. Six if
not seven reissues in different places before the end of the century
show with what approval this edition was received. It encountered
formidable rivals, with respect to the text, in 1502, in the first
Aldine, and with respect to the commentary in 1544, in Alessandro
Vellutello’s work, which was soon followed by others; yet it retains
some value even now. While Landino was earning well-deserved fame
by this fruit of diligent study, the lectures in the cathedral on
the ‘Divine Comedy’ were entrusted, in 1483, to the preaching friar
Domenico da Corella, who had taken part in the council, and dedicated
his Latin poem on the life of the Virgin Theotokon to Piero de’ Medici
in 1468. Marsilio Ficino had long previously turned his attention to
Dante when he dedicated his translation of the ‘De Monarchia’ in 1467
to his friends Bernardo del Nero and Antonio Manetti. The latter, who
occupied himself much with copying old codices, is remembered among
students of Dante by his dialogue (between himself and Benivieni) on
the position, form, and extent of hell. Marsilio’s dedication states
that he had held much discourse with the two men named on the questions
raised by this political treatise, and that they were thereby led to
discuss the ‘Divina Commedia.’ As Dante treated in his poem of the
kingdom of the blessed, of the regions of the wretched, and of the
place where departed souls abide waiting for redemption, so in his book
on monarchy he treated of the realms of those who are still waiting
and hoping in this world. The perception, imperfect though it be, of
the spiritual connection between the great poem and its author’s other
works, shows a progress in the appreciation of Dante remarkable at the
time, and to this Cristoforo Landino had practically contributed.

Lorenzo’s great interest in the most sublime poet of the middle ages is
shown both by testimonies in his own writings and by a letter written
to him, April 13, 1476, by the above-named Antonio Manetti, then
governor of the small town of San Giovanni, in the Val d’Arno. This
letter[21] shows that Lorenzo had come to an understanding with the
Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, for the purpose of soliciting from
the senate of that Republic the return of Dante’s mortal remains from
Ravenna to Florence. ‘Magnificent Lord,’—thus the letter begins—‘I am
told that the Venetian ambassador has returned home. Remembering what
you once told me, as we returned from visiting him shortly after Matteo
Palmieri’s funeral, when we were near the house of Antonio Pucci, I
wish you would bring that matter to a conclusion. I know not what
greater pleasure I could have in my life than to witness the return of
those remains which the magnificent ambassador promised to obtain when
he went back to his own country; the more so as I am sure that, with
your greatness and magnanimity, you will do whatever is in your power
to give to the remains of such a man the reception they deserve, as to
sepulture and crown. Great acts are for the magnanimous; but what could
be greater than this? I commend myself to your Magnificence. May the
Lord be with you.’

Twice already, in 1396 and 1426, when the Polenta family, which had
offered hospitality to the exiled poet, was still reigning at Ravenna,
the Florentines had tried to get back his remains. But both times they
failed; and they had no better luck in 1476, nor again under the reign
of Leo X., when Michael Angelo offered to raise the monument to his
great countryman, whom he resembled in more respects than one. Seven
years after the date of Antonio Manetti’s letter, Bernardo Bembo, when
Podestà at Ravenna, caused Dante’s sepulchre to be restored. He had
been too rash in the promise given to Lorenzo de’ Medici, but he did
all that lay in his power to honour the memory of the father of Italian



AN influence hardly less important than that of the philosophers and
grammarians was exercised on Lorenzo and his epoch by the literary
innovators who, with some infusion of classic learning, were not so
pedantic as the early humanists, while they bore the impress of the
teaching of the preceding century. The Medici were to these men of
letters, just as much as they were to the philosophers, the centre to
which their several rays converged, and Lorenzo’s name is inseparable
from the names of several among them. One in this brilliant circle
holds a different position from the rest. He took as a poet the part
which Landino took as a critic in the revival of the study of Dante.
Matteo Palmieri holds a place by himself. The first glance into his
great poem, the ‘City of Life,’ (‘Città di Vita’) shows it to be an
imitation of the ‘Divine Comedy;’ but only in the outward form. It is
a philosophical work, the object of which is to describe and correct
the problems and abuses of citizen life. It contains no real poetry,
but has the merit of popularising the doctrines of moral philosophy in
language somewhat lifeless, indeed, yet expressive, comparatively pure,
and free from the philological follies of the age. The book became
known only within a narrow circle. Theological criticism discovered in
it the heretical doctrine of the transmigration of souls, which indeed
Alamanno Rinuccini avowed without scruple in his funeral oration on
the poet, and the work was suppressed. In later years the author wrote
an unfinished history of the world, and a life of the grand seneschal
Nicola Acciaiuolo. He had been a pupil of Traversari and Marsuppini,
had held important offices of state, and after fulfilling several
embassies with honour, died at a ripe age in 1475.[22]

While this faint echo of Dante was addressing itself to the higher
classes, and proving how large was the retrogression from the beginning
of the fourteenth to the middle of the fifteenth century, the popular
poetry, of which the religious side has been already noticed, began to
sound a natural strain in a lighter style. Burlesque, which belonged
to the character of the people, was allowed considerable play. The
sonnets that came forth from the barber’s shop of Domenico, called
‘Burchiello,’ in the very heart of old Florence, the Calimala, and
the market, enjoy a reputation that must be taken on trust. They were
chiefly experiments in the Florentine vulgar tongue—full of allusions
and trivialities; but occasionally they take a flight which may serve
to throw light on social and political matters, if all the writings
attributed to this man, who died at Rome in 1448, are really by him.
Another burlesque poet, Matteo Franco, whom we shall meet again,
belonged to Lorenzo de’ Medici’s household, and used to hold with other
poets, particularly with Luigi Pulci, satirical and not always very
seemly sham-fights as a social pastime. But far more important for
this period was the rise of a new style which was destined to give to
the sixteenth century its special poetic character. Of the brothers
Pulci, scions of an old family somewhat reduced in circumstances, one,
Bernardo, tried his hand both as an original writer and a translator
of eclogues; the two others are among the cultivators of the poetry
of chivalry, which began its course as a branch of literature under
their auspices. Both Luca and Luigi belong to the immediate Medicean
circle. Luca Pulci, the eldest brother, born at Florence in 1431, is
commonly designated as the author of the poem on Lorenzo de’ Medici’s
tournament, which only retains a place in literature because it records
an event in the life of a celebrated man. But the assumption of this
authorship is by no means certain, for the first edition bears the name
of Luigi Pulci, whose literary fame it would not enhance. That Luca
was intimate with the young Medici is shown by the fact that at their
desire he began the poem ‘Ciriffo Calvaneo,’ which two generations
later was partially continued by Bernardo Giambullari for another
Lorenzo, grandson of the Magnificent. It is a poetical version of a
popular romance of chivalry, which in its Italian form bears the title
of the ‘Povero Avveduto,’ and relates the battles and adventures of the
time of King Louis d’Outre-mer of France, in 921-954.[23] Luca Pulci,
after some unlucky banking affairs at Rome and Florence, died in 1470,
in the debtors’ prison of the Stinche, and left to his brothers the
burden of a large family. He was, as we have said, the eldest of the
brothers; but it is probable that his ‘Ciriffo’ was preceded by Luigi’s
‘Morgante.’ We are led to assume this by the fact that Luigi chose a
far better subject.[24] His poem must have been written in and after
1460, and the cantos must have followed close upon each other. We learn
from the author himself that its original conception was due in part to
Lorenzo’s mother. In a letter addressed by him to Lorenzo from Fuligno,
December 4, 1470, he held out prospects of a new heroic poem.[25] That
a serious and pious woman like Madonna Lucrezia should be patroness
of a work more or less offensive in a religious point of view may be
matter of surprise. But after making allowance for the tendencies of
the time, which saw no harm in a mixture of religion and burlesque,
and, amid the strictest devotional practices, treated questions of
faith with incredible unceremoniousness, it must be remembered that
this lady was wont for the sake of genius to judge leniently many
things in literature and in life that were questionable. Thus she
remained a supporter of Angelo Poliziano after he had fallen into
disgrace with her daughter-in-law, and presented him with her religious
poems when the unfavourable rumours as to his faith and morals could be
no secret to her. But Luigi Pulci, the free-thinker and loose mocker,
who mixed up quotations from St. John’s Gospel with open expressions
of unbelief, found in her an active and zealous friend till her life’s

The ‘Morgante Maggiore’ was the beginning of the romantic epopee,
which successfully laid hold of the cycle of Carolingian legends that
had been rendered accessible to the Italian nation by the ‘Chronicle’
of Turpin and the book of the ‘Reali di Francia.’ This choice of a
subject was all the happier because Florence attributed her restoration
to Charlemagne, as may be read carved in stone in the church of the
Apostles. The style of the work is original. Amid all its prodigies
the old knightly romance is serious and full of faith. Christianity
is always the foil to the chivalry which sprang from it, and which
is animated by its spirit. ‘Morgante’ (the story takes its name from
the giant who accomplishes his strange exploits) is not a satire on
chivalry, but it is so saturated with burlesque that it assumes a very
peculiar character. Neither is it a denial of Christianity, from which,
on the contrary, it derives here and there a deeply religious tone;
but it is Christianity struggling with scepticism and denial, so that
the faith of the Church and the people is driven into the background.
In this respect ‘Morgante’ is a true mirror of the time. With its
perfect command of the subject, bound down to no poetical rules or
precedents, it is a mixture of seriousness and irony, Christianity and
unbelief, Biblical texts and profane witticisms. It is full of the
most glaring contrasts of sound common-sense and folly, of elegance
and coarseness, of lofty intellectual flights and mere buffoonery.
There is in this poem more richness of imagination and spontaneity
than perhaps in any other work before the appearance of the ‘Orlando
Furioso;’ passages occur full of the deepest pathos, and showing a
feeling that belongs only to a real poet—passages too often followed
by a grotesqueness that tends to destroy their effect. The qualities
here united in very unequal degrees were developed and discriminated by
later poets. The importance of Luigi Pulci lies less in his poem, which
falls short of perfection in every way, than in the fact that his work
contains the germs of the romantic epopee in all its various branches.
In considering that the two parent poems of chivalry in Italian, the
‘Morgante’ and ‘Ciriffo,’ originated in the Medicean house, let it
be remembered how much this branch of poetry, up to the ‘Jerusalem
Delivered,’ with which it terminates, was connected with that Court
life which is so constantly represented in its varied productions.
From the household of Cosimo, Piero, and Lorenzo de’ Medici, who at
the highest pinnacle of their fame did not abandon the simplicity and
comfort of free citizen life, to the ceremonious Court of Alfonso of
Este, is certainly a very long step. Though the Pulci did not go so
far as to weave into their ottava rima a genealogy of their patrons
reaching back to demigods, still theirs was a kind of poetry destined
to enliven stately banquets.

Luigi Pulci’s intimacy with Lorenzo is shown by his oft-quoted letters,
which throw some side-lights on the various relations between patron
and client, and on the commissions, rather political than literary,
entrusted to the latter. The author of ‘Morgante’ was sincerely
attached to his young patron. When the latter was going to Southern
Italy in 1466, before the Neroni and Pitti conspiracy, Pulci wrote to
him from the convent of Alverina:[26] ‘Dost thou really mean to leave
me buried in the snow among these woods, lonely and comfortless, while
thou goest to Rome? Is it really my fate that, whatever thou mayest
think of me, as the climax of my ill-luck, I must never mount a horse
by thy side? Am I to come to that only when I am an old man? How often
have we talked about Rome, and now shall I not accompany thee?—can it
be because I should increase the expenses of the journey? Let not that
trouble thee; amid all my troubles I will yet do thee credit. A horse
is all I ask of thee; for I shall find so many friends yonder, and
will manage so well, that I will not be a burthen to thee, as perhaps
thou fearest. Truly thou art wrong to pass me by, not to mention that
it would hurt me more than anything in this world. Do not treat me as
if I were old iron, for I shall soon be well if thou carest for me.’
And Lorenzo really did care for him. Two years later Pulci wrote to
him from Pisa: ‘If thou dost not wish people to believe or know that
I am thy friend, and have some influence with thee, placard it on the
walls—at thine own expense, of course; as for some time past having
had no money to pay away, I have been paying with thy name instead.
Wherever I show myself people whisper, “That is Lorenzo’s great
friend.”’ That Pulci’s money matters were not in brilliant order we
have already seen. His brother’s business misfortunes brought him into
great difficulties. ‘Never yet have I made a plan,’ he wrote to Lorenzo
after Luca’s failure, ‘that Fate did not destroy in an hour what I had
taken a year to build up. I must have come into the world like hares
and other poor animals, doomed to be the prey of the huntsman. It is
my fate to love thee, and to be very little in thy company.’ That the
Medicean bank helped him out, but that the loans were very unimportant
and notorious besides, we learn from a petition dated from his estate
at Mugello, May 14, 1479, to the effect that Lorenzo would grant him
a longer delay for the repayment of a hundred gold florins. He was
evidently included in the measures which were rendered necessary by
the bad state of the Medicean finances at that time. Pulci, who among
others was very intimate with the Sanseverini, seems to have been
employed by Lorenzo especially at Naples, Bologna, and Milan, both
before and after this period. The last of the poet’s letters known to
us, written from Verona, August 28, 1484, shows him to us in the suite
of Roberto da Sanseverino and his son Fracasso, who were on their way
to Venice. He died in Padua shortly after, but nothing is known about
his death.[27]

Luigi Pulci was about seventeen years older than his princely friend
Lorenzo de’ Medici, while the man who entered into the closest and
most productive intellectual relations with Lorenzo was a few years
his junior. In 1464 a boy of ten came to Florence to seek maintenance
and instruction in the house of some not very wealthy relatives. He
had been rendered fatherless by one of those tragedies which bring
to light and stigmatise the wild passions and party hatred that in
the Tuscan communes of the fifteenth century mocked at justice, and
which, though so fearful in punishment, was so powerless for the
protection of the citizens. Benedetto Ambrogini of Montepulciano, a
jurist of a not undistinguished family, who had held civil and judicial
offices at home and abroad, had in the previous year applied to Piero
de’ Medici[28] for protection against the bloodthirsty enmity of
fellow-citizens and neighbours, to which he soon after fell a victim,
leaving unprovided a widow with five children, of whom the above-named
boy was the eldest.[29] Angelo, who took from his birthplace the
name of Poliziano, early became acquainted with the serious side of
life; for although as a child he showed brilliant talents and made
rapid progress, he was in danger of being compelled to seek a living
as assistant in a shop, and of renouncing the studies to which he
was ardently devoted. At fifteen he expressed this tormenting dread
in a Latin poem addressed to the young but celebrated philologer,
Bartolommeo Fonte, who at that time assisted him with guidance and
encouragement.[30] In the year 1469-70 he studied at the Florentine
university, and at seventeen he wrote Greek epigrams. He had the
privilege of listening to the men who kept alive the traditions of
the university’s best days, Argyropulos and Andronikos Kallistos,
Landino and Ficino. That polite literature attracted him more than
philosophical lectures he declares himself, saying that he had done
with philosophy as dogs with the Nile: one drink, and then away!
‘Nature and youth drew me to Homer, and with all the zeal and industry
of which I was capable I set myself to translate him into Latin verse.’
In one of the earliest, if not the very earliest, of his Latin poems,
the distichs addressed to Lorenzo de’ Medici in commendation of his
master Kallistos, he sets forth how the latter was reading the Trojan
war in Argive verse. In this poem he alludes to the time when he hopes
to sing the deeds of Lorenzo, then limited to youthful exercises,
and his adroit conduct in the matter of the Pitti conspiracy, which
Poliziano commemorates in a later elegy.[31]

It must have been about 1470 that he began to translate the ‘Iliad.’
Carlo Marsuppini had translated the first book; Angelo began with the
second. It was a great undertaking for a young man. A Latin Homer had
been the _in votis_ up to that time; and now the work was begun by
one who had but just entered the world and was still unknown, but who
displayed an ease and grace of diction, melodiousness and richness
of versification, that caused general surprise. This work and the
admiration it excited opened the Medicean house to the young poet. It
was probably Ficino who recommended the ‘Homeric youth’ to Lorenzo.
The young head of the house, who had only become independent the year
before, took him up; and whatever changes outward and inward occurred
in Lorenzo’s life, the man who owed his brilliant endowments to
Heaven, and their early and happy recognition to him kept faithful;
he stood beside his patron’s death-bed and ere long followed him to
the tomb. The dedication of the second book contains praises of the
generous protector—praises lavish according to custom, but not untrue
if the custom and the glory with which the young ruler of Florence
had surrounded himself be taken into consideration.[32] A troop of
panegyrists followed, Marsilio Ficino at their head. There was no lack
of exaggeration. The head of the Platonists raised a flattering doubt
whether any one could discover if the Greek or the Latin text of this
Iliad was the original; another asked who had the greatest merit, he
who had given occasion for the undertaking, or he who had accomplished
it. Meanwhile the translator went on with his work; and when, two years
after the completion of the second book, he presented the third to his
patron, he expressed a hope that after finishing the whole he might
begin an epic poem on a subject taken from Lorenzo’s own life, the
war of Volterra. The ‘Iliad’ was never finished, the epic was never
written. Lorenzo, who knew the world much better than did Angelo,
probably objected to the glorification of an expedition of questionable
prowess and of unquestionable barbarity. In like manner, when his son
Leo was raised to the cardinalate, he disapproved of the eulogium which
Poliziano addressed to the Pope. When Poliziano described the most
important and dramatic event of his patron’s life, the conspiracy of
the Pazzi, it was in prose.

The man who had received the young poet into his house and enabled
him to give all his time to study was doubtless also the cause of
his sending a specimen of his work to Cardinal Ammanati, who kept up
such intimate relations with the Medici. Poliziano’s address to this
Prince of the Church[33] was modest. He wrote that he was doing like
the eagle, which carries its young as soon as they are out of the
shell into the light of the rising sun, that their eyes may become
accustomed to its splendour. The cardinal, in whom survived the
humanistic tradition of the days of Pius II., returns him phrase for
phrase without offending against truth. The verses were wonderfully
harmonious for so young a writer; the enterprise was useful as an
introduction to great things. But if Homer could be asked whether he
wished to be turned into Latin, he feared that the old poet, feeling
the impossibility of a perfect rendering, would prefer to remain a
citizen of Kolophon rather than become a Florentine, and would consider
the pallium a more suitable vesture than the toga. In 1473, our poet
had addressed some verses full of sonorous but very ordinary flattery
to the spendthrift Cardinal of San Sisto, Pietro Riario, on the
occasion of his appointment to the archbishopric of Florence. Instead
of the expected present, he was put off with fine speeches, and, after
the fashion of poor poets, complained bitterly.[34]

About this time, also, he was rewarded with nothing but words by
another cardinal, a very different man from Riario. He must have said
to himself that the days of Nicholas V. were over, although Sixtus IV.
hardly yielded to him in his zeal for collecting books. He never seems
to have become acquainted with the Pope, and the disagreement which
gradually arose between the latter and Poliziano’s protector deprived
him of all opportunity of doing so. Four books of the translation
of Homer are in existence;[35] whether the work proceeded further
is uncertain. It was twice interrupted, and the second interruption
decided its fate. Poliziano may, in the progress of his studies, have
come round to the views of the Cardinal of Pavia, and have doubted
whether a Latinity which strove after the elegance of the Augustan age
was suited to the old Greek epic.

The first short interruption was a journey to Mantua with Cardinal
Francesco da Gonzaga, in August 1472. The intimate relations between
the Gonzaga and the Medici, which corresponded to those between the
Marquis Lodovico and the city of Florence, have been already spoken
of. Francesco took the youthful poet with him from the Medici house.
Poliziano, then aged eighteen, had already given proof of uncommon
talent on the occasion of a visit to his native city, where his
arrival was celebrated with brilliant festivities. Here originated
the drama of ‘Orpheus,’ which made an epoch in literature, less by
its actual merit than as the first example of a profane drama in the
Italian tongue. Mysteries had long been popular; the modern drama,
even when treating modern historical subjects, still more when, as in
the works of Alberti and Gregorio Correr, it was directly modelled on
the antique, had always adhered to the Latin language. In a letter to
one of the cardinal’s suite, Messer Carlo Canale (who was, it may be
mentioned, the second or third husband of the mother of Cesare and
Lucrezia Borgia), the author states that ‘Orpheus’ was composed in two
days, amid constant noisy distractions, and that it was written in the
vulgar tongue in order to be more intelligible to the hearers—‘an
imperfect work, fitted to bring its father shame rather than honour,
and worthy of the fate prepared by the Lacedæmonians for children born
weakly or crippled.’ This ‘favola’ is not a drama; it is a succession
of lyrical pieces, with an ode inserted in Latin Sapphics, in praise
of the cardinal, which Baccio Ugolini, another member of the Medicean
circle and of Landino’s school, sang to the lyre in the character of

The Mantuan journey was a short episode. Some smaller Latin poems,
including the beautiful and pathetic elegy on the death of Albiera
degli Albizzi, the charming bride of Sigismondo della Stufa, in 1473,
kept Poliziano in the same mood, and cannot fairly be considered as
interruptions to his Homeric work. A longer interruption was caused by
Giuliano de’ Medici’s tournament, which was a challenge to Angelo to
write the fairest flower in his poetic garland.[37] He himself alludes
to this interruption in the seventh stanza of the ‘Giostra:’

  E se qual fu la fama, il ver rimbomba,
    Che d’Hecuba la figlia, o sacro Achille,
    Poi che ‘l corpo lasciasti entro la tomba,
    T’accenda ancor d’amorose faville,
    Lascia un poco tacer tua maggior tromba,
    Ch’io fo squillar per l’italice ville.
    E tempra tu la cetra a’ nuovi carmi,
    Mentr’io canto l’amor di Giulio e l’armi.

The subject in itself is poor. The author must have felt this, even
had he not been warned by Luca Pulci’s verses on the tournament of
Lorenzo. The ‘Stanzas’—the title by which Poliziano’s poem is best
known—are counted among the gems of Italian literature. They were the
first of the kind expressing real melody without artificiality, being
remarkable for their artistic flow and carefulness of composition. But
for a few harsh and ignoble expressions, they have never since been
surpassed in point of form, though Ariosto may have more variety and
freedom of movement, and Tasso more harmony. But how do these beautiful
stanzas of ottava rima treat their subject? In the first book it is
left altogether out of sight. The tournament gives place to mythology,
the Piazza Sta. Croce to the gardens and palace of Venus. All the
flowers and trees of the most highly-favoured climates, all animals of
the chase and the peaceful park, the whole of Olympus, are introduced;
reminiscences of all the classic poets from Lucretius to Claudian, even
to the Christian singers, wanderings of an exuberant fancy through the
realms of beauty and love,—all these combine and disport themselves in
such perfect freedom, that it matters not whether they have anything
to do with the subject or not. At the beginning of the second book
the poet seems at last to bethink himself that he intended to sing
the praises of a Medici. He therefore makes Cupid relate to Venus the
glories of the Tuscan race, and begins with the preparations for great
deeds which such vast mythological machinery demands. The youth is
awakened and armed, but not without assistance from Olympus. The poem
breaks off abruptly, and in its closing stanzas there gleams a sad
presentiment of the cruel fate which was so soon to put an end to a
life apparently destined to glory and happiness, and with it to a work
already highly valued as a fragment, and which gave the tone to the
poetry of the age just beginning. Who shall say whether it was not well
for the poem that it remained a fragment? for the disproportion between
the unimportance of the subject and the pomp of the treatment might
have come out too strikingly had it been continued. This poem, intended
to celebrate the acts of Giuliano, is addressed to his brother. The
dedicatory stanza speaks of Lorenzo without circumlocution as the ruler
of Florence:

  High-born Lorenzo, laurel[38] in whose shade
  Thy Florence rests nor fears the lowering storm,
  Nor threatening signs in heaven’s high front displayed,
  Nor Jove’s dread anger in its fiercest form;
  O to the trembling Muse afford thine aid—
  The Muse that courts thee timorous and forlorn,
  Lives in the shadow of thy prosperous tree,
  And bounds her every fond desire to thee.[39]

Angelo Poliziano continued to write Latin verses. His epigrams, odes,
and elegies are valuable both as conveying a knowledge of the persons
and tendencies of a memorable period, and as proofs of a versatility
and classical spirit to be found in none of his contemporaries and in
few subsequent writers. The philologers of the fifteenth century wrote
Latin verses with ease; but the only poet among them is Poliziano.
His works abound in imitations of all kinds, as do those of the later
Roman poets. But Poliziano feels, thinks, and writes like a Roman; if
not like a poet of the Augustan age, at least like one of the time
of Statius, whom he resembles in more ways than one, having written
‘Sylvæ’ like him. He is more classical than some of those who are
included in the ranks of the poets of antiquity.

A peculiar grace, fulness of thought, and great variety, give to his
poems a charm not often found in modern Latin verses, which seldom
display a living individuality. To descriptions of modern life and
modern localities, whose very names seem unsuitable to a classic
sphere, he can give a native classical colouring, without any apparent
effort, yet with the most consummate art. Most remarkable among his
writings, by its grace and naturalness and an intermingling of joy and
sadness, is the elegy on a bunch of violets given him by a beloved
hand; a poem which, in the sixteenth century and in our own, has been
an object of study to the choice spirits who wish to acquire pure
classic inspiration in a modern form.[40] Poliziano here challenges a
comparison with Lorenzo de’ Medici, who treated the same subject in
two of his loveliest sonnets. The ‘Sylvæ,’ poems of Angelo’s later
years, from 1482 to 1486, added to his reputation, though in happy
turns of thought and warmth of feeling they are inferior to many of
his smaller pieces. They are four poems in heroic metre, prolusions
to his philological lectures at the Florence University, to a chair
in which he was appointed on December 23, 1485, the degree of Doctor
of Common Law being conferred on him by Archbishop Rinaldo Orsini at
his palace, in the presence of Lorenzo’s son Piero.[41] The first of
these poems,[42] ‘Manto’ (the name of the Theban prophetess, which was
assumed by the Italian city founded by her son), treats of Virgil, his
works, his place in literature, his importance for all time.

As the first of the ‘Sylvæ’ was intended as an introduction to Virgil’s
‘Bucolics,’ so the second, ‘Rusticus,’ was to serve the same purpose
for the ‘Georgics,’ and for the works and times of Hesiod. The third,
‘Ambra,’ took its name from the Medicean Poggio a Cajano, but the name
has little connection with the poem, which refers to localities only
at its close, and is devoted to an analysis of Homeric plays regarded
from a pseudo-Herodotean and pseudo-Plutarchian point of view. The last
and longest of the ‘Sylvæ,’ bearing the strange title of ‘Nutricia:
the Reward of the Nursing-mother,’ describes the origin, progress, and
influence of the poetry and the poetics of classical times, passes
on to the author of the ‘Divine Comedy,’ and ends by singing the
praises of Cosimo de’ Medici and his successors. The abundance and
versatility of Lorenzo’s talents were perhaps never more truly and
happily expressed than in the closing verses of this poem; and when the
praises of living and powerful men appear in such a setting as this, we
may accept them without complaining. After describing his labours in
the field of sentimental poetry, to which belong the greater part of
Lorenzo’s earlier poems, his other poetical productions and his whole
intellectual character are thus spoken of:—

  Non vacat argutosque sales, Satyraque bibaces
  Descriptos memorare senes, non carmina festis
  Excipienda choris, querulasve animantia chordas.
  Idem etiam tacitæ referens pastoria vitæ
  Otia, et urbanos thyrso extimulante labores,
  Mox fugis in cœlum, non seu per lubrica nisus
  Extremamque boni gaudes contingere metam.
  Quodque alii studiumque vocant, durumque laborem,
  Hic tibi ludus erit, fessus civilibus actis,
  Huc is emeritas acuens ad carmina vires.
  Felix ingenio, felix cui pectore tantas
  Instaurare vices, cui fas tam magna capaci
  Alternare animo, et varias ita nectere curas.

Poliziano wrote the ‘Nutricia’ in October 1486, at the villa of
Fiesole. In the following verses he prophesied of the times to come and
the future greatness of his pupil, Piero, if the latter, fulfilling
the bright promise of his youth, should walk in the footsteps of his

  It jam pene prior, sic, ô sic pergat, et ipsum
  Me superet majore gradu, longeque relinquat
  Protinus, et dulci potius plaudatur alumno,
  Bisque mei victor illo celebrentur honores.

A merciful fate spared the poet from witnessing the failure of hopes
the fulfilment of which had already become very doubtful when he was
prematurely called away. Anyone versed in the history of those days who
may now climb the pleasant heights of Fiesole, which new buildings
and roads have altered but not transformed, will think with interest
of Angelo’s abode here in the country-house of the Medici, which he
describes in a letter to Marsilio Ficino. ‘If the summer heat oppress
thee at Careggi, the cooler air of Fiesole will be pleasant to thee.
We have plenty of water between the slopes of the hill, and while
gentle winds constantly refresh us, the glare of the sun troubles us
little. During the ascent to the villa it appears enclosed in trees,
but the spot, when reached, commands an extensive view as far as the
town. The neighbourhood is thickly inhabited, yet I find here the quiet
which suits me. But I will tempt thee with yet another attraction.
Pico sometimes wanders beyond the limits of his own grounds, breaks
in unexpectedly upon my solitude, and carries me away from my shady
gardens to his evening meal. You know how things are there; no
superfluities, but everything as it should be, and with the spice of
his conversation. But thou must be my guest; with me thou shalt find
as good a table and perhaps better wine, for Pico and I are rivals in
respect to wine.’[43]

The ‘Sylvæ’ are dedicated to three young men belonging to the
Medicean circle and one who stood outside it. Lorenzo—the son of
Pier Francesco de’ Medici, grandson of Cosimo’s brother—whose name
stands at the beginning of ‘Manto,’ was at that time on friendly
terms with the members of the elder branch of his race. He afterwards
became estranged from them; a change the effects of which did not
cease when his posterity had entered upon the dominion of Florence,
and the last remaining descendant of Cosimo’s line sat on the throne
of France. Gifted with poetical talents, and no unworthy rival of
his more famous relatives, the younger Lorenzo was a friend of
Poliziano’s, who dedicated to him among other things a description
of the _villeggiatura_ at Poggio a Cajano. ‘Rusticus’ was intended
for Jacopo Salviati, who, when these verses were written, in 1483,
had been designated as Lorenzo’s son-in-law; so that Poliziano, who
had first sung the praises of the unlucky Archbishop of Pisa and then
openly insulted him with extravagant accusations, passed lightly over
the troublesome past. ‘Ambra’ was sent to Lorenzo Tornabuoni, son of
Giovanni, and for a time a pupil, together with Piero de’ Medici, of
our poet, who in one of his letters praised his intellectual gifts and
knowledge of classical literature. He was a faithful adherent of his
relatives, not only in prosperity but also in adversity, which fell on
him even more heavily than on them. In the days of Savonarola he was
accused of taking part in a conspiracy in favour of the exiles, and,
with Niccolò Ridolfi, the father of Lorenzo’s son-in-law, suffered on
the scaffold in 1497, at the age of thirty-two, a victim to mob-law.
The last of these poems, ‘Nutricia,’ was dedicated, in 1491, several
years after its composition, to the Cardinal of Sant’Anastasia, Antonio
Pallavicino Gentile of Genoa, who had great influence in state affairs
under Innocent VIII. and Alexander VI., and took much interest in
literature and literary men. At the close of the dedication Poliziano
gratefully alludes to the cardinal’s efforts to further his cause with
the Pope.

As we have said, the ‘Sylvæ’ were prolegomena to lectures on
literature. To a cycle of another kind, to lectures given at Florence
in 1483 on the Aristotelian philosophy, Poliziano composed a prose
introduction, probably the strangest ever heard at any university.[44]
The very title—‘Lamia’ (the Witch)—sounds strange, and we almost
suspect a joke, but find that the author is in earnest. The beginning
of this address to his students is highly characteristic. ‘Have you
ever heard tell of witches? When I was a little boy my grandmother
used to tell me about the witches in the neighbouring wood, who eat up
naughty children. Fancy what an image of terror a witch was to me in
those days! In the neighbourhood of my little villa at Fiesole there is
a little brook, hidden by the shadow of the hill-side, and the women of
the place who go there to draw water say that it is a place of meeting
for the witches. But what is a witch? Plutarch of Chæronea, who was
as grave as he was learned, relates that the witches have artificial
eyes which they can put in and take out at their pleasure, just as
weak-sighted old people do with their spectacles, which they stick on
their noses when they want to look carefully at something and then put
back into the case; or as others do with their false teeth, which they
lay aside with their clothes when they go to bed;—not to mention your
helpmeets, ye married men, with their bought braids and curls. If a
witch desires to take a walk she puts in her eyes, and wanders through
streets and alleys, squares and markets, churches and offices, taverns
and baths, looks at everything, thrusts her nose into everything,
meddles with everything, let a man do what he may. She has the eyes
of an owl and a spy, like the old maid in Plautus. She can find out a
grain of sand, and bury herself in the narrowest cranny. When she gets
home, as soon as she reaches the threshold, she takes out her eyes and
puts them in her pocket. Out of doors she has eyes like a lynx, at home
she is blind. You ask what she does then? She sits spinning yarn, and
humming a little song from time to time. Have you Florentines never
known such witches, who know nothing of their own business, but are
always busy about other people’s? No? Yet there are many of them in all
cities, even here in yours. But they go about in disguise—you take
them for men and women, but they are witches. Once it befell that some
of them, happening to see me, stood still, and looked at me curiously,
as those desirous to buy are wont to do. They whispered to each other,
with uncouth gestures, “That is Poliziano—that is the rhymester who
has suddenly dressed himself up as a philosopher,” and then they
hurried away like wasps robbed of their sting. What they meant by their
discourse is not clear to me; whether it displeases them that a man
should be a philosopher, which, however, I am not, or that I venture
to play the philosopher without having the material to do so. Let us
now see what sort of a creature it is that men call a philosopher. You
will soon perceive that I do not belong to the species. I say this not
because I think that you believe it, but that no one may take it into
his head to believe it. Not that I should be ashamed of the name, if it
agreed with the facts, but because I prefer to keep free from titles
which are not due to me:

  Ne si forte suas repetitum venerit olim
  Grex avium plumas, moveat cornicula risum.

This therefore is the first point. The second is, whether the condition
of a philosopher is bad. When I have proved the contrary I will speak
to you briefly of myself and the subject of my lectures.’ After this
introduction follows a sketch of the course of Grecian philosophy, and
an exposition of the work of the later schools of thought.

The man who raised to such a height the poetry of his native tongue,
and the idiom from which it sprang, was deeply interested in popular
poetry. He went hand in hand with his patron and friend in efforts
to bring back language and literature ‘from the constraint of false
rules to truth and nature.’ Both found the popular minstrelsy in the
peculiar shape it retains to the present day, and differing completely
in tone from the songs of other lands. In the _rispetti_ the ottava
rima predominates, treated freely as it was in Boccaccio’s days for
epic poetry. Even the sentimental pieces are epigrammatically pointed,
and full of antitheses, which give an impression of artificiality and
imitation of the antique, more especially in southern Tuscany and the
Roman district. They are not narratives, nor do they develope a state
of mind, but they vividly describe momentary emotion. Without making
up a whole history with such little songs, like Pulci and Lorenzo
de’ Medici, Poliziano composed a series of _rispetti_ describing joy
and sorrow, accepted and especially despised love. They are partly
in dialogue, frequently in a natural easy style, which reminds us of
improvisations, more tender in expression, more flexible in diction
than the two writers above mentioned, who not unfrequently betray that
they are mocking at their own work. Other similar songs, but without
internal connection, display a versatility resulting naturally from
the way in which they originated. These fugitive poems grew within the
Medicean circle, products of social intercourse in the villa and in
evening walks in the garden; or, like the dance-songs (_ballate_), of
which Poliziano wrote a great number, they were sung with music in the
public squares. In short, they belonged to the life of the people who
had furnished models for the rhymes composed for them by the poets of
quality, with greater refinement, and not always without a secondary
object in view.

Poliziano’s versatility is wonderfully shown in the labours he
undertook in the field of classical philology while thus wandering
through the woods of poetry. He was one of the first to establish
the true principles of textual criticism; at the request of Innocent
VIII. he translated Herodian’s Roman history into Latin,[45] and made
the writings of Hippocrates and Galen accessible to those of his
countrymen who were not acquainted with Greek. On the latter occasion
he claimed the assistance of the learned doctor Pietro Leoni, who
was then lecturing in Padua, to secure the correct rendering of the
medical terms.[46] The most talented poet of the fifteenth century
was also the philologer who, while equal to others in knowledge of
antiquity, represents its spirit with more truth and originality. In
trying to rival the classical letter-writers, Poliziano followed a
fashion that had influenced statesmen and men of learning from Petrarca
downwards. He left a mass of epistolary testimony to the character
of his age, the value of which must not be lightly estimated, though
it may not always answer the expectations raised by the names. Like
Ficino and others, Poliziano had arranged his Latin correspondence for
publication, and wrote a dedication to Piero de’ Medici, when death
cut short his career.[47] More interesting to us than the generality
of these letters, which nevertheless contain valuable matter, are his
confidential letters in the vulgar tongue, not meant for publication.
Even this highly gifted man was not free from the bad habit of the
learned men of the fifteenth century—the intermixture of Latin phrases
with Italian when the subject gave no occasion for it.



FOR many of his contemporaries Lorenzo de’ Medici was the frequent
subject of verse, especially Latin verse, which the complimentary
art of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries preferred as the more
dignified, even after Italian poetry had secured a position by
considerable achievements. Many of these poetical productions have
been rescued from oblivion only to sink back again, unless they
contribute to the historical knowledge of the period. Their literary
worth consists merely in a talent for form which was surpassed by most
of the Latinists of the following century. Fortunately the court-poet
of the Medici was Poliziano. Many of his epigrams are addressed to
Lorenzo, and the elegance of the form as well as the warmth of feeling
which breathes through all he wrote about his patron, diminishes that
impression of servility which is inseparable from this kind of poetry.
Praise of his discretion and foresight, of his words and deeds—wishes
that he may attain the age of Nestor, as he already possesses his
wisdom—thanks for favour granted, and offers of future service, are
the themes of verse, as well as the merits of a swift runner, of a
Spanish hound, of a tree before the Medicean house, supposed to be
dead, but which had bloomed again, and of the brook of Ambra. During
Giuliano’s lifetime, the concord between the two brothers was the
object of praise; they were called Castor and Pollux, Agamemnon and
Menelaus. Angelo wrote an agreeable love-poem of some length on the
name of Giuliano. He thoroughly belonged to the Medicean household. He
was still young when Lorenzo entrusted to him the education of his son
Piero; but before the latter was eight years old dissensions occurred
which caused the poet-pedagogue many an hour of discomfort.

In the summer of 1478, when war and sickness made a residence in
Florence undesirable, Lorenzo, as already stated, sent his wife and
children to Pistoja, where they were hospitably received in the house
of Andrea Panciatichi, the head of an influential family inclined to
the Medici. They were accompanied by Angelo Poliziano, other masters,
and a doctor. Here Piero, only seven years old, with his great-uncle
Giovanni Tornabuoni received Ercole d’Este, who was going to take
the command at Florence. In October they exchanged their residence
at Pistoja for the villa at Fiesole, where the family circle was
increased by the sons of Niccolò Orsini, Count of Pitigliano. And
here arose a difference between the mother and the tutor. Clarice was
a good and careful mother. Giovanni, who was not yet three, had soon
after his birth given occasion for anxiety, and been a great trouble
to her and to his grandmother, on account of his delicate health.
Concerning Giuliano, then a few months old, whose constitution always
remained feeble, she wrote later to her husband: ‘I will care for him
as a mother should, but I beseech you to take care of yourself for
the children’s sake and mine.’ Poliziano’s mode of bringing up did
not satisfy her. Not that she began with a prejudice against him;
the good terms on which they had once been are proved by the letters
which he addressed to her on several occasions when he was absent from
Florence with Lorenzo.[48] He bestowed great care on his young pupil,
of whose writing and composition he sent specimens to the father. ‘I
shall not fail,’ he wrote to Lorenzo from Pistoja, September 20, ‘in
attention and fidelity. I know what I owe to your Magnificence, and I
feel for Piero and your other children an affection equal to that of a
father. Should anything unpleasant occur, I will endeavour myself to
bear it, out of love to you, to whom I owe everything.’ These words
show that there was already something amiss. Four weeks previously he
had written: ‘I am busy with Piero, and encourage him to write, and I
think in a few days you will receive a letter which will astonish you.
We have a master here who teaches writing in a fortnight, so that it
seems quite a miracle. The children are particularly happy, and look
quite blooming. Piero never leaves my side. I would that I could serve
you in greater things; but this is my work, and I fulfil it with joy.
But I beg you to ensure, either by letter or by a messenger, that my
authority shall not be restricted, so that I may the more easily guide
the boy and fulfil my duty. Nevertheless, act therein according to your
pleasure. Whatever may happen, I will bear it with equanimity.’ And on
the same day: ‘We get on as well as we can, but I cannot escape a few
collisions.’ That he was dissatisfied, dull, and longing to be near
Lorenzo, is clear from all his letters at this time, both to Madonna
Lucrezia and to her son.

To make matters worse, came the _villeggiatura_ at Caffaggiuolo,
whither Clarice went in November. This was, from position and climate,
a melancholy winter residence, where loneliness and bad weather seem to
have put the excitable man doubly out of humour, and all the more so
because Lorenzo’s old tutor, Gentile Becchi, who lived at the country
house with the family, grew very unsociable in consequence of the sad
circumstances of the time, which weighed heavily on the mind of this
vehement accuser of the Pope. Gentile had felt the events of the spring
deeply, and had been terribly cast down by the death of Giuliano.
Poliziano had tried to cheer him with an ode, which has acquired
historical importance from the testimony it bears to the hopes of
foreign aid which were cherished by the adherents of the Medici and
many of the Florentine people; hopes which were but very partially


  GENTILES animi maxima pars mei,
    Communi nimium sorte quid angeris?
    Quid curis animum lugubribus teris,
      Et me discrucias simul?

  Passi digna quidem perpetuo sumus
    Luctu, qui mediis (heu miseri) sacris
    Illum, illum juvenem vidimus, O nefas!
      Stratum sacrilega manu!

  At sunt attonito quæ dare pectori
    Solamen valeant plurima, nam super
    Est, qui vel gremio creverit in tuo,
      Laurens Etruriæ caput.

  Laurens quem patriæ cœlicolum pater
    Tutum terrifica gorgone præstitit;
    Quem Tuscus pariter, quem Venetus Leo
      Servant, et Draco pervigil.

  Illi bellipotens excubat Hercules;
    Illi fatiferis militat arcubus;
    Illi mittit equos Francia martios,
      Felix Francia regibus.

  Circumstat populus murmure dissono;
    Circumstant juvenem purpurei patres;
    Causa vincimus et robore militum;
      Hac stat Juppiter, hac favet.

  Quare, O cum misera quid tibi Nenia,
    Si nil proficimus? quin potius gravis
    Absterisse bono lætitiæ die
      Audes nubila pectoris.

  Nam cum jam gelidos umbra reliquerit
    Artus, non dolor hanc perpetuus retro
    Mordacesve trahunt sollicitudines,
      Mentis, curaque pervicax.

Thus rendered by Roscoe:—

  O FRIEND, whose woes this bosom shares,
  Why ceaseless mourn our mutual cares?
  Ah! why thy days to grief resign,
  With thy regrets recalling mine?

  Eternal o’er the atrocious deed,
  ‘Tis true our kindred hearts may bleed,
  When he, twin glory of our land,
  Fell by a sacrilegious hand!

  But sure, my friend, there yet remains
  Some solace for these piercing pains,
  Whilst he, once nurtured at thy side,
  Lorenzo lives, Etruria’s pride.

  Lorenzo, o’er whose favoured head
  Jove his terrific gorgon spread;
  Whose steps the lion-pair await,
  Of Florence and Venetia’s state.

  For him his crest the dragon rears;
  For him the Herculean band appears;
  Her martial succour Gallia brings—
  Gallia, that glories in her kings!

  See round the youth the purpled band
  Of venerable fathers stand;
  Exulting crowds around him throng,
  And hail him as he moves along.

  Strong in our cause and in our friends,
  Our righteous battle Jove defends;
  Thy useless sorrows then represt,
  Let joy once more dilate thy breast.

  To animate the clay-cold frame,
  No sighs shall fan the vital flame;
  Nor all the tears that love can shed
  Recall to life the silent dead.

The poem seems to have had little or no effect, and the poet himself
became infected with melancholy. ‘The news from this place,’ wrote
Poliziano to Madonna Lucrezia, on November 18, ‘is that it rains
violently and incessantly, so that it is impossible to leave the house,
and instead of hunting we have taken to playing ball, that the children
may have exercise. I sit by the fire in dressing-gown and slippers,
and if you saw me you would take me for melancholy incarnate; for
that is what I seem to myself. I do, see, hear nothing that cheers
me, so deeply have our misfortunes affected me. Sleeping or waking, I
have nothing in my head but these fancies. The day before yesterday
we were all in joyful excitement, because we heard that the sickness
had ceased. Now we are down again, as there is said to be some still
going about. In town we have at least some comfort, if it is only that
of seeing Lorenzo come home safe and well. Here, everything makes us
uneasy, and I assure you I am dying of melancholy, such a burthen is
loneliness to me. Monsignore (Becchi) shuts himself up in his own room,
with no company but his thoughts; and I find him so cast down and full
of care that his society only increases my own sadness. Ser Alberto del
Malerba (a priest who was then in the Medicean household) recites the
service all day long with the children. When I am tired of studying,
my fancy goes off on a chase through pestilence and war—grief for the
past, anxiety for the future. I have no one to turn my thoughts to him,
and am dying of weariness. And here I have not my Madonna Lucrezia to
whom I can vent my feelings.’

At last matters came to an open breach. On May 6, 1479, Poliziano
wrote to Lorenzo from Careggi: ‘I am here at Careggi, having left
Caffaggiuolo by command of Madonna Clarice. The grounds of my
departure, I desire, aye I earnestly entreat, to be allowed to explain
to you by word of mouth, for it is a prolix affair. I believe that,
when you have heard me, you will find that the wrong is not all on my
side. For decency’s sake, and in order not to go to Florence without
your orders, I came here, and am waiting till your Magnificence informs
me what I am to do. For I am yours, though the world itself should turn
upside down; and if fortune will not smile upon me in your service,
that will not prevent me from always faithfully devoting myself to that
service. I commend myself to your Magnificence, and am entirely at your
commands.’ What had moved Madonna Clarice to this strong measure is
clear. She could have nothing to say against the scholar; but the man
inspired her with very little confidence, although we cannot think that
she was influenced by the evil rumours which were afterwards spread as
to Poliziano’s moral conduct—rumours characteristic of a time that
delighted in the most dishonouring accusations. Men of letters were so
full of exaggerated self-importance, and so incapable of controlling
their tongues or their pens, that Lorenzo’s wife probably had right
on her side. She wanted to superintend her children’s education; the
tutor would not suffer it. ‘As for Giovanni,’ wrote he to Lorenzo from
Caffaggiuolo on April 6, when he enclosed a letter from Piero, ‘his
mother makes him read in the Psalter, which I cannot at all approve.
When she does not interfere with him his progress is surprising, so
that he can read without any help.’ To give the Psalter to a child of
three as a reading-book is certainly a strange proceeding. But if, as
we must suppose, it was the translation made for Clarice by Marsilio
Ficino, the scholar of the fifteenth century could not make the same
objection which was made in the next by another scholar, who received
the cardinalate—Pietro Bembo—to the reading of St. Paul’s Epistles:
that they spoilt one’s style.

At this time Lorenzo was so much occupied with the crisis in public
affairs that strife in his own household must have been doubly
troublesome to him. He did not think of restoring to his post the
pedagogue who had been turned out of doors. He offered him the villa
at Fiesole, where Poliziano wrote Latin verses in praise of Lorenzo,
about the leisure he was himself enjoying, of the pleasant view towards
the city of the Muses, and of the winding Arno,[50] but evidently
put no bridle on his tongue. ‘I should like,’ wrote Madonna Clarice
to her husband on May 28 from Caffaggiuolo,[51] after affectionately
entreating him to take care of his health during the continued
sickness, ‘not to be put into a fable like Luigi Pulci in Matteo
Franco’s verses. I also wish that Messer Angelo shall not be able to
boast of remaining in the house in defiance of me, or of your having
offered him a home at Fiesole. You know I told you that if it was your
will that he should remain here, I would be content, and although I
have had to submit to his rudeness, I would bear it patiently if such
were your decision, though I cannot believe it possible.’ Clarice’s
remonstrances must have made some impression on Lorenzo. Although
Poliziano saw him frequently, he remained excluded from the house.
He repeatedly and urgently commended his cause to Madonna Lucrezia,
to whom he represented his difficult position, if the hopes set on
Piero came to nothing.[52] He begged her to try to fathom Lorenzo’s
intentions concerning him. The tutor of Giovanni Tornabuoni’s sons,
Martino della Comedia, gave lessons to Piero for a time, as did also
Bernardo Michelozzi (son of the architect), who actually educated
Giovanni, and was afterwards Bishop of Forlì. Poliziano’s impatience
and vexation are clearly shown. ‘I shall be much surprised,’ he wrote,
‘if they let Piero lose his time, and it really would be a pity. I
understand that Messer Bernardo is there, but I cannot quite see how he
is to go on with my work, unless he remains permanently. In this case,
indeed, it will be just as well that the shell has burst. But I do not
believe it, and therefore I beg you to find out Lorenzo’s intentions,
that I may judge whether to arm myself for the tourney or the battle.
I will always order myself according to Lorenzo’s wishes, for I am
certain that he sees deeper into things than I, and that he will guard
my honour as he always has done, and as my faithful services give me
some right to expect.’

When the reconciliation took place cannot be discovered from
Poliziano’s letters, which are missing for several years at this
period. The verses addressed to Lorenzo on his return from Naples,
show that at that time Poliziano had not returned to his house.[53] A
year after, in 1481, Piero was again entrusted to his guidance; for
the Latin dictation for him,[54] in which the siege of Otranto by the
Duke of Calabria is mentioned, is of this year. In these subjects for
translation, which sometimes treat of contemporary events, sometimes
allude to this or that occurrence of daily life, we vainly seek any
really healthy food for a youthful mind. Their want of connectedness
and gravity gives no brilliant testimony to the highly gifted man’s
powers of teaching. But Piero had other teachers besides Poliziano;
among them was the theologian Giorgio Cenigno, in whose learning and
conduct Lorenzo, who was often present at his lectures, had great
confidence, and to whose judgment he afterwards submitted the defence
of Pico della Mirandola. This is the same man who many years later
took so decided a part with Reuchlin against those who accused him of
heresy. Giovanni del Prato, afterwards Bishop of Aquila, and Antonio
Barberini, a professor of theology at Florence, were also called
in.[55] When Piero went to Rome, in 1484 and again in 1488, the first
time to welcome Pope Innocent VIII., the second time to be married,
Poliziano accompanied him, and he remained until his death a member of
the most intimate circle of the family. He never was a priest, though
he held a couple of ecclesiastical benefices.

We can well understand that the choice of a man of such uncommon
intellectual gifts as a tutor, at a time when everything was expected
to give way to classical culture, found many eulogists; and the words
of Cristoforo Landino in his dedication of Virgil’s works to Piero de’
Medici do not stand alone. Piero was wanting neither in understanding
nor the desire to learn, and the instruction he received was not wasted
so far as concerns the elegant culture which was fast superseding the
more practical education of older times. But the essential principle
of a serious moral view of the world Angelo Poliziano could not give
to his pupil, for he had it not himself. The father rejoiced in the
progress of the son, promoted as it was by the liberal, scientific,
artistic and social movement of which the house of Medici formed the
centre. Piero, like his father, entered life early, and was thus
prepared for the position he was in some degree destined to inherit.
He always showed interest in scientific matters. It was at his desire
that his tutor made the collection of letters above mentioned, which,
however, were not printed till after Poliziano’s death and Piero’s
banishment; a collection which, like many of the kind, contains much
that for the writer’s honour had better have remained unprinted. But
posterity has not confirmed Poliziano’s judgment on his pupil. It was
the judgment of a courtier. In Piero, thus he wrote to Pico della
Mirandola,[56] there lived again the spirit of his father, the virtue
of his grandfather, the humanity of his great-grandfather, the honesty,
piety, generosity, and high-mindedness of all his ancestors.

If Lorenzo could not keep the peace in his own house between his wife
and a literary friend, still less could he keep it between the latter
and another member of his confidential circle. To this belonged,
like Poliziano, a man whose literary merits contributed nothing
to the celebrity of the age, but who attained to a higher and more
secure position than most of his compeers because he showed himself
a manageable and useful tool. Bartolommeo Scala,[57] born about 1430
at Colle in the valley of the Elsa, has himself described his origin
and the commencement of his fortunes in a letter to Poliziano, and he
deserves at least some credit for avowing so openly what it is true
everybody already knew. ‘Deprived of all worldly goods, poor, and
born of parents of low degree, I came here, without means, without
claims, without protectors, without relations. Cosimo, the father of
the country, took me up, and I rose in the service of his family.’[58]
His father was a miller, and the youth’s first years in Florence
were passed in bitter want, as we know from the letters of Cardinal
Ammanati, who was there in not very brilliant circumstances. As in the
case of other _protégés_, Cosimo’s favour was continued by his heirs.
This only will account for the fact that, after the death of Benedetto
Accolti, Scala received the office of chancellor.[59] Although by
no means without cultivation and practice in business, Scala stood
far below those who had preceded him with so much distinction in the
chancellorship, since the days of Coluccio Salutati to the time of the
man whom he replaced. For Benedetto Accolti, who died in the prime of
manhood, did honour to the name which his family had already acquired
in the field of learning, and united sound knowledge of law with
unusual elegance of expression; while his eloquence and excellent
memory rendered him peculiarly fit for the various solemnities at
which addresses and replies had to be made without long preparation.
His Latin history of the first Crusade, founded on French materials,
and dedicated to Piero de’ Medici, is valuable as the source whence
Torquato Tasso drew the subject of his ‘Gerusalemme.’

Fortune continued to favour Bartolommeo Scala, and even in the great
commotion of 1494 he was not overthrown. Posts of honour, embassies,
knighthood, riches, fell to his share. He was Lorenzo’s confidant, and
in constant correspondence with him on civil and political affairs.
In the storms of 1478 and the following years he was of no small use
to him, and it was chiefly through him that Lorenzo always kept the
Signoria well in hand. Scala had a pretty villa—which afterwards
passed to the Guadagni[60]—on the slope of the hill at Fiesole, and
his town house (now belonging, with its beautiful gardens, to the Count
della Gherardesca) still bears on its walls the coat of arms which he
adopted in allusion to his name. As two of his predecessors had written
a history of Florence, he thought it needful to do the same. His work,
which comes down to Charles of Anjou, has no intrinsic value; and
his other writings are even more utterly forgotten than those of the
obscurest among his contemporaries. That he was most anxious to give no
ground of displeasure to foreign princes on whose relations to Florence
he was obliged to touch in his history is shown by his oft-repeated
request to the Ferrarese ambassador for information about the Este
family, ‘because he wished to write in praise of that illustrious

Bartolommeo Scala’s position made him boastful. His letters to
Poliziano are full of the most ridiculous conceit.[62] ‘Thou wilt
hardly venture to compete with my honours. The Florentine people have
raised me first to the Priorship, then to the Gonfaloniership, and now
to the rank of senator and knight, with such unanimity that many were
of opinion there had never been a more popular act; besides which I
have the brilliant testimony of Lorenzo de’ Medici that distinction was
never conferred on one more worthy.’ Whereupon Poliziano did not fail
to pay him back with an abusive answer. His boast of praise from Cosimo
and Lorenzo was a lie; the latter had often said that in advancing him
he was influenced by other considerations, not by his own opinion, and
had often given Poliziano Scala’s official papers to correct, as the
latter must have known very well. Lorenzo had prevented the former from
destroying the mocking iambics on Scala,[63] saying it was a pity to
sacrifice such good verses. Lorenzo de’ Medici was dead when the two
became involved in that violent strife which gave rise to accusations
as passionate, coarse, and spiteful as those flung about by Filelfo,
Poggio, and Valla. But in the lifetime of Lorenzo a quarrel broke out
between the two men, who emulated each other in abasing the moral
dignity of scholarship.

There seems to have been another cause of strife besides literary
rivalry—Scala’s beautiful and accomplished daughter Alessandra. Like
many other women of her day, she devoted herself in her youth to the
study of Greek, and her teachers were Demetrius Chalcondylas and
Johannes Lascaris. That Poliziano was inspired with a violent passion
for her is shown by his Greek epigrams.[64]

  ‘Now at last have I found the object I long have been seeking,
    Object of loving desire, present in all my dreams.’

But Alessandra, though she exchanged Greek verses with her admirer, and
sent him flowers and received small presents, seems to have been very
far from returning his affection. She tells him plainly that he has not
found what he sought; paying him at the same time compliments on his
learning and fame, which do not seem to have consoled him much. When
the disdainful beauty gave her hand to Michael Marullus Tarcagnota, a
Greek established in Italy early in life, jealousy made Poliziano pour
forth a torrent of abuse, which provoked corresponding replies. Time
had been when verses addressed by Poliziano to Lorenzo, son of Pier
Francesco de’ Medici, the patron of Marullus, overflowed with praises
of the Greek, who was pronounced superior to Catullus.[65] Now just
as immoderate in the opposite sense, Angelo’s invectives were most
extravagant against the man who had become his happy rival. Under the
name of Mabilius, he satirised his person and writings, heaping upon
him all the abuse that could be raked out of the poems of antiquity.[66]

Personalities of every kind, moral and physical, are flung backwards
and forwards _usque ad nauseam_. Poliziano’s hooked nose and crooked
neck, and the supposed infidelity of both combatants are mutually held
up to contempt. Well-turned though the epigrams may be, they were
better absent from the works of a great poet. Alessandra, the innocent
cause of strife, having become a widow, withdrew to the convent of San
Pier Maggiore, and died there in 1506.

Among those who rivalled the professed men of learning while taking
an active part in public affairs, Alamanno Rinuccini holds a foremost
place.[67] He was descended from an old noble family, whose castle
near San Donato alla Collina, on the road which leads from Florence
to Arezzo, along the left bank of the Arno, still keeps much of
its mediæval character. Born in 1419, he was a pupil of Poggio and
Argyropulos; in his translations from the Greek and his original
Latin writings he displayed a perfect command of both tongues, and
his house was a place where his friends met for learned discourse. He
rose to the highest offices in the city, and fulfilled with equal zeal
the chancellorship of the Universities of Florence and Pisa, various
diplomatic embassies, and a post in the war department conferred on him
in 1495, three years before his death. Like his father Filippo and his
brother Neri, he left valuable notes on contemporary events. Although
an old partisan of the Medici, he nevertheless, while fully admitting
Lorenzo’s intellectual gifts, passes on him a severe judgment, showing
how the spirit of independence still survived among the aristocracy,
and how hard it was for the Medici to secure their support, even by
raising them to office. At the same time the virulent attacks on
Lorenzo’s government throw a strange light on the character of the
writer, who never failed to profit by the favours bestowed on him. It
was much the same with Bernardo Rucellai, one of the most esteemed
members of the Medicean circle. He controlled his ambition during
the life of his brother-in-law Lorenzo; but when that firm hand was
gone and personal considerations no longer restrained him, he took
his own course. He had early distinguished himself in his classical
and philosophical studies, and while scarcely more than a youth was a
professor at the University of Pisa. Of his Latin historical writings,
that on the war of Pisa is founded on the narratives of Gino and
Neri Capponi; that on the wars of Charles VIII. of France possesses
some intrinsic value as the narrative and judgment of a contemporary
whose high position opened to him trustworthy sources of information.
Both display his command of style; and his topography of ancient
Rome shows how well versed he was in ancient literature.[68] The
first principle of this work is a mistake, because it rests on the
so-called _regionarii_, that arbitrarily interpolated version of the
old topographical texts; but Rucellai surpassed all his predecessors
in thoroughness of learning. At Lorenzo’s death he entered upon a new
phase, not merely in political life. It was he who, after the storms
which burst over Florence in 1494, received into his new house, with
its large and beautiful gardens in the Via della Scala, the Platonic
Academy, then in danger of sharing the ruin of the Medici. In these
‘Orti Oricellari’ the Academy was kept alive through the brilliant but
unquiet times that followed.[69] Here, where Bernardo Rucellai brought
together some of the sculptures scattered at the plundering of the
Medici palaces, Niccolò Machiavelli read his book on the art of war;
here in 1516 Leo X. was present at a representation of the tragedy of
‘Rosmonda,’ written by Bernardo’s son Giovanni; and here in 1522 was
laid the plot against Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici which put an end to
the Academy for ever.



THE Florentines and other Tuscans gathered together at this period of
manifold intellectual activity were joined by men from other parts of
Italy, coming as transient visitors or permanent residents. Three of
these deserve especial consideration—Bernardo Bembo, Ermolao Barbaro,
and Pico della Mirandola. We have already seen Bembo as Venetian
ambassador, in the difficult state of affairs which followed on the
conspiracy of the Pazzi. He had received this honourable appointment
several years before, and held it until peace was restored. The
relations between Venice and Florence were not always pleasant and
confidential; but the Venetian ambassador knew how to make himself
agreeable and to inspire confidence. Poliziano praised his activity and
caution in affairs of state, his amiability in personal intercourse,
his interest in literature, his union of seriousness and gaiety.[70]
Ficino and Landino were on friendly terms with him, as their
correspondence and literary communications prove. Bembo was one of the
members of the Platonic Academy, and a banquet given to him by his
colleagues in 1480 is described by Marsilio in his book on Platonic
theology. He was an ardent lover of books, and wrote a beautiful hand;
the octavo form of the Aldine editions, the first variation from the
old folio or large quarto usual until then, is said to have been an
imitation of one of his manuscripts.[71] Bernardo’s son was with him
during his residence on the banks of the Arno, and the pure dialect to
which the boy’s ear became accustomed falling on good ground, led to
that scientific treatment of the Italian tongue which has given Pietro
Bembo a claim to be considered a distinguished master of the language
he handled with so much power and facility of expression.

One of those who were in constant literary intercourse with Lorenzo,
and assisted him in collecting manuscripts, &c., was Ermolao Barbaro
the younger. Literary faculty was the heritage of his family. His
grandfather, Francesco Barbaro, held friendly intercourse with the
scholars of Rome and Florence and with Cosimo de’ Medici. He also made
at Venice the largest collection of books of that time, and devoted
himself zealously to studying the texts, as is proved by his copy of
Homer preserved in the library of St. Mark. Young Ermolao was brought
up by the care of a learned uncle of the same name, who was Bishop of
Treviso and for many years administered the bishopric of Verona.

Francesco owed some of his accomplishments to Matteo Bosso, whom we
shall meet again in the abbey at Fiesole; and at Rome a classical turn
had been given to his studies by Pomponio Leto. He was a young man when
the Republic, which looked quite as much to the learned accomplishments
as to the political capacity and noble birth of her envoys, sent him to
the Emperor Frederic, to Lodovico il Moro, and to Innocent VIII. The
last embassy was not propitious to him.

When in 1491 he accepted the Patriarchate of Aquileia from the Pope
without asking the consent of the Republic, this offence against
law and precedent was punished by the senate with deprivation and
banishment, and Barbaro died near Rome, of an infectious disease, in
the summer of 1493, at the early age of thirty-three.[72] Of his
many works, chiefly on Greek writers, none seem now to justify his
reputation. His studies on Pliny’s ‘Natural History’ hold an honourable
place among the critical investigations begun in his day, and his
lively wit shines forth in his letters.

Ermolao came through Florence on his way to Rome in the spring of 1490.
As Lorenzo de’ Medici was then at the baths of Vignone, his eldest son
received the stranger with the honour due to his rank and the friendly
relations between the families. Piero’s letter to his father has some
literary as well as personal interest:[73] ‘Illustrious father,—By
a letter from you which reached Ser Piero yesterday morning I was
informed of your desires with respect to Messer Ermolao, who arrived
yesterday after dinner. His arrival was, so to say, unexpected, and I
only heard of it about an hour before. I went to meet him, as did four
or five others, and he had to go first to the hotel, as his quarters
were not yet ready, whither he afterwards came on foot. As soon as he
had arrived, I went to him, according to your desire, to invite him
to us, and to inquire how long he intended to stay. I invited him for
to-day, and heard that it was his intention to remain only the one day,
as he wants to travel to-morrow as far as Poggibonzi or some other
place, so that he may reach Siena before noon on the following day.
Whether he means to stay there I do not know. To-day he has been our
guest, and I cannot say how much pleasure this has given him. Besides
his suite, which consists of his brother (Luigi), a secretary of St.
Mark, and a doctor, we invited the persons whom he wished to see; they
were the Count della Mirandola, Messer Marsilio, and Messer Agnolo of
Montepulciano, to whom, as we wished to have an inhabitant of the city
and yet to keep within the circle of intimate friends and scholars, we
added Bernardo Rucellai. Whether we did right I know not. After dinner
I showed him the house, the coins, vases, sculptured stones—in short
everything, including the garden (near San Marco), which he especially
liked, though he does not seem to understand much about sculpture.
The value and age of the coins interested him greatly; they were all
astonished at the quantity of fine things. I cannot tell you much about
him, except that he speaks very elegantly, as far as I can judge, and
that he likes to show his reading by quoting the ancients, sometimes
in Latin. His appearance is on the whole very good; he is temperate in
all things, which is probably needful for him, as he seems to have a
very delicate constitution. He is said to be an adroit man of business,
which I rather doubt, as he seems to me somewhat ceremonious. He could
not display greater friendship for you than he does, and I believe he
means it. He received all the honour done him with much gratitude, not
at all after the Venetian fashion; and indeed nothing but his dress
shows him to be a Venetian. According to his own account, he has a
great desire to see you, and he says he will willingly go out of his
way to meet and salute you; which I think it my duty to mention, in
case it should meet your views. He also says that he is commissioned
by his Signoria to salute you. He has been honourably treated by the
citizens, and received compensation for having to alight at the hotel.
This morning, before he came to dinner, he presented himself to the
Signoria, with complimentary greetings.’ That the learned Venetian
fulfilled his intention of saluting Lorenzo on his way, we learn from
Lorenzo himself, who wrote to his agent at Siena on May 15 as follows:
‘Ermolao was here early this morning, and continued his journey after
staying a while with me.’[74]

When Ermolao Barbaro fell into disgrace with his own government,
Lorenzo took his part warmly. Among other things he tried to persuade
the Pope to give him the red hat, probably hoping that such a
distinction would reconcile the Signoria to him. Ermolao’s father
gratefully acknowledged his friend’s efforts. ‘This morning,’ wrote
Poliziano to Lorenzo from Venice,[75] ‘I visited Messer Zaccheria
Barbaro, and when I spoke of your favour he answered weeping, and as it
seemed with a full heart. The sum of his discourse was this: he has no
hope save in you. He made it clear to me that he is aware how much he
owes you. Therefore carry out what you have planned, and keep a higher
object in view.’ Greek clay vases, given to Poliziano for Lorenzo,
were to prove the gratitude of the Procurator of St. Mark and the
ex-ambassador. But the Signoria evidently did not approve of a stranger
intermeddling in the affairs of one of their citizens; for when Luigi
Barbaro received from his brother’s successor orders to return from
Rome, he was told at the same time not to come through Florence.[76]

All plans and calculations were overthrown the following year by the
death of Lorenzo and of the Pope, soon followed by that of Ermolao
himself. That the offer of the cardinalate would hardly have altered
the views of the senate as to the duty of an ambassador to receive
nothing from a foreign sovereign without special permission, is
shown by a parallel case which occurred in the next century, that of
Marc’Antonio da Mula (Cardinal Amulio).

In the circle of Florentine scholars there was no brighter star than
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola; and yet not one of them has left so
little to justify the contemporary fame of this ‘Phœnix of spirits.’
Yet he was something more than a specimen of the sciolism and abstruse
pedantry that sought to dazzle contemporaries without leaving
anything solid or useful to posterity. Giovanni Pico fought manfully
against the errors of his time, and promoted investigations on many
subjects; but the results of his labours are not discoverable in the
picture of the time as a whole, to which he contributed but a few
traits, instead of producing a work of durable value that would have
vividly represented the progress of science. Born and brought up in
the highest circles of society, it is remarkable that with his quick
and passionate temperament he devoted himself to scientific work,
ardently and perseveringly, without any external inducement to do so.
He comes forth like a meteor, in brilliant but momentary splendour.
He was a younger son of Gian Francesco Pico, Lord of Mirandola and
Count of Concordia, and Giulia Bojardo, daughter of Feltrino Count
Of Scandiano, whose grandson Matteo Maria made himself famous as the
author of ‘Orlando Innamorato.’ In his childhood Giovanni showed
unusual quickness of perception and desire to learn, which was observed
and encouraged by his mother. At fourteen he went to study canon law
at the University of Bologna, after which he pursued philosophy and
theology, languages and literature, at various universities, and soon
displayed a talent for disputation. He was intended for holy orders,
and while still almost a boy was seen, like Giovanni de’ Medici, in the
dress of an Apostolic protonotary. He was not much over twenty when he
came to Florence at the beginning of 1484. Recommended by his birth
and connections, as well as by Ercole d’Este, whose sister Bianca was
his sister-in-law, he became intimate with the Medici, and lived like
a great man; at the same time he pursued his studies diligently, and
formed friendships with Ficino, Landino, and Poliziano. The last has
described him graphically and with a fair amount of truth. ‘Nature,’ he
says, ‘appeared to have showered upon this man, or rather this hero,
all gifts of body and mind. He was slender and well made, and something
divine seemed to shine in his face. He was acute in perception, gifted
with an excellent memory, indefatigable in study, clear and eloquent
in expression. One doubted whether he shone most by his talents or his
moral qualities. Versed in every branch of philosophy, favoured by his
perfect knowledge of several languages, he showed himself sublime and
above all praise.’

What distinguished the young scholar from all the other members of the
Florentine circle except Marsilio Ficino—though it did not attract
much attention till it brought him into difficulties with Rome—was
his study of mediæval Jewish literature, to which he must have found
special incitement at Florence.[77] For it was here that he began to
study those Jewish mysteries which in Alexandria were first mixed up
with the doctrines of the Bible, like Neoplatonism with the wisdom
of the Athenians, and were developed under the name of Cabbalah into
a lasting tradition of revelation. Following in the steps of Ficino,
Giovanni Pico found the teachings of Christianity confirmed by those
of Platonism; while the Jewish doctrines furnished him with stronger
proofs, for what Ficino did not demonstrate from Platonism, Pico drew
from the Jewish mysteries. He was quite right in recognising analogies
not to be found in the Greek doctrines; but it is evident that he stood
on ground where investigation and the play of fancy might bring him
into danger; more especially as he included magic within the circle
of his researches. It was nothing more than the natural magic which
consists mainly in the contemplation of the powers of the heavenly
bodies, but he stated in plain words his opinion that no science could
afford us a clearer view of the divinity of Christ than magic and the

It may easily be conceived what a sensation was made in Florence by a
distinguished young man of such appearance, talents, and tendencies.
His arrival occurred at a lucky moment. The end of the Ferrara war left
a clear field for other than political affairs, and the reputation
of Lorenzo de’ Medici had just then reached its zenith. The presence
of Giovanni Pico gave a new distinction to his whole circle. He
was one by himself. Ficino and Poliziano had shone by the early
maturity of their talents, but to them study was the necessary object
of their lives; while this youth of high rank, on whom everything
smiled, rivalled them in perseverance and success and surpassed them
in universality of knowledge. Soon after his arrival at Florence,
in a letter to Lorenzo, he spoke highly of the poems which the
latter wrote on Dante and Petrarca; but this does not prove that his
judgment was sound, and it may, perhaps, not have greatly impressed
Lorenzo himself, though it doubtless did him no harm in the Medicean
circle. In 1485 he went to continue his studies at Paris, returning
thence at the beginning of the next year. This year he was involved
in two troublesome affairs, one of which—though injurious to his
reputation—was only of a passing nature, but the other cast a shadow
over the whole of his after-life, and put an end to the gaiety of his

The eloquent disciple of the Platonic Academy suddenly found himself
involved in a love adventure that was only too real. ‘Count Giovanni
della Mirandola,’ wrote the Ferrarese envoy Aldovrandino Guidoni on
May 12, 1486, to Duke Ercole,[78] ‘has been living for nearly two
years in such splendour and in the enjoyment of such universal esteem
as has hardly fallen to the lot of any one before in this city. A few
days ago he gave out that he was going to Rome, and sent forward all
his luggage. On his arrival at Arezzo, where resided a lady with whom
he had a love affair—the beautiful wife of one Giuliano de’ Medici,
engaged in the administration of taxes there—the said lady, according
to previous agreement, left her husband’s house. She pretended to be
going for a walk, but just outside the town she mounted behind the
count. He had about twenty people with him, some on horseback, some
on foot, besides two mounted bowmen. When the people saw the lady
surrounded by this train there was an uproar. The storm-bell was rung
and the count was followed in pursuit, which became so hot that the
count was obliged to give up his fugitive. Every one of his suite that
could be reached was killed and stripped in the _mêlée_, and many
of the citizens also were left dead. Thanks to their good horses,
the count and his chancellor got away to Marciano (in the valley of
the Chiana), where they were arrested. The Ten, before whom the case
was laid, at first gave orders to liberate the count and keep the
chancellor, but afterwards they commanded both to be kept under arrest.
Probably nothing will be done to him, but the chancellor—on whom the
chief blame is laid—may come off badly, the more so as the matter
concerns the wife of a Medici, who, though poor, is still one of the
family. In truth, the count’s mishap is much to be regretted, for he
used to be considered a saint as well as a man of learning, and now he
has lost greatly in public opinion, though, indeed, love has brought
many into like errors.’ Duke Ercole’s mediation was needless, as Pico
was at once set free, and the good easy husband received back into
his house the faithless wife, who pleaded forcible abduction. She was
a rich young widow of low degree when he married her shortly before.
Pico’s own remarks on the whole affair display his penitence. ‘His sin
grieves him,’ he said of himself, ‘and he does not defend his conduct.
He seems to deserve forgiveness just because he attempts no excuse.
Nothing is weaker than man, nothing is mightier than love!’

The Roman affair was not so easily disposed of. After the adventure
at Arezzo, Pico went to Rome, where, to establish the favourite
Florentine thesis of an agreement between Platonism and Christianity,
and the assistance to be derived from the former in combating heresy,
he announced a public disputation on 900 questions, to which, besides
philosophy and theology, law and natural science, magic and the
Cabbalah, Arabia and Chaldæa, had contributed their quota. Thus the
most brilliant intellects, sometimes even more than others, pay tribute
to pedantry. The fruitful seed that lay buried in these investigations
was in a great measure choked up with the dull rubbish from which
the age was unable to free itself. Many of the affirmations of the
young scholar (which might well seem questionable at that time) were
impeached as contrary to the faith, and the disputation was stopped.
On August 5, 1486, Innocent VIII. signed a brief against the theses
put forth by Giovanni Pico, denouncing their author in no sparing
terms. The long interval between the signature and the publication,
which did not take place till December 15, instead of helping to smooth
the difficulty, only increased it. The author of the controverted
propositions—so his opponents maintained—being secretly informed of
the papal decision, hastily wrote an apology for them, had it secretly
printed in Naples, and pre-dated it, so that he should not appear to be
defending assertions already condemned by the highest ecclesiastical
authority. The accused denied this, and declared that he had only
received the brief on January 6, 1487, on his journey to France. In any
case, his written defence furnished his opponents with a pretext by
which to set the Pope against him and cause him to receive a citation
to Rome. It was even determined to arrest him, as we see from a letter
addressed to the Pope from Siena, December 5, by the Bishop of Lucca,
excusing the non-fulfilment of the papal orders on account of his
absence from his see.[79]

The ‘Apology,’ dated May 31, 1486, is dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici.
‘God is my witness,’ says the author in the introduction, ‘that I
dedicate this writing to thee, O Lorenzo, not as thinking it worthy of
such a man, but because I have long known that I owe all I possess to
thee. Whatever I am or may become is thine and will remain thine. I say
less than I would, and my words are too cold to express the love and
reverence which I have long felt and shall continue to feel for thee.
To these feelings I am moved by the numerous proofs of favour that
have proceeded rather from thy mind towards me than from thy position,
and which are as rare as they are characteristic of thee. Receive this
apology with kindness; the gift is small, but it is a testimony of
my lasting devotion. If thou shouldst turn to it from the important
affairs which claim thy attention, remember that it is a sketch rather
than a work carefully thought out, a task imposed on me by others
rather than chosen by myself, and that I present it to thee, not as a
proof of talents and learning to which I am a stranger, but as a token,
I repeat, of my entire devotion.’

Lorenzo, Ercole d’Este, and Pico’s relatives, took an active interest
in his troubles. All through 1487, while the accused was abroad, the
affair dragged on without result. The chief hope was in Lorenzo, whose
influence with the Pope was known to be great and increasing, and it
was not his fault that matters did not get on. He did not wait for
the entreaties of Pico’s brother Antonio, who came to Florence in
February 1488 to beg for his interposition at Rome. He had already,
on January 19, written to the ambassador Lanfredini, giving a warning
against extreme steps, since excommunication or the like against a
man so young and so learned might drive the most moderate beyond all
patience. The solution he suggested was that Pico should be allowed
to go free to Rome and justify himself to the Pope in person. The
envoy did not quite agree with Lorenzo’s view, being of opinion that
the count would do better to leave theology alone; nevertheless he
bestirred himself zealously on his behalf. ‘To my great satisfaction
and joy,’ writes Lorenzo to him on March 22, 1488,[80] ‘I have been
informed of the agreement made by you with the Holy Father concerning
the count. In pursuance of your intimation, I shall invite the count
here. I feel assured he will conduct himself so that his Holiness shall
be satisfied with him, for which object no efforts shall be wanting on
my part.’ So Giovanni Pico returned to Florence and Lorenzo continued
his intercession. But there were still grave difficulties in the way
of an adjustment, and the accused was very shy of appearing at Rome.
He lived sometimes in Florence, sometimes at the neighbouring villa
of Querceto and the abbey of Fiesole, where he pursued Hebrew and
Chaldee studies with great ardour, and worked out a commentary on
Genesis. In June 1489, Florence conferred the freedom of the city on
her illustrious guest, and gave him the right of acquiring property to
the value of 6,000 gold florins. It is evident that Lorenzo was anxious
to bind him more and more closely to himself and his home. ‘The Count
of Mirandola,’ he wrote on June 19 to Lanfredini,[81] ‘is staying
permanently with us, and lives as retired as a monk, continually
working at theology, and commenting on the Psalms, &c. He reads the
service as is usual for priests, strictly observes the fasts, and has
the most simple household that necessity permits. He appears to me a
pattern for others. But he desires to be cleared before the Holy Father
from the charges brought against him, and to receive a brief by which
he shall be re-admitted as a true son and a good Christian. I have
this much at heart too, for there are few men dearer to me or that I
esteem more highly. To my mind he is a true Christian, for he conducts
himself so that the whole city would be ready to stand surety for him.
Endeavour to obtain this brief in due form, that his conscience may be
set at rest. This will stand in the first rank among the many pleasures
you have procured me.’

The affair, however, made no progress. The intention at Rome seemed
to be to commission the Bishop of Vaison to receive the explanations
of Pico, who declared himself ready to submit simply and entirely to
the papal decision. About this time the publication of his commentary
on Genesis gave fresh scandal. A feeling hostile to him seemed to
be gaining ground. On August 17, Lanfredini wrote that Lorenzo had
better advise the count simply to beg for absolution and perform the
needful penance. On October 6 he declared that it was only out of
consideration for Lorenzo that the Pope was so lenient to the culprit;
to satisfy Lorenzo by giving the cardinalate to his son was quite
another thing—so his Holiness had said—from lending an ear to his
intercessions in a case where the faith was at stake. Finally Lorenzo
lost patience when he found that the Pope was in the hands of his
friend’s opponents. ‘I am greatly displeased,’ he wrote in October
1489, ‘at hearing of the censures on Mirandola’s work. If I were not
convinced that this persecution arises from envy and malice, I would
not speak of it. Various learned and God-fearing theologians here
have read the book, and all approve it as excellent and Christian.
I myself am not such a bad Christian that I would keep silence and
accept the book if I thought otherwise. If he only said the Credo,
these malicious spirits would smell heresy in it. If the pressure of
business did but permit his Holiness to take personal cognizance of
the matter and discover the truth, I am certain the whole thing would
fall to pieces and the truth would come to light. But the Pope has to
depend on others, and this poor man cannot defend himself. If he gives
his reasons, he is said to be speaking against the Holy Father! If he
had only to deal with his enemies unprotected by the papal authority
he would soon put them to silence. His misfortune is that he has to
deal with malicious ignorant foes who shield themselves behind the head
of the Church. I have already hinted to you my suspicion that they
are trying to drive him to despair, and thereby to some rash step
which might really be directed against his Holiness. For believe me,
Giovanni, this man has it in his power to work both good and evil. His
life and conduct prove the first; if he is forced to turn another way,
I personally shall lose little thereby, for whatever direction he may
take, he will be attached to me as I to him. I have never succeeded in
quite making you understand this. Without going into particulars now,
I will merely observe that an attempt has been made to persuade him
into a step which might have given great offence; but I have always
prevented it, so that he is come here, where he is leading a virtuous
life and is in peace. These devils tempt him with their persecutions,
and they are only too readily believed.’

This letter shows how deeply the writer was moved. His earnest
remonstrances succeeded at least so far that Pico, who, like Galileo
afterwards, had been relegated to a villa in the neighbourhood of
Florence, was left unmolested in the city. At this time occurred the
visit of Reuchlin, who came to Italy for the second time in 1490 in the
suite of a son of Duke Eberhard, and now became personally acquainted
with the man who had given the most decisive impulse to his studies,
which, like the Italian’s, aimed at harmonising the results of Jewish
and Greek wisdom with Christian faith and knowledge. These studies
entered in Germany upon a new sphere of influence stretching far beyond
the scope of Pico, but not more free from danger, and involving the
German in conflicts similar to those of the Italian. Pico’s Roman
troubles were augmented by others. The dispute between his brothers
Galeotto and Antonio put him into pecuniary straits, and obliged him
to seek the aid of the Duke of Ferrara.[82] Obstructions at Rome were
endless. Neither Lorenzo de’ Medici nor Innocent VIII. lived to see the
conclusion, which was brought about at last by a brief of Alexander
VI., June 18, 1493, in which Giovanni Pico was fully acquitted. The
trouble and anxiety caused by this affair made the deepest impression
on his mind. His nephew and biographer relates that he heard from his
own mouth how great a change it produced in his mind and life.[83]
Excepting a visit to Ferrara, where at the duke’s desire he was present
at a chapter of the Dominican order, he quitted Florence no more. We
have seen him in the country, in frequent intercourse with Ficino and
Poliziano. He lived entirely for science; and the wealth which enabled
him to collect a treasury of books was also freely bestowed on the
needy; in these good works he was assisted by his attached friend
Benivieni. He burned his Latin poems, which he had collected in five
books and given to Poliziano for correction. The latter had altered a
few things, as he said, after the example of him who found fault with
the sandals of the goddess of beauty because he could find none with
herself; and because a few verses seemed to him to be only of the rank
of a knight, while the rest were patrician and senatorial. Poliziano
lamented his friend’s resolve in a letter accompanied by a Greek
epigram. He could not remember, he said, ever to have read anything
more charming, elegant and polished. ‘Ye silly gods of love,’ thus ends
the epigram, ‘why did ye fly to Pico, who is the leader of the Muses?’
Poliziano approved of his friend’s poetical attempts, and admired his
commentary on Benivieni’s _canzone_ on Platonic love, which the school
of Florentine literature reckons among its most important works, more
than his deeper studies, when in the rustic solitude of Querceto he
wrote an extensive treatise against astrology, destined to form part of
a great polemical work on sects hostile to Christianity.[84] Poliziano
thought it was lost time:

 ‘Pico, what hast thou to do with this? Thou’rt wasting thy powers:
 Truly thy style is too good for this generation of jugglers.’

Savonarola, on the contrary, who was a friend of the author in his
later years, and read the unfinished work, expressed mingled pleasure
and regret over it; pleasure in the stand made by the work against
widespread errors, regret at the premature death of the gifted author.
We must not judge Pico della Mirandola by what he has left behind.
He paid a heavier tribute to the weaknesses of the time than many
others who were not equal to him in intellectual capacity. His whole
personality must be considered; it is a typical one. This scion of
a princely house, who quitted the world at two-and-thirty, who had
measured the heights and depths of the learning of his time, who, with
all his abstruse scholarship, preserved a simplicity and amiability of
character that drew all hearts to him, is by far the most brilliant
figure in that brilliant circle. After four centuries Pico della
Mirandola remains the highest representative of early maturity of
intellect. But he is something more; in conjunction with the man whose
friendship was so warmly expressed, he did more than any other to give
a value and importance to a period which, with all its defects, was
beneficent and noble.

The sad fate of two other members of the Florentine literary circle
who were not Tuscans, as well as the circumstance that both filled
public offices in Florence, justifies us in mentioning them together,
though several decades separated them. They are Stefano Porcaro and
Pandolfo Collenuccio. The former, a Roman knight, was the friend and
correspondent of Poggio, Filelfo, Ciriaco, and Traversari, holding a
position of influence at home and abroad.[85] He was led into the fatal
conspiracy of 1453 against Nicolas V. rather by memories of antiquity
and of Cola Rienzi than by his Florentine connections. In the Podestà’s
palace may be seen, in what was formerly the chapel, a picture of
the Madonna painted on the wall, presented, in 1490, by Pandolfo
Collenuccio of Pesaro, then judge of the supreme court. Ficino, Pico,
Poliziano, admired the intellectual gifts and varied talents of
this learned man. It was wonderful, wrote the latter, what he was
capable of; he managed the affairs of princes with great sagacity, was
surpassed by none in the elegance of his prose and verse, and decided
intricate suits with a rare knowledge of law. He commanded the most
varied knowledge with such mastery that he made further discoveries
when others fancied they had found out everything. This sound judge of
classical literature was also a student of natural history, and one
of the first to apply the science of history to the vulgar tongue. He
made use of his connection with Germany, where he had been as envoy
from Duke Ercole d’Este to King Maximilian, to make large acquisitions
for the Florentine libraries. His execution in 1504, by command of
Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro, on pretext of high treason in the Borgia
disturbances, was one of those tragedies of which there was never any
lack in the petty courts of Italy.[86]



THE circle of Florentine celebrities which, though its members were
continually changing, always retained its peculiar character, included
men of smaller importance than many of those already described, but
yet worthy of mention. Among these are the philologer-poets who,
in endeavouring to follow Poliziano, lost their individuality in
imitations of the Roman poets of the Flavian and following periods.
Their verses have but an historical and local interest for posterity,
and even the sixteenth century, so busy with Latin verse-making, passed
judgment upon them very freely.[87] Ugolino Vieri, who Latinised his
name into Verino, celebrated his native city and its famous men in
three books of a poem, ‘De Illustratione urbis Florentiæ,’ which spite
of a few happy characteristics, is barely more than a dry catalogue.
Naldo Naldi has acquired a more lasting reputation by his biographical
works than by his numerous verses. People sang each other’s praises
without end; and such laudations, though endurable from a Poliziano,
are tiresome from inferior hands. Alessandro Bracci, one of the
secretaries of state; Giovan Battista Cantalicio, afterwards Bishop of
Penne and Adria; Tommaso Baldinotti of Pistoja; Alessandro Cortesi,
the talented scion of a family of San Gemignano very intimate with the
Medici; Piero Riccio, known under the Latinised name of Crinitus, and
author of a history of the old Latin poets; these and many other pupils
of Ficino, Landino, and Poliziano, belong to the _dii minorum gentium_.
Verses by some of them have been printed, while heaps lie in manuscript
in the Laurentian library to testify to the intellectual activity of
the time.[88] The verses of the Roman Carlo de’ Massimi in praise of
Pisa University have some interest for the history of literature.
Literary productions of every kind were sent to Lorenzo from all
quarters; he was the great patron of authors. Much of what he received
he sent on to San Marco and to the Abbey of Fiesole, as may be seen by
the inscriptions in the volumes.

All these men, small and great, found in Lorenzo their Mæcenas. But
he showed very early that he invested the position of patron with
more serious importance than his predecessors had done. When scarcely
three-and-twenty he brought about the restoration of the University
of Pisa, which was not only an act of justice, but, apart from its
literary importance, a token of ripe political insight that helped to
counterbalance in some degree the miseries inflicted on Volterra in the
same year (1472). The university, formed in the fourth decade of the
fourteenth century out of the existing public schools, and confirmed
in 1343 by Clement VI., fell into decay from political causes later in
the century, and finally succumbed to Florentine enmity. The mutual
animosity of the two cities is only to be paralleled in the history of
antiquity. Twenty-five years after the subjection of Pisa, the Ministry
of War at Florence wrote to Averardo de’ Medici, their commissioner
in the subject town:[89] ‘According to general opinion here, the most
effectual means of securing the town is to empty it entirely of Pisan
citizens and peasants, concerning which we have written to the Captain
of the People till we are tired. He answers that he is hindered by the
soldiery and officers. We now command thee to go to him and persuade
him to spare no harshness or severity, as we perceive that no other
remedy will avail. We have confidence in thee that thou wilt at once
set everything to work, for thou couldst do nothing more pleasing
to this whole people.’ The efficacious result was that the city was
ruined, the marshy neighbourhood left fallow to become the home of
fever, and the fleet vanished. So rooted was this hatred that when
Pisa had freed herself amid the confusion which followed on Lorenzo’s
death, Bernardo del Nero—a usually moderate man of the Medicean
party—declared that against the Pisans nothing availed save force; all
prisoners of war must be slain after the example of the Genoese, who
let the Pisan captives taken at Meloria languish to death in prison.[90]

Lorenzo early perceived that the blind enmity which ruined Pisa was
overshooting the mark. As his family held considerable property in
the district he frequently had occasion to visit the city, whose
position made it a halting-place for many travellers between northern
and southern Italy. Pisa must not be allowed to give the Florentines
any more trouble, but neither should it be allowed to perish. Two
considerations in particular seem to have prompted the re-establishment
of the old university. The first was the quiet, which was more
favourable to study than the busy life of Florence; the second was the
number and cheapness of dwellings, which were in increasing danger
of falling to ruin since trade had departed from its old abodes, and
the inhabitants were nearly all poor people. Yet Lorenzo needed great
power and moral courage to set himself against rooted hatred and
stubborn prejudices. On December 19, 1472, was issued the decree by
which the university was restored to life.[91] A board of management
was appointed—the Officiales studii—consisting of five Florentine
citizens: Tommaso Ridolfi, Donato Acciaiuolo, Andrea Puccini, Alamanno
Rinuccini, and Lorenzo de’ Medici. The yearly endowment was to consist
of 6,000 gold florins, and the statutes of the University of Florence
were to be in force at that of Pisa. Members of the state were to
be entitled to academical honours and the authority to practise in
Pisa alone. To raise the salaries of the professors, Pope Sixtus IV.
consented to a tax on the clergy to the amount of 5,000 florins in five
years, a tax which was renewed by his successor in 1497 for another
five years, and drew complaints from Ficino, Poliziano, and others.
Only the philosophical and literary branches of study were to continue
at Florence.

The credit of all this was justly given to Lorenzo. ‘I heard a few
days ago,’ wrote Antonio de’ Pazzi to him from Padua, January 29,
1473,[92] ‘that by your direction a new university is to be founded at
Pisa; at which not only we Florentine students, but foreign ones too,
are greatly delighted, seeing that Pisa is a city eminently suited
for it, and because the scheme proceeds from a man who will strive to
acquire honour by this as by all else that he undertakes.’ Scholars
came flocking from all parts, and first among them Francesco Filelfo.
He had found an asylum with the Sforza at Milan; but, dissatisfied and
restless, extravagant and in debt, he tried to change his position.
During the pontificate of Pius II. he made several attempts to this
end, but, failing in his hopes, he attacked the pontiff before
and after death with his usual invectives, and in consequence was
imprisoned for a time. In April 1473 he applied to Lorenzo. Some time
before he had managed to flatter Lorenzo’s father into forgetting
his offences against Cosimo so far as to hold one of his sons over
the font; and when in Florence in the autumn of 1469, shortly before
Piero’s death, he obtained a loan from Lorenzo.[93] The letter which
he now addressed to the latter[94] is curiously characteristic of the
man. He attacks those who had long been in their graves—Marsuppini,
Poggio, and their ‘synagogue.’ He begins by declaring that the Milanese
chancellor, Cecco Simonetta, had advised him to prefer Pisa to Rome,
where he was much wanted; and he ends with the artless assurance
that Lorenzo must know well he cannot find in all the world a second
Filelfo nor one more devoted to him. In another letter he remarks in
the same style: ‘You are aware that at the present time no one can
stand a comparison with me in my own branch.’ Simonetta, from Pavia,
seconded the appeal, and sang the vain man’s praises. Lorenzo answered
by asking what salary would be required, but the negotiation fell
through, which Medici probably did not much regret, as he must have
felt some hesitation in attaching the quarrelsome old man to his young
establishment. Besides, the sentence of banishment once passed on
Filelfo was still in force, and his services in the way of literary
invective after the conspiracy of the Pazzi had not yet smoothed
the way to his return. When he was at last summoned to Florence as
professor of eloquence and moral philosophy, he had scarcely time to
greet the city he had left for nearly half a century before he died, a
few days after his arrival, in the summer of 1481, in his eighty-third

The new-born university, which was opened in November 1473, soon
took its share in the working of many active forces in diverse
directions. In its very earliest years it would have risen to the
highly flourishing condition it afterwards attained had not various
unfavourable circumstances come in the way. The unhealthy air of
the city and neighbourhood had not been sufficiently taken into
consideration. War, desolation, poverty, made matters worse, just at
the time when Florence was also a prey to disease. For six years the
establishment kept moving from place to place. Professors and students
wandered away to Pistoja and Prato, and sometimes to Florence—even
Empoli and San Miniato were thought of—till the state of affairs was
improved, and the hitherto scattered lecturers were brought together
in a university building erected by the care of Lorenzo. There was
no lack of difficulties with the professors; the Sienese Bartolommeo
Sozzini and the Milanese brothers Decio, all professors of law, gave
Lorenzo a great deal of trouble by their unruly conduct. Among the best
professors at the outset were the jurists Baldo Bartolini of Perugia
and Francesco Accolti of Arezzo, brother of the Florentine chancellor,
and a pupil of Filelfo; Piero Leoni of Spoleto, already mentioned,
who afterwards, to his misfortune, became Lorenzo’s family doctor;
the humanists Lorenzo Lippi of Colle and Bartolommeo of Pratovecchio.
Special honours fell to the share of the Roman Francesco de’ Massimi,
who came to the university at its opening as professor of law, was made
Principal the next year, and gained such esteem both by his lectures
and by his endeavours to establish and maintain a better understanding
between the two hostile cities, that the rights of citizenship were
conferred on him and his descendants, and he was permitted to add the
arms of Pisa to his own.[95] The salaries of the professors were
mostly considerable, and Lorenzo repeatedly contributed to them out
of his own funds. The archbishop, Filippo de’ Medici, supported him
in his efforts to benefit the institution, which was conducive both
to the honour and advantage of the see. That pecuniary difficulties
could not be escaped, however, is clear from the fact that in 1485, in
consequence of the non-payment of the papal allowance, a retrenchment
of 2,000 florins was deemed needful.

The philosophical and philological lectures continued, as has been
said, at Florence, and scholarly activity there seemed in nowise
diminished by the re-animation of the sister city. Among the native
professors, Bartolommeo della Fonte (Fontius) made a name equally
distinguished in Latin and Greek literature, and left Latin memoirs on
contemporary events from 1448 to 1493, the value of which is not to be
measured by their brevity.[96] His friendship with Poliziano became
clouded when he obtained the chair of eloquence vacant by Filelfo’s
death. He does not seem to have held it long, as he undertook the
superintendence of Matthias Corvinus’ library at Ofen. The study of
Greek flourished. The chair once occupied by Argyropulos and Theodoros
was filled by the Athenian Demetrios Chalcondylas, who kept it longer
than anyone else, and left a better reputation, both for learning and
morality, than many Greek grammarians. Poliziano, who is supposed
to have perfected his knowledge of the Hellenic tongue under him,
addressed him in several Greek epigrams, which give no hint of the
rivalry afterwards said to exist between them. A fine testimony to
his Homeric studies is the edition of the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’ which
came out in 1488. Three years before, at the age of nearly seventy,
he left Florence for Milan, where he long continued to teach, having
been gladly welcomed by Lodovico Sforza, who rivalled the Medici in his
patronage of science and art. Chalcondylas’ place at Florence was taken
by Johannes Lascaris, who formed many fruitful connections with Milan,
France, and Rome, in the days of Lorenzo’s son. The knowledge of Greek
was, perhaps, never so widespread among high-born youths anywhere as in
those days in the Tuscan city to which, Poliziano said, Athens with its
native soil and all its possessions had transferred itself. In truth,
strangers eager to learn came from all quarters—England, Germany,
Portugal—just as of old everybody went to Athens. Here Alessandro
Farnese acquired that knowledge of the language and literature of
Greece which the greyhaired Pope Paul III. had not yet lost. Poliziano
thus addressed the hearers of Chalcondylas:

  Seek the Pierides not in their ancient home, O ye poets:
    For in this city of ours dwells now the heavenly choir.
  Where, do ye ask, have they chosen among us a place to abide in?
    All the nine ye will find safe in Chalcondylas’ breast.

