Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "You don't need fancy highbrow traditions or money to really learn. You just need people with the desire to better themselves."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 27

    • Rate it:
    • 2 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 28
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER IV

    Death of Giovanni de' Medici--His character--Insurrection of
    Volterra--Volterra returns to her allegiance--Niccolo Fortebraccio
    attacks the Lucchese--Diversity of opinion about the Lucchese war
    --War with Lucca--Astore Gianni and Rinaldo degli Albizzi
    appointed commissaries--Violence of Astorre Gianni.

    About this time Giovanni de' Medici was taken ill, and finding his end
    approach, called his sons Cosmo and Lorenzo to him, to give them his
    last advice, and said, "I find I have nearly reached the term which
    God and nature appointed at my birth, and I die content, knowing that
    I leave you rich, healthy, and of such standing in society, that if
    you pursue the same course that I have, you will live respected in
    Florence, and in favor with everyone. Nothing cheers me so much at
    this moment, as the recollection that I have never willfully offended
    anyone; but have always used my utmost endeavors to confer benefits
    upon all. I would have you do so too. With regard to state affairs, if
    you would live in security, take just such a share as the laws and
    your countrymen think proper to bestow, thus you will escape both
    danger and envy; for it is not what is given to any individual, but
    what he has determined to possess, that occasions odium. You will thus
    have a larger share than those who endeavor to engross more than
    belongs to them; for they thus usually lose their own, and before they
    lose it, live in constant disquiet. By adopting this method, although
    among so many enemies, and surrounded by so many conflicting
    interests, I have not only maintained my reputation but increased my
    influence. If you pursue the same course, you will be attended by the
    same good fortune; if otherwise, you may be assured, your end will
    resemble that of those who in our own times have brought ruin both
    upon themselves and their families." Soon after this interview with
    his sons, Giovanni died, regretted by everyone, as his many
    excellencies deserved. He was compassionate; not only bestowing alms
    on those who asked them, but very frequently relieving the necessities
    of the poor, without having been solicited so to do. He loved all;
    praised the good, and pitied the infirmities of the wicked. He never
    sought the honors of government; yet enjoyed them all; and never went
    to the palace unless by request. He loved peace and shunned war;
    relieved mankind in adversity, and assisted them in prosperity; never
    applied the public money to his own uses, but contributed to the
    public wealth. He was courteous in office; not a man of great
    eloquence, but possessed of extraordinary prudence. His demeanor
    expressed melancholy; but after a short time his conversation became
    pleasant and facetious. He died exceedingly rich in money, but still
    more in good fame and the best wishes of mankind; and the wealth and
    respect he left behind him were not only preserved but increased by
    his son Cosmo.

    The Volterran ambassadors grew weary of lying in prison, and to obtain
    their liberty promised to comply with the commands of the Florentines.
    Being set free and returned to their city, the time arrived for the
    new Priors to enter upon office, and among those who were drawn, was
    one named Giusto, a plebeian, but possessing great influence with his
    class, and one of those who had been imprisoned at Florence. He, being
    inflamed with hatred against the Florentines on account of his public
    as well as personal injuries, was further stimulated by Giovanni di
    Contugi, a man of noble family, and his colleague in office, to induce
    the people, by the authority of the Priors and his own influence, to
    withdraw their country from the power of the Florentines, and make
    himself prince. Prompted by these motives, Giusto took arms, rode
    through the city, seized the Capitano, who resided in it, on behalf of
    the Florentines, and with the consent of the people, became lord of
    Volterra. This circumstance greatly displeased the Florentines; but
    having just made peace with the duke, and the treaty being yet
    uninfringed on either side, they bethought themselves in a condition
    to recover the place; and that the opportunity might not be lost, they
    immediately appointed Rinaldo degli Albizzi and Palla Strozzi
    commissaries, and sent them upon the expedition. In the meantime,
    Giusto, who expected the Florentines would attack him, requested
    assistance of Lucca and Sienna. The latter refused, alleging her
    alliance with Florence; and Pagolo Guinigi, to regain the favor of the
    Florentines, which he imagined he had lost in the war with the duke
    and by his friendship for Filippo, not only refused assistance to
    Giusto, but sent his messenger prisoner to Florence.

    The commissaries, to come upon the Volterrani unawares, assembled
    their cavalry, and having raised a good body of infantry in the Val
    d'Arno Inferiore, and the country about Pisa, proceeded to Volterra.
    Although attacked by the Florentines and abandoned by his neighbors,
    Giusto did not yield to fear; but, trusting to the strength of the
    city and the ruggedness of the country around it, prepared for his
    defense.

