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    Chapter 23

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    Chapter 24
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    Maso degli Albizzi--His violence excites the anger of the people--
    They have recourse to Veri de' Medici--The modesty of Veri--He
    refuses to assume the dignity of prince, and appeases the people--
    Discourse of Veri to the Signory--The banished Florentines
    endeavor to return--They secretly enter the city and raise a
    tumult--Some of them slain, others taken to the church of St.
    Reparata--A conspiracy of exiles supported by the duke of Milan--
    The conspiracy discovered and the parties punished--Various
    enterprises of the Florentines--Taking of Pisa--War with the king
    of Naples--Acquisition of Cortona.

    During the war with the duke of Milan the office of Gonfalonier of
    Justice fell to Maso degli Albizzi, who by the death of Piero in 1379,
    had become the inveterate enemy of the Alberti: and as party feeling
    is incapable either of repose or abatement, he determined,
    notwithstanding Benedetto had died in exile, that before the
    expiration of his magistracy, he would revenge himself on the
    remainder of that family. He seized the opportunity afforded by a
    person, who on being examined respecting correspondence maintained
    with the rebels, accused Andrea and Alberto degli Alberti of such
    practices. They were immediately arrested, which so greatly excited
    the people, that the Signory, having provided themselves with an armed
    force, called the citizens to a general assembly or parliament, and
    appointed a Balia, by whose authority many were banished, and a new
    ballot for the offices of government was made. Among the banished were
    nearly all the Alberti; many members of the trades were admonished,
    and some put to death. Stung by these numerous injuries, the trades
    and the lowest of the people rose in arms, considering themselves
    despoiled both of honor and life. One body of them assembled in the
    piazza; another ran to the house of Veri de' Medici, who, after the
    death of Salvestro, was head of the family. The Signory, in order to
    appease those who came to the piazza or court of the palace, gave them
    for leaders, with the ensigns of the Guelphs and of the people in
    their hands, Rinaldo Gianfigliazzi, and Donato Acciajuoli, both men of
    the popular class, and more attached to the interests of the plebeians
    than any other. Those who went to the house of Veri de' Medici, begged
    that he would be pleased to undertake the government, and free them
    from the tyranny of those citizens who were destroying the peace and
    safety of the commonwealth.

    It is agreed by all who have written concerning the events of this
    period, that if Veri had had more ambition than integrity he might
    without any impediment have become prince of the city; for the
    unfeeling treatment which, whether right or wrong, had been inflicted
    upon the trades and their friends, had so excited the minds of men to
    vengeance, that all they required was some one to be their leader. Nor
    were there wanting those who could inform him of the state of public
    feeling; for Antonio de' Medici with whom he had for some time been
    upon terms of most intimate friendship, endeavored to persuade him to
    undertake the government of the republic. To this Veri replied: "Thy
    menaces when thou wert my enemy, never alarmed me; nor shall thy
    counsel, now when thou art my friend, do me any harm." Then, turning
    toward the multitude, he bade them be of good cheer; for he would be
    their defender, if they would allow themselves to be advised by him.
    He then went, accompanied by a great number of citizens, to the
    piazza, and proceeded directly to the audience chamber of the Signory,
    whom he addressed to this effect: That he could not regret having
    lived so as to gain the love of the Florentines; but he was sorry they
    had formed an opinion of him which his past life had not warranted;
    for never having done anything that could be construed as either
    factious or ambitious, he could not imagine how it had happened, that
    they should think him willing to stir up strife as a discontented
    person, or usurp the government of his country like an ambitious one.
    He therefore begged that the infatuation of the multitude might not
    injure him in their estimation; for, to the utmost of his power, their
    authority should be restored. He then recommended them to use good
    fortune with moderation; for it would be much better to enjoy an
    imperfect victory with safety to the city, than a complete one at her
    ruin. The Signory applauded Veri's conduct; begged he would endeavor
    to prevent recourse to arms, and promised that what he and the other
    citizens might deem most advisable should be done. Veri then returned
    to the piazza, where the people who had followed him were joined by
    those led by Donato and Rinaldo, and informed the united companies
    that he had found the Signory most kindly disposed toward them; that
    many things had been taken into consideration, which the shortness of
    time, and the absence of the magistrates, rendered incapable of being
    finished. He therefore begged they would lay down their arms and obey
    the Signory; assuring them that humility would prevail rather than
    pride, entreaties rather than threats; and if they would take his
    advice, their privileges and security would remain unimpaired. He thus
    induced them to return peaceably to their homes.