Textual criticism was a work taken up less by foreigners than by
Italians: in Rome, especially by Lorenzo Valla and Pomponio Leto; in
Florence, by Landino, Poliziano, and Pico. Lorenzo not only encouraged
those personally intimate with him to this work, but urged others to
it, particularly the members of the Academy, which, having weathered
the storms of Paul II.’s reign, flourished with renewed vigour
under Sixtus IV., a Pope who felt no fear of the baptized heathens.
Bartolommeo Platina, writing to Lorenzo[97] to recommend the Milanese
sculptor Andrea Fusina, adds that the man felt assured of obtaining his
desire if he, Platina, interceded for him. ‘Farewell, and believe me,
thou hast few who love and honour thee like Platina.’ On March 30,
1488, Lorenzo wrote to Lanfredini on behalf of a friend of Pomponio
Leto:[98] ‘Doubtless you know, at least by name, Pomponio, one of the
most famous scholars in Rome, if not the very first, and a man much
attached to me and our whole house, so that I am greatly desirous of
doing him a favour.’

The art of studying manuscripts had first to be put on a sound basis.
The rich harvest of discoveries was now almost at an end, a few objects
of interest turning up only occasionally. Collectors had naturally
enough given themselves up to delight in the prizes thus gained,
without troubling themselves much about criticism. The necessity of
criticism became more strongly felt and exercised as continued study of
the old authors involved a stricter examination of the correctness of
the manuscripts. At first people had been too much inclined to believe
generally in their great age, and had been misled in individual cases
by the chronological notes at the end of the codices. Often, as in
the Medicean codex of the later books of the Annals of Tacitus, the
date was fixed in the fourth Christian century, when in reality the
parchments were written on by a later copyist. The corrupt state of
the manuscripts called for correction, but the correction was mostly
arbitrary. Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni, Francesco Barbaro,
and others, sought to supply what was needed, but of rules they
knew nothing. In this, above all, shines the transcendent merit of
Poliziano; though even he indulged largely in conjecture, when in his
youth he self-complacently fancied that his work on Catullus surpassed
everything of the kind. Nor did he stand alone in this respect. Ermolao
Barbaro in his edition of Pliny in 1492, Marullus in his critical works
on Lucretius, confess how often they had had recourse to emendations
of their own devising. But Poliziano thoroughly perceived that a
secure basis was only to be obtained by a comparison of MSS. where
more than one existed. When this was not the case he tried to get
a foundation for his conjectures from notes and parallel passages.
Many printed books from his library bear on their margins traces of
this comparison of MSS., to which he alludes in one of his letters to
Lorenzo.[99] The collection of critical studies which he published in
1489 under the title of ‘Miscellanea,’ at Lorenzo’s desire and with a
dedication to him, is a lasting memorial of his learning and acumen. A
painful impression is made by his dispute with Filelfo’s pupil Giorgio
Merula,[100] the editor of ‘Plautus.’ This man had been invited to
Milan by Ludovico il Moro, gave philosophical lectures there, and
though previously an admirer of Poliziano, now professed to find errors
and plagiarisms in his works. Sforza showed his good sense by trying to
calm the irritation of the Florentine when appealed to by him.

Poliziano’s critical work on the correction of the text of Justinian’s
‘Corpus Juris’ holds an honourable place in the history of this
subject. This famous copy of the Pandects was avowedly acquired by Pisa
at the conquest of Amalfi, whither it had doubtless come as a gift from
some Greek emperor, and on the overthrow of Pisa it was transferred to
Florence. Poliziano’s views of its age and authorship may have been
exploded by later criticism, but for the foundations of a better text
than that of the later MSS., and the two editions printed from them, we
still owe him thanks.[101]

While the Latin works of the humanists were being done into the
vulgar tongue, the practice of translating Greek works into Latin
was continued. Alamanno Rinuccini translated Plutarch’s ‘Lives’ and
moral writings, as well as Philostratos’ ‘Life of Apollonius of
Tyana,’ which excited special interest in an age much busied with the
theologising philosophy of the later Greeks. Alessandro Bracci did the
same for the histories of Appian, and Poliziano, as has been mentioned,
translated those of Herodian for Innocent VIII. The movement, begun in
Florence and Venice, had spread all over Italy. In the most palmy days
of these studies the invention of printing produced in the whole world
of letters a change, the possible extent of which was at once felt,
though it could not yet be measured. Books had hitherto been things
for the great and opulent, and not seldom were to be obtained only by
personal labour. There were difficulties even in the highest circles.
The spread of the new art produced not only a material increase of
literary productions, but led naturally to an immense increase of
criticism. In earlier times bitter complaints had been heard of the
corruption of the texts. The few attempts that had been made to attain
greater correctness now became a recognised branch of study. Every
corrector was not indeed a Poliziano, a Barbaro, or a Merula. The
last complains, in his edition of ‘Plautus’ of 1472, that learned and
unlearned alike busied themselves with correcting books; a circumstance
which limits the value of more than one _editio princeps_ to its mere
rarity, and explains the fact that many of the correctors of that
time rivalled their predecessors the copyists in the arbitrariness of
their proceedings. But even in the case of the learned the canons of
criticism were by no means fixed.

It is remarkable that Florence, which, when printing was introduced
into Italy, stood at the head of all literary movement, is by no means
the first city that appears in the annals of typography. In 1465, three
years after the capture of Mainz by Adolf of Nassau had scattered to
the four winds the printers established there, two Germans set up the
first printing-press in the Benedictine monastery at Subiaco, whence
ere long it was removed to the house of the Massimi at Rome. Four years
later Venice followed, then the Umbrian and other cities. In November,
1471, appeared the first book printed in Florence, the commentary of
Servius on Virgil’s ‘Bucolics,’ which was followed in the following
January by the ‘Georgics,’ and in October, 1472, by the ‘Æneid.’ But if
the city fell behind many others in point of priority, this honour is
due to her, that one of her sons cut and founded his own types, without
needing the services of a foreigner. The goldsmith Bernardo Cennini was
the first Italian who set himself up as an independent artist in this
line.[102] Born in Florence, January, 1415, he was first a silk-weaver
and then a goldsmith, and was concerned in the bronze doors of the
Baptistery, and other great works. His art led him to manufacture
types for printing. The inscription in the book printed by him, with
the help of his sons Domenico and Pietro, the first as compositor, the
second as corrector of the press,[103] shows that he was proud of the
achievement: ‘To Florentine minds nought is arduous.’ The book shows
an artistic mind in its form and typographical arrangement, but the
round type is lacking in sharpness and evenness. The pecuniary result
can scarcely have been worth the trouble and outlay. When we find that
Cennini, after spending sixteen months on the production of the folio
volume, pledged his house for a loan of 120 florins, we can understand
why he returned to his old occupation, and why no other book printed by
him is forthcoming. In course of time Bernardo Cennini, whose sight had
suffered greatly, became consul of his guild, and died in 1483, twelve
years after the attempt which brought him a name and somewhat tardy

Next a German who had established himself in Florence, Johannes,
son of Peter of Mainz, printed Boccaccio’s ‘Filocolo’ in 1472, and
afterwards joined the typographical society which took its name from
the Dominican nunnery at Ripoli.[104] Its local habitation is still
shown in one of the schoolrooms of the educational institute named
after the same in the Via della Scala. From this establishment,
founded by the spiritual directors of the convent and connected
with a type-foundry, issued first, in 1476, some lauds and prayers,
then the ‘Commentary of Donatus’ and the ‘Legend of S. Catherine of
Siena,’ which, both in the common form and in copies with illuminated
initials, obtained a great circulation. This printing establishment,
in which many both of the clergy and laity had a share, and in which
the nuns were employed as compositors, produced a great deal of work
during its short existence of eight years. In 1477 printing was begun
by Nicolaus of Breslau, already mentioned; in 1478 he brought out the
‘editio princeps’ of Celsus, and three years later Landino’s ‘Dante.’
In 1481, Antonio Miscomini printed Savonarola’s ‘Triumphus Crucis,’ a
proof of the increasing notice attracted by the eloquent and learned
Dominican. Next came Ficino’s ‘Platonic Theology,’ and translation
of ‘Plotinus.’ In 1488 the series of Greek books issued in Florence
opened brilliantly with the ‘Homer,’ dedicated to Lorenzo’s eldest son.
Chalcondylas undertook the correction, the difficulty of which called
forth his remark, in the preface, that the text had been so corrupted
by the carelessness of copyists that it was, so to say, impossible to
find it entire in any codex, however old. The expenses were borne by
Bernardo and Neri, sons of Tanai de’ Nerli, a noble citizen. Lorenzo
Alopa of Venice is said to have printed the beautiful volume, which was
soon followed by numerous others. The most celebrated Florentine family
of typographers, that of the Giunta, did not begin their labours till
Lorenzo de’ Medici had long been in his grave.

The extended use of typography had, however, as yet by no means
diminished the value of manuscripts or put an end to the work of
the copyists, while the need and difficulty of unearthing literary
treasures was as great as ever. The explanation of this is to be found
in the material perfection to which the art of the copyists had been
brought, a perfection of which the proud consciousness was expressed
in Vespasiano’s disdainful remark on printing. This branch of industry
went on flourishing for many years, to disappear at last and leave
scarcely a trace behind. One of the most brilliant, though not the
most important, of the treasures of the Laurentiana, the works of St.
Augustine in sixteen folio volumes full of miniatures and ornaments,
was begun in the time of Piero de’ Medici and finished shortly before
the death of Lorenzo (two of the volumes are dated 1491). It may
not have been completed till the time of his second son, unless the
escutcheon with the balls and the Triregnum points to Leo X. only as
the possessor of the work and not as concerned in its execution.

In the diffusion of literary treasures, both of classical and modern
works, and in the relations of the latter to the general public, who
now for the first time became really acquainted with them, was brought
about that great change which gives to this period double importance
in the history of intellectual development. At Lorenzo’s death this
revolution had hardly reached its first stage; but his keen vision
perceived its growing importance when he observed that in the course of
twenty-eight years Italy had come to take a more prominent share than
other lands in the activity of the press. This showed, quite as much as
the previous rapid development of Greek literature, that the country
was ready to make an independent and profitable use of the gifts of
foreign countries. The invention of printing and the discovery of
America were in some degree the two great landmarks of Lorenzo’s life.
The first created actual publicity, the second opened a new horizon to
the world.

Never were manuscripts more eagerly collected and copied than in those
days. The sum of the collections was not so great as in the days
of Poggio and Leonardo Bruni; still the libraries were increasing
everywhere. Greece, which had contributed so largely to enrich the
West in the first half of the century, and after the fall of the
Eastern empire, was still the principal mine. Witness the two journeys
of Johannes Lascaris, the second of which, like that of Bernardo
Michelozzi, was entirely devoted to searching the monastery of Mount
Athos. Its results, as already stated, reached Florence after Lorenzo’s
death. As early as 1472 Lorenzo had projected a building, probably near
the palace in the Via Larga, destined to contain the great number of
manuscripts collected by his grandfather, his father, and himself. This
appears from a letter addressed to him by Vespasiano da Bisticci, in
which the latter recalls their frequent conversations on the subject,
and adds that such an undertaking would do great honour to Lorenzo as
well as to the town; and that he had written about it to the Duke of
Calabria, the Count of Urbino, and Alessandro Sforza, Lord of Pesaro,
knowing how much pleasure it would give them. Doubtless the manifold
cares and disturbances which prevented Lorenzo from imitating his
grandfather in the number and splendour of his buildings hindered him
from executing this plan in good time. Consequently at his premature
death the library was but half finished. It is now impossible to make
out even the site of the building, since it is uncertain whether it
was the same chosen many years afterwards by his nephew Pope Clement
VII. for the existing Mediceo-Laurentian library. We still possess the
inventory of the private library of the Medici, drawn up in 1495,
when the books were made over to the convent of San Marco. There they
remained, through many vicissitudes, till 1508, when Cardinal Giovanni
de’ Medici bought them and transferred them to Rome; after his death
they returned to Florence, to form the chief part of the San Lorenzo

It may be imagined that many of Lorenzo’s fellow-citizens were his
rivals in book-collecting. A fine library had once been formed by
Piero de’ Pazzi, son of Andrea. Francesco and Angelo Gaddi followed
his example, and the great public library of their native city
contains many books once in their possession. Poliziano’s friend, the
accomplished merchant Filippo Sassetti the elder, also made a large
collection. The good custom of making special bequests to secure these
literary treasures from dispersion was kept up. Boccaccio had done
this, and Riccoli, Traversari, Cardinal Piero Corsini and others; and
in like manner Ugolini Guigni, Bishop of Volterra, left his books to
the Benedictine abbey at Florence.[106] In 1477, Jacopo Salvini, Bishop
of Cortona, bequeathed his collection to Lorenzo de’ Medici.[107] The
latter had literary correspondents everywhere. In 1476 we find him
corresponding with the Milanese Gio. Francesco della Torre, who, with
Maestro Bonaccorso of Pisa, had purchased the books of Andronikos
Kallistos, when the latter purposed returning from Lombardy to his own
home.[108] Giovanni Rossi of Candia, who had been employed by Cardinal
Bessarion, was also made use of by Lorenzo, apparently to look after
copies of manuscripts.[109] Among those more closely connected with him
in later years, Poliziano, Pico, and Ermolao Barbaro took charge of
the enrichment of his collection and that of the convent libraries of
San Marco, Fiesole, and San Gallo. Ho said once to Poliziano, he wished
that he and Pico could procure him so many books that his income would
not suffice to buy them, and he should be obliged to pawn his household
goods. He kept copyists in many places, especially at Padua, which, as
the residence of so many great scholars and from its connection with
the Levant through Venice, was a spot favourable to book collectors.

The difficulty and expense of obtaining manuscripts in earlier times
has been already noticed. Even in Lorenzo’s latter years it was by no
means easy, and his correspondence shows that once, in the very height
of his glory, he had to apply in his own handwriting to a prince who
was probably under obligation to him, in order to obtain the loan
of Dion Cassius. ‘There is in your Excellency’s library,’ he wrote
on February 5, 1486, to Duke Ercole d’Este, ‘a historian, by name
Dio, _de Romanis historiis_, that I earnestly desire to see, both on
account of the enjoyment and consolation which history affords me,
and because my son Piero, who has some knowledge of Greek literature,
has begged me to help him to become acquainted with this author, who,
I understand, is very rare in Italy. Your Excellency can understand
how highly I shall prize the favour, if you will lend me the book
for a few days.’ Notwithstanding their intimacy, the Duke did not
send the original, but allowed a copy to be made by a copyist sent to
Ferrara for the purpose. Two years later he had Niccolò Leoniceno’s
translation copied for Lorenzo, on condition that it was neither to
be printed nor allowed to go any further.[110] In the spring of 1491
Poliziano was, as we have seen, in Venice, where he bought for his
patron a quantity of manuscripts now in the Laurentiana. He was refused
permission to see Cardinal Bessarion’s collection of books, although
the Ferrarese ambassador used his influence with the Doge Agostino
Barbarigo—a strange token of petty mistrust.[111] ‘Your diligence in
having Greek works copied, and the favour you show to scholars,’ wrote
Poliziano to Lorenzo about this time, ‘procures for you such honour and
attachment as no one has enjoyed for many years past.’ He mentioned
at the same time the admiration for Lorenzo expressed by a Venetian
poetess honoured by all scholars and literary men, as well as by popes
and kings. ‘Last evening I visited Cassandra Fedele,[112] to whom I
presented your salutations, Lorenzo; she is really admirable, both in
Latin and in the vulgar tongue, withal very modest, and, in my opinion,
also beautiful. I left her astonished. She is devoted to you, and
speaks of you as if she knew all about you. Some day she will certainly
come to Florence to visit you, so prepare to do her honour.’

Lorenzo’s example did not fail to bring forth fruit in his own house.
Leo X. laboured all his life to follow it, with a zeal in collecting
which showed that his father’s spirit survived in him. Piero, with
his tutor Poliziano, superintended the arrangement and enrichment of
the library, sending reports about it to his father, when the latter
was ill at the baths. We learn from one of his letters[113] that the
Medici, in the interests of their library, took advantage of the
death of King Matthias Corvinus (April 4, 1490) to secure a number of
his copyists and agents who were then thrown out of employment. That
monarch vied with the book collectors of his time, and spent more than
30,000 gold florins yearly on the increase of his library at Ofen. In
1488 he sent an agent to Florence with full power to make purchases and
superintend the taking of copies. The efforts made by this active and
high-minded ruler of a people still half barbarous, however capable of
development, were always assisted by Lorenzo, as became his friendly
relations with Matthias. Long before the days of Matthias Corvinus
there had been a literary and artistic connection between Florence
and Hungary through Filippo Scolari, commonly called Pippo Spano by
his countrymen, from his title of Count Palatine (_Obergespann_) of
Temesvar; he held an influential position under Sigismund of Luxemburg.
The connection with the Italian literary world had been actively kept
up by the powerful Archbishop of Gran, Johann Vitez, who founded a high
school at Ofen; still more by his nephew, Janus Pannonius, Bishop of
Fünfkirchen, who studied at Padua under Guarino, and visited Cosimo de’
Medici at Careggi.

From his youth Lorenzo had extended his attention beyond what are
called literary treasures in the narrower sense. In another field,
bordering at once on the study of antiquity and on that of history, his
name must also be mentioned with distinction. The range of classical
studies was extended to ancient monuments. Rome, for centuries active
only in destruction, began to be ashamed of the bad name which such
barbarism had brought upon her. The time of Sixtus IV., with all
its sins, was the turning-point. Like his successor and namesake,
Sixtus V., the Pope did not entirely refrain from demolishing ancient
monuments; but works of art and inscriptions were safe. The Roman
Academy strove to wipe out the blot pointed at in an epigram by Pius II.

The great increase in the collection of old inscriptions drew
attention to those valuable witnesses of old times. At the same time
the disappearance of these memorials through decay and careless
removal gave warning that their contents must be secured by copying.
What had been once undertaken by Nicola Signorini, Giovanni Dondi,
Poggio, Ciriaco, perhaps even before them by Cola di Rienzi, was now
continued under the guidance of Pomponio Leto and his friends, with the
sympathy of all Italy. Inscribed stones were diligently collected in
Rome, Naples, and northern Italy. Bernardo Rucellai copied a number
of epigraphs from the originals in Rome. One of the most valuable
of these collections of transcriptions was dedicated to Lorenzo de’
Medici by its author, the Dominican Fra Giocondo of Verona. He was
one of those many-sided geniuses frequent at the time; versed in
classical literature and in knowledge of antiquity. His pupil, Julius
Cæsar Scaliger, called him a living library of ancient and modern
learning. He was an engineer and architect, active in many ways at
Rome, at Venice, and in France, and at an advanced age master-builder
of the Vatican Basilica, under Leo X. The copy of the collection of
inscriptions presented by Fra Giocondo to Lorenzo de’ Medici, who
came in contact with him through Alessandro Cortesi, has disappeared,
but other copies remain. The dedication of the work is an eloquent
lamentation over the state of ancient Rome, and over the dispersion
or destruction of stone and bronze tablets. It offers a warm tribute
to their value, and an acknowledgment of Lorenzo’s interest in these
studies. Poliziano and other friends made use of the careful work of
the energetic Veronese, who was in communication both with the future
Pope and his brother Giuliano, to whom he dedicated his commentary on
Cæsar’s ‘Gallic War,’ and the later edition of ‘Vitruvius.’[114]

Such were the literary tendencies which, notwithstanding the rivalry
of other cities, had their chief centre and focus at Florence; such
was the circle of men which had gathered together in this city. Vacant
places were soon filled up again. Like Lorenzo himself, several of
the most prominent were in the prime of life, and younger men began
to make good their claims. Such were Marcello Virgilio Adriani, who,
after Scala’s death, restored the chancellorship to its pristine
glory, and Bernardo Dovizj, who grew up in the house of the Medici,
and afterwards gained a worldwide reputation as Cardinal of Bibiena.
Whatever personal divergences there might be in the group, Lorenzo held
them all together: all did homage to him, all acknowledged him as their
leader. It was no cringing homage to a mighty lord; many of those who
stood nearest to him gained little in worldly goods by their position,
and others were too high and independent to need his help. It was the
homage due to a richly endowed mind with noble aims and endeavours.
Regardless of all inequalities of rank and position, freedom and ease
reigned in this circle. When the meetings were academical, they were
free from the formality which afterwards crept into academical life.
Lorenzo de’ Medici, cheerful and sociable, maintained unconstrained
intercourse with his literary friends. He received them everywhere: in
the house in Via Larga, in the garden of San Marco, in the villas at
Careggi and Poggio a Cajano. The more intimate of them accompanied him
also when he went to the baths or to Pisa, or when he paced the convent
cloisters in serious discourse with the clergy. The Platonic Academy,
an inheritance from his grandfather, was only one manifestation of this
multiform social life. It was so strangely composed that it is not
surprising the Platonists sometimes fell into very un-Platonic ways.
There is something half comic about a letter of Landino’s dated 1464,
the year Cosimo died;[115] it is a petition on behalf of the herald of
the Priory Palace, who had been dismissed from his post for keeping a
girl hidden two days in his room. He solicits pardon upon the following
pleas: his wife was expecting her confinement, he had two little
daughters and an aged mother, and was a member of the Platonic Academy.

Lorenzo sometimes took part in the meetings of the learned society,
which he was fond of summoning to Careggi, being less disturbed there
than in the city. In both places the Symposia were renewed which,
according to Alexandrian tradition, were to celebrate the day of
Plato’s birth and death (November 7). Marsilio Ficino has described
one of these banquets which took place under the presidency either
of Lorenzo or Francesco Bandini.[116] Among the guests were Marsilio
and his father, Landino, Antonio degli Agli Bishop of Fiesole, Carlo
and Cristoforo Marsuppini, Giovanni Cavalcanti, Bernardo Nuzzi, and
Tommaso Benci. The academical celebration or exercise succeeded the
repast. Plato’s ‘Symposion’—the book which treats of the tokens of
love at similar happy meetings, and a commentary on which Marsilio
furnished in his treatise on love—was used as a starting-point for
free disputation, the parts being divided among the persons present.
Giovanni Cavalcanti developed the ‘Phædro,’ and showed how the birth
of Eros from the conjunction of the earth with chaos, amid the throes
of creation and the struggle for light, signified the original motive
force of all that is good, noble, and beautiful in mankind. With this
discourse was connected the exposition, also allotted to Cavalcanti,
of the speech of Pausanias on the double Aphrodite, and Urania; on
the distinction and confusion between moral and physical affections,
their emanation, extension, stages of purification, and participation
in the manifold forces of nature. Landino undertook to explain the
speech of Aristophanes. According to this, love is the never-sleeping
longing of man for a return to his former state of oneness with the
Divine, from which Zeus, in wrath, had divided him by means of his
earthly form and by sin. To Carlo Marsuppini fell the discourse of
Agathon, which glorifies the qualities of the god who is at once so
various and yet blends all variety into unity. Tommaso Benci devoted
himself to pointing out the connection between the Christian view and
the supposed inspired words of the priestess Diotima, who disclosed to
Socrates the nature of a love that raises man to the highest good or
sinks him to the lowest depths of evil. Cristoforo Marsuppini undertook
to bring into harmony with the Socratic doctrine of Love the poems of
Guido Cavalcanti, to which, as an emanation of Greek philosophy in
the arena of the new-born Italian literature, great importance was
attached by contemporaries, especially by Lorenzo de’ Medici. Such were
the occupations of these famous assemblies. Their positive scientific
results were not great, yet they afford a brilliant testimony to the
cultivation which enabled the upper classes in Florence to take part in
the noblest intellectual efforts.

While poetry and philosophy were thus flourishing, the exact sciences
were making considerable progress. It is doubtful whether Fra Luca
Paciolo, of Borgo San Sepolcro—who first recalled true geometry to
life by his exposition of Euclid, and who exercised so much influence
on Leonardo da Vinci—began his labours during the lifetime of
Lorenzo. But Paolo del Pozzo Toscanelli, the physician, philosopher,
naturalist, and mathematician, commenced his studies as early as the
days of Cosimo the Elder. In 1468 he laid down the famous meridian
in Sta. Maria del Fiore, primarily for the purpose of ascertaining
exactly the solstices in order to fix the festivals of the Church.
The importance of the work was appreciated by later generations, and
the task was performed more perfectly 300 years afterwards, at the
suggestion of La Condamine.[117] It is well known that Toscanelli,
who died in 1482, aged seventy-five, exerted great influence on the
mind of Christopher Columbus by his calculations of the longitudinal
extent of Eastern Asia, which, however, rested chiefly on Marco Polo’s
mistaken hypotheses. Long after Toscanelli’s death, Columbus—when
upon his first voyage—made use of the map, marked with the latitudes
and longitudes, which the former had once sent to Lisbon. It was in
the last years of Lorenzo’s life that a man whose name is more famous
than his deeds, and who has been the subject of renewed controversy in
our own times, left his home to seek a new one in Southern Spain.[118]
The family of Amerigo Vespucci, which reckoned among the navigator’s
near relatives men of both scientific and political importance, was
sometimes on friendly, sometimes on hostile terms with the Medici;
but we hear nothing of any personal relation between him and Lorenzo.
About the age of forty, Amerigo settled in Seville, where he joined the
banking and commercial house of his fellow-countryman Giovanni Berardi.
Well furnished with knowledge, to which his learned uncle Giorgio
Antonio had contributed not a little, he began a course of practical
preparations for the undertaking which led him to the Far West. Not
with the Florentines, but with a schoolman of Lorraine, originated the
name of the new continent which, as long as the world stands, will
recall Amerigo Vespucci. Still the Florentines rightly rejoiced in the
fame of their countryman. A later generation has seen the house of his
forefathers turned into a hospital, and has inscribed on it in homage
to his memory: ‘Ob repertam Americam sui et patriæ nominis illustratori
amplificatori orbis terrarum.’ When the news of his discoveries made in
the voyage of 1497 reached Florence, the Signoria had the above-named
house illuminated for three nights, a distinction they were wont to
bestow only on the most conspicuous merit.





THE early years of Cosimo de’ Medici were passed during the great
revolution in art by which realism, united with reminiscences of the
antique, enforced its claims, and, superseding the Gothic and Pisan
styles in architecture and sculpture, restricted that of Giotto, in
painting, to a narrow circle of recognised types. Art had struck out
for itself these new paths before Cosimo became ruler of the whole
state; but he influenced its rapid development by his active sympathy
and by a liberality rarely equalled by private individuals or even
by princes. Independently of the encouragement he afforded to talent
in his princely capacity, he gave honourable commissions to artists
from his own resources. In personal intercourse with them he united
a thorough knowledge of art with a sympathetic affability which did
equal honour to them and to himself. His two favourite architects,
Brunelleschi and Michelozzo, have been already mentioned. The former
died eighteen years before him, the latter survived him about six
years. He justly valued their genius, and promoted a friendly
understanding between them while employing both on important works.
It was Brunelleschi who continued the building of the church of San
Lorenzo and the abbey of Fiesole.

After the days of Giovanni di Bicci both branches of the Medici seem
to have been reunited. The church of San Lorenzo was the parish church
of Cosimo’s branch, and the burial-place of both. As early as 1415
there had been a talk of enlarging this sacred edifice, which dated
from the earliest years of Christianity. Three years later a street
at the back, the Via de’ Preti—a name ill-suited to the occupations
of its inhabitants—was assigned to the Chapter for the purpose of
enlargement. They began to rebuild the choir in 1419.[119] With other
members of wealthy families, Giovanni de’ Bicci, having pledged himself
to build some chapels, undertook the sacristy, which, for harmony of
proportions, both in its cupola and ground-plan, and for the excellence
of its decorations, claims the highest admiration. What the father had
begun the son continued on a larger scale. On September 23, 1440—while
the building of the new church was proceeding under the direction of
Brunelleschi, the older one still being in use—Cosimo buried his
brother Lorenzo there. Upon this occasion Pope Eugene IV. sent the
cardinals and prelates of his court with the banner of the church and
his own, and 100 wax candles. Two years later Cosimo proceeded to
complete the choir and cupola on condition of gaining the right of
patronage for himself and his heirs, in return for which privilege he
gave the chapter a state bond for 40,000 florins towards the expenses
of the building. On May 15, 1457, the court of the Canonica was
begun; it was finished, as well as the high altar and those in the
transepts, four years after, and finally the high altar was consecrated
by Archbishop Orlando Bonarli on August 9, 1461. Two years before,
a college for young clergy had been opened near the church, which
retains its chapter to this day.[120] San Lorenzo is a basilica with
columns. It has arches resting on an entablature laid on the capitals,
a square end to the choir, a cupola, a flat roof, and chapels of no
great depth. A walk through the cloisters of the Canonica recalls times
long gone by. Two ranges of arcades enclose the quadrangle and lead to
the little dwellings of the canons and to the famous library, which,
in its present form, is a work of later days. The mighty dome of the
cathedral and the bell-tower of Giotto look down into these cloisters,
the stillness of which contrasts with the din of the busy streets
around; while its whole appearance reminds the spectator of the homely
simplicity, the frugality, and noble generosity which prevailed at the
time of its erection.

The work said to have been executed for Cosimo at Fiesole by
Brunelleschi was scarcely less important. At the foot of the hill
there, in the valley of the Mugnone, lay the old abbey church,
believed to be the original cathedral of the Etruscan city. In 1439,
by command of Pope Eugene IV., it was handed over by the Benedictines
to the regular canons of St. Augustine; and Cosimo de’ Medici, who
was a friend of the Prior—Don Timoteo of Verona—began the new
building. The church still retains the middle compartment of its
original façade, belonging to the præ-Gothic period. Containing a
nave and chapels of considerable dimensions, the building is simple
and artistic. Doubts have been thrown on Vasari’s assertion that it
is really Brunelleschi’s, it being quite unlike his other works.[121]
The building of the convent presented many difficulties on account of
the slope of the ground, and was finished by Cosimo’s son in 1466. It
has long been diverted from its original use, but continued to be the
domicile of the founder and his family, whose arms were carved upon
it, at a later period. Here the Platonic Academy held its meetings,
and here a great-grandson of Cosimo donned the purple as cardinal, and
another—Giuliano, Duke of Nemours—drew his last breath. In later days
the church was enriched with many beautiful works of art; but in vain
do we look round the great building, which neither Brunelleschi nor
Cosimo lived to see completed, for the learned men and the collection
of books that were once in a double sense its best ornaments.[122]

Brunelleschi’s work in the neighbourhood of the city was surpassed
in grandeur by a building of Michelozzo’s within the walls. In 1436
the Medici brothers obtained from Pope Eugene IV. the cession of the
Silvestrine[123] convent of San Marco to the Dominicans of Fiesole, who
had just settled beside the little church of San Giorgio, on the left
bank of the Arno. In the following year the rebuilding of the convent
and restoration of the church was begun; not without difficulties
on the part of the former owners, who actually entered a protest at
the Council of Basle. The cost of reconstruction was borne mainly by
the Medici, with some assistance from the community. The church was
consecrated on the feast of the Epiphany, 1442, by Cardinal Acciapacci,
Archbishop of Capua, in presence of the Pope and his court.[124] A
considerable portion of the convent was finished in 1443; but the whole
was not completed till eight years later. The traces of Michelozzo’s
hand are no longer to be seen in the church; the choir and apse were
rebuilt two hundred years after him.

It is impossible to walk through the great courts, the broad vaulted
corridors, the endless rows of cells opening into the passages, and
the noble library, without remembering that this convent was the scene
of many famous events in peace and war that influenced the fate of
the city, and left their mark in the history not of Italy only, but
of the human mind.[125] Cosimo was continually employing Michelozzo,
who, besides the family palace, built for him the Noviciate of Sta.
Croce and the adjoining chapel; remodelled the villas at Careggi,
Cafaggiuolo, and Trebbio, and executed other works, some of them beyond
the Tuscan border. Among the latter was the decoration of the palace
at Milan, entrusted to him by Francesco Sforza, for which purpose
Michelozzo visited that city. Here also he built for Pigello Portinari,
director of the Medicean bank, a chapel in Sant’ Eustorgio after the
model of that of the Pazzi in Sta. Croce. Cosimo’s sons employed him
likewise. He is commonly believed to have designed for Piero the
elegant chapel of the Annunziata, over whose altar hangs the thirteenth
century picture of the Annunciation, which gave rise to the building
of the church. This building, a quadrangular open chapel, with fluted
Corinthian columns of marble supporting a richly decorated entablature,
and enclosed by an elegant brass trellis, was executed by Pagno di
Lapo Partigiani, a sculptor of Fiesole, and consecrated by Cardinal
Guillaume d’Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen, on Christmas day,

About the same time, Michelozzo executed for Piero the marble
tabernacle destined to contain a figure of Christ in the nave of the
basilica of San Miniato. It consists of a canopy supported on composite
marble columns and pilasters, the interior richly decorated with
rose-coloured ornaments of glazed earth in square panels. On the frieze
is the Medicean device, the three feathers with the diamond ring and
the motto _Semper_, on the arch the escutcheon of the Calimala guild,
in relief. Inside the tabernacle stands the altar with painting and
_predella_.[127] For Giovanni, Cosimo’s younger son, Michelozzo built
on the heights of Fiesole a villa, visible from a great distance,
which afterwards passed to the Mozzi family. The architect was also
employed by connections of the Medici. For Giovanni Tornabuoni he
built the great palace near Sta. Trinità, which still gives its name
to the street. To gain more space, it afterwards became necessary to
demolish the front part of this palace, which, with its ground floor of
rustic-work and its plain arched windows, had a somewhat sombre effect.

While Michelozzo’s time was chiefly taken up by the Medici,
Brunelleschi was active in other quarters. The progress and final
completion of his great work, the dome of the cathedral, has already
been mentioned. On August 30, 1436, the roofing-in was celebrated by
the pealing of all the bells in the city and the chanting of a _Te
Deum_. Eight years later the scaffolding was raised for building the
lantern, which was begun in 1446, shortly before the death of the great
master, who was succeeded by Michelozzo.[128] His beautiful arcade at
the Foundling Hospital has been mentioned. The similar loggia of San
Paolo was placed opposite Sta. Maria Novella, at the southern end of
the piazza. He built a chapel for the Pazzi family in the front court
of the convent of Sta. Croce. Its walls are covered with Corinthian
pilasters, high niches, and terra-cotta alto-rilievos; the cupola rests
on two side-arches richly panelled and decorated with designs in glazed
earth; the pendants being ornamented with terra-cotta rilievos of the
Evangelists. Decoration and colour are here kept just within the limits
of good taste. Andrea de’ Pazzi began the building, which was finished
by his son Jacopo, so that Brunelleschi can hardly have lived to see
its completion.[129] The official residence of the Capitani di parte
Guelfa in the Via delle Terme, rebuilt by Brunelleschi, still exists,
though with many alterations. The architect saw only the beginnings
of his second greatest work, the palace of Luca Pitti. In Vasari’s
time, when Eleonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence, purchased the
unfinished building—appropriately called, by an art-writer of those
days, _muraglia_—the original plan was no longer to be found. Many
alterations were made in succeeding centuries down to the present, when
the extensive wings, intended as halls, were built. But the façade has
kept its original stamp, and Vasari’s words remain true—that Tuscan
architecture has produced no richer or grander creation. This grandeur
is united with the greatest simplicity; and it is the absence of all
ornament upon the three stages of rustic-work, with their gigantic
bow-windows, crowned with galleries, which gives the building its
peculiar character. The palace is said to have been begun in 1440, long
before the time of Luca Pitti’s ephemeral greatness.[130] His villa
at Rusciano was begun about the time of Brunelleschi’s death, so that
the great artist saw little of the execution of his plan, which was
carried on by Luca Fancelli. While Brunelleschi here aimed at attaining
the whole effect by the majesty and harmony of the proportions, in the
palace of Jacopo de’ Pazzi he allowed more play to decoration.

It is doubtful whether Cosimo de’ Medici employed the most learned
artist of the time, Leon Batista Alberti. His chief works in Florence,
with one exception, were executed for the Rucellai. Among them may be
mentioned the palace, the loggia, the upper part of the façade of Sta.
Maria Novella, finished in 1470; and the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre
at San Pancrazio, an imitation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
at Jerusalem.[131] The Rucellai palace, in which are retained the
bow-windows divided by small columns, points to the days of Bramante.
It exhibits a combination of flat decorative pilasters of various
orders with smooth rustic-work, antique ornaments on the rectangular
doors, and traces of the square form in the bow-windows. Alberti
also made designs for another work, which has given occasion to so
many objections that its defects have been attributed to alterations
by another hand. This is the choir of the Annunziata, commenced in
1451 by Lodovico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, who, as victorious
commander-in-chief of the Republic, desired to found a memorial at
once of his piety and his thankfulness. A quarter of a century elapsed
before the building was finished by Luca Fancelli. The exterior is
octagonal, the interior round, with several chapels in irregular
order, and numerous windows round the base of the large cupola, which
is closed, and was ornamented in the seventeenth century with figures
in fresco. In our own day redecoration has given to the choir as
well as the rest of this dazzlingly-gilt church a thoroughly modern

Sculpture, no less than architecture, was in full activity. Here
also we find in the foremost rank those artists whom the Medici had
attached to themselves; among whom Donatello stood first, while his
pupils benefited by the favour shown to him. The Medici mansion was
full of Donatello’s works. Over the arches in the front court are eight
medallions by him, with reliefs in marble; and he restored many of the
antique heads over the doors. His other works are all scattered. During
Cosimo’s exile, the bronze David with his foot on the head of Goliath
was taken away and set up in the palace-yard of the Signoria. The owner
seems to have been shy of reclaiming it, and finally, in May 1476, his
grandsons sold it to the municipality.[133] During the second exile
of the Medici, another work of Donatello’s was taken from their house
and placed at the great gate of the same palace, with an inscription
recalling the events of 1494.[134] This is the group of Judith and
Holofernes, full of expression, but forced and offending against the
rules of plastic composition. A loss to be regretted is that of the
bronze bust of Madonna Contessina, which Donatello executed for her

San Lorenzo still contains many of his works, placed there by the
indefatigable benefactor of this church. Besides the decorations of the
sacristy, &c., there are the reliefs on the pulpits; artistically they
are in fault by their superabundance and want of repose, but the fault
is one of a man of talent. In point of technical execution, they show
a distinct retrogression when compared with contemporary works. It was
not only in works of this kind that Donatello displayed an extravagance
that belies the sense of beauty. He did so even in the dancing children
executed in marble relief for the organ at Sta. Maria del Fiore.

Vespasiano da Bisticci describes Cosimo’s attachment to this man. ‘He
was,’ says he,[135] ‘a great friend of Donatello, and of all painters
and sculptors. Finding there was little work for the latter, and not
liking Donatello to remain inactive, he entrusted to him the pulpits
and the doors of the sacristy at San Lorenzo; giving orders that
whatever he needed for his own requirements and those of his four
assistants should be paid to him weekly from the Medici bank.’ As
Donatello did not dress to Cosimo’s liking, the latter presented him
with a cloak and hood, an upper garment to wear under the cloak, and
a whole suit, sending all this to him on the morning of a feast day.
Donatello put the new things on a few times only, declining to wear
them any longer, lest ‘people should think he had grown effeminate.’
How thoroughly Donatello was regarded as belonging to the Medici
household is shown by the fact that the Marquis Ludovico Gonzaga once
asked Cosimo to send the artist to Mantua to execute a shrine modelled
in 1450, to be set up during the expected visit of Pope Pius II.[136]
Many other artists were on confidential terms with Cosimo and his
family. Michelozzo’s two sons belonged almost to the family circle.
In the last years of Cosimo, Donatello could no longer work, so his
generous patron maintained him, and recommended him to his son Piero.
The latter gave him a farm, as he said, ‘to provide him with bread
and wine.’ The artist, however, gave back the gift in legal form, not
wishing to embitter his life with household cares; whereupon Piero had
the value of the produce assigned to him at the bank. In 1462 Piero
granted him space for a vault in San Lorenzo, near the sacristy; and
here, where so many of his works are to be seen, he was buried in 1468,
not far from those who had so valued him during life.[137]

After Donatello, most closely connected with the Medici, father and
son, were two masters who, while fairly admitting the claims of the
realistic principle, carried it out in a different spirit and in more
ideal forms. Lorenzo Ghiberti, who finished the second door of the
Baptistery in 1452, with the help of his son Vettorio, and in spite
of his seventy-two years, undertook the commission for a third. He
continued till the later years of Cosimo busily engaged on the rich
silver reredos, in which Michelozzo, Verocchio, Bernardo Cennini,
Antonio Pollaiuolo, and others, had a share. He also designed the great
rose-window of Sta. Maria del Fiore, at which Francesco di Domenico
Livi of Gambassi, who learned glass-painting in Germany, was working
in 1436, and Bernardo di Francesco in 1443. Glass-painting in the true
sense of the word was then just beginning to flourish; until that
time coloured windows had been produced by simply putting variously
tinted glass together in mosaic patterns. Many trod in the steps of
Francesco Livi: notably Ser Guasparre da Volterra, who worked in the
cathedral at Siena; while in Florence, Pisa, and Arezzo, the art was
practised by the Jesuates of the order of the B. Giovanni Colombini,
who were established in Florence in 1438, in the convent of San Giusto
before Porta Pinti, and there built the great church which was pulled
down in 1529. It was chiefly by them that Sta. Maria del Fiore, Sta.
Croce, San Michele, and other buildings, were glazed with coloured

In 1440 Ghiberti finished for the cathedral the shrine of St. Zanobi,
one of his finest works. To Piero de’ Medici he furnished goldsmith’s
work which brought him great admiration and commissions from Pope
Eugene IV. Besides this master, now growing old, the Medici employed
a younger one, Luca della Robbia. His style is graceful rather than
grand; full of tender and lively expression of feeling, and pleasing
execution in drapery and grouping. His works in the cathedral
show equal fertility of invention and technical skill. One is the
marble relief for the organ gallery, representing a boy and girl
playing and dancing, executed in 1438 as a companion-piece to that
of Donatello;[139] and the other, not so good, is the door of the
sacristy, finished in 1463, with its bronze reliefs of the Madonna,
the Evangelists, and the Fathers of the Church.[140] The monument to
Benozzo Federighi, Bishop of Fiesole[141] (who died in 1450), with the
figure lying on the bier, displays his capabilities in this direction.
But Luca della Robbia is less distinguished by his sculptures in marble
and brass than by the reliefs in glazed earth which, called after him,
were supplied by his descendants for 100 years. They still abound in
Florence and the whole of Tuscany, even to the mountain convents of the
Apennines and the modest churches of remote towns, while numbers of
them have wandered into foreign lands. Anyone taking a walk in Florence
may enjoy these charming creations: lunettes or groups above the doors
of churches and houses, medallions of infants on the portico of the
Foundling Hospital, heads of saints, tabernacles, heraldic escutcheons,
some plain white on a blue ground, some with a judicious mixture of
colours and a rich border of entwined leaves and fruit. These works
form an almost inexhaustible treasury, with a marked character of
graceful earnestness and truth to nature; a help to architecture as
long as the decorative element kept its place in the old manner, which
in the fourteenth century employed both glass and colour. But they were
invaluable for interior decoration, for which Brunelleschi used work in
‘Terra della Robbia’ in the Pazzi chapel. Luca himself decorated for
Cosimo de’ Medici a room in his palace and the buildings in Sta. Croce,
and for Piero the tabernacle in San Miniato; in the latter church he
also assisted in giving to the chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal the
charm of harmonious perfection.

In the last years of Cosimo de’ Medici grew up a whole generation of
younger sculptors. Their most important works are sepulchral monuments,
which became richer and grander as time went on. Formerly people had,
as a rule, been content with sarcophagi more or less decorated, like
that of Noferi, the father of Palla Strozzi, who died in 1418 and
is buried in the sacristy of Sta. Trinità, beneath an arch resting
on elegant corbels, and on the edges of which are seen pretty genii
playing. Twenty or thirty years later these simple monuments were still
the most usual, even for men of importance. Neri Capponi lies in the
church of the Santo Spirito in a marble coffin bearing on the front
his portrait in relief between two genii; Orlando de’ Medici rests in
that of the SS. Annunziata in a sarcophagus ornamented with his coat of
arms, and occupying with rich architectural accessories the whole side
of a chapel. These were both works of Simone, whom tradition makes a
brother of Donatello.[142] But talented artists soon attempted greater
things. Desiderio da Settignano (so called after the pleasantly
situated little village, two miles east of the city, where Michel
Angelo was nursed by a stonemason’s wife) was a pupil of Donatello,
and thus came into contact with the Medici, who employed him in San
Lorenzo. In the Strozzi palace may be seen his fine thoughtful marble
bust of Marietta, daughter of Filippo Strozzi the elder and Fiammetta
Adimari. His masterpiece is the monument of Carlo Marsuppini in Sta.
Croce, a figure of the dead man resting on the sarcophagus in a niche
crowned by a lunette, with a Madonna in relief.[143] Notwithstanding
some overloading in the accessories, it shows what he might have
become had he not died in 1464, at the early age of thirty-six. The
sarcophagus, resting on lions’ claws and richly adorned with flowers,
leaves, and streaming ribands, is one of the most beautiful productions
of decorative sculpture. Desiderio had many emulators, to whom we owe
some of the finest monuments of this kind. Among them were the brothers
Bernardo and Antonio Rossellino. The former, who worked a good deal
out of Florence as architect to the Popes, does not seem to have been
employed by the Medici. The only thing he is said to have done for them
is a marble fountain, decorated with children and dolphins, in one of
the courts of their palace; and of its fate nothing is known. But the
city contains excellent works by both, exhibiting a similarity to Della
Robbia’s style. Two of Bernardo’s works are the graceful monument to
Beata Villana in Sta. Maria Novella, and that of Leonardo Bruni in
Sta. Croce.[144] The conception, proportions, and technical finish of
these works entitle them to rank among the best productions of a period
rich in monuments. The most perfect work of the kind, however, is that
by Antonio Rossellino to the Cardinal of Portugal, in San Miniato al
Monte. James of Portugal, nephew of King Alfonso V., had come in bad
health to Florence, where he died in 1459 aged twenty-six. In the
basilica, then belonging to the Olivetans, where he was buried, was
built a chapel, unrivalled in symmetry of form and beauty of detail.
The roof is set off with reliefs in glazed earth, the walls are inlaid
with marble, the altar, the bishop’s throne, and the floor of _opus
Alexandrinum_ are admirable. What was formerly the altar-piece—by
Pollaiuolo—is now in the Uffizi. The monument stands in a large niche,
with a curtain slightly drawn back. The sarcophagus is an imitation of
the coffer afterwards used for the tomb of Pope Clement XII. in the
Lateran. The figure of the departed, wearing his mitre, rests on a pall
held by two seated boys; an architectural wall-drapery is terminated by
a cornice, at each end of which is a kneeling angel bearing a crown and
a palm-branch; in the arch above are the Virgin and Child surrounded
by a rich garland and upheld by angels in relief. The figure of the
cardinal surpasses all else of its kind in grace, dignity, and beauty,
while in technical work it is perfection. The head and the folded hands
were modelled from nature.[145] A blessed peace seems diffused over
the whole figure, which realizes what Vespasiano da Bisticci says of
the departed, whom he had known in life: ‘He was outwardly handsome,
but his soul was more beautiful than his body; and by the holiness of
his life and conversation he was fitted to stand beside the saints of

To these artists must be added Mino da Fiesole, who, though a pupil
of Desiderio da Settignano—his senior only by a few years—seemed
to have formed himself more on the model of Donatello. His groups of
figures in relief, of which the chief are at Rome, are not always
happy; his monumental statues, of which the two most remarkable in
Florence are of later date, have great dignity and beauty. In his
portrait-heads there is a peculiar delicacy and truth, indicating
careful study of nature, and of which the bust of Bishop Leonardo
Salutati, in the cathedral of Fiesole, is an excellent example.[147]
In the Medici house were busts by him of Piero and his wife, the
former of which is now in the Uffizi. In ornamentation, particularly
in arabesque, Mino is inferior to none; and it is impossible to
mistake his influence in this respect at Rome, where, from the time
of Nicolas V., the number of monuments rapidly increased. The works
of Giuliano da Majano in Florence, where he was occupied in 1463-1465
with inlaid woodwork for San Domenico, near Fiesole, and the sacristy
of Sta. Maria del Fiore, are of much less importance. Neither he nor
Antonio Filarete, founder of the great door of St. Peter’s, are known
to have done any work for the Medici. That the latter was one of their
_protégés_, however, may be seen not only by the dedication to Piero of
his treatise on architecture, but also by a letter addressed by him to
Piero from Milan, December 20, 1451, thanking him for a recommendation
to Francesco Sforza: ‘I am at your service for whatever I can do.
Dispose of me as you please. Commend me to his Excellency your father,
and your brother Giovanni. With God’s help, I hope to do honour here
both to myself and you; I say to you, because for your sake and in
consequence of your recommendation his Lordship shows me great favour.
He thinks of appointing me chief architect to the cathedral, which
naturally meets with opposition, I being a stranger; but I hope they
will yield to their lord’s desire.’[148]

The goldsmith’s art, which in the preceding century had reached great
perfection in Tuscan cities and was closely connected with sculpture,
attained through niello-work to engraving on copperplate. The name of
Maso Finiguerra, who executed the celebrated pyx for the Baptistery in
1452, is inseparable from the history of the Medicean splendour.

For painting, whether in its general development or its particular
productions, the period under consideration is less important than for
the sister arts, at least as far as the Medici are concerned. The two
greatest masters, in different lines, of the first half of the century,
Masaccio and Fra Angelico, continued to adorn Florence with their
works. The former, at his death in 1443, left unfinished the Brancacci
chapel in San Pietro del Carmine, the high school of all later works of
the kind. Unluckily, the fresco has perished in which he represented
the consecration of the church in 1422, with a group of remarkable men
of the time: Giovanni d’Averardo de’ Medici, Niccolò da Uzzano, Baccio
Valori, Lorenzo Ridolfi, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masolino da Panicale,
and others. Fra Angelico decorated the chapter-house, corridors,
and cells of the convent of San Marco with his wall-pictures, which
represent religious art in its loveliest bloom, a free modification of
the principles of Giotto’s school. He was busy here till Eugene IV.
called him to Rome, where he painted the two chapels in the Vatican for
this Pope and his successor, Nicolas V. He died in 1455. His greatest
pupil, Benozzo Gozzoli, followed his master from Rome to Orvieto, and
in 1459 painted the private chapel of the Medici, his most pleasing
work. The ‘Adoration of the Angels’ is here represented amid a rich
landscape, with choirs of angels, numerous spectators, and festive
scenes, painted with a cheerful colouring that recalls Gentile da
Fabriano. Later, when painting in San Gemignano and at Pisa, Gozzoli
was still connected with the Medici, and in his first fresco in the
Campo Santo, the ‘Curse of Ham,’ a group in the foreground represents
the members of the family as he had known them in earlier years.

The realistic tendency exhibited by Masaccio grew more prominent in
Paolo Uccello, who was evidently influenced by sculpture, especially by
Donatello. In some of his most important frescoes, those in Sta. Maria
Novella, representing the history of the Creation, and the figure of
John Hawkwood in Sta. Maria del Fiore,[149] the very colouring, grey
upon grey, aims at producing the effect of sculpture. This painter’s
study of perspective made him exaggerate that branch of his art.
The austerity of Andrea dal Castagno’s style is not softened by the
colouring. The repulsive expression of his group of St. John and St.
Francis in Sta. Croce supports the legend of the murder of Domenico
Veneziano, which has adhered to Andrea’s name till our own day, though
he died four years before his supposed victim.[150] The most important
works he has left are the figures of sibyls and of famous men, executed
in a hall of the villa formerly belonging to the Pandolfini at
Legnaia, but now removed to the National Museum at the Palace of the
Podestà. The characteristic figures, among whom are Nicola Acciaiuolo
and Pippo Spano, produce a great effect. Neither Andrea nor Uccello
seems to have been employed by the Medici, who did, however, engage
Domenico Veneziano, Andrea’s fellow-worker on the lost frescoes in Sta.
Maria Nuova, a painter much influenced by Fra Angelico. The repeated
occurrence of the Medici’s patron saints, Cosmo and Damian, in pictures
of which the origin cannot be clearly traced, points to the conclusion
that they were commissions from the family or their friends. But the
painter most highly favoured by Cosimo and his sons was Fra Filippo
Lippi, whose manners and conversation were as great a scandal to the
Carmelite order as Fra Angelico’s whole life was an ornament to that
of St. Dominic. Disorderly, loose in morals, always in difficulties
and need of money, he yet gained patrons by his undeniable talent,
which unites force and animation to Angelico’s intensity of feeling.
Lippi’s grouping and composition is various, free, and rich, showing
a realistic study of nature. He worked a great deal for the Medici,
who made presents of his pictures to the Pope and King Alfonso, and
procured him commissions abroad. His greatest work, the frescoes in the
chapel in the choir of the Collegiate Church of Prato, was finished
for the Provost Carlo de’ Medici, whose likeness may be seen in the
representation of the burial of St. Stephen. It was through Cosimo,
who had many connections in Umbria, that Fra Filippo went to Spoleto,
where he executed in the cathedral the scenes from the history of the
Madonna which were finished after his death in 1469 by his assistant
Fra Diamante.

Among the painters employed by Cosimo and his sons were the two
Peselli, Giuliano d’Arrigo, and his grandson Pesellino; the former
followed the artistic tendencies represented by Giotto, the latter
was an earnest disciple of the realistic school. Much of the Medici
furniture was painted by them, according to a fashion of the time,
continued till the middle of the sixteenth century. Presses and coffers
(_cassoni_) were ornamented with compositions of small figures, taken
from history, sacred or profane, animals, hunting-scenes, &c. In the
Florentine collections are many paintings of this kind, even down to
Andrea del Sarto and his friends and pupils, the original destination
of which is shown by their form. They were not all Florentines who
painted for the Medici. A Veronese, Matteo de’ Pasti, wrote to Piero
in 1441, that he trusted to send him works such as he had never
before seen.[151] He probably alluded to the convex tablets (now in
the Uffizi collection) representing scenes from Petrarca’s triumphs,
which were doubtless intended to decorate a room. The various dealings
of the Medici with Flanders, from the time of Cosimo, contributed to
draw attention in Florence to the Van Eyck school of painting, which
influenced Italian art in the fifteenth century, particularly in point
of technicalities. It was through Tommaso Portinari, director of the
Medici bank at Bruges, that the church of the hospital of Sta. Maria
Nuova—an old foundation of the family—obtained the most important
work of the Flemish school to be found in Tuscany. This was the
masterpiece of Hugo van der Goes, the ‘Adoration of the Shepherds,’
containing portraits of the members of the donor’s family.[152] The
Flemish pictures mentioned by Vasari as being in the possession of the
Medici (one of them, a portrait of Tommaso Portinari, is now in the
Pitti Palace), prove the interest awakened by these works, great as was
their difference in conception from Italian art.

It is easy to imagine that other branches of artistic industry
were furthered by this artistically inclined family at a period of
such varied activity, and that their house kept constantly filling
with treasures of all kinds. For it was the pride of the princes
and rich citizens—and even of such as had to deny themselves many
of the comforts of life in order to satisfy a noble passion—to
surround themselves with ancient and modern works, to decorate
halls, staircases, and courts with marbles and other antiquities; to
collect old coins and intaglios; to deck their rooms with statues and
sculptures by living artists, with handsome furniture, silver plate,
rich silken hangings and carpets.

Among the records of the Rinuccini family are notes of the cost of
goldsmiths’ work furnished by Finiguerra and Pollaiuolo.[153] Cosimo’s
love for these things was shared by his brother Lorenzo and both
his sons. An inventory of the antique coins, cameos, gems, mosaic
tablets; and enamels preserved in the house in the Via Larga, mentions
100 gold and 503 silver coins, a number of intaglios set as seals
and rings, Greek and Roman mosaic tablets, valuable vases, precious
stones to the value of more than thirty thousand gold florins.[154]
The silver plate here, as well as at the villas, was not reckoned
in. Mention has already been made of the travelling antiquaries who
carried about with them manuscripts and objects of art, and were
at once scholars and colporteurs. But purchases were also made for
the Medici abroad. Antiquities came from Rome, Naples, Viterbo, and
other places. Donatello was accustomed to restore injured antique
marbles, a custom which was later carried to extremes, and led to
mischief. Worked carpets (Arazzi) came from Flanders, where Bruges
was the chief emporium for works of art, though Antwerp fairs were
often visited.[155] A letter of Carlo de’ Medici to his half-brother
Giovanni, written from Rome, apparently in the autumn of 1451,[156]
shows that Cardinal Barbo, afterwards Pope Paul II., was in competition
with the Medici, and was not above a little gentle compulsion: ‘I
bought some time ago about thirty silver medals from an assistant cf
Pisanello, who is lately dead. I know not how Monsignore di San Marco
heard of it, but, meeting me accidentally in the church of the Santi
Apostoli, he took me by the hand, and would not let me go till he had
got me to his house and taken all I had about me—rings and coins to
the value of about twenty florins. There was no getting them back, and
in the end I have had to let him keep the things, after a vain appeal
to the Pope.’ The complaint is repeated in a letter of 1455. As we
shall see, however, such losses were more than made up to the Medici at
the death of Paul II.

Such were the relations of Cosimo and his sons to art-life in Florence.
The great movement had begun before they took the helm of the state;
but they exercised great and beneficial influence on its development,
and always set a praiseworthy example to their fellow-citizens. In
this respect they thoroughly understood their time. The tone and
manner of their relations with artists is particularly attractive; it
was inspired by true refinement of feeling. Merchant princes as they
were, whose help was generally coveted, they kept up a confidential
intercourse with men of talent, as among friends and equals. In
the requests addressed to them there is no tone of servility; the
traditions of free citizenship continued in all social relations. So
it was also at a later period, when Cosimo’s grandson had attained
the position of a ruling prince; Lorenzo’s bearing was the same,
and contributed not a little to his powerful influence over his
fellow-men. In many cases, as with Antonio Squarcialupi, the musician
and organ-builder, he merely continued a connection begun by his
father, uncle, and grandfather. Antonio, who in his writings adopted
the pseudonym Degli Organi, belonged to an old family who had once been
‘Signori’ at Poggibonzi in the Elsa valley, and who on account of their
rank were long excluded from office. It was not till 1453 that Antonio
became a member of one of the smaller guilds, though before that time
he was intimate with the Medici household. After spending some time at
Naples with King Alfonso, in 1450, he wrote from Siena on November 26
to Giovanni de’ Medici at Volterra, as follows:[157] ‘Dearest gossip,
dutiful greeting and salutation! As you doubtless know, it is now
about a month since I returned from Naples. Since then it has never
ceased raining, or I should have come to see you. The bad weather has
hindered me not only from coming, but also from writing, as I kept
waiting for the sky to clear. Now, God be thanked for all things. If
I were to tell you about Naples, and the majesty of the king and his
court, there would be so much to say that I must needs take all the
scriveners in Rome into my employ for five days. So for the present I
will say nothing about it, and will only tell you that Cardinal Sta.
Maria sets great store by his organ; wherein he is quite right, for
truly it deserves it. I promise you on your return the satisfaction of
hearing one which cannot fail to please you. It is destined for Antonio
di Migliorino, who I trust will not object to my letting you see and
hear it. Now I will trouble you no further. Commend me above all to
Madonna Contessina, Messer Piero, and all the rest.’

In the spring of 1438, Domenico Veneziano wrote from Perugia to Piero
as follows:[158] ‘Noble and honoured sir, greeting. I have to inform
you that by God’s grace I am in good health, and hope to see you well
and happy. I have made inquiries after you at various times, and never
received any news save through Manno Donati, who told me that you were
at Ferrara in very good health, which gave me great pleasure. Had I
known your place of abode sooner, I would have written to you, both
for my own satisfaction and as it is fitting. My position is in truth
far below yours, but my hearty attachment to you and all yours gives
me boldness to write to you, to whom I owe so much.’ One-and-twenty
years later this same Piero, then at Careggi, was thus addressed by
Benozzo Gozzoli, who was painting the chapel in the Medici house at
Florence:[159] ‘My dearest friend, I informed your Magnificence in a
previous letter that I am in need of forty florins, and begged you to
advance them to me; for now is the time to buy corn and many other
things that I want, whereby I shall save, and get rid of a heavy load
of care. I had resolved to ask nothing of you till you had seen my
work, but I now find myself compelled to ask this favour. Therefore, be
indulgent; God knows I am endeavouring to please you. I also reminded
you to send to Venice for some ultramarine, for in the course of
this week one wall will be finished, and for the other I shall need
ultramarine. The brocades and other things can then be finished as
well as the figures, or even sooner. I am working with all possible
diligence. I have nothing more to add save my salutations.’

These confidential relations between the Medici and the artists did
not prevent them from carefully settling minor details when giving
an order, such as the use of ultramarine and gold, and still smaller
matters. Even with regard to the actual composition remarks were not
spared, not merely concerning the saints to be placed in the Madonna
pictures and other votive tablets, but also as to other figures and
accessories. Piero de’ Medici was not satisfied with some angels that
Benozzo had introduced in the chapel; the painter defended them, but
added that he could put a cloud to cover them. Needless to say that all
matters of business—prices, instalments of payment and work, &c.—were
settled with scrupulous exactness. This belonged to the character of
the time, and to the Florentine love of order and mercantile habits;
a characteristic which never fails, and remained in the Medici nature
even in Cosimo’s magnificent grandson. Strict supervision was indeed
necessary in the case of these colossal undertakings. It was more
especially needful with a disorderly man like Filippo Lippi, who passed
his whole life in want of his own making; witness his letters to Piero
and Giovanni de’ Medici: ‘If there is a wretched monk in Florence,
it is I!’ His protectors pitied him and judged his sins leniently,
if we rightly understand the remark in one of Giovanni’s letters, to
the effect that they had a laugh over Fra Filippo’s error. It refers
presumably to the well-known story of the elopement of Spinetta Buti
from the convent at Prato, where she was being educated; a story the
details of which, as in other instances, are inaccurately given by
Vasari.[160] The interest taken by the Medici in this painter descended
to Lorenzo. On his return from Rome he wanted to have Fra Filippo’s
mortal remains brought from Spoleto to Florence, and when this was
refused, he assisted Filippo’s son in erecting a monument in Spoleto

It was in the time of Cosimo that the written history of art began
its first feeble efforts. Its forerunner was Cennino Cennini of Colle
in the Elsa valley, a pupil of Angelo Gaddi apparently at Padua,
where he was in the service of Francesco da Carrara. Towards the end
of the fourteenth century he wrote a book on painting, which is of
great value for the study of artistic practice before the victory of
oil-painting over tempera, as it is also for the history of modelling,
casting, plaster-work, gilding, &c.[161] This book treats merely of
technicalities; but in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s commentaries an unfinished
treatise on architecture and the proportion of figures is combined
with notices of ancient art and also of modern, from its re-awakening
in the second half of the thirteenth century down to the writer’s
own time and works.[162] The latter portion is the principal source
whence Giorgio Vasari drew his knowledge of past times. Ghiberti’s
contemporary Filarete has given many notices, valuable for the history
of art, referring to Medicean times, in his treatise on architecture,
which he dedicated—in styles differing according to the persons and
circumstances, to two patrons, Piero de’ Medici and Francesco Sforza,
in 1460.[163] These notices, as well as technical remarks, were also
made use of by Vasari, whose judgment on Filarete’s confused book is
just, though rather severely expressed.



ARCHITECTURE was always a subject of great interest to Lorenzo de’
Medici; he possessed an unusual knowledge of the art.[164] It was he
who made the plan for the façade of Sta. Maria del Fiore, which was
executed in wood by Jacopo Sansovino and painted in chiaroscuro by
Andrea del Sarto more than twenty years after the designer’s death,
when his son, Pope Leo X., made his public entry into Florence.[165]
We shall see what share he took in the project for the completion of
this façade. He was intimate with several of the chief architects of
the time. A letter, written to him from Rome by Alberti,[166] unluckily
not on the subject of art but about a proposed exchange of property,
shows on what good terms they were: ‘I am glad that thou dost address
me in confidence worthy of our old friendship; and as I am conscious of
my obligations, I am ready to do for thee and at thy desire anything
that can be agreeable to one who loves thee. If what thou askest of me
were not founded on reason, thou wouldest neither have consented to act
as mediator thyself, nor have sought out a third party to do so.’ The
brothers Da Majano and Sangallo enjoyed his interest and assistance
both in and outside of Florence, where a great deal of building was
carried on. Yet he built nothing more himself than a convent and a
villa. Of the convent not a trace is left, and the façades of the
cathedral and of the church of the Santo Spirito—in which he was so
much interested—still await completion, as does that of San Lorenzo,
though Pope Leo X. made preparations for the immediate execution of the
works. The finest building of Lorenzo’s time in Florence was erected,
not for him but for a family which, although connected with his, was
destined to maintain a long struggle with it—namely, the Strozzi.

Considering how intimate Lorenzo was with the brothers Da Majano, it
seems strange that he employed them so little. There is no authentic
record of Giuliano having been employed in Florence except as a worker
in wood. He was engaged on the choir-stalls in Sta. Maria del Fiore in
1471 and the following years, and in the audience-chamber of the palace
of the Signoria (finished ten years later), where his younger brother
Benedetto executed the marble doors, and where he was associated with
Francesco di Giovanni, called Francione, master of Baccio Pontelli,
who did a great deal of work at Rome and Urbino.[167] Giuliano’s works
in Rome, where, according to Vasari, he built—under Paul III.—the
palace of San Marco and a galleried court, now no longer in existence,
are buried in impenetrable obscurity. It is certain that he was
there in the time of Sixtus IV., and also that he began the stalls
in the choir of Perugia Cathedral, which were finished in 1491 by
Domenico del Tasso, one of the Florentine family of wood-workers and
architects.[168] It is needless to repeat how the calling and labours
of architect and wood-worker (_magistri lignaminum_, _legnaiuoli_)
merged one into the other, even in the next century, like those of
sculptor and goldsmith. In his latter years Giuliano was more abroad
than at home. In 1478 he was at Recanati, in the States of the Church,
building a palace for Antonio Giacomo Venier, Cardinal of Cuença,
who appealed to Lorenzo that he might urge the dilatory artist to go
on with his work:[169] ‘As the said Master Giuliano is a most devoted
servant of your Magnificence and eulogist of your excellent qualities,
and apparently cannot be moved unless stirred up by you, we beg you
to address him on the subject, and to see that he goes to Recanati at
the appointed time to finish what he has begun.’ In the spring of 1481
Giuliano was passing through Urbino, where the palace of Federigo of
Montefeltro made such an impression on him that he induced Lorenzo
to ask the duke for a drawing of it. This the duke had executed by
Baccio Pontelli, who continued the beautiful work of Luciano Lauranna.
‘My lord the duke,’ wrote Pontelli to Lorenzo,[170] ‘answered very
graciously that I was to make the drawing, but that he would prefer
sending your Magnificence the house itself, that you might rule in
it as in your own.’ It was doubtless Lorenzo’s doing that Giuliano
was summoned to Naples. This must, therefore, have happened after
the reconciliation in 1480. Notwithstanding the many commissions he
received there—for King Ferrante and his eldest son were both much
given to building, and after the expulsion of the Turks from Otranto
the kingdom enjoyed a few years’ peace—there is no need to suppose
that he took up his abode there permanently, for artists were generally
given to wandering. The famous triumphal arch of King Alfonso in
Castelnuovo—not finished till the sixteenth century—is probably in
no part his work; but certainly to him may be attributed the Porta
Capuana, excellent in point of architecture but disfigured by modern
additions.[171] Giuliano died at Naples in the autumn of 1490, and
Lorenzo’s expressions concerning his loss, in a letter to the Duke of
Calabria,[172] show how highly he esteemed him: ‘Your Excellency’s
letter informs me of the death of Giuliano da Majano, which causes me
sincere regret, both on account of our intimacy and because he was
engaged in your Excellency’s service, and his death will leave many
a work unfinished. As you contemplate continuing these, I hear that
you want me to procure you another architect, on which subject Paol’
Antonio Soderini writes to me in detail. It will give me pleasure if
your Excellency will command my services and be satisfied with my
arrangements, as was the case with Giuliano; at whose death I have at
least the satisfaction that you have been pleased with the work of one
who entered your service on my recommendation.’

Giuliano’s brother Benedetto, ten years his junior, was not employed
as an architect by Lorenzo. His share—as wood-carver—in the works
at the palace of the Signoria has been already referred to. But his
masterpiece was a work of architecture executed in the last years
of Lorenzo’s life, and—if we except the Pitti Palace, which stands
alone—the most perfect specimen of palatial architecture that Florence
has to show. The story of the building begun by Filippo Strozzi the
elder in 1489 makes a curious study of manners and an interesting
chapter in the history of art. When Cosimo de’ Medici contemplated
building himself a house, he was afraid of rousing disapproval by too
much splendour; more than half a century later another rich citizen
felt the same anxiety. He saw the commonwealth and city in altered
circumstances, and had before his eyes the warning example of Luca
Pitti. Lorenzo Strozzi, who wrote a life of his father, tells of this
grand undertaking:[173] ‘When Filippo had made due provision for his
descendants—as he thought more of fame than of money, was fond of
building, and intelligent in the art—he decided, as the surest way
of handing down his name to posterity, to erect such a building as
should make a name for him and his throughout Italy and beyond it. He
found, however, one great hindrance in the way. The man who was at the
head of the Government might take it into his head that the reputation
of another would put his own into the shade, and Filippo was in great
dread of exciting envy. So he had it rumoured about the city that his
children were so numerous and his house so small that, now they were
grown up, he must provide an abode for them, which could be better
done in his lifetime than after his death. Then he began, with all
sorts of circumlocutions, to talk—first to master-masons and then
to architects—on the necessity of building a new house. At times he
spoke as though he would begin soon; then made a show of being still
undecided and unwilling to spend in a hurry the fruits of many years’
labour. Thus artfully did he conceal the object he had in view in order
to attain it better. He used to repeat, a comfortable citizen-like
house was enough for him, good but not grand. Now the masons and
architects, after their kind, kept enlarging upon his plans, which was
just what pleased Filippo, though he pretended to the contrary, and
declared that they drove him to what he was neither willing nor able to

Now it happened that he who then governed the destinies of the city
desired to see it embellished in every way; his opinion being that if
he was responsible for good and evil, so would beauty or ugliness be
laid to his account. Deeming that so large and costly an undertaking
would be difficult to estimate and superintend, and might (as often
happens with merchants) either destroy the originator’s credit or ruin
him altogether, he began to meddle in the matter, and asked to see the
plans. When he had examined them, he suggested divers embellishments,
and advised the use of _opus rusticum_. But the more Filippo was
encouraged the more he pretended to draw back. He declared he would on
no account have _opus rusticum_, as it was unsuitable to the condition
of a citizen, and would entail heavy expense. He was building, he said,
with a view to his own comfort, and not for pomp; and thought of making
shops on the ground floor, to produce an income for his sons. To this
everybody objected, pointing out how ugly and inconvenient it would
be. Still Filippo continued his remonstrances, and said complainingly
to his friends that he had begun an undertaking which he only hoped
he might bring to a successful end; he wished he had never spoken of
it, rather than have got into such a labyrinth. The more he pretended
to be afraid of the cost, to conceal the greatness of his intentions
and the extent of his wealth, the more he was urged and encouraged to
the building. Thus by adroitness and caution, he managed what, had he
conducted himself otherwise, would either have been forbidden or have
brought him under no little suspicion.

The first thing to be done was to gain space for the _casa grande_.
And space was limited. The Strozzi palace lies at the west end of the
old town, in a quarter now, perhaps, the liveliest in the city, and
doubtless animated even at that time, being close to the old market and
to the square named after the church of Sta. Trinità, whence may be
seen the bridge of the same name. Several distinguished families dwelt,
and some still dwell, in the immediate neighbourhood: the Buondelmonti,
Altoviti, Gianfigliazzi, Bartolini, Alamanni, Viviani, Tornabuoni,
Vacchietti, Antinori, and others. According to the original plan, the
building was to stand free, with a square and garden on the south,
extending as far as the Via Portarossa, where stand the houses of the
Davanzati and Torrigiani. But the plan was imperfectly executed. A
tolerably large square is on the eastern side, but on the south only a
narrow space, now bridged over, divides the palace from neighbouring
buildings; on the west the street (Via de’ Legnaiuoli) is of moderate
width, and on the north it is only since the front of the Tornabuoni
house was rebuilt a few years ago (see p. 125), that sufficient space
and light has been gained to get a view of the noble edifice, which on
this side was formerly quite hidden.

On August (July?) 16, 1489, Filippo Strozzi laid his foundation-stone.
His memoirs contain a description of the important proceeding,
characteristic of the habits of the time. ‘At the moment when the sun
came up over the mountains, I laid the first stone of the foundations,
in the name of God, as a good beginning for myself, my successors, and
all who may have a share in the building. I caused a mass of the Holy
Ghost to be sung at the same hour by the brethren of San Marco, another
by the nuns of Murate, a third in my church, Sta. Maria di Lecceto,
and a fourth by the monks there (who are under some obligation to me),
with a prayer for a blessed beginning to the work. The time for laying
the foundation-stone was fixed by a horoscope by Messer Benedetto
Biliotti, Maestro Niccolò, and Messer Antonio Benevieni, doctors; also
Bishop Pagagnotti and Messer Marsilio (Ficino), who all confirmed
it as lucky. I sent twenty lire to the brethren of San Marco, to be
distributed in alms as they thought good, and as many to Murate. I
spent ten lire in smaller alms. To Benedetto Biliotti I gave four ells
of black damask, costing twenty lire. I had to breakfast Maestro Jacopo
the master-mason, Maestro Andrea the founder, Filippo Buondelmonti,
Marcuccio Strozzi, Pietro Parenti, Simone Ridolfi, Donato Bonsi, Ser
Agnolo, Lorenzo Fiorini, and other of my friends.’

The ground floor was not yet half built when Filippo died, on May 14,
1491. After him, the house was the abode of fortune and greatness; but
how many storms burst over it in the days of his youngest son and of
his grandchildren!

The Strozzi Palace is a great square building, nearly a hundred feet
high, and a hundred and twenty feet wide; it displays rustic work
in its greatest perfection, and, notwithstanding the severity and
simplicity of its construction, is more attractive than any other
building of this style. The stories, of nearly equal elevation, are
divided by strongly defined string-courses, and are composed of great
blocks of ashlar (now blackened by nearly four centuries) of unequal
length, but in even horizontal lines—_opus rusticum_ throughout,
but more evenly hewn than in the houses of the Medici and the Pitti,
and other buildings. The ground floor has a grand arched doorway on
each of the three façades, and small square windows at a considerable
height above the stone parapet that runs round the whole. The two upper
stories have arched windows divided by small marble columns, with the
crescent of the family arms in the panels, and surmounted, like the
doors, with upright blocks of ashlar. The handsome but half-finished
cornice and the courtyard, both by Simone del Pollaiuolo called
Cronaca, and the famous iron lanterns, belong to a period later than
that now under consideration. The founder had thought he could complete
the building out of his income, without touching his capital; but,
owing to untoward circumstances and dissensions among the sons, the
work was not brought to its present state of relative completeness till
forty-two years after Filippo’s death.

In Lorenzo’s letter to the Duke of Calabria, after the death of
Giuliano da Majano, he states that he was endeavouring to replace
the lost one. ‘On looking about among the master-builders here, I
find no one who, in my opinion, can be compared with Giuliano. I
have, therefore, written to Mantua, to a Florentine there, whose
capabilities and practice in building ought, I think, to qualify him
for the work to be done. If this should come to nothing, and we can
make no better choice, we shall be obliged to choose the least bad
one possible (_il manco reo che sarà possibile_) in this place.’[174]
These words sound strange from Lorenzo, when Benedetto da Majano
and Giuliano da Sangallo were both in Florence. The most probable
explanation is that present engagements prevented them from leaving
the city, and therefore, Lorenzo’s choice fell on Luca Fancelli, who
holds a subordinate place in the history of art. Benedetto must have
been already known at Naples, and Lorenzo himself had, in 1488, sent
to King Ferrante the plan of a palace, by Sangallo,[175] who, in
consequence, went to Naples. Giuliano, son of Francesco Giamberti,
had been from his childhood known to the Medici family, to whom in
Cosimo’s and Piero’s days his father furnished woodwork. He himself,
instructed by his father and Francione, acquired great skill in this
art, did some work in Sta. Maria del Fiore, in the palace of the
Signoria, and at Pisa, and even in later years continued to style
himself _Legnaiuolo_. The Giamberti family must have been intimately
connected with the Medici, for after the death of Giuliano de’ Medici
his little son Giulio was taken care of in their house in Borgo Pinti,
where the Panciatichi-Ximenes palace now stands. Giuliano Giamberti
afterwards followed two branches of architecture, fortification and
palace-building, with great success. In his latter years he was engaged
on Sta. Maria del Fiore and St. Peter’s at Rome.

In the autumn of 1472, Giuliano, then twenty-nine, was at Rome, working
for Sixtus IV.[176] What he actually did there, where so many Tuscans
were employed, is unknown. That he made long and frequent sojourns
there is proved by his excellent studies of antique buildings, that
have been so useful to later investigators, and by his intimate
connection with Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere. The war of 1478 called
him home, where he served as an engineer in defending various places.
The restoration of peace enabled him to resume his works at Rome; one
of which, the castle of Ostia, begun probably for the above-named
cardinal, and finished in 1486, marks an important step in military
architecture, while its picturesque beauty indicates the eye of a true
artist.[177] Long before this castle was finished, Giuliano must have
begun at home the building which raised him highest in the esteem of
Lorenzo de’ Medici—the villa at Poggio a Cajano. Francione and others
had submitted plans; Lorenzo chose that of Giuliano. The situation is
favourable, on a hill of no great elevation, but with a clear view on
three sides. The house is reached by a broad flight of steps, and is of
the regular Tuscan type, which continued to later times. The portico
before the hall, with its gable decorated with a frieze in Terra della
Robbia, displays a tendency to the antique. The great hall has a
barrel-vault, the dimensions of which gave rise to a doubt as to the
possibility of its execution.

At the time when Giuliano is supposed to have gone to Naples, a great
work begun by him in his native city can scarcely have been ready
for habitation. This was the convent of the Augustinian Friars in
front of the Porta San Gallo, the immediate occasion of which was
Lorenzo’s liking for the preacher Fra Mariano of Genazzano. The work
was important enough to give the artist a new name, under which the
whole family became famous. According to Vasari, it was Lorenzo who
first used the appellation, and on Giuliano’s playful remark that he
was taking a backward step in abandoning his old family name, Lorenzo
replied that it was better to make a name by one’s own merits than to
inherit one.[178] Only a part of the huge building was completed, and
this was totally destroyed in 1529. To Lorenzo is attributed the idea
of rebuilding the castle on the Poggio Imperiale near Pozzibonzi,
the importance of which had been but too clearly shown in the wars of
1478-79, and he obtained the commission for Giuliano. The work began
in 1488, was afterwards directed by Giuliano’s younger brother, but
finally sank into as complete ruin as the works of Henry of Luxemburg
on the same spot. Nothing is known of what Sangallo did in Milan,
whither he is believed to have gone on Lorenzo’s recommendation, with
the plan of a palace, for Lodovico il Moro, and where he met Leonardo
da Vinci.

His great patron was no longer living when he began, for Giuliano
Gondi, on the Piazza San Firenze, the palace which, though unfinished,
still produces a pleasing effect with its fine proportions, its
artistic arrangement of rustic work on the first and second stories,
and its elegant arcade.[179] The court of the convent of Sta. Maria
Maddalena de’ Pazzi (Cestello), in the Via de’ Pinti, is one of
Giuliano’s earlier works, not wanting in character or grace. Nothing
is known of independent works by Antonio, Giuliano’s brother and
frequent assistant, during Lorenzo’s lifetime. His time of activity in
Tuscany and Rome, both as a military builder, and as an architect of
churches and palaces, began under Alexander VI. and lasted till only
a degenerate scion was left of the race of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
The Aretine art-historian rightly says that these two brothers left
architecture as an inheritance to their family. It was they who mainly
contributed to keep up in Tuscany a tradition which was never quite
false to the Quattrocento, even when the Renaissance had been overgrown
with a certain grotesqueness.

Lorenzo was concerned in two great works, neither of which came to
perfection. The building and decoration of the façade of Sta. Maria del
Fiore went on till about the middle of the fifteenth century. Donatello
and his school contributed to it the marble facings and statues which
were carried up to the rose-windows over the side doors.[180] The
completion of the work was all the more to be desired as the gilt
cross had gleamed above the lantern of the dome since May 30, 1472. On
February 12, 1490, the following decree was issued by the consuls of
the wool-merchants’ guild:[181] ‘Forasmuch as of late several of the
chief citizens have repeatedly called to mind what a great dishonour it
is to this city that the front of the cathedral church should remain
in its present condition, to wit, unfinished, and also that the parts
already executed in nowise correspond to the rules of architecture,
and are bad in many ways, and that it would be highly praiseworthy to
come to some conclusion on the matter, the said consuls have resolved
and given authority to the present and future master-builders of the
church to regulate expenditure and arrange everything that shall seem
to them good and profitable for the said purpose now and hereafter.’
This decree shows that in the minds of those concerned the fate of the
existing portions of the façade was as much decided as ninety-six years
later, when they were destroyed after very brief deliberation.

On January 5, 1491, a commission met, under the presidency of the
two master-builders Maso degli Albizzi and Tommaso Minerbetti, to
pass judgment on the numerous models and designs (_modelli et designi
undique habiti et collecti_). Many who were not personally present had
sent in plans: Benedetto da Majano, Francesco di Giorgio, Filippino
Lippi, Andrea Verrocchio, Antonio Pollaiuolo. There were two designs
by Giuliano da Majano, then lately dead. No less than twenty-nine
artists had come forward, among whom were Cronaca, Benedetto da
Majano, Francione, Lorenzo di Credi, Domenico Ghirlandajo, Pietro
Perugino, Andrea Contucci of Montesansovino, Andrea della Robbia,
Sandro Botticelli, Alesso Baldovinetti, and others who, except in
this case, are known only as goldsmiths or painters. Lorenzo de’
Medici himself had sent in a design. The meeting was held in the
portico and the loggia of the office of works (_Opera_), the arches
of which—now blocked up and containing a fine marble bust of the
first grand duke on the façade—may be seen behind the choir of the
cathedral. The models and designs having been examined, were reported
on by Tommaso Minerbetti, whereupon Carlo Benci—a canon and one
of the competitors—being asked his opinion, rose and said that he
held it advisable to take the opinion of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a man
so versed in architecture that if they followed him they would be
the least likely to fall into error. Bartolommeo Scala recommended
that a decision should be adjourned to give opportunity for further
deliberation. Others took the same view, but thought it better to wait
no longer than was absolutely needful. Then Lorenzo de’ Medici rose,
and said: ‘All who had sent in models or designs were deserving of
praise; but as the work in question was one of lasting importance, long
and grave deliberation was needful, and it was advisable to postpone a
decision in order to consider the matter further.’ Pietro Machiavelli
and Antonio Manetti, architects, supported him, the rest were silent.
Sixteen months later he who had started the whole affair lay in his
grave. Then came times when Florence had other things to think of than
the façade of her cathedral. For the latter, however, it was well that
the rebuilding was not begun at that time, for Giuliano da Majano and
Giuliano da San Gallo would have been just as incapable of producing
work corresponding with the main character of the building, as were
Buontalenti or Dosio under the Grand Duke Ferdinand I., or Baccio del
Bianco—a decorative painter rather than an architect—of whose façade
the foundation-stone was actually laid in 1636. The old unfinished
façade might not correspond with the mighty pile that had developed
under the hands of so many architects, but the new one would have
disfigured it for ever.[182]

The church of the Santo Spirito, too, remained unfinished. Great damage
had been done by a fire on March 22, 1471, and three months after
contributions were voted out of the taxes for the restoration,[183] as
had been done before. In consideration of this the municipality made
it a condition that the escutcheon of the lilies and the cross should
be placed beside those of the guilds. There was some difference about
the doors, as appears from a decree of the master-builders in 1486,
and from a letter of Giuliano da Sangallo to Lorenzo,[184] which also
shows the want of agreement between the former and Giuliano da Majano.
Six architects were to deliberate on the matter, and Majano seems to
have carried the day, to the disgust of Sangallo, who expresses a hope
that Lorenzo on his return will not allow such a fine building to be
spoiled. Further information is wanting. It is to be regretted that the
exterior was not finished then, while the traditions of Brunelleschi’s
time were still in a great measure alive. On the other hand, a great
deal was done in the interior of the choir of Sta. Maria del Fiore. In
the palace of the Signoria also much work was accomplished in the first
and second stories—especially the latter—in the audience chamber,
and neighbouring apartments. It cannot be doubted that Lorenzo had a
share in all this. The Sala dell’Orologia in the palace took its name
from the curious clock made by Lorenzo della Volpaia for the Medici
house, and afterwards placed in this hall, whence it has strayed to the
Museum of Natural History. It is a handsome piece of work, after the
pattern of those made in the fourteenth century by the Paduan Giovanni
Dondi (degli Orologi), showing the courses of the planets, the signs
of the zodiacal and celestial phenomena, and it brought great fame to
its maker, who was appointed clockmaker to the city in 1500.[185]
Volpaia had a rival in one Dionisio da Viterbo, who, in June, 1477, was
recommended by the rich Sienese banker Ambrogio Spannocchi to Lorenzo
de’ Medici, to whom he wished to show an ornamental clock with numerous
figures that moved at the same time.[186]

The great number of architects in Lorenzo’s latter years shows how
actively building was carried on. The works executed at that time by
Simone del Pollaiuolo Cronaca cannot be chronologically arranged.
But when it is considered that at Lorenzo’s death this talented
man was thirty-five years old, and was soon after fully engaged on
public works, it is easy to see that he must long have been in active
occupation.[187] The Servite convent of the Annunziata, the interior of
which was his work, has been entirely altered. On the foremost slope
of the hill of San Miniato he built the Franciscan church, for which a
rich citizen—Castello Quaratesi—had left to the guild of Calimala a
large sum in 1449.[188] This man had intended to decorate Sta. Croce
with a suitable façade, but the scheme came to nothing because he was
refused permission to place his coat of arms on the building. The
church of San Francesco recalls the abbey of Fiesole. Tradition relates
that Michel Angelo admired the simple grace of this church (_La bella
villanella_), in whose immediate neighbourhood he spent some time
when in difficulties. The sacristy of Sto. Spirito, a very elegant
octagon, was not finished till later; Cronaca’s cupola fell in when
the scaffolding was taken away.[189] A great deal of building went on
in the immediate neighbourhood of the city. The church of Montoliveto,
which, from its cypress-crowned hill on the left bank of the river,
overlooks city and country, was finished in 1472. Older conventual
buildings were enlarged and churches beautified. This was the case
above all with the before-mentioned Dominican nunnery of Annalena in
the quarter of Oltrarno, and the monastery of the Jesuates at San
Giusto, whose church contained numerous works of art. The building of
the façade of Sta. Croce was contemplated in 1476, as is proved by a
decree of the municipality, which assigned for the purpose a sum to be
collected from backward taxpayers. It was reserved for our own times
to witness the execution of the project, after a sketch said to be by
Cronaca. The court in front of the Servites’ church, and the colonnade
on the square in front of the church, opposite the Foundling Hospital
and imitating its portico, are both attributed to Antonio da Sangallo,
and, if not begun in Lorenzo’s lifetime, must at all events have been
built soon after his death.

Lorenzo had obtained from Innocent VIII. leave to use the convent
gardens—where they were larger than necessary—for the construction
of new streets and squares, and the widening of old ones. Space there
was in plenty, for after all the building in the sixteenth century
the great number of convents was further increased in the days of the
later Medici by many new ones on a large scale. One of the new streets
of that time—behind the Servites’ church—bears the name of Via
Laura, after Lorenzo. Quieter times and increase of riches naturally
strengthened the taste for building, and fine houses with their
extensive courts and gardens called for adornment with antiquities
and works of art. The palace, the gardens, the villas of the Medici
were the richest; but they were not without rivals. The Strozzi,
Acciaiuoli, Soderini, Capponi, Tornabuoni, Sassetti, Benci, Ricci,
Valori, Alessandri, Pucci, Rucellai, Pandolfini, and many others
ordered works of painting and sculpture for their homes and villas
as well as for their chapels in the city churches. The house of the
Martelli, the garden of the Pazzi, the villa of the Valori at Majano,
and many others, were full of antique statues. In the palace of Niccolò
da Uzzano might be seen the antique porphyry lion which Lorenzo greatly
admired,[190] and which still adorns the staircase of the house.
Artists, too, had many fine things. In the house of the Ghiberti, for
example, was a precious sculptured marble vase which the famous artist
Lorenzo Ghiberti was said to have received from Greece.



THE first man to whom Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici gave a commission
for a great piece of sculpture, after they became independent, was
Andrea del Verrocchio. He was a disciple of Donatello, and had worked
with the master in San Lorenzo. This was of itself a recommendation
to the Medici, who found him also employed by their relatives, the
Tornabuoni. Vasari rightly observes that a certain severity is even
more prominent in his works than in those of his master, because he
lacked the creative versatility of the latter and tried to supply
by study what Nature had denied him. In bronze-casting he displays
a delicacy which recalls the goldsmith. The monument to Piero and
Giovanni de’ Medici was finished in 1472. Like Donatello, Verrocchio
restored damaged antique sculptures for the Medici house and garden,
and executed for Lorenzo some bronze busts which were sent to Matthias
Corvinus. For the palace of the Signoria he furnished a bronze statue
of David, now in the Podestà Museum, not very remarkable either in
conception or execution. His shortcomings, however, are amply atoned
for by the charming bronze group over the fountain in the courtyard,
representing a boy, half-fighting, half-playing with a dolphin, full
of easy grace that seems almost above this artist. It was a commission
from Lorenzo, and intended for the fountain in the court at Careggi,
but placed in its present position by Duke Cosimo. Verrocchio’s
capabilities in more serious work were shown in Florence by the group
of our Lord and the apostle St. Thomas, which in 1483 received the
most prominent place in front of the church of Or San Michele—and in
Venice, by his equestrian statue of Colleone. Though the former, with
its broken and angular drapery—recalling the Umbrian school—does not
exactly conform to the rules of plastic art, it is penetrated with a
depth of feeling that renders it highly attractive; and in the latter
the defiant self-conscious bearing of the old _condottiere_ brings his
position and character vividly before the eye. Among Andrea’s marble
works is a relievo, very naturalistic, representing the death (in her
confinement, September 24, 1477) of Francesca Pitti, wife of Giovanni
Tornabuoni; it was intended for her tomb, and is now to be seen in the
palace of the Podestà.[191]

Equally intimate with the Medici, if not more so, was Antonio del
Pollaiuolo, whose family connections linked him to the school of
Ghiberti. In his sculptures the goldsmith is more closely discernible
than in those of Verrocchio. They both, while painting and sculpturing,
continued to work as goldsmiths, and Pollaiuolo was regarded in his
native city as the first master of this branch. ‘A man unique in his
art,’ wrote the Signoria, after his death, to the ambassador in Rome,
‘well deserving that we, who are wont to value praiseworthy qualities
of whatever nature, should honour his memory by supporting his
heirs.’[192] Lorenzo’s high esteem for him is shown by passages in his
letters to Giovanni Lanfredini. The silver helmet presented in 1472 to
the conqueror of Volterra was by Pollaiuolo; so was also the oft-copied
medal representing the criminal attempt of the Pazzi, more valuable
in a historical than in an artistic point of view. No great works of
sculpture by him are known in Florence, the labour of his latter years
being chiefly devoted to Rome, where his masterpiece is the tomb of
Pope Sixtus IV. in the chapel of the Holy Sacrament in St. Peter’s, and
where he died in 1498.[193]

As Verocchio and Pollaiuolo passed from goldsmith’s work to
sculpture, without abandoning altogether their original occupation,
so Benedetto da Majano rose from artistic cabinet-work to sculpture
and architecture. The monument to Giotto in Sta. Maria del Fiore—a
marble bust in a richly ornamented circular frame—was, according
to the inscription, erected by the citizens in 1490.[194] The bust
of Antonio Squarcialupi, in the same church, is only ascribed to
Benedetto by a later tradition, which the merit of the work by no
means justifies.[195] The erection of both monuments was, doubtless,
due to Lorenzo. Benedetto’s greatest work was a pulpit, executed for
a Florentine citizen—Pietro Mellini—of whom he also made, in 1474,
a most natural and expressive marble bust, which he signed with his
name. The pulpit is decorated with reliefs, representing scenes in
the history of St. Francis of Assisi—the richest and finest work
of the kind since that of the Pisani. In imitation of Ghiberti, the
reliefs are freely handled; landscapes and backgrounds in perspective
are introduced, but with a careful subordination of the pictorial
elements which afterwards became too prominent.[196] In Sta. Maria
Novella is Benedetto’s monument to Filippo Strozzi. The artist who
built the palace, of which the owner lived to see only the beginning,
also erected in his beautiful family chapel this mausoleum, which was
begun before his death.[197] Above the black marble sarcophagus, in the
middle of a panel under an arch delicately carved in arabesques, is a
large medallion of the Virgin and Child, in white marble, surrounded
by a rich garland of flowers and foliage; at the sides are four angels
in adoration. The charm of expression and delicacy of treatment recall
Antonio Rossellino and Desiderio da Settignano. Filippo’s bust,
preserved by his descendants in the Strozzi Palace, shows the marked,
expressive features of the energetic man. Benedetto’s capabilities
in decorative sculpture are displayed in the marble doors of the
audience-chamber in the palace of the Signoria, where he worked, as has
been mentioned, with his brother. Time and ignorance have not spared
this fine work, and the statuette of the youthful Baptist, which once
adorned it, is now in the Uffizi collection.

The two finest works of Mino da Fiesole which adorn the Benedictine
Abbey-Church, were executed about 1470; one represents the artist’s own
time, the other the earlier days of Florence. They are the monuments of
Bernardo Giugni, and of the Marquis Hugo. The former, and his services
to the State have been already mentioned. The figure of an elderly
man, in his long robe, with his hands crossed on his breast, lies on
the sarcophagus; between Ionian pilasters is a semi-circular niche,
in which is a figure of Justice in relief, and in the lunette is a
medallion profile of the deceased.[198] The other monument, finished in
1481, is richer, but very like the first in general arrangement. It is
a token of gratitude from the monks to their founder—the half-mythical
Marquis who, in Emperor Otto’s days, is said to have come from the
neighbourhood of the Elbe and the Havel—the ‘great Baron’ of the
‘Divine Comedy,’ whose arms are quartered on the armorial bearings of
the chief Florentine families.[199] His effigies rest on a low couch
on the top of the sarcophagus, two genii support shields at his head
and feet; there is a group in relief, representing Charity, and in
the lunette a medallion of the Virgin and Child. As in all Mino’s
sculpture, careful workmanship is manifest in the accessories. This
attention to detail and richness of ornamentation long remained a
characteristic of the Florentines, who carried it to Rome and Naples.
In the early decades of the following century, when the revolution in
monumental style, introduced chiefly by Michel Angelo, was beginning
to make its way, and ornamentation was compelled to take refuge in
painting, admirable works in the old manner were raised in Florence.
Such were the tombs of Oddo Altoviti, and Pier Soderini, both by
Benedetto da Rovezzano; also the monument to Cardinal Luigi de’ Rossi,
cousin of Leo X., said to be by Raffaello da Montelupo. With regard
to ornamentation, a distinct position is held by two monuments,
companions to each other, which tradition ascribes to Giuliano da
Sangallo—those of Francesco Sassetti and his wife, in their family
chapel in Sta. Trinità.[200] They consist of black marble sarcophagi,
decorated with rams’ heads, and standing beneath an arch adorned with
antique arabesques and medallions, and a frieze, in the middle of
which are medallion heads of the husband and wife, surrounded by small
figures representing ceremonies of heathen worship. They are clearly
the work of an artist well acquainted with classical antiquity; who,
in this case, has certainly made rather a strange use of his studies.
That Giuliano da Sangallo was expert in the use of the chisel and
thoroughly understood the working of the Fiesolian stone, employed in
this monument, is shown by his famous mantelpiece in the Gondi Palace,
which served as a model for that by Benedetto da Rovezzano in the
Casa Rosselli del Turco, near Sant’Apostolo.[201] Tuscan sculptors
of ornamental work, particularly those from Fiesole, Settignano,
Rovezzano, and the neighbourhood, found occupation all over Italy,
like the architects and sculptors from the Lake of Como, the _maestri
Comacini_, in the Middle Ages. In our own days the Tuscans still show
great ability in working both marble and _macigno_ (the greyish stone
of the neighbourhood of Florence) in which they produce objects of
beautifully delicate workmanship.

