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    Chapter 14

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    Chapter 15
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    The Emperor at Rome--The Florentines refuse to purchase Lucca, and
    repent of it--Enterprises of the Florentines--Conspiracy of the
    Bardi and the Frescobaldi--The conspiracy discovered and checked--
    Maffeo da Marradi appeases the tumult--Lucca is purchased by the
    Florentines and taken by the Pisans--The duke of Athens at
    Florence--The nobility determine to make him prince of the city.

    The emperor, being arrived at Rome, created an anti-pope, did many
    things in opposition to the church, and attempted many others, but
    without effect, so that at last he retired with disgrace, and went to
    Pisa, where, either because they were not paid, or from disaffection,
    about 800 German horse mutinied, and fortified themselves at
    Montechiaro upon the Ceruglio; and when the emperor had left Pisa to
    go into Lombardy, they took possession of Lucca and drove out
    Francesco Castracani, whom he had left there. Designing to turn their
    conquest to account, they offered it to the Florentines for 80,000
    florins, which, by the advice of Simone della Tosa, was refused. This
    resolution, if they had remained in it, would have been of the
    greatest utility to the Florentines; but as they shortly afterward
    changed their minds, it became most pernicious; for although at the
    time they might have obtained peaceful possession of her for a small
    sum and would not, they afterward wished to have her and could not,
    even for a much larger amount; which caused many and most hurtful
    changes to take place in Florence. Lucca, being refused by the
    Florentines, was purchased by Gherardino Spinoli, a Genoese, for
    30,000 florins. And as men are often less anxious to take what is in
    their power than desirous of that which they cannot attain, as soon as
    the purchase of Gherardino became known, and for how small a sum it
    had been bought, the people of Florence were seized with an extreme
    desire to have it, blaming themselves and those by whose advice they
    had been induced to reject the offer made to them. And in order to
    obtain by force what they had refused to purchase, they sent troops to
    plunder and overrun the country of the Lucchese.

    About this time the emperor left Italy. The anti-pope, by means of the
    Pisans, became a prisoner in France; and the Florentines from the
    death of Castruccio, which occurred in 1328, remained in domestic
    peace till 1340, and gave their undivided attention to external
    affairs, while many wars were carried on in Lombardy, occasioned by
    the coming of John king of Bohemia, and in Tuscany, on account of
    Lucca. During this period Florence was ornamented with many new
    buildings, and by the advice of Giotto, the most distinguished painter
    of his time, they built the tower of Santa Reparata. Besides this, the
    waters of the Arno having, in 1333, risen twelve feet above their
    ordinary level, destroyed some of the bridges and many buildings, all
    which were restored with great care and expense.

    In the year 1340, new sources of disagreement arose. The great had two
    ways of increasing or preserving their power; the one, so to restrain
    the emborsation of magistrates, that the lot always fell upon
    themselves or their friends; the other, that having the election of
    the rectors, they were always favorable to their party. This second
    mode they considered of so great importance, that the ordinary rectors
    not being sufficient for them, they on some occasions elected a third,
    and at this time they had made an extraordinary appointment, under the
    title of captain of the guard, of Jacopo Gabrielli of Agobbio, and
    endowed him with unlimited authority over the citizens. This man,
    under the sanction of those who governed, committed constant outrages;
    and among those whom he injured were Piero de' Bardi and Bardo
    Frescobaldi. These being of the nobility, and naturally proud, could
    not endure that a stranger, supported by a few powerful men, should
    without cause injure them with impunity, and consequently entered into
    a conspiracy against him and those by whom he was supported. They were
    joined by many noble families, and some of the people, who were
    offended with the tyranny of those in power. Their plan was, that each
    should bring into his house a number of armed men, and on the morning
    after the day of All Saints, when almost all would be in the temples
    praying for their dead, they should take arms, kill the Capitano and
    those who were at the head of affairs, and then, with a new Signory
    and new ordinances, reform the government.

