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    Chapter 22

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    Chapter 23
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER VI

    Confusion and riots in the city--Reform of government in
    opposition to the plebeians--Injuries done to those who favored
    the plebeians--Michael di Lando banished--Benedetto Alberti hated
    by the Signory--Fears excited by the coming of Louis of Anjou--The
    Florentines purchase Arezzo--Benedetto Alberti becomes suspected
    and is banished--His discourse upon leaving the city--Other
    citizens banished and admonished--War with Giovanni Galeazzo, duke
    of Milan.

    The death of Giorgio caused very great excitement; many took arms at
    the execution in favor of the Signory and the Capitano; and many
    others, either for ambition or as a means for their own safety, did
    the same. The city was full of conflicting parties, who each had a
    particular end in view, and wished to carry it into effect before they
    disarmed. The ancient nobility, called the GREAT, could not bear to be
    deprived of public honors; for the recovery of which they used their
    utmost exertions, and earnestly desired that authority might be
    restored to the Capitani di Parte. The nobles of the people and the
    major trades were discontented at the share the minor trades and
    lowest of the people possessed in the government; while the minor
    trades were desirous of increasing their influence, and the lowest
    people were apprehensive of losing the companies of their trades and
    the authority which these conferred.

    Such opposing views occasioned Florence, during a year, to be
    disturbed by many riots. Sometimes the nobles of the people took arms;
    sometimes the major and sometimes the minor trades and the lowest of
    the people; and it often happened that, though in different parts, all
    were at once in insurrection. Hence many conflicts took place between
    the different parties or with the forces of the palace; for the
    Signory sometimes yielding, and at other times resisting, adopted such
    remedies as they could for these numerous evils. At length, after two
    assemblies of the people, and many Balias appointed for the
    reformation of the city; after much toil, labor, and imminent danger,
    a government was appointed, by which all who had been banished since
    Salvestro de' Medici was Gonfalonier were restored. They who had
    acquired distinctions or emoluments by the Balia of 1378 were deprived
    of them. The honors of government were restored to the Guelphic party;
    the two new Companies of the Trades were dissolved, and all who had
    been subject to them assigned to their former companies. The minor
    trades were not allowed to elect the Gonfalonier of Justice, their
    share of honors was reduced from a half to a third; and those of the
    highest rank were withdrawn from them altogether. Thus the nobles of
    the people and the Guelphs repossessed themselves of the government,
    which was lost by the plebeians after it had been in their possession
    from 1378 to 1381, when these changes took place.

    The new establishment was not less injurious to the citizens, or less
    troublesome at its commencement than that of the plebeians had been;
    for many of the nobles of the people, who had distinguished themselves
    as defenders of the plebeians, were banished, with a great number of
    the leaders of the latter, among whom was Michael di Lando; nor could
    all the benefits conferred upon the city by his authority, when in
    danger from the lawless mob, save him from the rabid fury of the party
    that was now in power. His good offices evidently excited little
    gratitude in his countrymen. The neglect of their benefactors is an
    error into which princes and republics frequently fall; and hence
    mankind, alarmed by such examples, as soon as they begin to perceive
    the ingratitude of their rulers, set themselves against them.

    As these banishments and executions had always been offensive to
    Benedetto Alberti, they continued to disgust him, and he censured them
    both publicly and privately. The leaders of the government began to
    fear him, for they considered him one of the most earnest friends of
    the plebeians, and thought he had not consented to the death of
    Giorgio Scali from disapprobation of his proceeding, but that he might
    be left himself without a rival in the government. His discourse and
    his conduct alike served to increase their suspicions, so that all the
    ruling party had their eyes upon him, and eagerly sought an
    opportunity of crushing him.

    During this state of things, external affairs were not of serious
    importance, for some which ensued were productive of apprehension
    rather than of injury. At this time Louis of Anjou came into Italy, to
    recover the kingdom of Naples for Queen Giovanna, and drive out
    Charles of Durazzo. His coming terrified the Florentines; for Charles,
    according to the custom of old friends, demanded their assistance, and
    Louis, like those who seek new alliances, required their neutrality.
    The Florentines, that they might seem to comply with the request of
    Louis, and at the same time assist Charles, discharged from their
    service Sir John Hawkwood, and transferred him to that of Pope Urban,
    who was friendly to Charles; but this deceit was at once detected, and
    Louis considered himself greatly injured by the Florentines. While the
    war was carried on between Louis and Charles in Puglia, new forces
    were sent from France in aid of Louis, and on arriving in Tuscany,
    were by the emigrants of Arezzo conducted to that city, and took it
    from those who held possession for Charles. And when they were about
    to change the government of Florence, as they had already done that of
    Arezzo, Louis died, and the order of things in Puglia and in Tuscany
    was changed accordingly; for Charles secured the kingdom, which had
    been all but lost, and the Florentines, who were apprehensive for
    their own city, purchased Arezzo from those who held it for Louis.
    Charles, having secured Puglia, went to take possession of Hungary, to
    which he was heir, leaving, with his wife, his children Ladislaus and
    Giovanna, who were yet infants. He took possession of Hungary, but was
    soon after slain there.