Other arts at this time rose to a highly flourishing condition. The
connection between architecture and cabinet-making, and that between
sculpture and goldsmith’s work, have been repeatedly referred to.
The architect and cabinet-maker were often one, down to the middle
of the following century, when the Del Tasso family continued their
double occupation. But artistic cabinet-work was also connected with
sculpture and painting, as may be seen by the rich choir-stalls of
many churches; the ceilings and other woodwork of the palaces, with
their fine reliefs, elegant panelling, and wood-mosaic (_tarsia_),
much used to represent perspective as well as to imitate flowers and
foliage. Many of the artists mentioned furnished work of this kind
to the cathedral of Sta. Maria del Fiore, and to the palace of the
Signoria. The goldsmith’s art was in its glory, followed as it was by
great sculptors, who found excellent assistants in those who never rose
to the height of sculpture. The finest work of this kind in Florence
is the silver reredos for the Baptistery (mentioned at p. 130), which
was never quite finished. The growing taste for ornamental vessels and
other objects favoured this branch of art; as did also the custom of
presenting silver helmets or pieces of plate to commanders and others
who had deserved well of the Republic. As early as the summer of 1397,
436 florins were paid to the goldsmiths Piero, Matteo and Donato, for
silver gold and enamel, for dishes (_bacinetti_) intended for the
generals Paolo Orsini, Giovanni Colonna and Bernardin de Serre. Antonio
del Pollaiuolo made a large silver dish for the Signoria, and various
ornaments for rich families; and the churches were adorned with silver
crucifixes and elegant lamps.

Die-cutting was only a branch of sculpture and the goldsmith’s art,
sure to be practised where these two arts flourished, and contemporary
history furnished a store of materials. But here the Tuscans do
not hold the foremost place, either in time or in excellence of
workmanship. Natives of Northern Italy, Lombards, and Venetians, came
before them in the great cast portrait-medallions, by which Vittore
Pisanello made a name in the fifteenth century. Donatello’s followers
strove to follow but never came up to him. Three of the Tuscan
medallists—Antonio Pollaiuolo, Bertoldo, and Andrea Guazzalotti of
Prato, had dealings with the Medici. Only the first is known to have
struck a medal referring to his country’s history, namely, one relating
to the Pazzi conspiracy. Guazzalotti, who was in correspondence with
Lorenzo and cast statues for him, commemorated the Pope and the Duke of
Calabria as victors over the Turks; the medals are characteristically
conceived, but lacking in delicacy of treatment. Medals of Cosimo and
of Filippo de’ Medici, Archbishop of Pisa, are attributed to Pisanello,
the latter probably incorrectly; a medallion with the head of Lorenzo
seems to be the work of a Florentine, Pietro di Niccolò.[202]

Yet another branch of art reached a high perfection in Florence—that
of engraving precious stones. The taste for engraved gems, which
kept pace with the increasing knowledge of antiquity and the passion
for books and antique works of all kinds, revived the art of cutting
cameos and precious stones. A good example of the growth of this taste
is related by Vespasiano da Bisticci in the ‘Life of Niccoli,’[203]
whose house was full of antiquities. Passing along the street one
day, he saw a boy wearing round his neck a chalcedony with a figure
engraved, which the learned man thought he recognised as a work of
Polycletes. He inquired the name of the boy’s father, and sent to
ask him whether he would sell the stone. The man was willing to let
him have it for five florins, which he thought good payment. Now, in
the days of Pope Eugene, the future Cardinal Luigi Scarampi—who had
much taste for matters of this sort—being in Florence, asked Niccoli
to show him the stone, and offered him two hundred ducats for it.
Niccoli, who was not rich, accepted, and the chalcedony passed into the
hands of Scarampi, then to Paul II., and, after his death, to Lorenzo
de’ Medici. Lorenzo’s uncle, Giovanni, had collected many gems, of
which not the least famous was the carnelian representing Apollo and
Marsyas. It was supposed to be Nero’s seal, and was set in gold by
Lorenzo Ghiberti.[204] Lorenzo considerably increased the collection of
antique gems inherited from his father, and formed a treasury, of which
numerous remains still exist, after all the disasters that befell his
posterity. He and Paul II. inspired this branch of art with new life,
and enabled modern workers to enter the lists against the ancients. The
first modern gem of known date, is a portrait of Pope Paul in 1470,
now in the Uffizi collection. Giovanni delle Corniuole formed himself
on the models in the Medici collection, and attained the perfection
conspicuous in his famous head of Savonarola. He had a competitor in
the Milanese Domenico de’ Cammei, who worked chiefly for Lodovico il
Moro, and to whom is attributed the portrait of Lorenzo on an onyx of
three strata, placed with that of the great Dominican in the Uffizi
collection. Many other stones, with subjects taken from mythology,
sacred history, &c., are works of this period, when, also, much antique
work was copied. The name of Lorenzo de’ Medici, to be read on many
gems in Florence and elsewhere, recalls the former wealth told of in
Latin verses, and in the testimonies of contemporaries.[205]

In painting we now witness the development of the tendencies which
first appeared in Masaccio, and were so actively reciprocated by the
sister-art of sculpture. Here the two branches of art frequently met,
and their reciprocal influence is discernible in the character of the
work. It was thus with Verrocchio, and the Pollaiuoli. The former, of
no great distinction as a painter, recalls his bronze works in his
picture of the Baptism of Christ.[206] The brothers Pollaiuoli, whose
grave, quiet faces may be seen together on their tomb in San Pietro in
Vincoli at Rome, cannot well be separated in their works; and, though
Piero occupied himself with painting more than Antonio, the inscription
by the latter on the monument of Pope Sixtus IV. shows his excellence
in gold and silver work, in painting, and bronze casting. Antonio
painted for Lorenzo the Labours of Hercules, of which some small
copies are still in existence. The picture of St. James was painted
for the chapel of the Cardinal of Portugal; that of the Martyrdom
of St. Sebastian,[207] the most famous work of these painters, was
executed in 1475, for the Pucci chapel in the entrance-court of the
Annunziata. In these works may be recognised the sculptor, and the
student of anatomy, to whom fidelity in representing the figure is
more important than the feeling for beauty. Alesso Baldovinetti, who
was probably a pupil of Uccello, and a fellow-worker of Andrea del
Castagno, experienced the influence of sculpture indirectly; and where
he might have learned from it, in regard to modelling, he has only
acquired a constrained, angular style, which is far from pleasing. An
example of this may be seen in his picture of the Madonna enthroned
with saints, painted for the villa at Caffaggiuolo, and now in the
Uffizi collection. More satisfactory is a work executed from a design
of his—the picture of Dante in Sta. Maria del Fiore which represents
the _altissimo Poeta_ in the attitude of speaking, with his open book
in his hand; on his right is hell, on his left the city of Florence, in
the background the Mount of Purgatory, above his head the firmament.
This picture was actually attributed to Orcagna, till the artist’s
name—Domenico di Michelino—and the date of execution, 1466, were

Benozzo Gozzoli’s most important works—his Pisan frescoes—were
executed from 1469 onwards; they display great creative power,
though the harmony is defective and the masses and spaces are ill
distributed. It is observable in the works of Filippo Lippi, Gozzoli,
and Baldovinetti, a far inferior artist, that the custom was growing
in Florence of introducing into historical and religious compositions
portraits of spectators who had nothing to do with the subject. Nothing
remains of the frescoes painted by Baldovinetti for the Gianfigliazzi
in the choir of Sta. Trinità; they contained portraits of Lorenzo and
Giuliano de’ Medici, Bongianni and others of the Gianfigliazzi, Luigi
Guicciardini, Luca Pitti, Diotisalvi Neroni, Filippo Strozzi, Lorenzo
della Volpaia, and Paolo Toscanelli.[209] This branch of painting
reached its highest development in the hands of Baldovinetti’s famous
pupil, Domenico Ghirlandajo. Sandro Botticelli and Filippino Lippi
pursued the same branch of art. The former learned the goldsmith’s
trade in his youth, and shows traces of the influence of the
Pollaiuoli. He was the pupil of Fra Filippo and became the master of
his son, whom he survived, though Filippino was his junior by twenty
years. In the paintings of both there is a peculiar fantastic element,
attractive and interesting at first, but tiresome after a time. In
the faces it degenerates into a constantly recurring type, and in the
composition becomes mannerism. The way, too, in which both painters
employ allegory increases the appearance of affectation. Yet both were
men of great talent, with a fine and delicate sense of beauty when not
marred by superficiality and exaggeration. Both had much to do with
Lorenzo. None of the pictures painted for him by Botticelli are now
in existence, but his fine picture of the Epiphany must have been a
commission from the Medici, for in this work (formerly in Sta. Maria
Novella, and now in the Uffizi) the Three Kings have the features
of three members of the family—Cosimo the elder, his younger son
Giovanni, and his grandson Giuliano.[210] The colouring is more like
that of Ghirlandajo, to whom the picture was long attributed, than the
brighter, thinner tone of most of Botticelli’s works. Florence contains
many of his allegorical pictures, as well as Madonnas and saints;
among them the Coronation of the Virgin, painted for the church of San
Marco, as a commission for the Silk-workers’ Guild.[211] Botticelli not
only introduced likenesses into his historical pictures, he painted
separate portraits; among them those of Lorenzo’s mother and Giuliano’s
early lost love, the ‘bella Simonetta,’ very pleasing in the gentle
simplicity which characterises her expression, her attitude, and even
her dress. Both heads are in profile, the contour a little exaggerated,
in the manner of this artist.[212] Botticelli’s close connection with
the Medici is shown by the circumstance that after the conspiracy of
the Pazzi he undertook to paint the likenesses of the conspirators on
the wall of the palace of the Podestà.[213]

Only one work of Filippino Lippi is mentioned as having been executed
for Lorenzo—the unfinished fresco, representing a sacrifice, in
the hall at Poggio a Cajano—but their intimacy is well known. The
commission given to Filippino by Cardinal Olivieri Caraffa for the
painting of his chapel in Sta. Maria sopra Minerva is said to have
been procured by Lorenzo, and so, probably, were those of Matthias
Corvinus. The influence exercised on the views and tendencies of the
son by his father’s works, especially those at Prato—where Filippino
passed most of his youth—was mingled with that of Botticelli. The
former comes out most in the earlier works, notably in the frescoes
of the Brancacci chapel at San Pietro in Carmine, painted about 1485;
the latter in the wall-paintings begun for Filippo Strozzi, but not
finished till long after, in the chapel in Sta. Maria Novella. The
immediate neighbourhood of Masaccio’s works had, no doubt, a beneficial
effect on the young artist in his earlier works, for Filippino, not
yet thirty, shows in the Brancacci frescoes infinitely more fidelity
to nature and feeling for historical composition than in the paintings
of the Caraffa and Strozzi chapels. The scenes in the last,[214]
from the Acts and legends of the Apostles, display undeniable tokens
of spirit and imagination, giving a vivid representation of the
passions. But there is affected mannerism, inharmonious colouring,
and an apparent delight in light tints playing into each other. Some
of these defects may be partly laid to the account of restoration.
The preference, noticeable in Botticelli, for antique accessories,
produces in Filippino an effect of artificial overloading. Among his
easel-pieces, the great Madonna with saints, painted in 1485 for the
council-chamber of the palace of the Signoria, is distinguished by
grace and earnest work.[215] Filippino, too, was fond of introducing
figures of contemporaries. In his frescoes at S. Pietro in Carmine may
be seen Tommaso Soderini, Piero Guicciardini (father of the historian),
Luigi Pulci, Antonio Pollaiuolo, Sandro Botticelli, Francesco Granacci,
and the painter himself. In an altar-piece (now in the Uffizi),
representing the Epiphany, are portraits of several members of the
younger branch of the Medici, doubtless benefactors of the convent
of San Donato, for which the picture was painted four years after
Lorenzo’s death. There are Pierfrancesco, grandson of Giovanni di
Bicci, his son Giovanni, father of the famous leader of the Black Bands
and grandfather of the first Grand-Duke, and the younger Pierfrancesco,
father of Lorenzino, the murderer of the first Duke of Florence.[216]
Other portraits, such as those of the Nerli family in Sto. Spirito,
represent donors. In Cosimo Rosselli’s greatest work, the Procession
with the Chalice in the church of Sant’Ambrogio, only one portrait is
named, that of Pico della Mirandola. In Lucca, where Rosselli painted
a good deal, he fell into the reigning fashion. He had formed himself
on the model, first of Fra Angelico, then of Benozzo Gozzoli, and with
moderate talents endeavoured to combine the conventional with the
naturalistic tendency.[217]

The highest achievements of painting in Lorenzo’s days were those of
Domenico Ghirlandajo. He is a nobler Benozzo, guided by a refined
sense of symmetry. His power of drawing figures and groups is
combined with variety and animation. He has a strong feeling for
historical character, and makes a moderate use of architecture and
accessories that heighten the interest of his compositions without
seeming obtrusive. What he lacks in point of ideality is compensated
by his love of nature and that cultivated sense of form which makes
him select natural beauty and avoid whatever is repulsive in the
reality. His scenes from Scripture and the history of the Saints are
full of figures, and produce a grand, often a solemn, effect without
being at all forced or far-fetched. They transport us, undisturbed by
anything foreign or strange, into the Florence of his day. We seem
to stand in the middle of that gay and busy life, among the gallant
active citizens and the stately, beautiful women of that city, which,
according to the inscription—doubtless Poliziano’s—on the picture in
the choir of Sta. Maria Novella of the Angel appearing to Zacharias,
was rich in the spoils of victory and the treasures of art, in noble
buildings, in plenty, health, and peace.[218] Ghirlandajo’s frescoes
are a sort of monumental glorification of Lorenzo’s latter years. Among
the many portraits which give these works a value, independent of
their qualities as works of art, may be seen Lorenzo’s in the Sassetti
chapel in Sta. Trinità, which was decorated in 1485 with scenes from
the history of St. Francis of Assisi. The frescoes in the choir of
Sta. Maria Novella make quite a portrait gallery. They were begun in
1490 for Giovanni Tornabuoni, and after five years’ work were finished
four years before the death of the painter, who is here seen at his
best. Here are limned many members of the Tornabuoni and Tornaquinci
families (between whom there was a connection), as well as numerous
friends—Ficino, Landino, Poliziano, Gentile of Urbino, the most
distinguished scholars of the time. Baldovinetti, too, is there; David
Ghirlandajo, Domenico’s brother; his brother-in-law Bastiano Mainardi
and himself; Andrea de’ Medici, Federigo Sassetti, Gianfrancesco
Ridolfi—a partner in the Medicean bank—besides noble ladies and
matrons, among whom is Ginevra de’ Benci, a famous beauty also painted
by Leonardo da Vinci, and another pleasing face, that of Giovanna degli
Albizzi, who married Lorenzo Tornabuoni in 1486.[219]

Like the Brancacci chapel, the choir of Sta. Maria Novella was a school
for painters in the palmy days of art; Andrea del Sarto, in particular,
received a great impulse from the compositions of Ghirlandajo. When
it is considered that the latter was taken away in the full strength
of manhood, at the age of forty-five, and that his development was not
rapid, it is hard to understand how he could have executed so many
works in Florence and elsewhere. The frescoes may have been done in
part by his pupils, but the easel-pieces—of which there are so many,
executed with the most careful technical perfection—must have come
chiefly from his own hand. Of those in Florence it will suffice to name
one, the fine Epiphany painted in 1488 for the church of the Foundling
Hospital. For Lorenzo, in 1488, he painted in the villa at Spedaletto
some mythological subjects of Vulcan and his comrades, of which little
now remains. For Giovanni de’ Medici he did two altar-pieces in the
abbey church of San Giusto near Volterra, of which one, ‘Christ in the
act of Blessing, with Saints,’ still exists. But Ghirlandajo’s chief
patrons were the Tornabuoni, family connections of the Medici. That he
and several other Tuscan artists were sent for to Rome to decorate the
Sixtine Chapel may safely be attributed to these two families. About
twenty years before the close of the century—when Sandro Botticelli,
Cosimo Rosselli, and his pupil Piero di Cosimo, were painting there
with and after Ghirlandajo—the Pope and Lorenzo were reconciled; and
as in Florence nothing was ever done in matters of art without him, he
and Giovanni Tornabuoni doubtless procured these commissions.

The diplomatic, literary, and artistic intercourse between Florence and
Rome had never been so active and fertile as in those days when the
predominance of Florentine influence in Rome was openly acknowledged.
Almost all the remarkable works of the time of Sixtus IV. are due to
Florentine architects, sculptors, and painters. They may have commenced
even before the Pazzi conspiracy, for Baccio Pontelli began to build
the chapel in 1473, and Sixtus was urgent for its completion. Beside
the Florentine painters above named two other Tuscans were employed,
Don Bartolommeo della Gatta, abbot of a small Camaldulensian convent
at Arezzo, and perhaps a Florentine by birth, and Luca Signorelli
of Cortona, who by his connection with Piero della Francesca forms
a link between Tuscan and Umbrian art. His chief works belong to an
Umbrian city, Orvieto, where indeed Tuscan masters had long taken the
lead. Luca Signorelli also painted for Lorenzo. A Madonna, once in the
villa at Castello now in the Uffizi, and a mythological picture, the
‘Education of Pan,’ seem to have been offerings of the artist to his
patron. The last-named picture recalls the grandeur of conception and
strong feeling for form noticeable in the frescoes in the chapel of San
Brizio in Orvieto Cathedral.[220]

The head of the Umbrian school in the latter decades of the century,
Pietro Perugino, made repeated and long visits to Florence, and was
considerably influenced by Florentine art, though with an admixture
of other elements. Thus was formed a style which, opposed on the one
hand to the naturalism of most of the Florentines, on the other to the
enthusiastic tendencies of some among them, gave expression to the
religious element which long remained dominant in the master’s own
country and beyond it. It is ascertained that Perugino was in Florence
in 1482 and in the beginning of 1491, but nothing is known of what
he did then. His chief works in Florence are of later date, as are
those of his school, first among which is the ‘Last Supper,’ in Sant’
Onofrio, probably by Bernardino Pinturicchio. In 1496, Perugino had
thoughts of building a house in Florence, and in 1515—when his talent
was on the wane—he purchased a future resting-place in the Annunziata;
such tokens did he give of his attachment to the city which, spite of
the superhuman activity of Rome, was yet the focus of all artist-life
and work. Of paintings by Perugino for the Medici nothing is known.

Miniature painting[221] rapidly approached its highest development.
Great illuminated church-books, antiphonaries, psalters, hours,
breviaries, &c., had come forth from Benedictine, Camaldulensian,
Dominican, and other convents, and were lodged in cathedrals
and churches. The art of illumination was extended by Dante’s
contemporaries, Oderigi of Gubbio and Franco of Bologna, to
prayer-books for private use and to works of profane literature, when
men of rank and citizens took to forming libraries and beautiful
manuscripts became objects of luxury. The field for representation was
correspondingly enlarged, and from figures of angels and saints the
artists of the fifteenth century passed to scenes from the classic
poets or the ‘Divine Comedy.’ In this century the Florentine churches
were filled with the finest works of this kind, most of which are now
in the National Library or that of San Marco. The Dominican order were
especially rich in miniature painters after Giovanni Dominici had given
an impulse to this branch of art. In Cosimo’s time, Fra Angelico and
Fra Benedetto worked in San Marco under the eyes of St. Antonine. Don
Bartolommeo della Gatta, Attavante degli Attavanti, Gherardo and Monti
di Giovanni, Zanobi Strozzi, Francesco Rosselli, brother of Cosimo,
and many others, distinguished themselves in this art, in which they
were emulated by foreigners connected with Florence: Liberale of
Verona, Girolamo of Cremona, several Sienese, and others. From the
middle of the century miniature painting underwent the influence of
the Van Eyck school. Many beautiful works found their way into the
Medici collections. Lorenzo’s tastes and traditions were inherited
by his son Giovanni, whom Raphael’s famous portrait represents with a
book adorned with miniatures, and a glass for looking at them lying
before him. Many miniatures went abroad, and foreign ones came to
Italy. Gherardo, Attavanti, and others worked for Matthias Corvinus;
and in the Burgundian Library at Brussels is preserved the mass-book
painted for the king by the last-named artist in 1485, and brought to
the Netherlands by Mary of Hungary, sister of Charles V. At Matthias’s
death Lorenzo acquired several of the manuscripts, probably ordered
at his own instigation, and some of which were still in hand. Lorenzo
was deeply interested in the revival of mosaic. Vasari’s statement
that Alesso Baldovinetti learned the long-forgotten principles of this
art from a German pilgrim going to Rome must rest on its own merits;
anyhow, the art was revived in Lorenzo’s latter years. In 1482-83,
Baldovinetti undertook to restore the mosaics in the Baptistery. About
1490, Gherardo di Giovanni and Domenico Ghirlandajo began for Lorenzo
the mosaic decoration of the chapel in the choir of the cathedral,
where stands the shrine of St. Zanobi. This work was never finished.
The same year Domenico executed the pleasing mosaic picture of the
‘Annunciation,’ over the side-door of the church, towards the Via de’
Servi. Baldovinetti’s pupil Graffione, and Ghirlandajo’s brother David,
took part in these works; the latter, who busied himself with the
technicalities of glass-making at Montaione, in the Elsa valley—where
there are potteries and glass-houses to this day—afterwards worked
both in Florence and in the cathedrals of Siena and Orvieto.[222]

Thus varied and fruitful was the development of art around Lorenzo, in
a great measure stimulated and shared in by him. Like his grandfather,
he was not content to profit by ripe talents and pluck the fruits,
he sowed for the future; he, more than any one else, contributed to
bring on the most brilliant period of art. He founded a nursery for
choice spirits in the collection of works of art of all kinds, ancient
and modern, which he laid out in his garden at San Marco and the
neighbouring casino, and the superintendence of which he confided to
Donatello’s pupil, Bertoldo. At a time when antique sculptures were
rare, and the means of study limited, and when young men of talent
had to remain for years in a dependent position which checked their
individual development, advantages like these, offered to youth,
were as unusual as they were invaluable. Lorenzo’s sound judgment
was no less useful here than his goodwill. ‘It is no small matter,’
remarks Vasari in the ‘Life of Giovan Francesco Rustici,’[223] ‘that
distinction was attained by all those who went to school in the Medici
garden, and were assisted by the illustrious Lorenzo. This can only be
ascribed to the uncommon perspicacity of that noble gentleman, who was
a veritable Mæcenas, who knew how to recognise genius and merit, and to
encourage them by rewards.’ The painters Francesco Granacci, Lorenzo
di Credi, Niccolò Soggi; the sculptors Giovan Francesco Rustici,
Pietro Torrigiano, Baccio of Montelupo, Andrea Contucci of Monte San
Sovino—who on Lorenzo’s recommendation was summoned to Portugal,
where he executed works of architecture and sculpture for King John
II.—these, and others, came forth from the garden of San Marco.
The variety of their gifts and accomplishments bears witness to the
freedom they had there enjoyed in the development of the most diverse
intellectual powers. But the one who gave to the Medicean garden a
worldwide fame was Michelangelo Buonarotti. Before he was fifteen
he passed from the school of Ghirlandajo into this new world. His
sculptures soon disclosed the marvellous talent which his sympathetic
teacher had foreboded when he recommended him and Granacci to Lorenzo;
the latter having, as the story goes, expressed to his artist-friend a
regret that sculpture did not keep pace with painting. The youth came
of a good family, but without property.[224] During the few remaining
years of Lorenzo, he enjoyed a sympathy and kindness which had a
decided influence on his life up to the threshold of old age, although
the independent spirit of the free citizen often rebelled against the
attachment which, as artist, he continued to feel for the Medici.

It has been generally believed that the greatest Florentine artist
of the second half of the fifteenth century—Leonardo da Vinci—was
a stranger to Lorenzo. The fact appeared the more strange because
Leonardo was the son of a chancellor or notary of the Republic, and a
pupil of Andrea del Verocchio, who was in constant intercourse with
the Medici. Newly discovered documents[225] show that Leonardo, if not
among those admitted to study in the San Marco gardens, was at least
acquainted with the Medici, and that it was Lorenzo who sent him, when
thirty years old, to Lodovico il Moro, in company with one Atalante
Migliorotti, famous for playing on the lyre. The date hitherto assigned
to his first visit to Milan—1482 or 1483—is confirmed; but there is
no explanation of the fact that his name is never mentioned during
the war of 1478-79. He was then twenty-six, and might have done good
service to his country by that knowledge of mechanics and hydraulics
which he afterwards turned to such good account in Lombardy. On January
1 of the fatal year 1478, the Signoria commissioned him to paint an
altar-piece for the chapel dedicated to St. Bernard in the palace.
This commission, like many of the same kind, was not executed, but was
transferred after Leonardo’s departure for Milan to Filippino Lippi,
whose beautiful Madonna (see p. 175) was placed not in the chapel,
but in the council chamber. Under the rule of the two Sforzas—Gian
Galeazzo and Lodovico il Moro—Leonardo founded at Milan a school of
painting which gave a new direction to Lombard art. When he returned to
Florence after the downfall of the Moro, Lorenzo had been seven years
in his grave, and his sons were in exile.





THE events of two years had shown that Lorenzo was not quite so
secure of the direction of public affairs as he had seemed to be
immediately after the conspiracy of the Pazzi. The vicissitudes of
the war had produced an abrupt change in public feeling; it had
become clear that internal affairs were in a great measure subject to
external influences. Even when Lorenzo’s position was far stronger, a
diplomatist justly observed that his authority in the city depended on
the estimation in which he was held by the other Italian powers and
by foreign sovereigns.[226] The traditions of independence were too
fresh, party interests too various and too powerful, not to create
constant difficulties. The great art of the party leaders had always
consisted in excluding from office any but their own partisans. But it
was by no means easy to prevent internal divisions between sections
of the parties themselves. During the war, a college of magistrates
had to be dismissed, on account of the opposition they offered to a
measure which aimed at reducing their jurisdiction to its original
limits. Lorenzo’s standing difficulty was the necessity he was under of
controlling parties in the state, without altering constitutional forms
except in apparent agreement with the popular sentiment. The ostracism
known as the power of _ammonire_ had proved just as dangerous as the
excitement caused by the frequent summoning of parliaments. His only
plan therefore was, by creating a docile following, to exclude, without
the use of strong measures, all elements he could not rely upon, and
to accustom the multitude to the gradual extension of his influence
on home as well as foreign policy. Lorenzo had another motive. He had
not been fortunate in business matters. During his grandfather’s time
the State finances had become entangled with those of the family.
Cosimo, who was a financial genius, took care of his own interests
without letting those of the State suffer. With his grandson the case
was different. Cosimo had advanced money to the State; Lorenzo, on
the other hand, stood in need of public money for private objects.
The expenses of the war, sacrifices and losses of all kinds were the
ostensible cause of irregularity in the payment of interest on the
national debt, and in the settlement of marriage portions by the
establishment existing for that purpose. This state of things could
not last if the public bonds were to retain any value and the national
credit to be maintained. For further operations, rendered hazardous by
the embarrassment that already existed, men were needed who were both
familiar with business and willing to go hand in hand with the director
of the State. The embarrassment was already so publicly known, that it
was thought advisable to avow it with apparent frankness before taking
measures which really aimed at withdrawing the direction of the banks
from public control, although their object was made to appear a reform
for the general welfare.

On April 8, 1480, scarcely a fortnight after peace was proclaimed, the
Signoria, who were all in Lorenzo’s confidence, proceeded, without
the intervention of a parliament, to make sweeping changes in the
constitution. They carried through the three legislative councils a
resolution empowering them to create a new college, in whose hands were
to be placed all the appointments to public offices. This college was
divided into a smaller and greater council: the former consisting of
thirty citizens capable of holding office, elected with the Signoria;
the latter containing 210 members not under thirty years of age, who
with the Signoria and first college filled up the required number of
offices. The presence of two-thirds of the members and a proportionate
majority of those present sufficed for the validity of the proceedings.
One-fourth of the councillors were to come from each quarter of the
city; if a family or _consorteria_ had sent but one representative
among the thirty, two of its members were eligible as councillors;
otherwise only one, except in the case of two houses to be named by
the Signoria and the thirty, for which there was to be no limit as
to number or age. The 210 then added to their body 48 other members,
and thus formed a great council of 288 members, which was to meet in
November for the elections. On April 11 the Signoria proceeded to
nominate the thirty. But a few days later a considerable modification
was made in the scheme, for on the 19th the smaller council of
thirty was increased by a resolution of the Signoria to seventy; the
additional members being chosen by those already nominated. The new
members were to be at least forty years old, and, if belonging to one
of the great guilds, must have held the office of Gonfaloniere. This
permanent senate of seventy, which now took the place of the former
electors to the offices (_accoppiatori_), was divided into two equal
parts, alternating every half year. When united, it had in fact the
direction of the whole state; the more so because it had the right of
filling up vacancies in its own body from among those who had held the
office of Gonfaloniere, provided they had done nothing to displease the
ruling party. To this senate no proposal or petition could be addressed
by private persons, but only by the Signoria.

The Council of Seventy then appointed two committees of its own
members. The first, commonly called from its number the _Otto di
pratica_, took the place of the Magistracy of Ten. It sat only in time
of war, and assumed the control of political and military affairs,
which, after deliberation in full session, it submitted to the Seventy.
The other committee, consisting of twelve members, was entrusted
with all affairs concerning the national credit, and all matters of
jurisdiction. Both were nominated for a period of six months, and any
vacancies caused by death or an appointment to offices abroad were
to be filled up from the same college.[227] The existing magistracy,
called the _Otto di balia_, whose authority in both civil and criminal
affairs had almost extinguished that of the podestà but had lately been
reduced within narrower limits, was likewise chosen from among the

However widely the opinions of contemporaries and posterity may differ
as to the character and scope of these institutions, which were
afterwards greatly modified in the direction of centralisation, all
agree that the measures just described contributed most effectively
to the establishment of personal government. ‘One must perceive,’
observes Alamanno Rinuccini on the first resolution, ‘that all freedom
was taken from the people and they were made the servants of the
Thirty, as I, Alamanno Rinuccini, though a member of the Council
of the Two Hundred and Ten, testify in accordance with truth.’ And
further, on the completion of the scheme: ‘The decree contained many
things dishonourable and opposed to citizen-life and to the freedom
of the people; and, indeed, from that day their freedom seemed to
me dead and buried.’ The general opinion on the connection of the
administration with the financial affairs of the Medici is shown by
the remarks of both friends and foes. Giovanni Cambi remarks: ‘Lorenzo
was always thinking how he could increase his authority. After the
new reform had conferred on the electors a power formerly belonging
to the whole body of citizens, the former took into their own hands
the money matters that needed regulating. The state finances had been
used to support Lorenzo in his private affairs. More than a hundred
thousand gold florins went to Bruges alone, where Tommaso Portinari
was at the head of the Medici bank, then in danger of failure. The
unfortunate community had to pay it all, for the members of the new
elective body cared for nothing but to keep their own position, and
assented to everything. Thus a servile feeling gained ground; the
citizens sacrificed their freedom to obtain office. Yet what they did
obtain was not enough to satisfy them; for all looked enviously on the
inner council, to which each thought himself worthy to belong.’ The
voice that carries most weight is perhaps that of Alessandro de’ Pazzi,
who gives a sketch of his uncle in his disquisition on the Florentine
constitution of 1522. ‘As Lorenzo,’ he says,[228] ‘spent a great deal
of money on a thousand things, and was not a good man of business, his
fortune suffered considerably. Cosimo had spent large sums of money;
perhaps because he believed that the glory of building churches and
monuments would be of more advantage to his family than stores of
gold; and in this his example was followed by Piero and his sons. When
their credit fell, they would have been driven from their position
but for the events of 1478, which gained for the Medici new friends
and confirmed the attachment of old ones, and altogether strengthened
their power. The same events furnished Lorenzo with the means of using
both his private means and the moneys of the State, which before
he would not have dared to touch, to fulfil his own obligations,
and re-establish his political influence on a permanent basis while
rectifying his financial embarrassments.’

The altered constitution with respect to finance is thus described
by Niccolò Valori:[229] ‘Although no new taxes were imposed, the
revenues of the State increased so much after peace was assured, that
State-creditors had reason to be satisfied. The Republic has such
good resources that she can hold out long in time of war, and recover
rapidly in time of peace.’ This sounds very well; but, according to
Alamanno Rinuccini,[230] the public credit had to be supported in the
course of the very next year by a sale of State property. The bad
name which Lorenzo acquired by his arbitrary appropriation of public
moneys seems to have induced him to restrict his banking operations,
which depended for success on changes of fortune and on the skill of
agents, and to lay out his means in landed property rather than trust
to foreign speculations.

If Niccolò Valori is to be believed, no new taxes were imposed in 1480.
But an examination of the proceedings of the board of taxation shows
how little this statement is to be relied on. The progressive scale of
1447, which originally produced the large sums laid out in supporting
Francesco Sforza, and which was to be in operation for three years
only, the tax being collected in small instalments as need arose, had
remained in force during the remaining years of Cosimo, and with some
modifications under Piero and his son. According to a calculation of
the payments in 1471-1480, the sum total amounted to 1,682,888, or on
an average 168,288 gold florins annually. In 1479 the tax had risen to
367,450 gold florins. The new law issued by the new finance committee
on May 18, 1480, and modified on the following January 30, introduced
a double progressive duty in place of the former one. The first, fixed
for seven years, was on immovable property, so that the lowest class,
with an income extending beyond the actual necessaries of life but
under fifty gold florins, was to pay seven per cent., and the highest,
having an income of 400 and over, twenty-two per cent. The second was
a personal tax, which, according to the same scale, amounted to one
gold florin and four-twentieths for the lowest class, four florins and
four-twentieths for the highest. This mode of taxation, whereby a quota
of the national debt could be discharged, lasted with some changes till
Lorenzo’s death; its real aim being to keep the lower orders in good
humour and weaken the great families; while those that governed always
found means to indemnify themselves and their friends, so that equality
of taxation was merely apparent. The taxes were collected according
to the needs of the Government. More than once they were paid seven
times in the year. The proceeds at one collection of the first of these
taxes had been estimated at about 30,000 gold florins, but only yielded
25,000; in 1487 it fell to 18,000; and in the following year to 15,000.
From 1481 to 1492 the sum of the tax payments amounted to 1,561,836
gold florins, or, on an average, 130,153. The largest revenue was
that of the year 1483—that of the Ferrara war—viz. 164,665, and the
smallest those of the years of peace, from 1489 to 1492, viz. 105,000.
Under Lorenzo’s son the total annual amount was reduced to 90,000. On
calculating the various duties on both movable and immovable property,
appearing under manifold names, ever changing with circumstances,
alternately rising and falling, it becomes evident that the direct
tax, which by the old financial system of the Republic was limited to
25,000 or 30,000 gold florins, a light weight in the balance against
the duties estimated at 250,000 to 300,000, had increased twelvefold
in Lorenzo’s time. The taxpayers were indeed registered at the Monte,
and might discharge part of their payments in its bonds. But the
Monte more than once stopped paying interest altogether, often paid
only half, and sometimes only a fifth. The exchequer then took the
quotas of taxes in question not at the nominal value of the bonds, but
according to the rate of payment then current at the Monte. All these
manipulations, which made the artificial financial system of Florence
a perfect labyrinth of perplexity, could not but be injurious to the
interests of the community, while they deprived property of its secure

At the same time, the repeated modifications in the constitution which
had been going on ever since Cosimo’s time had thrown it completely
off the balance. People had long been accustomed to see the exercise
of popular sovereignty by means of parliaments converted into a
mere party manœuvre. The men in power, in order to gain a formal
legal countenance for their measures, would have some extraordinary
authority conferred on them by the so-called people, i.e. by that
portion of the citizens who were either on their side or were coerced
into becoming so through fear. The constant change in the mode of
election to the offices, either by lot or by nomination, produced
in the end no great difference, for all were excluded who were not
thought to have been made sure of. In Lorenzo’s time, at least after
the restrictions subsequently imposed on the scheme introduced in 1480,
there was no more trouble in that respect. In defiance of democratic
forms, everything tended to a personal government. As if enough had
not already occurred to increase the power of the Medici, another
circumstance—unimportant in itself—occurred to raise Lorenzo’s
position. On the evening of June 2, Amoretto Baldovinetti, natural
son of a citizen of good family, was arrested, and on the following
morning Battista Frescobaldi, formerly consul at Constantinople.
Scarcely were they in custody when an attempt was made to seize the
brothers Francesco and Antonio Balducci, but only the latter was
captured. Immediately a report was spread of a conspiracy against
Lorenzo’s life. Frescobaldi had once greatly assisted in delivering
up Giovanni Bandini to justice, and seems to have thought himself
insufficiently rewarded for having spent some of his private means
in the affair. In Rome he met some Florentine emigrants who put him
in communication with Amoretto, just the man, he considered, for a
hazardous undertaking. Provided with weapons and poison, these two
came to Florence. Their efforts to gain supporters had little success;
even the brothers Balducci seem to have been undecided. Nevertheless
they resolved to attempt the assassination, and again in a church;
according to some it was to be in the cathedral, according to others
in S. Pietro in Carmine, where Lorenzo was expected on Ascension day.
The plot failed and the three conspirators were condemned to death. A
legal objection was raised against the sentence, as the case was only
that of a criminal project; but the Signoria and the Council of Seventy
pronounced it high treason, and enacted that in future every act by
which Lorenzo was injured or his life threatened was to be regarded
in the same light. ‘Lorenzo’s position and authority,’ remarks the
Ferrarese agent,[232] ‘was certainly heightened by this event, but
many are of opinion that it did him more harm than good, by increasing
the number of his enemies.’ When sentence was pronounced many citizens
went to console the prisoners; but they answered cheerfully that they
regretted not so much the sentence they had to undergo as the failure
of their scheme to free the city; they had tried to do what ought to be
the duty of every citizen, and if they had only had two hours more it
would have been seen of what they were capable. They met their doom on
the morning of the 6th, on the gallows in the palace of the Podestà.
Lorenzo took care to announce to the courts and to his noble friends
throughout Italy, either by private letters or through the ambassadors
of the Republic, the danger with which he had been threatened ‘by that
traitor Battista Frescobaldi and his companions.’ The consequence was
that the following of friends and clients which had served to protect
Lorenzo since the Pazzi conspiracy formed itself into a regular
body-guard, and the capital became accustomed to see him appear in
public with a suite differing from that of a tyrant only by the civil
character of its members.

Three months after this Otranto was re-taken. In the beginning of the
year the plenipotentiaries of the Italian States had met at Rome to
consider an alliance in which foreign countries were invited to join
against the Infidels. Sixtus IV. bestirred himself actively. With help
from various quarters, King Ferrante made great exertions to meet the
danger that was threatening not only Apulia but all Italy. Alfonso of
Calabria besieged Otranto with a large force. As he could not succeed
in completely cutting off the approach by sea, the town might have held
out a long time, particularly as a new Turkish army was gathering on
the Albanian and Dalmatian coasts; but the death of the Grand Signor,
and the strife of his two sons for the throne, put an end to the
resistance of the place. On September 10, Otranto opened its gates, but
it never recovered from these heavy strokes of fate. The duke, whose
easy victory was commemorated by medals, did not keep to the conditions
of the surrender. A year later, Rome, so lately threatened by the
Turks, saw many of them within her walls, not as victors but as doubly
vanquished; they were those who had taken service in the Neapolitan
army, which thus once again—as in the days of Frederic II.—numbered
unbelievers in its ranks.



THE Pazzi conspiracy was only a prelude to the events which caused a
Neapolitan army to stand as an enemy before the walls of Rome. The Pope
and the Venetians had had no time to give free course to their spite
against old enemies or former allies so long as the storm was hanging
over the Apulian coast. Sixtus IV. even showed himself friendly to the
Florentines, and Guid’Antonio Vespucci, who, towards the end of January
1481, returned to Rome as ambassador, endeavoured to strengthen this
good understanding. But no sooner had the imminent danger from the
East disappeared than the object of clearing the coast of Albania and
Western Greece of the Turks, which might have been more easily attained
then than at any previous period, passed out of sight. A dispute
between Venice and Ferrara furnished an occasion for fresh strife.
Ercole of Este refused to recognise any longer as valid certain old and
burdensome obligations which kept him in a sort of dependence on the
Republic with respect to the execution of justice in his capital by a
Venetian vicegerent, and the procuring of salt from Venetian saltworks.
The dispute rose to such a height that Venice threatened to take up
arms; she thought the moment favourable on account of her alliance
with the Pope. Sixtus IV. had sound reasons for avoiding everything
that could favour the interference of Venice in the affairs of Ferrara
and Romagna; but the requirements of prudent policy were driven into
the background by the selfish ambition of his nephew, who hoped to
strengthen his position in Romagna by Venetian influence. Duke Ercole
vainly tried through Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere to make the Pope
understand that it would be neither to the honour nor the advantage
of the Holy See to leave him to be crushed by the superior power of

Girolamo Riario went to Venice, where he was most honourably received
and presented with the patriciate. War was decided on. King Ferrante
sided with his son-in-law, as did also Milan and Florence. The alliance
of Bologna and several of the lords of Romagna was secure; Siena and
Genoa adhered to the Pope and Venice. Most of the captains of the
Tuscan war undertook the leadership again, under somewhat altered
circumstances. Besides Roberto Malatesta, the Venetians gained Roberto
da Sanseverino, who had fallen out with Lodovico Sforza and given him a
great deal of trouble in his own territory. The command of the Milanese
troops was entrusted to the Duke of Urbino. The Florentines were led
by Costanzo Sforza, to whom the general’s _bâton_ had been solemnly
presented October 2, 1481.[234] In the spring of 1482 the struggle
began in several quarters at once.[235]

A large Venetian fleet sailed up the Po, while two armies attacked the
Ferrarese territory—Sanseverino from the Lombard side and Malatesta
from that of Romagna. Rovigo and the whole Polesina fell into the
hands of the Venetians, whose commander-in-chief encamped, on May 28,
before Ficcarolo—a castle situated on the Po to the north-west of
Ferrara—intending to take it, and then to cross the river and attack
the capital, Malatesta co-operating with him from the south side.
But meanwhile the Duke of Urbino, with the Milanese troops, raised
his camp at Stellata, on the right bank, to assist the besieged and
cover Ferrara; and Malatesta was called away from the Po district to
meet a threatened danger in an opposite quarter. Alfonso of Calabria
had appeared at the Tronto, demanding a free pass to bring aid to his
brother-in-law. The Pope had not yet declared himself; the envoys of
Naples, Milan, Florence, and Ferrara were still in Rome. On the refusal
of the pass they left the city, and the duke entered the States of the
Church as an enemy. He met no serious resistance. Rome resounded with
the clang of arms; as an annalist says, ‘The city which had hitherto
been wont to produce only bulls and briefs now produced nothing but
arms.’[236] Girolamo Riario had the post of captain-general for the
Church, but his incapacity soon became apparent. The Neapolitans were
at Grottaferrata; their horsemen made excursions to the very gates of
the city; vineyards and fields were laid waste. This state of things
continued for weeks. At last the Pope saw himself compelled to appeal
for help to Venice, and she ordered Roberto Malatesta to go to the
assistance of her hard-pressed ally. Meanwhile, the Florentines had
made a diversion; Niccolò Vitelli, supported by Costanzo Sforza, had
taken Città di Castello on June 19, and the whole country around had
fallen into his hands.

Thus far matters seemed to be going in favour of the Duke of Ferrara
and his allies. The Pope was angry as well as distressed, and in
his anger and distress he did not disdain the policy followed by
one Italian state after another, to the ruin of Italy, the policy
of seeking help from a foreign power. To Louis XI. he addressed the
bitterest complaints against Ferrante, seeking to stir up the French
king to an expedition against Naples, where the prevailing discontent
was in his favour, and he offered the Dauphin an opportunity of
becoming a standard-bearer of the Church.[237] Raimond Pérault,
afterwards Bishop of Saintes and Cardinal, was sent to the king with
positive proposals. Louis XI. was too practical to enter upon such
far-reaching and uncertain projects, but, as in all similar proposals,
the seed sown did not fall on barren soil. Meanwhile things had changed
in Italy. Ficcarolo surrendered after a siege of rather more than a
month, and the enemy crossed the Po unimpeded by the troops of the
Duke of Urbino, which were no match for the Venetians, especially
when their leader, having been seized with fever in the low unhealthy
neighbourhood of the river, had to be carried to Bologna. Ferrara was
threatened, and a Venetian fleet alarmed the coast of Apulia. But the
heaviest blow was yet to come. On August 21, at Campomorto, on the
road from Rome to Porto d’Anzo, Alfonso of Calabria was completely
defeated by Malatesta, with heavy loss of men and artillery.[238]
The victor died at Rome on September 8, of fever which he had caught
in the infected Campagna. At the same time the other side lost their
best general, Federigo da Montefeltro, who closed his eventful life
in Bologna. These two, opposed to each other on the battle-field, but
connected by the closest family ties, each ignorant of the other’s
mortal danger, commended in their last hour their states and families
to each other’s care. Girolamo Riario had tried to profit both by the
victory and the death of Malatesta, on the one hand to retake Città
di Castello, and on the other to get Rimini into his own power. Both
attempts were frustrated by the Florentines, who supported Vitelli and
enabled Roberto’s widow, Elisabetta di Montefeltro, to preserve for her
little step-son Pandolfo his paternal inheritance. Still the situation
was very serious. Roberto Sanseverino established himself on the right
bank of the Po, and raised strong fortifications at Pontelagoscuro,
close to Ferrara. The duke began seriously to think of abandoning his
capital and withdrawing to Modena, but the Florentine plenipotentiary,
Bongianni Gianfigliazzi, restrained him. Lodovico Sforza was kept in
check by a rising in the Parmesan territory.

The way the war was carried on in the Duchy of Ferrara was regarded
in Florence as very unsatisfactory. The Duke of Urbino had in nowise
answered to the expectations formed of him. Jacopo Guicciardini
remarked to the Ferrarese ambassador that the league had no head.
Lorenzo de’ Medici was anxious, but said in reference to the Duke of
Ferrara, ‘I cannot imagine you will lose, unless you fail for want of
spirit. _Here_ all will be done that can be.’ The expedition against
Città di Castello, he observed, had been made with the object of giving
the duke breathing time. Ercole was always commending his interests to
the Republic. If Ferrara fell into the hands of the Venetians, Florence
would be likewise endangered. Military operations were not accounted
sufficient; the old threat of a council was renewed. But just at this
time the adventurous Archbishop of Carniola, whose character and
history have never been thoroughly investigated, made a feeble attempt
to revive the Synod of Basel, which had been dissolved for forty
years. This man, a Dominican, whose name seems to have been Andrea
Zuccalmaglio, was in Rome with commissions from the Emperor Frederic
about the time of the Pazzi conspiracy. There he enjoyed high favour
for a time, but afterwards he fell into such deep disgrace that he was
not only deposed from his ecclesiastical dignity but imprisoned in the
castle of St. Angelo, from whence the Emperor’s intercession liberated
him in the summer of 1481. He betook himself, _viâ_ Florence, first
to Bern and then to Basel, where, falsely giving himself out as still
Frederic’s messenger, and finally assuming the title of cardinal, he
proclaimed the opening of the great Assembly of the Church on the feast
of the Annunciation, 1482. The moment for this proclamation was not
badly chosen, for the Pope was just involving himself in a fresh war;
but measures being immediately taken in Rome to put on their guard both
foreign powers and the free city in which the fire threatened to kindle
once more, the wretched man—whose sanity had begun to be doubted, and
who was not joined by one single prelate from France or Germany—rushed
into extremities, and in the beginning of the summer launched the
wildest invectives against Francesco da Savona, who was no Pope but
a son of the devil, against whom he called Christ and the œcumenical
council to witness.

Not long before, Lorenzo had found out that it is not safe to play
with spiritual weapons, however much they might be blunted by misuse
in temporal projects. It seems, therefore, hardly intelligible that he
could think of letting himself appear to take part in such a senseless
enterprise. Possibly he had seen the archbishop when the latter passed
through Florence, with his heart full of rancour against the Pope
and his nephew. In Lorenzo’s defence it may be urged that affairs in
Italy were in a sad plight while the Pope blindly allowed himself to
be led by the ambition of his kinsmen. In a letter written about this
time to Pier Capponi, ambassador at Naples,[239] Lorenzo says plainly
that the authority of religion itself is endangered by a mode of
government so unbecoming the supreme pastor. King Ferrante nominated
ambassadors to the council, and proposed that the Italian League should
be represented, as well as the individual states. He hoped to induce
the Kings of Hungary and Spain to favour the cause. But in vain. On
September 14, by Lorenzo’s orders, Baccio Ugolini arrived in Basel, in
company with a Milanese delegate—Bartolommeo, Archpriest of Piacenza.
They at once entered into communication with the _Pronunciator_ of the
Council, as Andrea called himself, but they soon became convinced of
the utter groundlessness and hopelessness of the whole proceeding. The
Florentine’s idea of proposing Pisa as a more suitable spot than Basel,
where matters were going wrong already, is interesting only as an echo
of the Council of 1409, and a foreshadowing of the _conciliabulum_ of
1511. On December 18, the two delegates, with Philip of Savoy, Lord of
Bresse, and other princes and nobles, were present at a solemn sitting
of the town-council of Basel, at which the case was decided against
the archbishop. Having avowed his obedience to the head of the Empire,
and his zeal for the good of the church, but declining to retract his
accusations against the Pope, he was arrested; he was then prosecuted,
but at the same time, the town council of Basel refused to deliver
him up to Rome. Legal proceedings were taken against the imperial
city, and were the cause of great trouble, until the dispute was ended
by a compromise arising out of the suicide of the rash man who had
originated this melancholy episode.[240]

While Baccio Ugolini and his colleague were taking part in these
deliberations, a revolution was preparing in Italy which altered the
whole position of affairs and placed Florence and Milan in quite a
different attitude towards the Pope. Sixtus was influenced less by
distant apprehensions than by the consideration, to which he could not
shut his eyes, that he was helping to strengthen the very power which
threatened to become most dangerous to him by its constant endeavours
to obtain control over the cities on the Adriatic coast. Giuliano della
Rovere—who, twenty years after, as his uncle’s successor, opposed
in arms the power of this Republic, his uncle’s old ally—seems to
have been the means of finally inducing the Pope to break with Venice.
Girolamo Riario, the soul of the war party, might be gained over by a
prospect of the Malatesta fiefs. First, a truce was made with the Duke
of Calabria, who was still in the Campagna; then, on December 23, peace
was agreed upon between the Pope, Naples, Florence, and Milan, with
a proviso that Venice was to accede to it. The Florentines were not
satisfied with the conditions, and seem to have accused the Milanese of
lukewarmness both in regard to the war and to the negotiations. Yet,
considering the state of affairs and the losses already sustained, the
conditions were not unfavourable. The Duke of Ferrara, who was in the
utmost need, was to be reinstated in his possessions. The next point,
however, was to persuade or compel the Venetians to accede to the
treaty, and thus give reality to the peace, in commemoration of which
Sixtus built the church of Sta. Maria della Pace. A congress was to be
held at Cremona to regulate everything.

There was no time to lose, for Ferrara was besieged and could not
hold out much longer; and the conduct of Costanzo Sforza, who had
strengthened the garrison with his own troops after being repeatedly
urged to do so by the Florentines, inspired but little confidence.
In spite of the unfavourable time of year, King Ferrante was not
behind hand. A thousand men, among whom were the Turks who bad fought
bravely at Campomorto, were sent by sea to Piombino, to march through
Sienese and Florentine territory; while the Duke of Calabria advanced
by way of Orvieto towards the valleys of the Chiana and the Arno. On
January 5, 1483, he was in Florence, where he abode in the house of
Giovanni Tornabuoni. At the end of three days he set out for Ferrara,
from whence he intended proceeding to Cremona. The Cardinal-Legate
Gonzaga also passed through Florence on his way to Cremona; and now
Lorenzo de’ Medici, who was to represent the Republic at the congress,
also set out on February 12. A week before he received the customary
instructions,[241] relating principally to the contingents of troops
and money for the prosecution of the war; in fact, he went as master
of the city and the State, to decide on war and peace according to his
own judgment. His brother-in-law Bernardo Rucellai was to accompany
him. Louis XI. warned him of possible danger. ‘As to the meeting about
Ferrara,’ he wrote on January 20, ‘at which you tell me you have agreed
to be present, I, who know neither the people nor the place, would have
advised you not to go, but to take care of your own safety. I would
have sent a messenger with excuses. Since, however, you have consented
to go, I must leave the rest to you and trust in God that all may go as
you wish.’[242] Even in Florence the matter seems to have been thought
somewhat serious. When Lorenzo, on January 30, announced to the Duke of
Ferrara[243] his intended departure, he added that he had to contend
with the general opposition of the citizens, who were unwilling to let
him go. At the same time he remarks that his presence cannot be of
much consequence at a meeting of so many mighty lords; but it is not
necessary to take him at his word. He announced his impending journey
to the French king on the same day.

The lords who met at Cremona were, besides the Legate, the Duke of
Calabria and Lorenzo de’ Medici, Lodovico and Ascanio Sforza, Ercole
d’Este, Federigo Gonzaga Marquis of Mantua, Giovanni Bentivoglio,
Girolamo Riario,[244] and various envoys and plenipotentiaries. On the
last day of February, 1483, the treaty was settled, according to which
Venice was to be compelled by active prosecution of the war to cease
hostilities against Ferrara. At the end of the first week in March,
Lorenzo was back in Florence. The Venetians had no idea of yielding.
They had already begun negotiations with the Duke of Lorraine, that he
might alarm King Ferrante once more by raising the standard of Anjou,
while their fleet desolated the Apulian coast and took the important
post of Gallipoli. Their ambassador Francesco Diedo had quitted Rome
at the end of February. The Pope had refused to give him an audience;
Diedo complained that no Turk would be treated so, but he feared a
crusade would be preached against the Republic, and declared that in
that case they would never obtain peace—they might give themselves up
for lost.[245] In March, Ferrara seemed near its fall. All the country
within a mile round was in the enemy’s hands. The Venetian Chronicler
Marin Sanuto, who was in Sanseverino’s camp, gives a lively description
of the doings before the city-gates. ‘We eat with the most illustrious
Roberto, and then to horse. We were about five hundred horsemen and
many foot; we left the camp and rode to the park of Ferrara, where we
proceeded _more solito_ as far as a small canal, about a mile and a
half from the city. Sanseverino was wont to march into the park every
morning to escort the plundering bands. I saw the enemy’s troops under
the Duke of Calabria and the Count of Pitigliano; we advanced towards
them as far as the canal, but, _sic volente fato_, it did not come to a
fight. Only, to mock them, we let fly our falcons. The park comprises a
space of seven miles, full of game and fruit of all kinds; now it lies
open and deserted.’[246] Costanzo Sforza, who had thoughts of making
terms with Venice, evacuated Ferrara in defiance of orders. Giovanni
Bentivoglio and Galeotto Manfredi were hastily ordered thither; but
the most effectual help was the victory gained over the Venetians at
Argenta by Alfonso of Calabria, captain-general of the allies. From
thenceforth matters took a favourable turn for the latter, who were
also benefited by the interdict laid on Venice by the Pope. An attempt
made by Sanseverino to kindle a revolt in the Milanese roused Sforza
to serious proceedings. By autumn the whole country as far as the
Adige was in the hands of the Milanese; the Venetian fleet on the Po
sustained heavy loss, and René of Lorraine, called by the Republic to
its aid, was forced to retreat before the troops of Este.

In the beginning of January 1484, at Milan, another congress was
held, at which Jacopo Guicciardini was present on behalf of Florence.
By actively prosecuting the war by land and sea, it was hoped that
Venice would soon be compelled to sue for peace—a consummation for
which all longed, as the expenses were becoming burdensome, and each
of the allies had its own separate interests. Peace did indeed come
to pass in the course of the summer; but it scarcely answered general
expectation. To obtain a little relief in their difficult predicament,
the Venetians, beside their alliance with the heir of Anjou, now tried
to stir up Louis XI. to an expedition against Naples, and the Duke
of Orleans to an expedition against Milan, while their enemies were
setting the Turks upon them.[247] At last they succeeded in detaching
Lodovico il Moro from the league, of which he was but a half-hearted
adherent. His own position and projects furnished them with a pretext,
and now began the complications which in ten years brought Italy to
ruin. In Milan things had drifted into a state that might easily have
been foreseen. The duchess-regent, who, _par sottise_, as Commines
unceremoniously expressed it, had put herself into Lodovico’s power,
now saw her truest counsellor dying in prison at Pavia, her own son
used as a tool, and her unworthy favourite driven out of Milan; and
when she tried to leave the country she was herself detained in the
castle of Abbiategrasso, a prisoner, though the word itself was not
uttered in her presence, and she was allowed to see her children
occasionally. There she closed her sorrowful career in 1494, so
completely forgotten that the exact date and manner of her death are
unknown. Lodovico once rid of his sister-in-law, ruled supreme in
Milan. His nephew was duke only in name; at sixteen he was still under
a guardianship which became daily more oppressive. Alfonso of Calabria,
to whose daughter the young duke was betrothed, was not inclined to
let this state of affairs continue; Lodovico, on the other hand, was
determined to make every possible effort to maintain his position. The
Marquis of Mantua had contrived to prevent the rupture which seemed
imminent when both princes were in Northern Italy; but his death put an
end to all chances of mediation. The reciprocal distrust of Lodovico
and the Medici was constantly increasing, and occasionally sharp words
passed between them.

Venice profited in this state of affairs by employing Roberto da
Sanseverino, an old confidant of Lodovico’s and anxious to be
reconciled to him, to make him perceive that he was acting against
his own interest in taking part in this war, which, if it ended
unfavourably for the Republic, must strengthen the authority of the
Aragonese in Central and Northern Italy. Without troubling himself
about his allies, Lodovico entered into negotiations, in which Naples
and Florence participated, because they could not venture to carry
on the war without Milan. Pier Filippo Pandolfini took part in the
arrangements for peace, as Florentine plenipotentiary. Lorenzo de’
Medici, who had need of Sforza, was full of distrust. ‘We shall
conquer,’ said he after the Congress of Cremona, ‘if Lodovico’s
words correspond to his thoughts.’[248] But he soon discovered that
his doubts were well founded. He could not help seeing how all the
advantages that had been gained were being given up, and that an
inadequate result of the long and costly war was all that Este could
obtain by the treaty. ‘Antonio,’ said he to the Ferrarese ambassador,
‘thou rememberest that I was once in the same position in which thy
lord is now—aye, and even worse. If I had not helped myself, I
should have been lost. Then, too, the fault lay with Milan. I do not
say that thy lord should do as I did.’ ‘My illustrious lord,’ adds
the ambassador in his report to the duke, ‘I think he meant that if
he was in your Excellency’s place he would come to an understanding
direct with Venice herself, and trust himself to his foes as he did at

The conditions of the peace signed at Bagnolo on August 8, 1484, were
dictated by Venice, who regained by the treaty the territory she had
lost in the war. That is to say the peace was highly disadvantageous
to Ferrara. Not only was Ercole compelled to admit the old demands of
the Republic; the Polesina and Rovigo remained in its hands. ‘When the
Venetians were getting the worst of it, and their funds were becoming
very much exhausted,’ says Commines,[250] ‘the lord Lodovico came to
the assistance of their honour and credit, and every man got his own
again except the poor Duke of Ferrara, who had gone into the war at
the instigation of his father-in-law and Lodovico, and now had to
yield to the Venetians the Polesina, which they still possess. It was
said that the transaction brought 60,000 ducats to my lord Lodovico; I
cannot tell how the truth may be, but I found such was the belief of
the Duke of Ferrara, to whose daughter, however, he was not yet married
in those days.’ Gallipoli and other places on the coast were restored
to Ferrante. Sixtus IV. having thus seen the war continued contrary to
his views, and ended without his participation, when he thought he had
the decision in his own hands, did not long survive the conclusion of
the peace, which made all his exertions useless and strengthened his
opponent. He had an attack of gout on August 2; on the 13th he died.
It was said that he, the restless one, had been killed by the peace.
Scarcely five months before, he had given the red hat to the brother of
the man who had since crossed all his plans—to Ascanio Maria Sforza,
who thus began under warlike auspices a cardinalate destined to be
devoid of peace.

The Florentines felt all the shame of the treaty, but they made a show
of rejoicing after the war was over. There was indeed every reason to
wish for quiet in that quarter, for there was no lack of troubles of
all kinds. It was not long since a compromise had with great difficulty
been arrived at about Città di Castello. The Pope had tried both
arms and negotiations to regain possession of the town, and neither
had succeeded. Niccolò Vitelli held out till 1484, by the Florentine
assistance. Florence had indeed no intention of offending the Pope
for his sake, and thereby damaging the far more important cause of
Ferrara, and was inclined to let Sixtus have his will in the matter.
But he wanted to give the town and neighbouring places as a fief to his
nephew, and at the same time to enlarge the latter’s possessions in the
direction of Rimini and Cesena by a treaty with the Malatestas, neither
of which things suited the Florentines.[251] Amid this uncertainty
Vitelli resolved to imitate Lorenzo’s example. He went to Rome, came
to terms with the Pope, recognised the latter’s supremacy, agreed with
his rival Lorenzo Giustini, and accepted the office of a governor of
the Maritima and Campagna. Peace was restored in the valley of the
Upper Tiber, and Città di Castello was preserved to the Church; while
the Vitelli, who continued to govern through various changes of form
and destiny, maintained till their extinction their active relations
with Florence and the Medici. On June 14, 1483, an agreement was made
with Siena for the restoration of the places which Florence had been
compelled to yield to her in the treaty of peace of 1480.[252] But
another revolution in Siena, where the party raised to power by the
Duke of Calabria’s influence had been unable to maintain themselves,
had been required to produce this restoration and decide the Sienese to
form an alliance with Florence, to secure herself against the exiles
supposed to be favoured by Rome and Naples. The Florentine opinion of
the neighbouring state was still the same as that expressed nearly two
hundred years before by the poet of the ‘Divine Comedy,’[253] as may
be seen by a letter from the Signoria to Lorenzo during his stay at
Cremona. The treaty with the Sienese, say they, is a long process, and
no real confidence can be placed in them and their doings, because of
the changeableness of their nature.[254]

The long feud about Sarzana had not yet come to an end; the siege
had dragged on all through the Ferrarese war. Things were in a bad
position. Agostino Fregoso, who held the town, had made it over to the
great commercial company of the Banco di San Giorgio, which formed in
Genoa a state within the State, and owned many places on the Ligurian
coast as well as in the far-off Crimea. Not only had the garrison of
Sarzana been strengthened, but also that of its neighbour Pietrasanta,
originally a Lucchese town, which cut off all communications while a
fleet attacked the coast of the Maremma. As at the peace of Naples
so at that of Bagnolo, to the great vexation of the Florentines, the
dispute about Sarzana was left unsettled. The honour of the Republic
urgently demanded a settlement. But instead of taking the place, a
Florentine corps escorting a transport of ammunition was defeated
near Pietrasanta. The necessity was now felt for rendering the castle
incapable of further harm, but it was not done without heavy losses.
The marshy atmosphere of the coast of the Lunigiana seized many
victims from the Florentine camp; Bongianni Gianfigliazzi and Antonio
Pucci, army commissaries, succumbed to the fever in Pisa. Then Lorenzo
resolved to go himself to the camp to spur on the troops. A few days
after his arrival, in the beginning of November, 1484, Pietrasanta
surrendered. An embassy from Lucca, demanding its restoration, was
deferred with a reference to the coming accommodation with Genoa; but
Florence was resolved beforehand to keep the place as an excellent
check upon Lucca. When the castle was taken, which was to remain a
boundary-mark on the Lunigiana side down to the dissolution of the
Tuscan autonomy, many things had occurred to claim the whole attention
of those who governed the Republic.



THE last years of Sixtus IV. were disturbed in Rome as well as
elsewhere. In both cases Girolamo Riario was the chief person to blame,
though it was a great pity that such a gifted and superior man as the
Pope should be led astray into crooked ways by a petty tyrant devoid
of talent, hesitating before no violence, and versed only in intrigue.
Sixtus could not be deceived as to the nature of his unworthy nephew;
all Rome was full of his wickedness, though the excesses committed by
the Florentines after the Pazzi conspiracy had damaged their cause
and would have added to the power of the Pope if he, too, had not
overstepped all bounds in his impetuosity. Of Riario’s part in the
matter there was but one opinion. Two years later a painful occurrence
took place in the Pope’s family. One of his numerous nephews, Antonio
Basso della Rovere, son of his sister Luchina and brother of Cardinal
Girolamo Basso, had been married only a year to Caterina Marzano,
daughter of the Prince of Rossano and granddaughter of King Ferrante,
when he was seized with a fever from which he never recovered.
Girolamo Riario was visiting his cousin when the latter (whether,
as the chronicler suggests, in the delirium of fever, or venting
long-restrained malice), instead of thanking him for his sympathy,
attacked him as if he were his bitterest enemy. ‘He vehemently
reproached him with various actions which were universally condemned,
and with his manner of life, which was a subject of general complaint,
and denounced against him the judgment of God, which no human favour
or power could enable him to escape. The sick man’s excitement was so
great that those who had been intimate with him for years could no
longer recognise his usual gentleness. The count, however, wisely bore
it all patiently as the words of one delirious with fever, and openly
expressed his compassion for his cousin’s state. All we who stood round
the bed blushed for shame, and several tried to leave the room.’[255]

Since 1482 Rome had been constantly filled with the clang of arms. The
stronghold of the spiritual power was scarcely to be recognised. After
the immediate anxieties consequent on the Ferrarese war were ended by
the battle of Campomorto, and the Romans had stared to their hearts’
content at the Duke of Calabria’s captive troopers and janissaries,
feverish excitement was again aroused by fresh disputes between the
Colonna and Orsini factions, in which many other families—the Savelli,
Santacroce, Tuttivilla, Della Valle, &c.—took part. The city was
divided into two hostile camps; palaces were besieged and destroyed;
the streets and the neighbourhood filled with armed bands. One Colonna
lost his life in defending the cause of his family. Girolamo Riario
was mixed up in all this, and through him the Pope also became a party
to it. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, who favoured the Colonnas,
quarrelled so desperately with Girolamo that the latter threatened to
attack his palace. Even after a compact was agreed upon by the two
great families, peace was not restored. In the beginning of July, 1484,
the Pope’s nephew, with a considerable body of troops, attacked the
Colonna possessions, which surrounded Rome on the west like a girdle.
He took Capranica and Cave, and was laying siege to the stronghold
of Paliano when he was startled by the news of the Pope’s death. He
felt the ground give way under his feet. On the morning of August
13 the populace stormed and plundered his palace at Sant’Apollinare;
his magazine in the Campagna, that of his brother-in-law and of the
Genoese—hated by the people for their usury—the papal galleys at
Ostia, everything was sacked. His brave wife, Caterina Sforza, was safe
in the castle of St. Angelo. The siege of Paliano was raised at once;
the troops marched to Rome, but only to turn towards the north-west
to seek a junction with the Orsini, for from all sides, even from
the Abruzzi, armed auxiliaries were flocking to the Colonna, to whom
Florence and Siena also proffered assistance. Deifebo dell’ Anguillara
retook several castles; the city and neighbourhood were in complete
anarchy; every man was in arms, and the palaces were barricaded. At
last a compromise was arrived at, which, by the departure of the party
leaders and the surrender of the castle of St. Angelo to the College of
Cardinals, put an end to the worst disorder. On August 26 the conclave
met, and at the end of three days Giovan Battista Cybò was chosen Pope
under the title of Innocent VIII.

Thus, amid all this confusion, ended the reign of a Pope who had
thought he could govern the policy of Italy, and, in a certain sense,
did control it better than anyone who had preceded him. He brought
together the finest library of his time, carried out legal reforms
for the benefit of the Roman Municipium, did more than anyone else to
transform Rome from a mediæval city into one more suited to modern
requirements, and enriched it with churches, palaces, bridges, and
beneficent establishments. Innocent VIII. was far from possessing
the striking qualities of his predecessor, but he was free from the
latter’s immoderate self-confidence. He sprang from a Genoese family
believed to be of Levantine origin and connected with the Tomacelli,
relatives of Boniface IX.[256] But the first Cybò known to history
is the Pope’s father Arano, who married into a Genoese patrician
house—that of the Mari—held important offices in Naples under René
of Anjou, and later on, though still leaning towards the Angevin
party, under Alfonso of Aragon, and in 1455 was a senator of Rome.
Giovan Battista Cybò studied in Padua and Rome, was appointed Bishop
of Savona by Paul II., and afterwards translated to Molfetta, from
whence he took his usual appellation after being created a cardinal
in May 1473. In the Pope’s absence, during the plague in the summer
of 1476, he acted as his representative. He was in his fifty-second
year. ‘The disposition of the new Pope,’ wrote Guid’Antonio Vespucci to
Lorenzo immediately after the election, ‘was, during his cardinalate,
benevolent and kind, and he was far more affable in society than he
whom you wot of. He is not versed in either matters of state or of
learning, but he is not wholly ignorant. He belonged completely to the
party of San Pietro in Vincola (Giuliano della Rovere), who procured
him his hat, and of whom it may be said that he is now practically
Pope, and will have far more power than under Sixtus if he only knows
how to manage his successor cleverly. The latter, as a cardinal, was
on bad terms with the count (Riario). He is of middle height, strongly
built, full in the face, has a brother and several grown-up natural
children, at any rate a son and a married daughter. He gives one the
impression of one who will let himself be counselled by others rather
than rule by himself.’[257] Luigi Lotti wrote: ‘If he governs and
proceeds according to his own judgment and not by that of others, I
think he will be a good quiet Pope, and keep clear of all strife of
arms. His court will resemble him, as the general opinion is that he
will show a gracious disposition.’

Lodovico il Moro had proposed that the allied states should send
their congratulatory embassies to Rome together. The Florentines
were all the more eager to offer their congratulations because they
wanted to secure the favour of a Genoese Pope in their differences
with Genoa. Immediately after his election Lorenzo heard, from his
brother-in-law the archbishop, that Innocent had expressed the most
friendly interest in his position and the affairs of Florence, and
declared his readiness to be of use to him; adding that all his hopes
were founded on Lorenzo’s wisdom, as there was no knowing whether the
end would correspond with the beginning.[258] At the close of November
the embassy started for Rome, where it arrived on December 8, and
was received, according to custom, by the papal court, the household
officers of the cardinals, and the foreign envoys. Its members were
Francesco Soderini, Antonio Canigiani, Bartolommeo Scala, Angelo
Niccolini, and Giovanni Tornabuoni, besides the resident ambassador
Guid’Antonio Vespucci.[259] In the ‘Instructions’ reference was made
to the earnest desire of the Republic to have a speedy ending put to
the strife in the Lunigiana. ‘Should the new Pope or anyone else turn
the discourse on the subject of the war, ye shall answer that your
commission deals solely with the duty of congratulation; but add, as
if from yourselves, in justification of late events, that we were
compelled to fight contrary to our intention and will; as indeed ye
very well know that our city is ever faithful to her natural desire for
peace, as far as is consistent with honour and fair advantage.’

Lorenzo had sent with the ambassadors his eldest son, a lad of
fourteen, as it was then customary for solemn embassies to be
accompanied by youths of high rank, who might contribute to the
splendour of processions and ceremonies. He gave the boy detailed
instructions, such as were usual in such cases on the part of wise
and careful fathers.[260] At Siena he was to proclaim the readiness
of both Lorenzo and the Government to be of use to the authorities
there. ‘Everywhere, when the other young companions of the envoys are
together with thee, behave thyself gravely and discreetly and with
politeness towards thine equals. Beware of taking precedence of anyone
older than thyself; for although thou art my son, yet thou art nothing
but a Florentine citizen like the rest. If Giovanni (Tornabuoni) thinks
fit to present thee to the Pope at a special audience, take care to
be previously well instructed in all the customary ceremonies; then,
when thou comest to his Holiness, kiss the credentials which I give
thee for the Holy Father and beg him to read them. After that, if thou
hast to speak, thou shalt commend me with reverence to his Holiness,
and say that I well know it was my duty to appear before him in person
as I did before his predecessor of blessed memory, but that I trust
he will be graciously pleased to excuse me; for at the time when I
went to Rome I could leave my brother at home, who was well able to
represent me, but now I should have no one to leave behind numbering
more years or possessing more authority than thyself. Therefore, I
think I should have pleased his Holiness less by coming than by sending
thee, whereby I express in the best way possible my desire to appear
in person. Moreover, I send thee in order that thou mayest have an
early opportunity of learning to know his Holiness as thy father and
lord, and of fostering for many years those feelings which, I hope,
will be shared by thy brothers, whom I would rather not have as sons
if it is not to be so. Hereupon thou shalt declare to his Holiness my
firm resolve not to swerve from his commands, for my innate devotion to
the Apostolic See is increased by that towards the person of the Holy
Father, to whom our house has long been under obligation. Moreover, I
have experienced what disadvantages were brought upon me by the loss of
the late Pope’s favour, although I believe I suffered many persecutions
without fault of my own, and more on account of the sins of others
than for misconduct towards him. But I leave this to the judgment of
others, and however this may be, my resolution is fixed, not only never
to offend his Holiness, but to meditate day and night on what may be
pleasing to him.’ Doubtless Lorenzo was as much in earnest in this as
in his sensible advice. It would have been well for Piero de’ Medici
had he never forgotten what Cosimo had impressed on his son and the
latter again on his, who, as a father, now repeated it to the boy—that
he was a Florentine citizen like all the rest. But this tradition came
to an end with Lorenzo. The further contents of the instructions will
be referred to again. Innocent VIII. afterwards said to Pier Filippo
Pandolfini, the new ambassador of the Republic, that after the Genoese
quarrel had been laid aside Lorenzo would perceive there had never
been a Pope who took the interests of his house so much to heart as he
did. ‘For as I have learned by experience how great is his honesty and
wisdom, I will most willingly be guided by his counsels.’[261]

Lorenzo must have been the more anxious to obtain the lasting favour
of the head of the Church since a change had taken place abroad
which might possibly have an important influence on the political
circumstances of Italy. A year before the death of Sixtus IV. the
monarch was called away, who, amid all his dependence on the clergy and
his devotion—approaching to superstition, and heightened by suspicion
and torments of conscience—raised the most vehement opposition to the
Pope and the papacy. Louis XI. died at the age of sixty, at his castle
of Plessis-les-Tours, on the evening of August 30, 1483. Two years
before, when out hunting, he had had his first apoplectic fit, which
was repeated without destroying his clearness of intellect, though his
physical strength gradually sank. He had seen his approaching end with
a terror which prayers and sacraments could not soothe, which drove him
ceaselessly from pilgrimage to pilgrimage whenever he was not staying
at Plessis. There, tortured day and night by the consciousness of
hatred which his cold treacherous tyranny had excited in the breasts
of others, he shut himself in with a few confidants, surrounded by
double and triple guards of all kinds. To the end of his days the king
maintained friendly relations with Florence and the Medici; of all
his political connections, this was perhaps the only one in which he
never changed. In his instructions to the ambassadors sent to Rome in
November 1478,[262] he expressly mentioned that the Florentines had
always, time out of mind, shown themselves true and loyal friends to
France, had never done anything against the crown, and lived according
to the laws and customs given them by Charles the Great.[263] A few
weeks before his death, Louis wrote to Lorenzo. Not content with
having called to his bedside the holy hermit of Calabria, St. Francis
of Paola, and procured relics without end from Rome, he tried through
Lorenzo to obtain the episcopal ring of St. Zanobi, which was preserved
at Florence in the Girolami family, and believed to have the power of
curing skin-diseases. His wish was gratified. ‘Cousin and friend,’
thus wrote the dying man on July 9, 1483, from Notre-Dame de Cléry
near Orleans, whither he had gone on a pilgrimage,[264] ‘I have seen
the ring which you sent to Monsieur de Soliers (Palamède de Fobrin,
governor of Provence). But I wish to know for certain whether it is
really that of the saint, and whether it works miracles; whether it
has cured anybody, and whom; and how it is to be worn. I beg you to
inform me of all this as quickly as you can, or to write about it in
detail to the general of Normandy; also whether you have out yonder any
particular cure which has the virtues of the said ring. If you can find
one, send it to the said general, I beg you, for the sake of all the
pleasure you can give me. Now farewell, cousin and friend.’

In the last years of Louis XI. the male line of the house of Anjou
became extinct. We have seen how the king obtained from the last of the
house, who could no longer escape from his powerful arm, the cession
of their French provinces and their Italian claims: of the former he
took immediate possession, the latter remained in abeyance waiting
for eventualities which did not fail to come, to the ruin of Italy,
whose old sins were expiated centuries later. René, a king of shadows
if ever there was one, saw his son Jean and his grandson Nicolas both
die before he himself was laid to rest at Angers on July 10, 1480.
His nephew Charles, Count of Maine, to whom his French possessions
passed with the consent of Louis XI., followed him to the grave
within seventeen months; and the sole heiress was now René’s daughter
Yolande, widow of Ferry, Count of Lorraine-Vaudemont. She too died in
the beginning of 1483, a few months before the king. Her marriage with
her cousin had been intended to reconcile the claims of the Vaudemont
branch to the Duchy of Lorraine with those of primogeniture in the
female line on behalf of which René, as the husband of the heiress
Isabelle, had fought unsuccessfully with Antoine de Vaudemont, father
of Ferry. Yolande’s son, René II., now succeeded to the dukedom of
Lorraine, as well as to the French fiefs of the Vaudemonts. It was he
who defeated Charles the Bold at Nancy, and was led by the Venetians
into the war with King Ferrante in Italy, where years after, in the war
against the Spaniards, his son revived the old family claims to the
Neapolitan crown—those claims which were to be practically made good
once more in the middle of the seventeenth century by a scion of the
French branch of the old house.

Lorenzo could not fail to notice that in Louis XI. he lost both a
friend and a supporter. The political situation of France foreboded
the worst vicissitudes. A delicate illtrained boy of thirteen was
left heir to a kingdom which a long, skilful, and despotic reign had
considerably enlarged, but also filled more terribly than ever with
the elements of discord. The Queen-mother, Charlotte of Savoy, was an
invalid, and incapable of acting; according to Louis’ arrangements
his elder daughter Anne, wife of Pierre de Bourbon, Count of Beaujeu,
was to conduct the government for Charles VIII. without the title
of regent. Amid the opposition of the nobles, of whom one, Louis of
Orleans, was the next heir to the throne, this task was fulfilled
with no little skill by the Princess, then aged twenty-two, of whom
her father once said that ‘no woman was wise, but Anne was the least
foolish.’ It was she who thwarted all the plans of the restless nobles
and put down their attempts to arm. She paved the way for the union of
Brittany with the crown, by interfering with the views of Maximilian of
Austria who, after the early death of Mary of Burgundy, contemplated
extending the new possessions of the house of Habsburg into the very
heart of France by his marriage with the heiress of the great western
duchy. It is evident, however, that under all the circumstances there
was not much chance of French influence extending into Italy or
anywhere beyond the borders of the country itself.

Immediately after the death of Louis, Florence despatched an embassy to
present to the young king good wishes on his accession, and to express
sincere regret for the loss of his father.[265] Gentile Becchi, Antonio
Canigiani, and Lorenzo de’ Medici the son of Pier Francesco, were the
members of this embassy, which was to visit the potentates of Northern
Italy on its way. Its chief object was the fulfilment of formalities.
If any intention should be shown on the French side of interfering
to restore peace in Italy, the envoys were instructed to take care
that this should appear to proceed from an independent resolve of the
French government, and not from the influence of the allies (for
at that time the war with Venice was still going on). This would be
the best way ‘to avoid dangerous conjunctures which might arise in
Italy from these obstinate dissensions,’ and at the same time remain
most honourable for the young king. But Anne de Beaujeu, who had just
summoned the States-General in order to checkmate the allied princes by
the same move which they had intended to make against her, had other
things to think of than Italian complications; and the Florentine
embassy, after all due ceremonies had been gone through, seems to have
had to deal merely with commercial and personal interests.

Five years later the Regent of France remembered the old friendship
with the Medici, when she was looking about her on all sides for help
against the great feudatories who supported Maximilian in his alliance
with the mightiest of them all, the Duke of Brittany. On April 5, 1486,
Maximilian was crowned king of the Romans at Aachen; and in spite of
the great difficulties with which he had to contend in his Burgundian
provinces, his position was a very threatening one for France so long
as internal peace was not restored, and every addition to his power
was an addition to the cares of Anne de Beaujeu. The advanced age of
Frederic III. pointed to a speedy vacancy of the imperial throne. That
the idea occurred to France of trying to prevent Innocent VIII. from
confirming Maximilian’s election is, however, somewhat startling. The
Pope was on friendly terms with the emperor and the king; just before,
at the end of 1487, he had given proof of this by signing the treaty
which put an end to the long-standing war between Venice and Archduke
Sigismund of Tyrol. On February 8, 1488, a letter was sent in the
name of the young king Charles to Lorenzo de’ Medici, claiming his
friendship for the royal house of France and soliciting the employment
of his influence with the Pope, in order that Maximilian’s kingly
dignity, as injurious to the interests of France, should remain for a
time unconfirmed. ‘You may assure the Holy Father that if the matter
is delayed, we will so conduct ourselves that his Holiness and all who
have anything to do in the matter shall perceive the result.’[266]

It is very clear that Lorenzo, with all his attachment to France, was
reluctant to mix himself with such an intrigue as this. ‘By the copy of
a letter from the King of France to me,’ he wrote on February 8 to the
ambassador at Rome, ‘you will see the king’s desire and the importance
of the affair. For practical reasons I do not think it fitting to
write to his Holiness; but I am for your informing him of it with your
usual adroitness as soon as you think good, and pointing out to him
its importance and possible consequences; for I am of opinion that
mature reflection and deliberation are needful, that the investiture in
question may not give occasion to embarrassment and offence. According
to my judgment, the Most Christian king is so powerful and has so much
influence in the affairs of Christendom, that it will always appear
to me advisable to keep in harmony and friendship with him. I shall
always order myself according to the wise judgment of his Holiness; but
wish first fully to express my own view. The rest I leave to you, and
I shall be glad if you can manage so that the king’s plenipotentiary
is pleased. But you will not neglect any precautions which may appear
needful, that we may not lose in one quarter what we gain in another.’
Lorenzo was right in his caution. ‘The French envoys,’ reports the
Ferrarese ambassador at Florence to his duke on March 10,[267] ‘have
petitioned the Pope that he should not invest Maximilian with the
dignity of King of the Romans, declaring that, should he do so, their
king will set every influence to work at Naples to avenge the insult.
The Pope gave them a very sharp reply, saying that no request had as
yet been addressed to him in relation to this matter by Maximilian’s
orators; and, moreover, he thought that such a message as that just
delivered to him must have come not from the King of France, but from
his evil counsellors. If he had only the latter to deal with, he would
soon be able to make them understand how unworthy of a Pope was such a
message, and how his footstool deserved greater reverence.’



AFTER the disturbance and unrest which ended the pontificate of Sixtus
IV., the reign of Innocent VIII. seemed destined to commence in peace
and tranquillity. The Pope’s desire to terminate the long dispute about
Sarzana, which had distracted the Lunigiana for years, and threatened
to assume dimensions greater than the worth of the cause, was very
honourable to him, especially as it did not arise from partiality
for his Genoese home. On September 17, only three weeks after his
election, the Pope summoned the ambassadors of Naples, Florence,
and Milan[268] to discuss the political situation. After the recent
conclusion of peace, he said he considered it a duty of his apostolic
office to ensure that peace, in order that all the Italian states might
really enjoy its fruits and recover from the heavy expenses which
had burthened the holy see with a debt of more than 250,000 ducats.
The dispute about Sarzana, complicated by the Florentine attack on
Pietrasanta, made him anxious in consideration of the disposition of
the Genoese; for the latter, where their honour was at stake, would
not scruple to set the world on fire, and had already, in times past,
called the foreigner into Italy. He knew that they were not only in
league with the Marquis of Saluzzo and Philip of Savoy, lord of Bresse,
but were trying to stir up the Duke of Orleans against Milan and
the Duke of Lorraine against Naples; in which they would get support
from France, as the regent was desirous to find occupation for these
princes, and sustenance for their numerous troops in a foreign land.
The commonwealth of Genoa had applied to him to bring the matter to a
legal conclusion. He knew that his predecessor had made an unsuccessful
attempt to do so; but as a native of Genoa, and being in a more
favourable position than Pope Sixtus, he hoped to attain his object,
as the Signoria would doubtless do all in their power to compose the

The ambassadors of Naples and Milan kept to generalities, though the
former could not help owning that Sarzana had been taken from the
Florentines in time of truce; that the blame really lay with the son
of his king he naturally could not admit. Vespucci, however, went
thoroughly into the matter. Sarzana, said he, was sold to the Republic
by Lodovico Fregoso, the lord of the place. After we had held it for
several years, his son Agostino took it by surprise in time of truce,
and as he did not feel able to keep it, made it over to the bank of San
Giorgio. In defiance of law and custom, which forbid the acceptance
of an object in dispute, the bank received it just as if there were
no such place as Florence in the world. Florence has a perfect right
to make every effort to get back her own. She has equally a right
to attack Pietrasanta, because Pietrasanta is an obstacle and an
enemy to her. The Signoria, he added, has no thought of giving your
Holiness advice, which you do not need, and is willing to agree to
any reasonable compromise. But after all the unsuccessful efforts
of Pope Sixtus, there is not much to be hoped. As to the possible
introduction of foreigners by the Genoese, that is a matter not to be
deemed unworthy of consideration, but it is not a ground for anxiety.
The Dukes of Orleans and Lorraine personally are not in a condition to
begin such an undertaking; and in the exhausted state of France her
rulers will never think of giving them a sou towards it. The Genoese
alone would be utterly incapable of holding out long, even were they
differently inclined. The Ferrarese ambassador offered his Duke’s
mediation in case of a negotiation. The Pope had also consulted on the
matter with Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, and expressed his anxiety to him;
whereupon Lodovico il Moro declared that nothing but the voluntary
surrender of Sarzana on the part of Genoa could render a satisfactory
termination possible.[269] Innocent’s mediation came to nothing. The
Florentines took Pietrasanta, as has been already related, and the
contest went on amid numberless suggestions of compromise for fully
three years more.

In vain the Pope honestly desired to make and to keep peace;
misunderstandings arose on all sides. In defiance of their ostensible
relations to each other, there was no true understanding and confidence
between Lorenzo de’ Medici and Lodovico Sforza. The Moro’s conduct was
always ambiguous; not only in the matter of Sarzana, where there was
much underhand work going forward, but also in the constant miserable
disturbances in Romagna, where Girolamo Riario, supported by him,
was operating against the Manfredi, they having given shelter to the
Florentine’s _protégé_, the claimant of Forlì, Antoniello Ordelaffi,
and being in alliance with the Bentivogli, who stood in equal fear of
Lodovico and the Pope’s nephew. Giovanni Bentivoglio was in Tuscany in
the beginning of 1485. He visited Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and in May he
came to Florence, where he stayed with the Medici. He spoke out his
mind unreservedly about the Moro’s intrigues.[270] Lorenzo was absent
at the time; gout, the hereditary disease of the family, obliged him
constantly to visit various baths, and just then he was at Bagno a
Morba. During his stay there he had to devote his attention to the
Sienese affairs, which were of some consequence to Florence. He had
perceived the mistake once committed in the Fortebracci affair, and
thenceforward strove to keep on good terms with the neighbouring
commonwealth. With regard to the frontier disputes, chiefly in the
Chiana valley, where the small places were always in a state of feud
one with the other, Florence showed herself disposed for an amicable
settlement. ‘God is my witness,’ wrote Lorenzo to the Signoria of Siena
on February 28, 1484,[271] ‘that my personal mediation and that of
others was little needed in the negotiations for the advantage of your
Republic, namely, in the matter of the frontiers; for the whole city
recognised, just as if acting in its own behalf, our common interest
in a close and friendly connection. As the thing has been settled now
with the agreement of all, so also in future we shall not fail to give
active proofs of our sincere friendship.’

This friendship was soon put to the proof. The party which had been
defeated on the departure of the Duke of Calabria from Siena could not
forget the mortification. In the beginning of April 1485, the Sienese
ambassador at Florence announced that a body of 2,000 men, under
the command of Giulio Orsini, was meditating an attack; whereupon a
considerable force under Ranuccio da Farnese was despatched to the
threatened ally.[272] It was believed that Perugia, Spoleto, and
Todi served as places of meeting for the discontented, and that the
Cardinal della Rovere had a hand in the undertaking. On May 4, Lorenzo
wrote from Bagno a Morba to Siena[273] that they must look to the
security of the frontiers. It was said that the Pope was inclined to
maintain peace, and had spoken to the ambassadors to that effect. By
the Florentines he had been urged to give practical proof of his good
intentions, and not to suffer his dominions to be a harbour for designs
against neighbouring States. ‘Your Lordships must know,’ he continues,
‘better than I who am at a distance, what is your internal state and
the mind of the citizens. If you are united, then, in my opinion, you
have nothing to fear: for Siena is not to be taken with 2,000 men,
and if the number of the aggressors increases, you will also receive
increased assistance. Of that you need not doubt. Therefore, if there
is among your citizens the amount of concord and love which is reckoned
upon, your affairs will take a favourable course. I do not believe that
this movement of the exiles can count on much support; for we hear from
Lombardy that all the chief powers are desirous of peace. Nevertheless
it is your and our duty to prepare for the worst and to have all
available means in readiness. Thereunto I desire to encourage your
Lordships, assuring you that we are of one mind with you, as events
will prove.’

A few days after this the exiles made a raid from Umbria into the
Arezzo territory and thence turned towards the valley of the Arbia,
where they attacked the castle of San Quirico, on the Roman road, but
were beaten back; whereupon the troop dispersed. ‘The Signoria here,’
wrote the Ferrarese ambassador, ‘is delighted at the news and in
good spirits. But the Sienese must be more delighted still; now they
must be convinced that the number of participators is less than they
suspected.’ On May 14, Lorenzo wrote from Pisa to the Sienese Signoria
that Florence regarded their danger as her own; but he advised them
to look to their internal condition. ‘It would be best to prevent
the recurrence of such troubles by removing the occasion of your
distress and of reproach from others. It seems to me time to come to a
settlement of everything, provided that the origin of all this evil is
rooted out. If this is done the past must not be too strictly inquired
about. If such attempts against your Lordships are continued you will
not want for protection, but the most effectual protection will be
good and just government and true unity.’ More than two years later,
Lorenzo wrote on another occasion: ‘Your Lordships know what has always
been my conduct with respect to attempts at revolution and dangers
which have befallen your citizens, and that I regard your welfare even
as that of our own commonwealth. This seems to me to suit our friendly
and neighbourly relations, as well as my devotion to your Signoria.’
Both by word and deed Lorenzo displayed his anxiety to maintain his
political principle that it was important for the Republic to make
herself secure by a good understanding with her neighbours, and to
surround herself with a circle of bulwarks by keeping friends with
Siena, Lucca, Bologna, Faenza, Perugia, and Città di Castello.[274] He
remained faithful to this principle, with a few trifling exceptions,
during the remainder of his life.

His other principle was to do all he could to prevent any Italian state
from gaining such an increase of importance as to destroy the balance
of power. In the summer of that same year, 1485, a complication arose
which threatened the peace of Italy and put to the proof Lorenzo’s
political skill. It was a quarrel between Innocent VIII. and Ferrante
of Naples. The kingdom of Naples, the greatest territorial power in
Italy except Venice, was suffering from internal evils which both in
earlier and later times proved incurable, and brought about the ruin of
the fairest and richest portion of the peninsula. The political parties
were as old as the monarchy; they were connected with deep-seated
national divergences; and their differences were heightened and
embittered by repeated conquests and changes of dynasty, by the feudal
connection with the Holy See—dating from the time of the Normans—and
by the passionate temper and moral degradation that poisoned and
corrupted all civil and political relations in Southern Italy. The
crown was completely held in check by the higher nobility; it would
have been powerless had not the nobility been torn by factions. The
split between the Aragonese and Angevin parties was of very long
standing. The times of the second and of the first Joanna, the Sicilian
Vespers, the French conquest, were all steps of a ladder ascending up
to the Hohenstaufen Kaiser Henry VI. and the last of the Norman kings.
The wars were fresh in the memories of all. It was not much more than
twenty years since Ferrante had quelled the dangerous rising, the
calamitous consequences of which never gave him any peace. His policy
differed considerably from that of his father. King Alfonso’s hand had
borne heavily on the party who had so long disputed his sovereignty
over Naples, but when peace was restored he not only richly rewarded
his own adherents, but tried to win over to his side his opponents.
His son had a deep distrust of both parties, and his only aim was to
increase the royal power at the expense of feudalism.

Ferrante was not lacking in kingly qualities. He was sagacious,
skilful, energetic, and a good financier according to the fiscal
principles of the day—principles which of themselves would have
sufficed to kindle rebellion among the nobles had political reasons
been wanting. Numerous and important improvements in all branches of
administration were due to him; increase of industry and commerce,
great works for the general good, constructions for the enlargement
and embellishment of the capital and other places, which assumed
quite a different appearance under him. The disposition to promote
the interests of science, art, and education he inherited from his
father; and under both kings the Neapolitan Court, adorned by graceful
and intellectual women, took a prominent place among the many Italian
princely houses which distinguished themselves in this respect. Alfonso
of Calabria equalled, if he did not surpass, his father in his love
of literature and art. Ferrante had some regard for the condition
of his people: ‘It is our will,’ he wrote, in November 1486, to the
superintendent of finances in Terra di Bari and Otranto,[275] ‘that
our subjects shall receive good treatment at the hands of all our
officers, and that they may not have to complain of oppression and
undue burthens.’ Again, to the governor of Castrovillari, an important
place in Calabria, and one which had been in the power of the enemies
of the crown: ‘You are to treat all well, and not suffer any to be
oppressed on account of the past. You are to bridle the passions which
create discord among the people, and to see that every one obeys the
laws.’ He formed a considerable military force, which enabled him to
take a fitting part in Italian affairs, and to preserve peace for many
years within his own dominions.

But Ferrante’s good qualities were overshadowed by many bad ones. His
illegitimate birth placed him from childhood in a false position. As
a boy he learned to master his passions, and acquired a control over
his words and manner which too often degenerated into dissimulation
to secure his ends. Philippe de Commines (a contemporary somewhat
prejudiced, it is true, against the house of Aragon), says, when
speaking of Alfonso of Calabria, ‘The father was more dangerous
than the son, for nobody ever understood either the man or his real
thoughts. With an assumed smiling manner he would deceive and betray
people; there was neither grace nor mercy in his disposition, as even
his relatives and adherents acknowledged; he knew neither mercy nor
pity for his poor people where money was concerned.’ In trying to
promote trade and commerce he thought first of the interests of his
own exchequer, and burdened the people with socages, requisitions, and
duties which too often defeated his own object. From the very beginning
of his reign he had to contend with difficulties with his relatives,
with his subjects, with the Popes, till his natural distrustfulness
had deepened into gloomy suspicion. The remembrance of past (and by no
means always justifiable) opposition and the dread of fresh outbreaks,
increased by the frequent threats on the part of foreign countries to
revive the claims of Anjou, led him astray to unjust and cruel actions
whereby he undermined the throne, to strengthen which was his constant
and never-ceasing aim. The feudal arrangements of the kingdom not
only weakened Ferrante’s political power, but had the inconvenient
consequence of keeping him poor. It is difficult to believe that the
ruler of such a fertile country, though in great part uncultivated,
was in almost continual want of money, and was always obtaining drafts
on foreign, and especially Florentine, banks, to which, in his turn,
he had to give drafts on the current revenues. He once asked Lorenzo
for a loan of 10,000 gold florins, which Lorenzo cut down to half;
and Filippo Strozzi advanced him 20,000 on one occasion, besides
undertaking the expense of provisioning the capital.