    There lived at Volterra one Arcolano, brother of that Giovanni Contugi
    who had persuaded Giusto to assume the command. He possessed influence
    among the nobility, and having assembled a few of his most
    confidential friends, he assured them that by this event, God had come
    to the relief of their necessities; for if they would only take arms,
    deprive Giusto of the Signory, and give up the city to the
    Florentines, they might be sure of obtaining the principal offices,
    and the place would retain all its ancient privileges. Having gained
    them over, they went to the palace in which Giusto resided; and while
    part of them remained below, Arcolano, with three others, proceeded to
    the chamber above, where finding him with some citizens, they drew him
    aside, as if desirous to communicate something of importance, and
    conversing on different subjects, let him to the lower apartment, and
    fell upon him with their swords. They, however, were not so quick as
    to prevent Giusto from making use of his own weapon; for with it he
    seriously wounded two of them; but being unable to resist so many, he
    was at last slain, and his body thrown into the street. Arcolano and
    his party gave up the city to the Florentine commissaries, who, being
    at hand with their forces, immediately took possession; but the
    condition of Volterra was worse than before; for among other things
    which operated to her disadvantage, most of the adjoining countryside
    was separated from her, and she was reduced to the rank of a
    vicariate.

    Volterra having been lost and recovered almost at the same time,
    present circumstances afforded nothing of sufficient importance to
    occasion a new war, if ambition had not again provoked one. Niccolo
    Fortebraccio, the son of a sister of Braccio da Perugia, had been in
    the service of the Florentines during most of their wars with the
    duke. Upon the restoration of peace he was discharged; but when the
    affair of Volterra took place, being encamped with his people at
    Fucecchio, the commissaries availed themselves both of himself and his
    forces. Some thought that while Rinaldo conducted the expedition along
    with him, he persuaded him, under one pretext or another, to attack
    the Lucchese, assuring him, that if he did so, the Florentines would
    consent to undertake an expedition against them, and would appoint him
    to the command. When Volterra was recovered, and Niccolo returned to
    his quarters at Fucecchio, he, either at the persuasion of Rinaldo, or
    of his own accord, in November, 1429, took possession of Ruoti and
    Compito, castles belonging to the Lucchese, with three hundred cavalry
    and as many infantry, and then descending into the plain, plundered
    the inhabitants to a vast amount. The news of this incursion having
    reached Florence, persons of all classes were seen gathered in parties
    throughout the city discussing the matter, and nearly all were in
    favor of an expedition against Lucca. Of the Grandees thus disposed,
    were the Medici and their party, and with them also Rinaldo, either
    because he thought the enterprise beneficial to the republic, or
    induced by his own ambition and the expectation of being appointed to
    the command. Niccolo da Uzzano and his party were opposed to the war.
    It seems hardly credible that such contrary opinions should prevail,
    though at different times, in the same men and the same city, upon the
    subject of war; for the same citizens and people that, during the ten
    years of peace had incessantly blamed the war undertaken against Duke
    Filippo, in defense of liberty, now, after so much expense and
    trouble, with their utmost energy, insisted on hostilities against
    Lucca, which, if successful, would deprive that city of her liberty;
    while those who had been in favor of a war with the duke, were opposed
    to the present; so much more ready are the multitude to covet the
    possessions of others than to preserve their own, and so much more
    easily are they led by the hope of acquisition than by the fear of
    loss. The suggestions of the latter appear incredible till they are
    verified; and the pleasing anticipations of the former are cherished
    as facts, even while the advantages are very problematical, or at
    best, remote. The people of Florence were inspired with hope, by the
    acquisitions which Niccolo Fortebraccio had made, and by letters
    received from their rectors in the vicinity of Lucca; for their
    deputies at Vico and Pescia had written, that if permission were given
    to them to receive the castles that offered to surrender, the whole
    country of Lucca would very soon be obtained. It must, however, be
    added, that an ambassador was sent by the governor of Lucca to
    Florence, to complain of the attack made by Niccolo, and to entreat
    that the Signory would not make war against a neighbor, and a city
    that had always been friendly to them. The ambassador was Jacopo
    Viviani, who, a short time previously, had been imprisoned by Pagolo
    Guinigi, governor of Lucca, for having conspired against him. Although
    he had been found guilty, his life was spared, and as Pagolo thought
    the forgiveness mutual, he reposed confidence in him. Jacopo, more
    mindful of the danger he had incurred than of the lenity exercised
    toward him, on his arrival in Florence secretly instigated the
    citizens to hostilities; and these instigations, added to other hopes,
    induced the Signory to call the Council together, at which 498
    citizens assembled, before whom the principal men of the city
    discussed the question.