    The disturbance having subsided, the Signory armed the piazza,
    enrolled 2,000 of the most trusty citizens, who were divided equally
    by Gonfalons, and ordered to be in readiness to give their assistance
    whenever required; and they forbade the use of arms to all who were
    not thus enrolled. Having adopted these precautionary measures, they
    banished and put to death many of those members of the trades who had
    shown the greatest audacity in the late riots; and to invest the
    office of Gonfalonier of Justice with more authoritative majesty, they
    ordered that no one should be eligible to it, under forty-five years
    of age. Many other provisions for the defense of the state were made,
    which appeared intolerable to those against whom they were directed,
    and were odious even to the friends of the Signory themselves, for
    they could not believe a government to be either good or secure, which
    needed so much violence for its defense, a violence excessively
    offensive, not only to those of the Alberti who remained in the city,
    and to the Medici, who felt themselves injured by these proceedings,
    but also to many others. The first who attempted resistance was
    Donato, the son of Jacopo Acciajuoli, who thought of great authority,
    and the superior rather than the equal of Maso degli Albizzi (who on
    account of the events which took place while he was Gonfalonier of
    Justice, was almost at the head of the republic), could not enjoy
    repose amid such general discontent, or, like many others, convert
    social evils to his own private advantage, and therefore resolved to
    attempt the restoration of the exiles to their country, or at least
    their offices to the admonished. He went from one to another,
    disseminating his views, showing that the people would not be
    satisfied, or the ferment of parties subside, without the changes he
    proposed; and declared that if he were in the Signory, he would soon
    carry them into effect. In human affairs, delay causes tedium, and
    haste danger. To avoid what was tedious, Donato Acciajuoli resolved to
    attempt what involved danger. Michele Acciajuoli his relative, and
    Niccolo Ricoveri his friend, were of the Signory. This seemed to
    Donato a conjuncture of circumstances too favorable to be lost, and he
    requested they would propose a law to the councils, which would
    include the restoration of the citizens. They, at his entreaty, spoke
    about the matter to their associates, who replied, that it was
    improper to attempt any innovation in which the advantage was doubtful
    and the danger certain. Upon this, Donato, having in vain tried all
    other means he could think of, excited with anger, gave them to
    understand that since they would not allow the city to be governed
    with peaceful measures, he would try what could be done with arms.
    These words gave so great offense, that being communicated to the
    heads of the government, Donato was summoned, and having appeared, the
    truth was proven by those to whom he had intrusted the message, and he
    was banished to Barletta. Alamanno and Antonio de' Medici were also
    banished, and all those of that family, who were descended from
    Alamanno, with many who, although of the inferior artificers,
    possessed influence with the plebeians. These events took place two
    years after the reform of government effected by Maso degli Albizzi.

    At this time many discontented citizens were at home, and others
    banished in the adjoining states. Of the latter there lived at Bologna
    Picchio Cavicciulli, Tommaso de' Ricci, Antonio de' Medici, Benedetto
    degli Spini, Antonio Girolami, Cristofano di Carlone, and two others
    of the lowest order, all bold young men, and resolved upon returning
    to their country at any hazard. These were secretly told by Piggiello
    and Baroccio Cavicciulli, who, being admonished, lived in Florence,
    that if they came to the city they should be concealed in their house;
    from which they might afterward issue, slay Maso degli Albizzi, and
    call the people to arms, who, full of discontent, would willingly
    arise, particularly as they would be supported by the Ricci, Adimari,
    Medici, Manelli, and many other families. Excited with these hopes, on
    the fourth of August, 1397, they came to Florence, and having entered
    unobserved according to their arrangement, they sent one of their
    party to watch Maso, designing with his death to raise the people.
    Maso was observed to leave his house and proceed to that of an
    apothecary, near the church of San Pietro Maggiore, which he entered.
    The man who went to watch him ran to give information to the other
    conspirators, who took their arms and hastened to the house of the
    apothecary, but found that Maso had gone. However, undaunted with the
    failure of their first attempt, they proceeded to the Old Market,
    where they slew one of the adverse party, and with loud cries of
    "people, arms, liberty, and death to the tyrants," directed their
    course toward the New Market, and at the end of the Calimala slew
    another. Pursuing their course with the same cries, and finding no one
    join them in arms, they stopped at the Loggia Nighittosa, where, from
    an elevated situation, being surrounded with a great multitude,
    assembled to look on rather than assist them, they exhorted the men to
    take arms and deliver themselves from the slavery which weighed so
    heavily upon them; declaring that the complaints of the discontented
    in the city, rather than their own grievances, had induced them to
    attempt their deliverance. They had heard that many prayed to God for
    an opportunity of avenging themselves, and vowed they would use it
    whenever they found anyone to conduct them; but now, when the
    favorable circumstances occurred, and they found those who were ready
    to lead them, they stared at each other like men stupefied, and would
    wait till those who were endeavoring to recover for them their liberty
    were slain, and their own chains more strongly riveted upon them; they
    wondered that those who were wont to take arms upon slight occasions,
    remained unmoved under the pressure of so many and so great evils; and
    that they could willingly suffer such numbers of their fellow-citizens
    to be banished, so many admonished, when it was in their power to
    restore the banished to their country, and the admonished to the
    honors of the state. These words, although full of truth, produced no
    effect upon those to whom they were addressed; for they were either
    restrained by their fears, or, on account of the two murders which had
    been committed, disgusted with the parties. Thus the movers of the
    tumult, finding that neither words or deeds had force sufficient to
    stir anyone, saw, when too late, how dangerous a thing it is to
    attempt to set a people free who are resolved to be slaves; and,
    despairing of success, they withdrew to the temple of Santa Reparata,
    where, not to save their lives, but to defer the moment of their
    deaths, they shut themselves up. Upon the first rumor of the affair,
    the Signory being in fear, armed and secured the palace; but when the
    facts of the case were understood, the parties known, and whither they
    had betaken themselves, their fears subsided, and they sent the
    Capitano with a sufficient body of armed men to secure them. The gates
    of the temple were forced without much trouble; part of the
    conspirators were slain defending themselves; the remainder were made
    prisoners and examined, but none were found implicated in the affair
    except Baroccio and Piggiello Cavicciulli, who were put to death with