    But, as the more a dangerous business is considered, the less
    willingly it is undertaken, it commonly happens, when there is any
    time allowed between the determining upon a perilous enterprise and
    its execution, that the conspiracy by one means or another becomes
    known. Andrea de' Bardi was one of the conspirators, and upon
    reconsideration of the matter, the fear of the punishment operated
    more powerfully upon him than the desire of revenge, and he disclosed
    the affair to Jacopo Alberti, his brother-in-law. Jacopo acquainted
    the Priors, and they informed the government. And as the danger was
    near, All Saints' day being just at hand, many citizens met together
    in the palace; and thinking their peril increased by delay, they
    insisted that the Signory should order the alarm to be rung, and
    called the people together in arms. Taldo Valori was at this time
    Gonfalonier, and Francesco Salviati one of the Signory, who, being
    relatives of the Bardi, were unwilling to summon the people with the
    bell, alleging as a reason that it is by no means well to assemble
    them in arms upon every slight occasion, for power put into the hands
    of an unrestrained multitude was never beneficial; that it is an easy
    matter to excite them to violence, but a difficult thing to restrain
    them; and that, therefore, it would be taking a more prudent course if
    they were to inquire into the truth of the affair, and punish the
    delinquents by the civil authority, than to attempt, upon a simple
    information, to correct it by such a tumultuous means, and thus hazard
    the safety of the city. None would listen to these remarks; the
    Signory were assailed with insolent behavior and indecent expressions,
    and compelled to sound the alarm, upon which the people presently
    assembled in arms. On the other hand, the Bardi and the Frescobaldi,
    finding themselves discovered, that they might conquer with glory or
    die without shame, armed themselves, in the hope that they would be
    able to defend that part of the city beyond the river, where their
    houses were situated; and they fortified the bridge in expectation of
    assistance, which they expected from the nobles and their friends in
    the country. Their design was frustrated by the people who, in common
    with themselves, occupied this part of the city; for these took arms
    in favor of the Signory, so that, seeing themselves thus
    circumstanced, they abandoned the bridges, and betook themselves to
    the street in which the Bardi resided, as being a stronger situation
    than any other; and this they defended with great bravery.

    Jacopo d'Agobbio, knowing the whole conspiracy was directed against
    himself, in fear of death, terrified and vanquished, kept himself
    surrounded with forces near the palace of the Signory; but the other
    rectors, who were much less blamable, discovered greater courage, and
    especially the podesta or provost, whose name was Maffeo da Marradi.
    He presented himself among the combatants without any fear, and
    passing the bridge of the Rubaconte amid the swords of the Bardi, made
    a sign that he wished to speak to them. Upon this, their reverence for
    the man, his noble demeanor, and the excellent qualities he was known
    to possess, caused an immediate cessation of the combat, and induced
    them to listen to him patiently. He very gravely, but without the use
    of any bitter or aggravating expressions, blamed their conspiracy,
    showed the danger they would incur if they still contended against the
    popular feeling, gave them reason to hope their complaints would be
    heard and mercifully considered, and promised that he himself would
    use his endeavors in their behalf. He then returned to the Signory,
    and implored them to spare the blood of the citizens, showing the
    impropriety of judging them unheard, and at length induced them to
    consent that the Bardi and the Frescobaldi, with their friends, should
    leave the city, and without impediment be allowed to retire to their
    castles. Upon their departure the people being again disarmed, the
    Signory proceeded against those only of the Bardi and Frescobaldi
    families who had taken arms. To lessen their power, they bought of the
    Bardi the castle of Mangona and that of Vernia; and enacted a law
    which provided that no citizen should be allowed to possess a castle
    or fortified place within twenty miles of Florence.

    After a few months, Stiatta Frescobaldi was beheaded, and many of his
    family banished. Those who governed, not satisfied with having subdued
    the Bardi and the Frescobaldi, as is most commonly the case, the more
    authority they possessed the worse use they made of it and the more
    insolent they became. As they had hitherto had one captain of the
    guard who afflicted the city, they now appointed another for the
    country, with unlimited authority, to the end that those whom they
    suspected might abide neither within nor without. And they excited
    them to such excesses against the whole of the nobility, that these
    were driven to desperation, and ready to sell both themselves and the
    city to obtain revenge. The occasion at length came, and they did not
    fail to use it.