As Ferrante advanced in years his eldest son acquired a baleful
influence over him. Alfonso was by no means equal to his father. He was
considered a tolerably good soldier, and was certainly not wanting in
energy, nor apparently in personal valour; yet he never carried out any
campaign of real importance, though the recapture of Otranto was looked
upon as a brilliant success. He was not lacking in cultivation and
interest in learning, but his bad qualities outweighed his good ones.
He was haughty, violent, faithless, and cruel. He hated the barons
of the kingdom from a despot’s instinct, he hated the influential
servants of his father because their wealth excited his covetousness.
As he had not inherited Ferrante’s power of dissimulation, enough was
known of his sayings and projects to put others on their guard, and
his hatred was paid back in kind. He was not more successful in making
those beyond the kingdom favourably disposed to him. The quarrel with
Milan, of which, however, the blame did not rest with him, was already
beginning, though it did not come to an open rupture till after the
death of his wife Ippolita. In Tuscany there was a secret grudge
against him on account of the events of 1478—his intrigues at Siena
and the loss of Sarzana. He must have known how unpopular he was at
Florence, but he did nothing to regain the favour of the government
or the people. ‘On October 8,’ observes Alamanno Rinuccini, speaking
of the year 1484,[276] ‘the Duke of Calabria arrived in Florence on
his way back from Lombardy, where he had been captain of the league
against the Venetians. He was accompanied by about eight hundred
horsemen in bad condition. On his entry he did not go to the palace
to greet the Signoria as he had hitherto done, though the Signoria
had made preparations to receive him, and summoned many citizens for
the purpose of honouring him. This was considered a great piece of
insolence. Nevertheless, in pursuance of a shameful order, he was left
unmolested during his passage through our territory—to our shame,
considering what he had done five years before.’ Commines has drawn in
a few words a fearful picture of Alfonso: ‘Never,’ says he, ‘was seen a
more cruel, wicked, vicious, base man, or one more addicted to excess.’
The Frenchman and the courtier of Charles VIII. speaks here, but the
portrait drawn by the Venetian, Marino Sanuto, is not at all more

In the face of the Duke’s ill-will, now no longer doubtful, aggravated
by a suspicion of encroachments on the part of the king, the most
powerful of the Neapolitan barons had entered upon a league for
mutual protection, when the outbreak of hostilities was precipitated
by two distinct causes. Ferrante and his son, however pleased they
professed to be at the election of Innocent VIII. as Pope, were in
reality anything but satisfied, as they feared to find him an adherent
of Anjou. The Duke had even made an effort to get him excluded from
the list of candidates for the pontificate. The embassy sent to Rome
to present the congratulations of Naples was to try to procure the
remission of that everlasting apple of discord, the feudal tribute. The
Pope refused to remit it, the king held to his resolve not to pay, and
the coming strife might be the more clearly foreshadowed as Cardinal
della Rovere was opposed to the Aragonese claims. In the summer of 1485
the rupture took place. The Duke of Calabria persuaded the king not to
allow the schemes of the discontented nobility to come to maturity, but
to nip them in the bud by a sudden attack. The way in which he set to
work furnished a new ground for heaping upon him accusations of fraud
and violence. On June 23, by treacherously imprisoning the Count of
Montorio, of the house of Cantelmo, the chief person in Aquila, and his
people, he obtained possession of that city, which was an independent
commonwealth under the suzerainty of the crown; shortly after, the
same was done at Nola by arresting several of the Orsini, to whom the
countship belonged. Many of the heads of the nobility were just then
assembled at Melfi, in the Basilicata, on the occasion of a wedding
in the Caracciolo family. In this manner a declaration of hostilities
was hastened, which, from the intensity of opposition, could indeed
hardly have been prevented under other circumstances, but which was now
encouraged by the disagreement between the Pope and the king.

On August 10, 1485, the Duke of Calabria left Naples to begin the
war against the barons.[278] He did not find them unprepared; their
vassals were in arms, and they had formed an alliance with the Pope,
who was angry, not only at the refusal of the tribute, but also at the
incredibly arbitrary conduct of the king with regard to Church matters.
This monarch, nominally a vassal of Rome, not only subjected the clergy
to the most despotically imposed taxation, but treated the bestowal of
ecclesiastical offices as a financial speculation. Affairs soon became
complicated. On September 26 the inhabitants of Aquila rose against
their oppressors, hewed the leader in pieces, set up the standard of
the Church, and sent plenipotentiaries to Rome. Ferrante tried to avert
the storm by sending his son, the Cardinal of Aragon, to Rome; but he
died on October 16. On the 17th Ferrante caused a protest to be read in
the cathedral of Naples, announcing that he had no intention of making
war against the Pope. Next he tried to negotiate with the barons,
sent his son Don Federigo to the Sanseverini at Salerno, and caused
the Count of Montorio to be set at liberty. It was all in vain; no
one trusted him. The people of Salerno kept the prince as a prisoner,
and set up the standard of the Church on November 20; the king’s own
friends began to desert him, one of his natural sons went over to the
insurgents. Ferrante had long been accustomed to put no trust in his
own relatives. This time the crisis was rendered doubly serious by the
now openly declared conduct of Innocent VIII.

The new Pope’s desire to maintain peace and heal the wounds inflicted
during the late pontificate gave way at the approach of the Neapolitan
troubles, the point of contention between the papal government and its
neighbours. Innocent can hardly have been drawn into the fight by the
secret motive of which he was accused—a preference for the interests
of his own family before the welfare and peace of the country; but he
may well have been influenced by his own and his predecessor’s repeated
unpleasant experience of the Aragonese. He made the quarrel of Aquila
and of the barons his own, accepted their tender of obedience, and
began to arm. He had to be quick, not to give the Duke of Calabria time
to scatter his opponents. While the king sought help from Florence and
Milan, the Pope and the barons turned to Venice. The propositions of
the nobles were very tempting to the Venetians, ever hankering after
the cities on the Apulian coast; but they had doubts about entering
upon such a hazardous undertaking after all the losses they had
sustained in the last war. They expressed regret for the oppression
under which the barons described themselves as suffering, but they
recommended a compromise through the mediation of the Pope; at the
same time they dissuaded Rome from violent proceedings. But when
Innocent, hurried on by the rapid progress of events, entered into
negotiations with Roberto da Sanseverino to obtain his services, they
contented themselves with half-measures. Roberto’s Venetian _condotta_
had expired at the peace of Bagnolo. The Republic might easily have
restrained his ardour, for though his own people were deeply involved
in the rising, the _condottiere_, long a stranger to his own home,
would have preferred his own advantage to all other considerations. But
after a few indifferent remonstrances he was left free to go ‘according
to his own pleasure,’ as was announced to the Pope on October 7.[279]

How disagreeable all these matters were to the Florentines, and above
all to Lorenzo, may be imagined. A dangerous flame was being kindled.
Towards the end of August the Neapolitan ambassador, Marino Tomacelli,
made to the Signoria, on behalf of the king, the first announcement
of the outbreak of internal hostilities, but without owning their
real importance. Before the middle of September it became known that
the Pope was causing troops to march over the border. On October 3
the deliverance of Aquila from the garrison placed there by the Duke
of Calabria became known. Thereupon Ferrante sent his eldest son’s
confidant—Giovanni Albino—to Lorenzo, who had long been intimate
with this learned and accomplished man, at once a politician and
a historian:[280] ‘You shall tell Lorenzo,’ such were Ferrante’s
instructions,[281] ‘that we turn to him as the best friend we have
in Italy, and one for whom, in case of need, we would risk our State,
our children, and our own person. Beg him not to leave us in the
lurch; he and his house shall be rewarded for their services to us.’
Then followed negotiations with Lodovico il Moro, to whom Albino
proceeded on leaving Florence. It was ill speaking of Lodovico at the
latter city, because his intrigues with Girolamo Riario kept up a
constant fear of disturbances in Romagna; nevertheless, in the present
conjuncture, it was necessary to try to keep at peace with him. The
Duke of Bari’s policy was evidently to put the Florentines forward
and watch the moment when he himself could most fittingly appear. He
proposed that the Florentines should hinder Sanseverino’s passage
through Umbria; but they answered that it would be far simpler for
_him_ to prevent his crossing the Po, whence he would doubtless skirt
the Adriatic coast and not turn inland at all. Next, Ercole d’Este gave
notice that by a brief of October 1 the Pope had commanded him to grant
a passage through the Duchy of Ferrara to Roberto da Sanseverino, who
was leading 600 men-at-arms to his Holiness, and who, added the Duke,
was expected to set out on the 10th from Cittadella, in the Paduan
territory, cross the Po at Ficcarolo, and take the road through Romagna
and the Marches—which showed that the Florentines were right in
their answer to Sforza. Soon after news came from Siena that the Pope
had asked that Republic for a body of 120 men-at-arms and 300 picked

The Florentines did all they could to prevent the Sienese from yielding
to the Pope’s demand. As the armed force of Florence was small, they
took the Count of Pitigliano into their service and decided to await
the course of events. But there was no real feeling of security, from
the impossibility of trusting to the little neighbouring state. ‘The
Sienese,’ wrote the Ferrarese ambassador,[282] ‘being by nature at
once frivolous and suspicious, and perpetually stirred up by the Pope,
are in a violent fever, lamenting over the danger to which they would
be exposed if the king got the victory over the Pope, as he would then
employ their natural enemies—the Orsini—to avenge himself for the
revolution of 1480. Their ambassador plagued the illustrious Lorenzo
for two hours to-day with this nonsense, and it will cost a great
deal of trouble to keep them neutral, for they are always getting
troublesome.’ On October 10, the day on which Sanseverino began his
march, Lodovico il Moro wrote to Lorenzo.[283] He represented to him
the danger that would threaten the king if the enemy appeared on the
frontiers of the already excited country. ‘As your Magnificence sees,
prompt proceedings are necessary. The best way to help the king will
be to break at once with the Church, as the Pope has done with the
king. It appears to me necessary that you should induce the Signoria
to consent to a declaration of war, that while awaiting reinforcements
from hence they may set their armed force in order and despatch it to
the frontier without minding the unfavourable season, which hinders
neither the Pope nor the lord Roberto. What the foes think their troops
capable of, ours can surely do. But there is no time to be lost in
coming to a decision.’

When this new complication arose, Lorenzo was at the baths of San
Filippo in the Siena territory. The Morba waters had greatly benefited
him in the spring, and in May the Anziani of Siena sent a special envoy
to congratulate him on his recovery;[284] but it was not lasting.
The position of affairs was such as to embarrass even as practised
a politician as Lorenzo. He thought it needful to support the king,
but he was too clear-sighted and knew his native city too well to
give way to illusions as to the feeling about Naples. The king and
the duke were hated; to enter on their behalf into a war, which would
entail certainly great expenses and possibly serious complications,
was pleasing to no one. When Lorenzo proposed to the Council to give
support to Ferrante of Naples he met with vehement opposition. ‘At
first,’ relates Niccolò Valori,[285] ‘the majority were decidedly
against the proposal. In the midst of this long-wished-for peace, said
they, did he want to kindle the flame of a fresh war? Had he forgotten
in what danger they had been placed by arms and the censures of the
Pope? What if Venice should take part in the contest? How were they
to help the king, hard-pressed at once by internal feuds and external
war? Let him beware of turning aside the war from Ferrante, and drawing
it upon his own home. Notwithstanding, Lorenzo urged the necessity
of taking a side with so much eloquence that those who doubted were
encouraged, and at last all were brought over to his view. I never
read anything more earnest and impressive or better put together than
this speech, which was taken down at the time.’ But while Lorenzo held
it a political necessity to side with Naples, he clearly perceived
the reason of this fresh disturbance of peace. The bad condition of
the Neapolitan finances and army was no secret from him. ‘I regret,’
he wrote on November 3 to Albino,[286] after informing him of the
proposals made by the insurgents in case of the neutrality of Florence,
‘that the king is no longer reputed to have a rich treasury and a
good army as of old, when he was regarded as the arbiter of Italy.
That the contrary is now the case I regret on account of my devotion
to his Majesty; but, however matters may stand, I shall always fulfil
my obligations. I am most deeply grieved that my lord the duke is
denounced as cruel; though it be a false accusation, yet his Excellency
should do all in his power to rid himself of it, for it can only be to
his advantage to do so. If the taxes are hateful to the people let them
be abolished, and let the former contributions suffice; one carlino
willingly and gladly paid is better than ten gained by compulsion and
with ill-will; for no people willingly endures the imposition of fresh
burthens.’ He also recommended keeping the soldiers in good humour;
never had this been more needed. If the king had faith in himself he
would conquer; the Signoria would be true to him. Ferrante thanked
Lorenzo for his wise counsels, but remarked that he did not altogether
understand them.



LORENZO’S position was anything but enviable. The Florentine merchants
at Naples complained that the Duke of Calabria did not fulfil his
obligations, and, moreover, treated them insolently, so that they found
themselves compelled to leave the city.[287] The Pope, who on November
1, 1485, had issued a bull enumerating all the charges of the Holy See
against the King of Naples, and threatening with excommunication all
who should support the latter, exerted himself to prevent the Republic
from taking part in the quarrel. The authority of the Medici even
might receive a blow, for the position of affairs in the kingdom was
considered bad in the extreme. Lorenzo was visibly full of cares. He
proceeded very slowly. Towards the end of November Innocent sent the
Archbishop of Florence to his cathedral city to try if he could change
the mind of his brother-in-law. Rinaldo Orsini was a prelate of a type
then but too common; from his youth up he had held benefices without
spiritual functions, and so he treated his archbishopric as a sort of
garrison, the revenue of which was sufficient for him. He was generally
in Rome; leaving his vicar to look after the church affairs. Being in
the habit of getting into debt, he afterwards tried to do a profitable
piece of business with his see. At last, when things in Florence were
altogether changed, and the powerful support of the Medici failed him,
the universal dissatisfaction reduced him to resign for a pension and
a title _in partibus_. Before this, during the persecutions that broke
out against his family in the time of the Borgias, his insignificance
as a mere man of pleasure had saved him from the tragic fate of his
cousin Cardinal Orsini, with whom he had been placed in the castle of
St. Angelo. It may easily be imagined that he was not the man to make
any impression on Lorenzo, more especially as the latter well knew
that he was entirely a creature of the Pope, in daily anticipation
of obtaining the cardinal’s hat. Rinaldo declared that Innocent was
determined on war. For months past he had been warning the king,
through the now deceased Cardinal of Aragon, through his brother Don
Francesco, even through the Florentine ambassador; but Ferrante only
went on more recklessly, and now at last allowed things to take their
own course.[288]

Meanwhile, November 10, Sanseverino arrived at Rome, and was solemnly
received at the Porta del Popolo by the governor of the city, the
papal court, the ambassadors of the Kaiser and of King Maximilian,
and others. Twenty days after, in the Vatican basilica, he took the
oath to the Pope as gonfalonier of the Church.[289] Innocent showed
to the Florentine ambassador money and jewels to the value of 150,000
ducats, all of which, he said, was to be spent in carrying out the war.
All recruiting and sales of horses in and around Rome, except for the
service of the Church, were forbidden. But in Naples it was resolved
not to await the attack. Alfonso of Calabria marched into the States
of the Church, and was soon on the nearer side of the Alban hills,
with the Campagna and the city lying before him; on the north-west the
Orsini were taking up arms in alliance with him; Florentine troops were
advancing under the Counts of Pitigliano and Marsciano and the lord of
Piombino, and 100 Milanese men-at-arms under the Count of Cajazzo—for
that was all Lodovico sent after all his assurances! Soon the
Neapolitans and the Papal troops attacked each other in the immediate
neighbourhood of Rome, by the bridges over the Anio. The whole city was
in tumult. Monte Giordano, the Orsini stronghold in the Campus Martius,
was burnt down; King Ferrante’s ambassador, who with his colleagues of
Florence and Milan had remained in Rome after the fighting began, had
his house plundered and wrecked, and fled to the Vatican. The greatest
distress and insecurity prevailed; cardinals and others brought their
valuables to the Pope’s palace and to the castle of St. Angelo for
safety. But the duke proved himself a wretched general. He could not
manage to effect a junction with the Orsini, and Sanseverino pressed
the latter hard, compelled some of them to accept a compromise, and
obstructed the road into Tuscany. Within the kingdom itself matters
were taking an unfavourable turn; Alfonso, seeing himself in danger
of being hemmed in within the Campagna, decided to make a diversion
against the Pope and gain breathing-time for himself by coming to a
personal understanding with Lorenzo and Lodovico. On January 17, 1486,
the news reached Florence that the heir to the Neapolitan throne had
left the army in a dangerous position, and with only 300 horsemen
taken the road through the lower part of the Viterbo territory. After
riding sixty miles a day, like a fugitive, he arrived at Pitigliano,
the little capital of the Orsini territory, on the west of the lake of
Bolsena; from thence he intended proceeding to Florence and Milan.

The surprise in Florence was great. Negotiations had never ceased
between the Pope and Lorenzo. It was said that the latter was trying
to facilitate an accommodation; but there was a suspicion that he was
playing a double game, that he had no confidence in the Neapolitan
affairs, and that he had a hand in the defection of some of the Orsini,
which put the Duke of Calabria into difficulties; and that now he
wanted to hinder the Duke coming to Florence, in order to escape his
reproaches. The Signoria immediately sent a special messenger to the
Duke to prevent his coming to the city; Piero Capponi followed the
messenger, to have an explanation with Alfonso, and to remain with the
army as Florentine commissioner.[290] For some time past Lorenzo had
been suffering severely; an affection of the bladder was now added to
his old complaint the gout. He was not in a happy humour. He said he
would have nothing more to do with business, for everything was going
contrary to his desires and expectations; he meant to spend his time
more agreeably. He begged Ercole d’Este and the Marquis of Mantua
to send him falcons, and it was said that he was going to Pisa for
change of air. His ill humour was visible. Sometimes he was in the
city, sometimes at Careggi. The Duke of Calabria was urgent to see
him at Pitigliano, in Florence, anywhere he liked; but he was not to
be persuaded. Pier Filippo Pandolfini and Giovanni Serristori went in
January to Pitigliano to agree upon the necessary arrangements.

Meanwhile the situation had somewhat improved. The troops, deserted by
the Duke whom all accused of cowardice and want of head, were guided by
Paolo Orsini to Vicovaro in the valley of the Anio, beyond Tivoli; from
thence the road into the kingdom was open to them. Gentile Virginio and
others of the Orsini remained faithful. Letters from Milan announced
an intention of abiding by this alliance. On February 3, Gian Jacopo
Trivulzio and Marsilio Torello arrived in Florence with men-at-arms
and archers, to join the Duke.[291] The latter came as far as
Montepulciano, and wanted to make an attempt upon Perugia, where there
was some understanding with a few of the Baglioni. But the Florentines
had no desire to see the fire kindled so near their own borders; and
as the Milanese were of the same mind, the plan was given up. The war
was again transferred to the Papal territory, where the union between
the Orsini and the duke was at last effected. But it was a feeble war,
which only served to display the decay of Italian military skill.
One single fight, however, in which the allies were victorious, and
which took place in the beginning of May near Campagnano, a place
belonging to the Orsini and situated twenty-one miles north-west of
Rome, deserves the name of a warlike achievement. The Florentine
commissioner, who was not a military man, but had seen a good deal of
fighting in his life, was very little edified by the proceedings. On
the papal side they were no better off. Innocent, ill and repeatedly in
danger of his life, saw his means disappearing, his capital disturbed
and discontented, almost besieged, and the neighbourhood devastated.
He had little confidence in Sanseverino, who failed to profit by the
favourable moment of the Duke’s absence, and whose chief aim seemed to
be to gain a red hat for one of his sons. This distrust was heightened
by letters from Piero Capponi, which, by a not over-honourable
artifice, raised doubts as to Sanseverino’s honesty, and were put into
the enemy’s hands. Through the Bishop of Treviso the Pope tried to
get help from Venice; through the Cardinal della Rovere, who went to
Genoa at the end of March, he set on foot a negotiation with the Duke
of Lorraine, who with the help of France was planning an expedition
against Naples. But everything remained too long in suspense.

In the College of Cardinals the different opinions produced violent
disputes. As has been observed, Lorenzo remained in communication
with Innocent, although he was the very corner-stone of the league in
favour of Naples, and without Florentine money the king would long
ago have been unable to carry on the war. It was his representations
that chiefly contributed to induce the Pope to arrive at the needful
accommodation. Ferrante on his part saw very well that unless he made
peace abroad it was vain to think of restoring peace at home. Lodovico
il Moro, though now less scanty in his contributions of assistance,
was still more lavish of words than of deeds. His brother Ascanio
was urging the Pope to an accommodation. On March 6 he spoke very
strongly in the secret consistory in opposition to Cardinal La Balue,
who was charged by France with supporting the interests of the Duke
of Lorraine. The Pope, said Sforza, had a right to claim from King
Ferrante the fulfilment of his obligations to the Church; but it was
contrary to the duty of a cardinal to try and induce the Pope to drive
the king from his hereditary throne and put a stranger in his place.
He, Sforza, believed that he was not failing in his duty to the holy
father in defending the rights of his relative. The cardinal of Erlau,
the pious Franciscan Gabriel Rangoni, supported Ascanio, and said to
the Pope: ‘Your Holiness has threatened to go as far as the Acheron. If
the war continues, I fear those words will come true. May your wisdom
find means to prevent greater troubles!’[292]

The Florentines were wearied with the whole affair. Ambassadors came
from René of Lorraine to argue against the alliance with Naples, and
to recall the old relations with France, and the old devotion of
Florence to the Holy See. They were answered that the league which had
existed for some time between the Republic, Naples, and Milan had for
its object the preservation of peace; the disturbance had come from
the Pope. The latter had never mentioned the Duke of Lorraine in his
negotiations with the city; and if he was now making use of his name to
help his own cause, they must first of all find out his real aims, and
then consult with the allies. The old obligations to France would be
remembered as far as was consistent with honour. The answer, remarks
Francesco Guicciardini,[293] was prudent, for ambassadors had arrived
not only from the duke but also from the King of France, and for the
sake of the merchants it was necessary to be cautious. The occurrence
caused a good deal of anxiety, so that Lorenzo, who well knew the
attachment of the citizens to the house of France and their hatred to
King Ferrante, was afraid of the burthen becoming too heavy for his
shoulders, particularly as the alliance with Ferrante was displeasing
to many of the chief citizens. He would, perhaps, have changed his
policy, although Venice, where his brother-in-law Bernardo Rucellai
was ambassador, and which did not like seeing foreigners in Italy, now
sided with the king; but suddenly peace put an end to all troubles.

On the afternoon of August 11, 1486, this peace was signed at Rome
by the Spanish ambassador, the Count of Tendilla, the Archbishop of
Milan, and Gian Jacopo Trivulzio on behalf of Sforza, Cardinal Giovanni
Michiel on behalf of the Pope, and Gioviano Pontano on behalf of
Naples. King Ferrante was again formally to acknowledge the supremacy
of the Church; to pay the tribute; to retain Aquila on condition of
maintaining its liberties; not to oppress the barons who returned to
their allegiance, and to give them complete freedom as to their abode
and their family connections. These conditions were to be guaranteed
by Milan and Florence. The Orsini were to beg the Pope’s forgiveness,
and to be taken back into favour under guarantee of the said States;
all places taken on either side were to be restored. Sanseverino was
dismissed from the service of the Church. In Florence the conclusion
of peace was celebrated by ringing the bells; but Lorenzo was highly
displeased, not at the peace as such, but at the manner and the
conditions of it, on which he spoke sharply to the Milanese ambassador.
The conclusion had been arrived at without reference to him, and there
had been no mention of Sarzana. In reality this was better than what
had been originally intended, for Cardinal Sforza had exerted himself
to get his brother Lodovico appointed arbiter in the question; but this
scheme was foiled by the decided opposition of Capponi, who was then at
Bracciano.[294] The Republic had spent all her money for a cause not
her own.[295] And what a peace it was! Sanseverino had most decidedly
not proved himself a hero in the war, and his conduct had not deserved
any great confidence. But the way in which he was treated was almost
past belief. The gonfalonier of the Church, who as holder of one of the
highest dignities had handed the holy water to the Pope at a solemn
mass a little while before, suddenly found himself like an outlaw
chieftain compelled to use force against force. He was told he might
go where he liked, and a claim which he sent in for arrears of pay was
left unnoticed. Then, when he was about to take the road to Romagna,
to return to the Venetian territory, he found himself surrounded by
Neapolitan troops. To fight was certain ruin. He had nothing for it but
to dissolve his bands; many escaped to the Marches; others were taken,
plundered, slain; others again took service with the Duke of Calabria.
With about a hundred horsemen Roberto cut his way through, and after
many difficulties arrived as a fugitive, on the Venetian frontier which
less than a year before he had crossed at the head of a powerful army.
The Republic took him back into her service, and he showed himself
not ungrateful and far less selfish than was the usual fashion of
_condottieri_. A year after the conclusion of a peace so fatal to him,
he met his death fighting gallantly in the neighbourhood of Roveredo,
in the war stirred up by the frontier disputes between Venice and
Archduke Sigismund of Austria-Tyrol. The Sanseverino affair, however,
disappeared before what happened in Naples.

Two days after the conclusion of the treaty, at Castelnuovo, on the
occasion of a marriage arranged by the king between Marco Coppola, son
of the Count of Sarno, chief counsellor of the crown, and a daughter
of Antonio Piccolomini Duke of Amalfi, granddaughter of Ferrante, the
count and his family were arrested, as well as Antonello Petrucci the
other private secretary of the king, the Count of Burello, formerly
ambassador to Rome, and many of their relatives and friends, all
distinguished and influential persons. They had been in communication
with the insurgent barons, and as far back as October of the previous
year Lodovico il Moro had given the king proofs of their guilt; but
the latter had secured them and then waited till the conclusion of
peace to draw in the net. Only a fortnight before he had called the
Count of Sarno ‘our best-beloved counsellor.’ Three months later the
culprits were condemned to death and executed; and the shuddering city
beheld the bleeding limbs of the Count of Carinola, son of Antonello
Petrucci, quartered by the executioner’s hand. All their property
was confiscated; not only were their possessions within the country
sequestrated, but Ferrante at once sent one of the superior officers
of the chamber of accounts to take possession of sums deposited in
the banks in Rome, Florence, Genoa, and Milan. A million in gold is
said to have thus passed into his hands. Horrified at this fearful
vengeance, warned by the fate of Aquila, which lost all its liberties,
and putting no trust in the stipulated guarantee of Florence and Milan,
the barons were long undecided if they should trust themselves to the
mercy of the king. Ferrante himself did not believe they would. At
last, however, they submitted, besought pardon, and promised fidelity
and obedience. ‘All the princes and lords who formerly rebelled against
us,’ wrote the king on February 17, 1487, to Giovanni Nauclero,[296]
his ambassador to Ferdinand the Catholic, ‘are now with us at Naples.
They enjoy greater security for their persons and possessions, and
greater contentment and tranquillity than before the war; for they
have their revenues as heretofore, and while we know that we are safe
with them because their castles are in our hands, they are safe with
us, and, thank God, we live together without suspicion. The past has
vanished from our memory, and we treat them as dear sons. We hope it
will last, for we are resolved to give them daily greater occasion to
remain in this mind. Thus we keep all parts of our kingdom in peace and
quiet.’ Within three months came the confiscation of the principality
of Salerno, whose lord—Antonello da Sanseverino—was absent from the
country; and, later on, the arrest of those ‘dear sons’ the barons, who
one after another disappeared and left no trace behind.

The complications which arose from this interpretation of the
conditions of peace between the king and the Pope, and the sentiments
it awakened in Florence, will be mentioned later on. There can be
little difference of opinion as to this melancholy episode and its
influence on the destinies of Naples. But the whole blame must not be
laid on Ferrante. A nobility so powerful and warlike, so rebellious,
and among some of whom disaffection was an inheritance, rendered
government impossible. Defection had penetrated the king’s own privy
council, nay even his own family. How little unity there was in the
latter is shown by the fact that the barons hoped and attempted to
gain over to their side Don Federigo, who was as much beloved as his
brother Alfonso was hated and feared. At Salerno they offered him the
crown, which he refused. Ferrante conquered by prudence and force of
arms, but he abused his victory by cunning, avarice, and cruelty. In
the use of foul means he outdid his old enemy Louis XI.; but while the
latter, who personally was not a bit better, strengthened the royal
power, Ferrante overshot the mark and cut the ground from under his
own feet. Other men of the time were not more honest, yet they never
enacted such horrible tragedies as those witnessed at Naples in 1486
and 1487. Ferrante’s reign lasted seven years longer, externally more
quiet than before, more prosperous, more unlimited, less disturbed;
but all his sagacity could not save him from the phantoms called up by
the consciousness of past crimes and the fear of new dangers. In his
strivings after despotic power, and in the interests of the latter, he
made havoc of the old nobility. He could not destroy it so completely
as to prevent its remaining one of the factors in all great political
changes, or the enmity of a large portion of it from becoming fatal to
his house, but he diminished the strength of the country, which was
founded on the old feudal order of things. He hoped to find support
from the people, but could not really raise them because his system of
monopolies and finance oppressed them no less than the outgrowths of
the feudal state, and he had not time to carry out the change in public
matters which he might possibly have projected. The people, who had not
forgotten old grievances, were bound by no ties of affection to their
sovereign and his heir-apparent, who had come out of the Barons’ war
with a greatly diminished reputation for military capacity and a yet
more greatly increased reputation for faithlessness and cruelty.[297]

Like the peace of 1484, that of 1486 did not take into consideration
the Florentine desires and demands in the vexed question of Sarzana.

Lorenzo was ill and out of humour. Repeated attacks of gout either
laid him up at home, as in July 1486, or compelled him to go to
Bagno a Morba, where he passed the September of the same year. He
often sojourned at Careggi for a time or at the villa at Poggio a
Cajano, where he sought refreshment and relaxation from the exciting
affairs which never left him free. He was at no pains to conceal his
irritation. One ally compromised him by faithlessness and severity,
the other endangered his policy by double-dealing and the pursuit
of selfish aims. The more lavish were the assurances of friendship,
the nearer treachery was lurking. As to the treaty of peace and
Trivulzio’s part in it, he declared the proceedings of Milan were
downright disgraceful. When Ferrante began to meddle with the barons
whose safety had been guaranteed by Florence and Milan, and it became
evident that he aimed at their destruction and the confiscation of
their property, Lorenzo remarked that from a political point of view
the king was becoming too powerful. If he went on thus he would soon
be master in Italy, in which case Florence and Milan would fare badly,
as the predominance of his influence had repeatedly been injurious to
them. From the Duke of Calabria the worst must be expected, as he was
of a malicious and vindictive temper setting aside that, when once his
object was attained he regarded neither friendship nor past services.
Lorenzo saw that he must bring the Sarzana affair to a conclusion if
he did not wish to endanger his own position. The thing could not be
done in the year which ended the Barons’ war, but the next must not be
allowed to pass without profit. There was not much to be expected from
the allies. King Ferrante well knew how much he was indebted to Lorenzo
and to Florence, and remarked that one good turn deserved another; but
added that where an alliance was so sure and the will so entirely the
same on both sides, conduct must be measured, not by the extent of the
obligation, but by the power to serve. Then came the usual references
to the exhaustion of the treasury, difficulties with the Pope, and the
danger from the Turks, all of which Bernardo Rucellai, the ambassador
at Naples, likewise had to listen to.[298] To Lutozzo Nasi, another
Florentine diplomatist, Ferrante said: ‘Lorenzo knows that I really
love him and his city, for I have had practical proof of his attachment
to me and mine. But for him, they and I would no longer be in this
kingdom. He has conferred on us a benefit which we and our posterity
never will or can forget, and we will always display our gratitude to
him and the Signoria.’ But all this was mere talk. It was not of much
use that Ferrante occasionally condescended to flatter the Signoria,
as, for instance, when in the autumn of 1486 he appointed a house in
Naples for their embassy, as King Ladislaus had once done for Venice;
or when he sent back trophies of the war of 1478, declaring that he did
not wish to preserve memorials of past strife when nothing should be
thought of but reciprocal friendship.[299]

In Lodovico il Moro Lorenzo had still less confidence, but on account
of the situation in Northern Italy, and especially on account of the
Venetians, he was yet more anxious to keep on the best terms possible
with Milan. Lodovico was jealous of the close relations between his
allies; so, in order not to increase this jealousy, Lorenzo found it
convenient to point out the common interest of Florence and Milan in
preventing the king from becoming too powerful. Moreover, the Sarzana
affair still prevented the conclusion of a good understanding. Lodovico
was always thinking of regaining Genoa, and was the more unwilling to
turn the Genoese against him for the sake of a quarrel which kept them
in continual suspense, because they had applied to Venice herself for
aid against the Florentines. Innocent VIII. had made an attempt at
mediation, whereby the Bank of San Giorgio was to give up Pietrasanta
and receive Sarzana in exchange; but the matter fell through,
nominally on account of disagreements between the Pope and his native
city, but no doubt also because, after all the sacrifices that had been
made, public opinion in Florence would have been in nowise satisfied
with such a settlement. A trifling occasion, the occupation by the
Florentines of a small castle beyond the Magra, sufficed to cause
high words between Lorenzo and Lodovico. The former had sent Baccio
Ugolini to the Duke of Calabria in 1486, and Sforza took it amiss
that he had not been informed of the fact. ‘Milan and Lord Lodovico,’
returned Lorenzo, ‘seem to forget that this city calls herself a city
of freedom, and that she would be in a sorry plight if she could not
even send a man on an unofficial mission to the Neapolitan prince
without taking advice from Milan about it.’ In Florence, he continued,
nothing had been said when Lord Lodovico, without asking anybody’s
opinion, made his agreement with Venice. Such things were tokens of
disaffection, and should it ever befall that Milan was in need of
Florence it would be impossible to incline the people in her favour if
they had been previously driven to extremities. Such were the relations
in which these Italian States, calling themselves allies, stood to each
other! Then fine words followed again, and assurances of friendship,
which kept up appearances and deceived nobody as to the real state of
the case. To Lorenzo’s honour it must be said that he did all in his
power to support the tottering edifice of concord.

At the beginning of 1487 the Florentines were firmly resolved to make
an end of the Sarzana affair, which was really becoming a disgrace to
the Republic. But the Genoese were beforehand with them. On a hill to
the east of the town of Sarzana lies the fort of Sarzanello, begun
by the brave Ghibelin leader Castruccio Castracani when he extended
the Lucchese territory as far as the Magra. It was a hill-fort, still
worthy of notice for its construction, and it had always been held
by the Florentines. In March 1487 the commandant of Sarzana, Gian
Luigi Fiesco of Lavagna, made a sudden attack on Sarzanello, took
the outworks, and began to fire on the fortress. The famous Sienese
architect Francesco di Giorgio, who, together with Giuliano da
Sangallo, did more than anyone else for the military architecture of
the time, was serving as an engineer in the Genoese camp, and he seems
to have first adopted the mining system against Sarzanello. Florence
saw there was no time to lose. The Count of Pitigliano and the lords of
Piombino, Faenza, and Mirandola commanded the troops, to which Naples
and Milan sent scanty contingents. On April 15 the besiegers of the
fort were completely beaten, and their leader, Obietto Fiesco, fell
into the hands of the victors. But the fight for the town of Sarzana
dragged on, though the troops were better than some of their leaders.
The place was in increasing misery, yet the defenders held out amid the
distress and ruin of the inhabitants.

In the beginning of June Lorenzo went to Pisa to be nearer the scene of
action. On the 8th he was in the camp and ordered the town to be more
closely surrounded. An attempt to relieve it failed. On the 21st it was
decided to storm it, but a white flag was hoisted on the walls, and the
next morning the gates were opened. The inhabitants were spared, the
garrison remained prisoners of war. Two days before midsummer Lorenzo
returned to Florence. ‘Never,’ writes the Ferrarese ambassador, ‘was
he received with such acclamations by the people, who attribute the
recapture of Sarzana to him before all others.’[300] It was not the
importance of the place itself that Florence cared for; she regarded
its seizure as an insult. ‘After you have saluted in our name the
illustrious Signoria, my lords the Eight, and the illustrious lord
Lorenzo,’ thus ran Ferrante’s instructions[301] of July 27 to Antonio
Sperandeo, whom he was sending to Florence, ‘you shall express to
them our joy at the recovery of Sarzana; a joy which beseems true and
sincere friends on such a happy occasion, and is meet for a connection
which makes the advantage and welfare of the one the advantage and
welfare of the other. Therefore we rejoice at the conclusion of this
affair as at a piece of good fortune to ourselves, and pray God that He
may further the interests and well-being of us both, and lead us from
good to better through a continuance of our reciprocal friendship.’ How
much of these assurances of friendship should be laid to the account of
the complications at home, may be left undecided.

Lodovico il Moro took no trouble to hide his ill-humour, and
immediately recalled his troops from the Florentine camp on the
Magra, whereat the Florentines were highly indignant. Lorenzo said he
supposed the Duke of Bari thought Genoa and the Castelletto would be
given up to him next. But it actually came to pass. The Cardinal-Doge,
Paolo Fregoso, perceived that he could not hold his ground amidst
his many enemies, even if the Florentines—as they were certainly
disposed to do—did not advance further towards the Riviera, where the
neighbourhood of the gulf of Spezia was almost unprotected. While he
began negotiating with Sforza the Adorni party were negotiating with
France. Lodovico was quicker than the counsellors of the young king,
and, after much debating in one form and another, the matter ended
in Genoa once more acknowledging the Duke of Milan as her superior;
whereupon the doge was pensioned and went to end his much-disturbed
days at Rome. The Florentines were not destined long to enjoy the
possession of Sarzana, which had cost them so much blood and still
more money. During Charles VIII.’s campaign against Naples, both the
town and the fortress passed into the hands of the French, who, when
Florentine troops and commissioners came to demand their restoration,
sold them to that same bank of San Giorgio with which the Republic had
fought so long for their possession.



FOR a long time past there could have been no question as to Lorenzo’s
earnest desire to arrive at a good understanding with Innocent VIII.
Immediately after the latter’s election circumstances appeared
favourable, and the Florentines had reasonable hopes of putting an end
to the contest for Sarzana. Unfortunately, the dispute between the Pope
and the King of Naples interfered to retard the good understanding,
but, though Florence took the king’s side, no declarations of war were
published, and the negotiations with the Pope were never broken off.
Lorenzo always remained in communication with Innocent. It was through
him that at the peace of 1486, the Orsini, who were left unprotected,
were reconciled with the Pope. He attached great importance to the
latter’s friendship on both public and private grounds. He fully
understood the instability of the Italian league and the extent of the
influence of the States of the Church on those at home. With regard
to family affairs he had to take into consideration not only money
matters relative to an advantageous marriage for his eldest son and
his daughters, who were now growing up, but also of preferment for his
second son, who, by his father’s wish, was early to enter on the career
once designed for his uncle. All these various interests were fully
developed in Lorenzo’s conduct during the year 1487.

In April 1486 a distinguished and warlike citizen of Osimo in the
Marches of Ancona, by name Boccalino de’ Guzzoni, having acquired
great influence over the people, profited by the Pope’s hour of
difficulty to take forcible possession of that town, which, like many
other Papal possessions, was somewhat inclined to be rebellious. He
pleaded in extenuation of his proceedings that there was a certain sum
owing to him from the Apostolic Chamber.[302] Lodovico immediately
remarked that if the man was inclined to join the league against
the Pope he should have help, as the matter had fallen out very
seasonably.[303] But Boccalino had no intention of accepting the
foreign aid, which he would not trust, without first trying his own
powers. The peace between Naples and the Pope at first turned to his
advantage, as many of Sanseverino’s dispersed soldiers entered his
service; but he very soon saw that he was lost, and, yielding to the
remonstrances addressed to him in the name of the young Duke of Urbino,
he came to terms with the Pope. The accommodation, however, did not
last long; Boccalino again set up the standard of revolt, whereupon it
was decided to besiege Osimo. Boccalino then conceived the adventurous
idea of applying to Constantinople and stirring up Sultan Bajazet to an
attack on the Marches, which he himself would administer as a vassal of
the Turkish empire. The messenger who was to carry this proposition, a
nephew of Boccalino, was arrested at Lecce, and the letters fell into
King Ferrante’s hands. He disclosed the story to Trivulzio, who had
been in the kingdom with Milanese troops ever since the Barons’ war,
and to the ambassadors of Florence and Milan, through whom it reached
the ears of the Pope. Rome determined to prevent the rebellion from
spreading further. On March 2, Cardinal della Rovere was appointed
legate for the Marches,[304] and Giulio Cesare Varano, lord of
Camerino, commander of the troops. Both proceeded to Osimo, but failed
in their object, for Boccalino managed to blind the cardinal with the
eloquence of his speech; so the Pope addressed Lodovico il Moro with a
request that he would lend him Trivulzio and some of his troops. The
Duke of Bari acceded to the request; on May 8, Gian Jacopo reached
Rome, and on the 31st he was in the camp before Osimo.

For a long time this gallant soldier accomplished nothing; he lacked
money, artillery, and ammunition. Part of the Milanese troops deserted
and left the camp because their pay was in arrears; the papal
contingent was quite useless; Boccalino kept on negotiating with the
cardinal and with Francesco Gaddi, whom Lorenzo, through the Bishop of
Arezzo, had sent to arrange an accommodation with Boccalino.[305] At
last Rome grew weary. Cardinal La Balue, the deep intriguer who had
reason to congratulate himself that Louis XI. had done no worse than
shut him up in an iron cage, but who was not wanting in capacity and
had gained some influence at the papal court, was sent in the latter
half of June, with money and fresh troops, to relieve Della Rovere.
When he arrived, Trivulzio had fortified a height which overhung the
town, and had thus rendered further resistance impossible. On July 12
the inhabitants offered to capitulate. The Florentine envoy helped to
arrange the terms: Boccalino agreed, on payment of 8,000 ducats, to
leave the town and settle at Florence. ‘This evening,’ wrote Trivulzio
to Milan on August 1, ‘I have caused 200 foot soldiers and a squadron
of men-at-arms to march into Osimo. Early to-morrow morning Messer
Boccalino will leave the city, and then my lord the legate will hold
his solemn entry. The matter could not have been more happily or
honourably settled.’ More happily or honourably! For sixteen months a
town by no means strong had held out in rebellion against the lord of
the land, and after a five months’ siege it had surrendered for money
and pardon. It was fortunate for the inhabitants, but it showed the
deplorable condition of military affairs.

Boccalino de’ Guzzoni betook himself to Florence, where he was
honourably received, and Lorenzo was commissioned to pay him the
greater part of the sum allotted to him, of which he had received 1,000
ducats on his departure. But there were other difficulties to contend
with, and Lorenzo’s letters to Giovanni Lanfredini, the ambassador at
Rome, show how indignant he was at the delay in fulfilling the promises
made him from thence, and how he feared to be compromised by this
delay. As the promised money did not arrive and Boccalino pressed for
payment, Lorenzo advanced him 500 ducats and charged the ambassador to
see to the settlement of the matter. ‘I do not believe,’ he wrote to
Lanfredini,’[306] that the Pope is by nature spiteful or quarrelsome.
But even if he were so, which I have never observed, he ought not to
be so towards me. Try to arrange the matter, for I should regret the
least stain on my honour more than life or all else that is dear to me
on earth. Make no secret of it that, if no regard is paid to my honour,
I shall make no scruple of showing my displeasure. I cannot believe
it, but shall act according to experience.’ The Florentines seemed to
expect that Boccalino would settle among them and claim the freedom of
the city, in which they were willing to help him; they also offered
him a military post in their service. After staying awhile, however,
he went to Milan, whence Lodovico, who disliked having him in his
neighbourhood, got rid of him by force.

When Lorenzo performed this service for the Pope, a family alliance
had already been sealed between them. The course of political events
has caused us to lose sight of the mi pare mettere una gran parte
dello honore e fede mia.’ Medici family since the complications
and conflicts which sprang from the Pazzi conspiracy. The house in
the Via Larga was full of children; besides the three sons, Piero,
Giovanni, and Giuliano, there were four blooming daughters, Lucrezia,
Maddalena, Luigia, and Contessina. Lucrezia, the eldest of all, was
early betrothed to Jacopo Salviati, for the sake of blotting out the
memories of 1478. Luigia, the third daughter, was the bride of Giovanni
de’ Medici, the younger grandson of Cosimo the Elder’s brother Lorenzo.
When the eldest daughter’s marriage took place in 1487, her grandmother
was dead. Lucrezia Tornabuoni died on the Feast of the Annunciation,
1482. The loss of his excellent mother was deeply felt by Lorenzo. ‘My
reverence for your Excellency,’ he wrote on the same day to the Duchess
of Ferrara, Eleonora d’Aragona d’Este,[307] ‘commands me to announce
to you the sad and overwhelming event which has this day befallen me,
the death of my dearest mother Madonna Lucrezia. It has plunged me in
a grief which your Excellency can imagine, for I have lost, not only
my mother, but my only refuge amid my many cares and difficulties, the
only helper who could aid and counsel me in my many troubles. It is
true that we must submit with patience to the will of God, but I have
not enough strength of mind to bear such a calamity with calmness. I
pray God to send me more composure and comfort, and to grant peace and
blessedness to her soul. Your Excellency, towards whom I give free
course to my sorrow, will understand the state of mind of your faithful
servant, who commends himself to you as heartily as he can.’

It is self-evident that Lorenzo had to consider his peculiar position
in planning the future connections of his children as they grew up.
He strove to reconcile the political needs of this position with the
traditions of the country, which were against foreign marriages.
The family alliance which he formed between the Medici and the Cybò
has this peculiarity, that in this case, for the first time, the son
of a Pope was in some degree recognised and brought on the political
stage, the sad beginning of a grievous error in the history of the
Popedom. Before the middle of March, 1487, Giovanni Lanfredini went
to Rome to arrange preliminaries for a contract of marriage between
Lorenzo’s second daughter, Maddalena, and Franceschetto Cybò, son
of Innocent VIII.[308] On the 22nd Lorenzo publicly announced ‘the
family connection concluded with me by his Holiness.’ The allies,
Naples and Milan, had been informed of the negotiations in question.
Lorenzo attached especial importance to the king’s approval, because
there had once been a project of marriage between Franceschetto and
a daughter of Ferrante, and it was not till he had made sure of the
latter’s agreement that he formally concluded the contract with Rome,
or even discussed the matter with the Florentine magistrates, to whom
he submitted it for approval. ‘Our opinion of the illustrious Lorenzo,’
so run Ferrante’s instructions addressed, on May 1, to Trojano de’
Bottuni, who was going as ambassador to Rome, Florence, and Milan,[309]
‘is so firmly established that the whole world could produce no change
in us. Wish him joy of the new connection, which, in my opinion, is
likely to be no less useful to us than to him; for his influence on the
Pope will operate favourably to smooth the misunderstandings between
his Holiness and ourselves, and we only regret not having known of
the plan earlier that we might immediately have given it our full

‘Now may God guide all for the best,’ wrote Lorenzo to the Florentine
ambassador at Naples,[310] ‘and give me grace that the thing may
benefit ourselves and others, and be for our personal and the general
advantage. Such things are wont to be judged by their results more
than by the rules of reason.’ And he adds these honourable words:
‘As the king wishes that the new connection shall have no disturbing
influence on our alliance, I give my word that this connection shall
not make me other than I was; for I have never been so exclusively
and passionately interested in my own private affairs as to forget
public honour or that which beseems a straightforward and honest man. I
believe the king considers me as such, and he may be sure that if the
Pope should intend anything that might disturb peace I should be the
first to resist him. I know where to seek the foundation of things, and
what difficulties arise from the daily events which go on gradually
evolving themselves. I think I have with no little trouble, care, and
expense proved my devotion to the king, and he may be sure that I shall
not sacrifice a substance to a shadow.’

Franceschetto Cybò has left no brilliant name in the history of his
father’s pontificate. He is supposed to have been born in 1449 at
Naples, where Giambattista Cybò—then only seventeen—was living with
his father Arano before taking holy orders. When the father became
Pope, Franceschetto had a sister, Teodorina, who married into the
Usodimare family of Genoa. The mother’s name and rank are unknown,
and of Franceschetto himself nothing is known till the time when he
made this sudden appearance on the world’s stage. He naturally was
in no want of external honours. He was made governor of Rome and
captain-general of the Church; his brother-in-law, Leo X., afterwards
gave him the government of Spoleto, and he was made a count of the
Empire by the Emperor Frederic. Fiefs were added to his titles.
But he was without talent, at once greedy of gain and a careless
spendthrift. One night, when taking part in the disorderly doings of
some young nobles, he lost 14,000 ducats at play to Cardinal Raffaelle
Riario. When the Pope lay in a seemingly hopeless condition, struck
by apoplexy, his son tried to get possession of his treasures; the
result of which attempt was that the cardinals made an inventory of
them and entrusted one of their own college with the care of them,
though it was said that Franceschetto had already managed to convey
a portion safely to Florence. His bride was still so young that the
marriage was put off. In the interval many things happened which might
have tempted Lorenzo to change his mind, but for his earnest desire to
gain a hold on Rome and his hope of dominating the weak Pope, which was
strengthened by the events of 1487.

Only a few weeks after the conclusion of the treaty disputes again
arose between the Church and Naples, when Aquila was subdued, the papal
governor put to death, and the papal banner torn down. An outbreak of
persecution against the barons increased the disagreement, and then the
king broke his word to the Pope by denying that either he or his son
had consented to pay the actual tribute. The management of benefices
went on in the usual arbitrary manner. Innocent saw himself and his
authority openly set at naught. In January 1487, the Prince of Salerno,
who had quitted the kingdom before the net could be drawn tight round
him, arrived at Rome, where he was received with all honours.[311] His
report of the proceedings added fuel to the flame. Lodovico il Moro,
who was always playing a double game, declared himself unreservedly in
opposition to the king—with whom he was nevertheless at that moment
treating for the marriage of his nephew Gian Galeazzo—and held out
a threat of Venice taking part with the Pope, all of which did not
dispose Innocent to regard Ferrante’s conduct calmly. The king soon
discovered that his position was one of some danger. On May 1, he sent
Trojano de’ Bottuni as envoy-extraordinary to Rome, Florence, and
Milan.[312] He was to make the most of the undecided affair of Osimo
and the services therein rendered to the Pope; to put prominently
forward the danger from the Turks; to explain the king’s financial
difficulties caused by the long-continued wars; and to appeal to
Lorenzo and Lodovico for support in case of invasion. All this was
mere show. If the Pope proved obstinate the ambassador was instructed
to explain that the tribute was a formality rather than a contribution
of money. The king did not hold himself bound to the Pope, and he had
never ratified the consent given to the treaty of peace. Moreover, the
conditions of this peace had not been fulfilled by his barons, and
after the Pope had brought him into endless difficulties and dangers,
he was in nowise minded to weaken his own forces still further in order
to elevate his Holiness. As for the Duke of Bari’s threat about Venice,
the ambassador might take the opinions of the Florentine Signoria and
Lorenzo, and try if possible to obtain a written promise of help. The
conduct of the barons had required renewed and severer measures; their
discontent greatly astonished the king, as it would only bring trouble
on the Pope and the Venetians, and perhaps occasion a more troublesome
disaffection than the last. He relied entirely on Florence and Lorenzo;
the whole world should not be able to change his opinion of the latter.
Gioviano Pontano, the same man who had made the treaty with the Pope,
drew up by the king’s orders instructions which repudiated all the
obligations undertaken at the peace.

Ferrante was not mistaken in his expectation that Lorenzo would
do all in his power to prevent another conflagration; but he was
very much mistaken if he believed, as he pretended to believe, that
Lorenzo approved of his proceedings. On his return from Sarzana, free
at last from that care, Lorenzo spoke out unreservedly his opinion
respecting his allies. He must have been angry indeed when he, the
true representative of Italian national policy, in his delight at
the progress of the French arms against Maximilian in Flanders went
so far as to declare that he still hoped to see the king of France
lord of all Italy.[313] ‘This shows,’ adds the Ferrarese ambassador,
‘how greatly his Magnificence is put out; may God turn his heart to
the best.’ ‘The arrest of the barons,’ reports the same writer, July
11, ‘has greatly displeased not only the illustrious Lorenzo but also
the whole city, and it is spoken of to the king’s dishonour.’ The
annexation of Genoa to Milan, and the losses of Venice in the war with
Archduke Sigismund (so thought the ambassador), would probably incline
the Signoria to extreme caution, but Lorenzo’s expressions against
Lodovico, whom he regarded as the real disturber of peace, were most
violent. If the Duke of Bari continued his crooked policy, Lorenzo
believed the end would be that the King of Naples would lay down the
law for both Florence and the Pope. If they both acted reasonably they
would keep together like their fathers before them and not plunge Italy
into danger. Lorenzo said he wished he could go and bury himself for
six months in some place where no rumour of Italian affairs could reach
his ears.

Lorenzo’s ill-humour and anxiety is displayed in the many letters
written by him at this time to Lanfredini. It was necessary, he wrote
on July 17,[314] that the Pope should make sure of the attitude of
Venice, but at the same time take up a firm position, that he might not
be suspected of believing the king’s assurances that his proceedings
against the barons had been occasioned by their conduct since the
peace; for that suspicion would deprive him of all firm security.
Ten days after, he expressed his irritation at the double-dealing of
Sforza, who, pressed by the Neapolitan envoy, wrote at the same time
letters to his brother the cardinal in favour of the king, and others
to his agent in Rome in agreement with the Papal views. The object of
Sforza’s apparent partisanship with Ferrante was probably to hinder
the latter from forming an alliance with Venice if he saw Florence and
Milan arrayed against him. But the first thing to be done was for all
the Italian States to stand fast by the Pope and show no wavering.
‘Certainly all desire peace, but I think no one will suffer the Pope to
be insulted and oppressed.’

The king’s defence of his proceedings convinced nobody. In the latter
half of July, Innocent held a consistory on the condition of affairs
in Naples. The whole college of Cardinals agreed with him that the
honour of the Holy See no longer permitted him to look on unmoved.
Letters were to be written concerning the breach of the treaty to
the King of Spain, to Milan and Florence, who had guaranteed its
fulfilment. A nuncio was to be sent to Naples to protest, and, in
case the barons had recently failed in their duty, to move for proper
legal proceedings against them, with the participation of the Pope.
Instructions to this effect were drawn up on July 24 for Pietro
Vicentino, bishop of Cesena.[315] But the king treated the nuncio in
the most unworthy manner.[316] He refused him an audience; and when
the bishop, having watched the moment when Ferrante was starting for
the chase, stopped him in the doorway and compelled him to listen to
his demands, he gained nothing by it. He demanded in the Pope’s name
three things; payment of the tribute, abstinence from all unlawful
meddling in spiritual affairs, and the cessation of proceedings against
the barons. To the first point Ferrante answered that he had no money,
having spent everything on the war begun against him by the Pope, so
that the latter must still be patient for a few years. To the second,
that _he_ knew what persons in the kingdom were fit for benefices,
but the Curia did not, and it was sufficient for the Pope to confirm
those appointed by the King. Lastly, as to the third point; as the
Pope had upon treasonable practices imprisoned Cardinals Colonna and
Savelli, and set them free again at his own will and pleasure, so the
king had a right to arrest traitorous subjects and let them go again
just as he thought good. Thereupon he caused the horns to be blown and
rode away to the chase, without even turning to salute the bishop.
‘If I have lately been silent as to the Neapolitan business,’ wrote
Lorenzo to Lanfredini on August 10,[317] ‘the reason is not that I have
changed my mind, but that I will take no more trouble for nothing.
If his Holiness has confidence in me, as you say, it is my duty to
regard only his Holiness’s honour. The more I think over the matter,
the more I am confirmed in my view, that the Pope must neither yield
his rights to the king nor make war upon him. The way to avoid both
extremes seems to me to be this: that the Pope should without delay
take every measure to maintain his rights as to the question of homage,
but on the other hand avoid everything that might lead to a passage
of arms or to an interdict. We are not in a fit condition for making
war, and the circumstances of Italy in general, as well as those of
the States of the Church in especial, will not sustain a shock. An
interdict unsupported by arms produces little effect; therefore I
think for the present the matter is best left alone. But this would
not be the case if the Pope gave in about the tribute, whether by
diminishing or remitting the debt; for at this moment it would do
no good, and be a clear loss. If the king attaches to this affair
the importance he seems to do, then, should a concession be needed,
a time more favourable to the Pope’s interests could be found. I do
not in the least fear that because the Papal rights are upheld, the
king will proceed to a hostile demonstration. He would stand without
justification, and others would not support him. This is my opinion,
expressed only for the Pope himself; for it is better for our object
that I should appear to be persuading him to come to terms with the
king. My lord Lodovico and many others hold the same view. If the Pope
agrees, he must manage so as not to get me and others into trouble,
but wait for time and opportunity.’ The attitude of Venice confirmed
Lorenzo still more in his view that Rome must not push matters to an
extremity. ‘The Venetians’ answer,’ he wrote on August 31, ‘seems to
me to be very vague and gives little response to the confidence placed
in the Republic by his Holiness. I think it would be well if the Pope
showed some little vexation at it, without exactly taking the thing
really amiss, particularly with regard to their war with the Germans,
and the defeat and death of my lord Roberto [Sanseverino]. In any
case, however, they must be impressed with the king’s power, and the
ease with which he could damage the States of the Church, so as to get
their views in case of such an event, and find out how far they may be
reckoned on. It would at the same time be an opportunity for urging
them to peace with the Germans; for, in truth, all sorts of evil fruits
arise from their being busy in that quarter; and I think the Pope would
do well to exhort the Venetians to make peace, and to support them,
that they may regain freedom of action.’

Thus did Lorenzo look to the distant as well as the immediate prospect.
But Innocent VIII. was not the man to take up a firm position; he let
himself be ruled by momentary impulses. On September 3, Gian Jacopo
Trivulzio, loaded with honours by the Pope after the settlement of the
Osimo affair, on his return to Milan came to Florence; here he was
splendidly received by the foreign ambassadors and many distinguished
citizens, with Piero de’ Medici at their head, and lodged in the
convent of Sta. Croce. The cardinal of S. Peter in Vinculis was with
him. Lorenzo was at Pisa. Trivulzio was commissioned by the Pope to
tell him that he trusted entirely to him, and would be guided by him;
but if he guided him amiss it would be the ruin of both. And hereupon
the Pope broke into violent complaints against the king. But the
Milanese captain’s account of Innocent was not such as to strengthen
the confidence of the Republic in him. ‘Messer Gian Jacopo,’ wrote the
Ferrarese ambassador, ‘tells of the Pope’s faint-heartedness and want
of head and spirit, and that he acts after the fashion of an utter
simpleton;’ and adds that ‘if somebody does not put a little spirit
into him and keep him alive, he will come to a most pitiful end.’ On
the 6th the news reached Florence that the king had appealed to the
council. Though Innocent regarded the appeal as null, and declared it
contrary to Ferrante’s own agreements with his predecessor, still it
was believed that the threat would frighten him.[318] This, however,
proved a mistake.

About the beginning of the second week in September Lorenzo went from
Pisa to the hill-country of Volterra, where he had an estate on the
heights that slope down towards the lower part of the Era valley; a
district beautifully cultivated, but less fertile than the valley
of the Arno. This estate had been during the thirteenth century a
settlement of the Hospitaliers of Altopascio, and had thence taken the
name of Spedaletto.[319] Here Lorenzo was wont to take the waters of
Morba, brought to him daily by messengers on horseback; for Spedaletto
was more healthily situated and more convenient for communication.
Hither, on September 10, just as he had despatched Francesco Valori
with commissions to Naples, recommending him to consult with Lanfredini
at Rome, there arrived at his residence a Papal secretary who had
vainly sought for him at Pisa. This was Jacopo Gherardi of Volterra,
sent by Innocent with secret commissions to Lorenzo and Lodovico.[320]
The object of the interview was to draw both, together with Venice,
into a formal league against King Ferrante. Lorenzo’s reception of the
Pope’s proposals shows that he, who, notwithstanding his friendship
and connection with Innocent, had anything but a high opinion of the
latter’s political tact and firmness, was anxious not to risk the peace
of Italy, attained with so much difficulty. However much he might be
angered by Ferrante’s faithlessness and violence, yet the weakness of
the Pope, the trickery of Sforza, and the ambition of Venice caused
him such grave anxiety that he determined to ward off a new conflict
as much as possible. He held to the views expressed to Lanfredini, and
warned the Pope against using either his spiritual or temporal power in
arms. The Papal treasury was exhausted, the armed force slight, there
was no good leader at hand equal to the responsibility, nor would it
be easy to find one; the king was prepared, the inhabitants of the
States of the Church were not at unity among themselves, and many were
discontented. Neither was there harmony in the College of Cardinals.
The circumstances of the Pope and his State were not such that he
ought to enter on a fresh war; the interests of all the other Italian
States demanded peace. As for honour, which in Innocent’s opinion was
endangered by the conduct of the king, Lorenzo thought that a Pope’s
honour could never be endangered through his defending his rights by
means of just protestations, without disturbing the peace of Italy.

Lorenzo’s advice was that the Papal envoy should not proceed to Milan.
But the Pope insisted, and Lorenzo, with his permission, drew up
for Gherardi’s benefit fresh instructions which would prevent any
real engagement, however much Sforza might wish to meddle. These
negotiations continued till the end of the first week in October. Who
would believe that while the bow was so tightly strung and the danger
of a rupture was hovering nearer and nearer, the king, who was openly
defying the Pope and seeking to defend his own conduct by embassies to
all the allied courts, proposed to this same Pope a special alliance,
which was to put an end to all differences? Yet so it was, and the
Bishop of Carinola came to Rome with such a proposition. The Pope
informed the Florentine ambassador of it, and gave him a copy of the
bishop’s instructions. Lorenzo already knew of the matter, but was
in doubt as to the views of Innocent. He spoke out plainly, in his
answer to Lanfredini, intended for communication to the Pope,[321]
his own opinion—that the king only intended to mislead the Pope and
keep him occupied, while he himself kept to the course he had begun;
and all the more so, because the instructions contained nothing but
generalities. Secondly, Ferrante might be trying to separate the Pope
from him, Lorenzo, well knowing that then he could do as he pleased
with the former. Lastly, his object was to make sure whether the Pope
stood firm to his resolves and counted on foreign support. ‘As for
me,’ he continued, ‘you know I will never advise his Holiness to do
anything unworthy of him, or which may disturb the peace of Italy. But
as I warned the holy father through you, only a little while ago, not
to build on hopes of foreign help, so I am now of opinion that he must
not let himself be turned by what seems to me fair words and figures of
speech from a design which he considers reasonable. If his Holiness is
minded to come to terms with the king, in order to put out this spark
which may light a great fire, then I think it can be done by means of
a general Italian alliance. From such I should expect three results.
First, a vindication of the agreement between the Pope and the king,
so that the first would appear to postpone his own interest to the
general good and the tranquillity of Italy. Secondly, greater security
for the king’s fidelity to the treaty, which the Pope must require
after the experience he has had. Thirdly, a confirmation of the good
understanding with the other Italian powers, particularly with Venice;
which understanding would be endangered if the Pope should close
with the king alone.’ The whole despatch is a clear proof how little
confidence the writer felt, on the one hand, in the Pope’s firmness,
and on the other in Ferrante’s honour, and how his own desire to
preserve peace outweighed everything else. He requested the ambassador
to do all he could with Innocent, at whose court there was no lack of
intrigues and counter-intrigues, that the king might not be led to
suspect him, Lorenzo, of opposing an accommodation, which suspicion
would damage his own position with Ferrante; but this was the fruit of
oft-repeated experience. That he should try to keep in the Pope’s good
graces was only natural. ‘My first desire,’ he wrote, ‘is to agree with
the views of the holy father. This is my duty, rather than to give him
advice. For I believe the Pope to be more conversant with the things
of this world than the king’s instructions seem to assume; and he has
reigned long enough not to need directions from the king as to his
bearing towards us and others.’

During all this negotiating backwards and forwards, Lodovico il Moro,
who was a person to be considered in the matter, had fallen seriously
ill. In August 1487, he was seized with such an alarming disorder of
the stomach that the Duke of Ferrara expressed a wish that Lorenzo
would send to Milan his own physician, Piero Leone, who was considered
the most skilful man of his time. In November, Sforza’s condition
was so much worse that the friends of the family summoned his only
living brother, the Cardinal Ascanio, in order to be prepared to
take his place if he died. On November 18, the Cardinal came through
Florence incognito, with a few horsemen, and in such haste that he
changed horses at every post. Lorenzo and he had not always agreed
well together; but now he said that he would, in case of need, support
him, and try to go hand in hand with him and the Pope. The danger in
which Lodovico lay passed slowly by. The Papal affair made no progress
at all. Venice, having made peace with Sigismund, threatened war
against Naples; Milan let King Ferrante know that he must not reckon
on her alliance if he did not alter his conduct towards Rome; the king
persisted in his defiance and in his measures against the barons;
the Pope tried to make money, and threatened him with an interdict.
Lorenzo, highly displeased at the whole state of affairs, did all
in his power to restrain Innocent from taking the extreme steps he



THE marriage of Maddalena de’ Medici with Franceschetto Cybò took
place about this time. When her journey to Rome was partially decided
on, Lorenzo wrote to Lanfredini,[322] without making any positive
statement on the subject: ‘Clarice, my wife, is partly minded to visit
her relations there, and at the same time to try the effect of the
Roman air, as you know that of our neighbourhood does not suit her in
winter. You formerly mentioned a desire that Maddalena should go to
Rome. If this is still the case, she might conveniently accompany her
mother. These are our own present plans, which you can communicate to
the Pope and Signor Francesco. If they are pleased with them, the thing
shall take place, but not otherwise.’ On November 4, 1487, Madonna
Clarice set out for Rome with her daughter the bride, her eldest son,
the Bishop of Arezzo, Jacopo Salviati, and a numerous suite. Lorenzo
did not omit to give his daughter on her departure from home precepts
and advice such as he knew how to give wisely and well. He reminded
her of her own descent and family, as well as of the position she was
about to take; of the consideration due both to the Roman people and
to the Pope, with whom she was to be so nearly connected; of her duty
towards her husband; of the precepts of honour and obedience, and of
respect to her elders and superiors in rank. On arriving near the city
the travellers were met by the bridegroom, with some prelates of the
Pope’s household, several ambassadors and members of the Florentine
colony at Rome, amid whom they were conducted to the Leonine city.
Here Franceschetto dwelt in a house built by his uncle Maurigio,
near that in which Charlotte de Lusignan, queen of Cyprus, had died
after a long exile, on June 12 of that same year. The servants of the
prelates and those of the ambassadors and the Medici rode foremost. On
Franceschetto’s right rode his future brother-in-law, Piero, on his
left, Jacopo Salviati, with whom he was to be similarly connected. The
bride rode between the Archbishop of Cosenza and the Bishop of Oria,
her mother between the Milanese ambassador (the Bishop of Roveredo)
and the Bishop of Volterra. Prelates, jurists, ladies and others
followed.[323] On the Sunday before the 24th, the day on which the
Venetian envoys Sebastiano Badoer and Bernardo Bembo were received in
a secret consistory, the Pope gave a banquet at his palace to Clarice
and her daughter, at which the bridegroom, the Florentine ambassador,
and several prelates were present. To the bride he presented jewels
to the value of about eight thousand ducats, to Franceschetto, one
of two thousand.[324] On January 20, 1488, the marriage contract was
signed.[325] Franceschetto was in his thirty-ninth year; his bride
was yet in her girlhood, gentle and bashful. One of those sent by her
father to accompany her always calls her _la fanciulla_. Her dowry does
not seem to have been large; four thousand ducats, part in cash, part
in state bonds. From a letter of Lorenzo to Lanfredini,[326] it appears
that this sum was not ready at the time of the wedding. ‘You know how
many holes I have to fill up.’ But Franceschetto was no loser. In the
days of Paul II. the countship of Anguillara had been taken from its
ancient lords, on account of their repeated rebellions, and given to
the Apostolic Chamber. The relatives of Everso of Anguillara had never
ceased to protest, and we have already pointed out that after the death
of Sixtus IV. Deifebo regained possession of the castles. Lorenzo made
terms with the claimants by means of a considerable sum, and offered
the county to Cybò as an addition to Maddalena’s dowry; whereupon,
on February 21, 1490, Innocent VIII. conferred on Franceschetto the
fief of Anguillara, without mentioning the transaction, so as not to
call in question the rights of the Chamber. In 1487 Franceschetto had
bought of Bartolommeo della Rovere the Roman castles of Cerveteri and
Sta. Severa.[327] These places, alienated after the Pope’s death to
the Orsini of Bracciano, were, at the beginning of Alexander VI.’s
reign, near kindling a war which threatened to set all Italy on fire.
This was not all the wealth that the Cybò gained by their connection
with the Medici. In Tuscany they acquired property. The palace of
Jacopo de’ Pazzi passed to Lorenzo’s son-in-law, whose descendants long
possessed both it and the country-house of the Pazzi at Montughi.[328]
The Medici’s estate in the Volterra district, which also passed to
the Cybò, has been already mentioned. The intended acquisition of the
unfinished Pitti Palace came to nothing.

Lorenzo, who always knew how to combine his love of splendour with
useful aims, and judged others from the same point of view, had no
very high opinion of his son-in-law. ‘As you have before heard from
me,’ he wrote to Lanfredini before the marriage on November 4, 1487,
when Franceschetto had got himself made captain-general,[329] ‘I
think Signor Francesco should not pursue mere smoke; things without
moderation do not suit me. A captain ought to have seen service and
made himself a reputation. I wish he had rather sought to secure a
maintenance, and I wonder it does not strike him that the day after
the Pope dies he will be the poorest man on earth, and I shall have to
provide for him and his wife. Endeavour to make this clear to him if
you see that he hankers after titles and vanities; I must speak to him
freely and then help him, however he may take it. I hear he keeps aloof
from frivolous people and those of evil report, and that he avoids
play. We must support him as much as possible, and lovingly point
out to him what is becoming, if we are to fulfil our duty.’ Lorenzo
did not wish his son to remain in Rome longer than was absolutely
necessary. On December 9, he wrote to his wife desiring that Piero
should return with the bishop and Jacopo Salviati as soon as he had
despatched certain business of his own, of which more will be said
hereafter. Piero returned to Florence, the bishop remained. Lorenzo
wrote repeatedly to Clarice leaving the length of her stay to her own
decision, but expressing a wish, towards the end of the winter, that
she might stay somewhat longer.[330] Everything did not go according to
Lorenzo’s wishes. The elevation of his son Giovanni to the cardinalate,
undoubtedly one of the motives for the match, was delayed; Clarice was
ill; and the home arrangements of the Cybò seem not to have suited
Florentine and Medicean ideas. ‘I have received,’ wrote Lorenzo to
Lanfredini on April 11, 1488,[331] ‘your information about Clarice, and
am grieved at it, though her ill-health is nothing new to me. I have
informed her of the cause which will somewhat delay Piero’s departure
from here, but let her not trouble herself about it if she wishes to
return here sooner, though I should be glad if she could wait for
Alfonsina [Piero’s bride]. I wish Maddalena might come with her, for
the latter is still quite a child, and Signor Francesco’s household is
badly managed; and, besides, she would be a comfort to Clarice. But
I should wish this to be done with the full consent and without the
slightest dissatisfaction of his Holiness or Signor Francesco, and
I should take it as a favour.’ And after recurring to the insecure
position of his son-in-law, he adds: ‘His Holiness seems to me to go
to work with great lukewarmness in all these things. Independently of
Signor Francesco I also regret that my daughter should find herself in
unfavourable circumstances, and I am in a kind of despair over this and
other matters when I hear of the slowness and carelessness yonder.’

Madonna Clarice stayed in Rome till May 1488, when her son Piero came
with Giovanni Tornabuoni to fetch her back. From a letter written to
Lorenzo by their companion Poliziano, on May 2,[332] it appears that
on that day Piero set out from Acquapendente to Viterbo, and that the
travellers were all in good health and spirits and did not forget to
celebrate the merry month of May with songs and various amusements
on their journey. Piero’s expedition had also another object, he
was going to bring home his own bride. On April 16 Lorenzo wrote to
Lanfredini:[333] ‘My Piero starts in a few days to go and fetch his
wife, and also to help Clarice. If the latter is able to travel I shall
be very glad.’ As well as an unknown son-in-law Lorenzo had chosen
an unknown daughter-in-law; but she came of a family which had long
been intimately associated with his and had many relations with the
Republic, at the same time enjoying the special favour of the ruling
house of Naples. Alfonsina Orsini was the daughter of a man who had
preserved and displayed his loyalty to the house of Aragon when most of
his own people were in the enemy’s camp. Roberto Orsini was a younger
son of that Carlo from whom sprang the line of Bracciano, afterwards
the principal branch of this wide-spreading race. He had fought for
King Ferrante against the Angevins, and for the Florentines against
Bartolommeo Colleone, and died of sickness at Siena in 1476. One of
his children by his second marriage with Caterina da Sanseverino was
Alfonsina, thus named in honour of Aragon. She was married by proxy at
Castelnuovo towards the end of February 1487, in presence of the royal
pair and other members of the reigning family. Ferrante laid aside his
family mourning on this day, and after supper there was a festival
and a ball. The bridegroom was represented by Bernardo Rucellai; the
bride’s next of kin by her cousin Gentil Virginio, lord of Bracciano.
Alfonsina brought a dowry of 12,000 ducats, which popular belief
magnified to 30,000.[334] A whole year passed before Piero brought
her home. Her entry into Florence was to have taken place on May 22,
1488, but the Medici family were in mourning for the death of the third
daughter, Luigia; so, instead of coming to the city, the young couple
went to Careggi. About ten days afterwards Lorenzo gave, in honour of
his daughter-in-law and her suite, a grand banquet, at which the chief
men of the city and the foreign ambassadors were present.[335]

There was no lack of festivities in Florence, and the Medici
contributed not a little to their splendour. Maddalena Cybò came with
her mother and sister-in-law; Franceschetto followed her on June 22.
He was accompanied by Giorgio Santacroce of an old Roman family,
Girolamo Tuttavilla, son of Cardinal d’Estouteville, and many others.
‘We received him,’ wrote Lorenzo to Lanfredini two days after,[336]
‘heartily rather than splendidly. Yesterday he made a visit to the
Signoria; his appearance, bearing, and mode of speech give general
satisfaction. As yet I have been little alone with him. I will
endeavour to fulfil the Pope’s wishes; you will then report to me
what he thinks of us on this first meeting. I will take care that he
finds occasion to come to us often.’ The Florentines helped Lorenzo
in this. In honour of his son-in-law’s presence numerous diversions
for the people and magnificent spectacles were arranged. It was long
since Florence had beheld such triumphal processions, such improvised
buildings, arches, and other decorations, though they had long been
customary there. Franceschetto, who had been presented with the freedom
of the city, did all he could to make himself popular, and succeeded.
When he rode through the streets on the feast of St. John the children
shouted, ‘Cybò and Palle!’ From the piazza of the Signoria to that
of the cathedral there was such a throng that great wax candles and
other consecrated gifts could not be carried to the Baptistery; and
when the street officials tried to clear a space, the people cried
out that they wanted to see Lorenzo’s son-in-law, the Pope’s son.
Franceschetto occupied the place of honour next to the Gonfalonier at
the public banquet given by the Signoria to the distinguished nobles
who were in the city and the foreign ambassadors, among whom, besides
those of the friendly Italian powers, the Turkish envoy was present.
Giovanni Tornabuoni, Bernardo Rucellai, Lorenzo, son of Pier-Francesco
de’ Medici, and others, gave banquets and festivities; the latter gave
one at his villa at Castello, situated to the west of the city on a
gentle slope overlooking the valley of the Arno where it spreads out
into a beautiful plain. Lorenzo saw his daughter and son-in-law daily.
But throughout all the rejoicings of which his house was the centre,
he was not free from cares of all kinds. The bad state of affairs in
Romagna will be mentioned presently; in his own home there were other
causes for discomfort and anxiety.

Lorenzo himself was ill and overwhelmed with business. Ser Piero da
Bibiena wrote to Lanfredini on June 26:[337] ‘Lorenzo has ridden
out to Monte Paldi [a factory now belonging to the Corsini, in the
neighbourhood of San Casciano] to get a little air and freedom from
this mass of business. For two months he had not left the city; he
intends to be back on Saturday.’ A few days before this the Ferrarese
ambassador wrote that Lorenzo positively must go to the baths, but it
was very difficult for him to get away. His own health was not his
only trouble; for a long time past Clarice had been ill. It was hoped
that native air would do her good, but not only did her condition not
improve, but, even before her return from Rome, it became such as
to cause anxiety; and the interior of the household must have been
little suited to the festivities occasioned by the presence of two
newly-married couples. The mother could not bear the thought of parting
from her daughter. ‘Signor Francesco,’ wrote Lorenzo to Lanfredini on
June 30,[338] ‘thinks of setting out in a week, and, as I understand,
taking Maddalena with him. I have not yet spoken of it to him, but I
should be glad if you would mention the matter to his Holiness and get
it arranged that she should remain here the rest of the summer and
autumn. I have two chief motives for this wish. First, Clarice is very
ill, so much so that the doctors are doubtful whether the disease will
soon end fatally or whether it will drag on and the immediate danger
pass over; secondly, the air yonder is unhealthy, and Maddalena is not
used to it. For these reasons, and also because I have never yet had
time to see my daughter comfortably, I earnestly beg his Holiness that
of his kindness he will let me have her a few more months and write to
Signor Francesco accordingly, so that the occasion may not appear to
have come from us.’

Lorenzo’s desire was fulfilled. On July 4, he received from Rome
the news that the Pope had determined to entrust Franceschetto
with a mission to Perugia, and to leave his wife in Florence for a
time. It may easily be imagined how pleasing this last arrangement
was to Lorenzo; the former seemed rather questionable to the
experienced politician. ‘This Perugian affair,’ he wrote at once to
Lanfredini,[339] ‘seems to me very grave, and such as may create
embarrassment; all the more so as Signor Francesco has had no practice
in such things, and has no one near him to whom anything important can
be entrusted.’ Then, after relating how he dined the day before with
his son-in-law at Careggi, and they had visited the Petraja and other
places, which he had much liked, he continues: ‘Maddalena will remain
here, to which Signor Francesco seems quite agreed. Clarice could not
be worse than she is now, and I fear we shall soon lose her. You can
imagine what comfort she finds in the presence of her daughter, who
has always seemed to me to be the apple of her eye (_l’occhio del capo
suo_); so we are both very grateful to his Holiness. Of myself I say
nothing, for you know how I love my children, especially in the present

On July 6, Franceschetto Cybò left Florence. His experiences at Perugia
will be mentioned hereafter. Lorenzo, though much in need of the
baths, was detained in the city by the weak state of Clarice and the
pressure of business. At last, on the morning of July 21, he set out
for Filetta in the Merse Vale in the Sienese territory. It is a small
village consisting of only a few houses, in a valley surrounded with
woods; the waters of the neighbouring sulphur-springs of Macereto have
been brought thither, and it lies lonely and deserted on the road
leading from Siena to Grosseto and the Maremma. In the summer of 1813
Emperor Henry of Luxemburg was carried thither, with the hand of death
upon him; in 1459 Pope Pius II., who repeatedly visited the waters of
his native land, sought relief from his inveterate enemy the gout in
these springs. Scarcely had Lorenzo arrived at Filetta when the fatal
news reached him—Clarice died on the afternoon of July 30. The day
before, Ser Piero had written to Lanfredini:[340] ‘I know not what to
tell you of Madonna Clarice; she gets better for a day or two, and then
gets worse again, so that she is slowly approaching dissolution.’ The
dissolution came much quicker than was expected, yet it hardly looks
well that Lorenzo should leave the city when her state was so critical,
and that he did not return on hearing that she was worse. ‘If you
should hear Lorenzo blamed for not being present at his wife’s death,’
wrote Ser Piero to Lanfredini on July 31, ‘excuse him. Leoni (the
physician) considered it necessary for his health for him to go to the
baths, and no one thought death was so near.’ The Ferrarese ambassador
confirms the statement that, according to the doctors’ advice,
Lorenzo’s stay at the baths was absolutely necessary, and all his
friends had entreated him not to return till the cure was completed.
On the evening after her death Clarice de’ Medici was entombed without
pomp in San Lorenzo, and on the following morning all the ambassadors
present in Florence went to Piero to offer their condolences. The
solemn obsequies, at which the whole city was present, took place
on August 1.[341] Lorenzo’s wife was not quite forty. No notice is
to be found in his writings of the woman who shared the lights and
shadows of life with him for nineteen years; an idea of their conjugal
relations can be formed only from a few words of his in earlier days,
and the inadequate testimony of contemporaries, which seems to indicate
that their views and inclinations did not always agree. Clarice’s
disagreement with such a celebrated man as Poliziano has tended to
bias the judgment of her contemporaries against her. Nevertheless,
this daughter of an old Roman baronial house, obliged, when young and
inexperienced, to enter a strange world as the wife of a man for whom
she had no affection, displayed in all things tact and sound judgment;
without putting herself forward she did honour to her position and her
husband, and she brought up her children tenderly and carefully. Her
feelings and her relations to Lorenzo are indicated, amongst others,
by the following letter, written to her husband from Caffaggiuolo on
December 13 of the year they were so long separated, 1478, on behalf of
a servant who had been dismissed for some misconduct.[342] ‘Illustrious
husband,’ she wrote; ‘Andrea your messenger has been up here for two
days, and earnestly begged me to put in a good word for him as he is
deeply grieved for his fault. I therefore beg you to keep him with
you or procure him another situation; for, as he has formerly shown
his fidelity, you would be acting contrary to your nature if you did
not forgive him his error, besides being responsible for his falling
into worse ways; also you might inadvertently by this means discourage
others who are faithful to you. He has a mother who was delighted at
his position in your service, and is now in like measure distressed,
fearing that her son may, if you dismiss him, go astray and bring her
to sorrow. He has already expiated his fault by grief and shame; for,
since you sent him away, he has been like one beside himself and has
never had a moment’s happiness. I think he is especially touched on the
point of honour, which is a good sign and should have weight with you.
I beg you therefore to be indulgent to him, whether for the sake of his
proved fidelity, or from pity for his mother, or because he shows right
feeling, or, lastly, for the sake of my intercession, either by taking
him back or by providing for him in some other way.’

A letter written to Innocent VIII. the day after Clarice’s death[343]
displays a warmth of feeling which, after the passages that have been
mentioned, one would hardly have expected from Lorenzo, and which give
a favourable impression of him: ‘I am too often obliged to trouble
your Holiness with what is daily sent me by fate and prepared for me
by the will of God, against which all striving is vain, and to which
everyone must bow with patience and humility, accepting His ways as
tokens of goodness and love. But the recent death of my sweet and
beloved companion Clarice is for numberless reasons such a grief and
loss to me that it has conquered my resignation and endurance amid
the trials and persecutions of fate, against which I thought myself
proof. Bereaved of the pleasant society to which I was accustomed, I
feel the limit is passed, and I can find no comfort or rest for my deep
sorrow. As I do not cease to pray the Lord God to give me peace, I
trust that of His goodness He will put an end to this sorrow and spare
me any more such trials as have visited me lately. I humbly and from
my inmost heart beseech your Holiness to pray for me, for I know your
prayers will do me good. Filetta, July 31.’ August 6, Lorenzo returned
to Florence, from whence he wrote to the ambassador at Rome on behalf
of an Englishman who was going thither to procure a Papal brief and had
been specially recommended to him by the Queen, Elizabeth of York. Two
days later, he apologised to Lanfredini for not having answered some
business questions:[344] ‘You know the cause; when my mind is entirely
occupied with one thing, it cannot think of anything else.’

Clarice’s death obliged Lorenzo to seek a companion for his daughter to
take her back to Rome. He chose a distant relative, Maria de’ Medici,
widow of Galeazzo Malatesta. ‘Maddalena,’ he wrote to Lanfredini on
September 3,[345] ‘starts to-morrow for Rome. She will be accompanied
by my Piero and my uncle Giovanni, who will take her as far as
Acquapendente, as arranged by Signor Francesco. I have chosen for
her companion one Madonna Maria de’ Medici, widow of Signor Galeazzo
Malatesta and daughter of Madonna Ciulla. She is a very well-bred and
truly venerable lady over fifty, who since her widowhood has lived the
retired life of a nun. I think that the more Signor Francesco thinks
over this choice of mine, the better pleased he will be.’ Maddalena
remained with her husband in Rome, whence she wrote to her father,
September 1 of the next year, that she was about to become a mother.
The young wife’s days seem not to have been very cheerful ones. When
she went to Rome with her mother, Lorenzo sent with her a man whom he
trusted and who was faithfully attached to his house—the same Ser
Matteo Franco whose name holds a place in the history of burlesque
poetry. He was Maddalena’s adviser and confidant, her man of business
and, perhaps, her house-chaplain; and his many letters to members of
the Medicean household display a sympathy and warmth of feeling doubly
pleasing in such a jovial man. Franceschetto neglected his young
wife, who fretted continually, while he passed the nights in play and
feasting. With no one to keep her company, she soon languished and lost
her health, thinking regretfully of her father’s house and the pleasant
villas around Florence, where she had passed her happy childhood.[346]

A few days after the loss of Clarice, another death took place which
did not affect the Medici family personally, but whose consequences
had no little influence on the family relations which were closely
connected with later political events. On August 19, at the castle
of Capuano near Naples, died at the age of forty-two Ippolita Maria,
Duchess of Calabria.[347] Her death broke the ties which bound together
the Houses of Aragon and the Sforza. This was probably not perceived
at the moment, for not only did the alliance continue which seemed to
unite the two states, but the death caused no change in the plans for
the new connection long decided on between the two families, whereby
their interests were to be yet more closely and firmly linked together.
But the death of this clever and accomplished woman dissolved the
union between Ippolita’s husband and brother, two men who were willing
and accustomed to sacrifice every consideration and every scruple to
their ambition, greed and hatred, and who, since the Ferrarese war,
had regarded each other with ever-increasing distrust and ill-will.
The longer Lodovico il Moro held the reins of government in Milan, the
less disposed he was to surrender them to his nephew, who, although
now nineteen years old, was still duke only in title. Whether the
accusation is true that Lodovico had neglected the youth’s education
to such an extent that, delicate as he had been from childhood, he
was unfit to govern, must be left an open question. At all events,
Gian-Galeazzo took no part in public affairs, and though everything
was done in the name of the Duke of Milan, it all went through the
hands of the Duke of Bari. From early childhood Gian-Galeazzo had been
betrothed to his cousin Isabella. Alfonso of Calabria had already often
pressed for the completion of the marriage; and as the bride was now
eighteen, Lodovico at last had to yield. The mourning for the Duchess
was not yet over, when, on December 11, Hermes Sforza, Gian-Galeazzo’s
younger brother, arrived in the bay of Naples with six galleys, and
with a brilliant suite landed to fetch his future sister-in-law, whose
father came to meet him and conducted him to the king and queen at
Castelnuovo. On the 21st of the same month Hermes, in his brother’s
name, placed the wedding-ring on Isabella’s finger. The court mourning
prevented all festivities. A gloomy shadow seemed to hang over this
marriage, which was destined to bring nothing but suffering and misery
to the contracting parties.

Its early days, however, were not lacking in splendour. On December 30
the young Duchess of Milan embarked, accompanied as far as the Molo
by her father, her grandparents and their court. Many distinguished
Milanese and Genoese had come with Hermes Sforza; among them Vitaliano
Borromeo, Gasparo Visconti, Ambrosio del Maino, and Giovan Francesco
da Sanseverino Count of Cajazzo (son of Roberto). Ten galleys were
filled by these and the Neapolitan suite, the Duke and Duchess of
Melfi, the Countess of Terranuova, the Counts of Potenza and Consa,
and others. They touched at Civitavecchia, Piombino, and Livorno. At
the first-named port the bride was received by the Cardinals Sforza,
Riario, and de Foix, with the Senator of Rome; at Piombino by Jacopo
IV. Appiani. At Livorno, Lorenzo, again confined at home by the
gout, was represented by his son Piero, accompanied by Pier Antonio
Carnesecchi and Alessandro Nasi. The Republic sent Jacopo Guicciardini,
Pier Filippo Pandolfini, and Paol’Antonio Soderini as envoys to
welcome the Duchess; but Lorenzo’s son put them all in the shade by
his princely appearance. It was the same at Milan, whither Piero went
towards the end of January 1489, to be present at Isabella’s triumphal
entry and the final marriage, which took place on Candlemas day. On
reaching the Milanese frontier, Piero was received by several nobles
sent by il Moro to form his train. At the wedding in the cathedral,
where the ceremony was performed by Federigo Sanseverino (another son
of Roberto, and afterwards a Cardinal), Piero outshone everybody;
though the splendour was such that, as a reporter wrote to Lorenzo,
the very cooks were in velvet and silk. After the ceremony the Ducal
couple sent to Piero to fetch his attire and admire it again. Lodovico
exhausted himself in attentions towards the son of the man in whose
hands were the destinies of Florence. ‘It seems a perfect marvel,’
wrote the Florentine ambassador, Piero Alamanni, on January 31, 1489,
‘to all these Lombards, as well as to the ambassadors, that young as
he [Piero] is, he maintains such a dignified bearing and discourses on
everything with so much readiness. Yesterday morning my lord Lodovico
spoke for half an hour in his praise before the ambassadors, and
assigned to him a place of honour next Messer Galeotto della Mirandola,
Rodolfo Gonzaga, and Annibale Bentivoglio.’ After the nuptial ceremony
Alamanni was knighted by the young Duke and presented with a splendid
robe of brocade, and his spurs were fastened on by Galeazzo and Gian
Francesco da Sanseverino. The splendour of the festivities was such as
the Milanese court had been wont to display since the days of Galeazzo



THE same year 1488, which brought to Lorenzo’s family festivals and
family mourning, involved him in political complications with the
Republic of a very serious character. The territory on the side nearest
Romagna was threatened, and the amicable relations of Florence with her
allies, and especially with Milan, was thereby greatly endangered.

After the death of Sixtus IV. Girolamo Riario retired within his own
little state, and for a time his grand political schemes remained in
abeyance. He had forcible reason to congratulate himself on being
able to retain possession of his territories, hemmed in on one side
by the Pope, Venice and Florence, and on the other weakened by the
dominion of Faenza, which divided them asunder. At the beginning of
his reign Innocent VIII. showed himself very unfavourable to Riario.
When Lorenzo, through Guid’Antonio Vespucci, confidentially suggested
a project for an undertaking against him, the Pope appeared to have
no objection, but to prefer to keep aloof himself and let others act
for him. The execution of the project was delayed, partly on account
of its difficulty, for Girolamo was on his guard, and there was a
fear of encroachment from Venice; and also because of the doubt as to
who should be enfeoffed with the two cities. Later on, the Pope and
Florence being in difficulties, the project was entirely given up.[349]
When it is remembered that in the lifetime of Sixtus, Lorenzo had
made use of Girolamo’s mediation to procure tokens of favour and even
benefices for his young son,[350] this intrigue throws no favourable
light on his character.

During the four following years the lord of Forlì kept on tolerably
terms with the Florentines. The latter had not forgotten their old
grudge against him for the events of 1478 and 1479; and the Count had
but one genuine ally—Lodovico il Moro, who upheld him, first, on
account of the ties of blood between them; and, secondly, because of
his constant dread of the extension of Florentine sway on the north
side of the Apennines. Confined within a narrow circle, Girolamo
pressed the more heavily on his subjects. Indulging in splendour and
expense when the inexhaustible funds of Rome were at his command, he
still endeavoured to continue living in the same way; he embellished
his two cities, Forlì and Imola, with many fine buildings, and kept
up a military force far too oppressive for such a small state; and
to cover the expenses of all this he was obliged to have recourse to
levies and imposts, thereby strengthening the disaffection towards
himself, already nourished by the old attachment to the Ordelaffi,
which was not yet extinct in Forlì, and increased by his harsh
arbitrary rule and cruel punishments. Under such circumstances, it
was not difficult for a people accustomed to deeds of violence and
to taking the law into their own hands, to form a conspiracy. At its
head was Cecco dell’Orso, the captain of the guard, who was at enmity
with the Count on account of arrears of pay and other private matters,
and having been threatened by him, resolved to be beforehand with
him. On April 14, Cecco, with two accomplices, entered the chamber
of the unsuspecting Riario, and a few minutes afterwards, before
the eyes of his own attendants, threw him from the window into the
street below, a naked, bleeding, still quivering corpse. That was the
signal for a rising. While the people, shouting for liberty, dragged
the corpse through the streets, the murderers struck down the chief
of the municipality as he was hurrying to the spot, took possession
of the wife and three sons of the Count, and hastened with their
followers to the citadel to take immediate possession of it. But the
commandant declared he would surrender to no one but the Countess,
and not even to her if she were a prisoner. Thus repulsed at this
important point, the heads of the conspiracy could not attain their
object in the city either; for as a security against betrayal, they had
admitted only a few to share in their secrets. The new ruling family
had not many adherents; some favoured the old dynasty; the majority
desired the direct government of the Church. The Papal governor of
Cesena, Monsignor Savelli, was called upon to take possession of the
city. Without the fortress this possession was incomplete, and as the
negotiations fell to the ground, Riario’s widow took advantage of the
difficulty and made herself mistress of the situation. Urged by the
prelate and the insurgents to come forward as mediatrix, she promised,
on condition of receiving compensation, to induce the castellan to
surrender if she was allowed to speak to him. Her sons remained as
hostages in the hands of the citizens. The gates were opened to her,
and she raised the standard of the Sforza. A threat to kill the boys
if she did not surrender was received with a defiant answer. The brave
woman reckoned that every hour’s delay was in her favour, while the
disunion among the opponents strengthened her hope that they would
not proceed to extremities against her helpless children. She was not
mistaken. On all sides there was a stir. Lodovico il Moro wrote to
Florence, appealing to the Republic to guard the endangered rights of
the sons of Riario. At the same time, without consulting the allies,
he despatched Galeazzo da Sanseverino with horse and foot, while
Giovanni Bentivoglio and Galeotto Pico della Mirandola set out towards
Forlì with numerous troops. The Florentines, as soon as they heard
of these military movements, sent part of the troops which they still
kept in the Lunigiana to the frontiers of Romagna, under the Count of
Pitigliano and Ranuccio Farnese. In Forlì no one knew what to do. The
enemies of Riario hoped for active support from the Pope; but Innocent,
though he caused a few troops to advance from Cesena, was either
unwilling or unable to take part in their favour.

The heads of the movement turned their eyes to Florence, well knowing
the inward dislike in that city between the Medici and the Riari.
The Ferrarese ambassador wrote that in Florence nothing had been
known of the conspiracy; but the people rejoiced at the misfortune
which had befallen the Count, and, mindful of the past, were not in a
frame of mind to grieve if in the course of events his family should
be destroyed root and branch. A letter addressed to Lorenzo by the
perpetrators of the deed, four days later, sets forth their motives
and proceedings, as well as the resolve of the citizens no longer to
submit to a single ruler, but to give themselves up to the Church,
on whose assistance they reckoned. Lorenzo, the letter added, must
rejoice at an event which freed him and the Republic from a crafty foe,
and avenged his innocent brother’s blood; and therefore the citizens
hoped for active support from Florence. There was nothing, however, to
indicate a previous understanding. Lorenzo sent to Forlì a confidential
agent, Stefano da Castrocaro, who described the circumstances and
state of the city, its confidence in Florentine help, and its idea
of remaining under the direct government of the Church.[351] From
expressions afterwards used by Lorenzo about this matter, it is clear
that this very inclination of the majority of the people would have
cooled his ardour to help them against the Riario party, if, indeed,
he had ever felt any. Moreover, the progress of events was more rapid
than was probably expected in Florence. Before the twisted threads of
propositions and negotiations could be disentangled, the advance of the
Milanese and Bolognese troops settled the matter. Those who were most
deeply compromised betook themselves to the neighbouring Florentine
territory, and on April 29, Girolamo’s little son Ottaviano Riario was
proclaimed lord of Forlì and Imola. Caterina Sforza, who assumed the
regency, took bloody vengeance on those within reach of her hand, for
the murder of her husband and the danger of her children. This affair,
however, brought upon Florence a difficulty which shows how uncertain
were her relations both legal and political. In a rugged part of the
Apennines, north-east of the road from Florence to Bologna, lies
Piancaldoli, now a village of less than a thousand inhabitants. In the
war of 1478, Girolamo Riario took possession of it, and the Florentines
had never been able to make him give it up. Now they thought the time
had arrived to obtain justice and avenge the insult. Their troops
marching towards Romagna, in the direction of Imola, received orders
to secure Piancaldoli. At this Lodovico became highly excited, not so
much for the sake of the unimportant town as because he suspected that
it might be the commencement of greater acquisitions. Giovan Pietro
Bergomino, his commissioner with the troops sent against Forlì, came
to high words with the Florentine commissioner Averardo de’ Medici.
Both sides grew so excited that Ercole d’Este thought it necessary to
step between them. Lorenzo showed not the slightest disposition to
yield. He told the Ferrarese ambassador that things must be bad indeed
if the Republic could not seek to recover her own property by means
of her own people without asking leave of Milan, which at that very
moment had sent her troops against Forlì without any agreement with
Florence, this being an expedition of far more importance than that
against Piancaldoli, and one which ought to have been carried out only
in alliance with the Republic.