    Shortly after this event, another occurred of greater importance. The
    Florentines were, as we have before remarked, at war with the duke of
    Milan, who, finding that with merely open force he could not overcome
    them, had recourse to secret practices, and with the assistance of the
    exiles of whom Lombardy was full, he formed a plot to which many in
    the city were accessory. It was resolved by the conspirators that most
    of the emigrants, capable of bearing arms, should set out from the
    places nearest Florence, enter the city by the river Arno, and with
    their friends hasten to the residences of the chiefs of the
    government; and having slain them, reform the republic according to
    their own will. Of the conspirators within the city, was one of the
    Ricci named Samminiato; and as it often happens in treacherous
    practices, few are insufficient to effect the purpose of the plot, and
    among many secrecy cannot be preserved, so while Samminiato was in
    quest of associates, he found an accuser. He confided the affair to
    Salvestro Cavicciulli, whose wrongs and those of his friends were
    thought sufficient to make him faithful; but he, more influenced by
    immediate fear than the hope of future vengeance, discovered the whole
    affair to the Signory, who, having caused Samminiato to be taken,
    compelled him to tell all the particulars of the matter. However, none
    of the conspirators were taken, except Tommaso Davizi, who, coming
    from Bologna, and unaware of what had occurred at Florence, was seized
    immediately upon his arrival. All the others had fled immediately upon
    the apprehension of Samminiato.

    Samminiato and Tommaso having been punished according to their
    deserts, a Balia was formed of many citizens, which sought the
    delinquents, and took measures for the security of the state. They
    declared six of the family of the Ricci rebels; also, six of the
    Alberti; two of the Medici; three of the Scali; two of the Strozzi;
    Bindo Altoviti, Bernado Adimari, and many others of inferior quality.
    They admonished all the family of the Alberti, the Ricci, and the
    Medici for ten years, except a few individuals. Among the Alberti, not
    admonished, was Antonio, who was thought to be quiet and peaceable. It
    happened, however, before all suspicion of the conspiracy had ceased,
    a monk was taken who had been observed during its progress to pass
    frequently between Bologna and Florence. He confessed that he had
    often carried letters to Antonio, who was immediately seized, and,
    though he denied all knowledge of the matter from the first, the
    monk's accusation prevailed, and he was fined in a considerable sum of
    money, and banished a distance of three hundred miles from Florence.
    That the Alberti might not constantly place the city in jeopardy,
    every member of the family was banished whose age exceeded fifteen

    These events took place in the year 1400, and two years afterward, died
    Giovanni Galeazzo, duke of Milan, whose death as we have said above,
    put an end to the war, which had then continued twelve years. At this
    time, the government having gained greater strength, and being without
    enemies external or internal, undertook the conquest of Pisa, and
    having gloriously completed it, the peace of the city remained
    undisturbed from 1400 to 1433, except that in 1412, the Alberti,
    having crossed the boundary they were forbidden to pass, a Balia was
    formed which with new provisions fortified the state and punished the
    offenders with heavy fines. During this period also, the Florentines
    made war with Ladislaus, king of Naples, who finding himself in great
    danger ceded to them the city of Cortona of which he was master; but
    soon afterward, recovering his power, he renewed the war, which became
    far more disastrous to the Florentines than before; and had it not, in
    1414, been terminated by his death, as that of Lombardy had been by
    the death of the duke of Milan, he, like the duke, would have brought
    Florence into great danger of losing her liberty. Nor was the war with
    the king concluded with less good fortune than the former; for when he
    had taken Rome, Sienna, the whole of La Marca and Romagna, and had
    only Florence itself to vanquish, he died. Thus death has always been
    more favorable to the Florentines than any other friend, and more
    potent to save them than their own valor. From the time of the king's
    decease, peace was preserved both at home and abroad for eight years,
    at the end of which, with the wars of Filippo, duke of Milan, the
    spirit of faction again broke out, and was only appeased by the ruin
    of that government which continued from 1381 to 1434, had conducted
    with great glory so many enterprises; acquired Arezzo, Pisa, Cortona,
    Leghorn, and Monte Pulciano; and would have accomplished more if the
    citizens had lived in unity, and had not revived former factions; as
    in the following book will be particularly shown.
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