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    Chapter 12

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    Chapter 13
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    CHAPTER V

    The emigrants attempt to re-enter Florence, but are not allowed to
    do so--The companies of the people restored--Restless conduct of
    Corso Donati--The ruin of Corso Donati--Corso Donati accused and
    condemned--Riot at the house of Corso--Death of Corso--His
    character--Fruitless attempt of the Emperor Henry against the
    Florentines--The emigrants are restored to the city--The citizens
    place themselves under the king of Naples for five years--War with
    Uguccione della Faggiuola--The Florentines routed--Florence
    withdraws herself from subjection to King Robert, and expels the
    Count Novello--Lando d'Agobbio--His tyranny--His departure.

    The legate being returned to Rome, and hearing of the new disturbance
    which had occurred, persuaded the pope that if he wished to unite the
    Florentines, it would be necessary to have twelve of the first
    citizens appear before him, and having thus removed the principal
    causes of disunion, he might easily put a stop to it. The pontiff took
    this advice, and the citizens, among whom was Corso Donati, obeyed the
    summons. These having left the city, the legate told the exiles that
    now, when the city was deprived of her leaders, was the time for them
    to return. They, therefore, having assembled, came to Florence, and
    entering by a part of the wall not yet completed, proceeded to the
    piazza of St. Giovanni. It is worthy of remark, that those who, a
    short time previously, when they came unarmed and begged to be
    restored to their country, had fought for their return, now, when they
    saw them in arms and resolved to enter by force, took arms to oppose
    them (so much more was the common good esteemed than private
    friendship), and being joined by the rest of the citizens, compelled
    them to return to the places whence they had come. They failed in
    their undertaking by having left part of their force at Lastra, and by
    not having waited the arrival of Tolosetto Uberti, who had to come
    from Pistoia with three hundred horse; for they thought celerity
    rather than numbers would give them the victory; and it often happens,
    in similar enterprises, that delay robs us of the occasion, and too
    great anxiety to be forward prevents us of the power, or makes us act
    before we are properly prepared.

    The banished having retired, Florence again returned to her old
    divisions; and in order to deprive the Cavalcanti of their authority,
    the people took from them the Stinche, a castle situated in the Val di
    Greve, and anciently belonging to the family. And as those who were
    taken in it were the first who were put into the new prisons, the
    latter were, and still continue, named after it,--the Stinche. The
    leaders of the republic also re-established the companies of the
    people, and gave them the ensigns that were first used by the
    companies of the Arts; the heads of which were called Gonfaloniers of
    the companies and colleagues of the Signory; and ordered, that when
    any disturbance arose they should assist the Signory with arms, and in
    peace with counsel. To the two ancient rectors they added an executor,
    or sheriff, who, with the Gonfaloniers, was to aid in repressing the
    insolence of the nobility.

    In the meantime the pope died. Corso, with the other citizens,
    returned from Rome; and all would have been well if his restless mind
    had not occasioned new troubles. It was his common practice to be of a
    contrary opinion to the most powerful men in the city; and whatever he
    saw the people inclined to do, he exercised his utmost influence to
    effect, in order to attach them to himself; so that he was a leader in
    all differences, at the head of every new scheme, and whoever wished
    to obtain anything extraordinary had recourse to him. This conduct
    caused him to be hated by many of the highest distinction; and their
    hatred increased to such a degree that the Neri faction to which he
    belonged, became completely divided; for Corso, to attain his ends,
    had availed himself of private force and authority, and of the enemies
    of the state. But so great was the influence attached to his person,
    that everyone feared him. Nevertheless, in order to strip him of the
    popular favor (which by this means may easily be done), a report was
    set on foot that he intended to make himself prince of the city; and
    to the design his conduct gave great appearance of probability, for
    his way of living quite exceeded all civil bounds; and the opinion
    gained further strength, upon his taking to wife a daughter of
    Uguccione della Faggiuola, head of the Ghibelline and Bianchi faction,
    and one of the most powerful men in Tuscany.