Lorenzo’s conversations with the ambassador show the ill-will and
distrust on all sides. He avoided stating plainly whether the Republic
aimed at extending her dominions on the Romagna side, though it was
observed to him that she would thereby become involved in a disastrous
conflict with Sforza, who regarded the Forlì affairs as his own and
thought his honour at stake in them. Lorenzo only promised to wait and
see how events would develop themselves. He thought the Pope had the
best prospect, as he considered it impossible that Forlì would again
submit to the Riari; but he did not conceal the fact that a family
dynasty, whether of Riari or any other, seemed to him a less evil than
direct Papal government or an increase of the influence of the Sforza.
Still, the aggrandisement of the latter would be less injurious than
that of the Church, as they would probably be more willing to confer
fiefs in Romagna on family dynasties, than the Church, which had long
treated her barons with increasing disfavour and would not give up
what she had once secured within her own grasp. The Church, he once
observed, was at present more to be feared than even Venice, and this
had chiefly induced him to support King Ferrante against the Pope.[352]
Such were Lorenzo’s views at that time, when his chief care was to
keep on good terms with the Pope—views which were always shared by
the Neapolitan king. Piancaldoli was taken by the Florentines two
days before Forlì came to terms with the Riari. But a few years after
Lorenzo’s death an event happened to which he was most averse; all the
small lordships of Romagna, whose interests were bound up with those of
the Republic, came to a violent end.

The ill-feeling against Milan remained even after this vexed question
was settled and after Florence, from consideration for Lodovico, had
refused to receive Riario’s murderers, who thereupon applied to Rome.
Lorenzo declared that if the Duke of Bari’s demands were reasonable,
Florence would always be willing to please him, but he must not come
upon her with anything against the honour of the state; he also begged
the Duke of Ferrara not to support such demands. About this time,
towards the middle of May, he went to the baths, and his representative
in politics, Pier Filippo Pandolfini, replied to Lodovico’s urgent
demands for the restitution of Piancaldoli that it was in vain to
ask for anything against their honour; Florence was no Pavia or
Cremona, where the Duke of Milan could command. Scarcely had these
first vexations passed off when a similar case occurred in which the
Republic became still more deeply involved. The cause of the dispute
this time was Faenza, the only state yet left to the Manfredi, and to
which, as has been previously described, Florence stood in the relation
of a protecting power. Galeotto Manfredi was married to Francesca
Bentivoglio, one of the many daughters of the lord of Bologna; and in
arranging this marriage Lorenzo had had a considerable share.[353]
Her husband’s unfaithfulness excited the passionate woman to such a
pitch of revenge that on May 31, 1488, she had him killed in their
sleeping-chamber by hired assassins. She then, with her two sons, of
whom the eldest was only three years old, hastened to the citadel
and informed her father of what had been done. Giovanni Bentivoglio
lost not a moment. He set out with the troops collected at the Forlì
disturbances, and sent to Bergomino, the Milanese commissioner who was
still in the latter town, directions to join him. At first all went
well. The lord of Bologna and his troops were peaceably received in
Faenza, and it seemed as if the proclamation of little Astorre Manfredi
would settle everything; but some disagreement between the inhabitants
and the rude mountaineers of the Lamone valley who had rushed into the
town, caused a riot in which the Milanese commissioner and more than
fifty of his men lost their lives, and Giovanni Bentivoglio saved his
own with difficulty. When the worst of the tumult was put down, Astorre
was proclaimed under the protection of the Republic of Florence, to
whose commissioner Antonio Boscoli the more reasonable of the two
parties had at once applied for mediation and support.

The news from Faenza caused great excitement in Florence. There was
a suspicion abroad that the Milanese and Bolognese intrigues were
at the bottom of the whole affair, and it was at once resolved to
grant the desired protection both to the people of Faenza and to the
young Manfredi, and to send the desired troops; measures which, in
consideration of the old protecting relation of Florence to Faenza,
could not justly be taken amiss by anyone. Faenza was occupied;
Bentivoglio taken prisoner and transported to Modigliana, the
neighbouring capital of Tuscan Romagna; Madonna Francesca was sent to
her mother at Bologna; and a regency was established consisting of
certain inhabitants of Faenza and of the Lamone valley. Bentivoglio,
who had only the Florentines to thank for not having escaped unhurt
from the mountaineers, thought it hard that he was kept in confinement
on Florentine ground. Lodovico Sforza, King Ferrante, and Ercole d’Este
all interceded for his release; his wife was loud in her lamentations,
Bolognese troops assembled on the frontier, and the city of Bologna
sent an embassy to Florence. But Lorenzo, knowing that the frontiers
were sufficiently secured, replied that Messer Giovanni must have
patience till things were settled in Faenza.

At last the commissioner at Modigliana, Dionigi Pucci, received orders
to release the prisoner and send him to Cafaggiuolo, where Lorenzo
awaited him; this was on June 14. Lorenzo declared himself perfectly
satisfied with his interview with Giovanni, and appeared to believe
in a re-establishment of their former good understanding. But after
a while the lord of Bologna sought to obtain the consent of Florence
for his daughter’s return to Faenza, and at the same time offered the
hand of another daughter for Giuliano de’ Medici. Both propositions
were decisively refused, at which Bentivoglio was so angry that the
Florentines began to consider Lorenzo’s residence at Poggio a Cajano
unsafe, as the villa lay exposed to a raid from Bologna. Lorenzo
himself was uneasy though he tried to hide it. When Giovanni appealed
to him to procure the Pope’s absolution for Madonna Francesca that she
might either marry again or enter a convent, he fulfilled the request
in the hope of making friends again. His letter to Innocent VIII.[354]
reminding him of the willingness he had displayed, proves that he was
anxious about the matter. He ‘most earnestly besought,’ he said, ‘these
tokens of favour.’

A good understanding was soon established with Caterina Riario Sforza;
Lorenzo endeavoured not only to thwart the attempts of the Ordelaffi
and their party against her, but also to arrange a betrothal between
her daughter and the young Manfredi, whom the Republic regarded and
treated as a ward of its own.[355] So bad was the state of affairs in
Romagna, especially in Faenza; so great was the insecurity caused by
the enmity between families and individuals, and increased by political
disturbances; and so powerless to secure lasting quiet were the efforts
to procure peace and reconciliation made on the part of the Church,
after the precedent of S. Bernardino of Siena and others before and
after him, that the Florentine influence was doubly needed in these
small states as a softening element for a people difficult to control,
and as a support for their rulers. It was Lorenzo who protected the
interests of Astorre Manfredi when Cotignola, the home and countship
of the Sforza, tried to extend its little territory at the expense of
Faenza. At the end of 1489 Giovanni Bentivoglio made another attempt to
procure his daughter’s return to the last-named city. ‘I have never,’
he wrote to Lorenzo,[356] ‘striven for this return, nor do I strive for
it now, without the approval of your Magnificence; for in this, as in
all my affairs, I wish only to act in accordance with your benevolent
and wise counsels, as beseems our old friendship and brotherhood.’
That Francesca should return and undertake the guidance of her son he
considered the only means of putting an end to the confusion, but he
would do nothing without Lorenzo.

These disturbances in Romagna were the last during Lorenzo’s lifetime
in which there occurred political and military interference in the
affairs of neighbouring states, and which threatened to create
complications with other powers. But the southern side of the Apennines
was not altogether quiet. It is a strange but undeniable fact that
the man whose efforts in general were directed to preserve peace and
secure political equilibrium could not always resist the temptation of
forging intrigues against little neighbouring states, and employing
restless, discontented parties for this purpose. He must have been
urged on by that thirst for aggrandisement which was an inheritance of
the Republic and the Medici as well as of Venice and of the Visconti.
The fine words about union and brotherhood were belied in action.
Lorenzo was, indeed, too prudent and cautious to be easily caught by
foreign bait; but he only kept out of a thing when it seemed to him
unprofitable or dangerous to himself. In March 1488, Franceschetto
Cybò tried to draw him into an attempt against Jacopo IV. Appiani, who
had long been quarrelling with Rome; in this attempt he hoped also to
gain the support of Ferrante, thinking that the latter would gladly
seize an opportunity of reconciliation with the Pope. Lorenzo showed
no disposition for the undertaking. If Piombino could not be won for
Florence, he naturally preferred to see it in the hands of a petty
native lord rather than in those of the Pope, even if the latter was
willing to give it to his son, which was not certain; and he did not
at all want to push the King of Naples into Tuscan affairs. He well
remembered having heard how the king’s father had said in 1448 that if
he took Piombino he hoped to get possession of all Tuscany; words which
he recalled to the remembrance of the Sienese, who held the little
state under their protection, when he sought to inspire them with a
good opinion of his friendly and neighbourly views.[357] But towards
Siena herself his policy was anything but straightforward. Internal
disquietude had never ceased in that city, and was paving the way for a
government similar to that of Florence, only that the rising families
of Siena—the Petrucci and Piccolomini—could not succeed in gaining a
firm footing like the Medici, and the fickleness of the people and the
nobility, violently at strife among themselves, far outdid that of the
Florentines. The party among the nobility once supported by Alfonso of
Calabria returned from exile in 1487, and brought about an apparently
sweeping change in the constitution; raising the old classes, or Monti,
long degenerated into hostile and exclusive parties, and extending
eligibility for office to all sections of the community. This change in
the constitution was hailed and joyously celebrated as the restoration
of harmony; but it was not long before the reforming faction, who had
hitherto ruled, discovered that they were getting the worst of it at
the elections, and that all the authority was passing into the hands
of their opponents. Dissatisfied with this, they secretly applied to
Lorenzo; and he, who not long before had assured the sister-Republic
of his warm interest in the preservation of peace, now showed himself
disposed to help the malcontents to regain their former position. In
March 1488 he caused troops to advance towards Arezzo and the Chiana
valley, and himself proceeded to the former place. But the Sienese got
scent of the affair, arrested a number of suspected persons, banished
those most deeply compromised, and sent Messer Niccolò Borghese
to Arezzo to demand an explanation from Lorenzo. The latter, thus
learning that the project was discovered, found out at the same time
that the Pope, on whose aid he had seemingly reckoned, had no mind
to be mixed up in the scheme, and had prevented his son from going
to see his father-in-law. Naples, however, was ready to support her
old friends at Siena. Altogether, Lorenzo thought it best openly to
avow his intention of helping the reforming party to regain their
rightful position. The ruling party in the city, excited by repeated
disturbances in the district, caused by the Orsini of Pitigliano and
by the exiles, fortified their frontiers and pressed harder than ever
on their opponents. A rupture with Florence was, however, avoided.
Lorenzo did not attain his object, but it is clear from his conduct
that he was anxious to keep on good terms with his neighbours. In this
he succeeded. His envoys were well received at Siena, and whenever
he himself came to the city, or within its dominions, he was always
most honourably received and loaded with presents. He was probably of
the same mind as Franceschetto Cybò, who once wrote to him that Siena
was a very rich morsel.[358] The state of friendly and neighbourly
relations between them may be judged from the fact that, on account of
a frontier dispute, the Florentine Signoria once had thoughts of making
the high road through Siena to Rome practically impassable by imposing
an utterly preposterous frontier-toll of one gold florin for every
foot-passenger, two for every horseman, and five for every mule.[359]

Little more than a year after these matters Lorenzo was again,
outwardly at least, on such good terms with the Sienese Signoria that
he could appeal to them for mercy on one of their imprisoned and
condemned rebels: ‘I know well, my Lords,’ are his words, ‘how serious
a matter for the state is a crime like that in question; but, on the
other hand, I consider what merit before God and praise from man is
gained by those who show mercy and pity towards such delinquents,
provided the common weal is not thereby endangered. I would earnestly
beg your Lordships, now that the safety of the state seems ensured, to
show mercy to Messer Maurizio.’ When Lorenzo wrote thus he apparently
forgot that five months before he had acted in a manner not exactly
in accordance with these words and sentiments. A young man had killed
an official of the Eight in a quarrel, fled to Siena, was from thence
delivered up, and condemned to death. When he was led to the place of
execution the people pitied him and shouted: ‘Fly! fly!’ and tried to
free him from the attendant officers. Lorenzo was then in the palace.
The foreign ambassadors and several of the youth’s relations begged him
to procure the prisoner’s pardon. He put them off with words, caused
the culprit to be hung at a window of the Palace of Justice, and four
of the rioters to be seized, scourged, and banished from the city for
several years. He did not return home till the tumult was completely
put down;[360] he feared the slightest attempt to create disorder
in the city, being perfectly aware of the inflammable material it

The Florentine policy was ambiguous towards the Sienese, as also in
relation to Lucca. Reciprocal distrust and ill-will showed itself in
many ways, and no blame can be attached to the far weaker Lucchese
that they were on their guard. The dispute about Pietrasanta was never
really settled, and when a money-compensation to Lucca came to be
discussed the two parties could not agree as to the amount. At the end
of March 1490, a plot was discovered whose only possible object was to
betray Lucca into the hands of the Florentines, and in it a factor of
the Medici appeared to be concerned. This occasioned a correspondence
between the Anziani and Lorenzo, in which, despite all formal
politeness and caution, the want of confidence was but too clearly
shown. The Lucchese opinion of Florentine friendship was expressed, far
more truly than in letters and embassies, by the trenches and ramparts
with which they surrounded their unfortified places.[361]

In Umbria and the Marches, too, Florentine interests were at stake, and
Soderini, the ambassador to King Ferrante, was right in pointing out
how anxious the Republic was to prevent any disturbance of the existing
circumstances in Bologna, Perugia, Città di Castello, Faenza, or Siena,
just as much as in her own state, and what large sums of money she
expended with this object. Franceschetto Cybò, who was always on the
look-out for something, would fain have made himself master of Città di
Castello, and represented to Lorenzo that this was desired by both the
factions—the Vitelli and the Giustini—who kept each other in check
under a Papal governor. But Lorenzo was evidently not disposed to allow
his son-in-law to have his will. Perugia was in constant excitement
from the restless character of its citizens, culminating in a perpetual
strife between the two most powerful families—the Baglioni and the
Oddi—which filled the chief city of Umbria with tumults; day after day
scenes of bloodshed occurred, and first one party and then the other
was driven into exile. The Pope’s brother, Maurizio Cybò, a brave and
sensible man, to whom the government was entrusted in February 1488,
vainly attempted to restore peace and order between the disputants. A
citation of the heads of the parties to Rome had no better success;
several positively refused to go, and though a reconciliation did take
place in consequence of the citation, it was not lasting. Quiet was
restored for a time by a general prohibition of the use of arms, but
the strife soon broke out again.

When Franceschetto Cybò was in Perugia in July 1488, with a Papal
commission to act as peacemaker,[362] many citizens came to him with
complaints of the intolerable state of the city. They declared that
right and justice had lost all power, and begged him to give his
assistance in putting an end to the evil. Franceschetto was not lacking
in goodwill; but to cure such a moral cancer required a different sort
of man, and the result justified the opinion expressed by Lorenzo in a
letter to Lanfredini when this difficult mission was conferred by the
Pope on his son. Franceschetto’s deliberations with the representatives
of the great families, and the remonstrances made in Rome to divers
noble Perugians, were all equally vain. At the end of October there
was a bloody fight in and around the square before the palace of the
Priori; small artillery was actually employed, houses were set on fire,
the cathedral of San Lorenzo was used as a fortress, and barricades
were constructed. Throughout the next day the street-fighting
continued, with plundering and burning, and the prisons were broken
open. The governor, who came back when the tumult was at its height,
was received with shouts of ‘Church! Church!’ and notwithstanding all
he could do his influence was powerless to quell the disturbance. At
last the Oddi were beaten and forced to leave the city and flee to
Castiglione del Lago (on Trasimene), where they and their numerous
adherents set up a camp. The fight threatened to spread over the
whole neighbouring country, as most of the fortresses belonged to the
nobility; Spello, Fuligno, and other important places were already in
arms and at open war with each other, the Vitelli, Orsini, and others
taking part in the contest.

From the time of the Pazzi disturbances Lorenzo had had so much to do
with Perugia, and so clearly recognised the importance of that city
to Florence, that he was most anxious to put an end to this boundless
disorder, the result of which would tend to weaken even the victorious
party. He sided with the Baglioni, who had, moreover, sent one of their
number to him. Maurizio Cybò declined to stay any longer at Perugia,
whereupon Innocent appointed Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, Cardinal
of Siena, to be legate. On his arrival on November 16, 1488, Lorenzo
tried to persuade him to declare for the Baglioni party and to further
their interests; not merely with the object of securing their supremacy
in Perugia with the Pope’s consent, but also to keep them from forming
a closer connection with Ferrante. They were already in communication
with that king, to the displeasure of Lorenzo, who hated all Neapolitan
meddling in the affairs of central Italy. ‘The Baglioni,’ he wrote
to Lanfredini, ‘would give themselves not merely to the king, but to
the devil. Therefore I hold that all possible efforts must be made to
extinguish this flame. Believe me, if the Pope uses this opportunity he
will bring over the Baglioni completely to his own side, and be able to
make them serviceable for his own ends. It would be well to tell the
legate to deal with the exiles as he thinks good; I will then endeavour
myself to induce the Baglioni to submit to the legate’s will. At all
events, some cure for this wound is necessary.’ The Count of Pitigliano
had already headed some Florentine troops against the Oddi. Cardinal
Piccolomini was apparently not clearly convinced which party was right
and which was wrong, and he was not inclined to be the tool of either.
For a long time he withstood repeated persuasions to pronounce sentence
of banishment on the exiles, urged upon him by the Baglioni in unison
with the commissioners of Florence and Urbino, of the Orsini and the
Vitelli; Lorenzo had sent Messer Niccolò Vettori. At last the legate
saw things could no longer remain in suspense; so he caused the heads
of the ruling party to swear on the Gospels that they would keep the
city in obedience to the Pope, lay down their arms, not hinder the
course of justice, and hand over to his people the places they occupied
in the district. Then on January 22, 1489, he confirmed the privileges
of the city and issued a decree of banishment against the exiles,
confining them for the next five years to various places in Tuscany,
Romagna, and the Marches, under pain of outlawry if they left these
appointed places.

All this was done with the participation of the commissioners, who
thereupon took leave, after a state dinner given them by the Signoria.
The next thing was the election of the magistrates; the troops of the
legate, two hundred and fifty men, occupied the city and its environs;
the decree of banishment was posted up at the Cathedral and the palace
of the Podestà, and the chief persons concerned were informed of it
by an executor of the commonwealth. When this official came to one
of the heads of the Oddi party, Agamemnone della Penna, who was at
Castiglioncello on the Urbino frontier, he closed the doors, drew his
dagger and said to the messenger: ‘Take your choice; either swallow the
decree, or I will kill you.’ The man did not take long to consider.
Agamemnone took from him the papers destined for the other exiles,
most of whom were at Gubbio, close by, and sent him back with this
pleasant intelligence to Perugia. The feud, in which the Florentines
were not idle, began again in the district; but neither the fighting
nor the efforts at mediation repeatedly made by the legate, who kept
wandering from one place to another, brought about a decision. In the
city, except for a few occasional disturbances, peace was in some
degree restored, while all power was in the hands of the Baglioni, who
for a long time refused to let any foreign mediation persuade them to a
reconciliation with their adversaries. In June 1491 however an attack
on the city and fresh scenes of bloodshed obliged them to come to
terms as soon as possible. Lorenzo, who had greatly contributed to the
victory of the Baglioni through Lanfredini’s negotiations with the Pope
and Vettori’s mediation in Perugia, and who was anxious that the Holy
See should keep only a nominal authority in the latter city, could not
help perceiving how difficult it was to restore to even the smallest
degree of legal order a city torn by such wild passions and suffering
under such unfortunate circumstances.[363]

Of less importance to the Florentines than the affairs of Perugia
were the disturbances at Ascoli near the Neapolitan frontier. On
account of its position, commanding the high road from the valley of
the Tronto towards Umbria, the state of this town was not a matter of
indifference to the Republic. The quarrels in which from 1484 onwards
it was involved with Fermo and other neighbouring places attracted
considerable attention from the fact that on one side the Pope, and
on the other King Ferrante, were drawn into them, and the lords of
Urbino and Camerino found themselves obliged to interfere both for the
sake of their own states and on account of their relations with Rome.
These quarrels, which with short intervals of peace were perpetually
recommencing, and did frightful damage to the smaller places and the
unprotected country, had been profitable to some, amongst whom was
Boccalino of Osimo, who had many connections in the Marches of Fermo.
In 1487 Cardinal della Rovere vainly tried to make peace between Ascoli
and Fermo. The strife was so furious that in an attack made by the
Ascolani in April of that year on the fortress of Acquaviva, sixty men
who had entered a building by treachery were burnt in it, and those
who hurried to their assistance were slaughtered in the moat. Not long
after this the Ascolans attacked Offida, which lay between them and
the sea, drove out the vice-legate of the March, plundered, burned
and murdered all and whomsoever came in their way, and repulsed the
troops of Urbino which had marched to the rescue. Rome saw the need
of putting an end to this anarchy, and entered into negotiations with
the lords of Urbino and Camerino to overcome the resistance of Ascoli.
But the Florentines, and still more the King of Naples, although they
earnestly wished for peace on the Adriatic shores, were not willing
that the Pope’s authority should be strengthened in that quarter. ‘The
king,’ wrote Piero Nasi, Florentine ambassador at Naples, to Lorenzo,
‘is very anxious that the Pope should not get possession of Ascoli; for
he sees that should this occur, the connection between himself and us
will be for ever cut off. As we have managed to prevent the Pope from
making himself lord of Perugia, so his Majesty’s power should suffice
to compass the same at Ascoli.’

Thus, in this so-called time of peace, there was strife and disorder,
mistrust and selfishness, on all sides. Ferrante thought little enough
of Florentine interests, in his unwillingness to let Innocent gain
a firm footing on his own border. Even in Lorenzo’s last year of
rule these disputes in the Marches were not settled. It was Cesare
Borgia who first made peace here, as he did in Romagna, after his own
fashion.[364] Cares and troubles overtook De’ Medici from another
quarter. He was bound to the Orsini by other chains than family ties;
the attitude taken by this old and powerful family towards the Popes,
Naples, Siena, and Florence claimed his attention. The Orsini flattered
themselves they were sovereign lords. So great was the number and
importance of their possessions in the neighbourhood of Rome that
they might well cause uneasiness to a stronger government than that
of most of the Popes; and the only thing that tended to neutralise
their power was their almost ceaseless strife with the Colonna, who,
however, at this present time were no match for them. Their numerous
fiefs in the kingdom of Naples brought them into close connection
with its rulers. Since the beginning of the fourteenth century they
had held, through inheritance from a branch of the Teutonic dynasty
of the Aldobrandeschi, the county of Sorano-Pitigliano, between the
Patrimonium Petri and the Sienese territory; and they kept their
neighbours in constant uneasiness by the disordered state of affairs
there, caused by the constant disagreement between the members of the
family, not likely by any means to be softened by the protectorate
(_accomandigia_) of Siena, herself in a state of great unrest.

We have pointed out how much depended on the attitude of the Orsini in
the days of the quarrel between Innocent and Ferrante. The relations of
the most powerful of the family, Gentil Virginio, lord of Bracciano,
with the Pope and the king, gave Lorenzo constant occupation, as is
testified by his correspondence with the ambassadors in Rome and
Naples. ‘Should his Holiness proceed in the manner suggested,’ he
wrote to Lanfredini on March 24, 1489,[365] when Innocent for a moment
thought of arresting Gentil Virginio for his suspicious conduct amid
the Neapolitan troubles—‘he would thereby gain nothing, save that
the whole family would unite and be a prize for the king. If the Pope
answers that this will happen in any case, I reply that it is far
better that it should happen without our having a hand in it, than
that we should give them ground for laying the blame on us. The minds
and wills of these lords Orsini never agree. They cannot keep together
well, and you will see when the king most needs them they will serve
him worst, for they are ambitious and greedy, and except when need
compels them there is no constancy in them.’ In later days Ferrante
once remarked that lord Virginio was naturally very obstinate when
he had made up his mind to a thing, especially if he thought himself
in the right;[366] it may therefore be imagined how much trouble
Lorenzo had in controlling a man whom his position in Rome, his rank
as Neapolitan general, his experience in warfare, and his great landed
property rendered more powerful than many princes. He always remained
on good terms with the Medici personally. Niccolò, Count of Pitigliano
and Nola, was, as has been seen, closely connected with the Republic.
But even with this naturally prudent man there arose some difficulties
whenever his interests or inclinations as chief of a family clashed
with his position as general of a greater state. He too, like all
the warriors of the time, though his personal valour and honour are
unstained, contributed to display the corruption of the military
science of the time, and the incompatibility of the prevalent mercenary
system with the advantage and security of the state.





THE reform in the constitution made in the summer of 1480, whereby
the decisive part in the affairs of the State was concentrated in the
Council of Seventy, had now held its ground for ten years. These ten
years, added to the fifty during which the house of Medici had risen
to the head of the State, necessarily excluded all families which
maintained not only a hostile, but even an independent position.
Amongst the ruling portion of the aristocracy, including many popular
but not therefore liberal elements, there were men who, in their
hearts, detested both the system and its most illustrious supporter;
but the majority were attached to it both from interest or from
necessity. Others silently accepted what they could not alter without
resorting to a great revolution and outward shock which, doubtless,
few desired. The lower classes were so much influenced by the arts of
those in power, and the governments preceding that of the Medici had
oppressed them to such an extent, popular revolutions had been of so
tumultuous a character, and had always so speedily paved the way for
despotism, that there could be no serious thought of change. The upper
class of citizens, who had a share in the government in the wider
sense, who were represented in the councils and admitted to office,
contented themselves with the measure and appearance of authority,
influence, and other advantages given them by the constitution. All
the hostile families of rank were ruined by exile, confiscation, and
taxes; their old chiefs were either dead or in banishment, they had
completely lost their influence and were no longer to be feared; or
they had allowed themselves to be gained over in one way or another,
and now acted in concert with their former opponents.

According to the time of their fall these families may be divided
into three groups: the Albizzi and their adherents fell in 1434, the
partisans of Diotisalvi Neroni in 1466, the Pazzi in 1478. Lorenzo had
no need to trouble himself about any of them. In the first part of
this history we pointed out the extent of the misery into which the
Albizzi of Messer Rinaldo’s line had sunk. Forty-four years after their
banishment the rights of citizenship were restored to Alessandro, a
great-grandson of the former head of the Republic, for having, when
far away from Florence during the war which broke out after the Pazzi
conspiracy, discovered to the Signoria a plot whereby the town of
Pistoja was to be betrayed into the hands of the Duke of Urbino.[367]
The descendants of Rinaldo’s brothers remained friendly to the Medici.
The Neroni party were become powerless since the Colleone affair. Piero
de’ Medici himself had some idea of becoming reconciled with Agnolo
Acciaiuolo, more than one of whose relatives were among his own warmest
adherents; so the disunion was not likely to continue between their
posterity. But for the Pazzi affair Agnolo’s descendants, favoured by
the Aragonese, would doubtless have been taken back into favour long
before 1482. The enmity between the Medici and the Soderini ended
with the death of Niccolò Soderini in 1474, though it came to life
again later under different circumstances in the sons of that Tommaso
who was so closely connected with Piero and Lorenzo. The Pazzi were
thoroughly put out of the way; the scaffold and the prison of Volterra
swallowed up both guilty and guiltless; and even when, in consequence
of agreements with the Pope and Naples, the survivors were set free in
1482, they were still subjected to many restraints which lasted till
the revolution of 1494. Lorenzo’s brother-in-law, Guglielmo, after
a long confinement in a house in the country, was sent to Faenza,
where Galeotto Manfredi kept him in custody at Lorenzo’s disposal,
as is shown by a letter of Galeotto’s dated February 25, 1483. Three
days later he received orders for the liberation of his prisoner,
and this decision was announced by Lorenzo to his sister Bianca, who
had remained in Florence, and to his brother-in-law himself. In the
autumn of the following year Guglielmo was in Rome, and in friendly
intercourse with the Medici and Bernardo Rucellai.[368] After the
revolution of 1494 he was re-admitted to political offices; but he
showed little capacity for the work, and his son Alessandro (eleven
years old when his uncle Lorenzo died), notwithstanding his sagacity
and experience, was better fitted for scholarly work than for public
life. Of the other families who arrayed themselves against the Medici
in the attack before referred to, some never again played any important
part in politics; others let themselves be chained to the victor’s
chariot. Thus it was with the Peruzzi, the Gianfigliazzi, the Pitti,
and others. The first-named—old, rich, and illustrious—were excluded
from office after the return of Cosimo de’ Medici. The two branches
of the Strozzi, whose influence had formerly been considerable, were
now in some degree estranged, and the most famous of the two was just
rising to the height of its splendour.

Lorenzo, as he looked around him, had no need to fear the recurrence
of such opposition as had endangered the authority of his grandfather
and father. There seemed no room for even attempts at violence, and
the tendencies which sprang forth after his death were at this time
hardly perceptible even in the germ. Francesco Guicciardini described
the situation in a few sentences: ‘The city was in perfect peace. The
citizens in whose hands was the administration held firmly together;
the government, carried on and supported by them, was so powerful that
no one dared contradict it. The people were daily entertained with
festivals, spectacles, and novelties; to their profit the city abounded
in everything; trade and business were at the height of prosperity. Men
of talent found their proper place in the great liberality with which
the arts and sciences were promoted and those who practised them were
honoured. This city, quiet and peaceful at home, enjoyed also high
esteem and great consideration abroad, because she had a government
whose head had full authority; because her dominions had lately been
extended; because the deliverance of Ferrara and that of King Ferrante
were mainly owing to her; because she had complete sway over Pope
Innocent; and because, in alliance with Naples and Milan, she in some
measure kept all Italy in equilibrium.’

Amid this happy state of things, however, symptoms showed themselves
which decidedly pointed out something insecure in the foundations.
From a moral point of view there were drawbacks whose influence on the
general development and final determination of affairs was inevitable.
Anyone who looked below the glittering surface must have felt yearly
increasing care about the political situation. Putting aside foreign
politics, the home affairs gave extra cause for anxiety. It was
becoming more and more evident that everything, present and future,
depended on one man alone. It could hardly therefore go unperceived
that the necessary consequences of this man’s position and career
furnished a prospect, perhaps not a distant one, of a radical change in
the constitution.

Alessandro de’ Pazzi graphically described the difficulties of his
uncle’s position:[369] ‘When Lorenzo came to the head of the party
after Piero’s death he found a serious task before him, and, young as
he was, he had need of great prudence to keep together and govern this
party; so much the more because the citizens who were then powerful
thought they could retain their commanding position, without allowing
Lorenzo to usurp the same authority that his grandfather and father
had enjoyed. In my opinion this was a mistake; discord would soon have
parted them. But his exertions were great, and it was owing to him that
no division occurred at that time. His patience with his adherents
deserves as much praise as his prudence, activity, and liberality; and
I know from my mother that in these first years he thought day and
night of nothing but gaining over his friends for his own objects.’

Again, after referring to the dangers and consequences of the years
1478-1480, he says: ‘By dint of skill and luck, without which nothing
is to be attained in human affairs, he consolidated his position
and maintained it all his life long, not merely as his grandfather
had done, but a step higher and with fuller powers. He was in
more danger than Cosimo, but he stood so high that the danger was
outweighed. Nevertheless, with all his good fortune and the favour
of circumstances, with his superhuman intellect and his great number
of trustworthy friends, he gave himself an immense deal of trouble.
He went to work with the greatest caution, with many arts and secret
allies who knew nothing of each other, with inexhaustible patience and
endurance. He was assisted, moreover, by his wonderfully acute judgment
of foreign affairs, which he understood how to direct and balance
better than any other living man in Italy. Herein also fortune favoured
him, that he lived at a time when forces were more equally divided
than usual, and there was little danger of foreign interference.
Above all it was a happy circumstance that Cosimo had preceded him
as founder of the position of the family, and for many years past
no other and in some sense no more popular form of government had
been known in Florence. His merits, however, were his own; vigilance,
patience, perseverance, splendour combined with elegance, whereby he
made himself a great name among the Italian princes and in other lands,
while at home he attracted and gained over all to himself. This also
is to be highly esteemed in him, that he influenced his friends into
moderation and kept their hands clean, so that it may be said that,
with a few exceptions, there occurred no cases of rapine. In truth he
directed the State and his party in the best manner possible under the
circumstances. With all his good fortune and his uncommon qualities,
however, it cost him great exertions, for he never spared himself, but
took a personal share in all that occurred, whether in the square or in
the palace.’

Although business was transacted not in the house of Medici but in
the palace of the Signoria, where Lorenzo passed many hours as a
member of councils and committees, still the government was becoming
more and more a personal one. The constant change in the members of
the Signoria, intended to prevent the authority of individuals from
increasing, necessarily promoted this personal government; so much
the more as a regular and consistent treatment became necessary for
the direction of foreign affairs, ever increasing in continuity and
importance. Only in this manner could Florence maintain her position
against the larger Italian and foreign states—all monarchic except
Venice, who preserved her constitution almost unchanged. Naturally,
however, such a personal government had the grave defects of all
political arrangements where legal right and hereditary prescription
are not the fundamental principles, and whose internal nature is a
negation of their external form. This State, apparently constituted on
a broad basis, was in reality ruled by a comparatively small party with
a recognised chief at their head. Lorenzo’s contemporaries said that
he had greater authority and more personal power than any despotic
ruler.[370] Nothing was done without his initiative and approval.
Popes, kings, and princes applied to him; ambassadors corresponded
with him; thousands besieged him with petitions for offices, posts of
honour, favours, remission of taxes and imposts, and personal interests
of all kinds both at home and in the neighbouring states. Each found
him willing to listen; the letters he wrote were innumerable, many of
them written by his own hand, to different parties of high and low
rank, some personally known to him, others quite strangers. He would
willingly help merchants, stewards, farmers, countrymen, and people
of all sorts and positions in life. Besides the countless clients of
the family there were those recommended by them—as he called them,
‘my good old friends.’ He applied to the Duke of Ferrara on behalf
of the money-changers in the Prato, ‘these Jews, my friends.’[371]
His correspondence contains the strangest medley of subjects, events,
and persons; contraventions of the toll-regulations at the passage
of the flocks coming down for the winter from the Casentino and the
Pistojan hills to the Sienese Maremma; frauds by merchants; thefts
from Florentine subjects; differences with the administration of salt;
deeds of violence and murder, are all mixed up with recommendations for
judicial offices, especially the office of Podestà, judge of the court
of appeal, capitano, &c., and for spiritual dignities and benefices;
settlement of boundary disputes; concessions about the corn trade;
mediation on the passage of troops; and the affairs of the petty
dynasties seated around the Siena district, the Sforzas of Santafiora,
the Orsini of Pitigliano, and many others. His constant desire was
to oblige as many as possible at home and abroad, and to have the
influence of his personal position felt and understood on all sides.

This position was becoming year by year very glaringly exceptional,
not only to the eyes of foreign sovereigns but to those of Italian
princes as well. The authority which Lorenzo was believed to possess
with Innocent VIII., ‘because,’ as he wrote to Lanfredini on August
26, 1489, ‘I am extremely devoted to his Holiness and obliged to
him for many favours,’ caused him to be applied to by all parties
whenever a petition to Rome was to be presented. Almost simultaneously
Guid’Antonio Arcimboldo begged his recommendation to obtain the
archbishopric of Milan, and the Duke of Britanny sent a messenger to
request his support for the nomination of one of the Duke’s secretaries
to the see of Nantes. Lodovico il Moro applied to him to procure the
Sienese bishopric of Pienza, and Charles, Duke of Savoy, to have his
uncle—that Francis so well known in connection with the episcopal
troubles at Geneva—advanced to the cardinalate. When Federigo
Sanseverino, Monsignor de’ Grassi, the Archbishop of Auch, and others
desired the cardinal’s hat, he was asked to help them to procure it.
It was he who recommended to the Pope the young Alessandro Farnese,
who in 1489 was studying at Pisa and sought to obtain one of the posts
of Apostolic Secretary created by Innocent at the end of 1487. ‘I wish
you to know,’ wrote Lorenzo to Lanfredini on April 10,[372] ‘that this
gentleman, besides coming of such a noble family (_oltre allo esser
nato della casa che è_) has many distinguished qualities, among them
unusual learning and excellent morals, being at once very accomplished
and a model of virtuous conduct. For these reasons, the weight of
which with me you know, I recommend him to you as if he were my own
son, and beg you to present him to his Holiness, for which I shall be
very grateful.’ This is perhaps the first testimony, and certainly a
most honourable one, on behalf of Pomponio Leto’s former pupil, then
one-and-twenty, and destined forty-five years later to succeed a
Medici on the Papal throne. When the Duke of Ferrara and the lord of
Camerino wanted help at Rome, they applied to Lorenzo; when the Duke
of Savoy sent an ambassador thither, he recommended him to Lorenzo.
King John of Portugal wrote from Santarem, Charles VIII. from Amboise,
the Duchess Blanche from Savoy, Anne de Beaujeu and her husband Pierre
de Bourbon from Moulins, to the ‘Seigneur Laurens.’ His friendly
relations with Matthias Corvinus have been repeatedly mentioned; they
seem to have been none the worse for the fact that Matthias was for a
long time on bad terms with the Sforza, having, for the sake of his
brother-in-law Don Federigo of Aragon, accepted among the conditions
of the treaty with Kaiser Frederic in 1477 the proceedings against
the ruling house of Milan, which was not recognised by the Empire. To
the Pope Lorenzo often commended his own subjects, as, for instance,
Giovanni Savelli, ‘to whom I have especial goodwill because he is in
the service of our army, and to whom I am bound by a friendship of many
years’ standing,’ and the distinguished priest Francesco de’ Massimi.
Everyone considered a matter secured in Rome if once Lorenzo took it in
hand; and perhaps the secret of his great success in many things arose
from the shrewdness of his calculation as to what lay within the limits
of possibility.

Lorenzo was surrounded by numerous friends and adherents, some of whom
had inherited distinction, while others had been raised by him. It was
only by their help that he could maintain his position at home and
keep up his connections abroad. He was well and skilfully supported
by the Acciaiuoli, the Pandolfini, the Vespucci, the Soderini, the
Pucci, the Guicciardini, the Capponi, the Vettori, the Lanfredini, the
Alamanni, the Ridolfi, the Gaddi, &c. They and their families had a
corresponding share in the administration, in honours and privileges,
and held a prominent position; the consequence of which was that
when circumstances were altered there remained a powerful Medicean
party which at last gained the victory through external political
circumstances; for the family which had risen to greatness with their
support naturally seized the lion’s share. But Lorenzo, while advancing
his adherents in power, never allowed them to become too independent
of him. For this purpose the means he chiefly employed was that of
placing on the same level with citizens who had long been great others
who had risen solely by help of the Medici; in matters which required
entire devotion to his interests he rather gave a preference to the
latter. The most active and influential of the Florentine diplomatists,
Giovanni Lanfredini, sprung from a family originally Roman and which
became extinct in the last century in the person of a cardinal, had
become a business-partner of the Medici as early as Cosimo’s time.
Lorenzo’s policy was to let one person keep another in check. He was
probably suspicious by nature, a quality which developed as years
went on, for he often employed the chancery-officers who accompanied
the ambassadors to Rome, Naples, and Milan to send him special
reports,[373] while his creatures in Florence, especially Ser Piero
of Bibiena and Piero Michelozzi, kept up a correspondence in various
other quarters. We have remarked before that Bartolommeo Scala, the
chancellor of the Signoria, was in very intimate relations with him.
The chancellors of the other government offices, the only really stable
officials in whom the traditions of business survived, were all in
his interest, most of them having attained their influential posts
through him. Thus he let no family and no individual gain an influence
inconvenient to himself, and kept his eyes on all. He even meddled in
family affairs: hindered marriages if they seemed to him dangerous,
furthered them if he thought them likely to prove useful. Those whom
some special circumstances had unusually elevated, even when he himself
profited thereby, he always kept in check; as exemplified in the case
of Tommaso Soderini, and, after the Pazzi conspiracy, Girolamo Morelli.
Of the former, indeed, there is nothing more to add, save that he was
a member of the Council of Seventy and died as Capitano at Pisa in
1485. Lorenzo overlooked many things in his adherents, but he kept
them under his control and took care that they should feel that their
position and advantages were derived from him. A man who was, indeed,
ill-disposed towards him on account of an event which concerned his
family, remarked:[374] ‘The great citizens raised and supported Lorenzo
in his youth; in later years he would not have as companions, but used
as servants, those who had been like fathers to him.’

The event alluded to is characteristic of the political power and
position of Lorenzo with regard to the official representatives of the
State. It made no difference to him if the man on whom his resentment
fell[375] had his cause defended by others in power. When Neri Cambi
degli Opportuni was Gonfaloniere in 1488, and at the end of the year
the Signoria were to be elected for the following January and February,
it was found that the legal number of members of the colleges was not
complete, many having absented themselves without leave and gone to the
chase. To the great irritation of the people assembled in the square
the election could not take place till one of the missing members was
fetched from his country-house, from whence he came booted and spurred
to the palace, and the election then proceeded. Indignant at what had
occurred, the outgoing Signoria determined to punish the delinquents,
and condemned four of them to exclusion from office for four years.
Lorenzo was in Pisa at the time. ‘To him,’ says Guicciardini, ‘and to
all the heads of the party it was a very disagreeable affair; for it
seemed to them that if a Signoria could use the right of _ammonire_
without previous deliberation with those in power, their own
government was hanging in the air by a thread (_lo stato loro fussi a
cavallo in su uno baleno_), and they might one fine morning be driven
out of Florence by only six beans (votes). So, after that Signoria
had gone out of office, the matter was again brought up before the
Magistracy of Eight and the Council of Seventy; the decree against the
four citizens was revoked, and Neri Cambi was declared ineligible for
office for the rest of his life. The council was by no means unanimous,
but Lorenzo’s will carried the day.’

This was a pretty clear token of how matters stood with regard to the
powers of the supreme court. But this was not all; participation in the
government was to be yet further restricted. In the summer of 1490 a
measure was carried which concentrated the actual direction of affairs
in the hands of a small body. The Council of Seventy was to remain as a
council of State; but the elections to the Signoria were transferred,
as under the old system, to _accoppiatori_, named by a committee of
seventeen, of whom Lorenzo was one. The members of this committee
were chosen arbitrarily, and only one of them belonged to the minor
guilds. On them was dependent every branch of the administration, more
especially finances and the national debt.

The new committee’s first measure concerned the coinage. In appearance
it was sensible enough. The city and country were overwhelmed with
small and base foreign coin; Sienese, Lucchese, Bolognese, &c. August
28, 1490, a decree was issued forbidding the circulation of foreign
coins on and after September 8. As Alamanno Rinuccini remarked, it was
not the first decree of the kind, and it was no more observed this time
than heretofore. Indeed, it was practically impossible to distinguish
the foreign _quattrini_ from the Florentine, outwardly very like them.
So on May 1, 1491, a radical reform was undertaken. The old native
small coin, the so-called black quattrino, was called in, and replaced
by a new coin containing two ounces of silver to the pound of copper,
and reckoned as equivalent to five danari, while the old one was called
in at the rate of four danari. The public treasuries were in future
to receive only the new white quattrini. The people were pleased,
hoping to get rid of the confusion. Their rejoicing did not last long.
Instead of melting down the old money, it was stealthily brought into
circulation again, and the old quattrino remained in use side by side
with the new one. Out of this confusion arose endless difficulties; and
the people found that in taxes, duties, purchases of salt, everything
where produce went into the treasury, they were the chief sufferers.
The consequence was general discontent, directed principally against
the heads of the government, as their limited number made them the more

The evil was great, but it had not yet reached its worst height. The
increasingly demoralised condition of the administration of finance
displayed itself in another way, which must have utterly ruined the
credit of the State at the first serious political crisis. This was
connected with the Medici finances. Lorenzo’s pecuniary difficulties
had been in no wise removed by the precautionary measures of 1480.
His manner of life, establishments, purchases, the provisions for his
children, his by no means disinterested liberality, the bribes in money
paid for his influence abroad, required large sums. To try to meet
these requirements with the produce of his personal property (because
he considered this more secure and honourable),[377] would have
been chimerical. He had limited his banking-business and commercial
speculations; and to draw upon them never entered his head. During his
very last years he did a great deal of business in Rome. Innocent VIII.
was financially still more dependent on him than on his own Genoese
fellow-countrymen, and he allowed him corresponding advantages. In
1489 he sold him 30,000 hundredweight of alum at a very low price, in
compensation for losses sustained in the days of his predecessor; and
the alum trade passed almost entirely into Lorenzo’s private hands.
The farm-rent paid by him for the works of Tolfa amounted to 100,000
florins. In May of the same year Lorenzo furnished the Pope with a
loan to the same amount for one year; one-third of the sum in cash,
the other two-thirds in silk and woollen stuffs. For the repayment,
two-tenths, amounting to 60,000 florins, were referred to the
Florentine clergy, the rest to the revenues of Città di Castello.[378]
In 1490 Lorenzo redeemed from the Centurioni of Genoa a valuable tiara
which had been pledged to them.[379] Cosimo Sassetti, one of the
partners in the Medici bank at Lyons, was also a papal collector in
1490. In the case of smaller loans, princes sent valuables as pledges;
the Marquis of Mantua gave a precious stone for the sum of 4,000 gold
florins, and when at a marriage-feast he wanted to have it back, his
brother-in-law, Ercole d’Este, offered the salt-office of Modena for
security in its place. These transactions went on under Lorenzo’s
eldest son and even later.[380] But the profits were uncertain, for
all the parties concerned were not skilful and prudent. Even supposing
that Lorenzo drew an income of 15,000 to 20,000 gold florins from
the old family estate, and about 10,000 from the newly-acquired and
gradually increasing one in the Pisan territory, still it was terribly
insufficient for his outlay. He was driven to all kinds of shifts, at
times even somewhat mean ones, such as must have been sometimes very
unpleasant to him; as, for instance, in 1484, when he had to take a
loan of 4,000 ducats from Lodovico Sforza, or sell for the same price
the house given by Duke Francesco to his grandfather.[381] During the
difficulties of 1478 he had been compelled to borrow from his cousins,
the other Medici, 60,000 gold florins, for the repayment of which he
gave security on his possessions in Mugello. There were Florentine
business houses which paid him a yearly sum for lending them his name.

This mixing up of his private money-matters with those of the State
brought about most unhappy consequences. In the war of 1478, the pay
of the troops was furnished by the bank of the Bartolini, in which
Lorenzo had a share. They deducted eight per cent., in return for
which the commanders did not furnish the troops agreed upon, and the
community had to make up the deficit. The wretched mismanagement of
the military arrangements was all of a piece with this. Yet Lorenzo
still thought himself entitled to venture on further operations of the
same kind. The chief financial posts were held by his minions. From
the treasurers (_camarlinghi_) of the offices of the national debt,
of the customs, of salt, of judicial contracts, &c., he raised the
needful sums, which they handed over to him without difficulty, first
because they could refuse him nothing, and next because they thought
their own responsibility covered and their personal security safe; for
every newly appointed official had to recover the sum lent out by his
predecessor; and as this process went on unchecked for years, it may
easily be imagined what a deficit there was at last, after all the
sham repayments one towards the other. The office of the national debt
suffered most. The supreme provveditore, Antonio di Bernardo Miniati,
had risen from the condition of an artisan by the favour of Lorenzo,
who had actually made him a member of the Committee of Seventeen;
and he proceeded quite arbitrarily, to oblige his patron and at once
facilitate and hush up disgraceful embezzlement. During the revolution
of 1494 the great book of the Monte was missing; nevertheless, there
was an exposure of how many sums had gone to the numerous protégés
and hangers-on of the Medici in and out of Florence. There was also
another means by which to enrich them; and that was the furnishing
of supplies, among which the supplying of cloth to the troops, in
particular, brought great gain.[382] But all possible manœuvres
and skill could not prevent the bad condition of this unprincipled
finance from becoming known. How should they when, to mention only one
instance, the Cardinalate of Giovanni de’ Medici cost the State an
expenditure of 50,000 gold florins, independently of the sums which
found their way secretly into Rome, and were reckoned at 200,000
more?[383] The State-creditors suffered most, from the reduction in the
rate of interest caused by the drafts deposited in the Monte, and from
the arrears of interest. These bills, together with the extraordinary
additional taxes constantly repeated under various names, reduced the
national debt. What offended the citizens most and damaged Lorenzo’s
reputation with posterity more than anything else was the plundering
of the before-mentioned _Monte delle doti_, the establishment intended
for the dowries of maidens, and in which all citizens, great and small,
were wont to make investments.[384] It was a sort of bank of deposit,
somewhat on the plan of modern insurance-offices, and its usefulness
was increased by the changes of fortune only too sudden in Florence.
This establishment took its rise in 1424, when it was decreed that
for the liquidation of the shares in the national debt dating from
1325 to 1336, and originally bringing in eighteen per cent. interest,
the creditors should be at liberty to convert a quota of what was due
to them into a dowry for their sons and daughters; from 1468 it was
limited to daughters. The conditions were very liberal. Whosoever
paid or gave security for the amount of 104 gold florins, and had it
put down to one of his children, received at the end of fifteen years
the sum of a thousand florins in cash, or could, if he pleased, let
it remain at five per cent. interest. If the child in whose name the
money stood died, half the sum to which he would have had a claim,
according to the time that had elapsed, was paid back to the father,
and the other half went to the bank. The so-called reform of the _Monte
delle doti_, which, like all such establishments, certainly needed
improvement in its administration, was one of the avowed objects of
the change made in the constitution in 1480; but it opened a door to
the misappropriation of its funds. In 1485 a decree was issued whereby
only a fifth of the dowry, i.e. two hundred florins in the case above
described, was to be paid in cash; the rest was to be entered in a
register called _libro non ito_, the unpaid book, and to bear an
interest of seven per cent. This was not all. Six years later, the
rate of interest was lowered to three per cent.[385] This came very
near to bankruptcy, and this bankruptcy touched the citizens to the
quick, while it brought the State into discredit. Hitherto the dower
paid through the Monte had in most cases been sufficient; now the
necessary additions to it became serious, and quite unattainable for
many families. So the number of marriages diminished; that the consent
of the head of the State had to be secured before they could take
place would sound incredible, did it not belong to the system of such
party-government.[386] ‘For many years,’ says Rinuccini,[387] ‘Lorenzo
de’ Medici was doing his best, by a series of laws and decrees, to ruin
the great bank of the commonwealth, for the purpose of getting rid of
its obligations for the payment of annuities and dowries, and obtaining
arbitrary control over the State finances. For this work he selected
in particular two helpers, Antonio di Bernardo and Ser Giovanni of
Pratovecchio (chancellor of the Riformagioni), worthless fellows, who
pointed out to him day by day the way to attain his object.’

Though the position of the Medici was secured for a time, their
finances could not be set right. The banks of Lyons and Bruges,
directed by Leonetti de’ Rossi, Francesco and Cosimo Sassetti, Tommaso
Portinari, and others, only saved themselves by compounding with their
creditors. Lorenzo’s correspondence shows what a vast deal of trouble
these pecuniary embarrassments gave him, notwithstanding his levity in
money-matters. As early as 1484 he had to write to de’ Rossi to insist
on withdrawing the name of Medici from the Lyons firm before next
Easter. Eighteen months after, he ordered the balance of the Bruges
bank to be sent to him, in consequence of Portinari’s bad management.
On one day, April 21, 1488, he despatched to the King of France, the
Cardinal de Bourbon, the Duke and Duchess of Bourbon, the Seigneur du
Bouchage, the Bishop of Valence, and others, no less than seventeen
letters relating to the Lyons bank and Francesco Sassetti, after whose
death in 1490 Lorenzo Spinelli took the direction of the Medici’s
financial interests in France.[388] It was inevitable that there should
be a vehement outcry against this disorder. Many foreigners who had
placed their money in the banks sustained heavy losses, and on the
violent overthrow of the Medici, when their palace was plundered at
the entry of Charles VIII., the king’s quarter-master, the seigneur de
Balassat, who had given the signal for the plundering, defended himself
on the plea that the Medici bank of Lyons owed him large sums.[389]
One of the sufferers by these shameful money-dealings was a man who
had done much for Lorenzo, and who, on his side, was influenced in his
relations with him and his business agents by a consideration of the
advantages which Lorenzo’s political position might give him. This was
Philippe de Commines, who, at one of the most critical moments of his
life, was greatly injured by the pecuniary difficulties of the Medici
and their unwillingness or inability to meet their obligations. After
the death of Louis XI., Commines, who had been an instrument of the
king’s tyranny and enriched by his confiscations, was first sent away
from court for taking part in the intrigues of the Princes against
the Regent, Anne de Beaujeu; then shut up in one of the iron cages at
Loches; and, in the spring of 1488, sentenced by the Parliament to
lose a fourth part of his property, and find security for ten thousand
crowns. He found it impossible to realise his demands on the Medici
bank and liquidate the sums which he had deposited there since 1478
through Louis’ confidant Du Bouchage, and part of which had been
employed in 1486 to support the opposition against the Regent.[390]
Even when Commines, set free from his worst embarrassments, was again
on the way to political influence, these difficulties remained, and
a letter from Lorenzo to him[391] gives a glimpse into the financial
troubles of the Medici.

‘Illustrious Sir,’ so runs the letter, ‘I have received your lordship’s
letter, and my mind is penetrated with grief at learning into what a
state of irritation Cosimo Sassetti’s last statement of accounts has
put you. My regret would be still greater could I imagine that you
doubt the sentiments of my house towards you, whereas I am for many
reasons so deeply indebted to you that I should deserve to be called
the most ungrateful of men if I paid you now in any coin but such as I
owe you for the numerous benefits received from you in good and evil
days. When in my inmost mind I examine my obligations, I can assure
your lordship that neither by me nor by any of mine shall anything be
done which might indispose you towards me or give you an unfavourable
opinion of me. If Cosimo Sassetti’s expressions with regard to your
lordship’s interests should produce such an unhappy effect, I should
be most deeply grieved, as it would be contrary to the true position
of affairs and my earnest intentions. I do indeed confess, and your
lordship knows it, that for some time past our Lyons house has suffered
such heavy losses that it was impossible to conceal them from my
present or former business friends, of whom your lordship is one, and
not to complain of them as Cosimo has done. This may have made a bad
impression on you; but you may rest assured that there is really no
occasion for difference between us, for you can always dispose, not
only of the sum in dispute between you and Cosimo, but of my whole
means as if they were your own. I therefore beg your lordship to put
faith in me, that this matter may be ended and leave no cloud between
us. For your lordship’s friendship, whether in prosperity or adversity,
is of more value to me than any sum of money.’

In spite of all these assurances, Commines’ demands were discharged
in what he considered a very inadequate manner (_apointement bien
mègre_).[392] Nothing but the high value which he set on the friendship
of the Medici induced him to keep quiet. ‘I believe,’ wrote Lorenzo
Spinelli to Lorenzo at the close of 1491,[393] ‘the Sieur d’Argenton
will remain our friend. In order not to make him angry, I have always
told him that if God gives us grace to do well in business and make up
some of the losses we sustained in Leonetto’s time, you will give him
his share. I am of opinion that this hope will induce him to further
your interests, if he puts faith in my words.’ Spinelli was right.
Commines’ humour was likewise influenced by the favourable turn which
his affairs took after the agreement between the young king Charles
VIII. and the Princes, in the beginning of September 1491. His last
letter to Lorenzo,[394] dated January 13, 1492, and signed ‘more than
entirely yours’ (_plus que tout vostre_), treats not of money-matters,
but of Charles’ marriage with the heiress of Britanny, of the
differences with Maximilian and England, and of the Duke of Lorraine’s
attempt on Metz, which it had been hoped might be gained by treachery
and surprise; a prelude to the treachery and surprise in which a French
king succeeded but too well little more than a century later.



IN 1472 certain Venetians addressed to Lorenzo de’ Medici and Niccolò
Ardinghelli a pamphlet wherein they extolled the advantages of their
city and its inhabitants, and abused Florence, her constitution,
her policy, her commerce and society, and the house of Medici. The
challenge was accepted by Benedetto Dei, a scion of an ancient family,
a man of much experience in affairs of state and of commerce, and
who had been for many years Florentine ambassador in Constantinople,
from whence he went to Damascus on a commission for the Sultan. He
defended his native city in a lengthy and rather warm reply; a curious
testimony to the deep-seated differences between two states which were
often bitter enemies and scarcely ever real friends.[395] ‘Florence,’
says the irritated patriot, who seems not to have been acquainted with
the brilliant picture of the industry and commerce of Venice drawn in
the Great Council in 1420 by the Doge Tommaso Mocenigo,[396] ‘is more
beautiful and 540 years older than your Venice. We spring from triply
noble blood. We are one-third Roman, one-third Frankish, and one-third
Fiesolan. Compare with this, I pray you, the elements of which you
are composed! First of all you are Slavonians, secondly Paduans of
Antenor’s dirty traitor-brood, thirdly fisher-people from Malamocco
and Chioggia. We hold by the Gospel of S. John, you by that of S.
Mark, in which there is as much difference as between fine French wool
and that with which mattresses are stuffed. We have round about us
thirty thousand estates, owned by noblemen and merchants, citizens and
craftsmen, yielding us yearly bread and meat, wine and oil, vegetables
and cheese, hay and wood, to the value of 900,000 ducats in cash,
as you Venetians and Genoese, Chians and Rhodians, who come to buy
them, know well enough. We have two trades greater than four of yours
in Venice put together—wool and silk. Witness the Roman court and
that of the king of Naples, the Marches and Sicily, Constantinople
and Pera, Broussa and Adrianople, Salonika and Gallipoli, Chios and
Rhodes, where to your envy and disgust there are Florentine consuls
and merchants, churches and houses, banks and offices, and whither go
more Florentine wares of all kinds, especially silken stuffs and gold
and silver brocades, than from Venice, Genoa and Lucca put together.
Ask your own merchants who visit Marseilles, Avignon, Lyons, and the
whole of Provence, Bruges, Antwerp, London, and other cities, where
there are great banks and royal warehouses, fine dwellings, and stately
churches; ask them who should know, as they go to the fairs every
year, whether they have seen the banks of the Medici, the Pazzi, the
Capponi, the Buondelmonti, the Corsini, the Falconieri, the Portinari,
and the Ghini, the bank of the Medici and their partners at Milan,
and a hundred others which I will not name, because to do so I should
need at least a ream of paper. You say we are bankrupt since Cosimo’s
death. If we have had losses, it is owing to your dishonesty and the
wickedness of your Levant merchants, who have made us lose hundreds of
thousands—people with well-known names who have filled Constantinople
and Pera with failures, whereof our great houses could tell many a
tale. But though Cosimo is dead and buried, he did not take his gold
florins and the rest of his money and bonds with him into the other
world; nor his banks and store-houses, nor his woollen and silken
cloths, nor his plate and jewellery; but he left them all to his worthy
sons and grandsons, who take pains to keep them and to add to them, to
the vexation of the Venetians and other envious foes, whose tongues are
more malicious and slanderous than if they were Sienese.’ Such was the
Florentine’s retort to the attacks of the Venetians, whom he bitterly
attacked in his turn, when in 1479 they concluded the disadvantageous
treaty by which they ceded Negroponte and other of their Levantine
possessions to the Turks.

‘Our beautiful Florence,’ says the same chronicler, ‘contains within
the city in this present year 1472, 270 shops belonging to the
wool-merchants’ guild, from whence their wares are sent to Rome and
the Marches, Naples and Sicily, Constantinople and Pera, Adrianople,
Broussa and the whole of Turkey. It contains also eighty-three rich and
splendid warehouses of the silk-merchants’ guild, and furnishes gold
and silver stuffs, velvet, brocade, damask, taffeta, and satin, to Rome
and Naples, Catalonia and the whole of Spain, especially Seville, and
to Turkey and Barbary. The principal fairs to which these wares go are
those of Genoa, the Marches, Ferrara, Mantua, and the whole of Italy;
Lyons, Avignon, Montpelier, Antwerp, and London.’ The number of the
great banks amounted to thirty-three, that of the cloth-warehouses,
which also retailed woollen cloths of all kinds (_tagliare_), to
thirty-two; the shops of the cabinet-makers, whose business was
carving and inlaid work (_tarsia_), to eighty-four, and the workshops
of the stone-cutters and marble-workers in the city and its immediate
neighbourhood to fifty-four. There were forty-four goldsmiths’ and
jewellers’ shops, thirty gold-beaters, silver-wire drawers, and
wax-figure makers; the last being in those days a productive branch
of industry, as it was the custom to consecrate in the churches and
chapels wax-figures of all kinds (_voti_), chiefly images. ‘Go through
all the cities of the world,’ adds the chronicler, ‘nowhere will you
find, nor will you ever be able to find, artists in wax equal to
those we have now in Florence, and to whom the figures in the Nunziata
(the Servite Church) can bear witness.’ Another flourishing branch
of industry was the making of the light and elegant gold and silver
wreaths and garlands which were worn by young maidens of high degree,
and gave their name to the artist-family of Ghirlandajo. Sixty-six
was the number of the apothecaries’ and grocers’ shops; seventy that
of the butchers, besides eight large shops in which were sold fowls
of all kinds, as well as game, and also the native wines which were
considered best with game, particularly the pungent white wine, called
Trebbiano, from San Giovanni in the upper Arno valley; it would wake
the dead, adds Dei, in its praise. The Florentine had a right to be
proud of his ‘beautiful’ city. From 1422, when Gino Capponi, the
conqueror of Pisa, introduced the art of gold-spinning (the gold thread
hitherto used having been procured from Cöln and from Cyprus),[397]
down to the time of Lorenzo, was the most brilliant period of the
silk manufacture which brought great wealth to the city. The Emperor
Sigismund’s ill-famed consort, Barbara von Cilly, once sent one of her
people with 1,200 gold florins and three bars of gold to buy silken
stuffs. In 1422 the first armed galley was equipped for the voyage to
Alexandria, and when she was launched there was a solemn procession to
implore the protection of Heaven. Thus Florence began to do without
the help of Venetian and Genoese vessels; and the two latter states
never got over their vexation at this. The Florentines, however, never
became famous sailors. Meanwhile the home-produce kept pace with this
freer connection with transmarine lands. There seem to have been no
silk-worms reared in Florence before 1423; this branch of industry was
much older in other parts of Tuscany: in Modigliana, Pistoja, Pescia,
Lucca, &c. In Lorenzo’s days the artisans began to emigrate, and
transplanted their art to foreign lands. The restrictions of emigration
by statute proved at first useless and afterwards injurious. The extent
of the intercourse between Florence and other lands is shown by the
list of commercial firms established in various countries in 1469; in
France there were twenty-four; in the kingdom of Naples thirty-seven;
in Turkey no less than fifty, which were under the protection of the
consul Mainardo Ubaldini, whose general relations with the Turkish
government became so much the better, as those of the Venetians, whose
political and commercial interests too often clashed, grew less secure.
Long afterwards it was known that the Florentines held in their hands
the whole commerce of France; and in 1521, when war broke out between
Charles V. and Francis I., and the Florentine merchant-colony at Lyons
found itself in danger, a memorial requesting letters of safe-conduct
was addressed to the treasurer Robertet, by no less than thirty houses,
including the Albizzi, Guadagni, Panciatichi, Salviati, Bartolini,
Strozzi, Gondi, Manetti, Antinori, Dei, Ridolfi, Pitti, Tedaldi, and
other familiar names.[398] Many of these families married and settled
in France.

In a city where prosperity was so general, it strikes one as remarkable
that the rate of interest on money remained so high. When it is
remembered that about 1420 the usurers were forbidden to take more than
20 per cent., and that about ten years later the hitherto excluded
Jews were admitted in the hope of thereby finding a protection against
the greediness of the Christians, it may be easily perceived how
shocking the evil was. The complaints about compulsory loans are quite
intelligible with such a high rate of interest. That the intended
remedy proved fruitless, and Jews and Christians sucked the blood of
their neighbours all alike, may be imagined. More than once there was
some idea of a public loan establishment. This was the case in 1488,
when the popular orator Bernardino da Feltre, of the Minorite order,
was preaching in Sta. Croce. He tried to obtain Lorenzo’s support for
the erection of a Monte di Pietà, but his efforts proved unsuccessful.
It was an universally known fact that the execution of the project
was prevented because the Signoria was bribed by a rich Jewish
money-changer in Pisa, where this trade had found a special nest.[399]
Not till three years after Lorenzo’s death a temporary exclusion of
the Jews took place, whose gains in Florence alone were reckoned at
50,000,000 gold florins, and the erection by voluntary contributions of
the public loan establishment, which, together with that founded by St.
Antonine, and other similar ones, was in the course of years exposed to
many vicissitudes.

It was natural that the wealth of the merchants should greatly
influence their manner of life. The new aristocracy, which had risen
in a great measure by trade and commerce, continued, after the pattern
of the family at the head of the State, to combine politics with other
business, and liked to display a splendour corresponding to their
means, not only in buildings, pious foundations, and works of art,
but also in the festive occasions of domestic life. Their houses were
richly furnished. The numerous cabinet-makers and marble-workers,
chiefly engaged on decorative works, were not solely occupied with
churches and public buildings; both they, and painters and sculptors
of a higher order, vied with each other in the decoration of
dwelling-houses. Pictures were interspersed and relieved with marble
and terra-cotta busts. At festive banquets fine table-linen, in keeping
with the elegance of the plate, was always used. Up to this time there
was little exaggerated luxury; the majority were too cautious for that;
and if they wanted to honour a distinguished guest or celebrate a
wedding, friends lent each other their plate, following the example of
the Medici with the Alamanni, Della Stufa, Lanfredini, Nasi, Sassetti,
Davanzati, and others.[400] The same thing occurred at a banquet given
by Messer Antonio Ridolfi, ex-ambassador at Naples, to the Duke of
Calabria, who had stood godfather to his child. On great occasions
similar loans, to which all the wealthy citizens contributed, were made
to the Signoria. For ordinary occasions people often used, besides
silver spoons and forks, gifts of the community or of friends, chiefly
brazen table-plate, dishes, cans, salvers, with silver centres and
enamelled or niello edges, with the owner’s arms and frequently also
those of his wife.[401] Fine crystal was considered necessary for a
well-furnished table. Venice provided most of this article, but Tuscany
furnished many glass-factories.

The festivals, which increased in frequency in the days of Lorenzo and
Giuliano de’ Medici and the oft-repeated visits of princes, necessarily
contributed to the increase of splendour and gaiety. More than once
the cost exceeded the amount of supply. If Luca Pitti far outran his
means it was, at least, the indulgence of a noble passion—that of
building—which tempted him to such extravagance, and a miscalculation
in politics which overthrew him. But others were ruined by senseless
luxury. A striking example of this is Benedetto Salutati, who, it will
be remembered, took part in Lorenzo’s tournament. He was a grandson
of the celebrated chancellor; his father had acquired a considerable
fortune in business, in which the son succeeded him. Benedetto, we
read,[402] had made himself a fine position and was highly esteemed;
but he was far from being able to enter the lists with many others as
far as the age and nobility of his family were concerned, nor did his
fortune put him in a position to maintain a lasting rivalry with them.
Nevertheless, he did vie with them. When he rode to that tournament at
five-and-twenty, the housings and trappings of his horse were adorned
with 168 pounds of fine silver at sixteen ducats a pound, and the cost
of the work was reckoned at 8,000_l._ That he united love for art
with love for spending is proved by the fact that his silver helmet
was wrought by Antonio del Pollaiuolo.[403] But the immoderate luxury
into which he launched may be learned from the description of the
banquet which he and his fellow-merchants gave, February 16, 1476, to
the sons of King Ferrante at Naples, where the Salutati, like so many
of their fellow-countrymen, had settled, and had intercourse with the
royal house through their connection with the above-mentioned Antonio
Ridolfi, whose daughter was Benedetto’s wife. It was as if a Florentine
merchant had tried to vie with the splendour shown by Cardinal Pietro
Riario when Ercole d’Este’s bride was in Rome. The very arrangement
of the house gave a foretaste of what was to come. The staircase was
hung with tapestry and wreaths of yew; the great hall was decorated
with richly-worked carpets; and from the ceiling, covered with cloth
of the Aragonese colours ornamented with the Duke of Calabria’s arms,
hung two great chandeliers of carved and gilt wood bearing wax candles.
Opposite the principal entrance, on a dais covered with carpets,
stood the dining-table, spread with the finest lace over a worked
cover. One side of the hall was occupied by a large sideboard, on
which stood about eighty ornamental pieces of plate—salvers, basins,
fruit-baskets, tankards—mostly silver, some gold, besides the silver
table-service, consisting of about three hundred plates of various
kinds, bowls, beakers, and dishes. Adjoining the hall were two rooms
opening into each other, hung with woollen stuff representing foliage,
and handsomely carpeted. Here the company assembled before and after
dinner, and divers musicians contributed to the liveliness of the meal.
The guests took their seats amid a flourish of trumpets and fifes. At
one end of the table sat the Count of Altavilla, next to him Don Pietro
of Aragon, the Duke of Calabria’s younger son, a boy of four years old;
then came the four sons of the king—Don Alfonso, Duke of Calabria,
Don Federigo, Count of Altamura, Don Giovanni, and Don Arrigo.[404]
Next to the latter sat the Count of Belcastro, then came the Count of
Ventimiglia and Messer Carlo da Toralto. The Florentine consul, Tommaso
Ginori, and Lorenzo Strozzi sat one on each side of Marino Caracciolo;
next to them came Francesco Nori (one of the victims of the Pazzi
conspiracy) and Andrea Spanocchi of Siena. The seats at the other end
of the table were occupied by the Commander de Requesens, Ferrante
di Gennaro, and Messer Federigo Carvajal, Commander of Rimini. The
outer side of the long table was left for the sewers and cup-bearers,
who served the guests and tasted the dishes before presenting them to
the princes. Besides these, courtiers stood around the table, partly
in attendance partly joining in the conversation. The order of the
dinner was as follows: First the introductory course; to each guest was
presented a little dish of gilt cakes made of pine-apple kernels, and
a little majolica cup containing a beverage made of milk and called
Natta (_guincata_). This was followed by eight silver dishes decorated
with coats of arms and mottoes, and containing jelly made from the
breast of capons; the dish intended for the duke had, in the middle,
a fountain which threw up a shower of orange-flower water. The first
part of the meal consisted of twelve courses of different kinds of
meat, game, veal, ham, pheasants, partridges, capons, chickens, and
blanc-mange; at the end there was placed before the duke a large silver
dish, from which, when the cover was taken off, a number of birds flew
out. On two large salvers were brought two peacocks, apparently alive,
with their tails spread, burning perfumes issuing from their bills,
and on their breasts, attached to a silken ribbon, the duke’s arms
and the motto _Modus et ordo_. The second part of the entertainment
consisted of nine courses of sweets of various kinds, tarts, light and
delicate pastry, with hippocras. The wines, mostly native—Italian or
Sicilian—were numerous, and between every two guests was placed a list
of the fifteen different kinds, of which the lighter found most favour.
At the end of the banquet scented water was offered to everyone in
which to dip his hands; then the table-cloth was removed, and on the
table was placed a great dish containing a mountain of green boughs
with precious essences whose perfume spread through the hall.

In the middle of the banquet some mumming[405] was announced. Eight
youths entered dressed as huntsmen, with horns, hounds, and slain
game; they were musicians of the chapel royal, and took leave after
entertaining the company with some pleasing music. After dinner the
guests went to the next room, where they entered into lively discourse
and listened to music and singing. The duke and the Count of Belcastro
conversed with the Florentine merchants and spoke of scarcely anything
but Florence and the prince’s stay in Tuscany. After about an hour the
sewers brought the dessert; for each person a silver dish of various
kinds of sweets, with covers made of wax and sugar; those for the
princes and knights adorned with coloured coats of arms and mottoes,
those for the merchants with escutcheons and trade-marks. Cup-bearers
also brought wine in gold and silver goblets. Towards the fifth hour
of the night the guests departed, having stayed about four hours. The
whole house was full of the courtiers and servants of the princes
and nobles. All praised the excellency of the dishes; never, it was
said, had a more splendid banquet been known. Salutati’s love of show,
however, brought its own punishment; unless indeed he was ruined by the
heavy troubles brought upon his home by these same Neapolitan princes
and nobles not long after. Four or five years after this banquet,
according to his own declaration to the registrars, he had returned
to his native city a penniless man, intending to give up his business
altogether, as, under the sad circumstances of the time and the heavy
burdens of the community, he was working at a clear loss. About this
time he changed his residence to Rome, where he was engaged in banking
business in 1491.[406]

Such doings as these, however, were exceptional; generally, the mode
of life in Florence, as throughout Italy, was simple. In describing
the English plenipotentiary who spent some time with Pope Eugene,
Vespasiano da Bisticci remarks that he had given up his native custom
of sitting four hours at table and adopted the Italian fashion of
having but one dish, from which the whole household dined together.
Even in the noblest houses there was no extravagance; they had only the
produce of the immediate neighbourhood and, in particular, of their
own estates. Thus it was that an increase of rural industry was doubly
desirable. In later days it was wont to be related of Filippo Strozzi
the Elder that he introduced the cultivation of the artichoke and
that of a new species of fig, and both Cosimo and Lorenzo de’ Medici
carefully followed the progress of agriculture. At parties there was
no lack of intellectual enjoyments, such as music and improvisation.
Politian gives, in a letter to Pico della Mirandola, an account of
a dinner at the house of Paolo Orsini, who was in the service of
the Republic; on this occasion Orsini’s son, a boy of eleven, stood
up and sang some verses of his own composition. Banquets given for
entertainment, as well as for learned discourse, chiefly took place
at the villas. The richer and more distinguished Florentines divided
their time between the city and the country. It has been seen how the
pleasant, healthy, fertile neighbourhood of Florence, especially the
hills easily attainable for both pedestrians and horsemen, became
covered with villas. These gradually spread further out in all
directions, up and down the valley of the Arno, beyond Fiesole and
Ponte a Sieve to Mugello, better suited for a real summer residence;
along the line of hills towards Prato and the valley of the Bisenzio;
on the left bank of the Arno through the valleys of the Ema, the Pesa,
and the Elsa, and the rich grape-country of Chianti, to the Sienese
border. In proportion to the number and beauty of the city residences
the number and richness of the country-houses increased also. Hither
came princes, kings, and popes; here they enjoyed hospitality at once
grand, cordial, and cheerful. The country-life contributed not a
little to arouse and maintain liveliness, freshness, fertility, and
elasticity of mind in those who were overwhelmed with grave business of
all kinds. The villas, far more than the town-houses, were the places
where men met for social intercourse, partly because there they could
keep themselves more free from business, partly because they were there
not troubled with the want of space which was an inconvenience in the
city. The villa-life of the _literati_ has been already mentioned. The
remarks concerning country-residences and country-life made by Leon
Battista Alberti, about the time now under consideration, in his book
‘The Father of the Family,’[407] throw light on an important side of
the condition of the citizens, and give a glimpse into the temperament
and tastes of the classes who held the direction of the commonwealth.
These men did not give themselves up to idle pastimes, but to gaining
and keeping a clear survey of personal and civil relations, and to
increasing their own prosperity, and with it that of others, by a wise
culture which looked beyond the limits of ordinary domestic economy.

There was a darker side to this country-life, and among its shadows was
that of the gaming-table. As far back as 1285 a decree had been found
necessary forbidding the use of dice and other games of chance,[408]
and in the year before the Pazzi conspiracy another similar decree
was issued.[409] These prohibitions, however, shared the fate of
the sumptuary laws, and no doubt the relations with Naples in the
fourteenth century did no good in this respect. Still the Florentines
never went such lengths as disgraced the society of cardinals and
great lords at Rome in the latter half of the fifteenth century in the
days of Sixtus IV. and Innocent VIII. Alberti, who in another of his
writings[410] describes gaming and its attendant ruin arising from
either loss or gain and the bad company inseparable from it, probably
witnessed these corruptions more in Rome than in his native land. But
while in the city, where they were more exposed to view, men proceeded
more cautiously and chess was the game chiefly played, the villas
were too often scenes of gambling. That this habit was by no means
rooted out in the city is shown by the history of St. Antonine. After
the holy archbishop had been preaching one day in the church of Sto.
Stefano he passed, with the cross carried before him, through the Borgo
Sant’Apostolo. As he was passing the Loggia of the Buondelmonti and saw
a company at play, he entered and overthrew the tables; the gamblers,
ashamed, threw themselves at his feet and begged for pardon.[411]

The games which were also bodily exercises, and lived on in another
form, as the _giuoco del pallone_, have already been mentioned. They
were not without danger; in 1487 a son of Ugolino Verino lost his
life by a blow from a ball while engaged in the game of _Maglio_.
During the uncommonly sharp winter of 1491 these games took place
on the frozen surface of the Arno. Hunting of all kinds had always
been a favourite pastime; in many country-houses may be seen places
prepared for decoying birds. Hawking stood first of all in the lists
of amusements. For graver exercises of the chase there was a better
field in the woods of Mugello, the low country round Pisa, the
Volterra country, and the bordering Maremma, than in the well-built
and thickly-inhabited environs of the city. As for the stage, profane
drama, as is shown by the remarks of Poliziano, was just in the dawn of
its existence, and in its present antiquated form only suited for the
higher circles. This last was also the condition of the Latin dramas,
of which a great number had been composed since the beginning of the
fourteenth century. Classical comedies were performed by students. May
12, 1488, the ‘Menæchmi’ of Plautus, a favourite and oft-copied piece,
was acted under the direction of Messer Paolo Comparini, probably one
of the professors at the university. Poliziano wrote the Latin prologue
for this performance, at which Lorenzo was present.[412] The sacred
plays continued to attract high and low; and, besides the customary
representations on feast-days, they never failed to be performed for
the edification of foreign princes and potentates who came to the city.
The Florentines seem to have been especially skilled in these dramatic
representations, for their companies acted in other places outside
their own city, for example, at Rome. Famous artists, like Brunelleschi
and the engineer Cecca, who met his death in the Faenza campaign of
1488, invented the apparatus for these mystery-plays and also for
the processions in the open air, on which occasions mass was said on
the _ringhiera_ of the palace of the Signoria before the people who
thronged the square. The most solemn procession of all was that on
the eve of St. John; the scene was the precincts of the cathedral and
the baptistery, where a gigantic machinery of clouds, with saints and
angels, was built up under a lofty canopy of linen.[413] The feasts
of the Church were many and splendid; most chiefly that of St. John,
which was connected with the history of the city and the State. On
the eve of this day and on the day itself the shops of the merchants
and artificers made a display of their finest goods; Lorenzo lent his
most valuable show-pieces to his friends; and in the Baptistery was
exhibited the great silver reredos with its statuettes and reliefs.
The splendour was heightened by the participation of the numerous
clerical and lay societies, and by the influence of the festivals on
the patriotism of the multitude through their connection with glorious
events, the memory of which was kept alive among the people by these
reciprocal relations. These historical reminiscences went back to the
very earliest mythical times of the city. Mystery-plays, shows, and
similar festivals were not confined to the churches, companies, and
public occasions and places, but also took place in the houses of
distinguished citizens, and artists constantly took part in them.[414]
When it is considered that at the beginning of the next century the
number of the civil companies or brotherhoods for religious exercises
amounted to 370,[415] partly for children and partly for adults, it may
easily be understood how closely domestic life was intertwined with
that of the Church.

Some of these societies, called Standard-companies (Compagnie
di Stendardo) did not approve of social cheerfulness. But the
unions of the lower classes for the purpose of festivities, shows,
games, and merrymakings were those called potenze. Their origin is
commonly referred to the time of the Duke of Athens; it was probably
contemporary with the development of the democratic element in the
commonwealth. These societies, whose festivals and performances
strongly resembled a carnaval, were also intended for spiritual
exercises. Their number differed greatly at different times; their
names are mostly fantastically derived from the occupation or residence
of the parties concerned; there was an emperor of the Prato of
Ognisanti, a king of the wool-carders of Orsanmichele, and various
others with similar titles derived from localities in Camaldoli;
monarchs of Sant’Ambrogio and Terrarossa, dukes of the Via Guelfa, of
the Arno, of Camporeggi, of the moon, the dove, the owl; princes of
the apple and of the standard-carriage, grand signors of the Pitti and
of the dyers, lords of the chain, the swallow, the kitchen-range, the
sword, the scourge, the elm, and suchlike names. They all bore coats
of arms on their banners; thus the emperor of the Prato displayed an
eagle; the grand signor of the dyers, a caldron standing on the fire;
the duke of the Arno, a pillar of the Rubaconte bridge, with himself
majestically seated thereon, surrounded by players. These societies had
for their chief object carnaval-amusements, with games and pastimes
which degenerated into wild orgies, till in the sixteenth century the
license became so great, the waste of time and money and the annoyance
to the other citizens so disgraceful, that, after restrictions had been
tried in vain, the whole thing was put an end to.[416] Lorenzo has been
reproached with having encouraged shows and entertainments in order to
keep the people occupied and well-disposed towards himself. He probably
acted with this view just as much as the Duke of Athens; and when the
Medici came back in 1512 from their long exile, his son Giuliano and
his grandson Lorenzo employed these same means, companies and pastimes,
chiefly, as a historian of the Medicean party, Filippo de’ Nerli,
confesses, in order to keep the citizens and common people in good
humour with triumphs, festivals, and public shows, and to gather the
young nobles around themselves.[417] But the inclinations and habits
of the people made the attainment of Lorenzo’s object easy to him. The
widespread feeling for art, which gave a special charm to all public
displays, contributed not a little thereto.

Lorenzo revolutionised and developed the songs of the carnaval. The
romance writer Lasca relates[418] the state in which he found the
carnaval and what he made of it. Youths and men were wont to walk
about the streets in women’s clothes and mimick the girls and women
on May-day. The songs they sang were all much the same; the variety
introduced into their form and substance by Lorenzo was enhanced by
the melodies of Heinrich Isaak. The first masquerade of this kind was
that of the glass-blowers and pastrycooks, with a three-part choir.
The Triumphs (_trionfi_) were great mythological or allegorical
performances; the Chariots (_carri_), representations of works, &c.
Richly dressed horsemen, to the number of 300, rode beside these
chariots, which came out in the afternoon and often enlivened the
streets till far into the night, accompanied by men on foot carrying
white wax torches. There was also instrumental music and singing
in four or eight parts, sometimes even fifteen parts. According to
the style and contents of the songs, so the nature of these popular
amusements was varied. In several of Lorenzo’s carnaval-songs
the license of the day is but too evident; they were downright
Roman saturnalia. Later on, when reaction took place against this
worldliness, the first thing attacked was the carnaval. It will be
seen hereafter that this opposition had begun long before men’s minds
were biassed in a new direction in consequence of a revolution in the
political circumstances of Italy and the foreboding of evil to come.
The sobering change which followed this license is shown by a satirical
dialogue in verse on the carnaval, which was forbidden the houses and
streets; a popular production of historical value on this account,
that it expresses a foreboding of the many evils which were to befall
Rome—Rome, the home of the saturnalia, which threatened to swallow up
all life and effort as in a whirlpool:[419]

  Questo è stato carnasciale
  C’ha ’l cervel nelle scarpette,
  Con suo certe gente grette
  C’ han giocato il capitale:
  Hanno avuto certe strette
  Tu Fiorenza le lor mercíe
  Stazonate brutte e lercíe
  Sì che han perso ogni lor fede.
  Poi che vai, cammina presto
  Per l’Italia tutta quanta,
  Et a Roma tua ch’è santa,
  Tu farai questo protesto:
  Che tempesta a lei vien tanta,
  Che stupisce il cielo e ’l mondo:
  Lancie, spade e squadre a tondo
  Chiariran la sua gran fede.

Amid the coarse sensual doings of the time there were yet some
festivals in which, although accompanied by immoderate display, poetic
feeling found room for expression. During one carnaval Lorenzo got up
a brilliant procession representing the triumph of Paulus Æmilius; it
was on this occasion that the young painter Francesco Granacci gave
the first proofs of his remarkable talent for decoration. In another
procession of the same kind the planets were personified and easily
recognised by their emblems, and were drawn through the streets in
seven chariots amid the sound of music and songs composed for the
occasion.[420] Allegorical representations of this sort were common.
Twenty or thirty years later Raphael gave them the highest consecration
of art in his pictures of the planets, and the multitude was not
lacking in a sense of allegory. These gay scenes were rivalled by the
carnaval procession got up by Bartolommeo Benci in honour of Marietta
Strozzi Giachinotti, a granddaughter of Palla.[421] Eight young men
of distinguished families—Pucci, Altoviti, Vespucci, Girolami, and
others—took part in it. On the evening of the carnaval they all went
together to the house of the Benci, whose name is still borne by a
street in the Sta. Croce quarter. They were all dressed in vests
of silver and crimson brocade, and mounted on horses with silken
housings, each accompanied by eight grooms and thirty torch-bearers.
After supper the whole party proceeded to the lady’s house, followed
by four men carrying a stage twenty ells high, made of branches of
laurel, yew, cypress, and other evergreens, and adorned with a number
of allegorical representations of the triumph of love, with the
escutcheons of the lady and the author of the festival, surmounted by
a bleeding and burning heart from which rockets flew up. Round about
were pipers and mounted pages dressed in green. Bartolommeo Benci,
with gilt wings fastened to his shoulders, came riding on a handsome
and richly caparisoned horse, surrounded by fifteen youths of good
family dressed in crimson, and 150 torch-bearers wearing his colours.
Amerigo and Francesco Benci and the lady’s brothers Nanni and Strozza
Strozzi joined the party. The gentlemen, with gilt spears in their
hands, showed off their horses before the windows; then Bartolommeo
took the wings from off his shoulders and threw them on the triumphal
stage, which at once burst into flames, while a number of rockets flew
up from it, some high in the air, some towards the house. When the
fireworks were over the party retired, the giver of the entertainment
making his horse step backwards till he was out of the square. They
then went round to the houses of the lady-loves of all the gentlemen,
and finished with an aubade (_mattinata_) before the house of Marietta,
who during the whole scene remained at the window, between four wax
torches, ‘with such a stately grace as Lucretia herself would not
have needed to be ashamed of.’ The show ended at dawn of day with a
breakfast at Bartolommeo’s house. All the Signoria’s servants, who had
kept order during the night, received stockings of the Benci colours.

The people always preserved their unwearied gaiety, which Ariosto
called ‘lo spirito bizarro fiorentino.’ They were always wide awake,
ready for a jest, keen in perception, quick at a repartee, disposed to
give merit its due, but with the eyes of a lynx for every weakness. The
merry meetings with their stories, not inventions of the Decamerone
but the links that connected it with the prevailing manners, easily
degenerated into buffoonery, as many examples remain to show. As the
Florentines went round as jesters to the courts of princes, so they
had in the herald or knight of the Signoria a sort of official buffoon
who was, however, employed in earnest as well as in jest. The best
known jesters belong to the fifteenth century; of these, the barber
Burchiello represents the literary type, while the chief example of the
ordinary jester with his verbal witticisms is the Piovano Arlotto or
Arlotto Mainardi, vicar of a little place in the diocese of Fiesole,
who is mentioned in Lorenzo’s ‘Beoni,’ a true mirror of the somewhat
coarse-grained wit of these revels. Besides the tales of Francesco
Sacchetti, written at its commencement, which are satirical in their
plot as well as in their too often licentious phraseology, the two best
known examples of buffoonery overstepping the acknowledged limits of
fiction, both in the form of romances, belong to the fifteenth century.
The one story is that of the fat cabinet-maker, Manetto Ammanatini,
a jest which is said to have driven its victim, a master of artistic
cabinet-making and tarsia-work, away to Hungary. It originated with
Brunelleschi and his artist-friends, and the actual authorship of the
tale has been attributed to him. The other story treats of Bianco
Alfani, who was made to believe that he had been chosen Podestà of
Norcia, and had to suffer for the delusion.[422] The species of humour
which distinguishes these compositions was long preserved in the
_villeggiature_. Lorenzo was no stranger to it, and Leo X., in the
story of Baraballo, gave himself up to it in a manner little becoming
his dignity.

As regards moral weakness and defects this period was certainly not
better than its neighbours; and there can be no hesitation in accusing
it of having, by gradually accustoming people to the powers that then
were, paved the way for the destruction of the commonwealth in favour
of one man, who was not a Lorenzo. The lamentations over the corruption
of the times were very frequent. ‘O city of Florence!’ cried the
honest Vespasiano da Bisticci in 1480, ‘thou art full of usury and
dishonest gain! The one devours the other; greed has made thy people
foes one towards the other. Evil-doing has become so habitual that no
one is ashamed of it. In these latter days thou hast witnessed such
unheard-of doings among thy citizens, such disorders and failures,
and dost not yet perceive that it is a judgment from God, and thus
thou continuest in thy hardness of heart. There is no hope for thee,
for thou thinkest of nought but money-making; and yet thou seest how
the wealth of thy citizens passeth away like smoke as soon as they
have closed their eyes.’ Whatever might be the state of affairs,
however, such words as these are not to be taken literally. There was
an immense amount of good sterling material left in the people who
had outstripped others on the road to intellectual knowledge, civil
order, and industrial development. The peculiar relation between the
different classes, which, in the ultimate development of democracy,
in some measure neutralised its evils, struck root so deeply that it
was never completely destroyed by the predominance of Spanish manners
which undermined and strove against it for centuries. The Tuscan
countryman, raised by the old colony-system, which formed a sort of
joint possession, assumed an attitude of freedom towards his lord; the
hard and fast lines by which classes were divided in other lands were
never known here. The Florentine nobility never forgot that by far the
greater part of their number had risen from the ranks of the people in
times which were not remote enough to be buried in the night of ages;
and in their persons the people felt themselves to a certain extent
ennobled. Feudalism never attained its full force here; even when its
tendencies prevailed throughout all the rest of Italy except Venice,
in Florence it had little more than a formal existence. Down to the
extinction of the Medici race, with a few exceptions, they never cast
off the traditions of the citizen element. Thus in Florence there were
never, as elsewhere, violent conflicts aroused by the sharpness of
social contrasts. Conflicts of another kind were avoided by the fact
that, since the strengthening of the commonwealths, the higher orders
of clergy, notwithstanding their considerable possessions, exercised no
real territorial power and almost always kept on good terms with the
commonwealths. In the appointment of bishops, too, the popular element
on the whole prevailed, though sometimes, and indeed repeatedly during
the fifteenth century, single appointments were made from a purely
papal point of view. The reaction which set in so soon after Lorenzo’s
death against the laxity of morals which is laid to his charge, and
the heroic perseverance with which these Florentines defended their
independence for nearly forty years, prove most clearly what wholesome
qualities were hidden within the nature of this genuine, pliant,
powerful citizen-people.

The picture of the Florentines in the last days of the Republic,
sketched by an historian of the following century,[423] is equally true
of Lorenzo’s time: ‘I do not share the opinion of those who refuse
to admit that the Florentines can be noble-minded and consider them
low and plebeian because they are merchants. I have often secretly
wondered how people who from their childhood have been accustomed to
handle bales of wool and silken threads, or to work like slaves all
day and part of the night at the loom or the dye-cauldron, often, when
needed, display such loftiness of heart and greatness of soul that
they speak and act surpassingly well. The air, a medium between the
keen atmosphere of Arezzo and the heavy air of Pisa, doubtless has
some influence on this peculiarity. Whosoever considers deeply the
nature and manners of the Florentines must arrive at the conclusion
that they are more fitted to command than to obey. I do not deny
that there are among them haughty, covetous, and violent men, such
as are to be found elsewhere. Nay, they are even worse here than in
other places; for as talent and merit are more brilliant there than
elsewhere, so also evil qualities are more conspicuous—so hard is it
for them to preserve moderation. Their manner of life is simple and
thrifty, but distinguished by cleanliness such as is not met with
elsewhere. It may be said that in this respect artisans and people who
live by daily labour are a pattern to the citizens of higher position;
for whereas the latter are easily led away to the taverns if they
hear that good wine is to be had there, and give themselves a day of
pleasure, the former stay at home with the thriftiness of tradespeople
who work seeking for their enjoyment in advance, and with the modesty
of citizens who understand moderation, rules, and discipline, and will
not quit the safe path. Of course there are families which have a great
household and a rich table, such as would become noblemen. People call
each other by their Christian names, also by their family names, and
usually say ‘thou’ unless there is a great difference of rank or age.
The knights, doctors, prebendaries, and canons are entitled Messere,
the professors Maestro, and the monks Padre.’

Leon Battista Alberti and the pious Fra Giovanni Dominici speak in
similar terms of the respect for parents and superiors.[424] ‘My
father,’ Alberti describes his cousin Francesco as saying, ‘never
sat down on public occasions when his brother, who had received the
honour of knighthood, was present; and he pronounced it as his opinion
that one ought not to sit down in the presence of one’s father or the
head of the family. Your Romans,’ he added, turning to Leon Battista,
‘who are now ill-conducted in all things (_in ogni cosa mal corretti
oggi_), have likewise fallen into great error in this respect: they
honour their parents less than their neighbours, and thus grow up in
disorder and vice.’ Fra Giovanni recommends Madonna Bartolommea degli
Obizzi to teach her children before all things to reverence their
parents, and thus secure earthly happiness. We have before remarked how
Lorenzo impressed on his son the duty of showing proper respect for his
elders; on this point he was always consistent. The good old habits of
strictness were also kept up by many distinguished women. In Lorenzo’s
time there are no such charming portraits as those sketched in his
grandfather’s days by the good Vespasiano;[425] but Alessandra de’
Bardi, wife of Lorenzo Strozzi; Francesca Giacomini Tebalducci, wife of
Donato Acciaiuolo; Nanna Valori, wife of Giannozzo Pandolfini; Caterina
Strozzi Ardinghelli; Saracina Giacomini Acciaiuolo, and others, could
not fail to have worthy successors; and the beautiful and dignified
female portraits which give such a peculiar charm to Ghirlandajo’s
frescoes in Sta. Maria Novella would alone be enough to prove that
the generation had not died out. Times had become more settled and
peaceful, and since 1478 there had been no sudden overthrow or turn
of fortune such as had hitherto rapidly succeeded each other. In the
undisturbed peace of their homes good women found ample scope for the
practice of the Christian virtues which had distinguished their mothers
and grandmothers, often widowed or homeless in early youth, amid the
stormy days of trouble.

Knighthood has been frequently alluded to in this work. While nobility
of birth was attended by civil disadvantages, personal nobility, or
knighthood, had a peculiar value of its own. This distinction was
a relic of the romantic days of Charles the Great. In imitation of
kings and emperors the commonwealth claimed the power of granting it,
and in 1288 the first example is said to have occurred in the war
against Pisa. Knighthood was a necessary qualification for the office
of Podestà, and was conferred on those appointed if they had not
previously received it. Knights of this sort were called _Cavalieri
di popolo_. Two cases of strangely conferred knighthood occurred in
the fourteenth century. After the rising of the lower classes on July
20, 1378, more than sixty citizens, with Salvestro de’ Medici at their
head, were knighted at the request of the multitude. When quiet was in
some degree restored these knights of the Ciompi, as they were called,
were summoned to declare whether they wished to keep the dignity
thus tumultuously conferred on them; in which case they were to be
knighted over again by a syndic of the commonwealth who had himself
attained that honour. Thirty-one accepted the offer. On October 15
they assembled in the church of the Annunziata and thence proceeded,
in knightly attire, to the great square; and there, in presence of the
Signoria, the Podestà—a Venetian nobleman—completed the ceremony as
syndic of the commonwealth, whereupon they took the oaths of allegiance
and received from the Gonfalonier their lances, standards, and shields
with the arms of the people.[426] On April 26, 1389, two members of the
Panciatichi family, one a child not much more than four years old, were
made knights of the people. Great honour was shown them, and like Cola
Rienzi in Rome of old, they, with many of their relations and friends,
spent the night in the Baptistery, where seven great beds were set up;
and the next day a banquet took place in the convent of Sta. Maria
Novella[427] at which 250 citizens were present.

The knights of the people were divided into two classes-the _cavalieri
di corredo_, knighted for civil services, and the _cavalieri di scudo_
for military ones; the former named from the banquet which they gave
after the ceremony, the latter from the shield; like the _noblesse
de robe_ and _noblesse d’épée_ in France. Both classes bore on their
breasts, or on their helmets, shields, &c., the arms of the people,
usually with the red lily of the Republic on a round, white escutcheon,
sometimes also with the arms of the Guelf party. Besides these there
were other knights who had received their dignity from Popes or foreign
sovereigns, especially the kings of France, on embassies and suchlike
occasions; and others who had been knighted on the battle-field by a
commander-in-chief, as a reward for their bravery. These last were
entitled _cavalieri d’arme_, to distinguish them from the _cavalieri di
scudo_. The wearing of the golden spurs, afterwards so much abused, was
the prerogative of these military knights.