    The troubles of Tuscany and Lombardy had brought the city of Lucca
    under the rule of Mastino della Scala, lord of Verona, who, though
    bound by contract to assign her to the Florentines, had refused to do
    so; for, being lord of Parma, he thought he should be able to retain
    her, and did not trouble himself about his breach of faith. Upon this
    the Florentines joined the Venetians, and with their assistance
    brought Mastino to the brink of ruin. They did not, however, derive
    any benefit from this beyond the slight satisfaction of having
    conquered him; for the Venetians, like all who enter into league with
    less powerful states than themselves, having acquired Trevigi and
    Vicenza, made peace with Mastino without the least regard for the
    Florentines. Shortly after this, the Visconti, lords of Milan, having
    taken Parma from Mastino, he found himself unable to retain Lucca, and
    therefore determined to sell it. The competitors for the purchase were
    the Florentines and the Pisans; and in the course of the treaty the
    Pisans, finding that the Florentines, being the richer people, were
    about to obtain it, had recourse to arms, and, with the assistance of
    the Visconti, marched against Lucca. The Florentines did not, on that
    account, withdraw from the purchase, but having agreed upon the terms
    with Mastino, paid part of the money, gave security for the remainder,
    and sent Naddo Rucellai, Giovanni di Bernadino de' Medici, and Rosso
    di Ricciardo de' Ricci, to take possession, who entered Lucca by
    force, and Mastino's people delivered the city to them. Nevertheless,
    the Pisans continued the siege, and the Florentines used their utmost
    endeavors to relieve her; but after a long war, loss of money, and
    accumulation of disgrace, they were compelled to retire, and the
    Pisans became lords of Lucca.

    The loss of this city, as in like cases commonly happens, exasperated
    the people of Florence against the members of the government; at every
    street corner and public place they were openly censured, and the
    entire misfortune was laid to the charge of their greediness and
    mismanagement. At the beginning of the war, twenty citizens had been
    appointed to undertake the direction of it, who appointed Malatesta da
    Rimini to the command of the forces. He having exhibited little zeal
    and less prudence, they requested assistance from Robert king of
    Naples, and he sent them Walter duke of Athens, who, as Providence
    would have it, to bring about the approaching evils, arrived at
    Florence just at the moment when the undertaking against Lucca had
    entirely failed. Upon this the Twenty, seeing the anger of the people,
    thought to inspire them with fresh hopes by the appointment of a new
    leader, and thus remove, or at least abate, the causes of calumny
    against themselves. As there was much to be feared, and that the duke
    of Athens might have greater authority to defend them, they first
    chose him for their coadjutor, and then appointed him to the command
    of the army. The nobility, who were discontented from the causes above
    mentioned, having many of them been acquainted with Walter, when upon
    a former occasion he had governed Florence for the duke of Calabria,
    thought they had now an opportunity, though with the ruin of the city,
    of subduing their enemies; for there was no means of prevailing
    against those who had oppressed them but of submitting to the
    authority of a prince who, being acquainted with the worth of one
    party and the insolence of the other, would restrain the latter and
    reward the former. To this they added a hope of the benefits they
    might derive from him when he had acquired the principality by their
    means. They, therefore, took several occasions of being with him
    secretly, and entreated he would take the command wholly upon himself,
    offering him the utmost assistance in their power. To their influence
    and entreaty were also added those of some families of the people;
    these were the Peruzzi, Acciajuoli, Antellesi, and Buonaccorsi, who,
    being overwhelmed with debts, and without means of their own, wished
    for those of others to liquidate them, and, by the slavery of their
    country, to deliver themselves from their servitude to their
    creditors. These demonstrations excited the ambitious mind of the duke
    to greater desire of dominion, and in order to gain himself the
    reputation of strict equity and justice, and thus increase his favor
    with the plebeians, he prosecuted those who had conducted the war
    against Lucca, condemned many to pay fines, others to exile, and put
    to death Giovanni de' Medici, Naddo Rucellai, and Guglielmo Altoviti.
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