    When this marriage became known it gave courage to his adversaries,
    and they took arms against him; for the same reason the people ceased
    to defend him, and the greater part of them joined the ranks of his
    enemies, the leaders of whom were Rosso della Tosa, Pazino dei Pazzi,
    Geri Spini, and Berto Brunelleschi. These, with their followers, and
    the greater part of the people, assembled before the palace of the
    Signory, by whose command a charge was made before Piero Branca,
    captain of the people, against Corso, of intending, with the aid of
    Uguccione, to usurp the government. He was then summoned, and for
    disobedience, declared a rebel; nor did two hours pass over between
    the accusation and the sentence. The judgment being given, the
    Signory, with the companies of the people under their ensigns, went in
    search of him, who, although seeing himself abandoned by many of his
    followers, aware of the sentence against him, the power of the
    Signory, and the multitude of his enemies, remained undaunted, and
    fortified his houses, in the hope of defending them till Uguccione,
    for whom he had sent, should come to his Relief. His residences, and
    the streets approaching them, were barricaded and taken possession of
    by his partisans, who defended them so bravely that the enemy,
    although in great numbers, could not force them, and the battle became
    one of the hottest, with wounds and death on all sides. But the
    people, finding they could not drive them from their ground, took
    possession of the adjoining houses, and by unobserved passages
    obtained entry. Corso, thus finding himself surrounded by his foes, no
    longer retaining any hope of assistance from Uguccione, and without a
    chance of victory, thought only of effecting his personal safety, and
    with Gherardo Bordoni, and some of his bravest and most trusted
    friends, fought a passage through the thickest of their enemies, and
    effected their escape from the city by the Gate of the Cross. They
    were, however, pursued by vast numbers, and Gherardo was slain upon
    the bridge of Affrico by Boccaccio Cavicciulli. Corso was overtaken
    and made prisoner by a party of Catalan horse, in the service of the
    Signory, at Rovezzano. But when approaching Florence, that he might
    avoid being seen and torn to pieces by his victorious enemies, he
    allowed himself to fall from horseback, and being down, one of those
    who conducted him cut his throat. The body was found by the monks of
    San Salvi, and buried without any ceremony due to his rank. Such was
    the end of Corso, to whom his country and the Neri faction were
    indebted for much both of good and evil; and if he had possessed a
    cooler spirit he would have left behind him a more happy memory.
    Nevertheless, he deserves to be enumerated among the most
    distinguished men our city has produced. True it is, that his restless
    conduct made both his country and his party forgetful of their
    obligation to him. The same cause also produced his miserable end, and
    brought many troubles upon both his friends and his country.
    Uguccione, coming to the assistance of his relative, learned at Remoli
    that Corso had been overcome by the people, and finding that he could
    not render him any assistance, in order to avoid bringing evil upon
    himself without occasion, he returned home.

    After the death of Corso, which occurred in the year 1308, the
    disturbances were appeased, and the people lived quietly till it was
    reported that the Emperor Henry was coming into Italy, and with him
    all the Florentine emigrants, to whom he had promised restoration to
    their country. The leaders of the government thought, that in order to
    lessen the number of their enemies, it would be well to recall, of
    their own will, all who had been expelled, excepting such as the law
    had expressly forbidden to return. Of the number not admitted, were
    the greater part of the Ghibellines, and some of those of the Bianchi
    faction, among whom were Dante Alighieri, the sons of Veri de' Cerchi
    and of Giano della Bella. Besides this they sent for aid to Robert,
    king of Naples, and not being able to obtain it of him as friends,
    they gave their city to him for five years, that he might defend them
    as his own people. The emperor entered Italy by the way of Pisa, and
    proceeded by the marshes to Rome, where he was crowned in the year
    1312. Then, having determined to subdue the Florentines, he approached
    their city by the way of Perugia and Arezzo, and halted with his army
    at the monastery of San Salvi, about a mile from Florence, where he
    remained fifty days without effecting anything. Despairing of success
    against Florence, he returned to Pisa, where he entered into an
    agreement with Frederick, king of Sicily, to undertake the conquest of
    Naples, and proceeded with his people accordingly; but while filled
    with the hope of victory, and carrying dismay into the heart of King
    Robert, having reached Buonconvento, he died.