    As great rejoicings were made in Florence on account of this
    acquisition as ever took place in any city for a real victory, which
    served to exhibit the public and private wealth of the people, many
    families endeavoring to vie with the state itself in displays of
    magnificence. The Alberti surpassed all others; the tournaments and
    exhibitions made by them were rather suitable for a sovereign prince
    than for any private individuals. These things increased the envy with
    which the family was regarded, and being joined with suspicions which
    the state entertained of Benedetto, were the causes of his ruin. The
    rulers could not endure him, for it appeared as if, at any moment,
    something might occur, which, with the favor of his friends, would
    enable him to recover his authority, and drive them out of the city.
    While in this state of suspicion and jealousy, it happened that while
    he was Gonfalonier of the Companies, his son-in-law, Filippo
    Magalotti, was drawn Gonfalonier of Justice; and this circumstance
    increased the fears of the government, for they thought it would
    strengthen Benedetto's influence, and place the state in the greater
    peril. Anxious to provide a remedy, without creating much disturbance,
    they induced Bese Magalotti, his relative and enemy, to signify to the
    Signory that Filippo, not having attained the age required for the
    exercise of that office, neither could nor ought to hold it.

    The question was examined by the signors, and part of them out of
    hatred, others in order to avoid disunion among themselves, declared
    Filippo ineligible to the dignity, and in his stead was drawn Bardo
    Mancini, who was quite opposed to the plebeian interests, and an
    inveterate foe of Benedetto. This man, having entered upon the duties
    of his office, created a /Balia/ for the reformation of the state,
    which banished Benedetto Alberti and admonished all the rest of his
    family except Antonio. Before his departure, Benedetto called them
    together, and observing their melancholy demeanor, said, "You see, my
    fathers, and you the elders of our house, how fortune has ruined me
    and threatened you. I am not surprised at this, neither ought you to
    be so, for it always happens thus to those who among a multitude of
    the wicked, wish to act rightly, and endeavor to sustain, what the
    many seek to destroy. The love of my country made me take part with
    Salvestro de Medici and afterward separated me from Giorgio Scali. The
    same cause compelled me to detest those who now govern, who having
    none to punish them, will allow no one to reprove their misdeeds. I am
    content that my banishment should deliver them from the fears they
    entertain, not of me only, but of all who they think perceives or is
    acquainted wit their tyrannical and wicked proceedings; and they have
    aimed their first blow at me, in order the more easily to oppress you.
    I do not grieve on my own account; for those honors which my country
    bestowed upon me while free, she cannot in her slavery take from me;
    and the recollection of my past life will always give me greater
    pleasure than the pain imparted by the sorrows of exile. I deeply
    regret that my country is left a prey to the greediness and pride of
    the few who keep her in subjection. I grieve for you; for I fear that
    the evils which this day cease to affect me, and commence with you,
    will pursue you with even greater malevolence than they have me.
    Comfort, then, each other; resolve to bear up against every
    misfortune, and conduct yourselves in such a manner, that when
    disasters befall you (and there will be many), every one may know they
    have come upon you undeservedly." Not to give a worse impression of
    his virtue abroad than he had done at home, he made a journey to the
    sepulcher of Christ, and while upon his return, died at Rhodes. His
    remains were brought to Florence, and interred with all possible
    honors, by those who had persecuted him, when alive, with every
    species of calumny and injustice.

    The family of the Alberti was not the only injured party during these
    troubles of the city; for many others were banished and admonished. Of
    the former were Piero Benini, Matteo Alderotti, Giovanni and Francesco
    del Bene, Giovanni Benci, Andrea Adimari, and with them many members
    of the minor trades. Of the admonished were the Covini, Benini,
    Rinucci, Formiconi, Corbizzi, Manelli, and Alderotti. It was customary
    to create the Balia for a limited time; and when the citizens elected
    had effected the purpose of their appointment, they resigned the
    office from motives of good feeling and decency, although the time
    allowed might not have expired. In conformity with this laudable
    practice, the Balia of that period, supposing they had accomplished
    all that was expected of them, wished to retire; but when the
    multitude were acquainted with their intention, they ran armed to the
    palace, and insisted, that before resigning their power, many other
    persons should be banished and admonished. This greatly displeased the
    signors; but without disclosing the extent of their displeasure, they
    contrived to amuse the multitude with promises, till they had
    assembled a sufficient body of armed men, and then took such measures,
    that fear induced the people to lay aside the weapons which madness
    had led them to take up. Nevertheless, in some degree to gratify the
    fury of the mob, and to reduce the authority of the plebeian trades,
    it was provided, that as the latter had previously possessed a third
    of the honors, they should in future have only a fourth. That there
    might always be two of the signors particularly devoted to the
    government, they gave authority to the Gonfalonier of Justice, and
    four others, to form a ballot-purse of select citizens, from which, in
    every Signory, two should be drawn.

    This government from its establishment in 1381, till the alterations
    now made, had continued six years; and the internal peace of the city
    remained undisturbed until 1393. During this time, Giovanni Galeazzo
    Visconti, usually called the Count of Virtú, imprisoned his uncle
    Bernabo, and thus became sovereign of the whole of Lombardy. As he had
    become duke of Milan by fraud, he designed to make himself king of
    Italy by force. In 1391 he commenced a spirited attack upon the
    Florentines; but such various changes occurred in the course of the
    war, that he was frequently in greater danger than the Florentines
    themselves, who, though they made a brave and admirable defense, for a
    republic, must have been ruined, if he had survived. As it was, the
    result was attended with infinitely less evil than their fears of so
    powerful an enemy had led them to apprehend; for the duke having taken
    Bologna, Pisa, Perugia, and Sienna, and prepared a diadem with which
    to be crowned king of Italy at Florence, died before he had tasted the
    fruit of his victories, or the Florentines began to feel the effect of
    their disasters.
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