Embassies had always been important to the Florentines in a political
point of view, as well as a means of obtaining personal distinction.
In the first jubilee year, when twelve of them appeared before Pope
Boniface VIII. as the representatives of various states, he called
them the fifth element. They always preserved their reputation as good
diplomatists. Not only did clergy, statesmen, and scholars take an
active part in diplomacy, it was a career open even to the Grandi, the
real nobility who were excluded from all the offices of state. In the
fifteenth century the splendour with which the embassies were conducted
corresponded with the importance of the state and the personal rank
of the ambassadors. Their posts, however, were not lucrative; for
if, as was the case in 1483, each ambassador received about ten gold
florins a day, the expenses in excess of those which he could charge
for were very heavy. Besides the solemn embassies on special occasions,
there were resident envoys at Naples, Rome, Milan, and Venice. The
former were numerous and brilliant, and comprised, besides the actual
ambassadors, younger men (who, according to a later regulation, were
not to be under the age of twenty-four), who went to learn the business
of diplomacy and see foreign lands; there was also a chancellor and
other officials. Only two examples need be referred to for the high
honour in which Florentine embassies were held—Neri Capponi’s famous
embassy to Venice during the war of the Visconti, and that to Louis
XI. on his accession. ‘Never,’ says Macchiavelli, ‘did that Signoria
receive a prince with so much honour as they did Neri.’ King Louis,
with the Duke of Britanny and a suite of about forty horsemen, advanced
two leagues from Tours to meet Monsignor Filippo de’ Medici, Piero de’
Pazzi, and Buonaccorso Pitti (Luca’s son), envoys of the Republic,
and kept his hat in his hand because the first-named would not be
covered.[428] Travelling was slow; the embassy had left Florence on
October 27, and reached Tours on December 23. With what splendour Piero
de’ Pazzi returned home has been mentioned already.



THE house of the Medici had not its equal in Florence, probably not in
all Italy. Its inner arrangements corresponded with its outward stately
and beautiful architecture. Three generations, with the whole world
open before them, of highly-cultivated, art-loving owners had ruled
in it. No other family ever existed in which the love of collecting,
combined with a hearty appreciation of the value and importance of the
most various objects, retained its ardour and thoroughness through
so many centuries, as in the case of these Florentine merchants, who
gradually developed and grew into a princely house, and intermarried
with the royal houses of Hapsburg, Lorraine, Wittelsbach, and Bourbon.
As in other great historical families, the same traits were noticeable
in all the Medici. Even in the days when several members of the house
fell victims to the curse that eventually destroyed many of the ruling
families of Italy, when the Medici as a distinct family were fast
perishing, though mourned for by thousands—even then the surviving
members of the race preserved the many brilliant qualities which had
made their ancestors famous. In every direction they had relations
with grand-dukes and princes; beautiful, curious, and rare objects of
art were sent to them from all quarters of the globe by their agents,
diplomatists, scholars, artists, and merchants; and in their own
country they constantly employed those who displayed talent, learning,
or skill. The colossal wealth of the Florentine collections, chiefly
inheritances from the Medici, proves this; and the sudden bankruptcy
which occurred in all these things at their extinction gives a striking
example of the contrast which was brought about by years.

The history of art and literature from Cosimo’s days shows what a
treasury of paintings, sculptures, coins, engraved stones, manuscripts,
gems, and antiquities of all kinds were collected together in that
house in the Via Larga. Commines, describing the shameless plunder of
the Medici’s houses begun in November 1494 by the French and continued
by the Florentines,[429] estimates the value of the objects destroyed
in one day at 100,000 crowns;—‘the most beautiful rings, specimens
of agate, admirable cameos, and near three thousand gold and silver
medals, such as no other collection in Italy could equal.’ Galeazzo
Maria Sforza once said that he, too, could show treasures; but the
finest things in all the world were collected in the house of a
private man—Lorenzo. And what a quantity had been gathered together
there since the visit of the Milanese Duke! ‘Lorenzo,’ says Niccolò
Valori,[430] ‘took the liveliest interest in all things antique. I
have heard from Marsilio that on receiving from Girolamo Rossi of
Pistoja a bust of Plato, found amid the ruins of the Athenian Academy,
his delight was exceeding great, and he always held that bust in high
honour. Those who wished to do this great man a pleasure vied with
each other in bringing him coins and bronze works distinguished by
their value and workmanship, and antiquities of all sorts, from all
parts of the world. When I came home from Naples I sent him busts of
the Empress Faustina and Africanus and several beautifully chiselled
marbles. I cannot describe the manner in which he received them. What
he had collected from all quarters he carefully preserved in his house.
He did not show them to just anybody, but only to those who understood
them, and at festive banquets he adorned his table with works of art
to do honour to his guests. When the excellent Duke Federigo of Urbino
saw these treasures of Lorenzo, he admired not only the materials and
skilful workmanship, but also the almost incredible number of the
objects. He is said to have thus addressed Lorenzo: ‘How much can love
and perseverance accomplish! I behold, here, a royal treasure-house;
yet one such as no king is able to gather together, either by money, or
power, or rapine.’

These treasures were collected in the most various ways. Sellers of
antiques brought them to Florence or sent them from a distance. When
Paul III.’s rich collection of engraved and precious stones was sold
after his death, a considerable part of it passed into the hands
of the Medici for a moderate sum, by means of Giovanni Tornabuoni.
Lorenzo himself in his memoirs mentions the marble busts of Augustus
and Agrippa, gifts of Sixtus IV., and the vases of chalcedony and
engraved stones bought in Rome. In 1484, 1488, and 1490, Luigi Lotti
of Barberino, Giovan Antonio of Arezzo, and Andrea of Fojano were
commissioned to make purchases in Rome and Siena.[431] On Giuliano
da Sangallo’s return from Naples, King Ferrante gave him a bust of
Hadrian, a nude female statue and a sleeping Cupid, for Lorenzo, who
had sent him to the king.[432] Messer Zaccaria Barbaro, grateful for
the sympathy shown to his son, sent a precious Greek vase. Carlo de’
Medici bought antiquities, coins, &c., in Rome. Besides the manuscripts
and objects of art, there were a quantity of curiosities and handsome
household furniture of all sorts, porcelain and majolica, given by the
Malatesta, and, as Lorenzo wrote,[433] more highly prized by him than
if they were of silver, because they were excellent, rare, and, till
then, unknown in Florence. Much of what now adorns the great Uffizi
collection came to Florence in those days. Most of the sculptures
and larger works of art, however, were not placed in the house in the
Via Larga, where there was no space for them, but in the neighbouring
garden of San Marco. Opposite the left aisle, near to where the long
street joins the large conventual and other gardens, the Medici had a
casino, to which were attached grounds and plantations extending as
far as the Via San Gallo. Casinos of this kind, intended for social
purposes and walks, were usual among the great Florentine families even
down to the last century. The whole place has been altered; a century
after Lorenzo’s time, Bernardo Buontalenti built a grand but heavy
palace, which has been lately used for various purposes, and after the
extinction of the Medici, part of the ground was cleared for the pretty
house called Casino della Livia, after a favourite of the Grand-Duke
Leopold I. About the same time the appearance of the adjoining Piazza
San Marco was completely changed by the new façade of the church, the
new front of the convent, and the building of the Academy of Arts on
the site of Lemmo Balducci’s hospital.[434] Here, in the alleys of
trees, were set up the antique sculptures, and in the house were kept
the cartoons and pictures which had been collected in the course of
years; here young artists studied from old and new models. Lorenzo,
most eager of collectors, knew how to appreciate love of art in others.
Not only to allied princes did he give great assistance in this
respect. When Commines returned from his embassy in 1478, he brought
home several beautiful medals of which the ‘Seigneur Laurens’ had made
him a present.[435]

The Medici did not confine their splendour to their town houses.
Lorenzo divided his time between the city and the country. His
appreciation of the beauties of nature made a sojourn at his villas
particularly agreeable to him; and following the example of his father
and grandfather, he frequently went to stay at Careggi, whose nearness
to the city facilitated the transaction of business; in the hot season
he went up to the more retired and cooler Cafaggiuolo or Trebbio. After
Careggi, however, his favourite abode was Poggio a Cajano. Half way
between Florence and Pistoja, ten miles from either city, on a low
hill, the last on the north-eastern slope of the Monte Albano, which
separates the plain of Pistoja from the valley of the Nievole and the
lower part of that of the Arno, stands Sangallo’s handsome building,
overlooking the green and fruitful valley watered by the Ombrone, and
made famous by Lorenzo’s poem of ‘Ambra.’ Travellers may now wander
through the well-cultivated grounds of the farm, and the park, twenty
or thirty years ago still full of gold pheasants, the descendants of
those procured by Lorenzo from Sicily; or cross the stream by means
of a suspension-bridge. The beauty of the place, and the admirable
arrangements made for purposes of husbandry by the owner of the villa,
were described by Poliziano at the end of his ‘Ambra’ (composed in
1485), and by Michele Verino in a letter to Simone Canigiani. An
aqueduct brought water from the neighbouring height of Bonistallo.
Besides the vegetable and fruit gardens there were large mulberry
plantations for rearing silk-worms, still a profitable business in
that district. On the low uplands were large stalls, paved with stone
for the sake of cleanliness, and with their four turrets resembling
little fortresses; here was kept a whole herd of fine cows which fed on
the rich pasture-lands and supplied the city of Florence with cheese,
an article which hitherto had had to be fetched from Lombardy. There
were plenty of calves and sheep; a breed of uncommonly large pigs had
been got from Calabria, and a breed of rabbits from Spain. Birds of
all kinds abounded, particularly water-fowl and quails. The quantity
of water made the soil fruitful, but there was ample provision for
manure.[436] It is interesting to see the statesman and patron of
literature and art occupied with agricultural interests, a liking
for which he had inherited from his grandfather, and to which he was
specially attracted by his strong feeling for nature.

Down to our own time the villa of Poggio a Cajano has kept up these
traditions side by side with its historic reminiscences. The very
ancient and noble family of the Cadolingi of Fucecchio had property
here which passed to the powerful Pistojan family of the Cancellieri,
and in 1420, by sale, to Palla Strozzi.[437] How and when the Medici
came into possession of it is unknown. That it should have changed
hands twice in a century is nothing astonishing, considering the
vicissitudes of families in those eventful times. Nowhere is one
so vividly reminded as here of Lorenzo il Magnifico, who actually
built the place as it is now. When his second son had mounted the
Papal chair, he caused the great hall to be decorated with frescoes
representing scenes from the old Roman world, and containing allusions
to home events. Paolo Giovio, a client of the Pope and of Cardinal
Giulio de’ Medici, chose the subjects; the animals bringing tribute
to Cæsar were painted by Andrea del Sarto; the triumph of Cicero,
which Poggio Bracciolini had compared to the return of Cosimo, by
Franciabigo; and some mythological representations by Jacopo da
Pontormo. Leo’s death interrupted the work, which was completed in 1580
by Alessandro Allori. In a Pietà forming the altar-piece of the village
church Giorgio Vasari placed the two patron saints of the Medici beside
the dead Saviour.[438]

In these stately and beautiful localities, both in the city and
country, active, energetic, comfortable, and cheerful life went on its
way in spite of a few natural troubles. Lorenzo never gave himself up
to senseless luxury such as many princes and cardinals indulged in;
but he was always a grand gentleman in the true sense of the words. He
never forgot that he was a Florentine citizen, as he loved to describe
himself; his correspondents adopted the same idea of him, and he
impressed the fact strongly upon his sons. At the same time he never
forgot that at home all eyes were fixed on him, and that abroad it was
he who represented the State. In his house and his villas there was
perpetual movement. Everybody and everything went to and fro in the
house of the man who stood at the head of all. Besides politics, he was
constantly engaged with family affairs and intercourse with scholars
and artists. He had many relations, and made good use of some of them.
Numerous families were intimately connected with his. Many were made
great by him; others, great already, he tried to attach more and more
to himself. He stood godfather to his own countrymen as well as to
foreign princes. When in 1490, Duke Alfonso of Calabria consented to be
sponsor for the son of Giuliano Gondi, a business friend of the Medici,
he asked Lorenzo to act as proxy for him.

The Medici in some degree kept open house. We learn from the life of
Michelangelo that whosoever was present at the beginning of the dinner
took his seat after the master of the house, each according to his
rank; and the arrangement of the table was not altered for those who
came later, even though they were of higher rank. All the inmates of
the house who were not servants dined together; the young Buonarotti,
then in the earliest days of his apprenticeship, was a constant guest
at his patron’s table.[439] Besides the Academic and other learned
symposia, banquets were frequently given, both in the city and at
Careggi, in honour of distinguished foreigners or ambassadors, and
on festive occasions. Cristoforo Landino has left an account of a
banquet which was something between a dinner of scholars and a feast,
and was given by Lorenzo in his young days, when a noble Greek named
Philotimos, who traced his pedigree up to the time of Constantine
and prided himself greatly thereon, came to Florence accompanied by
an Athenian philosopher named Aretophilos, to condole with the young
Medici on the death of his father. Lorenzo rode out four miles to meet
his guests, and conducted them to his house, where he had assembled
the most distinguished literary men and the friends of the family.
Among the company were Gentile Becchi, Antonio degli Agli, Giorgio
Antonio Vespucci, Leon Battista Alberti, Ficino, Landino, Poliziano,
Argyropulos, his pupils Piero and Donato Acciaiuolo, and Alamanno
Rinuccini. The discourse at table and the claims of the proud Greek
furnished Landino with the materials for his treatise on true nobility,
which he dedicated to Lorenzo.[440] On these and suchlike occasions the
hospitality was on a grand and brilliant scale; but on ordinary days
Lorenzo kept his table within the modest limits befitting a citizen.
So Franceschetto Cybò discovered when he came on a visit in June 1488.
Roman lords and a number of other people accompanied the Pope’s son;
they wished to see the splendour of the house of Medici, of which all
the world spoke so much. Franceschetto stayed in his father-in-law’s
house; a fine palace was assigned to his companions. After a few days
passed in festivities, the visitor found a simple table. He wondered;
and when the dinner and supper were served in the same style, he began
to suspect that his companions might be treated in the same way. The
suspicion troubled him, knowing as he did with what expectations they
had come to Florence. He was therefore delighted to learn that they
continued to be most sumptuously entertained. Talking confidentially
with his father-in-law he mentioned the circumstance, whereupon Lorenzo
quietly answered that he had received him into his house as a son and
was treating him as such; to act otherwise would be to make a stranger
of him. The noble lords who had come with him to celebrate his marriage
were strangers; Lorenzo was treating them accordingly, as became his
position and theirs.

At the end of 1482 an illustrious German guest came to the Medici
house: Eberhard the Bearded Count of Würtemberg, son-in-law of Lodovico
Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, a connection which formed a natural
introduction to friendly relations with the Medici.[441] The count’s
learned companions have been already mentioned. Eberhard surveyed the
riches of the house, the handsome halls filled with plate and other
valuables, the library, the terrace with its evergreen fruit-trees
and the stables. What he saw here must have been a source of great
enjoyment to this highly accomplished prince, who combined a love of
native literature with a knowledge of antiquity, possessed a fine
library, and four years before had conferred a lasting benefit on
his admiring country by founding the university of Tübingen. He saw
the whole family, Lorenzo and his sons, Clarice and her daughters,
still all together in those days. He openly expressed his pleasure at
everything, both the house and its inhabitants. When he admired the
collection of books, greatly increased and with much discrimination
since Cosimo’s days, Lorenzo, with a play on the words _libri_ and
_liberi_, answered that his children were his greatest treasures. From
Florence Eberhard went to Rome, where Sixtus IV. presented him with the
golden rose.[442]

The German prince admired Lorenzo’s stud, and no doubt with justice.
Lorenzo had a passion for riding-horses, hunters, and racers. Presents,
purchases, and borrowing of horses occur over and over again in his
correspondence. In October 1488 he bought twenty mares at Naples, and
only a short time before his death horses for him were on their way
from Egypt and the coast of Barbary.[443] The taste of the Florentines
for horse-racing, with or without riders, and for which even in those
days there were regular horse-lenders, has been preserved down to our
own time; in the house of the Alessandri is shown a room whose walls
are entirely covered with brocades won as prizes by a horse belonging
to the family. Lorenzo always kept race-horses; one in particular,
called Morello from its dark colour, always came off victorious, and
was so attached to its master that it showed signs of illness when
he did not feed it with his own hand, and testified its joy at his
approach by stamping and loud neighing.[444] In his young days a
handsome Sicilian horse was presented to him, and its value was outdone
by that of the presents he gave in return. He himself made presents
of horses. In November 1479, when he was particularly anxious to keep
on good terms with Lodovico il Moro, he sent to Roberto Sanseverino,
who was at that time a confidant of the Moro, a fine horse and a
falcon.[445] Letters about their horses passed between Lorenzo and
King Ferrante, the Este family, the Sforzas of Pesaro, and others. In
January 1473 the king thanked Lorenzo for the gift of a horse about
which his ambassador, Marino Tomacelli, had written to him. Four
years after he announced that he was sending Lorenzo two racers, a
Sicilian and another, from his own stud, and two hunters, as tokens of
his attachment. Horses of the king’s, lent for the Florentine races,
were on their way at the time of the Pazzi catastrophe.[446] It was,
moreover, the custom to send horses to allied nobles and cities, to
keep them for the races; those of the Medici went to both Ferrara
and Lucca. When Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro was going to be married to
Maddalena Gonzaga at the end of the summer of 1489, he begged Lorenzo
to lend him one of his horses for the tournament to be held on the
occasion. In Lorenzo’s latter years his eldest son had the direction of
the stables.[447]

Lorenzo has left in his pretty and cheerful description of the
hawking-party a graceful memorial of his love of the sport. Hawking was
an old pastime always in great favour with princes and nobles. Dante’s
master, Brunetto Latini, mentions in his ‘Treasury’ seven species of
falcons which served for the chase. Two contemporaries of Lorenzo paid
special attention to the training of these birds: the King of Naples,
who imported the best falcons from Rhodes with the permission of the
grand-master of the Hospitallers, and Ercole d’Este, to whom Lorenzo
gave leave to catch the birds on his estates in the Pisan territory. In
return for this the duke sent to Lorenzo some of his own well-trained
falcons for the purpose of the chase or to help in training his wild
ones, and the king several times made him presents of hawks, as he
did also to Maximilian of Austria, Ferdinand of Castile, Galeazzo
Maria Sforza, and others.[448] The wide, well-wooded and watered plain
of Pisa, and the lowlands and hills round Poggio a Cajano, were the
scenes of the chase. On December 1, 1475, Angelo Poliziano, who was
seldom absent from either studies or sports, wrote from Pisa to Madonna
Clarice, then expecting her confinement (the child was afterwards
Pope Leo):[449] ‘Yesterday we went hawking. It was windy and we were
unlucky, for we lost Pilato’s falcon called Mantovano. To-day we tried
again, and again the wind was contrary; yet we had some fine flights,
for Maestro Giorgio let loose his falcon, which returned obediently
at a given signal. Lorenzo is quite in love with the bird, and not
without justice, for Maestro Giorgio says he has never seen one larger
or finer, and he hopes to make him the best falcon in the world. While
we were in the field Pilato returned from the shore with the truant
of yesterday, which redoubled Lorenzo’s pleasure. We are hawking from
morning till night, and do nothing else. On Monday I hear our sport is
to be varied by a deer-hunt.’

Independently of hunting, Lorenzo liked being in Pisa, and it was
not his fault that the unfortunate city’s relations with Florence
did not improve, and that she could not accustom herself to bear the
position of a subject city. Even when not called there by business,
he frequently stayed there. From his youth up he was in the habit of
leaving Florence to meet friends for change, for hunting or to see
after his great estate at Agnano. This place, first a fortress and then
a villa round which had gathered a population of a few hundreds, lies
on the western slope of the Monte San Giuliano, four miles from Pisa,
near marshes which Valori says Lorenzo would have drained if he had
lived longer, and which mostly are drained now. A large pine-wood forms
part of the estate, which in Lorenzo’s days furnished a considerable
quantity of corn and oil, and with other possessions in the Maremma of
Pisa, at Colle Salvetti (now one of the stations on the railway which
passes through the plain to Civita Vecchia), at Colmezzano, and other
places, formed a most important part of the Medici landed property.
Lorenzo’s letters bear testimony to the great care he took in the
improvement of husbandry in this hitherto sadly neglected part. Like
Spedaletto, Agnano passed to Maddalena Cybò; her son Lorenzo, who was
not on very good terms with his wife—Ricciarda Malaspina, heiress of
Massa and Carrara—ended his days there in 1549.[450] After Lorenzo
had re-established the University of Pisa, its interests frequently
called him to the city. During the disastrous fight for Sarzana he made
Pisa a sort of head-quarters. The house then inhabited by the Medici,
now belonging to the Pieracchi family, stands not far from the upper
bridge over the Arno—the Ponte della Fortezza—on the right bank,
near the church of San Matteo. Here is said to have occurred, seventy
years after Lorenzo’s death, that domestic tragedy which has never been
cleared up, and which casts a dark shadow over the history of the first
Medicean grand-duke.

In Lorenzo’s days the house was more cheerful. Here, probably, was the
scene of his discourse with Federigo of Aragon on Italian poetry; here
he passed some pleasant days in April 1476. He came by San Miniato,
where a halt was always made, with six-and-twenty horses. ‘We rode
along,’ wrote Poliziano to Clarice,[451] ‘singing, and sometimes
talking theology in order not to forget this season of fasting; Lorenzo
was triumphant. At San Miniato we tried to read some of St. Augustine,
but the reading was soon exchanged for music and for polishing up
a figure of a dancer which we found there.’ There was no lack of
merriment and jesting wherever Lorenzo went; the Pisan students found
him a ready supporter of their carnaval gaieties, at which they were
permitted to take away the instruction-books from the professors and to
spend on festivities the money paid to ransom them. The attribution to
Lorenzo of the combat on the middle bridge over the Arno (_Giuoco del
Ponte_), at which the ground was disputed between armed bands on either
side, and which was forbidden by the Grand-Duke Leopold I. on account
of its fatal episodes, is a mistake; traces of it may be found in much
earlier times.

It was in Pisa, at the end of May 1477, that Lorenzo received Eleonora
of Aragon, wife of Duke Ercole of Ferrara; she had come by way of Lucca
to attend her father’s marriage at Naples, whither she was conveyed by
a royal fleet which had anchored at Livorno.[452] As long as Filippo
de’ Medici was Archbishop of Pisa, and his brother Tanai dwelt there,
there was no lack of grand hospitality; Luigi Pulci mentions the
festivities during the presence of the Duke of Calabria in the war of
Colleone.[453] Other than cheerful purposes called Lorenzo to Pisa.
He sought in its mild air relief from physical sufferings; as in the
autumn of 1474, after being cured of fever by the waters of Porretta.
He stopped at Pisa, at a critical moment of his life, before embarking
for Naples. In the little church of Sta. Maria della Spina, whose
spires and pinnacles are seen adjoining the quay on the south shore,
in 1485 he ordered for the victims of the Sarzana struggle requiems to
be sung, at which he was present together with the widow of Bongianni
Gianfigliazzi, who had met his death in the unhealthy air of the
Lunigiana coast.[454]

Lorenzo’s visits to the baths played a great part in his life, though
they never took him beyond the borders of Tuscany. Gout was hereditary
in his family; his grandfather, his father, and his uncle all suffered
from it, and his mother too was not exempt. When only twenty-six he
was obliged to take the waters of Porretta, which still attract so
many invalids to the valley of the Reno in the Apennines, on the road
between Pistoja and Bologna. His most frequent resort was Bagno a
Morba, where Madonna Lucrezia had a house and stayed frequently, and
in his latter years he had the water sent to Spedaletto. Most of the
Tuscan baths were anything but inviting; some are not more so now.
In the Roman territory they are still worse; Ser Matteo Franco,
describing the baths of Stigliano near the lake of Bracciano, remarks
that in comparison with this place Bagno a Morba was a Careggi. Lorenzo
tried other medicinal waters. In the autumn of 1484, after the taking
of Pietrasanta, he went to the baths of San Filippo in the Sienese
country. These remarkable thermal springs are reached by turning out
of the old Roman high-road at the little village of Ricorsi, at the
foot of the inhospitable height of Radicofani, and proceeding through
the valley of the Orcia towards the stately group of Mont’Amiata,
covered throughout its 5,000 feet of height with chestnuts and
beeches, and surrounded with a girdle of villages. The springs lie in
a deep ravine encircled with woods; a precipitate of carbonic acid
and lime forms a marble-like crust, and the waters are an efficacious
remedy for arthritic disorders as well as for skin-diseases. It is a
desolate place, with only a few houses destined for the reception of
invalids, in the narrow valley where oppressive heat alternates with
a damp cold atmosphere. In autumn of the following year, and several
times afterwards, Lorenzo came again. In the spring of 1490 he spent
some time at the baths of Vignone in the same valley of the Orcia, a
little southwards of San Quirico. Powerful thermal springs, similar
to those mentioned above, issue from a travertine hill in the middle
of the village, and fill a large basin; they were known in Roman
times. Here Ermolao Barbaro visited Lorenzo, and Franceschetto Cybò
and his wife kept him company; at that season the place was safe, but
in summer the air can hardly be borne even by natives. Lorenzo’s stay
at Filetto in the valley of the Merse has already been mentioned. All
these water-cures only gave temporary relief to his malady, and the
short time he usually devoted to them would have prevented any lasting
result even if his maladies had been less rooted and less complicated.
Besides, even after his health had suffered considerably, his mode of
life was not exactly regular. He not only exerted himself too much in
attending to business of all kinds, public and private, which poured
in upon him surrounded as he was by many cares, but he was always
involved in love intrigues. Bartolommea de’ Nasi, the wife of Donato
Benci, held him in her chains for years; she was neither young nor
beautiful, but graceful and attractive. Even in winter he would ride
out in the evening to her villa to be back in the city before daybreak.
Two confidants, Luigi della Stufa and Andrea de’ Medici, were his
usual companions. They got tired of it, and their remarks came to the
ears of the lady; whereupon she managed to have them punished by being
sent off on diplomatic errands, the one to Cairo and the other to
Constantinople—an old and well-worn contrivance which, in this case,
caused a sensation of a nature not very favourable to the great man,
‘who behaved himself like an inexperienced youth.’[455]

The princely dignity which Lorenzo enjoyed was as apparent in his
relations with foreign rulers as in his position in his own country,
in his own house, and in his journeys. The former have been repeatedly
mentioned. Everyone made use of him; everyone applied to him; everyone
gave him thanks and presents, from antiquities down to sweet-smelling
essences, which the Duchess of Calabria sent him. He sent his friends
and acquaintances presents of books, works of art, horses, wine, and
other things. In June 1489 he presented a vase full of balm to Anne
de Beaujeu, ‘Madama di Belgiù.’ Venison and fish seem to have been
favourite gifts on the part of communities and individuals; on one day
five wild boars were taken to Lorenzo’s house.

A great event, which has left its trace in the history of art by a
representation in a fresco at Poggio a Cajano, was an embassy from
Abu Nasr Kaitbei, Sultan of Egypt, or of Babylonia as he was called,
which arrived at Florence on November 11, 1487, and was honourably
and joyfully received by the foreign ambassadors and many of the
citizens.[456] It was a fortunate time for the Republic, which had a
few months before got rid of the dreary affair of Sarzana, and had
now entered on a period of comparative peace which was not disturbed
till the revolution of 1494. Italian affairs were of considerable
importance to the Egyptian sultan, not only on account of commerce
but also politically, on account of his relations with Naples and
Venice; difficulties with this latter state might easily have been
created by the sultan’s claims to the suzerainty of Cyprus, where
Caterina Cornaro continued to reign as a queen of shadows till 1489,
under the protection of Venice. The sultan’s eyes often turned towards
the west as the progress of the Osmanli threatened an attack on the
loosely connected empire of the Mamelukes, which, indeed, fell before
their better-compacted power within less than thirty years. After the
subjection of Pisa, Florence had frequent commercial relations with
Egypt, and a desire to enlarge and secure its privileges gave rise to
negotiations for which an Egyptian ambassador named Malphet came to
Florence in 1487, and in the following year a Florentine, the aforesaid
Luigi della Stufa, went to Cairo.[457] The former was sent at once to
the Signoria of the Republic and to the ‘Hakim’ (lord) Lorenzo de’
Medici, and brought rich presents for both. On Sunday, November 18,
he had a solemn audience of the Signoria in presence of many of the
chief citizens. He had led before him a giraffe and a tame lion, gifts
from the sultan. The giraffe was no novelty to the Florentines, for
one had been already seen at the festivals with which the visit of
Pius II. was celebrated; and the lion, the emblem of the commonwealth,
was always carefully kept here, alive as well as in effigy. A street
behind the palace of the Signoria took its name from the lion-cage,
afterwards removed to the square of San Marco. A Sicilian interpreter
translated the conversation, which turned on the privileges offered
to the Florentines in Egypt and Syria. For Lorenzo the ambassador
brought gifts of various kinds: an Arabian horse, rare animals, among
which were rams and sheep of various colours, with long hanging ears
and tails; several horns of civet, a lamp with balsam, a quantity of
aloe-wood, beautiful many coloured porcelain such as had never before
been seen, vases of preserves, and rich and finely woven silk and linen
stuffs.[458] There was a great festival in the Medici household when
all these rarities were brought home; Madonna Clarice was absent, being
then at Rome with Maddalena. Among Lorenzo’s gifts to the sultan is
mentioned a bed, carried by a special messenger.

Whenever Lorenzo went to the baths or left home for any purpose, he
was everywhere received like a prince. The municipalities within the
Florentine dominions were accustomed to send yearly presents to the
capital on certain feasts, and they did not neglect to send offerings
to the head of the Republic. After the fashion of the times these gifts
usually consisted of provisions and goods for the house. When Lorenzo
was expected, early in 1485, at San Gemignano, on his way to Bagno a
Morba, but took another route, the municipality, which had voted 100
lire for his reception, sent to Morba a load of Greek wine, capons,
marchpane and wax.[459] The Signoria of Siena, though they had not
a few complaints against Lorenzo, honoured him in a similar manner
when he was in their territory. During his stay at Vignone they sent
ample provisions for his table.[460] His suite was unusually numerous.
A list of the persons he once took with him to Morba[461] names the
following: a chaplain, Filippo (Ubaldini) da Gagliano, Francesco degli
Organi (Squarcialupi), a house-steward, two chancellors (secretaries),
two singers, Bertoldo the sculptor, a barber, two valets, a butler,
five crossbowmen, ten grooms, an equerry, a cook, a kitchen-boy, and
a coachman. For these thirty-two persons fourteen beds were required.
His family, too, when they travelled without him, were everywhere
received in the most distinguished manner possible. A letter of their
faithful, cheerful friend, Matteo Franco, gives a lively sketch of a
journey on horseback made by Clarice in May 1485, from Morba, where she
had been with her husband, through the Volterra district and the Elsa
valley to Florence. At all the places where she stopped, especially at
Colle, where the first halt for sleeping was made (the second was at
Passignano, where stood the great abbey given to Giovanni de’ Medici),
everybody was astir; yet friendly intercourse was combined with a
ceremonious reception.

Whether in town, in the country, or on a journey, Lorenzo was always
surrounded by friends, whose names are inseparable from his. Most
of them have become known in the course of this history; various
characters, of whom more than one may be differently judged, according
to whether we view them in private life and in their confidential
relations, or as public men, authors or otherwise. First come those
who were the guides of his youth or whom he knew in his father’s
house; Gentile Becchi, who remained a member of the Medicean household
even after his appointment to the see of Arezzo, as bishops were not
required to reside too strictly; Ficino, Landino, and Poliziano. Then
those who, having been friends of his parents, attached themselves to
him in his youth and manhood; or those who first came in contact with
him in his mature years; Luigi Pulci, Matteo Franco, Bartolommeo Scala,
Pico della Mirandola—besides those who were drawn to him by political
and allied interests, and who zealously served him and, in his sense of
the word, the State, without forgetting themselves. On each and all
Lorenzo had a deep and lasting influence; he was the centre around
which all revolved, the link that bound all together, however much
a few of the disaffected ones might try to fight against it. Their
attachment to him was not forced or selfish; the affection expressed
in Pulci’s letters and Poliziano’s verses had nothing artificial about
it. Lorenzo was a genial man, cordial and kind, a born prince, simple
and natural. In his intercourse with the scholars and artists who were
in some sense dependent on him, the relation of patron and client was
forgotten. Their letters to him, grave and gay, are proofs of their
confidence and intimacy. If they address him as ‘Magnifico,’ they soon
follow it up with a plain ‘Lorenzo.’ In the midst of the war-troubles
of 1479, Donatello’s pupil Bertoldo wrote Lorenzo a letter full of
fun, to the effect that it was more profitable to be a cook than an
artist;[462] and the famous Niccolò Grosso, called Caparra, in reality
a blacksmith, but who executed works of art, would not fulfil Lorenzo’s
orders till he had executed others he had received first.[463] How
entirely constraint was banished in intercourse with him is shown
by his conversation with the mosaic-worker Graffione, a pupil of
Baldovinetti. Lorenzo once said he would like to adorn the inside of
the dome of the Cathedral with mosaics. ‘For that you could not get
masters,’ replied Graffione. ‘We have money enough to get masters,’
was the probably half-jesting answer. ‘Eh, Lorenzo,’ exclaimed the
artist, ‘it is not the money that procures the masters, but the masters
who procure the money!’ He bore with their humours and oddities; he
honoured them living and dead, feeling that their fame would add to
his own. Had he done nothing for art beyond the cordial and almost
fatherly reception which he, a powerful and much-envied man of mature
years, gave to Michelangelo when the latter was almost in his boyhood,
that alone would make his memory illustrious. On his death-bed he
desired once more to see the friends in whose society he had passed his
happiest hours, and whose attachment followed him beyond the grave.

Notwithstanding many disturbances caused by political events,
increasing bad health, and several deaths in the family, still life was
cheerful in the Medici household. Music was a daily pleasure. Lorenzo’s
poetical talents attached him to this art, and his unmusical voice
did not hinder him from taking a part in singing. Marsilio relates
that he did so at a social gathering which apparently took its name of
_La Mammola_ (the Violet) from a still existing hostelry. Thus, too,
one evening, when he was singing the mysteries of love, he originated
a discussion as to whether subjects in which mourning occurred were
appropriate, which Ficino decided in the affirmative.[464] In his
poetical productions he reckoned much on musical effect, a necessary
condition of songs for dancing and for the carnaval. As long as his
health permitted he was never absent from the merry processions at
which popular melodies alternated with those of Heinrich Isaak; and on
journeys, at the May-festivals and other times of gaiety there was no
lack of musical accompaniments to the verses of Poliziano and other
friends. Although from Guido Aretino down to the father of Galileo,
Tuscany produced no remarkable composer or writer on music, yet the
people were always musical. Ficino was doubly welcome when he appeared
with his plectrum, after the pattern of the earliest half-deified
apostles of Greek culture, to secure a better reception for ancient
philosophy by his strains delighting the ear and winning the heart. As
in Poliziano’s ‘Orpheus,’ Baccio Ugolini accompanied on the lyre the
ode in praise of Cardinal Gonzaga, so did Marsilio when extemporising,
in which art he was a master.

One of Lorenzo’s protégés was the organ-builder Antonio Squarcialupi,
who, as a precentor, had been a familiar of the house in Piero’s
time. His life and conversation seem not to have been blameless; but
Lorenzo took him under his protection for the sake of his uncommon
talent. ‘If you knew,’ he said once to those who blamed him, ‘what it
is to attain perfection in anything, you would judge him more gently
and modestly.’[465] Squarcialupi set to music many of the songs of his
patron, who, it is said, composed the inscription for his tomb. To
the friendship of the Medici he owed the epigram in which Poliziano
called upon Florence to honour with a marble monument him who had long
been the voice of her temple.[466] The man really must have possessed
rare artistic merits; for a son of the Count of Altavilla—one of the
guests at the Salutati banquet—came to Florence with an introduction
from King Ferrante to Lorenzo, to study the organ and other instruments
under Squarcialupi; and ten years later a clergyman named Stephen came
from Ofen, with a recommendation from Matthias Corvinus, to learn
organ-building.[467] In 1477 a lute-player of Lodovico Sforza’s suite
came to Florence to be heard by the famous master.[468] Organ-building,
as well as organ-playing, was a somewhat rare art. The difficulty of
finding good masters is shown by the trouble and loss of time caused
in Cosimo’s days to the committee entrusted with the building of the
Cathedral, through the untrustworthiness of Matteo da Prato, who had
undertaken to furnish the new organs, to be decorated by Donatello
and Luca della Robbia. Lorenzo took great interest in this branch of
music. Many of his letters relate to organists recommended by him to
various Tuscan towns, or sent from one place to another. At his death
there were in his house no less than five organs; one large one with
a finely-carved wooden case, the rest smaller, partly metal, partly
paste-board, which was then used for these instruments.[469] Musicians
were included among the servants; and in the evenings there was singing
and playing on the lute. Michelangelo in his later years used to tell
of a man who was called the _Cardiere_, and who was a great favourite
with Lorenzo on account of his wonderful talent for improvising songs
to an instrumental accompaniment.[470] Lorenzo also looked after the
musical education of his children. ‘The evening before last,’ wrote
Poliziano to him at Bagno a Morba on June 5, 1490,[471] ‘I unexpectedly
heard our Piero sing, and then he and his companions came to my room.
He pleased me exceedingly, especially in the motetts and answers to
the strophes, and also by his charms of articulation. I felt as if I
were listening to your Magnificence.’ Leo X. had through life a true
passion for music and improvisation. As a cardinal, his palace near
Sant’Eustachio (Palazzo Madama) continually resounded with instruments
and singing; and in the Vatican music and poetry vied with each other,
and both improvisers and musicians made their fortunes with the Pope.

It is needless to repeat how closely poetry was intertwined with the
life of the Medici. The taste for it was hereditary. Cosimo the elder,
Lorenzo, his brother Giuliano, all wrote poetry; so did the younger
Piero and others of the family. As a child Lorenzo’s daughter Lucrezia
knew by heart the spiritual songs of her grandmother;[472] and the
songs of the ‘Morgante’ were first heard in the Medici house when
Lucrezia Tornabuoni took part in them. Many of Poliziano’s poems were
evidently intended to be recited to his patron; and when he relates
in a letter[473] how one asked him for sermons for the brotherhoods,
another for carnaval songs, one wanted sentimental songs for the viola,
another gay serenades, it is probable that he referred to members of
the society he met in the house of the Medici. One can fancy Pulci
and Matteo Franco sending satirical shafts in the form of sonnets at
each other across the table. In the ‘Beoni’ and ‘Nencia,’ evidently
intended for gay meetings, Lorenzo himself gave the signal for poetical
entertainments and contests; Pulci once answered him with the ‘Beca
da Dicomano.’ The poetic gifts of his eldest son are displayed in the
latter’s productions; the verses written by him in exile show more
depth of feeling than one would have given him credit for. In his
youth, at least, his contemporaries seem to have judged him favourably.
In a sonnet of Antonio da Pistoja on the poets of the time, both Piero
and his father are mentioned, and the praise bestowed on them gains
weight from the fact that Poliziano alone is placed above them:—

  Who among Tuscans doth in verse excel?
  In vulgar tongue? Aye, and in Latin speech.
  Lorenzo and his son write passing well,
  But neither can Politian’s glory reach.[474]

Piero’s letters to his father, on literary and other subjects, display
sound judgment, information, and lively interest. His boyish letters,
indeed, are of little consequence; and when, as a lad of fourteen, he
writes from the villa to his father at San Filippo, giving an account
of his own studies and those of his brother Giovanni, with whom he
was reading Virgil’s Bucolics, thereby, as he said, gaining double
profit,[475] his master’s hand is clearly traceable. But there are
other letters worthy of consideration, such as that on the visit of
Ermolao Barbaro. Although Poliziano’s descriptions of his pupil and
of the young Cardinal Giovanni lose much of their effect and even
spoil their subjects by exaggeration, yet it cannot be disputed that
Lorenzo’s eldest son, though he did not possess his father’s prudence
and calculation (a want which may perhaps be explained and excused by
the degree of splendour, fortune, and grandeur at which Lorenzo left
the personal government in his hands), yet did possess many of his
intellectual qualities. The time during which he continued to hold
the government was too short and too much disturbed by preludes of
the coming storm to furnish premisses for a decisive judgment of him;
neither can such a judgment be fairly founded on his conduct in exile,
which may be mistaken even by the keenest eye.

Piero’s wife can hardly have had a good influence on him. Alfonsina
Orsini was infinitely less fitted than her mother-in-law for Florentine
life and manners. In her nature the pride of the Roman barons seems to
have been combined with covetousness and hardness, whereby she made
herself very much disliked in later years, when her brother-in-law
was Pope and she was a great deal in Rome, where she died in 1520.
Her husband’s three sisters, Lucrezia, Maddalena, and Contessina,
the wife of Piero Ridolfi, were frequently at their father’s house.
Maddalena, whose daughter Lucrezia was born at Rome early in 1490,
became at Florence, on August 24 of the following year, the mother
of a son who was christened Innocenzo after the Pope, received the
red hat from Leo X., and, with his cousins Cardinals Salviati and
Ridolfi, played some part in Florence after the murder of the first
duke. All three sisters afterwards attached themselves to the court
of Leo X. in a way which threw no favourable light on his financial
arrangements; and the influence of Lucrezia, doubtless the most highly
gifted of the three, lasted beyond her brother’s lifetime throughout
the whole reign of her cousin Clement VII., with whom her husband,
Jacopo Salviati (father of the cardinal), was very intimate, till the
Pope’s proceedings in 1529 against the city of his fathers estranged
the relatives. In one of Ariosto’s satires, invaluable for a study
of the manners and general circumstances of the early years of the
sixteenth century, he introduces Lorenzo’s posterity and their friends
rejoicing at the elevation of Leo X.,—a rejoicing destined to be of
short duration.[476] There were numerous other members of the family,
rich and poor, nearly and distantly connected. The nearest branch was,
of course, that descended from Cosimo’s brother Lorenzo, whose chief
representative at this time was the oft-mentioned Lorenzo, son of Pier
Francesco. One of those admitted to the closest intimacy was a distant
cousin, Andrea. As long as the daughters remained at home Lorenzo
insisted on their dressing modestly and simply, in conformity to the
sumptuary laws. Certain materials he never would allow them, because
they resembled the forbidden crimson cloth, although many other grand
ladies wore them without scruple. He himself was never distinguished
from other citizens in outward apparel. In winter he wore a violet
mantle with a hood, and in summer the _lucco_: the long red robe of the
upper class of citizens, still the usual dress of the magistrates. It
is mentioned that he got Venetian silk for his dress. To elderly people
he always offered his hand and gave the place of honour, and what he
taught his sons he first followed himself.

Lorenzo’s observations generally were very pointed without falling into
the sarcasm of his grandfather. When the Sienese jurist Bartolommeo
Sozzini repeated the old reproach against the air of Florence that it
was bad for the sight (‘An ancient saying calls her people blind’)
before Lorenzo, who suffered from weak eyes, Lorenzo replied that the
air of Siena was worse still; it was bad for the brains. When the same
man, having broken his plighted word in leaving Pisa secretly, on being
caught and imprisoned complained of the punishment as unbecoming his
position, Lorenzo answered that the dishonour was not in the punishment
but in the unworthy action. He said of those who built recklessly that
they were buying repentance dear; and when his cousin Pier Francesco,
having begun at Majano a building which he kept on altering as the
work proceeded, complained that the expense far exceeded the estimate,
he exclaimed: ‘No wonder; others build according to their plans, you
make your plans after the building.’ When Carlo de’ Medici, who seems
not to have been over-nice in his methods of getting money, boasted
of the quantity of water round his villa, Lorenzo remarked that he
would have to keep his hands all the cleaner. That he also had a turn
for practical joking, which, as has been seen, was an ingredient in
Florentine life, is shown by the history of the troublesome parasitical
doctor Maestro Manente, whom he caused to be taken one evening, when
drunk, by two men in disguise, and shut up in a place unknown to him
outside the city, and given out for dead. When the supposed dead man at
last got home, his wife, who took him for a ghost, would not let him in
till the enchantment of which he was supposed to have been the victim
was cleared up by the intervention of others.[477] This trick evidently
recalls the story of the fat cabinet-maker.

In a letter to Lodovico Odasio, Poliziano has left a description of
his patron and friend in graver conversation.[478] ‘Think not that
any one of our learned brethren, even those whose very life’s work
is study, can surpass Lorenzo de’ Medici in acuteness of disputation
and in formulating a conclusion; or that he is inferior to anyone in
the easy, graceful, and varied expression of his ideas. Historical
examples occur to him as readily as to the most accomplished of his
companions; and whenever the subject of the discourse admits of it,
his conversation is richly seasoned with the salt of the ocean from
which Venus rose.’ Poliziano, the confidential friend of the house,
who was never absent either from the literary symposia or from the
narrower circle of friends, in time of joy or in time of mourning,
understood Lorenzo thoroughly, and his judgment may be accepted.
Many of Lorenzo’s sayings have been preserved which bear witness to
the soundness of his judgment, or in some way reflect credit on him.
He said once: ‘As a healthy body resists the influence of a storm, so
a state can brave dangers when the citizens are of one mind.’ When
Filippo Valori (brother of his biographer) was desirous but yet afraid
to try to reconcile Lorenzo with Antonio Tebalducci, against whom the
latter had grounds for complaint, Lorenzo said to him: ‘To recommend a
friend to me would be no merit, but for making an opponent my friend
I thank thee, and I beg thee to do it again in the like case.[479]
Only he who knows how to forgive knows how to conquer,’ he added.[480]
The combination of prince and citizen, statesman and man of letters;
the mixture of gravity and gaiety, of lofty intellect and cheerful
participation in everyday life, of grandeur and simplicity in his
household and family, of sagacious calculation and hearty unfeigned
good nature,—all this makes Lorenzo de’ Medici an unusual figure, very
attractive in its individuality, and accounts for the impression he
made on all; especially, and most lastingly, on those who were intimate
at his house and had the opportunity of observing him in private.



BOTH contemporary and later writers have passed an unfavourable
judgment on Pope Innocent VIII. ‘Though the life of Innocent VIII. was
useless for the general good,’ remarks Guicciardini at the beginning
of his great history, ‘at least it was useful thus far, in that,
frightened at his unsuccessful attempt to meddle in the Barons’ War,
during the remainder of his pontificate he directed his attention to
trifles instead of planning for himself and his belongings things which
might have disturbed the peace of Italy.’ This negative praise is not
without truth, but it gives little insight into the character and aims
of the Pope. His greatest faults were weakness and inconsistency:
hence the sorry part which he played as a ruler, although he had no
tendency towards nepotism and was gifted with sound judgment. It was
his weakness which made him abandon the affairs of Aquila and of the
Barons, and caused his ever-wavering conduct towards the King of
Naples. The latter alternately lured and contemptuously defied him,
rendered the treatment of his own restless feudatories uncertain, and
provoked disturbances in Rome which led to the robbing of the papal
treasury by the Pope’s own son. Yet that son, compared with the nephews
of the last Pope—not to mention the one who followed—was but very
modestly provided for; so barely indeed that, but for the resources of
the Medici, Franceschetto Cybò, at the Pope’s death, would have been,
for one in his position, a poor man. It was long before Innocent
made up his mind to do anything serious for him; and considering the
traditions of all the Papal ‘nephews,’ the Colonna, Piccolomini, Della
Rovere, and Riari, it may be well imagined that Franceschetto became
impatient; more so, perhaps, as the Pope’s health was failing owing to
the two apoplectic attacks he had had in January 1485, and in February
of the following year, during which he had been given up for dead.
‘These occurrences,’ remarks his biographer,[481] ‘made his family
anxious to secure their position for the future, and they begged the
Pope to make provision for this while it was yet time.’

But they gained little, and not till after Franceschetto’s marriage did
his circumstances begin really to improve. Lorenzo was not behindhand
with his persuasions: ‘It is not without a blush,’ he wrote on February
26, 1488,[482] ‘that I commend to your Holiness the affairs of
Signor Francesco; for it seems to me unreasonable to commend to your
Holiness that which for natural reasons must be nearer your heart than
anything else. My letters and intercession cannot in reason have more
weight than the natural relationship between your Holiness and Signor
Francesco; but as I see that his affairs proceed very slowly, I feel I
ought not to refuse him my recommendation and every other support. As
he is, he tells me, very happy in possessing Maddalena, this should be
to your Holiness an occasion for treating him so as to please me too.
This will be the case if his position becomes such as shall befit the
dignity of your Holiness and set my mind at rest. I never had any idea
that your Holiness should take anything from others, or give offence
to any, in order to make him great. As this would be dishonourable
and contrary to the nature of your Holiness, so, on the other hand, I
think that it would not be in accordance with your natural kindness and
goodness if your Holiness did not provide for him, as he can easily
be portioned in a manner befitting his rank without any injury to
others. I humbly beg your Holiness to relieve yourself as well as me
of this trouble, and establish him so that further importunity shall
be needless. Thus your Holiness will be doing a work worthy of your
goodness, not only sensible and pious, but necessary, and greatly
desired by me, as a good example for all those who set their hopes on
your Holiness.’

Still the Pope was far too slow for Franceschetto’s impatience, and
seems to have had no great opinion of the latter’s judgment. The
son-in-law’s letters to his father-in-law are full of complaints which
really display Innocent in a more honourable light than those by whom
he was thus beset. ‘Like the ox, he needs the goad.’ This was a son
writing of his father, and that father the Pope! Lorenzo was not much
behind his son-in-law. One of his letters to the Pope[483] is but too
glaring an example of the profane tone in which this man, who could
display such a refined sense of decorum in other things, addressed
with the utmost coolness the very head of the Church. Innocent had had
another of his attacks of illness, and Lorenzo was getting anxious:
‘As St. Francis, by means of the stigmata, experienced in his own
body the Passion of Christ, so do I feel in and about myself all the
sufferings of your Holiness; for, putting aside other reasons, I have
the situation of our dear Signor Francesco and of many servants of your
Holiness very much at heart. Owing to your Holiness’ conscientious
holding back, all these remain almost empty-handed and have no part
of the fortune and favour which God has given your Holiness for your
merits; so that, should your Holiness be called away, which God
forbid, they would sink likewise into the grave. More especially,
however, am I moved, as must be the case with your Holiness also, by
the position of poor Signor Francesco, who, after five years of your
pontificate, is only just beginning to have something he can call his
own. Your Holiness knows better than I what supporters he has in the
Sacred College. The history of the Popes shows how few have reigned
much beyond five years, and how many have not waited so long before
showing themselves as Popes, without giving way to such scruples and
forbearance, justifiable no doubt before God and man, but which, if
they last long, may be misconstrued. Perhaps I seem too bold; but zeal
and conscience impose upon me the duty of speaking freely and reminding
you that men are not immortal, that a Pope is what he chooses to be,
that he cannot leave his pontificate to his heirs, and can call nothing
his own but honour and glory and what he does for his relatives.
Instead of depending on health and luck, your Holiness should not put
off doing what you project, and for which later there might perhaps
be no opportunity. Above all I commend to you your and my dear Signor
Francesco and Maddalena, who pray God to grant your Holiness a long
life that you may set their affairs in order. It is now about time to
release these holy fathers from Limbo, that their fate may not be like
that of the Jews waiting for the Messiah.’

While the Pope was thus plagued about secular matters, it was much the
same with ecclesiastical ones. In both cases the object was one and
the same—increase of riches and power. Everything was regarded and
treated from this point of view; of anything beyond, politicians—even
highly-gifted ones like Lorenzo—had no conception. Lorenzo was
impatient to get property for Franceschetto Cybò, he was still more
impatient to get the red hat for his own son. Giovanni was born on
December 11, 1475, and was consequently in his ninth year when Innocent
became Pope.[484] Some preparations had been made even then: ‘Cousin,’
wrote Louis XI. from Plessis-les-Tours on February 3, 1483, in reply to
Lorenzo who had applied to him on the death of Cardinal d’Estouteville,
‘I have seen what you wrote to me concerning the benefices of the
Cardinal of Rouen, and much regret not to have known thereof sooner;
for I should be very pleased if your son should obtain a good provision
and benefice in my kingdom.’

The king was as good as his word; that same spring he conferred on the
child not only the abbacy of Font Doulce in the diocese of Saintes,
but also the archbishopric of Aix, which was supposed to be vacant.
‘On May 19, 1483,’ says Lorenzo in his memoirs,[485] ‘news came that
the King of France, of his own free will, had conferred the abbacy
of Font Doulce on our Giovanni; and on the 31st we heard from Rome
that the Pope (Sixtus IV.) had confirmed the appointment, declared
him capable of holding benefices at the age of seven, and appointed
him a protonotary.[486] On June 1, Giovanni, accompanied by me, came
from Poggio (a Cajano) to Florence, whereupon he was confirmed and
tonsured by the Lord Bishop of Arezzo, and was thenceforth called
Messer Giovanni. The aforesaid ceremonies took place in our private
chapel, and in the evening we returned to Poggio. On the morning of
June 8, Jacopino the courier came with a letter from the French king,
whereof the contents were that he had conferred on our Messer Giovanni
the archbishopric of Aix in Provence. In the evening he went on to
Rome with letters from the king to the Pope and the Cardinal of Maçon
(Philibert Hugonet), and at the same time a courier was sent to Forlì
with a letter for Count Girolamo. On the 11th the courier came back
from Forlì with letters from the count for the Pope and San Giorgio
(Cardinal Riario), which were forwarded to Rome by the Milanese post.
May God direct all for good. On the same day, after mass, all the
children, except Messer Giovanni, were confirmed in the chapel. On
the 15th, about the sixth hour of the evening, intelligence came from
Rome that the Pope raised difficulties about the appointment to the
archbishopric on account of Messer Giovanni’s youth; of which news the
king was at once informed by the same messenger. On the 20th came from
Lionetto (de’ Rossi) the announcement that the archbishop was still
alive! On March 1, 1484 (1485), the Abbot of Passignano died, and an
express was sent to Messer Giovan Antonio Vespucci, envoy at Rome, to
beg the abbey from the Pope (Innocent VIII.) for our Messer Giovanni.
On the 2nd, in pursuance of an ordinance of the Signoria, possession
was taken of it, in virtue of the reservation made in Messer Giovanni’s
favour by Pope Sixtus and confirmed by Pope Innocent when our Piero
went to Rome to do him homage.’ These details show but too plainly how
benefices were dealt with, and how at the mere rumour of a prelate’s
death temporal sovereigns disposed of a high spiritual office in favour
of a child. A few years after this, King Matthias Corvinus conferred
on a boy of seven—his nephew Ippolito of Este—the primatial see of
Hungary, the archbishopric of Gran. Like Sixtus IV., Innocent VIII. at
first refused to confirm the appointment, but he ended by yielding.

The abbey of Passignano, belonging to the monks of Vallombrosa, was
one of the richest in Tuscany. The young abbot continued to enjoy its
possession till 1499, when he gave it up to the General of the Order
for a pension of 2,000 scudi. The grand fortress-like building, which
remained in the possession of the Order down to our own day, stands in
the valley of the Pesa, sixteen miles south of Florence, on the left
of the Roman military road; its church is adorned with paintings by
Domenico Cresti, who was somewhat of the Caracci school, and was called
by the name of his birthplace, Passignano. Everything in the shape
of benefices of all kinds, commanderies, rectorships, and so forth,
that came within reach of the Medici, fell to Lorenzo’s son; in 1486
he actually obtained, as a commandery, the abbey of Monte Cassino;
King Ferrante having, in order to conciliate the Pope, given him free
disposal of the famous convent of S. Benedict.[487] How anxious the
king was to appease the Medicean hunger after benefices is shown by his
letter of August 23, 1486, in answer to Lorenzo’s thanks.[488] ‘Thanks
from you were needless, for God knows we are ready and willing to do
anything in the world to prove to you our gratitude for what you have
continually done for our good and that of our state, on which you may
reckon as on your own property. Our obligations to you demand this;
and we can never do enough in favour of you and your house to satisfy
the thousandth part of our desire, as we hope you will perceive more
clearly every day.’ Lodovico il Moro answered in the same strain when
Lorenzo thanked him for giving his son the abbacy of Miramondo.[489]

All this, however, was but the prelude. There is something very
repulsive in the impatience with which Lorenzo looked forward to
his son’s cardinalate, and pressed the Pope to confer it. For the
ambassadors of the Republic there seemed to be nothing more important
than this. Lorenzo always took special good care that men who were in
his own deepest confidence should be sent to the Popes. In the spring
of 1487 Innocent wished that Pier Filippo Pandolfini, who had formerly
been in Rome, should be appointed to the vacant post of ambassador;
but he could not leave Florence, and the place was taken by Giovanni
Lanfredini, whose capabilities had lately been tested at Naples.
‘I have used my influence with the Signoria,’ wrote Lorenzo to the
Pope on May 6,[490] ‘to procure the appointment of a man with whom
your Holiness will be perfectly satisfied. For besides that Giovanni
Lanfredini (he who is destined for Rome) is an excellent honest man and
conversant with business, he also possesses my heart (_il core mio_),
as I am much attached to him on account of his merits.’ To Lanfredini
himself Lorenzo wrote on June 16 of the following year:[491] ‘I have
heard what his Holiness said to you about the creation of cardinals.
I think the Pope should not put off the nomination any longer than is
absolutely necessary. According to my view his Holiness will be quite
another Pope after it. For whereas hitherto he has been a head without
members, he must get some; whereas he has been the creature of others,
now others must be the creatures of him. Therefore persuade him,
yea, urge him, to take the needful decision; the sooner the better.
_Periculum est in mora_; as much as he gains by acting he loses by
hesitating. Use all your influence to procure this blessed promotion
as soon as possible. As the matter is before the Sacred College, it
cannot be delayed without great damage to the holy father’s dignity and
power. As to the persons to be nominated, I approve of all the names
which are marked; they are those of which you have spoken to me. If he
can do us that pleasure, let him do it. If the promotion were to be put
off on our account, tell him he may act according to his judgment. If
he thinks it well to begin with a single one to show that it is in his
power, he can nominate more by degrees till everybody is satisfied.’

Months passed away; the Pope’s indecision was unconquerable, and
Lorenzo’s impatience increased. ‘As I understand from our ambassador,’
he wrote to Innocent on October 1, 1488,[492] ‘that your Holiness
intends shortly to create some cardinals, I should think myself
deserving of grave censure did I not put you in mind of the honour
of this city and my own, though I am sure that your Holiness in your
goodness remembers both. I do not believe that in the whole course
of your pontificate you could do anything that would deserve more
gratitude from the city; and as the dignity of a cardinal is lofty and
much sought after, this city would feel it deeply should her hopes
not be fulfilled.’ It concerned the honour of Florence that a son of
Lorenzo—a mere boy—should be received into the senate of the Church!
Meantime, while Lorenzo thus unceasingly urged his claim, he was taking
equal trouble to prevent the same dignity from being conferred on
some fellow-countryman for whom he had no predilection. ‘The Pope,’
he wrote to the ambassador,[493] ‘does not know our people’s ways (_i
polli nostri_) as we do. Not only the cardinalate, but any increase
of position and dignity, would be dangerous if it came otherwise
than in the right way.’ Who can tell whether the chief cause of this
long delay in the only promotion undertaken by this Pope was not
really a scruple, struggling with political considerations? Innocent
himself had decided that no one under thirty should be admitted to the
cardinalate, and Giovanni de’ Medici was not yet fourteen. Lorenzo
never ceased writing,[494] Lanfredini never ceased talking. Cardinals
Sforza, Borgia, La Balue, and Zeno, were pressed into the service.
‘The services daily rendered us by Monsignor Ascanio,’ says Lorenzo
in a letter to the ambassador, February 21, 1489, ‘deserve better
thanks than words. My obligations to him could not be greater if I were
recalled from death to life.’ The story current in Florence—perhaps
exaggerated—of the sums spent on the occasion furnishes a commentary
on these words.

At last, on March 9, 1489, the promotion took place.[495] It resulted
in five cardinals, among whom were the Pope’s relative Lorenzo de’
Mari, who took the name of Cybò, and the Grand Master of the Knights
of St. John, the heroic defender of Rhodes, Pierre d’Aubusson. But
besides these five, at the same consistory, Innocent conferred the
same dignity on three others, without publishing their names—what is
now called a reservation _in petto_. One of these was Maffeo Gherardi,
a Camaldulensian, patriarch of Venice; the second was Federigo
Sanseverino, son of Roberto; the third was Giovanni de’ Medici.

It was quite clear that the Pope was ashamed of himself. In the
worst days of the Church no child had yet been made a cardinal. The
nomination was to be kept secret for three years; whosoever divulged it
was to be excommunicated. It was very soon seen how this was observed.
On the day of the promotion, cardinals Sforza and La Balue, the Bishop
of Cortona, prefect of the Apostolic Chamber, and the ambassador,
announced to Lorenzo that his son had been made cardinal-deacon of
Sta. Maria in Domenica.[496] ‘God be thanked,’ wrote Lorenzo to the
last-mentioned,[497] ‘for the good news received yesterday about
Messer Giovanni; news which gave me all the greater pleasure, because
I expected it the less on account of the importance of the matter
and its difficulty bordering on impossibility, besides which it far
exceeds my deserts.... I know not whether the Pope is displeased at
the rejoicings which have taken place here on all sides, and in such
a degree as I never saw before; there would have been a yet more
brilliant expression of general joy, had I not interfered. To prevent
the demonstration was out of my power. As Messer Giovanni’s promotion
is secret, these festivities certainly seem out of place. But you at
Rome have let the thing become so well known that it could not be
otherwise here; and it would have been impossible for me to keep aloof
from the congratulations of whole cities, small and great. If it is
wrong, it cannot be helped. Now I want to know how we are to behave
ourselves in future, and how Messer Giovanni’s mode of life, dress,
and servants are to be arranged; for I would not reward so great a
benefit by not making a proper display according to the manner most
likely to please the Pope. Messer Giovanni keeps at home; the house is
full of people. (The foreign ambassadors had immediately come to offer
their congratulations.) I wait to hear from you whether I shall, as I
proposed to you, send Piero to Rome. Perhaps it would be more befitting
the importance of the favour that I should go there myself.’ Poliziano
had written a letter to the Pope, taking occasion of the nomination to
praise Innocent and describe the lad as worthy of his new distinction.
He wanted to have it read out in the Consistory; but Lorenzo had too
much tact to join in such an absurdity, and sent the letter to the
ambassador, not concealing his own adverse opinion, and leaving it to
Lanfredini to do with it what he thought fit.[498]

On the same day, March 4, Lorenzo addressed to the Pope the following
letter of thanks.[499] ‘I have received with the utmost reverence your
Holiness’s brief of the 9th instant, concerning the promotion of Messer
Giovanni. As this news had already reached me through our ambassador,
I at once wrote to your Holiness, more to put into words my inability
to thank you fittingly, than to give expression to my gratitude. That
God alone can do, not I. This only can I say in reference to this
undying benefit, that through what your Holiness has done for my son
you have at the same time elevated me; and this increase of authority,
as well as whatever more may accrue to me, I place at the disposal of
your Holiness, to whom it belongs rather than to me.’ Then comes an
apology for the publication of the news, which had originated not with
Lorenzo but in Rome. The Italian princes by no means undervalued this
new proof of Lorenzo’s influence over the Pope. The Duke of Calabria
said to Vettori, the ambassador,[500] that one could see how great was
Lorenzo’s power, and that the Florentine ambassador ruled Innocent. He
wished he could be together with Lorenzo and Sforza to talk over the
strife with Rome. He believed it would not be difficult for him to make
the alliance of the three states such as should be apparent in their
whole conduct. One could see how much the Pope did for Lorenzo, and how
he had made his son a cardinal at an unheard-of age; so that one might
conclude that everything could be arranged if he chose to do all he

The man who had contributed most to overcome the Pope’s scruples,
Giovanni Lanfredini, only survived his success a few months. In
November 1488, he had lost at Rome his eldest son, Orsino, a youth of
sixteen.[501] ‘It is with much regret,’ wrote Lorenzo,[502] ‘that I
have heard of your son’s death; the news was the more painful to me
as I had not known of his illness. If I did not know your strength
of mind, and how accustomed you are to both good and evil, I should
use more words of consolation than I do, and represent to you my own
heavy losses, which are but too well known to you. Resign yourself to
the decree of God; the more so as your son is far rather to be envied
than pitied. You and yours will never want for friends who regard your
concerns as their own. As for me, on account of the sympathy I feel for
you and for the sake of your old and tried attachment, I shall always
conduct myself towards you as your sentiments and actions, and my duty
and gratitude, require. Be comforted, Giovanni; take courage, trust
in God, and reckon on your friends.’ Another letter[503] is expressed
in equally cordial terms. But the loss of the son broke the father’s
heart. ‘Giovanni Lanfredini,’ wrote the Ferrarese ambassador on March
16, 1489,[504] ‘is at Rome confined to his bed; and as business
presses, the Signoria has ordered Pier Filippo Pandolfini, who is now
at Pitigliano, to proceed thither immediately. Lanfredini has asked for
leave of absence. He seems to have had quite enough of his post, and I
think he feels he can now give it up with honour, after helping the son
of the illustrious Lorenzo to attain the dignity of cardinal.’ As soon
as the promotion took place, Lorenzo had expressed his strong sense
of what he owed to Lanfredini.[505] ‘I recognise the duty of always
remembering him who has directed the whole affair, and of putting those
who shall come after me in mind of it. For no greater event has ever
befallen our house, and I owe more than three quarters of it to your
zeal and attachment.’ Lanfredini’s condition improved so that he could
resume his duties; but this did not last. He died on January 5, 1490,
in the house of the Acciaiuoli in the Leonine city.[506]

The Bishop of Rimini wrote to Lorenzo:[507] ‘The man is dead who
kept this court at your service. Henceforth things may take another
turn; and they have already gone so far that it has been said you
will no longer have everything your own way.’ It seems, indeed, that
the weak-minded Pope had allowed some suspicious remarks to escape
him, to the effect that he could not safely trust to Florence, where
individual interests were in the ascendant. These expressions induced
Lorenzo to send Bernardo Dovizi to Rome to consult with Pandolfini.
The instructions drawn up by Lorenzo[508] show his irritation at the
changeableness of the Pope. ‘Such as neither know me personally nor
have seen me put faith in my word; and now I am met with want of
confidence after all my trouble and exertions, and the experience there
has been of my sentiments.’ The ill-feeling, however, seems to have
soon passed away.

One of the last affairs in which Lanfredini had to act was the
canonisation of the Archbishop Antonine, in which the Emperor Frederic
III. was also interested. Lorenzo proposed that the Bishop of Arezzo
and Volterra should undertake the cause. Lanfredini’s successor
Pandolfini continued the negotiations; but it was not till 1523 that
the reverence of the Florentine people for this worthy and pious man
received the sanction of the Church from Pope Hadrian VI.



DURING all this time the quarrel between the Pope and the king was
assuming serious dimensions. One could hardly expect otherwise when
the characters of the two men are taken into consideration. The one
combined a full conception of lofty dignity with the consciousness of
very little real power, was very excitable, wanting in perseverance,
and continually going from one extreme to another; the other was slily
calculating, practised in all the arts of unprincipled cunning, and
disposed to undervalue his opponent when the tide seemed to have turned
in his own favour. When the king thought he had rid himself of all
enemies and suspicious persons in his own country, he did not hesitate
to disregard the stipulations agreed upon in August 1486, and defy
the Pope. The dispute went on through 1488 even to the proclamation
of ecclesiastical censures. This was unpleasant to Lorenzo for many
reasons: ‘I fear,’ he wrote to Lanfredini, September 3,[509] ‘people
will think it is meal out of my tub, though you know that the Pope
has acted not only without me but against my advice. Not only is the
king ready and inclined to attempt aggression, but the Pope is utterly
unprepared; in fact, his affairs are in such disorder that a most
disastrous war may arise out of this.’ Lorenzo’s son-in-law begged him
to go to Rome in the autumn, but he refused, waiting to see whether
the Pope and the king would come to terms. In the spring of 1489 the
Spanish court made an effort at mediation through ambassadors in Rome.
Ferrante’s object seemed to be to increase the Pope’s anger by personal
attacks on him and his, so as to produce an immediate rupture. This
conduct can be explained only on one of two suppositions: he either
thought that he could treat his adversary as he chose without danger
to himself, or he was determined to let things come to a pass which
might, indeed, easily bring him to the gates of Rome, but might also
just as easily call other nations to the rescue. All the misfortunes
that befell Ferrante’s family and dynasty in 1495 were provoked by
his self-will of six years before. It was no thanks to him nor to
his son, who was worse than he, nor to the Pope, that they were not
overtaken then by the misfortune of which both parties—the one in his
ambitious, tyrannical stubbornness, the other in his inconsiderate
weakness—seemed to have no foreboding. That it was avoided for a time
was chiefly owing to Lorenzo de’ Medici, a fact the merit of which
ought to cover many of his sins.

After the fruitless Spanish attempt at mediation, and while Ferrante
was doing all he could to stir up the King of the Romans against
the Pope, the latter resolved to act. On June 27, 1489, Niccolò
Orsini, Count of Pitigliano, arrived in Rome. A dispute between this
excellent soldier and the Republic of Siena had, in the previous April,
resulted in his dismissal from the Florentine service; whereupon the
Pope offered him the post of Captain-General of the Church. As the
astrologers pronounced the constellations favourable, on the very
day of the count’s arrival the Pope presented him with his insignia
of office, tunic, hat, sword, and commander’s staff, and blessed the
two standards, while Orsini knelt before him. On the following Sunday
the new captain-general made his triumphal entry into Rome from Monte
Mario. He was then forty-eight years of age, but can be best imagined
as he is represented on his monument in SS. Giovanni e Paolo at
Venice, erected twenty years later, when he had fallen a victim to his
exertions during the war of the League of Cambrai. He appears there
as a fine-looking stately horseman with waving plume and rich scarf;
his head is slightly bent as if in thought, and turned towards the
right; he holds in his hand the commander’s staff, and stands between
allegorical statues of Prudence and Faith. On the 30th, after high
mass, the citation of the King of Naples took place. He was allowed
three months’ grace to fulfil his duty as a vassal; that he would
submit was not to be expected. The most zealous preparations were made
for the war which seemed inevitable. Cardinal Sforza, on behalf of
Lodovico, and Lanfredini, who was ill, sought to restrain the Pope from
taking an extreme step. On the part of the Florentines, at least, this
mediation was honestly meant.

Lorenzo went in July to the baths, whence, according to the new
Ferrarese ambassador Manfredo Manfredi,[510] he came back refreshed
and well on August 6. Scarcely was he home when he set to work at
the Roman affair. ‘As to the deliberations yonder,’ he wrote on the
8th to Lanfredini,[511] ‘I am of opinion that in considering my Lord
Lodovico’s proposals you must always keep in view that he can be a
turncoat on occasion and may very likely have private aims, as the
quarrel between the Pope and the king may be very convenient to him
in many respects. Considering his nature, therefore, we must not rely
on him too much, but must follow his example in profiting by his
proceedings when they answer our purposes, but keeping the upper hand
if he takes it into his head to change. First of all I wish the Holy
Father to let the Venetians know that both Lord Lodovico and ourselves
have induced him to conceal from the Republic nothing that concerns his
relations with the king. This I say because in any case it seems to me
important that the Pope should at least keep the Venetians in their
present mind until we all see our way clearer. There is no real trust
to be placed in those people, but their authority is useful; and it is
quite possible to keep on tolerable terms with them without causing
my Lord Lodovico to take fright. But above all I wish to be assured
whether the Pope is determined to abide by the conditions already
settled, or whether he thinks of agreeing to some modifications. As to
the tribute-money, I think a compromise possible; as for the barons,
I see no means, as the king has gone too far to be able to draw back.
With regard to spiritual matters an arrangement will be easy, for
the king will hardly raise difficulties where he has only to give
promises. When it comes to keeping them they must just wink at each
other, as all popes and all kings have done. The point therefore is to
know exactly what we have to abide by before taking a decision which,
according to my view, must depend on what the Pope really intends; and
his will cannot be forced, particularly if peace is established in
France. Endeavour therefore to give me sure information if possible.
In any case it is my fixed opinion that the Pope’s honour must be
kept unstained, if my Lord Lodovico agrees with me, who, however, as
before said, is not much to be trusted. A good understanding must be
maintained with the Venetians, for the sake of having something to
fall back upon. I think you must decline with thanks his Holiness’
proposal to confide the negotiations in question to me. It would be a
distinction for me, but would scarcely answer his Holiness’ purposes.
I, however, prefer his Holiness’ advantage to that which would be
an honour to me personally. In any future agreement with the king,
the conditions of the last peace will have to be modified in some
particulars, and stronger shoulders than mine will be needed to bear
that burthen. I shall consider myself honoured enough if the interests
of his Holiness are secured with honour.’ Lorenzo’s unwillingness to
take part in negotiations between the Pope and Venice was partly
founded on the knowledge that the latter power was anything but
well-disposed towards him. Two years after this his friend Guidoni,
the Ferrarese ambassador, who had exchanged his post at Florence for
the more difficult one in the city of the lagoons, wrote to him: ‘The
Venetians detest your name more than Satan does the Cross.’

As Ferrante showed no sign of returning from his ways, Innocent
continued to proceed against him. On September 11, 1489, in presence
of the Neapolitan ambassador Antonio d’Alessandri, the kingdom of
Naples was solemnly declared to have lapsed to the Holy See through
non-fulfilment of homage.[512] The ambassador protested and appealed
to the Council. The next day he appeared in the Sixtine Chapel with
the other ambassadors, to celebrate the anniversary of the Pope’s
coronation, just as if nothing had happened. But he was startled on the
13th, when a French envoy, Guillaume de Poitiers, of the family of the
Counts of St. Vallier, arrived with great pomp at the Vatican.[513]
For a long time past the Pope had been negotiating with France, and
the French showed their desire for a good understanding with Rome by
delivering up the Turkish Prince Dschem to Innocent at the end of the
winter. It was already suspected that as soon as affairs were settled
in Brittany, where resistance was already broken, whose last duke was
dead, and where union with the crown was in progress, the French king,
now nineteen, would turn his eyes towards Italy. Rome, conscious of her
own weakness, reckoned on foreign aid, thinking she had two strings to
her bow—France and Spain—both of whom were supposed to be displeased
with Ferrante. But the prospect of war in Italy and interference from
abroad, no matter whence it came or what the result might be, was
highly displeasing to Lorenzo, and he renewed his efforts to change the
mind of the Pope.

‘From your despatch of October 13,’ thus he begins a letter to
Lanfredini four days later,[514] ‘I perceive that his Holiness has
taken some little offence at my remonstrances against proceeding with
the citations. Any offence to the Holy Father grieves me; but it
would grieve me very much if he thought my counsel and actions were
determined by anything but zeal for his good. I repeat, the Pope must
make up his mind about three things. Either he must get justice from
the king by force; or he must make as good terms as he can with him;
or, lastly, if this cannot be done with honour, he must temporise and
wait for more favourable circumstances. The first would be the most
honourable plan; but I consider it dangerous and expensive, and think
it cannot be executed without calling in a foreign power to Naples.
Thereto three things are needful: first, the consent of Venice and
Milan; secondly, sufficient independent means, both in men and money,
on the part of the said power; and thirdly, very great expenditure on
the part of the Pope. For the point is to over-match the king, whom
Milan may perhaps assist should Venice declare against him; so that
Milan, too, must be kept in check. An understanding with the barons
and those of similar rank would be useful in such a case. Now I may
be mistaken, but I cannot see the possibility of realising all these
presuppositions, and therefore I have dissuaded his Holiness. Of the
foreign powers only Spain and France can be taken into consideration.
Spain seems to me at this moment incapable of either acting or
paying,[515] and how France is to be relied upon I do not see.
Supposing, however, that she changed her nature, I would agree with his
Holiness, provided that in an expedition against Naples the person to
be benefited should be the Duke of Lorraine (as heir of Anjou), which
would be the least dangerous thing; for the Duke of Lorraine is not
King of France, and his relationship to the royal house is of no great
importance. Naples and Spain are much nearer relatives, and yet not
friends; and when a man is once King of Naples he will go his own way.

‘All these reasons, it seems to me, ought to dissuade the Pope from
any undertaking of the kind. In such circumstances it is of no use
exasperating the king by citations and suchlike. Nay, even if one
was armed and ready, I should still think it advisable to let such
challenges alone, in order to avoid the danger of the king’s proceeding
from words to deeds—a danger not to be under-rated. Better arm in
silence than excite others to the attack by expressing hostility. As
for the second case, that of an accommodation, I am perhaps, speaking
without an exact knowledge of the state of affairs; and possibly
conditions are being fixed in consequence of which the citation may
be an useful measure. But from what I know, I believe that such a
proceeding, instead of facilitating an accommodation, only serves to
irritate, and will lead to a rupture. As for temporising, I will say
nothing, because an immediate agreement on the most honourable terms
possible seems to me far more to the purpose than waiting for some
favourable conjuncture; the more so that, as you know better than
I, the king has plenty of means of doing harm. I can say no more at
present, not being sufficiently conversant with the details. If the
Pope’s fearlessness rests on any secure ground, take care to let me
know it, that I may be relieved from this anxiety. For though I am not
exactly faint-hearted, yet, from the confidence placed in me by the
Pope, his affairs cause me more anxiety than my own. So long as I know
of no better foundation for his security, I cannot possibly be easy. On
the subject of my lord Lodovico and his nature, I have spoken my mind
freely. I am conscious that I am walking uprightly, and have only the
Pope’s interest in view. So I repeat what I have said often before:
I think an honourable accommodation better than a successful war. If
that is impossible, he must temporise, provided the supposed possible
favourable conditions do not exist. But if this should be the case, the
king too would show himself more yielding, for he knows very well where
he can be touched.’

Lorenzo’s remonstrances were not entirely ineffectual. Innocent,
who had been informed that the Neapolitan exiles, especially the
Sanseverini, had been well received at the French court, and that the
young king had promised to restore them to their homes, went cautiously
to work at least with regard to foreign allies. Without making any
engagements, he tried to keep on good terms with France and Spain.
Remonstrances were also made on the part of France, through special
ambassadors, to King Ferrante; but he never ceased defending at foreign
courts what he called the justice of his cause, and calculating that
the French had their hands full, he showed no disposition to yield.
Letters from the Duke of Saxony, King Maximilian, and the Emperor,
produced just as little effect.[516] The Duke of Calabria told the
Florentine ambassador that his father would accede to reasonable
demands from the Pope, but not to things that were against his honour.
He would send the palfrey as a token of the feudal relation; but not
one soldo of tribute would he pay, and not one guilty baron would
he pardon.[517] So the matter dragged on. In May 1490, Florence was
visited by a Neapolitan ambassador on his way to Milan, Messer Camillo
Seruciati.[518] The king instructed him to inform the Signoria and
Lorenzo that he had hitherto endured many wrongs and insults from the
Pope. If, however, the latter persisted in his wrongful obstinacy
and hostility and did not leave off his threats of citation and
excommunication, his majesty was not minded to endure such offences any
longer. Without wasting any more words, the king meant to appear in
Rome, with lance in rest, and answer the Pope in such a way as to make
him see his error. The Neapolitan ambassador, being refused admission
to the Pope’s chapel on Whitsun-eve, threatened to make his way in by
force. To avoid scandal it was arranged that none of the diplomatic
body should appear on that day.[519] But the affair seems to have been
rather more seriously taken into consideration by France than Ferrante
expected. On June 8, the Pope said to Lanfredini’s successor[520] that
if he were not peaceable by nature and a good Italian, he held in his
hand the means of avenging himself on the king; for months ago Madame
de Beaujeu had caused a proposal to be made to him for conferring
Naples as a fief on the Duke of Lorraine, in exchange for which the
latter should cede his claims to Provence and other territories to
her husband, the Duke of Bourbon,[521] the King of France in return
assisting him to obtain Naples. This proposal had recently been
renewed; he, the Pope, had said but little in reply, in order not to
draw down the French into Italy. He wished that Lorenzo should be
informed of the matter.

The situation was growing worse every day. There were already some
hostile dealings on the frontiers. Papal couriers, carrying briefs
that were never answered, were searched and roughly treated; people
sent by the Pope to Benevento, and inhabitants of Pontecorvo going to
Montecassino to perform their devotions, were seized.[522] Innocent
complained that the indulgence he had shown towards the king on account
of the representations of the other Italian powers had only made the
former more insolent; and the powers stood and looked on while he was
being insulted. If the Italians cared so little about his honour,
he must turn to foreigners. Pandolfini adds that he had never seen
the Pope so excited. The ambassador did what he could to soothe
him, representing to him that the moderation shown towards the king
had benefited his cause, and that he could depend on the support of
Florence, Milan, and Venice. The Pope cut him short. He was always put
off with fine speeches. Real support was to be expected from Florence
alone. On account of Sforza’s changeableness, Milan was not to be
reckoned on; and Venice never proceeded to action. He was determined to
make an end of it. He would excommunicate the king, declare him guilty
of heresy, and lay the kingdom under interdict. He had a perfect right
to do so. He would give notice of everything to the allied States.
If the king, in pursuance of his threat, made war upon him, and no
assistance was afforded him, he would go abroad, where he would be
received with open arms and helped to get back his own again, to the
shame and loss of others. He could not remain in Italy otherwise than
with the dignity befitting a Pope; if they all left him in the lurch,
resistance to the king was impossible, on account of the Church’s
want of military power and the untrustworthiness of the barons, who
would only rejoice at his embarrassment. He considered himself fully
justified in going abroad if the honour of the Holy See could not be
saved otherwise. Other popes had done it, and had come back with honour
and glory.

‘I saw,’ says Pandolfini, ‘that he had thoroughly considered the
matter, and was not talking merely to get something out of me, as he
could have no doubt of our attachment and fidelity. I pointed out to
him that he should deliberate well, and not take a resolution which
might bring discredit upon him, perhaps without serving his purpose.
Foreign lands were full of strife, and the relations of Church and
State were all very different from what they had been in the times
of Innocent IV. and other popes, who had sought refuge beyond the
mountains.’ But the Pope was not to be persuaded. He announced that he
should summon the ambassadors of all the powers, declare his resolve
and the grounds which compelled him to it, and proceed against the
king. The Neapolitan ambassador was sent away. The Pope said also to
Pandolfini: ‘If I go with the court to France, of all the Italian
powers you will get the most advantage thereby, not only for your
trade, but because I shall have all possible regard to you, and shall
consult over everything with Lorenzo. Tell him these my words.’

It might have been thought that a conclusion was imminent. But after
the lapse of a year matters were at exactly the same point. At the
feast of SS. Peter and Paul, 1491, the king’s ambassador again
presented the palfrey by way of tribute, was again sent away, and
again protested.[523] Shortly after, the Florentine ambassador at
Naples, Piero Nasi, had an interview with Giovanni Pontano, who was at
that time Ferrante’s chief counsellor in political affairs, and had
concluded the treaty with Rome in August 1486.[524] Pontano certainly
must have felt that he was personally concerned, especially if, as is
said, Innocent, having during his negotiations with him been warned
of the king’s faithlessness, answered, ‘How can I be distrustful in
dealing with a man who has never broken his word?’ ‘Ambassador,’ said
Pontano to Nasi, ‘I most earnestly desire the termination of this
strife, both for the sake of your Signoria and for my own sake. If the
matter worries you in Florence, it worries me twice as much. Blame
is laid on me which I do not deserve. What I promised in those days
at Rome I had a right to promise; and it would have been kept; but
no sooner was I away (would to God I had not gone in such a hurry!)
than Cardinal della Rovere arrived from Genoa, and thereupon they
re-arranged the conditions according to their pleasure. I certainly
promised payment of the tribute, but the Pope himself gave me to
understand that he would not insist upon it, and said: “I will come to
an understanding with the king on that point.” But Ascanio (Sforza)
and the other cardinals laughed and said I might promise off-hand,
nothing would be kept.’ Pontano then went on to the affair of the
barons, whose misfortunes he attributed to their own want of head. The
king, he said, had not thought of taking them prisoners, after he had
made them harmless by occupying their strongholds, and taken into his
own hands the administration of justice within their territories. But
they themselves had compelled him to proceed against them. For after
the Prince of Salerno had gone to Rome and deluded the Pope with many
things, he drew the barons into the plot, all of which became known to
the king. Notwithstanding, the latter gave them plenty of time to place
themselves in safety; but they were determined to wait for the end, and
so it went ill with them at the last. The very man from whom proceeded
this apology for the king, afterwards himself accused Ferrante and
Alfonso of cruelty and covetousness![525] Nasi thought the Pope cared
far more about this affair than for the money question. King Alfonso
had once paid 30,000 ducats to Pope Pius II. It was indeed maintained
that this was not tribute-money; but yet such another sum would surely
be granted. For the investiture to be extended to the Duke of Calabria
they would be willing to pay 50,000. The Pope could then confirm
the bull of Sixtus IV. and content himself during the rest of his
pontificate with the gaily adorned palfrey. Lorenzo should carefully
consider the matter.

In the autumn of 1491 Pontano was sent to Rome to arrange a compromise.
The hint that Naples was willing to pay seems to have had its effect.
On reflection it is easy to see in what financial difficulties Innocent
had placed himself. Lorenzo had to lend him money and redeem his
pawned valuables; as Lanfredini had said, he was applying to all the
sovereigns for tithes, and had made debts to the amount of 300,000
ducats.[526] But further hindrances kept cropping up, chiefly through
the double-dealing of Ferrante, whom no one dared trust even when he,
perhaps, really did mean honestly. It was said both at Rome and at
Florence that he was stirring up troubles for the Pope in the States
of the Church, and confirming the inhabitants of Ascoli in their
rebellion against the Holy See, for which purpose he kept a numerous
body of troops on the Tronto.[527] Lorenzo never ceased advising a
reconciliation. Many things were done by the soldiers, he wrote to
Innocent, which it was not becoming a wise prince and thoughtful Pope
to leave unhindered, and the peace of all Italy would be in danger if
an end were not put to the quarrel.[528] In the middle of November the
king expressed his sense of obligation to Lorenzo, who was showing
himself a true friend and mediator in these differences. He hoped, he
said, soon to arrive at a settlement.[529] In the beginning of December
they did arrive at one; and two months later peace was announced in
the Consistory.[530] In the investiture to be given to the Duke of
Calabria, for which the sum before mentioned was to be paid, his son,
the Prince of Capua, was included. The new treaty was to be the only
one in force. To the barons released from prison the king promised to
pay a certain sum yearly. ‘How much,’ adds the Ferrarese ambassador,
‘is not known; and it is supposed to have been agreed upon merely for
the sake of the Pope’s honour. Whether it will be kept, the future will
show.’ The future, and no very distant one, brought on the Neapolitan
king far other troubles than those caused by his quarrel with the Pope.
Scarcely was that quarrel ended, scarcely was the settlement effected
for which Pontano went to Rome,[531] when the king exhausted himself in
demonstrations of gratitude and friendship towards the Pope, to whose
blessing he attributed his own prosperity and that of all belonging
to him, to whom he sent hippocras and twenty-four casks of choice
Neapolitan wines, and with whom he formed a connection by betrothing
his grandson, the Marquis of Gerace, to Battistina Usodimare,
daughter of Teodorina Cybò.[532] Ferrante must have felt that the
time was pressing for a reconciliation. French affairs gave him
subjects for consideration. Charles VIII. had not only—thanks to his
sister—overcome a dangerous opposition, but had reconciled the Duke
of Orleans to himself and his house, and won Britanny, whose heiress
gave him her hand on December 4, 1491. A double Papal dispensation was
needed; for Charles was betrothed to Margaret of Austria, and Anne of
Britanny already bore the title of Queen of the Romans as the bride of
Margaret’s brother Maximilian; besides which the newly-married couple
were near relations. Doubtless with a view to what was coming, a French
embassy consisting of ten persons, headed by Jean de Villiers et La
Groslaye, Bishop of Lombes and Abbot of St. Denis (afterwards highly
influential at Rome), had been sent to Rome and received there on
November 16. On December 3, a courier brought tidings of the marriage,
which gave great offence, but for which the dispensations were given
afterwards.[533] Another struggle with Maximilian was inevitable. But
France was united and peaceful within, the last great fief was joined
to the crown, and the work begun by Louis XI. was accomplished. Italy
had reason to fear that the young king, whose ambition was greater
than his intellectual capacity, would again take up claims which had
never been really set at rest. In the very same year which closed with
the agreement between Innocent and Ferrante the declaration of Charles
VIII.’s rights to the crown worn by the latter was formulated. Five
years before, the Duke of Orleans had put forward the claims to Milan
which he afterwards enforced as king.[534]

If it was to the interest of France to stand well with the Pope,
Ferrante had more than one motive for doing so. His daughter Beatrice,
the widow of Matthias Corvinus, was threatened with dissolution of
marriage by her second husband, the Polish Prince Ladislas, to whose
elevation to the throne of Hungary she had greatly contributed; and
it cost her father much trouble and anxiety to avert a decision which
touched his own honour and that of his house. But the king, now growing
old, was occupied with another family matter. The marriage of his
granddaughter with the young Duke of Milan was the immediate, if not
the principal, cause of a disagreement which sowed the seeds of ruin
far beyond palaces and dynasties. The ambassador, whose arrival at
Florence in the beginning of May 1490 has already been mentioned, was
to go to Milan ‘to find out in what relation the lady duchess stood
towards her most illustrious consort.’[535] The bad reports of Gian
Galeazzo’s state of health proved unfounded, and Isabella soon after
had hopes of becoming a mother. But matters remained unchanged. Gian
Galeazzo at one and twenty was duke only in name. The government was
still as it always had been, in the hands of his uncle, who had filled
up all state-offices and military commands with confidants of his
own. Connected with this last fact was the circumstance that in June
1488, Gian Jacopo Trivulzio, being apparently suspected by the Moro of
taking Gian Galeazzo’s part, left the Milanese service and accepted a
_condotta_ offered him by King Ferrante.[536]

The case became worse when, in January 18, 1491, Lodovico married. His
bride, Beatrice of Este, was a near relative of Isabella of Aragon,
for her mother was the sister of Isabella’s father; but the relations
between the two young wives soon became unbearable. Beatrice, the
younger by five years, handsome, clever, ambitious, and proud, soon
acquired great influence over her husband, now a man of forty; she
went hand-in-hand with him in all his far-reaching plans, and induced
him to yield to her desires with regard to outward position more than
the cunning reserved man perhaps at first intended. She and Isabella
soon came to open strife. The Duchess of Milan very naturally claimed
the first place; the Duchess of Bari had no intention of contenting
herself with the second. Lodovico’s authority made it easy for her to
satisfy her passion for ruling. Isabella bore with growing impatience
daily insults to herself and the unworthy position of her husband; of
him too little is known to furnish grounds for a decided judgment of
his character and capabilities. At last she appealed to her father,
representing to him her position and begging for his intervention.[537]

There had been no love lost between Alfonso and Lodovico ever since the
Ferrara war. Although in the disputes between the Pope and the king,
the Sforza had not furthered the views of France against Ferrante,
still the Moro’s attitude had been questionable. If the Duke of
Calabria had had his way, at the time when the treaty was concluded
with the Pope, Italy would have been in flames; for his counsel was
to cross the Tronto with an army and force Lodovico to lay down his
usurped power. But the old king was afraid of a step which threatened
to bring incalculable consequences; particularly as the Moro’s intimate
relations with France—relations whose first fruits were the complete
abandonment in favour of Milan of the French claims to Genoa—and
certain events in Florence which will be mentioned presently, gave him
every motive for extreme caution. Instead of arms he tried negotiation.
A Neapolitan embassy was sent to Milan,[538] but it had no answer but
empty phrases. Lodovico replied that his nephew was Duke and enjoyed
all the privileges of his rank. He himself had for years only borne the
burthen of affairs, which he would lay down as soon as circumstances
permitted. The only result of the application was that the good
understanding between the house of Naples and the Sforza, already
much endangered, notwithstanding the continued ostensible alliance,
received a very severe shock. There was, indeed, no lack of friendly
protestations on either side; and on February 8, 1492,[539] not long
before the departure of the embassy above-mentioned, Ferrante wrote to
his ambassador in Milan that he regarded the Duke of Bari as his own
son (it is true the latter married his granddaughter) and his interests
as his own, and congratulated him on his good understanding with
France. Lodovico, to secure the maintenance of a power which he knew he
was in danger of losing sooner or later, used all the means supplied
by his versatile and inventive genius, and deluded himself with the
increasing consciousness of his superiority over all other Italian
rulers, only to involve himself irretrievably in the machinations which
brought to ruin the edifice of Italian polity.



THE Medici had always counted on the clergy for support. It would be
unjust to attribute this entirely to selfish motives; they had other
and nobler aims than merely that of more easily ruling the multitude
in union with its spiritual directors. Other motives besides scruples
of conscience actuated them in the building of churches and convents.
The clergy, especially the regular clergy, were, with a portion of the
nobility, still the chief representatives of the higher scientific
and literary culture. Cosimo’s grandson as well as himself found
instruction, entertainment, and intellectual animation in the society
of Camaldulensians, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Servites. But as
Lorenzo endeavoured to keep under his own control the bishoprics of
the district, he made use of the monastic orders in the same way. He
employed them privately to discover and direct the stream of popular
opinion and popular inclination. Owing to their constitution, their
varied composition, their connection with all classes, and their
comparative independence, they were at once more trustworthy and abler
instruments than the lay communities of various kinds which he ruled
by means of his confidants, high and low. These latter societies might
prove dangerous to him through party-spirit and secret machinations;
a danger which indeed afterwards became apparent, and was vigorously
opposed by the rulers of Tuscany. The religious orders, when they
devoted themselves to furthering the aims of the Medici, had
another advantage over the companies. The many little jealousies and
enmities which divided them from each other gave better security for
secresy; and the fact that very much depended upon this may afford an
explanation of the great liberality of the Medici towards the convents.
In the annals of the Monastery of the Angeli, where Cosimo was wont
to visit Ambrogio Traversari, and where Lorenzo’s sons went to hear
philosophical lectures and to be present at sacred representations,
it is recorded that besides the usual yearly gifts of money, Lorenzo
used on certain festivals to send to the monks, who were by no means
rich, fish, cheese, and fruit; and also that he procured for them the
bounty of the Signoria. ‘We owe everything to God, through Lorenzo His
instrument.’ Don Guido, formerly a Cistercian monk, who became prior of
the Angeli in 1484, was Lorenzo’s confessor.[540]

But it would be a mistake to suppose that even when his relations with
the Papacy were most intimate, Lorenzo could reckon unconditionally
upon the clergy. Those same disputes between the religious orders came
in the way, as well as the democratic spirit prevalent among the monks,
which saw through the tendencies of the existing government even when
it seemed to be favouring popular objects. This internal opposition
naturally developed more strongly as a more serious way of thinking
gained ground; such a temper as had been fostered by the pious chief
pastors Antonine and Orlando Bonarli, though their successors, under
whom the diocese of Florence was chiefly administered by vicars, did
nothing to maintain it. About the year 1490 it became apparent that
the general life of pleasure and worldliness was about to take a turn
in an opposite direction. No one could then foresee the ultimate scope
and results of this opposition; but it showed itself in a manner which
necessarily attracted the attention of him who was accustomed to
direct all things, and who had too much tact and too much practice in
judging of moral and intellectual tendencies not to recognise the first
symptoms of a turn of the tide. Its importance was the more apparent
to him because it showed itself in a field, of which, as of those of
politics and literature, he thought himself the ruler; but which was
withdrawn from his influence as soon as the prevalent materialistic
tendencies were combated by inward moral impulses and views. This
resistance was in the highest degree dangerous to the Medici, because
its chief strength lay in the moral consciousness of the people,
hitherto artificially suppressed or put to sleep, but now awakened to
new life; and it was this which enabled it to hold out so firmly long
after it appeared to be conquered. It was the fate of the Medici that
opposition sprang from ground which they had long been accustomed to
regard as their own, and to treat in the light of an heirloom.