    Shortly after this, Uguccione della Faggiuola, having by means of the
    Ghibelline party become lord of Pisa and of Lucca, caused, with the
    assistance of these cities, very serious annoyance to the neighbouring
    places. In order to effect their relief the Florentines requested King
    Robert would allow his brother Piero to take the command of their
    armies. On the other hand, Uguccione continued to increase his power;
    and either by force or fraud obtained possession of many castles in
    the Val d'Arno and the Val di Nievole; and having besieged Monte
    Cataini, the Florentines found it would be necessary to send to its
    relief, that they might not see him burn and destroy their whole
    territory. Having drawn together a large army, they entered the Val di
    Nievole where they came up with Uguccione, and were routed after a
    severe battle in which Piero the king's brother and 2,000 men were
    slain; but the body of the Prince was never found. Neither was the
    victory a joyful one to Uguccione; for one of his sons, and many of
    the leaders of his army, fell in the strife.

    The Florentines after this defeat fortified their territory, and King
    Robert sent them, for commander of their forces, the Count d'Andria,
    usually called Count Novello, by whose deportment, or because it is
    natural to the Florentines to find every state tedious, the city,
    notwithstanding the war with Uguccione, became divided into friends
    and enemies of the king. Simon della Tosa, the Magalotti, and certain
    others of the people who had attained greater influence in the
    government than the rest, were leaders of the party against the king.
    By these means messengers were sent to France, and afterward into
    Germany, to solicit leaders and forces that they might drive out the
    count, whom the king had appointed governor; but they failed of
    obtaining any. Nevertheless they did not abandon their undertaking,
    but still desirous of one whom they might worship, after an unavailing
    search in France and Germany, they discovered him at Agobbio, and
    having expelled the Count Novello, caused Lando d'Agobbio to be
    brought into the city as Bargello sheriff), and gave him the most
    unlimited power of the citizens. This man was cruel and rapacious; and
    going through the country accompanied with an armed force, he put many
    to death at the mere instigation of those who had endowed him with
    authority. His insolence rose to such a height, that he stamped base
    metal with the impression used upon the money of the state, and no one
    had sufficient courage to oppose him, so powerful had he become by the
    discords of Florence. Great, certainly, but unhappy city! which
    neither the memory of past divisions, the fear of her enemies, nor a
    king's authority, could unite for her own advantage; so that she found
    herself in a state of the utmost wretchedness, harassed without by
    Uguccione, and plundered within by Lando d'Agobbio.

    The friends of the king and those who opposed Lando and his followers,
    were either of noble families or the highest of the people, and all
    Guelphs; but their adversaries being in power they could not discover
    their minds without incurring the greatest danger. Being, however,
    determined to deliver themselves from such disgraceful tyranny, they
    secretly wrote to King Robert, requesting him to appoint for his vicar
    in Florence Count Guido da Battifolle. The king complied; and the
    opposite party, although the Signory were opposed to the king, on
    account of the good quality of the count, did not dare to resist him.
    Still his authority was not great, because the Signory and
    Gonfaloniers of the companies were in favor of Lando and his party.

    During these troubles, the daughter of King Albert of Bohemia passed
    through Florence, in search of her husband, Charles, the son of King
    Robert, and was received with the greatest respect by the friends of
    the king, who complained to her of the unhappy state of the city, and
    of the tyranny of Lando and his partisans; so that through her
    influence and the exertions of the king's friends, the citizens were
    again united, and before her departure, Lando was stripped of all
    authority and send back to Agobbio, laden with blood and plunder. In
    reforming the government, the sovereignty of the city was continued to
    the king for another three years, and as there were then in office
    seven Signors of the party of Lando, six more were appointed of the
    king's friends, and some magistracies were composed of thirteen
    Signors; but not long afterward the number was reduced to seven
    according to ancient custom.
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