In 1482, there entered the convent of San Marco a brother of the
order, who had been driven from his native city of Ferrara by the
storms of war raging around it, in order to seek a more peaceful
sphere of activity beyond the Apennines, little suspecting what other
storms he would have to encounter there. The Porta Savonarola at Padua
recalls to mind the neighbouring residence of that noble family; and
in the Prato della Valle stands a statue of Antonio Savonarola, who
manfully defended his native city in the middle of the thirteenth
century. In 1440 Michele Savonarola was called to Ferrara, where he
was presented with the rights of citizenship by the Marquis Lionello
d’Este, and acquired a great reputation as physician in ordinary to the
Marquis, as professor at the university, and also as an author.[541]
His son Niccolò married Elena Bonacossi, and her masculine spirit
was inherited by her son Girolamo, who has made the name of his race
famous throughout the world. At the age of three-and-twenty this son,
without consulting the wishes of his parents, entered the Predicant
order at Bologna in the spring of 1475. In a letter to his father he
pleaded, in explanation and justification of the step, his soul’s cry
of anguish against the worldliness to which he beheld Italy fallen a
prey. ‘I could no longer look upon the deep corruption of the blinded
people, the oppression of virtue, the exaltation of vice; it was an
unspeakable torment to me, and I prayed daily to God that He might
take me out of this pit of destruction. Now, in His infinite goodness,
He has vouchsafed this grace to me, notwithstanding my unworthiness.’
But it was not the worldliness of the laity alone that shocked him;
the corruption in the Church stood before the eyes of his soul in yet
more glaring colours. He lamented it in his poems—highly imaginative
and lofty outpourings of a soul brightened with the fire of love,
penetrated with the consciousness of the need for a higher development,
tortured by a foreboding of approaching judgment.[542] His first
intention was to devote himself to teaching rather than to preaching;
but in the seventh year after his entrance into the order, he was sent
to his native city, where he lived as a stranger, rarely saw even his
nearest relatives, and was not much appreciated as a speaker. Yet
he cannot have been lacking in eloquence; for one day when he was
travelling from Ferrara to Mantua his reproofs made such an impression
on the soldiers who were in the boat playing and swearing, that they
penitently fell upon their knees before him.

Fra Girolamo’s reception in Florence was not encouraging. The man and
the city could not be attractive to each other; the one was leaning
more and more towards asceticism, and the other towards immoderate
pleasure. The one cared for nothing but Holy Scripture, and developed
its doctrines in lofty, unvarnished speech, whose rough careless form
was not softened by his Lombard accent, his hoarse voice, and vehement
delivery; the other, sharing the common plight, knew little of the
Bible, and was accustomed to preachers whose artistic phraseology
recalled the elegant tone of the literary palæstra. In his own convent
the stranger found little sympathy. A philosophising tone prevailed in
conversation; and the adoption of classical learning might well raise
some scruples in the mind of the Ferrarese, whose early education had
also been of a philosophical kind. This double discord left decided
marks in its train. At Savonarola’s Lenten sermons in San Lorenzo in
1483, the number of listeners was extremely small. He himself was
perfectly aware of the defects of his delivery: ‘Those who knew me in
those days,’ he said ten years later, ‘know that I had neither voice
nor lungs, nor understood anything about preaching, so that I was a
bore to everybody.’ He needed a longer apprenticeship. For two years he
preached during Lent at San Gemignano. Then he was summoned to Brescia,
where in 1486 he preached the sermons on the Apocalypse which first
extended his reputation, the prophecies in which of divine judgment and
the exhortations to repentance recurred vividly to the souls of the
people six-and-twenty years later, when the French army was committing
that plunder whose horrors have rarely been equalled in Christian
times. A chapter of the order held at Reggio brought Savonarola in
contact with Giovanni Pico, who took such an interest in the bold and
enthusiastic preacher that he got him sent back to Florence, through
the intervention of Lorenzo de’ Medici. In 1490 Savonarola returned to
San Marco, there to begin the work which left deep and broad traces on
the ecclesiastical and political history of Italy; which led to hard
fighting, not without fault on his side, but which at last led him to
martyrdom, and encircled his brow with a glory that no contradiction
and no change of times and views have been able to deprive of its

Savonarola found in Florence a rival who was his exact opposite in
delivery and in opinions. Fra Mariano of Genazzano came from a place
situated on the slope of the Aequian and Hernican mountains, and made
important by the great palace of the Colonna. He belonged to the
order of the Augustinian Hermits, and dwelt in the convent of Sto.
Spirito, until Lorenzo, with whom he had managed to get into favour,
built a grand convent at the gate of San Gallo, where there was an
old church with a decayed hospital and a foundling establishment.
This building was razed to the ground in 1524, when the Emperor and a
Medicean Pope were sending their troops against Florence; not a trace
of it is left, and its place is occupied by the rows of trees and
groves of the walk called the Parterre, and the little church of the
Madonna della Tosse, which looks like a shrine left standing amid the
general destruction.[543] The convent must have been finished about
1488. Lorenzo provided it with a choice library, visited it frequently
with intimate friends, and was fond of discussing philosophical and
theological questions with Fra Mariano. Naturally, the Augustinian was
wont to say that among men of such high position he had never known
one so God-fearing as Lorenzo. As a preacher Fra Mariano was just the
man for the people, as well as for scholars. He was little of stature,
but his voice was full and melodious, and his utterance agreeable; he
terrified and comforted, and made his hearers weep and laugh. Poliziano
describes the impression made on him by Mariano’s bearing, manner,
gestures, and whole appearance, his sonorous voice, his well-chosen
expressions, his majestic sentences, the artistic construction of his
phrases, the harmoniousness of his cadences, the richness of his
imagery, the clearness and force of his contrasts, the grace of his
narrations, and his easy changes of subject, preventing all monotony.
The picture Poliziano gives of the mode of life and conversation
of this spiritual orator, in whom he celebrates only the qualities
desirable in a temporal one, shows that Mariano was just the man to
sail round the rocks which threatened to wreck Girolamo. ‘I have met
him repeatedly at the villa and entered into confidential talk with
him. I never knew a man at once more attractive and more cautious. He
neither repels by immoderate severity nor deceives and leads astray
by exaggerated indulgence. Many preachers think themselves masters of
men’s life and death. While they abuse their power, they always look
gloomy, and weary men by constantly setting up for judges of morals.
But here is a man of moderation. In the pulpit he is a severe censor;
but when he descends, he indulges in winning, friendly discourse.
Therefore, I and my excellent friend Pico have much intercourse with
him, and nothing refreshes us after our literary labours so much as
his conversation. Lorenzo de’ Medici, who understands men so well,
shows how highly he esteems him, not only in that he has built him a
splendid convent, but also in that he often visits him, preferring a
conversation with him while walking to any other recreation.’[544]

Savonarola’s biographer Fra Pacifico Burlamacchi is no doubt quite
right in praising Fra Mariano’s eloquence rather than his doctrine,
in his account of the orator’s little artifice to impress the people.
But this man’s mastery of his art must have been considerable, to make
Girolamo Benivieni once say to the Ferrarese preacher, ‘Father, no one
can deny the truth, the usefulness, and needfulness of your teaching.
But your delivery lacks attraction, especially when one is daily led to
make a comparison with Fra Mariano.’ To which the other answered that
elegance of expression must give way to the simple preaching of sound
doctrine.[545] But it was long before Savonarola made his way. His
reputation, indeed, increased rapidly, but admirers still flocked round
Fra Mariano; princes and commonwealth applied to Lorenzo, begging him
to give the Augustinian, who seemed to be regarded as belonging to his
household, leave to come and preach to them. Lodovico il Moro begged
for this not merely as a personal favour, but because the city and all
the people longed for the fulfilment of Lorenzo’s promise; and the
consuls of the Sabine town of Norcia—the home of S. Benedict—called
Fra Mariano in their letter ‘God’s angel upon earth.’

It seems that Fra Girolamo was discouraged by his former failures in
this field, and the growing success of the Augustinian, and thought
at first of limiting his efforts to the philosophical and theological
instruction of the novices. His short philosophic compendia are only
valuable in the present day for their display of a spirit of justice
and sense of the need of investigation in human knowledge, and of
analytical progress from the known to the unknown, instead of belief by
authority; these, as well as his smaller ascetic and moral treatises,
mostly date from the first years after his return to Florence. In them
may be seen the mystic enthusiasm which soon became more and more
prominent in his sermons, expositions of the Bible, his poems, and
other important works. Combined with this mysticism was a striving to
clothe his views and prophecies of the future with the authority of
Holy Scripture, with which he was perhaps better acquainted than anyone
else at the time; but he interpreted it with a freedom, perfectly
honest on his part, which necessarily aroused scruples, for it opened
out a boundless field, where an excited fancy or secondary objects
might easily lead him astray; and this danger was the greater when he
turned his attention especially to the Apocalypse. In the summer of
1490 divers citizens sought admission to the lectures for the novices.
The convent-rooms being too small, Savonarola continued his lectures at
first in the court; then, as the number of hearers rapidly increased,
he transferred them on August 1 to the church. A rosebush still marks
the spot where Fra Girolamo taught in the courtyard of the convent;
and in these latter days it has been resolved to raise a statue to him
there, and a bust has been placed in what was once his cell. He needs
no such monuments where all around recalls his memory; but they are
tokens of the veneration paid to him by posterity in spite of all his
weaknesses and mistakes.

The direction Savonarola had taken soon led him further than he
calculated upon or perhaps intended. The effect produced by his
discourses is quite intelligible when one compares their character with
that of the ordinary preaching of the day, and takes the prevailing
temper into consideration. In both cases one meets with strange
contrasts. Artificial, wordy discourses, that people were accustomed to
hear in the sermons of the followers of Bernardino of Siena; besides
the simple, often impressive moral, there was a mixture of abstruse
scholasticism, asceticism, and anecdotes intended for the multitude,
on whom, however, part of their meaning was lost, and who laughed
and cried by turns, and were confirmed in their views of devotional
practices and works, in which too much stress was apt to be laid on
externals. Still the supremacy gained over the people by the moral and
political tendencies favoured by the Medici was by no means so complete
as to leave no room for opposing views, whose inward strength was only
increased by the outward resistance they encountered. The Dominican’s
subject-matter, his mode of demonstration, his whole manner, were such
as to make an impression upon opponents. To most preachers as well
as hearers, the Bible was a sealed book. When it was opened its word
became a living well springing up into a mighty fertilising stream,
and disclosing that wondrous power which has never failed wherever it
has been heard. Savonarola well knew that power. If he failed it was
from a defect exactly contrary to those of the others. They lacked
the true perception and feeling for that which alone could give their
teachings a meaning true, deep, and sound for all time. He lacked
moderation and the power to control his perceptions, his acquirements,
and himself. This was the rock on which he was ultimately wrecked.
Guicciardini, who was ten years old at Lorenzo’s death, whose youth
was passed in the midst of Fra Girolamo’s most strenuous activity,
and whose eyes were early open to all that went on around him, speaks
of the natural unstudied elegance of the sermons he heard and read,
and remarks that never had there been seen a man so versed in Holy
Scripture, never had such abundant discourse been united with such a
lasting impression.[546] In after years, when Savonarola’s attacks on
the corruption in the Church sought and found a personal object in that
Church’s unworthy head, he encountered in the enmity of other religious
societies a stumbling-block which contributed not a little to his fall.
But even in these earlier days he had long ago roused opposition, some
of which, proceeding from purely inward grounds, was unavoidable; but
a nature less rugged in its enthusiasm might have broken the force of
some of it.

Fra Girolamo’s great day was yet far distant. But this activity
and the effects produced on moral life by his preaching, by his
instructions in the convent, and by his and his pupils’ influence on
all classes, were already beginning to strike root that year when he
gathered around him the more serious-minded men and youths in San
Marco, and set himself to counteract the dominant pursuit of sensual
enjoyment which threatened to paralyse the energies of the people.
This activity and influence, when its chief source and originator had
personally succumbed, though his work was only apparently destroyed,
was described in glowing words by the great historian, though he is
not quite consistent in his views of Savonarola’s character. ‘What
he did for the amendment of morals was wonderful and holy. Never did
such order and such fear of God reign in Florence as in his time; and
the deterioration which set in after his death proves how entirely
everything was his work and the fruit of his labours. There was no more
gaming in public, people only played with trepidation and in private;
the taverns, the accustomed scenes of the wild doings of degenerate
youth, were closed; the worst vices were suppressed in consequence
of the abhorrence excited against them. Most women laid aside their
objectionable garments; the young people were rescued from their
wild ways and led back to a moral life, and visited the churches in
companies. Gamesters, blasphemers, and dissolute women were in danger
of being pursued and stoned. At the Carnaval, playing-cards, dice,
indecent pictures and books were collected and burnt on the square
of the Signoria; and on the day formerly given up to all kinds of
excesses, a great church procession took place. The elder people took
up a religious life, went diligently to mass, vespers, and sermons,
received the sacraments and distinguished themselves by doing good.
Many youths of the first families and some men of riper years entered
the Predicant Order. In all Italy was never seen a convent like that of
San Marco, where the excellent instruction given in the Latin, Greek,
and Hebrew languages and literature promised to furnish fresh ornaments
to the Order.’

This activity, which produced such a change and passed sentence of
condemnation on a system that had been carried out for years with
equal skill and perseverance, was only beginning in the last years
of Lorenzo de’ Medici’s life; but its very beginnings could not
fail to furnish matter for reflection to that keen thinker. Even
before 1490 similar symptoms had shown themselves, whether connected
with Savonarola’s earliest labours is not certain, but it is highly
probable. Poliziano’s prologue to the Menæchmi of Plautus, written in
May 1488, contains a vehement diatribe against the opponents of these
scenic representations—those who protested against the employment
of young people in reciting the too often objectionable verses of
classical plays.[547] Monks are the objects of the poet’s attack; monks
who were not like his friend Mariano.

  Sed qui nos damnant, histriones sunt maxumi,
  Nam Curios simulant, vivunt bacchanalia.
  Hi sunt præcipuè, quidam clamosi, leves,
  Cucullati, lignipedes, cincti funibus,
  Superciliosum, in curvi cervicum pecus.
  Qui quòd ab aliis et habitu et cultu dissentiunt,
  Tristesque vultu vendunt sanctimonias,
  Censuram sibi quandam et tyrranidem occupant.
  Pavidamque plebem territant minaciis.

These lines, recited in Lorenzo’s presence, are witnesses to the
existence of the opposition which increased in strength every year,
and from whose influence many, even of those who sided with the ruling
party, seem not to have been free. In Lent 1491 Fra Girolamo began to
preach in Sta. Maria del Fiore, the crowd having now become too great
for the conventual church; the number of hearers increased daily,
the impression made by his predictions of the punishment and evil to
come became more vivid, till Lorenzo thought it advisable to try to
stem the tide of growing excitement which threatened to endanger his
work and his influence. For these prophecies of approaching judgment
contained something more than indirect attacks on the present state of
affairs, and the serious turn of mind encouraged by the preacher most
necessarily deprive of their force many of the means which served to
maintain that state of affairs.

Five chief citizens of the dominant party—men who all, with one
exception, later on personally fell under the mighty influence of
Savonarola—Domenico Bonsi, Guid’Antonio Vespucci, Paol’Antonio
Soderini, Bernardo Rucellai, and Francesco Valori, went to San Marco
to exhort the preacher to moderation. He answered that they had better
exhort Lorenzo, who had sent them, to repent of his sins: God would
spare no one. To the warning that he might be exiled, he replied that
Lorenzo was a Florentine citizen and he a stranger; but the former
would go and he would remain. He predicted the speedy death of Lorenzo,
the Pope, and King Ferrante. The increasing and very intelligible
discontent among the Medicean partisans, of which he could not but
be aware, led him, however, to try and moderate his too frequent and
exciting prophecies and confine himself more to moral and theological
lectures. But his restless spirit carried him away. It would have been
well for him could he have known moderation. But as his imagery, at
once brilliant and irregular, is confusing and bewildering rather than
elevating; as the terrors of his curse are weakened by repetition; as
his precepts for Christian life rise to a pitch of asceticism, whose
very exaggeration contains its own contradiction; as his teaching, so
truly that of the Gospel in its principles and right application, loses
its impressive force by straying to unsuitable ground; even so was it
with his conduct in life. He irritated needlessly and aimlessly. The
benefactions of the Medici to the convent and to the whole order had
founded a relation of clientship, in which there was nothing offensive
so long as both parties observed the moderation which had once been
guaranteed by Cosimo’s cautiousness and was continued by Lorenzo’s tact
and discretion. It was customary that when a new prior was appointed he
should make a visit to the head of the family. Fra Girolamo, on being
chosen prior in July 1491, refused to do this. ‘I hold my election
from God alone,’ said he; ‘to Him alone I owe obedience.’ It may easily
be conceived that Lorenzo took this amiss, and, in his turn, spoke out
freely. ‘A stranger has come into my house, and does not deign to visit
me.’ However, he made no change in his conduct towards the convent; he
sent gifts and money as before. Once some gold florins were found in
the alms-box of the church. Fra Girolamo, who had previously made some
personal remarks from the pulpit, caused the money to be given to the
Buonuomini of San Martino, saying that silver and copper was enough for
the convent. When Lorenzo came to walk in the convent garden, according
to his custom, the prior never showed himself. His admirers praise
his conduct towards a man from whom he was separated by a deep inward
gulf. If, instead of trying to work upon that man and so introduce a
different state of things, he intended to cause a violent conflict, he
acted rightly.

Lorenzo’s own conduct towards Savonarola was always prudent. The
Dominican’s biographers relate that the great man, being repulsed
by him, incited Fra Mariano to attack him from the pulpit; but such
incitement was probably not needed. The breach between the two
preachers was older than themselves; the antagonism of the two orders
was but personified in these men, so radically different from each
other. In a sermon preached on Ascension-Day, on the text: ‘It is not
for you to know the times or the seasons,’ the Augustinian accused
the prior of San Marco of being a false prophet, an instigator of
sedition among the people, a stirrer-up of strife and disorder. It is
said that his vehemence and exaggerated personalities gave offence
to his numerous hearers, and ruined his fame as an orator. Seven
years later, when the Roman court was in the greatest excitement on
account of events in Florence, when Savonarola lay under the ban of
the Church, when his safety and his very life depended only on the
momentary preponderance of one party or another in the excited city,
already stained with the blood of noble citizens—then this same Fra
Mariano preached in Sant’Agostino at Rome in such immoderate terms,
and applied to his hated rival such coarse expressions, that even to
unlearned hearers his gifts of eloquence seemed to have been swallowed
up by party-spirit; and the cardinals who were present turned their
backs upon him. They had expected a refutation of the Dominican’s
teaching, and they heard nothing but raging accusations accompanied by
vulgar gestures.[548] ‘If you want to understand a monk, ask a monk
about him,’ so said the Augustinian. After his personal attack at
Florence, it is said that Fra Mariano, apparently regardless of his
discomfiture, invited his rival to San Gallo, where they celebrated a
solemn mass together and exchanged civilities; but the story does not
agree with Savonarola’s character and the frankness so much praised by
his biographers in his relations with Lorenzo.



IT was a wise decision of Lorenzo to fix on Pisa as a residence for
his son Giovanni. His efforts to raise that unfortunate city and to
bridge over as much as he could the gulf between it and Florence had
been unwearying. Moreover, Pisa not only offered to the youth, in the
persons of its learned men, ample means of scientific cultivation,
it also gave the needful quiet which, while his elevation to a great
dignity was an open secret, he could not find in his father’s house,
constantly filled with friends and clients. Philosophy, law, and
polite literature seem to have been Giovanni’s chief studies; his
whole after-life shows that he was not much taken up with theology.
Filippo Decio and Bartolommeo Sozzini were his chief instructors in
civil and ecclesiastical law. With his quick mind his studies were
a pleasure; and the uncommon capacity which he always displayed in
literary matters, independently of the accurate taste he inherited
from his father, and his perfect mastery of the Latin tongue, suffice
to show that he no more lost his time at Pisa than he had done in
the villa or the house at Florence. He always attached great weight
to Latin scholarship, as he proved by his choice of secretaries when
he became Pope. In a brief of 1517, he speaks of the enrichment of
the Latin tongue, doubtless alluding both to the increased publicity
of its master-pieces, and to the efforts made, in accordance with
Poliziano’s views, to apply that language to the purposes of modern
science and modern life, instead of confining it to mere imitation,
yet without offending against the severity of the classical. His tutor
Bernardo Michelozzi has already been mentioned. Chalkondylas and Peter
of Ægina are named as his instructors in Greek. His constant companion
was Bernardo Dovizj, in whom he placed as much confidence as Lorenzo
had given to his father, and, indeed, also gave to the son. Another
of Giovanni’s companions was Silvio Passerini, who belonged to the
Cortona branch of a good Florentine family, and whose father was one
of the stanchest adherents of the Medici. Lorenzo caused the boy to
be brought up with his second son; and Silvio, who was five years
older than Giovanni, followed him faithfully through prosperity and
adversity. In later days he enjoyed the revived glory of the family,
and was raised to the highest ecclesiastical dignities, and also to
civil power in Florence; but he showed himself unequal to the situation
when another storm overthrew the Medicean authority.[549] The degree
of doctor of canon law had already been conferred on Giovanni. Towards
the end of his stay at Pisa he had a strange fellow-student—the
Cardinal vice-chancellor Rodrigo Borgia’s son Cesare, who was studying
jurisprudence under the future Cardinals Vera and Romolino, and
attended the lectures of Filippo Decio.[550]

Naturally Giovanni held a prominent position, and his influence was
reckoned on in favour of the city and university, as well as for
private persons. His letters to his father, mostly short, are written
in the tone of respect and obedience which at that time universally
characterised the relation of children to their parents, and in a
great degree does so still. He occasionally retired to the solitude
of Camaldoli for the purpose of meditation and of indulging in the
spiritual exercises usual to one in his circumstances. In the
beginning of August 1491, he was residing in the abbey of Passignano
with his cousin Giulio. Lorenzo had not ceased interceding for
benefices for his son. When a Tuscan abbot was dying in May 1489, he
wrote to the ambassador at Rome: ‘Induce the Pope to give the benefice
to his Messer Giovanni. I say _his_, because he is far more his servant
than my son. On account of the importance of the benefice, his Holiness
should confer it only on one of our people (Florentines), and if it is
given to one of ours, it can come to no one who will be more thankful
for it.’[551]

The Pope’s stipulation for delay in proclaiming Giovanni cardinal
did not at all suit Lorenzo, and he took no pains to conceal the
fact. Within a year from the nomination he was urgent to have it
published immediately; but Innocent was not to be moved. ‘I thanked his
Holiness,’ wrote on January 8, 1490, Piero Alamanni,[552] temporarily
replacing Lanfredini, who had died three days before, ‘for Messer
Giovanni’s preferment, and declared how gratifying it was to our whole
people, and how grateful they are to the Holy Father; at the same time
I hinted, in the most suitable words I could command, that a shortening
of the appointed delay was greatly desired. In his detailed reply, the
Pope remarked first that what he did was all for the best, and for the
reasons and grounds which he had communicated to you through M. Pier
Filippo (Pandolfini). Then he turned the conversation to M. Giovanni,
and spoke of him in such a way as if he were his own son. He said he
had been informed what progress he was making in his studies at Pisa,
and how he had distinguished himself in several disputations; at which
he showed extreme pleasure. At last he spoke as follows: “Leave me to
care for Messer Giovanni’s interests, for I regard him as my son, and
shall of my own accord take in hand his proclamation when you are least
thinking of it. I have yet other views for his honour and advantage.“‘
This was all very fine, but it was the less calculated to soothe
Lorenzo’s impatience, as the Pope’s state of health gave good cause for
the gravest anxiety. On September 23, Innocent was seized with another
apoplectic fit. All Rome was in the most intense excitement; the Pope’s
death was reported; all shops were closed, and all persons working in
the fields and vineyards hurried home. Franceschetto Cybò tried to
get possession both of the church treasury and of Prince Dschem, in
consequence of which, on the following day, while Innocent still lay
unconscious, the cardinals took precautionary measures; not, however,
it was said, till part of the treasure had been sent to Florence.[553]
The invalid came to himself, and on May 27 Pandolfini wrote that he
was getting better and hopeful of recovery. It is related that he said
to Cardinal Savelli and his colleagues, who came to the palace in the
moment of danger to secure the treasure, ‘he hoped yet to bury them
all.’ But there was great alarm at Florence. As soon as the news of
the Pope’s critical condition arrived, Guid’Antonio Vespucci and Piero
Guicciardini were commissioned to go to Rome to demand, in the name
of the city, the admission of Giovanni de’ Medici to the approaching
Conclave. More favourable news made the embassy needless,[554] but
Lorenzo determined to make every effort not to let his success be
spoiled. His brother-in-law, the archbishop, was then in Florence,
and went to Rome at his request. Through Franceschetto’s mediation he
obtained admission to the Pope, whom he found suffering from quartan
fever, and in a state which did not at all inspire confidence. His
mission had no success with the influential cardinals; his letter
to Lorenzo[555] shows how slightingly he was treated. All he gained
was the assurance that the family, and especially Lorenzo, should be
treated with consideration and not offended. When he became more urgent
on the subject of the Conclave, he was told that matters had not got
so far as that yet; the Pope was well, and should anything fatal happen
to him, they would proceed with due consideration. Pandolfini, too,
obtained nothing. On the part of the cardinals, he wrote,[556] there
would be no serious difficulty; it lay with the Pope, who was afraid
of publication in this individual case, lest it should offend others.
‘Do not think that to speak of the matter at the present moment would
lead to the attainment of the object. Everyone is warned to speak to
him only of cheerful things, and that only in the presence of others.
If one tried to obtain an interview without witnesses, one would expose
oneself to the suspicion that it was for something of importance.
For more than a month not a cardinal has spoken with him, save those
belonging to the palace; and of the prelates, only those who cheer him
up are admitted.’

The Pope’s health really became stronger; and as he remained firm,
Lorenzo had to wait patiently till the three years’ delay was over.
When the moment arrived, neither Innocent nor the young cardinal’s
father could hope to live much longer. On the afternoon of March 8,
1492, Giovanni, who had in the meantime left Pisa, proceeded with a
small retinue to the abbey of Fiesole. That convent and church, where
everything recalled the munificence of the Medici, had been chosen
to witness the conferring of the highest honours upon a scion of the
family. The next morning Pico della Mirandola and Jacopo Salviati
arrived with the notary Simone Staza, and at the sixth hour they
accompanied the youth to the church. The office of the Madonna was
solemnly sung and was followed by the sacrifice of the mass, the
celebrant, the Prior Matteo Bosso, giving the Host to Giovanni as he
knelt on the altar-steps. He then blessed the cardinal’s robes, took in
his hands the Pope’s bull and brief and said: ‘May it be for the good
of God’s church, of our country, and of thy house! This day, Giovanni
Medici, the three years’ delay appointed by the bull and this brief
for thy dignity as cardinal is expired. Whosoever will read, let him
read; all is fulfilled. Do thou, Simone, make a public record of it.’
He then presented to the kneeling youth his insignia, the pallium,
biretta, hat, and ring, and the choir sang the _Veni Creator_. After
proclaiming the indulgences to which he was now competent, the cardinal
returned to the convent with the rest. After dinner Piero de’ Medici
arrived mounted on a handsome horse adorned with gilded trappings, and
accompanied by some friends of the family; and the whole party mounted
on horseback to proceed to the city.

In spite of the rainy weather thousands had crowded to the Porta San
Gallo to see the procession. To avoid a press a regulation had been
made that no one should cross the bridge over the Mugnone; so the
whole space before the gate and the convent was filled with people.
When the cardinal and his companions rode up, they found the whole of
the clergy, protonotaries and prelates, the chief citizens, and the
foreign ambassadors. On reaching the city the procession entered the
Servite Church, where Giovanni prayed in the chapel of the Annunziata,
and thence to Sta. Maria del Fiore. After this the cardinal paid a
visit to the Signoria, and then, accompanied by the ambassadors,
rode to his father’s house, where Lorenzo received his son. The
streets through which the procession passed were gaily decorated, and
the windows and roofs filled with people. The whole population was
astir. At night the houses and numerous towers were brilliant with
illuminations; bonfires were lighted in the squares, so that it was as
bright as daylight, and shouts of rejoicing and the sound of musical
instruments continued so long that sleep seemed forgotten. The next
morning, Sunday, March 10, the grand ecclesiastical celebration took
place in Sta. Maria del Fiore, whither the cardinal was accompanied by
the ambassadors and chief citizens. The church was full; the Signoria
were present: eight bishops sang the Mass of the Holy Ghost. It
was not fourteen years since the blood of a Medici had been shed on
that spot, in the presence of another youthful cardinal. After Mass,
Giovanni took leave of the Signoria and returned home, where a grand
banquet was prepared in his honour. Sixty covers were laid; the guests
were the foreign diplomatists and the foremost men of the city. For
several days preparations had been made and provisions procured ‘for
the solemnity of our Monsignore.’[557] Lorenzo was so ill on his son’s
day of triumph that he could not take part either in the service at
church or at the banquet. He had himself carried into the hall to see
the brilliant company at table; that was all he could do. Before the
end of the banquet the Signoria presented to the new Prince of the
Church a gift of honour, consisting of silver plate of the finest
workmanship and more than a thousand pounds in weight; its value was
estimated at 10,000 gold florins at the least. After Giovanni had
withdrawn to his own apartments with the ambassadors and Signori, the
various communities of the State, and the Jews of Florence, sent him
presents of handsome silver plate; all of which, as also gifts from
private persons, except his own relatives, he immediately returned with

Little more than two years and a half after this day of triumph, he
whom Florence now greeted with acclamations left his desolate home in
the habit of a Franciscan monk; the convent of St. Mark, built by his
family, closed its gates against him, and the terrified fugitive turned
towards the Apennines; thus beginning an exile destined to last for
eighteen years, to be followed later on by a period of yet greater,
and, in its way, unequalled splendour.

Giovanni stayed but one day more in his native city. He had to go to
Rome to express his thanks to the Pope and take his place in the Sacred
College. On Tuesday, March 12, he took leave of his sick father and set
off on horseback, accompanied by his suite. Among the latter was the
general of the Camaldulensians, Pietro Delfino, descended from a noble
Venetian family; he had been formerly in the monastery of San Michele
di Murano, was elected general of his Order in 1480, and was a great
friend of Lorenzo and other distinguished Florentines; no one could
be better fitted to direct the first steps of a youth raised to such
high honours. A letter written by him from Rome to Guido, prior of the
monastery of the Angeli, gives an account of the journey and reception.
For two miles from the Porta Romana, as far as the Carthusian convent,
the departing cardinal was escorted by a number of distinguished
citizens; they then returned to Florence, and he rode on to his abbey
of Passignano. The greater part of his suite went to pass the night
at Poggibonzi, and on the following morning reached Siena, where the
cardinal arrived in the afternoon, and was triumphantly and joyfully
received by the people. March 16 the party resumed their journey, and
dined at Buonconvento; they passed that night at San Quirico and the
next at Acquapendente. Throughout the Sienese territory they were
entertained at the public expense. Several prelates came to meet the
cardinal at Acquapendente, and he was saluted on the way to Viterbo
by several of the Orsini whose territories near the lake of Bolsena
bordered on those of Siena.[559]

At Viterbo Franceschetto Cybò received his brother-in-law, and all
rode together to Bracciano, whose lord, Gentil Virginio Orsini, had
gone eight miles, up to the foot of the Viterbo mountains, to meet
the welcome guest. They were all housed in the gigantic pentagonal
fortress, impregnable in those days, and even now startling in its
gloomy grandeur as it towers above the slumbering depths of the
lake below. The travellers spent a whole day with the powerful lord
of Bracciano, who in a few years was ruined by the same storm that
overthrew the Medici. On the following day, March 22, the Pope
announced to the cardinals and envoys the approaching arrival of the
new member of the Sacred College. It took place in the afternoon amid
pouring rain. Giovanni dismounted at Sta. Maria del Popolo, prayed
in the church and slept in the convent, and the next morning his
colleagues and the ambassadors came to fetch him. Francesco Piccolomini
and Raffael Riario headed the procession; Giovanni himself rode between
the cardinal-deacons Giovan Battista Savelli and Giovanni Colonna. The
new cardinal-deacon of Sta. Maria in Dominica was received by the Pope
in the Consistory. After the ceremony they all escorted him back to
his dwelling in the Campo di Fiore, and the rain was unceasing. Pietro
Delfino reports that the youth’s bearing and conduct made a favourable
impression on all, and he was thought more mature in mind than was to
be expected from his age; which may be accounted for by considering
what great care his father, who himself had been early brought into
public life, had bestowed upon his son’s education, and what a lasting
impression was left on that son by the father’s example.

The letter addressed by Lorenzo to Giovanni[560] is an honourable
proof not merely of political wisdom and consummate knowledge of human
affairs, but also of a genuine sense of propriety and a moral feeling
which seems to have been strengthened by the experience of advancing
years and his own personal circumstances. ‘Messer Giovanni,’ thus runs
the letter, ‘you, and we for your sake owe sincere thankfulness to our
Lord God. For over and above many benefits and honours conferred on our
house, He has granted to it in your person the highest dignity to which
it has ever risen. The matter, already great in itself, is made yet far
greater by the circumstances, namely, your youth and our position. My
earnest exhortation to you, therefore, is that you endeavour yourself
to be thankful to God; for it is not your deserts nor your prudence
and foresight that have made you a cardinal, but the wondrous grace of
God. This you must recognise, and prove your recognition of it by an
honest, exemplary, virtuous life. To this you are all the more bound,
as in your youth you have already given an impression of yourself which
furnishes reason to expect riper fruits. It would be a shame for you
and a sad disappointment for me, if you forgot your good beginnings at
an age when others are wont to arrive at discretion and a regular life.
You must, therefore, be careful to lighten the burden of the dignity
conferred on you by a moral course of life, and perseverance in the
studies befitting your vocation. Last year it was a great comfort to
me to hear that, without being exhorted by others, you went frequently
to confession and to the Lord’s Table; and I believe that there is
no better means of continuing in the grace of God than constant
perseverance in this practice. It seems to me that I can give no more
useful and suitable exhortation than this. As you are going to Rome,
the very pit of all evil, the difficulty of doing what I recommend
naturally increases; for not only does example have its influence, but
you personally will have no lack of evil counsellors and tempters. As
you can understand for yourself, your elevation to the cardinalate
excites great envy, on account both of your youth and of the other
circumstances to which I have alluded. Those who were unable to hinder
that elevation will endeavour artfully to diminish its value, by trying
to make your manner of life appear in an unfavourable light, and to
drag you down into the pit into which they themselves are fallen. They
trust that your youth will make this easier to them. You must take the
more pains to frustrate these hopes, as there is the less virtue to
be found now in the College [‘quanto nel Collegio hora si vede manco
virtù’]. I remember seeing that College full of learned and virtuous
men; be advised to follow their example; for the more your course of
life differs from that of others, the more you will be sure of being
loved and esteemed. But you must flee the reproach of hypocrisy as well
as that of an evil reputation, like Scylla and Charybdis. You must
endeavour to cultivate moderation, and both in your conduct and speech
avoid everything which might offend others, and not make a display of
austerity and strictness. These are things which you will understand
with time, and learn to act up to my meaning better than I can explain
it to you now.

‘You will have no difficulty in perceiving how much depends on the
individuality and example of a Cardinal. If the Cardinals were what
they should be, the world would be the better for it; for they would
always choose a good Pope and thus secure the peace of Christendom.
Endeavour therefore to so comport yourself, that others in resembling
you will promote the general well being of all. As there is nothing
in the world more difficult than to converse fittingly with people of
different sorts, I can give you no minute instruction on this point.
But in all cases you must take care to be respectful and unpretending
in your intercourse with the Cardinals and others of high rank, and
measure things with a calm judgment and not according to the passions
of others; for many violate reason in aiming at that which is unlawful.
Keep your own conscience at peace by giving no place in your discourse
to offensive matters. This seems to me in your case the first and most
important precept; for if anyone should let himself be led into enmity
by passion, the return is easy with such as have no sound reason for
disagreement. During this your first stay in Rome, I think you will do
well to use your ears more than your tongue.

‘This day I have given you up wholly to God and the holy Church.
Therefore you must become a good priest and convince everyone that
you prefer the good and honour of the Church and of the Apostolic
See to all the things of this world, and all private considerations
and interests. If you keep this before your eyes you will not lack
opportunities of being useful to this city and our house. For the
alliance with the Church is advantageous to the city; you must form the
link between the two; and the house goes with the city. And although
the future cannot be foreseen, yet I have a general belief that we
shall not lack means on both sides if you hold firmly to this most
important resolution that I urge on you of placing the Church before
all else.

‘You are the youngest member of the College; not only at the present
time, but of all that have ever hitherto been created. Therefore you
must be attentive and respectful when you meet the other Cardinals, and
never make people wait for you at chapel, in the Consistory, or at a
deputation. You will soon discover which of your colleagues are most,
and which are least commendable. You will have to avoid confidential
intercourse with those of irregular lives, not only on account of the
thing itself, but also on account of public opinion. Let your discourse
with all men turn as much as possible on indifferent subjects. When you
have to appear in public or solemn occasions, it seems to me advisable
rather to moderate your outward enthusiasm than to overstep it. I would
prefer a well-filled stable, and well-ordered cleanly servants, to pomp
and riches. Try to live regularly, and gradually to introduce fixed
order, which is unattainable at present, while master and household
are alike unknown to each other. Silk and jewels suit your position on
certain occasions only; far more suitable are a few good antiquities
and fine books, and respectable and learned, rather than numerous
society. Rather invite people frequently to you than go to many
entertainments; but herein also you must proceed with moderation. Have
for your own use simple food, and take a great deal of exercise, for
in your present position you might easily be overcome by some illness
for want of prudence. This position is no less secure than lofty; so
that it often happens that those who have attained it become negligent,
saying to themselves that they have reached a lofty goal, and thinking
that they can keep it without much effort; thereby often bringing
injury to their position as well as to their health. With respect to
the latter I advise you to be as careful as possible, and to have
rather too little than too much confidence in your strength.

‘One rule of life I commend to you before all others: get up early
every morning. Putting aside the benefit to health, it gives time
for attending to all the business of the day, and you will find it a
great assistance in fulfilling your various duties, as you have to
read your service, to study, to give audiences and do various other
things. Another thing is very useful for one in your position: always,
and particularly now at first, consider in the evening what you have
to do the next day, that business may not find you unprepared. As for
speaking in the Consistory, I am of opinion that in all cases which
may occur it will, on account of your youth and inexperience, be most
praiseworthy and befitting the circumstances that you should always
follow the Holy Father and his wise judgment. Without doubt you will
often be urged to speak to his Holiness about particular matters
and use your influence. Be careful now at first to ask as little as
possible and not trouble the Holy Father; for he is naturally inclined
to grant the most to him who dins least into his ears. I think it
salutary to take care not to weary him, but to lay before him pleasant
things; and a request modestly preferred corresponds better with his
nature and will put him in a more favourable disposition. Fare you



WHEN Lorenzo wrote that letter to his son his condition might be called
hopeless. From his youth up he had suffered from hereditary physical
ailments. The attacks had increased with age, till they weakened his
originally strong constitution. Gout made its appearance in various
forms, and the waters, tried frequently and one after another, failed
to give lasting relief, partly because he never gave them time to
produce their full effect. He often joked about his sufferings. ‘Pain
in my feet,’ he wrote to Lanfredini in August 1489, ‘has hindered my
correspondence with you. Feet and tongue are indeed far apart, yet they
interfere with each other.’ Towards the end of August 1491, he was
so ill that he had to be carried to Spedaletto in a litter.[561] The
waters of Morba had only a passing soothing effect; and at the end of
the autumn a slow fever set in with grave symptoms. His whole system
seemed attacked at once—bowels, limbs, and nerves. To the arthritic
pains were added pains in the bones, which robbed him of rest by night
and day; gout had attacked the higher organs: the physicians were at
their wits’ end. When the year 1492 opened, he could see no one; all
grave political business had to be set aside; a Milanese ambassador
waited more than a fortnight for an audience. An improvement permitted
him to leave the house again, but it was not lasting. ‘The illustrious
Lorenzo,’ wrote the Ferrarese ambassador on February 11,[562] ‘has been
again for some days greatly tormented with pains which attack the whole
of his body except his head. At times he suffers so acutely that it
is hard to understand how he can hold out. The doctors do not indeed
consider the illness mortal; but his condition is getting very bad,
because he enjoys very little rest. God grant him health again; for the
accounts of his state are really such as to excite sympathy.’ On the
8th of the same month, King Ferrante wrote to his ambassador, Marino
Tomacelli:[563] ‘We have received many letters from you, but now we
only reply concerning the long-continued sufferings of the illustrious
Lorenzo, which have grieved and do grieve us to the depths of our soul.
Would God we could procure him recovery, or even alleviation! Exhort
his Magnificence to arm himself with patience and thus overcome the
evil; more especially as we may now expect better weather, after these
last days which have indeed been bad. Inform his Magnificence also that
we congratulate him on the settlement of the dispute with his Holiness,
which must be as pleasing to him as to ourself, he having had so great
a share in it, as is known to us and all. May he, by God’s help, the
advice of good doctors and prudence on his own part, recover his
health, so that we may both enjoy peace, and especially peace of mind.’

The king was not deceived in his estimate of how much depended on
Lorenzo’s life and activity. In the middle of February an improvement
set in, but again it was but transitory. The weather continued bad, and
at the beginning of March the pains returned; no one was admitted to
the invalid with the exception of his family and a very few intimate
friends. We remarked before that he was unable to take part in the
solemnities attending the proclamation of his son’s cardinalate; his
most ardent wish was now fulfilled, and his life was on the wane. He
seems to have been aware of his condition, when the young Cardinal
set out on March 12. He spoke thus to Filippo Valori, brother of his
biographer, and Andrea Carubini, the former of whom was to accompany
Giovanni to Rome, and the latter was attached to his household: ‘I
entrust my son’s youth to you; me you will never see again.’ Who can
tell what were his feelings as he wrote that beautiful letter!—There
was again a slight improvement; but it was the last. The disease made
rapid progress. On the 21st the invalid was taken to Careggi, his
favourite abode, where he had planned and done so much, and where he
could get more air and sunshine than in the city. Towards the end of
March a physician was expected from Naples. At the beginning of April,
Duke Ercole of Ferrara came to Florence[564] on his journey to Rome,
whither he was going ostensibly for purposes of devotion, in reality
for political objects, and to try to obtain the cardinalate for his son
Ippolito. The boy was only thirteen, but he had already been Archbishop
of Gran for six years; and if a Medici had won the purple at fourteen,
why not an Este, a scion of one of the oldest families of Italy? If
Innocent VIII. had lived longer he would have been unable to avoid
giving this nomination also. The duke could not see Lorenzo, but the
latter had already promised him his son’s vote in the future Consistory.

The sufferer’s days were numbered. He made himself ready for the
worst, set his house in order, and made what arrangements he could
to secure for his son the position he had himself held. But he was
too clear-sighted not to perceive the dangers which the old love of
freedom and impatience under the long and ever-strengthening supremacy
of a single family, together with Piero’s inexperience and haughty
character, must bring upon him. Poliziano indeed relates that Lorenzo
had cherished an intention of retiring, and handing over the direction
of affairs to his son. ‘About two years before his death,’ he says, ‘I
was sitting with him in his bed-chamber, and we were talking, as usual,
of philosophy and literature. He then said that he intended passing
the rest of his days with Ficino, Pico, and myself, in study, far from
the bustle of the city. To my objection that this would be impossible,
as the citizens needed his counsel and authority more and more every
day, he answered smiling: “I shall provide a substitute in the person
of thy pupil, and entrust the burden to his shoulders.“‘ Then on
Poliziano’s expressing a doubt whether Piero’s age was sufficient to
render him competent, he praised his son’s mind and bearing, and the
good foundations which Poliziano had laid. The story may be true,
notwithstanding the writer’s visible tendency to over-rate his friend’s
actions and sayings. But doubtless Lorenzo’s sole object was to hear
what would be said to such an intention. He can hardly have had serious
thoughts of retiring from public life, least of all at such a time.

Looking back upon his own short but eventful career, he could see more
clearly than ever what unceasing care and trouble, what knowledge of
characters and calculation of humours and circumstances, had been
necessary to govern parties, keep down opponents without driving them
to extremity, and make use of and direct adherents without letting
them outgrow his control. He knew but too well that a single false
step might upset everything. In the depths of his own mind he felt
the discords that ran through the general tone of thought and feeling
in the state. He measured the force of the hardly-concealed moral
and religious currents that were threatening to break forth. When
he, the experienced statesman, looked around him and surveyed the
political condition of Italy, he was alarmed at the weak foundations
of the edifice which it had cost him so much exertion to support by
his counsels and actions. But just now he had put an end to the long
and dangerous strife between the Pope and the King; and who was to
answer for the future? And when the unstable Pope and the unprincipled
King were gone, who could predict the former’s successor—who dared
flatter himself with the hope that the latter’s heir, in every respect
worse than himself, would keep even his own disaffected land at peace,
and not foster the seeds, sown long ago, of dissensions with other
countries? Perhaps Lorenzo’s death-bed was haunted even more by the
consciousness of the preponderance of evil elements in the College,
by the thoughts of Alfonso of Naples, of Lodovico il Moro, and of the
hostility of Venice, than even by the dread of attempts at a change in

In his religious views and his mode of expressing them Lorenzo had
always been a true child of the age, which combined a secular temper
with a tinge of unfeigned religious feeling, and amid all its grave
intellectual errors was not without moral consciousness. That Lorenzo
possessed this moral consciousness is proved by many of his expressions
through his latter years. He had gained from his excellent and pious
mother something more than a literary acquaintance with religious
matters. He had inherited from his forefathers the traditions of
a close and active connection with ecclesiastical foundations and
ecclesiastical interests, which he furthered in a manner that cannot
be attributed solely to political motives. His sensuous temperament,
his early elevation to such authority as perhaps no private man has
ever enjoyed in a city so full of genuine life, led him into many moral
errors. But as he was at the same time the author of the lays of the
Carnaval and the poet of philosophical and spiritual songs, even so,
amid all his errors and notwithstanding the great influence exercised
over him from his youth up by antique philosophy, he still adhered
to the faith of Christianity practised and taught by his teacher
Ficino and his friend Pico della Mirandola. All his life he had been
attentive to the observance of religious ordinances; and he continued
so when that life was near its close. His sister Bianca de’ Pazzi had
accompanied him to Careggi; and it was she who told him of his imminent
danger. ‘Brother,’ said she, ‘thou hast lived as a man of lofty mind;
thou must quit this life not only bravely but piously. Know that all
hope is over.’[565] He seemed somewhat distressed that hope had been
encouraged too long; then he asked for the aid of the Church. It was
late when the priest who was summoned from San Lorenzo reached the
villa. The dying man would not receive him in bed: in spite of the
remonstrances of those about him, he got up and had himself dressed:
then, supported by his attendants, he entered the room, where he sank
on his knees before the ciborium. Seeing how weak he was, the priest
insisted that he should lie down again; and he was with difficulty
induced to do so. He then received the viaticum with a devoutness which
made an impression on all present.[566]

His eldest son, his sister, and Angelo Poliziano were almost constantly
near him. After the religious ceremony Piero remained alone by his
bedside. Lorenzo comforted him, and gave him warnings and good advice
as to his conduct in the city and the state when he himself should have
departed. ‘The citizens,’ said he, ‘will, I believe, acknowledge thee,
my son, as worthy to fill the position which I have occupied; and I
doubt not that thou wilt have the same authority in the commonwealth
as I have enjoyed until now. But as this commonwealth is, according to
the common expression, a body with many heads, and it is impossible
to please them all, remember that in all the varied circumstances of
life the way to be kept is that which appears most honourable; and
always prefer the general good to personal and party interests.’ Wise
counsel this; if he who gave it had but followed it more strictly,
it would have saved him from much bitter and but too well-founded
reproach! He charged Piero to take a father’s place towards his young
brother Giuliano; to the Cardinal he commended his nephew Giulio,
then aged fourteen, and for whom he seems already to have had visions
of an ecclesiastical career. He also spoke to his son about his
funeral, ordering that it should be arranged after the pattern of his
grandfather’s, and that the limits usual in the interment of a private
man should not be overstepped.

Meanwhile a famous Lombard doctor, Lazaro of Pavia, sent by Lodovico
il Moro, had arrived at Careggi. The invalid asked the attendants
what he was doing, and on being told that he was composing a draught
of pulverised pearls, precious stones, and other costly substances,
he exclaimed with eager voice and cheerful look to Poliziano, who was
standing near the bed: ‘Dost thou hear, Angelo, dost thou hear?’ Then,
stretching out his enfeebled arms, he seized his friend by both hands
and held him fast, while the latter sought to turn away to hide the
rising tears; at last Lorenzo, seeing his emotion, let him go, and
he rushed to his own rooms to let his grief take its course. When he
came back, Lorenzo asked why Pico did not come to see him; and being
answered that probably Pico feared to trouble him, he remarked that
he rather feared it was the distance from the villa to the city that
troubled Pico. The latter, thus called for, came; and the invalid
received him with the old cordiality. He begged him to excuse the
trouble he was giving him, adding that it must be attributed to his
affection, for he should die more content after having seen him once
more. Then he spoke on many subjects, both general and particular, and
said, looking at the two: ‘I would that death had spared me till I had
been able to complete your libraries.’ Poliziano knelt down beside the
bed to catch the words, which were already becoming indistinct.

Scarcely had Pico left Careggi when another man entered the chamber
of death.[567] If Lorenzo summoned Girolamo Savonarola to him, it
must have been because he was not easy in his conscience. The several
versions of the interview, as related by those who were connected
either with Lorenzo or the Dominican Prior, differ so widely as to
the circumstances that only greater or less probability can decide
between them. This is Poliziano’s story: Fra Girolamo of Ferrara, a man
distinguished by his learning and godliness, and an excellent preacher
of the Divine Word, entered the room, and admonished the invalid to
hold fast to the Faith; to which Lorenzo replied that he continued
immovable therein. Hereupon he exhorted him thenceforth to lead a
virtuous life; to which the reply was that he would endeavour himself
so to do. Thirdly, he recommended him to meet death, if it needs must
be, with firmness. ‘Nothing,’ replied the invalid, ‘is sweeter to
me, if it be God’s will.’ The monk was departing, when Lorenzo said
to him: ‘Give me thy blessing, father, before thou partest from me.’
And with bowed head, and in the attitude of religious earnestness, he
responded correctly, and with full consciousness to Savonarola’s words
and prayers, undisturbed by the no longer concealed mourning of the

So reports the friend of many years—he who knew the dying man better
perhaps than anyone else. But another story stands in opposition
to his. According to this version, Lorenzo wished to make one last
confession to the Dominican. He accused himself of three things: the
sack of Volterra, the squandering of the dower-moneys, and the blood
shed at the time of the Pazzi conspiracy. The dying man’s agitation
was distressing. ‘God is gracious, God is merciful,’ said the monk
to soothe him. Then, when he had done, Savonarola spoke. ‘You have
need of three things. First, true and lively confidence in the Divine
grace.’ To this the invalid replied, ‘I am penetrated therewith.’
‘Secondly, you must restore what you have wrongfully appropriated, and
make restitution a duty for your sons.’ Lorenzo reflected a moment,
then assented by a movement of the head. ‘Lastly, you must restore to
the people of Florence their freedom.’ The invalid turned away his head
without answering, and the monk left him unabsolved.

Lorenzo’s death—to resume Poliziano’s report—was peaceful. It seemed
that it was not he who was about to undergo the fate of all mortals,
but rather those who stood around his bed. He did not refuse what the
doctors prescribed, though he expected no effect from it. Even his old
cheerfulness had not altogether deserted him. When after taking some
food he was asked how he relished it, he answered: ‘Like a dying man.’
He embraced his relatives and friends and begged them to forgive him
if he had offended them or shown impatience during his long illness.
When he asked to have read to him from the Gospel the history of the
Passion and Death of our Lord, at first he repeated the words of
Scripture, then, getting weaker, only moved his lips and at last his
fingers, in token that he still followed the sense. When death drew
near, a crucifix was held out to him; he opened his eyes, kissed it and
departed. This was on Sunday, April 8, 1492, about the fifth hour of
the night.

What a strange abundant variety of cares and pleasures, of labour and
enjoyment, of thought and action, of poetry and realism, of danger and
success, of evil and good, had been crowded together into that life of
barely forty-three years!

The tidings of his death naturally put all Florence in commotion.
Almost simultaneously with it came the news that the physician Piero
Leoni had thrown himself into a well at Francesco Martelli’s villa at
San Gervasio by the Porta Pinti, whither he had been secretly taken
because his life was threatened at Careggi, as he was suspected of an
intent to poison. It was not known whether the unhappy man really
perished by his own resolve or by another’s hand.[568] As usual,
prodigies were believed to have presaged the event with which all
minds were occupied. In Sta. Maria Novella a woman had started up in
the middle of the sermon, crying out that she saw a raging bull, with
burning horns, overthrowing the church. Three days before Lorenzo’s
death a flash of lightning had struck the lantern of the Cathedral and
hurled down some heavy blocks of marble on the north-west, the side
towards the Medici’s dwelling; one fell in through the roof, another
crushed the house of Luca Rinieri. On the night of the death a meteor
was said to have been seen to shine over Careggi and then vanish.[569]
Three hours after death the body was taken from Careggi to San Marco;
there it remained in the chapel of a lay-brotherhood till the following
evening, when the clergy of San Lorenzo came in solemn procession
to fetch it away and carry it to the sacristy of the Basilica. The
ceremony at church was simple, as he had wished it. The mourning was
general. The upper ranks, almost entirely attached to the Medicean
interest, felt deeply the loss of the man whose firm and practised hand
had guided the helm for so long, and whose vices had been outweighed
by his brilliant qualities. Who should tell them what might happen
now? On April 10, wrote Bartolommeo Cerretani, the whole city went
to Piero. The people lamented the loss of him who, at whatever cost,
had procured them peace and comfort.[570] There were indeed some who
rejoiced at his death and expected good from it; there is no lack of
testimony to such feelings in memoirs not intended for the eyes of
strangers. ‘As I know,’ writes Alamanno Rinuccini, when describing
the merits and demerits of the Medici, ‘that many falsehoods about
him have been spread, in eye-service and deceit, by flatterers and
perverters of the truth, mostly bought and corrupted by him by means of
honours and enrichment at the public expense. I intend to give a brief
account of his life and manners, with both of which I was intimately
acquainted: not by way of detraction, nor from hatred towards him, from
whom I have received divers marks of distinction, to which I had no
claim, but in compliance with truth. The multitude regarded the signs
before his death as prognostics of great evils; they would have been
prognostics of great good, had the citizens known how to use their

On April 13, three days after the funeral, the assembled councils and
the people, in conjunction with the Signoria, issued the following
decree:[572] ‘Whereas the foremost man of all this city, the lately
deceased Lorenzo de’ Medici, did during his whole life neglect no
opportunity of protecting, increasing, adorning, and raising this city,
but was always ready with counsel, authority, and painstaking, in
thought and deed; subordinated his personal interest to the advantage
and benefit of the community; shrank from neither trouble nor dangers
for the good of the State and its freedom; and devoted to that object
all his thoughts and powers, securing public order by excellent laws;
by his presence brought a dangerous war to a conclusion; regained the
places lost in battle and took those belonging to the enemies;—whereas
he furthermore, after the rare examples furnished by antiquity, for
the safety of his fellow-citizens and the freedom of his country gave
himself up into his enemies’ power, and, filled with love for his
house, averted the general danger by drawing it all upon his own head;
whereas, finally, he omitted nothing which could tend to raise our
reputation and enlarge our borders; it hath seemed good to the Senate
and people of Florence, on the motion of the chief magistrate, to
establish a public testimonial of gratitude to the memory of such a
man, in order that virtue may not be unhonoured among the Florentines,
and that in days to come other citizens may be incited to serve the
commonwealth with might and wisdom. But whereas the memory of Lorenzo
needs no outward adornments, as it has struck deep root, and blooms
fresher every day, it hath been determined to transfer to Piero,
the eldest son of the deceased, the heir of his father’s dignity
and successor to his fame, the public honour due to his father and
his ancestors. So much the more, as Piero has already in his youth
displayed the endowments of his father and is in some degree his image,
and has already shown himself such that we may hope he will, by God’s
assistance, tread in his father’s steps.’

On April 10, before break of day, a special messenger brought to the
Cardinal the fatal tidings which had been expected for several days.
Giovanni, his attendants and servants, at once put on mourning, the
house was hung with black, and all the Cardinals, headed by Francesco
Piccolomini, paid visits of condolence to their youthful colleague.
Four days after, a Requiem was sung in Sta. Maria sopra Minerva;
Franceschetto Cybò and the Count of Pitigliano were present in coarse
black mantles reaching to the ground, and also Onofrio Tornabuoni, the
Medicean agent at the Roman Curia, and many prelates and gentlemen.
The next day Innocent proclaimed the appointment of Giovanni de’
Medici to be legate in Tuscany, whither the boy wished to return
in consequence of his father’s death, that he might consult on the
condition of affairs with his brother, to whom he had already written
many letters. The young Cardinal was so much moved that he had to
retire for a while during mass.[573] Nothing is known of the remarks
made by the Pope (who sent an orator to Florence) on the loss of the
man with whom he was so intimate, although throughout his pontificate
he had never personally seen him. The case is otherwise with regard
to King Ferrante. On the morning of April 11, being then in the
neighbourhood of Palma, he learned from a letter of Marino Tomacelli
that all hope was abandoned. He thereupon wrote to Gioviano Pontano
at Rome that he should offer the Pope all the means at his command to
prevent a disturbance of the peace of Italy, and place at his disposal
the troops commanded by Virginio Orsini. To Virginio he wrote the same
evening, after receiving news of the death (‘which has grieved us to
the depths of our soul’), charging him to act without further orders
from him according to the disposition of the Pope, in case the latter
should have need of him.[574] To those around him the King is said
to have thus spoken: ‘That man’s life has been long enough for his
own deathless fame, but too short for Italy. God grant that now he is
dead, that may not be attempted which was not ventured on during his

That Innocent was entirely of one mind with Ferrante in considering
the maintenance of the house of Medici in the position it had hitherto
occupied as necessary for the preservation of the existing political
system, may be judged from the answer addressed to the Pope, from
Vigevano on April 20, by Lodovico il Moro in the name of his nephew
Gian Galeazzo.[576] Whatever might be the real feeling of Sforza, who
had already two months ago drawn up the instructions for that embassy
to Charles VIII. which was the first step towards the ruin of Italy—at
all events, his letter throws a favourable light on the Pope’s views of
the matter: ‘Your Holiness could have written me nothing more welcome
than what you have lately communicated to me as to your desire to
keep Italy in peace, and maintain the sons of Lorenzo de’ Medici in
their position. For I have nothing more at heart than the preservation
of the peace of Italy, for which I have not shrunk from subjecting
myself to intolerable burdens and struggles; and between me and the
Medici family there is a bond of friendship both public and private. My
memory recalls how the illustrious prince my grandfather (Francesco),
aided by the pecuniary means of Cosimo de’ Medici, regained the state
of our forefathers, which after his father-in-law’s death had been,
so to say, lost. I likewise remember how since then Florence and the
house of Medici have never been in a position to need our help without
our placing arms and money at their disposal. I am therefore glad that
amid the deep mourning occasioned by the death of the illustrious
Lorenzo, your Holiness’s letter calls upon me to do that to which my
own inclination prompted me, and which is as interesting to me as if
it concerned my own personal welfare. For not only your Holiness, to
whom my attachment to the Medici family is known, but all who know
anything of Italian affairs must be convinced that I shall continue
to act towards the sons of Lorenzo as my predecessors acted towards
his father and grandfather. No one can imagine that I shall not tread
as heretofore in the footsteps of my ancestors; for this friendship
with the Medici has always been cultivated and confirmed by practical
proofs on both sides, up to the present hour, and has not only never
experienced a disturbance, but has been constantly strengthened, to the
advantage and pleasure of both parties. Perseverance in this mind is
made doubly my duty, by old and new relations with the Medici, and by
the circumstance that I shall thereby suit the views of your Holiness.’

Lorenzo de’ Medici was buried in the sacristy of San Lorenzo, the
resting-place of his father, uncle, brother, grandparents, and other
relatives. When Giovanni, who left Rome on May 11, 1492, to return
home, stood here at his father’s grave, he little thought that more
than twenty-three years later, on Advent Sunday, 1515, he was destined
to kneel there in tears as the spiritual head of Christendom.[577]
Amid all the splendour and greatness to which the Medici afterwards
rose, not one of them seems to have thought of raising a monument to
the most famous man of the family, though the greatest sculptor of the
age helped to immortalise on their monuments two of its insignificant
members. In 1559 Duke Cosimo I. caused the mortal remains of Lorenzo
and his brother Giuliano to be laid in the porphyry sarcophagus which
they had erected for their father and uncle.[578]

The following poem,[579] set to music by Heinrich Isaak, was written by
Angelo Poliziano on the death of the man to whom he had been through
life so deeply attached:—


  Quis dabit capiti meo
  Aquam? quis oculis meis
  Fontem lachrymarum dabit?
  Ut nocte fleam,
  Ut luce fleam.
  Sic turtur viduus solet;
  Sic cygnus moriens solet,
  Sic luscinia conqueri.
  Heu miser, miser;
  O dolor, dolor!

  Laurus impetu fulminis
  Illa illa jacet subito;
  Laurus omnium celebris
  Musarum choris,
  Nympharum choris,
  Sub cujus patula coma,
  Et Phœbi lyra blandius
  Et vox dulcius insonat.
  Nunc muta omnia,
  Nunc surda omnia.

  Quis dabit capiti meo
  Aquam? quis oculis meis
  Fontem lachrymarum dabit?
  Ut nocte fleam,
  Ut luce fleam.
  Sic turtur viduus solet;
  Sic cygnus moriens solet,
  Sic luscinia conqueri.
  Heu miser, miser;
  O dolor, dolor!


AT the age of forty-three Lorenzo was called away. His span of life
had been but a short one for such manifold activity and such lasting
fame. A remarkable man, he was the most brilliant representative of
a remarkable time; in no one else were its qualities and excellences
united in such a harmonious whole. Energetic in action, and earnest in
his endeavours to watch the phases of progress in the establishment
of a new order of things; endowed with the liveliest susceptibilities
and the quickest perceptions, combined with the earnestness and
thoroughness of a student; with a strongly sympathetic feeling for
art, yet capable of immediate application to the business of life;
he united imaginative power with clear common sense, the capacity
for lofty projects with that for patient calculation; he had all the
qualities of poet and statesman, connoisseur and patron of learning,
citizen and prince. He was indefatigable and persevering in the endless
business thrown upon him by his position as the leader of a peculiarly
constituted state; with a quick and unerring eye he was able to grasp
the whole and yet observe its smallest detail; in his riper years he
was cautious and prudent, keeping his object immovably in view without
blind self-confidence or presumption, though fully alive to his own
position and that of the state which he represented. He passed with
wonderful ease from practical to speculative politics, from science to
poetry. Few could equal him in comprehensive, manifold, creative gifts,
or in the most delicate sense of beauty, and the most active interest,
with the deepest insight, into the character and purposes of art. In
his home and family relations he was kindly, sociable, cheerful, even
amid physical sufferings; not free from errors which even in earlier
years and afterwards far more decidedly loosened the bond between him
and his wife, yet still unaffectedly attached to all his family; to the
admirable mother, many of whose qualities he had inherited, to the wife
who was not of his own choosing, to the children to whom he was a wise
and prudent counsellor, and a tender but not a weak father. Moreover he
was a warm, attentive, and constant friend, attracting and attaching to
himself the most different natures, ever ready to help in counsel and
action, interposing and interceding for high and low with equal zeal
amid a thousand occupations. He was gifted with a delicate sense of
propriety, though he could not keep himself free from the Epicureanism
of the time, which exacted a sacrifice even from him; and vividly
conscious of the power of culture in the field of the Church, though
a frivolous materialism threatened to weaken that power and lead him
seriously astray in his views of life.

He was not without the weaknesses and vices of his time. They cramped
his policy, though it still stood far higher than that of most princes
and statesmen of the age, both Italian and others. He was superior too
in honesty and consistency, and, at least during the last ten years of
his life, in unalterable adherence to the preservation of peace and
unity, and to a feeling of nationality such as answered to the ideas of
the time, from which it is not fair to demand conceptions unfamiliar to
it. His home policy has called forth severe blame both on account of
his progressive violations of the constitution to increase his personal
authority, and of the corruption he employed in order to obtain
undisturbed control of the finances. With regard to the latter, it is
hard to see how, had he lived longer, he could have avoided national
bankruptcy, unless indeed he and the state had contrived by the
preservation of peace to restore an internal equilibrium, for which in
his last years he had begun to lay some slight foundation. As to the
former, many of his contemporaries expressed the opinion that he aimed
at becoming a recognised prince, and was only waiting for a favourable
opportunity—such as his entrance on the office of Gonfalonier, as soon
as that dignity should fall to him on his reaching the legal age. And
yet he, who had everything in his power, could not have lacked means
and opportunities, if this had been his object. But he knew the city
and the people too well to be blind to the obstacles and dangers which
threatened to impede that path.

Perhaps the worst evil of Lorenzo’s government lay in the increasing
incongruity between the outward form and the real power, and in the
displacement of authority from its legal centre, whereby both law
and moderation were called in question. Personal influence decided
everything in politics, in administration, in finance, even in the
dispensation of justice. The more clear-sighted among Lorenzo’s
contemporaries did not fail to perceive this radical evil, and
expressed their opinion of it in the bitterest terms. Nevertheless
not merely did Florence escape such excesses as occurred in all other
Italian states, almost without an exception, but Lorenzo’s government
was on the whole free from the violence which had characterised that
of Cosimo. Doubtless the greater tranquillity of the time, the more
secure position of the Medici, the fact that the people had been
longer accustomed to their rule, contributed to this result; but so
also did the character of the man himself. Lorenzo was ambitious to
rule, but he was no tyrant. On the one hand he was too keen-sighted,
and had calculated too accurately the character and traditions of the
people; on the other hand his own nature was too grand, too open, too
high-minded, too warm-hearted, and also too fond of enjoyment; finally,
he was too much of a Florentine citizen, and that not merely in name
but in his appearance, his dress and his bearing. He would have had
nothing to distinguish him from the rest of the community, had there
not been permitted or granted to him, ever since the Pazzi conspiracy,
a suite consisting at first of four of his own confidants, afterwards
of twelve men paid by the Signoria. It is true that this was a grave
offence against civil equality. This citizen-character was not kept up
by Lorenzo’s sons—it was said of Piero that he was not a Florentine
by nature—and its outward signs vanished altogether in some others of
the race. In his own family Lorenzo maintained simplicity; in public
affairs, however completely he held the real direction of them, he
tried to keep up fair appearances; though indeed he could not prevent a
complaint that Ser Piero da Bibiena brought into his court of chancery
matters which rightly belonged to the police-jurisdiction of the Eight.
On important occasions he liked to consult with many persons, but with
each one separately; and then he formed his own decision independently.

On his arbitrary proceedings in money matters there were very divided
opinions even in his own time. If he had not used the money of the
state he would have been ruined; and it was said that his ruin would
have entailed that of everybody else; that all he took to save his
credit and to lead a showy life was nothing in comparison of the losses
to which a state would be exposed by incapable administration; that one
single unskilful or ill-timed measure might cost a state dearer than
Lorenzo’s whole course of government; that the ultimate and highest
object of the Medici, for which they calculated everything they did or
left undone, was indeed their own benefit; but they were and always
had been Florentine citizens, and in most cases their interest and
that of the state was one and the same. So said the favourable party
after Lorenzo’s death and Piero’s fall. To this it was answered that
the ultimate object of the Medici was not supremacy like that of the
Albizzi in a state becoming more and more aristocratic in form, but
simply autocracy, which they had sought to attain under the form
of democracy, by removing the influence of the noble families and
favouring many members of the lower classes. A cunning tyranny like
that of Cosimo, or one softened by affability and generosity like
that of Lorenzo, was all the worse because it spread poison among the
people, preparing the way for the endurance of something harder. The
truth of this view was proved at no very distant time.

For good or for evil the Medici’s influence struck deep root in
Florence. They made the lasting existence of the Republic impossible.
‘We are suffering’—such are the words placed by Francesco Guicciardini
in the mouth of a man frequently named in this history—Paol’Antonio
Soderini—after their expulsion in 1494—‘from two mortal wounds: the
Pisan war, and the exile of the Medici. With their numerous friends
in the city and country, and the greatness of their name abroad, they
will give us a great deal of trouble.’ He was right. The Medicean party
would have given the death-blow to the Republic of 1495 as well as to
that of 1527, even if external circumstances had not come to their
assistance. The work was made easier for them because here, as in many
other republics, the relation of the ruling commonwealth to her subject
towns and districts was an unnatural and very oppressive one; these
subjects, influenced by the traditions of their old freedom, obeyed
only on compulsion; and endured a personal government such as was
permanently established forty years after Lorenzo’s death, more easily
than their former position—perhaps because their old masters now had
to bow their necks to the same yoke.

In the ninth chapter of his Florentine history, the great writer just
mentioned sums up at the close, in a few words, his masterly picture of
Lorenzo de’ Medici’s influence on his native city. The city, he says,
was not free under him; but it could not have found a more endurable
and better master. For while there proceeded from him much good, owing
to his natural goodness and amiable disposition, the evils, so far as
they proceeded from the nature of the tyranny itself, were slight and
limited to absolute necessity, and infinitely slighter still where his
own will was concerned. Therefore, although many might rejoice at his
death, yet it grieved those who had a share in the government, and even
those who had some ground of complaint against him, for no one knew
whither the change might lead.

This was soon discovered. Lorenzo the Magnificent had been scarcely
two years and a half in his grave, and his sons had not yet found
time to raise a monument to his memory, when the stately edifice of
which Giovanni d’Averardo had laid the foundation-stone, which Cosimo
had built up, and Piero and Lorenzo enlarged and adorned, crumbled to
pieces. On November 9, 1494, Luca Corsini, one of the Priori, shut the
gate of the palace of the Signoria in the face of Piero de’ Medici, on
his return from the French camp at Sarzana, and thus gave the signal
for a great change in the destinies of the commonwealth. Lorenzo’s son
and successor had neither his father’s sagacity and experience, nor
his father’s authority with the great men nor the attachment of the
people, to help him. In the long-threatened division which brought
down France to interfere in the dynastic troubles of Italy, he first
made common cause with the house of Aragon against the Moro and the
French king, and then, as soon as the latter, having crossed the Alps
without obstacle, was threatening Florence, the young man lost his
head and his courage, and without a shadow of right delivered up the
fortresses of the state, Sarzana, Pietrasanta, Pisa, Livorno, to the
foreigner. As soon as the old cry of ‘People and liberty!’ was raised
in a burst of anger at this unheard-of proceeding, Piero mounted his
horse and was glad when he found himself safe on the road to Bologna,
whither he was followed by his brothers and those of his adherents who
were most deeply compromised, while the mob was sacking the Medici
palace and the houses of the most detested tools of their financial
administration. Thus in a moment a revolution was accomplished which
created a new popular state, under the eyes of a foreign sovereign.
That same November 9 Charles VIII. entered Pisa, where the rising
against Florence began, and a week later he was in the palace in the
Via Larga. This state lasted, amid the greatest internal and external
difficulties, for nearly eighteen years, and then gave way to a new
Medicean supremacy, which after another three years’ interruption,
brought about by similar extraneous circumstances, formed itself into
an hereditary autocracy, lasting till, after the lapse of two full
centuries, the altered family died out in the altered country, and was
mourned even then, when but little was left of the qualities which had
lent it so much splendour.

Lorenzo’s friends and adherents met with various fates. Of the heads
of the party, now left to their own resources, some attained influence
and power in the new commonwealth; others came to a bloody end. Of the
friends who stood round his death-bed, one, Angelo Poliziano, did not
live to see the catastrophe that befell the once splendid house. He was
taken away on September 24, 1494; and the evil reports which his life,
notwithstanding all his high intellectual gifts, had in some measure
called forth, did not spare him even in death. Giovanni Pico della
Mirandola died on the day of the French king’s entry, and the comforter
of his last moments was the man whom Lorenzo, too, had summoned in the
hour of death—the Predicant monk of Ferrara who was destined to stir
Florence to her deepest depths, and to die amid the flames lighted by
his own hand. Marsilio Ficino and Cristoforo Landino were doomed to
witness the misfortunes of the family to whom they owed everything and
were attached by hereditary affection, and to survive the execution
of many friends, and the dispersion of the rich treasures of art and
learning which adorned the house in which they had been born and grown
up. Of the younger members of the circle, some spent eighteen years in
exile and vicissitude, to come back at last and sun themselves in the
splendour, brilliant indeed but fleeting, of the pontificate of Leo
X. Then the seeds of literature and art sown in the days of Lorenzo,
sprang up in the works of Ariosto and Machiavelli, of Raphael and
Michelangelo; but the political edifice, whose chief pillar he had
been, and the national polity were irrecoverably destroyed; Italy had
become the whole world’s battle-field; Lombardy was subject to the
French, Naples to the Spaniards; the crowd of dynasties in Romagna had
been swept away by the flood; while of those who had once held in their
control the weal and woe of the peninsula, Ferrante and Alfonso of
Aragon had died in distress and remorse, and Lodovico il Moro had ended
his days in a French prison.




 1115. Death of the Countess Matilda. Increased independence of the
         Tuscan towns.

 1188. Frederic Barbarossa in Florence.

 1201. Chiarissimo de’ Medici member of the council of the Florentine

 1207. Election of the first Podestà.

 1215. Beginning of civil feuds.

 1250. First constitution of the Florentine commonalty of citizens in
         opposition to the nobility. The _Capitano del Popolo_.

 1260. Battle of Montaperti. Victory of the Ghibelline party.

 1266. Charles of Anjou. The Ghibellines leave Florence.

 1282. Origin of the political constitution of the guilds (_Priori
         delle Arti_).

 1293. Reform of the constitution of the guilds. _Gonfalonieri di
         giustizia._ Penal laws against the nobility.

 1294. Building of the Palace of the Commonwealth (_Palazzo dei
         Priori_), and of the new Cathedral begun.

 1312. Siege of Florence by the Emperor Henry VII.

 1320. Beginning of the war against Castruccio, Lord of Lucca.

 1336. War against Martino della Scala, Lord of Verona.

 1342-43. Tyrannical government of Gautier de Brienne, Duke of Athens.
            Complete downfall of the ancient nobility.

 1346. Great losses of the Florentine banks.

 1351. Beginning of the wars against the Visconti of Milan.

 1362. War with Pisa.

 1371. Factions of the Albizzi and Ricci. Exclusion of many citizens
         from office.

 1375. Beginning of enmity between the Florentines and Pope Gregory XI.
         (1377, return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome.)

 1378. Gonfaloniership of Salvestro de’ Medici. Rising and government
         of the lowest classes (_Tumulto dei Ciompi_).

       Ambrogio Traversari born (d. 1439).

 1379. Execution of Piero degli Albizzi.

       Filippo Brunelleschi b. (d. 1446).

 1380. Poggio Bracciolini b. (d. 1459).

 1381? Lorenzo Ghiberti b. (d. 1455).

 1382. End of the popular government. Rise of the power of the Albizzi.

 1386. Donatello b. (d. 1466).

 1387. Exile of Benedetto degli Alberti and his family. Fra Giovanni of
         Fiesole b. (d. 1455).

 1388. Salvestro de’ Medici d.

 1389. Cosimo de’ Medici b. (d. 1464).

 1391. Neri Capponi, son of Gino, b. (d. 1457). Michelozzo Michelozzi
         b. (d. 1472).

 1393. Tyranny of Maso degli Albizzi. Vieri de’ Medici.

 1394. Luigi Marsigli d.

 1396. Emmanuel Chrysoloras called to Florence (d. 1415). Giannozzo
         Manetti b. (d. 1459).

 1399. Pilgrimages of the White Penitents. Great mortality. Carlo
         Marsuppini b. (d. 1453).

 1400. War with Gian-Galeazzo Visconti (d. 1402). Alliance with King
         Ruprecht of the Pfalz. Luca della Robbia b. (d. 1482).

 1401. Masaccio b., at San Giovanni in Val d’Arno (d. 1428).

 1403. League with Pope Boniface IX. and others against the Visconti.

       L. Ghiberti receives the commission for the first door of the

 1404. Beginning of the enterprise against Pisa.

 1405. Fight for Pisa. Gino Capponi.

       Matteo Palmieri b. (d. 1475). L. B. Alberti b. (d. 1472).

 1406. Capture of Pisa.

       Coluccio Salutati d. (b. 1330).

 1408. Efforts to restore the unity of the Church.

 1409. Council of Pisa. (P. Alexander V.)

       Bernardo Rossellino b. (d. 1464).

 1410. League with Pope John XXIII. [Baldassar Cossa]. Feo Belcari b.
         (d. 1484).

 1411. Treaty with K. Ladislas of Naples. Purchase of Cortona.
         Establishment of the Council of Two Hundred.

 1412? Fra Filippo Lippi b. (d. 1469).

 1414. New treaty with K. Ladislas, and after his death, with his
         sister Queen Joanna II. Cosimo de’ Medici and John XXII. at

 1415. Benedetto Accolti b. (d. 1466).

 1416. Plague at Florence.

       Piero de’ Medici b. (d. 1469).

 1417. Maso degli Albizzi d. His son Rinaldo and Niccolò da Uzzano at
         the head of the Commonwealth.

 1419. Pope Martin V. in Florence. Reconciliation and death of John

       Archbishopric of Florence. Amerigo Corsini.

 1420. Filippo Brunelleschi architect of the dome of the Cathedral.

       Benozzo Gozzoli b. (d. 1498).

 1421. Purchase of Livorno. Gino Capponi d.

 1422. Flourishing state of commerce. Relations with the Levant.

 1423. Beginning of the war with Filippo Maria Visconti.

 1424. Defeat at Zagonara.

       Cristoforo Landino b. (d. 1504).

 1425. Defeat at Anghiari.

       Lorenzo Ghiberti receives the commission for the second door of
         the Baptistery.

 1426. Disputes about taxes and war-imposts. The Albizzi and Giovanni
       de’ Medici.

 1427. First register of lands.

       Antonio Rossellino b. (d. 1478).

 1428. Peace with F. M. Visconti.

       Reform of the University. Palla Strozzi.

 1429. Giovanni de’ Medici d. Revolt of Volterra on account of the
         introduction of the land-register.

       Francesco Filelfo in Florence.

       Antonio Pollaiuolo b. (d. 1498).

 1430. War with Lucca. The Jews in Florence.

       Bartolommeo Scala b. (d. 1495).

 1431. Pope Eugene IV.

       Luigi Pulci b. (d. 1486).

       Mino da Fiesole b. (d. 1484).

 1432. Giuliano da Majano b. (d. 1490.)

       Niccolò da Uzzano d.

       K. Sigismund in Italy. (Crowned Emperor 1433).

 1433. War with Lucca ended by a treaty with Milan.

       Exile of Cosimo de’ Medici.

       Marsilio Ficino b. (d. 1499).

 1434. Recall of Cosimo de’ Medici. Exile of Rinaldo degli Albizzi,
         Palla Strozzi and their friends. Pope Eugene IV. in Florence.
         Completion of the dome of the Cathedral.

 1435. Cosimo de’ Medici Gonfalonier.

       Andrea del Verrocchio b. (d. 1488).

 1436. Consecration of the Cathedral by Pope Eugene IV. Convent and
         library of San Marco. Medici palace.

 1439. Florentine Council of Union. The Greeks in Florence.

 1440. War of the Visconti. Battle of Anghiari. End of the dominion of
         the Guidi in the Casentino.

 1441. Death of Baldaccio da Anghiari.

       Pietro Pollaiuolo b. (d. 1489?).

       ? Luca Signorelli b. (d. 1523).

 1442. Benedetto da Majano b. (d. 1498?).

       Rinaldo degli Albizzi d., at Ancona.

 1445. Giuliano Giamberti da Sangallo b. (d. 1516).

 1446. S. Antonine Archbishop (d. 1459).

 1447. War in the Chiana valley with Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples.
         Pope Nicholas V.

 1449. (January 1) Lorenzo de’ Medici b. (d. 1492).

       Bernardo Rucellai b. (d. 1514).

       Domenico Ghirlandajo b. (d. 1494).

 1450. Dispute with Venice. Francesco Sforza Duke of Milan.

 1451. Amerigo Vespucci b. (d. 1512).

 1452. Emperor Frederic III. in Florence. The Neapolitans in the Chiana
         valley. Leonardo da Vinci b. (d. 1519).

 1453. Giuliano de’ Medici b. (d. 1478).

       Girolamo Benevieni b. (d. 1542).

 1454. Peace of Lodi, between Florence, Milan, Venice, and Naples.

       Angelo Ambrogio Poliziano b. (d. 1494).

 1455. Intrigues against Cosimo de’ Medici. Luca Pitti. Pope Calixtus

 1456. Johannes Argyropulos called to Florence.

 1457. Simone Pollaiuolo Cronaca b. (d. 1508).

       Filippino Lippi b. (d. 1504).

 1458. Changes in the Constitution by Luca Pitti. Pope Pius II.

 1459. Pope Pius II. in Florence.

       Benozzo Gozzoli paints the chapel of the Medici palace.

 1461. Piero de’ Medici Gonfalonier.

 1463. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola b. (d. 1494).

 1464. Cosimo de’ Medici, ‘Pater Patriæ,’ d. Pope Paul II.

       Marcello Virgilio Adriani b. (d. 1521).

 1465. Beginning of the Pitti disturbances.

 1466. Conspiracy of Diotisalvi Neroni, Luca Pitti, and their friends
         against Piero de’ Medici.

 1467. War of Colleone.

 1468. Peace with Venice. Purchase of Sarzana. Tournament and marriage
         of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

 1469. Piero de’ Medici d. Authority of Lorenzo. Tommaso Soderini.

 1470. Attempted revolt at Prato.

        Bernardo Dovizj of Bibiena b. (d. 1520).

 1471. Galeazzo Maria Sforza in Florence. Lorenzo de’ Medici at Rome
         with Pope Sixtus IV. Piero de’ Medici b. (d. 1503). Bernardo
         Cennini, first Florentine printer.

 1472. Revolt and conquest of Volterra.

 1473. Re-opening of the University of Pisa.

 1474. King Christian of Denmark in Florence.

 1475. Giovanni de’ Medici [Pope Leo X.] b. (d. 1521). Michelangelo
         Buonarotti b. (d. 1564). Murder of Galeazzo M. Sforza. Regency
         of Bona of Savoy.

 1478. Conspiracy of the Pazzi. Death of Giuliano de’ Medici. War with
 Rome and Naples. Giulio de’ Medici [Pope Clement VII.] b.

 1479. Defeat at Poggibonzi. Lorenzo de’ Medici in Naples. Lodovico il
         Moro regent of Milan.

 1480. Peace between Florence, Naples, and the Pope. Establishment of
         the Council of Seventy.

 1481. Cristoforo Landino’s edition of Dante.

 1482. Ferrarese war. Francesco Guicciardini b. (d. 1540).

 1483. Fra Girolamo Savonarola in Florence. King Louis XI. of France d.
         Charles VIII. king.

 1484. Peace of Bagnolo. Pope Sixtus IV. d. Innocent VIII. Pope.

 1485. The Florentines in the Neapolitan barons’ war against the Pope.

 1486. Peace between the Pope and King Ferrante.

 1487. Re-capture of Sarzana by the Florentines.

 1488. Family alliance between the Medici and Innocent VIII. Clarice
         de’ Medici d. Homer’s works first printed. Convent of San

       Murder of Girolamo Riario and Galeotto Manfredi.

 1489. Cardinalate of Giovanni de’ Medici.

       Fra Girolamo Savonarola again at San Marco.

       Building of the Strozzi palace begun.

       Benedetto da Majano.

 1490. New constitutional reform. Lorenzo de’ Medici mediator between
         Pope Innocent and King Ferrante.

       Cathedral. Choir of Sta. Maria Novella by Ghirlandajo.
       Negotiations for completion of the Cathedral façade.

 1491. Reconciliation between the Pope and Naples.

 1492. Proclamation of the Cardinalate of Giovanni de’ Medici.

       Lorenzo de’ Medici d., April 8.



  Giovanni de’ Averardo=Piccarda Bueri.
  b. 1360, d. 1429.    │
    │                                       │
  Cosimo = Contessina de’ Bardi  Lorenzo = Ginevra
  ‘pater │ d. 1473               b. 1395 │ Cavalcanti.
  patriæ’│                       d. 1440 │
  b. 1389│                               │
  d. 1464│                       Grand─Ducal line,
         │                         extinct 1737.
     │                 │      │
    Piero = Lucrezia   │    Carlo
  b. 1416 │ Tornabuoni │    (nat)
  d. 1469 │ d. 1482.   │    d. 1492.
          │            │
          │    Giovanni=Ginevra
          │    d. 1463  degli
          │             Albizzi.
          │              │           │            │        │
     Lorenzo ‘il=Clarice │     Bianca=Guglielmo   │  Maria = Lionetto
     magnifico’ │Orsini  │            de’ Pazzi.  │  (nat.)  de’ Rossi.
     b. 1449    │d. 1488 │                        │
     d. 1492.   │        │                 Nannina=Bernardo
                │        │                         Rucellai.
                │   Giuliano b. 1453
                │     d. 1478.
                │        │
                │     Giulio
                │     b. 1478
                │     d. 1534
                │    (Pope Clement
                │       VII.)
          │           │          │          │     │      │     │
    Piero = Alfonsina │  Giuliano=Filiberta │   Luisa    │Contessina=
  b. 1471 │ Orsini    │  Duke of │of Savoy. │ betrothed  │Piero Ridolfi.
  d. 1503 │ d. 1520   │  Nemours │          │ to Giovanni│
          │           │  b. 1479 │          │ de’ Medici.│
          │           │  d. 1516 │          │            │
          │           │          │          │        Maddalena=
          │       Giovanni       │ Lucrezia=Jacopo    Franceschetto
          │       b. 1475        │         Salviati. Cybò.
          │       d. 1521        │
          │        (Pope         └──────────────────────────────┐
          │        Leo X.)                                      │
          │                                              Ippolito (nat.)
          ├───────────────────────────┐                     Cardinal
          │                           │                     d. 1535.
  Lorenzo = Madeleine      Clarice = Filippo Strozzi
  Duke of │ de la Tour        d. 1528.   the younger.
  Urbino, │ d’Auvergne
  b. 1492 │ d. 1519
  d. 1519 │
          │                                         │
  Caterina=Henri II. King of France.         Alessandro (nat.),
  b. 1519                                  first Duke of Florence
  d. 1589                                         d. 1537


                          GUIDOTTO DE’ PAZZI
            fought at Montecatini 1315, exiled after the time of
                         the Duke of Athens,
                              d. 1348.
                               Guglielmo = Costanza de’ Bardi.
          condemned 1345, afterwards in  │
          offices of State, Camarlingo   │
          1374, d. 1377.                 │
                                Andrea = Caterina Salviati.
     b. 1372, Capitano di parte Guelfa    │
     1413, made eligible to municipal     │
     offices by Cosimo de’ Medici 1434,   │
     knighted by René of Anjou 1442,      │
     d. 1445.                             │
                 │                  │                       │
          Jacopo = Maddalena      Piero  =Fiammetta  Antonio=Cosa
     Gonfalonier │ Serristori. ambassador│Giugni.           │degli
     1469,       │             at Naples,│                  │Alessandri.
     d. 1478.    │             aid to    │                  │
                 │             Louis XI. │                  │
                 │             in 1461.  │                  │
             Caterina, b. 1463,          │                  │
          Abbess of Sta. Maria di        │                  │
           Monticelli, d. 1490.          │                  │
                                         │                  │
     ┌───────┬─────────┬─────────┬───────┴─┐                │
     │       │         │         │         │                │
  Renato.  Andrea.  Niccolò.  Leonardo.  Galeotto.          │
    1478.                                                   │
                   │                     │                        │
               Guglielmo = Bianca      Giovanni = Beatrice     Francesco
                d. 1516. │ de Medici.  d. 1481.   Borromeo.    d. 1478.
                         │                     │
                       Cosimo              Alessandro
             Archbishop of Florence       d. 1530.
                     d. 1513.


                              TOMMASO SODERINI.
         Capitano di parte Guelfa 1377─78, then banished, returned 1381,
                         Gonfalonier 1395, d. 1402.
                            │                               │
                    Lorenzo = Ghilla Cambi.       Francesco = Margherita
  (nat., legitimatized),    │       of Elisabetta Altoviti,   dau. of
  knighted by K. Charles V. │        b. 1376, member of the   Palla
  1397, d. 1405.            │      magistracy of Eight 1433.  Strozzi
                  │                                          │
               Niccolò                                Tommaso=Dianora
  b. 1401, Gonfalonier 1451 and 1465,  b. 1403. several times│Tornabuoni
  exiled in consequence of the         ambassador and five   │
  conspiracy of Diotisalvi Neroni,     times Gonfalonier,    │
   d. at Ravenna 1474.                 d. 1485.              │
        │                │               │          │            │
    Francesco          Piero      Paol’Antonio    Tommaso  Gian Vittorio
     b. 1453.          made      several times   knighted   Rector of
  Cardinal─Bishop   Gonfalonier   ambassador,     by Leo X.  Pisa and
    of Volterra,    for life        d. 1499.                 ambassador.
     d. 1524.        in 1502,
                     d. 1522.


   GIAN GALEAZZO VISCONTI = Isabelle of France.
  Duke of Milan, d. 1402.   │
           ┌───────┬────────┴─────┐          Muzio Attendolo
           │       │              │           of Cotignola,
           │ Giovanni  Filippo    │       called Sforza d. 1424.
           │   Maria    Maria     │        ┌─────┬────┬───────┐
           │  d. 1412. d. 1447.   │        │     │    │       │
           │                   Bianca=Francesco  │  Bosio     │
 Valentina = Louis,            Maria │b. 1401,   │ Count of   │
           │ Duke of           (nat.)│ Duke of   │ Sta. Fiora,│
           │ Orleans.                │Milan 1450,│ d. 1476.   │
           │                         │ d. 1466.  │            │
   Charles, Duke of Orleans.         │           │         ┌──┘
           │                         │           │         │
           │                         │       Alessandro   Lisa=Leonetto
  Louis XII., King of France.        │         Lord of        │da
                                     │         Pesaro,        │San
                                     │        d. 1473.        │Severino.
                                     │           │            │
                                     │        Costanzo     Roberto
                                     │        d. 1483.     da San
                                     │                    Severino.
      │            │       │                  │    │    │
  Galeazzo=Bona of │   Lodovico = Beatrice    │ Ascanio │
    Maria │Savoy.  │  ‘il Moro’   d’Este      │  Maria  │
  d. 1476.│        │    Duke of   dau. of     │ Cardinal│
          │        │   Bari and   Duke Ercole │   1484, │
          │        │    of Milan, and Eleonora│  d. 1505│
          │     Sforza  d. 1510.  of Aragon.  │         │
          │    Duke of                        │         │
          │     Bari,                     Ottaviano  Ippolita
          │    d. 1479.                    d. 1477.  Maria
          │                                          d. 1488.=Alfonso
          │                                                  │of
          │                                                  │Aragon,
          │                                                  │afterwards
          │                                                  │King of
          │                                                  │Naples.
          │                                                  │
          │               ┌──────────────────────────────────┘
          │               │
   Giovanni Galeazzo = Isabella
    Duke of Milan,
         d. 1495.



_Book VI. Chapter VIII._

THE interview of Savonarola and Lorenzo de’ Medici has given rise to a
controversy which has never been definitively settled. The account of
the monk’s biographers, Giovan Francesco Pico and Pacifico Burlamachi,
cannot be reconciled with that given in Politian’s letter above
referred to. This last has the air of containing a mitigated version
of the facts, intended to efface the bad impression made by current
reports of the matter; and the third exhortation put into the monk’s
mouth by Politian—‘that he should endure death with patience’—sounds
almost like a commonplace, considering the gravity of the moment and
the characters of the interlocutors. C. F. Meier, in his History
of Savonarola (p. 52, &c.), and Villari, in ‘La Storia di Girolamo
Savonarola’ (i. 136), accept the version given by the Ferrarese monk’s
earliest biographers, and Villari tries to establish it by a long note
(p. 155-158). But this version contains great improbabilities. How
should the dying man, who had just received the viaticum, make another
confession? And what could Savonarola have meant by his famous third
demand—what practical use or effect could he expect from it, or from
the possible assent of the dying man? The story looks like an invention
of the after-days of excitement. The doubts as to the authenticity
of the books of Burlamachi and Pico, which, it is suspected, were
fabricated in the convent of San Marco and adorned with these authors’
names, are of little consequence in this connection, as in any case the
tradition was doubtless current among Savonarola’s contemporaries.

Bartolommeo Cerretani gives, in the third book of his MS. chronicle,
the following account of Lorenzo’s last hours:—‘April 7, about the
fifth hour, Lorenzo received the Lord’s Supper. As his illness was
making such rapid progress, Messer Pier Leoni, otherwise an excellent
physician, lost heart; other doctors were at once sent for, but it
was too late. Feeling his end approaching, the sick man sent for his
eldest son Piero, gave him divers exhortations, and then sent him away.
About the twentieth hour he began to cry out: “I am dying and there is
none to help me!” All hastened to him. He said he wanted to get up a
little, and had himself lifted out of bed, but only to be laid down
immediately. The pains were so violent that he lost consciousness.
Those standing round him began to weep, for they thought he was dead.
A Camaldulensian who was present took off his spectacles, and holding
them to his mouth perceived that he still breathed. A restorative was
given him and he came to himself. Then he called for his son again and
spoke to him softly, so that none of the others heard. After that his
condition rapidly grew worse, so that he gave up the ghost on the 8th,
about the fourth hour of the evening, in the arms of a valet.’

The doctor who, though a learned man, certainly seems to have blundered
in his judgment as to Lorenzo’s illness, put an end to his life next
morning as has been related above (p. 461), by jumping into the well at
the Martelli villa at San Gervasio before Porta Pinti.

Sannazzaro’s poem in terza rima (in Roscoe, Ap. lxxviii.) on the death
of Piero Leoni attributes it to the instigation of Piero de’ Medici.
The fragment beginning: ‘Fu trovato essere stato gettato in un pozzo’
&c., published in Fabroni (l. c. ii. 397) as being from some anonymous
author in the Magliabecchiana, is borrowed from the Ricordi of Alamanno
Rinuccini (p. cxlvi). Petrus Crinitus and Valerianus (De literatorum
infelicitate) take it for granted that the doctor in his agitation took
his own life; and Cerretani certainly indicates that Leoni, who a short
time before had been in good hopes, lost his head. He states, moreover,
that the Medici’s grooms threatened the life of the physician, who was,
therefore, taken to San Gervasio, and that the report of his death
by the violence of others was immediately spread, but was unfounded.
Burcard in his defective report (p. 175) alludes to Piero de’ Medici’s
complaint by saying that the fatal termination of the illness was to be
attributed to wrong medical treatment, and raises a supposition that at
Rome there was believed to have been a murder.

In May, Demetrius Chalcondylas wrote from Milan to Marcello Virgilio
Adriani: ‘Thou hast announced to me two sad events; the flash of
lightning which has struck the principal church of the city, occasioned
so much ruin, and presaged so great evils; and the death of Lorenzo,
the most famous man of our time, who was distinguished in so many
ways. His decease causes me deep sorrow, not merely on account of the
loss, which touches us all in no slight degree, but also on account
of what I personally lose, who have always found him a kind patron.
And to all this is added the sad and fearful death of Piero Leoni,
which has shocked me more than anything for a long time past. Believe
me, Marcello, this end casts a shadow over Lorenzo’s death, and is
a dishonour to the family and to the whole city. For although thou,
like others, writest that he threw himself into the well, yet it is
difficult to convince thoughtful people that such a wise and learned
man, who, as thou thyself also tellest me, treated Lorenzo in his
illness with so much care, could have been seized with such madness as
to choose so shameful a death.’ (Bandini, Collectio, &c., p. 22).

In Fabroni, l. c., and Roscoe, ‘Life of Leo X.’ (Ap. No. xxii.) will
be found the letters written by Cardinal Giovanni to his brother after
their father’s death. The first may be given here. The original is in
the curious mixture of Latin and Italian sentences which was then still
in vogue.

‘My beloved brother, now the only support of our house. What shall I
write to thee, when only tears are left me? For when I consider that
our father of blessed memory is taken from us, I am nearer weeping than
speaking. What a father! None was kinder than he to his children; of
this facts are witness. Therefore it is no wonder that I lament and can
find no rest; and my only consolation is that I have thee, my brother,
in our father’s place. It is for thee to command, for me to obey,
and thy commands will always give me the greatest pleasure. Try me;
nothing shall find me backward. But I beg thee, my Piero, be towards
all, especially towards thine own people, as I wish thee, beneficent,
kind, courteous, gracious; thereby all is obtained, all is preserved.
Not because I mistrust thee do I remind thee of this, but because it
is my duty. I am consoled and sustained by the concourse of mourners
to our house, the universal sympathy, the mourning of the whole city,
and other things which help to alleviate sorrow. But what consoles me
above all is that I have thee, whom I trust more than my words are able
to express. As to what thou wishest arranged with his Holiness, nothing
has been done, as it seemed better to take another way, on which the
ambassador will report to thee, and which seems as if it must lead more
easily to the object. Rome, April 12, 1492.’




[1] The collection of Italian poetry made by Lorenzo de’ Medici for Don
Federigo is to be found—not, indeed, in the original, which was lost
probably during the French invasion of Naples in 1495—but in a copy
made either at the end of the fifteenth or in the sixteenth century,
and now in the Florentine National Library (Magliabecchi), to which it
passed with the Palatine MSS. (Fr. Palermo, _I manoscritti Palatini di
Firenze_, Flor. 1853 _seq._; i. 353 _seq._). This MS. belonged to Marco
Foscarini, with whose library it went in 1800 to Vienna, and later
to the Archduke, afterwards Grand Duke, Leopold, when he collected
and published the poems of Lorenzo (_Opere di Lorenzo de’ Medici_,
Florence, 1825, 4 vols. i. p. xxvi., where occur also Apostolo Zeno’s
remarks on the MS. in question). On the MSS. and printed copies of
Lorenzo’s poems, compare the same edition, i. p. xiii.-xlv., and Gamba,
_Testi di Lingua_, pp. 648-660. For a complete critically revised text
much is still wanting, even after the splendid edition of 1825, which
came out under the auspices of the della Crusca Academy. A large and
well-arranged selection, _Poesie di Lorenzo de’ Medici_, Flor. 1859,
has an introduction by Giosuè Carducci, which has been a guide to much
of what is said here of Lorenzo as a poet.

The letter of Lorenzo to Don Federigo, from which extracts are given
above, is among the Riccardi MSS., No. 2723, under the name of
Poliziano, and was published under that name in the edition of the
_Rime_ by V. Manucci and L. Ciampolini, Flor. 1814. The mistake is
palpable; Poliziano’s age and the agreement with Lorenzo’s views in
the commentary on his poems, show it as clearly as do the historical

[2] Cf. Carducci’s edition of the _Poesie di Lor. de’ Med._, p. 54
_seq._, and Fabroni, _supra_, p. 10.

[3] Herr von Reumont here gives two or three specimens of Lorenzo’s
sonnets translated into German verse. It is not attempted to
retranslate these, but the English reader in search of examples of the
poet’s style is referred to Roscoe’s _Lorenzo de’ Medici_, ii., iii.,
v.—_Note by Translator._

[4] ‘Il montanino ha scarpe grosse e cervello fino.’ The fullest
collection of _rispetti_ and other Tuscan popular songs is that of
G. Tigri, _Canti popolari Toscani_, first published at Florence in
1856, and reprinted several times since. The reproach against the
‘Wunderhorn’ has been repeated in this case, and indeed not without

[5] Tommaso Lancillotto’s _Chronicle_ in the _Cronache inedite
Modenesi_, pp. 8, 9. _Poesie musicali dei secoli XIV, XV, XVI, tratte
da vari codici per cura di Ant. Cappelli_, Bologna 1869. Cf. the last
story of the fifth day of the _Decameron_.

[6] _Oratio christiani gregis ad pastorem Xistum_, Epist. 1. vi. 1. Cf.
_supra_, i. 440.

[7] _Lettere di Marsilio Ficino_, i. 66 _seq._

[8] Inscription on the monument in Sta. Maria del Fiore:

                              S. P. Q. F.
                              ANNO MXDXI.

[9] See a remarkable letter to Lorenzo, dated 1475, in which he speaks
of the neglected muses, in Bandini, _Collectio veterum monumentorum_,
p. 1.

[10] In his poem of _Xandra_, book ii. Cf. Bandini, _Specimen litt._,
i. 124.

[11] The copy of _Christophori Landini Florentini ad illustrem
Fridericim principem Urbinatem Disputationum Camaldulensiam libri IV._,
now in the Laurentian library, was written by Pietro Cennini, son of
Bernardo, the first Florentine printer, finished at the end of spring,
and collated with the original. Cf. Bandini, l. c. ii. 188 _seq._ (see
also p. 3 _seq._ as to the meeting and the persons present). The first
edition is said (_ibid._ p. 192) to have been printed in 1475(?) and a
second at Strasburg in 1508. It was translated into Italian by Antonio
Cambini, a literary man much employed by Lorenzo and also in the
service of his son the Cardinal. He was also in communication with the
Este family, and afterwards attached himself to Savonarola, at whose
fall his house was burnt down. (Cf. Cappelli, l. c. p. 309; Villari,
_Storia di G. Savonarola_, ii. 388.)

[12] Manni, _Istoria del Decamerone_, pt. i. chap. xxix.

[13] Mehus, _Traversari_, p. 178.

[14] Mehus, l. c. p. 176.

[15] ‘Che ‘l Dante io leggeva per mio piacere e per fare cosa grata
alla vostra inclyta città.’ Milan, May 29, 1473, in Fabroni, _Laur.
Med. Vita_, ii. 76.

[16] On the various editions of the old biographies of Dante, see G.
C. Galletti in _Phil. Villani liber_, &c., where Villani, Leon. Bruni,
and Giann. Manetti are printed, the last with Melius’ notes for his
edition, Flor. 1747. The MS. of G. M. Filelfo in the Laurentiana was
published by D. Morini, Flor. 1826.

[17] Vide section iii. chap. iii.

[18] For the numerous bibliographical works on the history of Dante and
his writings, we can only give a general reference to the _Bibliografia
Dantesca_ of Colomb de Batines and the _Enciclopedia Dantesca_ of

[19] According to the colophon, the printing was finished on August
30, 1481. Cf. Bandini, l. c. ii. 131, 140-143; Colomb de Batines, l.
c. vol. i. pt. ii. p. 43; Marsilio’s Address, Bandini, pp. 132-134;
Batines, pp. 43, 44. The Magliabecchian copy has been lately rebound,
and not in very good taste.

[20] _Paradiso_, xxv. 7. Girol. Benivieni, _Cantico in laude di Dante
Alighieri_, in _Works_, Venice 1522. Cf. Bandini, ii. 134-136. The
latter part of the poem, from the line ‘La patria, che a me madre, a Te
noverca,’ refers to the above-quoted lines of Dante. The restoration of
citizen rights to the poet’s great-great-grandson, who bore his name,
and who was a friend of Poliziano (_Letter to Lorenzo_, Flor. June 5,
1490, in the _Prose volgari_, &c., p. 76), did not take place till
1496, and was paid for! (Gaye, l. c. p. 584.)

[21] Isidoro del Lungo, _Un documento Dantesco, Arch. Stor. Ital._,
series iii. vol. xix. p. 4.

[22] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 499 _seq._ Palmieri’s Latin
biography of the grand seneschal was translated into Italian by a
relative of the latter, Donato Acciaiuolo.

[23] On the _Giostra_, see above, i. 264 _seq._, and Salvator Bongi’s
oft-mentioned edition of the _Lettere di Luigi Pulci_. A new edition of
_Ciriffo Calvaneo_, with full bibliographical references by S. L. G.
Audin, appeared at Florence in 1834.

[24] L. Ranke’s academical treatise, _Zur Geschichte der italienischen
Poesie_, Berlin, 1837, contains an excellent account of the elements
and the development of the romantic epopee. The last edition of
_Morgante_, which was first printed at Venice in 1481 and at Florence
in the following year (Gamba, _Testi di Lingua_, p. 241 _seq._) is
that by P. Sermolli, published at Florence a few years ago. The oldest
impression of the _Reali di Francia_ is that published at Modena in
1491, ten years after Pulci’s poem.

[25] L. Pulci, _Lettere_, p. 38. Cf. _supra_, i. 313.

[26] February 1, 1468. L. Pulci, _Lettere_, p. 8.

[27] A petition of his widow, July 14, 1485, states that he had been
dead more than eight months. Cf. _Lettere_, pp. 10, 102, 114.

[28] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 98.

[29] Isidoro del Lungo, _La patria e gli antenati d’Angelo Poliziano_
in _Arch. Stor. Ital._, series iii. vol. xi. p. 9 _seq._ Id. _Uno
Scolare dello studio fiorentino nel sec. XV_, in the _Nuova Antologia_,
x. 215, _seq._ Fr. Otto Mencke’s _Historia Vitæ, etc. Ang. Pol._,
Leipzig, 1736, will always be valuable as a careful collection of
literary and critical materials. _Opera Ang. Politiani_, Flor. 1499.
_Le Stanze, l’Orfeo e le Rime di Messer Ang. Ambrogini Pol., illustrate
da Giosuè Carducci_, Flor. 1863. _Prose volgari e Poesie latine e
greche di A. A. P. raccolte da Isidoro del Lungo_, Flor. 1867.

[30] _Prose volgari_, p. 109.

[31] Ibid. p. 248.

[32] See _Prose volgare_, p. 481: ‘O cui tyrrheni florentia signa

[33] _Epistolæ_, viii. 6, 7.

[34] See the poems addressed to Cardinal Riario in the _Prose volgare_,
pp. 111-114. Cf. _supra_, i. 346.

[35] These four books were printed by Cardinal Angelo Mai in the second
volume of the _Spicilegium Romanum_, from two MSS. in the Vatican,
and thence in the _Prose volgare_, pp. 431-523. The MSS. came to the
Vatican from Fulvio Orsini. The one on parchment, with the Medici
arms on a red leather binding, is the copy of books ii. and iii.,
presented by the author to Lorenzo. The other contains books iv. and
v., apparently in Poliziano’s handwriting and without a dedication.

[36] There has been much question as to the relation between the
original ‘Orfeo,’ which the author wanted to destroy, and the later
one, which was turned into a tragedy in several acts. The latter
was published in 1776 by Ireneo Affò, with a detailed introduction
and _excursus_; and in 1812 Vincenzo Ranucci wrote some extensive
philological observations upon it which were reprinted in the Carducci
edition, pp. 113-188. The question which has lately been raised as to
Poliziano’s authorship of this second version must be left for decision
to the poet’s biographers. There is a prospect of a detailed account of
his life by I. del Lungo.

[37] It has been shown in vol. i. p. 299, that Poliziano did not begin
this poem so early as has been imagined, from an idea that Giuliano’s
tournament was held at the same time as that of his brother. That he
was at work upon it in 1476 is proved by the allusion to the death of
Simonetta, the young beauty to whom Giuliano’s heart was given, an
event which Poliziano sang also in Latin, _Prose volgare_, p. 149. [In
Simonettam, ‘Dum pulchra effertur nigro Simonetta pheretro.’]

[38] Laurus, the poetical name by which the poets of the time
distinguished Lorenzo.

[39] Roscoe’s translation.

[40] ‘In violas a Venere mea dono acceptas,’ in _Prose volgare_, p.
238; Carducci, p. cviii. Agnolo Firenzuola and Giulio Perticari have
translated this elegy in very different styles. Cf. _supra_, p. 15.

[41] The diploma (with a wrong date) was printed from the
archiepiscopal archives of Florence in Bandini, l. c. i. 188.

[42] _Prose volgare_, pp. 285-427.

[43] _Epist._ l. x. 14.

[44] _Prælectio in Priora Aristotelis analytica cui titulus Lamia. La
Strega, prelezione alle Priora d’Aristotile nello studio Fiorentino
l’anno 1483 per Ang. Ambr. Poliziano volgar. da Isidori del Lungo_,
Flor. 1864. The immediate neighbourhood of Fiesole, where Poliziano
was so thoroughly at home, still recalls the witch-traditions of the
middle ages. The subterranean chambers of the Roman theatre (unhappily
in great part destroyed) on the northern slope of the hill are called
by the people the Witches’ grottos—(Buche delle Fate); they are not far
from the stone grotto on the eastern slope, the Fonte Soterra, which is
always full of cool water, and the Latomie, which Brunelleschi opened
for the purposes of his wonderful buildings (Fr. Inghirami, _Memorie
storiche per servire di guida all’Osservatore in Fiesole_, Fiesole
1839), p. 60 _seq._

[45] The translation appeared at Rome in 1493. The dedication to the
Pope and his Brief are in book viii. of the _Epistolæ_. The poem
‘Herodianus in laudem traductoris sui,’ is in _Prose volgare_, etc., p.

[46] _Letter to Lorenzo de’ Medici_, June 5, 1490, _ibid._ p. 76.

[47] _Letter to Piero de’ Medici_, Florence, May 23, 1494, _ibid._ p.

[48] Poliziano’s _Letters to Madonna Clarice_ (cf. vol. ii. book vi.
ch. iii.) are in I. del Lungo, _Prose volgare_, p. 45 _seq._, and also
his letters from Pistoja, Caffagiuolo, Careggi, and Fiesole, to Lorenzo
and his mother, some of which had already been printed by Fabroni.

[49] Poliziano afterwards sent the ode also to Lorenzo.

[50] The graceful description of the view of Florence and its
neighbourhood from Fiesole (‘Talia Fœsuleo lentus meditabar in antro
Rure suburbano Medicum) stands at the end of the poem of Rusticus,
which bears the date 1483, but its origin is probably connected with
the time referred to above.

[51] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 288.

[52] Fiesole, May 21 and July 18, 1479, in _Prose volgari_, pp. 71-74.
Several Latin epigrams to Lorenzo (_ibid._ pp. 123, 124) are of this

[53] _Prose volgari_, p. 127 (‘O ego quam cupio reducis contingere

[54] Latini dettati a Piero de’ Medici, 1481, _ibid._ pp. 17-41.

[55] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 280.

[56] _Epist._ xii. 7.

[57] D. M. Manni, _Bartholomei Scalæ Collensis vita_, Flor. 1768.
Scala’s _Florentine History_, now completely forgotten, appeared at
Rome in 1677. The Laurentiana contains a MS. collection of letters,
poems, &c., by him, to and on Cosimo the elder, and dedicated to
Lorenzo (cf. Moreni, _Bibliographia_, ii. 321).

[58] Ang. Pol. _Epist._ xii. 17.

[59] Accolti (on whom cf. Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 442 _seq._)
died in 1466, aged 51; the seals were not delivered to Scala till March
1473, so they must have been put into commission (Manni, l. c. 15).
Accolti’s dialogue, _De præstantia virorum sui ævi_, which, in spite of
the many reservations made by the author from personal motives, will
deserve regard as the work of a man in high position, was first printed
by Ben. Bacchini, Parma, 1689, and later by Galletti in _Philippi
Villani Liber_, p. 97 _seq._

[60] A. M. Bandini, _Lettere Fiesolane_, Flor. 1776, p. 30.

[61] A. Guidoni to Duke Ercole II., April 1486, in Cappelli, l. c. p.

[62] Ang. Pol. _Epist._ xii. 17-19.

[63] ‘Ad Bartholomæum Scalam’ in the _Prose volgari_, p. 273.

[64] In the _Epigrammata Græca_. Cf. _Prose volgari_, p. 199 _seq._

[65] ‘Quæris quid mihi de tuo Marullo,’ in the _Prose volgari_, p. 124;
‘Quod plura Venerem tuus Marullus, _ibid._ p. 125.

[66] ‘Invectiva in Mabilium,’ _ibid._ p. 131 _seq._ The poems of
Marullus were printed at Florence in 1497.

[67] F. Fossi, _Monumenta ad Alamanni Rinuccini vitam contexandam_,
&c., Flor. 1791. G. Aiazzi, in _Ricordi storici di Filippo Rinuccini_,
p. 139 _seq._

[68] Anton. Francesco Gori has added to a MS. commentary on Rucellai’s
treatise _De Urbe Roma_ (in the Marucelliana at Florence) a life of the
author. Cf. L. Passerini, _Genealogia ec. della Famiglia Rucellai_, p.
122 _seq._ Bernardo was born 1488, died 1514.

[69] L. Passerini, _Degli Orti Oricellarj_, in the _Curiosità_, p. 56
_seq._ The house, built on the ground bought from Nannina de’ Medici
in 1482, was begun about the end of the century. It passed, with the
beautiful gardens, to Bianca Cappello; it now, after many changes,
belongs to a Countess Orloff.

[70] ‘Bernardo Bembo veneto oratori viro undecumque elegantissimo.’ In
the _Prose volgari_, p. 251. The copy of Landino’s _Xandra_, once sent
by him to Bembo, is in the Vatican library. Cf. Bandini, l. c. ii. 164

[71] Foscarini, l. c. 267.

[72] Inscription on his tomb in Sta. Maria del Popolo:


[73] Florence, May 10, 1490. Fabroni, l. c. ii. 377.

[74] Gaye, l. c. i. 294.

[75] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 284; also in _Prose volgari_, p. 78 _seq._

[76] Piero Alamanni to Lorenzo, Rome, May 14, 1491; in Fabroni, l. c.
p. 379.

[77] L. Geiger, _Johann Reuchlin_ (Leipzig, 1871), p. 163 _seq._

[78] In A. Cappelli, l. c. p. 282. Domenico Berti, _Cenni e
documenti intorno a Giovanni Pico della Mirandola_, in the _Rivista
contemporanea_, vol. xvi., Turin, 1859. The reports sent to Lorenzo
during his stay at the baths, quoted here from the Medicean archives,
agree substantially with the accounts given by Guidoni.

[79] In Cappelli, l. c. p. 303. The date of the _Apology_ seems to be
really wrong. In the register of Lorenzo’s correspondence (_Ricordi
di lettere scripti per Lor. de’ Med._) in the Florentine archives, we
find notice of a letter written as late as February 12, 1488, ‘al conte
della Mirandola, ringraziandolo dell’Apologia mandate,’ letter enclosed
to Lorenzo Spinelli, one of the Medicean agents in France.

[80] _Med. Arch._, Filza 57.

[81] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 291. Some of the following extracts are in the
same; some, unpublished, in the _Med. Arch._

[82] A. Guidoni, Flor. September 25, 1488, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 303.

[83] _Epist._ lib. i. 4. _Epigramm. Græca_, lib. iii. in _Prose
volgari_, p. 218.

[84] _Disputationum de Astrologia_, lib. xii. _Epigramm. Græca_, xlix.
l. c. p. 214.

[85] Speech on accepting the office of Capitano del popolo, from L. B.
Alberti’s papers, in Bonucci, _Opere di L. B. A._, vol. i. p. xlii.

[86] G. Perticaro, _Intorno la morte di Pandolfo Collenuccio_, in his
_Opere_, Bologna, 1839, ii. 52 _seq._

[87] Cf. Ben. Varchi’s remarks upon Naldi in _Prose volgari inedite_,
p. 122.

[88] It is not intended in the present work to go into the details of
these mostly uninteresting poetical productions. Bandini has noticed
many of them in the catalogue of the Laurentiana; Roscoe has filled
many pages with quotations and bibliographical notices; to add to them
would be easy but useless.

[89] The _Dieci di Balia_, Florence, January 14, 1432, in Fabroni,
_Cosmi Med. Vita_, ii. 8.

[90] Guicciardini, _Del reggimento di Firenze_, p. 209.

[91] Fabroni, _Historia Academiæ Pisanæ_, i. 109 _seq._; _Laur. Med.
Vita_, i. 49. Many other references to the University, _ibid._ ii. 74
_seq._ Carlo de’ Massimi, _Carmen heroicum ad Laurentium Medicem de
studio per eumden Pisis innovato_, from a Laurentian MS., in Bandini,
_Laur. Cat._, vol. iii., and Roscoe, iii. 237 _seq._ (No. lviii.)

[92] Fabroni, _Laur. Med. Vita_, ii. 77.

[93] Rosmini, _Vita di Fr. Filelfo_, ii 191.

[94] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 75, 76.

[95] Camillo Massimo, _Sopra una inedita medaglia di Francesco Massimo
dottore in legge e cavaliere_, Rome, 1860. Francesco Massimo was
elected Podestà of Siena in 1477, but could not assume the office owing
to the death of his father. That he was in Florence in 1488-89, engaged
in affairs of state, is shown by the following letter from Lorenzo to
Giovanni Lanfredini at Rome: ‘Messer Francesco Massimi is going back,
having gained the approval of the whole city as well as my own. He
has in truth conducted himself so well that I have thought good to
recommend him to his Holiness and to the Cardinal Giovanni Colonna. I
do the same to you, and beg you to bear witness that his conduct could
not have been more praiseworthy. In consideration of his good offices I
shall be glad if you will introduce him wherever it may be agreeable to
him.’ Florence, March 13, 1489 (_Med. Arch._ Filza 59).

[96] The _Annales suorum temporum_ were printed by Gio. Lami in the
_Catalogus codd. MSS. bibl. Riccard._, Livorno, 1756; and again by
Galletti, in _Phil. Villani liber_, &c., p. 151 _seq._ According to a
letter of Fonti to Lorenzo, he once intended writing a history of the
Medici. He praised the chief scholars of his time in a pretty epigram,
_ibid._ p. 153.

[97] Gaye, l. c. i. 273.

[98] _Med. Arch._, Filza 59.

[99] Venice, June 20, 1491, in _Prose volgari_, p. 78.

[100] The letters are in Poliziano’s _Epistolæ_, book xi.

[101] A. M. Bandini, _Ragionamento istorico sulle collazione delle
Pandette, ec._, Livorno 1762, The copy of the Pandects marked with
Poliziano’s collations is preserved in the Laurentianæ. Bandini also
speaks of it in the fourth volume of the _Catalogue of Latin MSS._ See
Th. Mommsen’s introduction to his critical edition of the _Digestum_.

[102] F. Fantozzi, _Notizie biografiche di Bernardo Cennini_, Florence,
1839. G. Ottino, _Di Bernardo Cennini e dell’arte della stampa in
Firenze_, Florence, 1871. When the first Florentine printer had been
almost forgotten for 400 years, the present generation, on occasion of
the fourth centenary of his work, has raised a monument to him in San
Lorenzo—where he lies buried—placed a memorial tablet on the site of
his workshop, and given his name to a street.

[103] ‘Ad lectorem. Florentiæ, VII. Idus Novembres, MCCCCLXXI.
Bernardus Cennnius (_sic_) aurifer omnium iudicio præstantissimus: et
Dominicus eius F. egregiæ indolis adolescens: expressis ante calibe
caracteribus et deinde fusis literis volumen hoc primum impresserunt.
Petrus Cenninus Bernardi eiusdem F. quanta potuit cura et diligentia
emendavit ut cernis. Florentinis ingeniis nil ardui est.’

[104] P. Vinc. Fineschi, _Notizie istoriche sopra la stamperia di [S.
Jacopo di] Ripoli_, Flor. 1761. D. Moreni in the _Novelle letterarie
Fiorentine_ of 1791, and F. Fossi in the _Catalogo delle antiche
edizioni della B. Magliabechiana_, vol. iii., have collected other
information concerning the works of this printing establishment
amounting to eighty-six in number, among which, curiously enough, a
_Decameron_ is included.

[105] Enea Piccolomini, _Delle condizioni e delle vicende della
libreria Medicea privata_, in the _Arch. Star. Ital._, series iii.
vols. xix. and xx. N. Anziani, _Della Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana_,
Flor. 1872.

[106] Targioni-Tozzetti, _Notizie sulla storia delle scienze fisiche in
Toscana_ (ed. by Fr. Palermo), Flor. 1853, pp. 60, 61.

[107] _Med. Arch._

[108] Fabroni, l. c. i. 153; ii. 286.

[109] _Ibid._ i. 163.

[110] Cappelli, l. c. The MS. was by Battista Guarino. The translation
was first printed at Venice in 1532, the original at Paris in 1548.

[111] _Prose volgari_, p. 78.

[112] This poetess, of a Milanese family, was born at Venice about
1465, and is supposed to have died in 1558. Politian (_Epist._ l. iii.
17) addresses her: ‘O decus Italiæ virgo.’

[113] Florence, May 8, 1490, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 287.

[114] Vasari’s _Life of Fra Giocondo_ (ix. 155 _seq._) is very
imperfect and leaves room for further study. On Giocondo’s works in his
own city see G. Orti Manara, _Dei lavori architettonici di Fra Giocondo
in Verona_, Ver., 1853. On his collection of inscriptions see G. B. de
Rossi, _I Fasti municipali di Venosa restituite alla sincera lezione_,
Rome 1853. (From vol. cxxxiii. of the _Giornale Arcadico_.) According
to the _Novelle letterarie di Firenze_ for the year 1771, p. 725, the
Medicean copy was sent to Pope Clement XIV., but has never been seen
either in the Vatican archives or the library. On the other copies,
and the second collection, differing from the first in some respects,
less numerous, and dedicated to Ludovico de Agnellis, Archbishop of
Cosenza, cf. De Rossi, p. 7 _seq._ The dedication—‘Laurentio Medici Fr.
Io. Jucundus S. P. D.’—is in Fabroni, ii. 279 _seq._ It ends: ‘Vale
feliciter humani generis amor et deliciæ.’

[115] _Med. Arch._

[116] Epist. ad J. Bracciolini, l. i. Prolegom. ad Platonis convivium.

[117] The work of the Sicilian Jesuit, P. Leonardo Ximenes, _Del
vecchio e nuovo Gnomone fiorentino_, Flor. 1757, contains the history
and explanation of the scientific value of the famous meridian, and of
the more ancient mathematical and astronomical works in Tuscany.

[118] This controversy has never rested from the time of Angelo Maria
Bandini, who published in 1755 the _Vita e Lettere di Amerigo Vespucci
gentiluomo fiorentino_, down to our own days, which have witnessed
a new defence of the Florentine’s claims by the Brazilian, F. A. de
Varnhagen. It will be sufficient here to refer the reader to the facts
published by Oscar Peschel in the _Zeitalter der Entdeckungen_, p. 305
_seq._, and in an essay on Amerigo in the periodical _Das Ausland_ (No.
32, 1858). Vespucci’s well-known work on his second journey (Bandini,
p. 64) is addressed to Lorenzo de’ Medici, the son of Pier Francesco.

[119] Cianfogni, _Memorie istoriche della basilica di S. Lorenzo_
(Flor. 1804), p. 228. On Brunelleschi, cf. i. 71 _seq._

[120] D. Moreni, _Continuazione delle Memorie della basilica di San
Lorenzo_ (Flor. 1816), i. 6 _seq._

[121] The dedication (to Piero de’ Medici) of a treatise on
Architecture by Antonio Averlino, called Filarete (see below, p. 135),
shows that the Church had not been rebuilt in 1460: ‘Resta ancora la
chiesa a rinovare.’ The resemblance of its architecture to that of the
chapel of the Madonna de’ Voti, afterwards dell’Incoronata, in the
cathedral of Mantua, always regarded as a work of Leon Bat. Alberti,
awakens a suspicion that he may have been concerned in the building
at Fiesole. Cf. Gaye, l. c. i. 200 _seq._; 263. Vasari, _Life of
Filarete_, iii. 290.

[122] D. Moreni, _Notizie istoriche dei Contorni di Firenze_, iii. 93
_seq._ Cf. i. 576 _seq._

[123] The Silvestrine was a branch of the Vallombrosan order, named
after its founder Silvestro Gozzolini.

[124] Cf. i. 574-576.

[125] Vasari, _Life of Michelozzo_, iii. 277-279. V. Marchese, _Memorie
dei Pittori ec. Domenicani_, i. 278 _seq._ _Id._, _San Marco convento
dei Frati Predicatori_ (Flor. 1853), p. 75 _seq._ The inscription in
the church, dated 1442, which speaks of ‘magnificis sumptibus v. cl.
Cosmi Medicis,’ &c., is in Vasari, p. 279.

[126] A. Zobi, _Memorie storico-artistiche relative alla Cappella della
SS. Annunziata_ (Flor. 1837), p. 14 _seq._ Fr. Bocchi, _Della immagine
miracolosa della SS. Nunziata_ (Flor. 1592, new ed. 1852). Inscription:
‘Petrus Med. Cosmi Joann. filius sacellum marmoreum voto suscepto animo
libens d. d. Anno 1448. Idib. Martii.’ Another inscription on the
cornice: ‘Piero di Cosimo de Medici fece fare questa hopera et Pagno
di Lapo di Fiesole fu el maestro chella fè MCCCCLII.’ From this it
certainly looks questionable whether Michelozzo furnished the designs,
as Pagno also executed larger works. Inscription relating to the
consecration: ‘Mariæ glorioss. virg. Guilelmus Cardinalis Rotomagensis
cum superni in terris nuntii munere fungeretur legati ratus officium
et innumeris miraculis locique religione motus hanc Annunciatæ aram
summa cum celebritate ac solenni pompa sacravit MCCCCLII., VIII. Kalen.

[127] Berti, _Cenni storico-artistici di S. Miniato al Monte_ (Flor.
1850), p. 54 _seq._ On June 10, 1448, Piero de’ Medici was allowed to
place his arms on the tabernacle on condition that those of the Guild
should have the highest place.

[128] C. Guasti, l. c. Doc. 290, p. 201. Brunelleschi was buried in
the cathedral. The epitaph is by Carlo Marsuppini: ‘D. S. Quantum
Philippus architectus arte Dædalea valuerit cum huius celeberrimi
templi mira testudo tum plures aliæ divino ingenio ab eo adiuventæ
machinæ documento esse possunt quapropter ob eximias sui animi dotes
singularesque virtutes XV. Kal. Maias anno MCCCCXLVI. eius b. m. corpus
in hac humo supposita grata patria sepeliri iussit.’

[129] Round the altar is the following inscription: ‘Ædem hanc
sanctissime Andrea tibi Pactii dedicarunt ut cum te immortalis Deus
hominum constituerit piscatorem locus sit in quem suos Franciscus ad
tua possit retia convocare.’ By Franciscus is doubtless meant the
saint to whose order the convent belonged, and not, as Richa and Moisè
suppose, Francesco de’ Pazzi, Andrea’s grandson. A letter of indulgence
from Card. Pietro Riario, October 8, 1473, speaks of Jacopo de’ Pazzi
as the founder.

[130] The history of the building of the Pitti palace has never been
thoroughly cleared up.

[131] Inscription:


[132] Documents on the building (1471), in Gaye, l. c. p. 225 _seq._
Vasari, iv. 59.

[133] The price was 150 gold florins; Gaye, l. c. p. 572. The statue
was removed when Duke Cosimo erected the fountain adorned with
Verrocchio’s Boy, and is now in the national museum in the Palace of
the Podestà.

[134] ‘Exemplum sal. pub. cives posuere MCCCCXCV.’ This inscription can
have nothing to do with the driving out of the Duke of Athens, as Moisè
(_Palazzo de’ Priori_, p. 166) imagines. The group occupied the place
which was assigned in 1504 to Michel Angelo’s ‘David,’ and has stood
since then on the side of the Loggia de’ Lanzi towards the Uffizi.
Vasari (l. c. p. 251) wrongly thinks it was executed for the Signoria.

[135] L. c. p. 250.

[136] Mantua, November 7, 1458. Cf. Braghirolli, in the _Giornale di
erudizione artistica_ (of Perugia), ii. 4 _seq._

[137] Vasari, l. c. pp. 264, 266. Fabroni, l. c. p. 159. According
to Vasari, Donatello died on December 13, 1466; according to the
contemporary M. Palmieri (_De Temporibus_), in 1468. In the crypt
of S. Lorenzo, near the tombs of the Medici, is the following later
inscription: ‘Donatellus restituta antiqua sculpendi cælandiq. arte
celeberrimus Mediceis principibus summis bonarum artium patronis
apprime carus qui ut vivum suspexere mortuo etiam sepulcrum loco sibi
proximiore constituerunt obiit idibus Decembris an. sal. MCCCCLXIV. æt.

[138] On Francesco Livi, cf. Gaye, l. c. ii. 441 _seq._ On Ser
Guasparre, see Rumohr, _Ital. Forschungen_, ii. 377 _seq._; G.
Milanesi, _Documenti dell’arte Sanese_, ii. 194 _seq._ On the Jesuates,
cf. i. 596, 597, and L. Fanfani, _Memorie di Sta. Maria del Pontenuovo_
(Pisa 1871), p. 124 _seq._

[139] These basso-rilievos, removed from the cathedral when the organs
were modernised, are now in the museum of the Palazzo del Podestà.

[140] _Metropolitana Fiorentina_, tables xxxiii.-xxxvi.

[141] Transferred from San Pancrazio to the church of San Francesco di
Paola before the Porta Romana; _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate lvii.

[142] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plates lvi., xli., xxi.

[143] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate xxxvi. Inscription:


[144] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plates l., xxxi. Inscription:


[145] Vespasiano da Bisticci, l. c. p. 157. Vasari mentions the
modelling in Verrocchio, v. 152. Brunelleschi’s cast is in the
building-office of Sta. Maria del Fiore (_Opera del Duomo_).

[146] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate lvi. Vasari, vol. iv. p. 218.
Berti, p. 70.

[147] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate lv.

[148] C. Pini, _La Scrittura di artisti Italiani_, cf. _supra_, p. 163.

[149] Executed in 1436; a pendant to the equestrian figure of Niccolò
Maruzzi of Tolentino (d. 1434) by Andrea dal Castagno. The improper
introduction of these equestrian figures into churches paved the way
for similar monuments in marble, such as may be seen especially in
Venice. In the cathedral of Florence was a complete figure of Piero
Farnese on a mule, as he rode to a fight with the Pisans in 1363.

[150] In this place, where we are concerned chiefly with the position
of the Medici in connection with the development of art, we cannot
refer in detail to the literature, which has been much enriched of
late years by Gastano Milanesi’s researches among the archives, on the
Tuscan painters of the early quattrocento (_Giornale storico degli
Archivi Toscani_, vols. iv. and vi., and reprinted in _Sulla storia
dell’arte Toscana_, Siena 1873), made use of by Crowe and Cavalcaselle
in their _History of Painting in Italy_.

[151] C. Pini, _Scrittura di Artisti_.

[152] This is not the place to refer in detail to the confused notices
in the Italian art-historians. Vasari mentions these works, among
others, in his Introduction, l. c. i. 63.

[153] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, p. 251.

[154] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 231. It is doubtful whether the sums given at
the end of the inventory are to be added up together, or whether the
last represents the sum total.

[155] Letter to Giovanni de’ Medici, Bruges, June 22, 1488; in Gaye, l.
c. p. 158.

[156] Gaye, l. c. p. 163.

[157] Gaye, l. c. p. 160.

[158] Gaye, l. c. p. 136.

[159] _Ibid._ p. 192.

[160] Gaye, l. c. pp. 141, 175, 180. Cf. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, iii.
64, 65.

[161] Complete edition by Gaetano and Carlo Milanese, _Il Libro
dell’arte o Trattato della Pittura_ (Flor. 1859). There is a German
translation, _Das Buch von der Kunst_, &c., by Albert Ilg (Vienna,
1871). The general supposition, from Baldinucci down to Tambroni, the
first editor of the treatise (Rome, 1821), viz., that Cennini wrote
it in 1437 in the Stinche prison, is derived from a gloss to the
Laurentian MS. which proceeds from the copyist instead of referring to
the author. The same postil gave rise to the statement that a fresco
in Giotto’s style, representing the driving out of the Duke of Athens,
and brought to light at the demolition of the prison, was painted by
Cennini. (Fr. Bacchi, _Illustratore Fiorentino_, pt. v., Flor. 1839).

[162] The second commentary, with the notices of modern art, is printed
in Cicognara’s _Storia della Scultura_, vol. iv., and more readably,
together with some extracts from the third, in Lemonnier’s edition of
_Vasari_, vol. i. pp. v.-xxxv.

[163] On Filarete’s treatise and the two dedications, cf. Vasari, iii.
290, 291, and Gaye, i. 200-206, where will be found the dedication to
Fr. Sforza. (Cf. _supra_, p. 122.) Filarete gives us a foretaste of the
art-phraseology of Federigo Zuccaro. For the rest, he says to Sforza:
‘If my book is not elegant, take it as the work, not of an orator nor
of a Vitruvius, but of thy master-builder who cast the doors of St.

[164] N. Valori, l. c. p. 176.

[165] Vasari, viii. 267. On the design of Andrea, see Waagen,
_Kunstwerk und Künstler in England_, i. 244. Cf. _posf_, p. 197 _seq._

[166] Pini, _Scrittura d’Artisti_. Cf. A. v. Zahn, _Jahrbücher für
Kunstwissenschaft_, iv. 367.

[167] Vasari, _Life of Giuliano_, iv. 1 _seq._ Gaye, l. c. in annis
1478, 1480, 1481.

[168] A. Rossi, in the _Giornale di erudiz. artist._, 1872, p. 97.
Inscription: ‘Opus Juliani Maiani et Dominici Taxi, Florentini,

[169] C. Milanesi, in the _Giorn. stor. degli Arch. Tosc._, iii.
233, 234. Letters dated Rome, February 1-20, 1478. In consequence of
the Cardinal’s death in the summer of 1479, the building remained

[170] Urbino, June 18, 1481. Gaye, l. c. p. 274.

[171] S. Volpicelli, _Descrizione storica di alcuni principali edificii
della città di Napoli_ (Naples 1850), p. 1 _seq._

[172] Gaye, l. c. p. 300 (undated).

[173] _Vita di Fil. Strozzi il vecchio_, p. 22 _seq._ (Cf. i. 395.)
Cf. also, Gaye, l. c. p. 354 _seq._, where are also notices by Luca
Landucci, an apothecary, on the beginning and progress of the work, and
Filippo’s will. Vasari treats at length of the palace and of the smith
Caparri in his _Life of Cronaca_, viii. 116 _seq._

[174] Gaye, l. c. _ibid._ A letter from Lorenzo, December 16, 1490,
to Francesco Gonzaga, in which he asks for leave of absence for Luca
Fancelli. Whether the latter went to Naples is uncertain; Francesco di
Giorgio was there for some time between February and May 1491.

[175] Among Sangallo’s drawings in the Barberiniana at Rome. Gaye, l.
c. p. 301. Vasari, vii. 212, 213.

[176] A. v. Zahn, _Notizie artistiche tratte dall’Archivio segreto
Vaticano, Arch. stor. Ital._, ser. iii. vi. 171.

[177] A. Guglielmotti, _Della rocca d’Ostia e delle condizioni
dell’architettura militare in Italia prima della calata di Carlo VIII._
(Rome 1862). C. Ravioli, _Notizie sopra i lavori di architettura
militare dei nove da Sangallo_ (Rome 1863).

[178] The circumstance that the name Sangallo is to be found as early
as 1485 (notes to Vasari, l. c. p. 214) hardly tells against the truth
of this story, as the building was probably begun long before. The
appearance of the name in the collection of the Barberini drawings,
begun in 1465, dates from a later time.

[179] The Gondi Palace was finished in 1874, if not after the original
design, at least in the style of the part previously existing.

[180] From a drawing of Bernardino Poccetti and other documents in the
_Metropolitana Fior. Illustr._, plate xiv.

[181] In the commentary on Vasari, vii. 243. Francesco Albertini
mentions in his _Memoriale_ (see Crowe and Cavalcaselle, ii. 436)
Lorenzo’s intention of finishing the façade (‘la quale Lorenzo de’
Medici voleva levare e riducerla a perfectione’) and his plan.

[182] The façade now displays the naked rough brick wall.

[183] Richa, ix. 11, _et seq._ Gaye, l. c., p. 570. Cf. i. 319.

[184] Gaye, l. c. ii. 450. Pini, _Scrittura d’Artisti_.

[185] Description by Poliziano in a letter to Francesco della Casa,
_Epist._ l. iv. ep. 8. D. M. Manni, _De Florentinis inventis_ (Ferrara,
1730), c. 29. Cancellieri, _Le nuove Campane di Campidoglio_ (Rome,
1806), p. 8. Albertini mentions the clock in the Palace of the Signoria
in 1510; it was probably taken there in 1495.

[186] Gaye, l. c. p. 254.

[187] There is great confusion in Vasari, viii. 115, _et seq._ The
commentary begins its continuous dates only in 1495, chiefly from Gaye.

[188] Moreni, _Contorni di Firenze_, v. 6, _et seq._ The chronology
here is very confused; it is no better in Moisè’s _Sta. Croce_, p. 90.
The bells of San Marco were hung in the belfry in 1498.

[189] Diary of Luca Landini, in Vasari, l. c. p. 121.

[190] Fr. Albertini, l. c., p. 442.

[191] Cf. A. v. Zahn’s _Jahrbücher_, vi. p. 136.

[192] Florence, February 13, 1498, in Gaye, l. c., p. 340.

[193] The monument of Sixtus IV. was finished in 1493 for Card.
Giuliano della Rovere (Julius II.). That of Innocent VIII. must not be
judged from its present mutilated condition.

[194] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate iv. Inscription (by Poliziano):


[195] Del Migliore, l. c., p. 36. Richa, vi. 121. _Monuments
sépulcraux_, plate vi. Inscription (attributed to Lorenzo):


[196] Engraved in seven plates by G. P. Lasinio (Flor. 1823). Mellini’s
bust is in the Uffizi collection.

[197] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate liii.

[198] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate xxiv. Inscription: ‘Bernardo Junio
eq^{ti} Flor^{no} pu^{aes} concordiæ. semper. auctori. et. civi. vere.
populari. pii. fratres. fratri. de. se. deq. rep^{ea} opt^{o} merito.
posuerunt.—Vixit ann. LXVIIII. men. VI. di. XII. Obiit ann. MCCCCLXVI.
Opus Mini.—Cf. i. 145.

[199] _Paradiso_, xvi. 127. _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate xxiv.

[200] _Monuments sépulcraux_, plate xlv. Cf. Crowe and Cavalcaselle,
iii. 230.

[201] Represented in Cicognara, vol. ii. plate xv.

[202] Plates and details in Cicognara, Litta, and Colas’ _Trésor de
Numismatique et de Glyptique_. See Vasari’s _Life of Pisanello_, ii.
152, _et seq._ On Guazzalotti, see Julius Friedländer (Berlin, 1857),
trans. by Cesare Guasti (Prato, 1862), with notes and documents, among
which is a letter from Guazzalotti to Lorenzo, dated September 11, 1478.

[203] V. da Bisticci, l. c., p. 476.

[204] Vasari, l. c., iii. 112. On the Medicean treasures. Cf. _ante_,
p. 132.

[205] Vasari, _Life of Valerio Vicentino_, ix. 236, _et seq._ G. Pelli,
in his _Saggio istorico della R. Galeria di Firenze_ (Flor. 1779),
i. 8, _et seq._, ii. 9, _et seq._, gives some account of the Medici
collections. In the Museum of Naples alone (formerly in the palace of
Capodimonte) are preserved more than twenty cameos with Lorenzo’s name,
and a great number of gems set as rings. They came from a Bourbon-Parma
inheritance, many of the family treasures having passed, through
Margaret of Austria, wife of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici, to her son
by her second marriage, Alessandro Farnese, and, at the extinction of
the Farnese family, to the Spanish Bourbons. The question whether all
the stones marked with Lorenzo’s name or with the initials L. M. are
modern, or whether the name or initials were also engraved on antique
gems to indicate the owner, cannot be discussed here. The epigram:


is in Bandini’s Catalogue of the Laurentian MSS., iii. 545.

[206] Perfetti, _Galeria dell’Accad. delle b. Arti_ (Flor. 1845). The
collection in the Academy contains many important works of this period.

[207] Now in the English National Gallery. Outline in Crowe and
Cavalcaselle, iii. 132.

[208] Cf. _ante_, p. 40. Engraving in the _Metropolitana fior.
illustr._, plate xxxvii. Remarks in Gaye, l. c., ii. 5. Cf. _ibid._, i.

[209] Vasari, iv. 102, 103.

[210] Vasari, v. 115.

[211] _Galeria dell Acc. delle B. A._, engraved by F. Livy.

[212] Lucrezia Tornabuoni Medici, in the Berlin Museum (No. 81),
wrongly described as the wife of Lorenzo, a mistake repeated in
Crowe and Cavalcaselle (l. c., p. 173) from Vasari, but corrected in
Lemonnier’s edition, l. c, p. 121. The Bella Simonetta is in the Pitti
Palace; there is an engraving by L. Calamatta in his work on the Bardi

[213] Cf. i. 405. G. Milanesi, _Sulla Storia dell’Arte Toscana_, p.
292. Crowe and Cavalcaselle (iii. 159) strangely see in this commission
a proof of the estimation in which Botticelli was held as an artist.
These pictures of shame, with which tardy debtors were also punished,
_e.g._ Ranuccio Farnese in 1425 (Gaye, l. c., i. 550) were not much
relished by artists, and seem to have been only executed at a high
price; in this case it was forty florins. Andrea del Castagno, to whom
Vasari erroneously attributed these paintings, which were executed more
than forty years after his death, received from a similar commission in
1445 the surname ‘degli Impiccati,’ which poor Andrea del Sarto seems
to have likewise dreaded during the siege in 1530.

[214] Contract dated April 21, 1487 (remarkable for the reservations
on the part of the employer), in Lorenzo Strozzi’s _Vita di Filippo
Strozzi il Vecchio_, p. 60, _et seq._

[215] Now in the Uffizi. Gaye, in the _Kunstblatt_, 1836, No. 90, and
Carteggio, i. 579-581.

[216] Engraved in Litta, _Fam. Medici_.

[217] The fresco in Sant’Ambrogio is dated, not 1465, as it was read
by Rumohr (_Ital. Forsch._, ii. 262), on the picture, which is much
blackened and varnished, but 1486, according to G. Milanesi, in Crowe
and Cavalcaselle, l. c., p. 291.

[218] An. MCCCCLXXXX., quo pulcherrima civitas opibus victoriis artibus
ædificiisque nobilis copia salubritate pace perfruebatur.

[219] Father Della Valle gave the various names in a note to Vasari
(also in Lemonnier’s edition, v. 76) from documents in the Tornabuoni
family. On the female portraits, cf. Palmerini, _Opere d’intaglio del
cav. Raff. Morghen_ (Pisa, 1824), p. 108 _et seq._

[220] The ‘Education of Pan’, formerly in the Corsi Palace, is now in
the Berlin Museum. Sketch in Crowe and Cavalcaselle, iv. 5.

[221] Miniature painting can only be treated of very briefly here. The
editors of Lemonnier’s _Vasari_ have added much information to the
biographies of Fra Angelico (iv. 25, _et seq._), Don Bartolommeo (v.
44, _et seq._ [on Attavante, _see_ p. 55]), Gherardo (_ibid._ p. 60,
_et seq._), &c., and furnished materials valuable for a history of
Florentine and Sienese art, in a detailed commentary (vi. 159-351).
On the Dominicans, cf. V. Marchese, _Memorie_, i. 171-210. In the
same author’s work on San Marco are drawings of two miniatures by Fra
Benedetto. The passages referring to the treasures of Urbino, Upper
Italy, &c., may be passed over here.

[222] Vasari, iv. 105; v. 60, 83; vi. 167; xi. 286.

[223] xii. 11. Cf. _Life of Torrigiano_, vii. 204, and of Michel
Angelo, xii. 157.

[224] The old tradition which has come down to our own days, which
derives the Buonarotti Simoni from the Counts of Canossa (and which
was believed in the family itself in Michelangelo’s days, as must be
concluded from Ascanio Condivi’s words in his biography, published
during the artist’s lifetime), rests on no historical foundation. Cf.
G. Campori, _Catalogo degli artisti sc. negli Stati Estensi_ (Modena
1855), p. 100 _et seq._ The noble family of Buonarotti has of late
years become extinct in Florence. Lodovico, Michelangelo’s father, was
already connected with the Medici when holding an official post in the
Casentino, where his son was born within view of the great mountain of
Alvernia—the _crudo sasso_ of the _Divine Comedy_.

[225] G. Milanesi, _Documenti inediti riguardanti Leonardo da Vinci_,
in the _Arch. stor. Ital._, ser. iii. xvi. 219.

[226] Ant. Montecatino to Ercole d’Este (Flor., December 17, 1482), in
Cappelli, l. c. p. 265.

[227] Provisioni della Republica fiorentina dei 10 e 19 Aprile 1480,
per la formazione dell’ordine dei Settanta, in the Appendix to Jacopo
Pitti, l. c. p. 313 _et seq._, with Gino Capponi’s introduction. Cf.
Cambia, l. c. ii. 1 _et seq._, for the names of the Signori, the
colleges, the original thirty and the two hundred and ten citizens
entrusted with the election business. A. Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, p. cxxi.
_et seq._; J. Pitti, p. 25; Fr. Guicciardini, p. 61.

[228] Cf. _ante_, vol. i. bk. ii. ch. 4.

[229] L. c. p. 174.

[230] _Ricordi_, l. c. p. cxxxv.

[231] Canestrini, l. c. p. 237 _et seq._

[232] Bartolommeo Signippi, chancellor of the Ferrarese embassy, to
Ant. Montecatino, Flor. June 3 and 6; Montecatino to Ercole d’Este,
June 9, 1481, in Cappelli, l. c. pp. 253-255.

[233] Ercole d’Este to Ant. Montecatino, Ferrara, January 10, 1482, in
Cappelli, l. c. p. 259.

[234] For a detailed account of the ceremony, see Ant. Montecatino to
Ercole d’Este, Flor., October 2, 3, 8, 1481, in Cappelli, l. c. pp.

[235] Marin Sanuto, _Commentarii della guerra di Ferrara nel 1482_.
(Venice 1829, ed. by Leonardo Manin). Sanuto was an eye-witness of the
events of the war. Many details are given by Malipiero, who took part
in the naval war. Romanin, book xi. ch. 4 (iv. 401 _et seq._).

[236] Fac. Volaterr., l. c. col. 173.

[237] Godefroy, _Histoire de Charles VIII._ (Paris 1684). Documents, p.
312. C. de Cherrier, _Histoire de Charles VIII._ (Par. 1868), i. 32.
U. Legeay, _Histoire de Louis XI._ (Paris 1874), ii. 444. [Very meagre
with regard to Louis’ Italian transactions].

[238] For details of the battle of Campomorto (S. Pietro in Formis),
see the Roman diaries and Montecatino’s reports to Ercole d’Este in
Cappelli, l. c. p. 260 _et seq._

[239] Gino Capponi, _Storia della Republica Fiorentina_ (Flor. 1874),
ii. 149.

[240] Coleti, in Farlati’s _Illyricum sacrum_, vii. 438 _et seq._
Jacopo Volterrano, Stefano Infessura, and the unpublished histories
of Sigismondo de’ Conti and Rinaldus, give many details. Jacob
Burckhardt’s _Andreas Erzbischof von Krain_ (Basel, 1852) gives an
authentic account of the proceedings at Basel. Cf. _Arch. stor. Ital._,
N. S., vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 249 _et seq._ Ugolini’s letter to Lorenzo,
in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 227-233.

[241] Instruction of February 5, 1483, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 241-243.

[242] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 243.

[243] Cappelli, l. c. p. 245.

[244] Fr. Guicciardini, l. c. p. 66, is doubtful as to the presence
of Riario; he is not mentioned in Ant. Campo, _Cremona fedelissima
città_ (Milan, 1582), p. 133. He is named as one of those present by
Malevolti, l. c. pt. iii. p. 90.

[245] Ant. Montecatino to Ercole d’Este, Flor. February 28, 1483, in
Cappelli, l. c. p. 265.

[246] _Itinerario di Marin Sanuto per la Terraferma Veneziana nell’anno
1483_ (ed. by Rawdon Browne, Padua, 1847), p. 51.

[247] Despatches to the envoy Antonio Loredano, January to February
1484. Cf. Romanin, iv. 415. Montecatino to Ercole d’Este, Flor. April
8, 1483, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 266.

[248] Nic. Valori, l. c. p. 175.

[249] Ant. Montecatino to Ercole d’Este, Flor. July 23, 1484, in
Cappelli, l. c. p. 269.

[250] _Mémoires_, l. vii. ch. 2.

[251] Guid’Antonio Vespucci to Lorenzo de’ Medici, Rome, October 23 and
November 3, 1483, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 243-252. Ant. Montecatino to
Ercole d’Este, Flor., May 25, 1484, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 268.

[252] Malevolti, l. c. pt. iii. p. 87.

[253] _Inferno_, xxix. 122. _Purgatorio_, xiii. 151.

[254] Letter of February 26, 1483, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 243.

[255] Jac. Volterrano, _Diarium Romanum_ for 1480. Muratori, l. c. col.

[256] G. Viani, _Memorie della famiglia Cybò_, Pisa, 1808.

[257] Rome, August 29, 1484, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 256, 259.

[258] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 262.

[259] _Johannis Burchardi Diarium_, ed. A. Generelli (Flor. 1854), p.
57. _Ibid._ Instructions, from the Florentine Archives.

[260] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 263. Doc. of November 26, 1484.

[261] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 263.

[262] Desjardins, l. c. p. 175.

[263] ‘Les Florentins se sont tousjours monstrés et exhibés, de tel
et si ancien temps que ne est mémoire du contraire, vrays et loyaulx
Françoys ... et si trouvent les lois et coustumes qui leurs furent
baillés par Monseigneur Saint Charlemagne.’

[264] Desjardins, l. c. p. 191.

[265] Instructions of November 8, 1483, and other documents relating to
the embassy, in Desjardins, l. c. p. 193 _et seq._

[266] _Med. Arch._, f. 56. Printed in A. Gelli; rev. by De Cherrier,
_Arch. stor. Ital._, ser. iii. vol. xv. 289.

[267] Cappelli, l. c. p. 298. The expression is: ‘Che non voglia
investire Massimiliano de l’Imperio de’ Romani.’

[268] Report of Guid’Ant. Vespucci, Rome, September 18, in Burchard,
_Diarium_, p. 51.

[269] Letter of Pier Filippo Pandolfini, Milan, September 24, 1484, l.
c. p. 51.

[270] Reports of the Ferrarese ambassador, A. Guidoni, Flor. April
1485, &c., in Cappelli, l. c. p. 269 _et seq._

[271] Archives of the Riformagioni at Siena.

[272] A. Guidoni to Ercole d’Este, Flor. April 6, in Cappelli, l. c. p.
269. Ranuccio was first cousin to Pope Paul III.

[273] Archives at Siena.

[274] N. Valori, l. c. p. 175.

[275] _Regis Ferdinandi primi Instructionum liber_, 1486-87 (ed. by
Scipione Vopicella, Naples, 1861), p. 87 _et seq._

[276] _Ricordi_, p. cxl.

[277] Commines, _Mémoires_, l. vii. ch. 11. M. Sanuto, _Chron. Ven._
(_Comment. de Bello Gallico_), _R. Ital. Ser._, xxiv. pp. 12-16.
Alfonso was called ‘the idol of the flesh’ (_dio della carne_).

[278] _Cronaca di Notar-Giacomo_, p. 156.

[279] Romanin, l. c. pp. 421, 422.

[280] On G. Albino, the historian of his time, cf. C. Minieri Riccio,
_Memorie storiche degli scrittori nati nel Regno di Napoli_.

[281] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 268.

[282] A. Guidoni to E. d’Este, Flor., November 11, 1485, in Cappelli,
l. c. p. 273. The Ferrarese despatches contain many details of all
these affairs. Scipione Ammirato, in his twenty-fifth book, is a
trustworthy guide.

[283] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 269.

[284] Letter of the Anziani, May 15, 1485, Lucca archives.

[285] L. c. p. 177.

[286] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 268.

[287] Lorenzo to Albino, l. c.

[288] A. Guidoni, November 28 and 30, 1485, l. c. p. 274.

[289] Burcard, l. c. p. 72, 73.

[290] Vinc. Acciaiuolo, _Vita di Piero Capponi_, l. c. p. 20 _et seq._

[291] Trivulzio’s letters to the Duke of Milan from Florence,
Montepulciano, Cortona, Pitigliano, and afterwards from the camp of the
League, from February 21, 1486, onwards, are in Rosmini, l. c. ii. 130
_et seq._, with the despatches addressed to him from Milan.

[292] Letter of A. Sforza to his nephew the Duke of Milan, March
6, 1486, copies of which were sent on the same day to the Duke of
Calabria, and by P. Capponi to Lorenzo. Appendix to the life of P.
Capponi, _Arch. Stor. Ital._, vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 66-71.

[293] _Storia fiorentina_, ch. viii. The Ferrarese reports in Cappelli,
p. 274-286, contain much that gives an insight into the position of

[294] V. Acciaiuolo, l. c. p. 24.

[295] A. Guidoni, Flor., August 13, 1486, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 285. G.
J. Trivulzio to the Duke of Milan, from the camp at Ponzano, August 12,
in Rosmini, ii. 150. Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, p. cxlii.: _poi per manco
male si accettò_.

[296] _R. Ferdinandi Instruct._ L., p. 153. The Duke of Calabria had
written to the same effect to Filippo Strozzi, on November 27, 1486,
from the camp. _Vita di Fil. Strozzi il vecchio_, p. 36.

[297] Camillo Porgio’s masterly account, _La Congiura dei Baroni del
Regno di Napoli contra il Re Ferdinando I._ (first printed at Rome
in 1565) contains many illustrations and corrections from the _Regis
Ferdinandi Instructionum Liber_ (unfortunately not printed complete),
and from the two suits against the king’s private secretaries and
barons, which were printed in 1487 and 1488 by Ferrante’s command and
sent to the foreign courts, and reprinted with notes by Stanislao
d’Aloe as an appendix to his edition of Porgio (Naples, 1859).

[298] The King to Lorenzo, Castelnuovo, June 3, 1487. Fabroni, l. c.
ii. 275.

[299] Giov. Lanfredini to the Signoria, Naples, September 27, 1486, in
Bandini, _Collectio_, &c. p. 10.

[300] Guidoni’s reports (in Cappelli) contain a number of notices and
hints from which Lorenzo’s state of mind at the time of the treaty of
1486 and his relations with the allies may be clearly made out. On
Sarzanello, see Carlo Promis, _Storia del forte di Sarzanello_ (Turin,
1888). From one of Guidoni’s reports it appears that the Florentines
also used mines: ‘sperasi _per certe cave fatte_ ... che S. Francesco
si acquisterà fra due dì.’

[301] R. Ferdinandi Instr. L., p. 245.

[302] The fullest detailed account of Boccalino de’ Guzzoni is given
by Bernardino Baldi in the second book of his history of Guidubaldo
of Montefeltro (Milan, 1821). Cf. Ugolini, _Storia dei conti e duchi
d’Urbino_, ii. 49, _et seq._

[303] Lodovico to G. J. Trivulzio, Milan, April 29, 1486, in Rosmini,
ii. 158. _Ibid._ other documents relating to this affair.

[304] Burcard, _Diarium_. p. 88.

[305] The Medicean Archives, F. 57, contain numerous documents relating
to Osimo and Boccalino.

[306] Florence, August 8, 1487. _Med. Arch._ F. 57. In a letter of
November 24, referring to Boccalino’s nephew, who was kept in prison
at Rome, and afterwards executed, he expresses himself still more
strongly. ‘Stimo questa coss ... quanto la vita propria, perchè

[307] Cappelli, l. c. p. 244. _Ibid._, letter, same date (March 25,
1482), to the Duke. In the register of Lorenzo’s letters are no less
than 27 despatched on the same day to princes and ambassadors to
announce Lucrezia’s death.

[308] A. Guidoni, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 292.

[309] R. Ferd. Instr. L., p. 222.

[310] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 313.

[311] Burcard, _Diarium_, p. 87.

[312] R. Ferd. Instr. L., p. 217 _et seq._ Cf. supra p. 265.

[313] A. Guidoni, Flor., July 7, 1487, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 295.

[314] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57. There are a number of despatches of this
and a somewhat later time relating to this affair.

[315] Rainaldi, _Ann. eccl._ in anno 1487, Doc. x.

[316] Stef. Infessura, _Diarium_, in Muratori _R. It. Scr._ t. iii. pt.
2, p. 1218, 1219.

[317] _Med. Arch._, l. c.

[318] Stefano Taverna to the Duke of Milan, Flor., September 14,
1487, in Rosmini, ii. 188. A. Guidoni, Flor., September 6 and 12, in
Cappelli, p. 296.

[319] Spedaletto, which passed after Lorenzo’s death to Maddalena Cybò
and later to the Corsini family, to whom it still belongs, was visited
in November 1654 by Cardinal de Retz, coming from Spain by sea, before
he proceeded to the Grandduke Ferdinand II. at the Ambrogiana near
Empoli, and thence to Rome. He knew that the villa, which he calls
L’Hospitalità, had belonged to Lorenzo de’ Medici, but he wrongly
places here the scene of the battle in which Catiline fell. _Mèmoires
du Card. de Retz_, pt. iii. ch. i. Ed. by Champollion-Figeac (1866),
iv. 246.

[320] _Lettere di Jacopo da Volterra a P. Innocenzo VIII._, published
with a commentary by M. Tabarrini in the _Arch. Stor. Ital._, s. iii.
vol. viii. pt. ii. p. 3, _et seq._ Jacopo Gherardi had been formerly in
the service of Cardinal Ammanati. His writings passed into the Venetian
archives after the sack of Rome in 1527. The Medicean archives contain
a series of despatches relating to this mission. Lorenzo writes from
Spedaletto on September 11-19; on the 21st he was in Florence; on
October 2-10, at Spedaletto again. He says once: ‘I am here according
to my custom, for the care of my health.’

[321] Despatch of October 22, 1487, in Desjardins, l. c. p. 214.

[322] October 22, 1487, in Desjardins, l. c. p. 219.

[323] A. Guidoni, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 296. Burcard, p. 95; the date
is wrong. On the house of the Cybò in the Borgo, see P. Adinolfi, _La
Portica di San Pietro_ (Rome, 1859), p. 119 _et seq._

[324] A. Guidoni, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 297.

[325] F. Gregorovius, _Das Archiv der Notare des Capitols in Rom und
das Protocollbuch des Notars Camillus de Beneimbene_; _Sitzungsberichte
d. kk. Acad. d. Wissenschaften in München_, 1872, p. 503.

[326] Flor., August 8, 1488, in Fabroni, ii. 312. Cf. i. 405.

[327] Gregorovius, l. c. [purchase of Cerveteri, June 14, 1487].
Lorenzo to Lanfredini (1490), in Fabroni, ii. 388. Nibby, _Diutorni di
Roma_ (Rome, 1848), i. 348.

[328] The palace (afterwards called Quaratesi) and the villa (for
a time Catalani-Valabrègue, now Lavaggi) passed after the death of
Franceschetto’s son Lorenzo, to the latter’s natural son, Ottavio, with
a reservation of the usufruct to Lorenzo’s sister Caterina, the widowed
Duchess of Camerino. The villa belonged for a time to Eleonora Cybò,
daughter of Lorenzo, and wife of Gian Luigi Fiesco, Count of Lavagna,
the hero of the conspiracy of 1547.

[329] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57. The bull of Innocent VIII. is dated
December 5, 1487.

[330] Letters of December 9 and 10, 1487, February 23, March 9, April
14, 1488, in the above-mentioned _Ricordi di lettere_.

[331] _Med. Arch._, fol. 59. Cf. Isid. del Lungo, _Una Lettera di Ser
Matteo Franco_, in _Arch. Stor. Ital._, s. iii. ix. 32 _et seq._

[332] Poliziano, _Prose volgari inedite_, p. 74.

[333] _Med. Arch._, fol. 59.

[334] A. Guidoni in Cappelli, l. c. p. 292. Fabroni, l. c. i. 172, 173;
ii. 316. On Roberto Orsini, see Litta, _Fam. Orsini_, table 23.

[335] A. Guidoni in Cappelli, l. c. p. 301.

[336] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57.

[337] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 386.

[338] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57.

[339] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57. Cf. _post_, p. 380 _et seq._

[340] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57.

[341] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 384. A. Guidoni, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 302,

[342] From the _Med. Arch._, in A. Gelli, Lorenzo de’ Medici, in the
_Arch. Stor. Ital._, s. iii. xvii. 431.

[343] _Lettere di Lorenzo il Magnifico al S. P. Innocenzo VIII._ [ed.
by D. Moreni, Flor. 1830], p. 18.

[344] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57.

[345] _Med. Arch._, fol. 57. On Maria [not Maddalena] de’ Medici, cf.
Litta, _Fam. Medici_, table 7, and Passerini, _Fam. Malatesta_, table 7.

[346] Del Lungo, _Lettere di Ser Matteo Franco_, l. c.

[347] _Cronaca di Notar Giacomo_, p. 167.

[348] _Cronaca di Notar Giacomo_, p. 169. Tristani Calchi, _Nuptiæ
Mediolanens. Ducum_; cf. Ratti, _Della Famiglia Sforza_, ii. 54-60.
Fabroni, l. c. i. 168, ii. 295-298. Several letters of Alamanni
relating to these festivities are in the _Med. Arch._

[349] G. A. Vespucci to Lorenzo, Rome, September 25 and December 14,
1584, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 316-318.

[350] _Ricordi di Lorenzo_, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 299.

[351] Letters of Lodovico and Cecco dell’Orso, April 19, and of Stefano
da Castrocaro, April 21, in Fabroni, ii. 318-325.

[352] A. Guidoni, in Cappelli, p. 298-301. The date of the despatch at
p. 298 is wrong; it should probably be April 23 instead of 3.

[353] Letter of Lorenzo to Giovanni Bentivoglio, Cafaggiuolo, July 1,
1481, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 242. Galeotto Manfredi had been with him at
the villa, and the matter had been arranged there.

[354] Florence, March 29, 1489, in Moreni, _Lettere_, _ec._, p. 21.

[355] Letters of Piero Nasi and Dionigi Pucci, in Fabroni, ii. 325-328.
To this project refers a letter of Giovanni Bentivoglio to Lorenzo,
September 7, 1489 (_Med. Arch._), and one of Caterina Riario Sforza,
January 21, 1490 (_ibid._). The latter begs for a decisive answer, ‘cum
un bel si o cum bel non.’

[356] Bologna, December 19, 1489. _Med. Arch._

[357] Letter of Franceschetto, Rome, March 10, 1488, in Fabroni, ii.
334-337, Lorenzo to Andrea da Fojano, _ibid._ p. 334.

[358] Pecci, _Memorie ec. della Città di Siena che servono alla vita
civile di Pandolfo Petrucci_ (Siena, 1755), p. 64 _et seq._ Letter of
Fr. Cybò, l. c. Andrea da Fojano to Lorenzo, Siena, October 19, 1489,
_ibid._ p. 331-334.

[359] A. Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, in anno 1470, Fabroni, l. c. p. cxiii.

[360] Lorenzo de’ Medici to the Signoria of Siena, Flor. June 27,
1489, MS. in the Sienese Arch. A. Guidoni, Flor., January 19, 1489, in
Cappelli, l. c. p. 305.

[361] Tommasi, l. c. p. 341. Mazzarosa, _Storia di Lucca_, ii. 25.
Documents, June 3 to July 18, 1490, in the Lucchese State Archives. Cf.
Bongi, _Inventario del R. Archivio di Stato in Lucca_, i. 164.

[362] Brief addressed by the Pope to the Priori, July 9, 1488.

[363] _Cronaca del Graziani_, in anno 1488 _et seq._, in _Cronache e
Storie della Città di Perugia_, i. 677 _et seq._ Lorenzo de’ Medici to
G. Lanfredini, 1489, in Fabroni, i. 329, 330.

[364] _Cronache della Città di Fermo_ (Flor. 1870) p. 215 _et seq._
Ugolini, _Storia dei Conti e Duchi d’Urbino_, ii. 60, 65. Reposati,
_Zecca di Gubbio_, i. 291. Fabroni, l. c. ii. 330.

[365] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 359.

[366] Ferrante to Ant. di Gennaro, April 24, 1493, in Trinchera,
_Codice Aragon._ vol. ii pt. i. p. 381.

[367] _Commissioni di Rinaldo degli Albizzi_, iii. 681.

[368] _Med. Arch._—_Ricordi di lettere_, February 28, March 2 and 6,
1483. Lorenzo’s instructions to his son Piero, 1484, in Fabroni, l. c.
ii. 268.

[369] Cf. i. 288, and _ante_, p. 238.

[370] G. Cambi l. c. ii. 65.

[371] Cappelli, l.c. p. 248.

[372] Fabroni, vol. ii. p. 376. In another letter on the same subject
preserved in the _Med. Arch._ fol. 51, he says: ‘Alexandro da Farnese,
il quale dà opera alle lettere Greche et è persona dotta e molto

[373] Guicciardini, _Del reggimento di Firenze_, p. 44; _Storia
fiorentina_, cap. 9.

[374] G. Cambi, l. c. p. 68.

[375] G. Cambi (son of Neri), l.c. p. 41. A. Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, p.
cxliv (very hostile to the Gonfaloniere). F. Guicciardini, _Storia
fior._, ch. viii.

[376] Cambi, l. c. p. 60. Pagnini, _Delia Decima_, i. 162 _et seq._
contains details on the relative value of the coins.

[377] N. Valori, l. c. p. 174. ‘Proventus certiores et justiores, nec
principe viro indigni.’ On his finances see _ante_, Bk. 5, ch. 1.

[378] Cappelli, l. c. p. 315, 316. In his correspondence with
Lanfredini in Rome the alum-farming plays a great part.

[379] Gaye, l. c. p. 583.

[380] Contracts and receipts of the Medici-Sassetti and
Medici-Tornabuoni bank, Lyons, for 1478, 1485, 1494, in (Molini’s)
_Documenti di Storia Ital._, i. 13-16.

[381] Guicciardini, l. c. ch. ix.

[382] Guicciardini, l. c. ch. ix. J. Nardi, _Istorie di Firenze_, book
i. (ed. by L. Arbib, Flor. 1842), i. 26.

[383] Rinuccini, l. c. p. cxlviii.

[384] Cf. _ante_, p. 193.

[385] Varchi, book xiii., conclusion (iii. 37 _et seq._).

[386] Canestrini, l. c. p. 163. Cambi, l. c. p. 55.

[387] _Ricordi_, p. cxlvi.

[388] _Ricordi di lettere_, for the said years.

[389] Commines, _Mémoires_, book vii. ch. ix.

[390] Molini, l. c. i. 13. Kervyn de Lettenhove, l. c. vol. ii.

[391] Kervyn de Lettenhove, l. c. p. 70. Date, end of 1489, or
beginning of 1490.

[392] Kervyn de Lettenhove, l. c. ii. 71.

[393] In Desjardins, _Négociations_, i. 417, there is a letter of
Commines to this Spinelli, dated Vienne, August 6, 1494, relating to
the affairs of Piero de’ Medici. Spinelli, whom Commines (_Mémoires_,
book vii. ch. vii.) calls _homme de bien en son estat et assey nourri
en France_, had just then been sent out of France at the beginning of
the war. Piero sent him to negotiate with Charles VIII. on his approach.

[394] Kervyn de Lettenhove, l. c. ii. 83. The Metz affair was the
unsuccessful and fearfully punished treachery of Jean de Laudremont,
one of the provosts of the city; see Philippe de Vigneulles, in the
book of _Memorials of Metz_ edited by H. Michelant, p. 115 _et seq._

[395] From the _Cronaca di Benedetto Dei_, 1470-1492; MS. in the
Magliabecchianæ, printed in Pagnini, l. c. ii. 135 _et seq._

[396] Daru, _Histoire de Venise_, ii. 295 _et seq._

[397] Scip. Ammirato, book xviii. ii. 998. Pagnini, l. c. ii. 124.

[398] Pagnini, l. c. ii. 203 _et seq._ (Molini) _Documenti di Storia
Italiana_, i. 101 _et seq._

[399] Wadding, _Annales Minorum_, vii. 323.

[400] L. Cibrario, _Legione sopra alcuni vocaboli usati nei registri
della guardaroba Medicea, in Arch. stor. Ital._, third series, vi. 152
_et seq._ _Ricordi di ariente ed altre cose prestate, Arch. Med._ fol.

[401] Borghini, _Discorsi_ (Flor. 1755), ii. 164.

[402] Borghini, l. c. p. 166.

[403] _Ricordi d’una giostra_, etc., (cf. i. 267). Borghini, l. c. On
the Salutati family cf. Mazzuchelli, in the notes to Filippo Villani,
_Vite d’uomini illustri Fiorentini_ (ed. Flor. 1826) p. 83 _et seq._,
and G. Palagi, in _Il Convito fatto ai figliuoli del Re di Napoli da
Benedetto Salutati e compagni mercanti fiorentini il 16 Febbrajo del
1476_ (Flor. 1873).

[404] Pietro of Aragon died in 1491, aged nineteen. Giovanni was made a
cardinal in 1477, and died in 1483. Arrigo, Ferrante’s eldest natural
son, died in 1478.

[405] The Italian account has the expression _mummeria_, which
corresponds with the German, English, and French words, but is not
admitted by Della Crusca. Annibal Caro uses the word _mommeare_.

[406] _Giorn. stor. degli arch. tosc._, i. 96. _Arch. stor. ital._
third series, xx. 187.

[407] _Il Padre di Famiglia_, ed. 1872, p. 67 _et seq._ On the
villa-life cf. i. 508.

[408] Gaye, l. c. i. 417.

[409] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, p. cxxv.

[410] Cena di famiglia, in the _Opere volgari_, vol. i.

[411] V. da Bisticci, l. c. p. 176.

[412] Cappelli, l. c. p. 301. _Prolog. in Plauti comædiam Menæchmos_,
in _Prose volg._ p. 281 _et seq._ Politian indulges in a side hit at
the modern authors who write in prose.

[413] Vasari, iii. 232, v. 36 _et seq._

[414] L. Cibrario, l. c. p. 153.

[415] Varchi, l. c. ii. 107.

[416] A. M. Biscioni, notes to Lorenzo Lippi’s _Malmantile racquistato_
(Flor. 1831), canto iii. stanza 8.

[417] _I Capitoli della Compagnia del Broncone, pubblicati per cura
di Giuseppe Palagi_ (Flor. 1872). [Cf. I. del Lungo in the _Arch.
stor. Ital._, s. iii. vol. xvii. p. 147 _et seq._] Lorenzo the younger
was the head of the Compagnia del Broncone, and Giuliano that of the
Compagnia del Diamante. There are still to be seen in Florence, in
the Church of St. Ambrogio, in the Canto alia Mela, and the Canto di
Monteloro, some inscribed tablets recalling the Potenze; but they are
of rather late date.

[418] _Tutti i Trionfi, Carri, Canti carnascialeschi, etc._ (Flor.
1550; also _Cosmopoli_, 1750). The shows themselves were called _Canti_
from these songs. Cf. _ante_, p. 22, 23. In 1475 the Florentines at
Naples represented the triumph of Petrarch.

[419] _Canzona d’un Piagnone pel bruciamento delle vanità nel carnevale
del 1498, aggiuntavi la descrizione del bruciamento fatta da Girolamo
Benvieni_ (ed. by I. del Lungo, Flor. 1864). [’_Canzona che fa uno
Fiorentino a carnasciale, trovandolo fuggirsi con un asinello carico di
sue masserizie e col fardello in spalla._’] Carnaval complains that his
idols are broken, the red Cross and the Name of Christ have conquered,
and he must yield to a mightier king.

[420] Vasari, ix. 218. Naldo Naldi, _Carmina_, vi. 436.

[421] From the MS. in the Miscellanea Uguccione Strozzi, vol. cvi. in
the Flor. Archives; printed by P. Fanfani in the Borghini, ii. 542 _et

[422] On the Piovano Arlotto, who died in 1483, see D. M. Manni,
_Veglie Piacevoli_ (3rd ed., Flor. 1816), where are many details of
the jests and buffooneries. The _Novella del Grasso Legnaiuolo_ has
been often printed and imitated; there is an edition with introduction
by D. Moreni (Flor. 1820). Gaye (l. c. i. 169) has produced some
original documents which cast some doubt on the accounts of the ‘fat
cabinet-maker’ collected by Manni; the claims of Antonio Manetti, known
from his connection with the Dante-literature (cf. _ante_, p. 51), to
the authorship of the story have been lately vindicated. Cf. Papanti,
_Catalogo dei Novellieri_ (Livorno, 1871), vol. ii. 11. The story of
Bianco Alfani is in Manni’s edition of the _Cento novelle anticke_
(Flor. 1782), i. 211 _et seq._

[423] B. Varchi, l. c., book ix. (ii. 122 _et seq._).

[424] _Cena di Famiglia_, l. c. p. 173, 174. G. Dominici, _Regola del
governo, etc._, p. 164. Cf., _ante_, i. 483.

[425] _Notizie di illustre donne_, in the _Arch. stor. Ital._, iv. 439
et seq. _Vite d’uomini illustri_, p. 525 _et seq._

[426] The names are copied from a Strozzi document in the
Magliabecchiana, in E. Branchi’s treatise _Della croce vermiglia in
campo bianco, insegna dei Cavalieri di popolo_, in the _Periodico di
numismatico e sfragista_, iv. 75 _et seq._ (Flor. 1872.) This treatise
contains numerous quotations from chronicles and histories relating to
knighthood in the commonwealth, particularly in 1378.

[427] _Memorie storiche di Ser Naldo da Montecatini_ (in the _Delizie
degli Eruditi toscani_, xviii. 99).

[428] _Il viaggio degli Ambasciatori fiorentini al Re di Francia nel
1461_, in the _Arch. stor. Ital._, s. iii. vol. i. p. 7 _et seq._ Cf.
_ante_, i. 173.

[429] _Mémoires_, vol. vii. ch. 9. B. Rucellai, who was as much at home
in that house as in his own, describes in his Commentary _De Bello
Italico_ (p. 52), the plundering of books and other valuables, ‘quorum
pars a Gallis, pars a paucis e nostris, rem turpissimam, honesta specie
praetendentibus, furacissime subrepta sunt, intimis abditisque locis
ædium, ubi illi reconditi fuerant, perscrutatis.’

[430] L. c. p. 168.

[431] Gaye, l. c. i. 285, 286, 290.

[432] Vasari, _Life of Giuliano_, vii. 213.

[433] Gaye, l. c. p. 304.

[434] Cf. _ante_, p. 228. The earlier appearance of the square may be
seen in Richa, vii. 113.

[435] Kervyn de Lettenhove, ii. 279.

[436] Description of ‘Ambra mei Laurentis amor’ in the third Sylva,
lines 594 _et seq._; _Prose volgari_, p, 365. G. Fargioni Fozzetti,
_Viaggi per la Toscana_ (Flor. 1773 _et seq._), v. 56 _et seq._, where
also is Verino’s letter. Cf. _ante_, p. 13.

[437] Repetti, l. c. i. 380. Palla Strozzi paid 7,390 gold florins
for Poggio a Cajano; and his beautiful villa of Petraja, which he had
bought of the Brunelleschi, served as security for the purchase. In
the next century, after the attempt of the Strozzi and their friends
against Duke Cosimo had failed, Petraja was confiscated and became
state property. Angiullesi’s _Notizie storiche dei palazzi e ville
appartenenti alla R. Corona di Toscana_ (Pisa, 1815) contain no notice
of the earlier history of Poggio a Cajano.

[438] Vasari, _Life of Sarto_, viii. 276; of _Franciabigo_, ix. 101; of
_Pontormo_, xi. 46. The compositions of the former are engraved in the
work on the frescoes of the grand-ducal palaces (Flor. 1751).

[439] A. Condivi, in the biography prefixed to the _Rime e lettere di
M. A. Buonarotti_ (Flor. 1858), p. 26.

[440] Bandini, _Specimen_, ii. 105 _et seq._ The names of the two
Greeks sound like _noms de guerre_.

[441] Borghini, l. c. ii. 167.

[442] Reuchlin, dedication of the _De arte cabalistica_ (1517) to Leo
X. Manlius, _Locorum communium collectanea_ (Bautzen, 1565), p. 271.
Stälin, _Wirtemberg_. _Geschichte_, iii. 591. Cf. _ante_, p. 27.

[443] _Ricordi di Lettere, etc._

[444] From Poliziano’s account, in Valori, p. 177.

[445] A. Montecatino, in Cappelli, l.c. p. 252.

[446] _Med. Arch._, passim. Gaye, _Carteggio_, i. 302.

[447] Cappelli, l.c. p. 303. (A.D. 1490). Letter of the Anziani of
Lucca, September 16, 1490; Lucch. Arch.

[448] Lorenzo to Ercole, February 11, 1481, January 9, 1482, in
Cappelli, p. 242, 243, with notes. Ferrante to Lorenzo, June 5, 1477,
in Gaye, l. c. i. 302. The same to the Knights of St. John, Ferrante
Ribadeneira, Juan Gasco, and others, December 27, 1467. In Trinchera,
Cod. Aragonese, i. 373; in this work are many letters relating to the
_falconi_ and _girifalchi_.

[449] Prose _volgari_, p. 45. Cf. _ante_, p. 14.

[450] Valori, l. c. p. 174. Viani, l. c. p. 24. In Fabroni, ii. 73, is
a list of the Medici estates in the Pisa territory, with an estimate of
their revenues.

[451] April 8. _Prose volgari_, p. 47.

[452] Piero, _Parenti’s Chronicle_. Cf. Poliziano, l. c. p. 49. Cf.
_Cronaca di Notar. Giacomo_, p. 134 (June 1, 1477).

[453] Pulci, _Lettere_, p. 28, 31.

[454] L. Fanfani, _Notizie inedite di Sta. Maria del Pontenovo_, p.
148. Cf. _ante_, p. 257.

[455] Guicciardini, l. c. ch. ix.

[456] Rinuccini, _Ricordi_, p. cxliii. Cappelli, l. c. p. 297.

[457] M. Amari, _I Diplomi Arabi del R. Archivio fiorentino_ (Flor.
1863), lx, lxxxvi, and the original Arabic and Italian documents, p.
181, 184, 363, 372, 374, 382. Cf. Pagnini, l. c. ii. 205 _et seq._
Bandini, _Collectio veterum monumentorum_, p. 12 _et seq._

[458] Ser Piero Dovizj to Madonna Clarice, Fabroni, ii. 337.

[459] Pecori, _Storia di San Gemignano_, p. 285.

[460] _Med. Arch._ Such supplies were needed at these places.

[461] From the Med. Arch. fol. 88, in Del Lungo, _Un viaggio di Clarice
Orsini de Medici nel 1485 descritto da Ser Matteo Franco_ (Bologna,

[462] Gualandi, _Nuova Raccolta di lettere sulla pittura, ec._
(Bologna, 1844), i. 14.

[463] Vasari, _Life of Simone Pollaiuolo_, viii. 119.

[464] Ficino, _Epist._ x. 37.

[465] Valori, l. c. p. 176.

[466] ‘ ... Diu templi vox fuit ille tui.’ _Prose volgari_, p. 155. Cf.
_ante_, p. 140, 165.

[467] _Med. Arch._ February 5, 1473, August 20, 1483.

[468] Poliziano to Lorenzo, October 17, 1477. _Prose volgari_, p. 54.

[469] C. Guasti, _Di un maestro d’organi del sec._ XV. in _Belle Arti
ec._, p. 229 _et seq._ _Ricordi di lettere, etc._

[470] Condivi, l. c., p. 30. It was this ‘Cardiere’ (from _cardatore_,
wool-comber) who was said to have seen an apparition of the dead

[471] _Prose volgari_, p. 78.

[472] Poliziano to M. Lucrezia, Fiesole, July 18, 1479. _Prose
volgari_, p. 72.

[473] Epist. l. ii. ep. 13.

[474] Carducci, Introduction to Poliziano’s poems, p. cxxxii. The
remarkable political sonnets published by O. Fargioni-Tozzetti
(Livorno, 1863) are by this Antonio Cammelli.

[475] Poggio a Cajano, September 11, 1485, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 298.

[476] Satire VI. ‘Quella famiglia d’allegrezza piena.’

[477] Lasca, _Le Cene_, iii. 10.

[478] Epist. l. iii. 6.

[479] Valori, l. c. p. 167.

[480] Fabroni, l. c. i. 22.

[481] Fr. Serdonati, _Vita di P. Innocenzo VIII._ (Milan, 1829) p. 75.

[482] Moreni, _Lettere_, p. 5.

[483] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 389-391.

[484] Desjardins, l. c. p. 189. _Ibid._ another letter of Louis, dated
February 17; also in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 298.

[485] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 299.

[486] A letter to G. Lanfredini, February 16, 1489, recommending an
Archdeacon, Mario of Osimo (_Med. Arch._ F. 57), is signed _Johannes
Laurentii de Medicis prothonotarius apostolicus_.

[487] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 374; _Vita Leonis X. P. M._, p. 245. Fosti,
_Storia della Badia di Monte Cassino_, iii. 199. It is but too well
known how greatly the convent went to ruin through the misdoings of its

[488] Desjardins, l. c. p. 214.

[489] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 374.

[490] Moreni, _Lettere_, p. 8. Cf. _ante_, p. 326.

[491] Roscoe, _Life and Pontificate of Leo X._ Ap. II. (iii. 385.)

[492] _Ibid._, Ap. III. p. 387.

[493] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 374.

[494] Letters, from the _Med. Arch._, in Fabroni, _Vita Leonis X._, and
Roscoe, l. c., App. IV. V. VI. VII.

[495] Burcard, l. c. 110-112. He names the five publicly nominated
Cardinals. Giacconio, _Vitæ Pontif._, vol. iii. col. 124-144, where
all the eight are mentioned. On March 9, the Ferrarese ambassador at
Florence announced the signature by the Cardinals of the bull for
Giovanni, and thought its publication would follow with that of the

[496] Letters in _Med. Arch._: that of La Balue (_Andegavensis_—Bishop
of Angers) in Roscoe, l. c., Ap. VIII.

[497] Fabroni, _Laur. Med. Vita_, ii. 300.

[498] A. Politiani _Epist._ l. viii. ep. 5. Lorenzo to Lanfredini,
March 14, 1489, in Roscoe, l. c., Ap. XI.

[499] Moreni, _Lettere_, p. 14. (Dated wrong and placed out of right

[500] Desjardins, l. c. p. 215.

[501] Burcard, l. c. p. 110. The hints given as to the cause of death
are a nice specimen of the town-talk recorded by a Papal master of the

[502] Roscoe, iv. 318 (wrongly dated).

[503] January 21, 1489. _Med. Arch._

[504] Cappelli, l. c. p. 307.

[505] Roscoe, l. c. Ap. X.

[506] Burcard, l. c. p. 133. Adinolfi, _Portica di S. Pietro_, does not
mention the house of the Acciaiuoli.

[507] Fabroni, l. c. p. 375.

[508] _Med. Arch._ F. 72. Fabroni, l. c.

[509] _Med. Arch._ F. 59.

[510] August 11, 1489, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 307.

[511] Fabroni, l. c. ii. p. 361. The letter goes on to treat of many
other things.

[512] Bull in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 340.

[513] Burcard, p. 126, 127. The details of these events may be
completed from Infessura.

[514] Fabroni, l. c. p. 365.

[515] The war with Granada had begun.

[516] January, 1490. Burcard, p. 135, 136. [’Portavit (heraldus)
literas regi, a quo penitus nihil habuit, neque bonum verbum.’]

[517] January 29, 1490, in De Cherrier, i. 341.

[518] M. Manfredi, Flor. May 4, 1490, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 307, 308.

[519] Burcard, l. c. p. 143.

[520] P. F. Pandolfini. Fabroni, l. c. p. 352.

[521] Pierre de Beaujeu had been Duke of Bourbon since the death of his
brother, Jean II., in 1488.

[522] Pandolfini, Rome, June 28, 1490, l. c. p. 353.

[523] Manfredi, July 3, 1491, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 309.

[524] Nasi, Naples, July 7, 1491, in Fabroni, l. c. p. 350.

[525] Letter to K. Ferrante II. (Ferrandino), February 9, 1495, in
Colangelo, _Vita del Sannazzaro_ (2nd edit. Naples, 1819).

[526] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 350.

[527] K. Ferrante to Pontano, October 2, 1491, and other letters
relating to these disturbances, in _Codice Arag._ vol. ii. part i. p. 1
_et seq._ Cf. _ante_, p. 311.

[528] October 5, 1491. Bandini, _Coll. vet. mon._, p. 20.

[529] P. Nasi to Lorenzo, Naples, November 18, 1491, in Fabroni, l. c.
ii. 363.

[530] Burcard, l. c. p. 157. M. Manfredi, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 310.

[531] How, in the face of this long disagreement, Giannone (_Storia
civile_, book xxviii.) could say that after the peace of 1486, Innocent
VIII. remained the king’s friend during his remaining years, is

[532] _Codice Aragon._, vol. ii. part i. p. 43-46, 49, 52-54.

[533] Burcard, p. 154, 155.

[534] _Traité des droits du Roy Charles VIII aux royaumes de Naples,
Sicile et Aragon, mis par escript en 1491 du commandement du Roy par
Léonard Barounet, maistre des comptes_; in Godefroy, _Histoire de
Charles VIII, preuves_, p. 675.—Ascanio Sforza to the Duke of Milan,
Rome, March 6, 1486, _Arch. stor. Ital._, vol. iv. part ii. p. 70.

[535] Manfredi, Flor. May 4, 1490, in Cappelli, p. 307, 308.

[536] Rosmini, l. c. p. 189, ii. 190.

[537] In Giovio, Corio, and also in more recent authors (Ratti, _Fam.
Sforza_, ii. 63; Niccolini, _Lodovico Sforza, Trag. Opere_, i. 242)
will be found Isabella’s letter to her father. The two copies, Italian
and Latin, differ somewhat; but the rhetorical form of both gives them
the air of imitated documents.

[538] Sc. Ammirato, book xxvii. (ii. 187.)

[539] _Cod. Aragon._, l. c. p. 38.

[540] Farcelli, _Storia del monastero degli Angioli_ (Lucca, 1710), p.
66 _et seq._ _Libretto MS. nel quale D. Guido priore nota i possessi
ec._, in the collection of G. Palagi. Florence.

[541] N. L. Cittadella, _La nobile Famiglia Savonarola in Padova ed
in Ferrara_ (Ferrara, 1867); _La Casa di Fra Girolamo Savonarola in
Ferrara_ (_ibid._ 1873). [The house in which Girolamo was born was
afterwards thrown into a house of the Strozzi, now belonging to the
municipality]. P. Villari, _La Storia di Girolamo_ Savonarola (Flor.
1850-61). The Paduan branch of the family became extinct about 1816,
the Ferrarese in 1844.

[542] Among the _Poesie di Fra Girolamo Savonarola_, published by
Cesare Guasti (Flor. 1862) from the autographs in the house of the
Borromeo at Milan, see especially the canzonet (written about 1475)
_De ruina Ecclesiae_ (‘Vergine casta, benchè indegno figlio—Pur son di
membri dell’eterno Sposo.’)

[543] Moreni, _Con torni di Firenze_, iii. 34 _et seq._ Cf. _ante_, p.

[544] Poliziano to Tristano Calco, Flor. April 22, 1489. (Fra Mariano
was then preaching in Milan.) Poliziano had previously, as he mentions
in this letter, praised the Augustinian’s learning, eloquence, and
morals in the introduction to his Miscellanies. N. Valori speaks of
him, l. c. p. 76. Cf. Tiraboschi, ix. (vi. 3), 1677-1685.

[545] Baluz, _Miscellan._ ed. Mansi, i. 530. [’A sua posta (Fra
Mariano) aveva le lagrime, le quali cadendogli dagli occhi per il
viso, le raccoglieva tal volta e gittavale al popolo.’] Benivieni on
Savonarola’s teachings and prophecies, in a letter to Clement VII.
(Villari, i. 70).

[546] The _Storia fiorentina_, ch. xii.-xvii. contains many remarks on
Savonarola, specially valuable on account of the author’s position and
corresponding views.

[547] Prose volgare inedite p. 283. Cf. _ante_ p. 351.

[548] Lettera di un Anonimo circa alcune prediche fatte da Fra Mariano
da Genazzano in Roma, in Villari, ii. clxxvi.

[549] L. Passerini, _Storia e Genealogia delle famiglie Passerini e
Rilli_ (Flor. 1874), p. 24.

[550] Letter of C. Borgia to Piero de’ Medici, written after the
accession of Alexander VI., from Spoleto, October 5, 1492, printed from
_Med. Arch._ in _Arch. stor. Ital._, s. iii. vol. xvii. p. 510.

[551] _Med. Arch._ F. 51.

[552] Fabroni, l. c. i. 301.

[553] Cf. _ante_, p. 331.

[554] Guicciardini, l. c. ch. viii.

[555] Rome, October 5, 1490, in Roscoe’s Leo X., Ap. XIII.

[556] Rome, October 19, 1490, in Fabroni, l. c. p. 302.

[557] Ricordi di Lettere.

[558] Matteo Bosso to the Canon Arcangelo of Vicenza, Fiesole, March
14, 1492, in the _Recuperationes Fezulanae_, Ep. cx., and in Roscoe’s
_Lor. de Med._, Ap. No. XXV. Pietro Delfino to Giovanni, the Superior
of the Hermitage of Camaldoli, Flor. March 11, 1492, in Fabroni, l. c.
ii. 305. M. Manfredi, Flor., March 13, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 311.

[559] Rome, April 7, 1492, in Fabroni, l. c. ii. 306 _et seq._; also
in Roscoe, Leo X., and Gennarelli’s Burcard. On the reception at Rome
and the solemnities there, see Burcard, p. 166 _et seq._ Letter from
Giovanni to his father, Rome, March 25, in Roscoe, l. c. Ap. XVII.

[560] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 308 _et seq._

[561] M. Manfredi, Flor. August 31, in Cappelli, l. c. p. 309.

[562] Cappelli, l. c. p. 316. Manfredi’s reports give the most details,
but unfortunately there is a blank in the last days of Lorenzo.

[563] Cod. Aragonese, l. c. p. 39.

[564] M. Manfredi to the Duchess of Ferrara, Flor., April 5, 1492, in
Cappelli, l. c. p. 312. Ercole arrived at Rome on April 13. Burcard, l.
c. p. 177.

[565] Valori, l.c. p. 181.

[566] The story of Lorenzo’s last days may be read in the long letter
written by Poliziano from the villa at Fiesole on May 18, 1492, to
Jacopo Antiquario of Perugia, _Pol. Epist._ 1. iv. ep. 2, in Fabroni,
l. c. i. 199-212, and in Roscoe, Ap. No. LXXVII. Cf. G. B. Vermiglioli,
_Memoire di Jacopo Antiquario_ (Perugia, 1813). Politian’s letter is a
rhetorical composition full of unctuous phrases, but highly valuable as
containing the testimony of an eye-witness.

[567] See Appendix III. p. 487.

[568] See Appendix III. p. 488.

[569] On the prodigies see Politian’s letter, also Rinuccini, l. c.,
and Cambi, p. 63, where are given details of the disastrous effects of
the lightning. See also Burcard, p. 175.

[570] Guicciardini, l. c. ch. ix.

[571] Ricordi, p. cxlvi.

[572] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 398. Cerretani reports that of the whole
number in the Council 483 voted Aye and 63 No. ‘Herein was seen a token
of harmony and secure hope for the future; but it all came from the
popularity of Lorenzo, who was lamented not only by his fellow-citizens
and the people, but by all Italy.’

[573] Burcard, p. 171-178. On the appointment as legate cf. Stefano
da Castrocaro’s letter to Piero, Rome, April 15, 1402; Fabroni, _Vita
Leonis X._ p. 13, and note 10; Roscoe, _Leo X._ Ap. xxiv.

[574] _Cod. Aragon._, l. c. p. 74, 75.

[575] Fabroni, l. c. ii. 396.

[576] Fabroni, _Laur. Med. Vita_, i. 212. There is no better warrant
for this speech than for that on the election of Pope Alexander VI.

[577] Diary of Paris de’ Grassi, in Fabroni, _Vita Leonis X._, p. 95.

[578] Moreni, _Descrizione istorico-critica delle tre Cappelle Medicee
in S. Lorenzo_ (Flor. 1813), p. 103. At the revolution of 1494 the
party hostile to the Medici did not entirely spare even the monuments,
for the inscription on the tomb of Cosimo the elder was removed on
account of the ‘_Pater patriæ_’; in 1497, during the Savonarola
excitement, all the Medici coats of arms were taken away or covered,
and replaced by the red cross of the people. The reappearance of the
ball-escutcheon after the revolution of 1512 was referred to in an
epigram by the father of Benvenuto Cellini, wherein he prophesies the
attainment of the Papal dignity by one of the family:—

                ‘Quest’arme, che sepolta è stata tanta,
                       Sotta la croce mansueta,
                Mostra hor la faccia gloriosa e lieta,
                Aspettando di Pietro il sacro ammanto.’

[579] This curious monody, so unlike Politian’s other Latin
compositions, stands at the end of his works in the edition of 1498.
[In _Del Lungo_, p. 274.] The poem in terza rima, on Lorenzo’s death,
printed in the edition of his Italian poems published at Florence in
1814, from a Riccardi MS. (in Carducci’s ed. p. 382 _et seq._) is
unquestionably not Politian’s.

[580] The object of this table is simply to facilitate a survey of the
chronological sequence of the different parts of the work.

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