    Among the first who addressed the assembly in favor of the expedition,
    was Rinaldo. He pointed out the advantage that would accrue from the
    acquisition, and justified the enterprise from its being left open to
    them by the Venetians and the duke, and that as the pope was engaged
    in the affairs of Naples, he could not interfere. He then remarked
    upon the facility of the expedition, showing that Lucca, being now in
    bondage to one of her own citizens, had lost her natural vigor and
    former anxiety for the preservation of her liberty, and would either
    be surrendered to them by the people in order to expel the tyrant, or
    by the tyrant for fear of the people. He recalled the remembrance of
    the injuries done to the republic by the governor of Lucca; his
    malevolent disposition toward them; and their embarrassing situation
    with regard to him, if the pope or the duke were to make war upon
    them; and concluded that no enterprise was ever undertaken by the
    people of Florence with such perfect facility, more positive
    advantage, or greater justice in its favor.

    In a reply to this, Niccolo da Uzzano stated that the city of Florence
    never entered on a more unjust or more dangerous project, or one more
    pregnant with evil, than this. In the first place they were going to
    attack a Guelphic city, that had always been friendly to the
    Florentine people, and had frequently, at great hazard, received the
    Guelphs into her bosom when they were expelled from their own country.
    That in the history of the past there was not an instance, while Lucca
    was free, of her having done an injury to the Florentines; and that if
    they had been injured by her enslavers, as formerly by Castruccio, and
    now by the present governor, the fault was not in the city, but in her
    tyrant. That if they could assail the latter without detriment to the
    people, he should have less scruple, but as this was impossible, he
    could not consent that a city which had been friendly to Florence
    should be plundered of her wealth. However, as it was usual at present
    to pay little or no regard either to equity or injustice, he would
    consider the matter solely with reference to the advantage of
    Florence. He thought that what could not easily be attended by
    pernicious consequences might be esteemed useful, but he could not
    imagine how an enterprise should be called advantageous in which the
    evils were certain and the utility doubtful. The certain evils were
    the expenses with which it would be attended; and these, he foresaw,
    would be sufficiently great to alarm even a people that had long been
    in repose, much more one wearied, as they were, by a tedious and
    expensive war. The advantage that might be gained was the acquisition
    of Lucca, which he acknowledged to be great; but the hazards were so
    enormous and immeasurable, as in his opinion to render the conquest
    quite impossible. He could not induce himself to believe that the
    Venetians, or Filippo, would willingly allow them to make the
    acquisition; for the former only consented in appearance, in order to
    avoid the semblance of ingratitude, having so lately, with Florentine
    money, acquired such an extent of dominion. That as regarded the duke,
    it would greatly gratify him to see them involved in new wars and
    expenses; for, being exhausted and defeated on all sides, he might
    again assail them; and that if, after having undertaken it, their
    enterprise against Lucca were to prove successful, and offer them the
    fullest hope of victory, the duke would not want an opportunity of
    frustrating their labors, either by assisting the Lucchese secretly
    with money, or by apparently disbanding his own troops, and then
    sending them, as if they were soldiers of fortune, to their relief. He
    therefore advised that they should give up the idea, and behave toward
    the tyrant in such a way as to create him as many enemies as possible;
    for there was no better method of reducing Lucca than to let them live
    under the tyrant, oppressed and exhausted by him; for, if prudently
    managed, that city would soon get into such a condition that he could
    not retain it, and being ignorant or unable to govern itself, it must
    of necessity fall into their power. But he saw that his discourse did
    not please them, and that his words were unheeded; he would, however,
    predict this to them, that they were about to commence a war in which
    they would expend vast sums, incur great domestic dangers, and instead
    of becoming masters of Lucca, they would deliver her from her tyrant,
    and of a friendly city, feeble and oppressed, they would make one free
    and hostile, and that in time she would become an obstacle to the
    greatness of their own republic.

    The question having been debated on both sides, they proceeded to
    vote, as usual, and of the citizens present only ninety-eight were
    against the enterprise. Thus determined in favor of war, they
    appointed a Council of Ten for its management, and hired forces, both
    horse and foot. Astorre Gianni and Rinaldo degli Albizzi were
    appointed commissaries, and Niccolo Fortebraccio, on agreeing to give
    up to the Florentines the places he had taken, was engaged to conduct
    the enterprise as their captain. The commissaries having arrived with
    the army in the country of the Lucchese, divided their forces; one
    part of which, under Astorre, extended itself along the plain, toward
    Camaiore and Pietrasanta, while Rinaldo, with the other division, took
    the direction of the hills, presuming that when the citizens found
    themselves deprived of the surrounding country, they would easily
    submit. The proceedings of the commissaries were unfortunate, not that
    they failed to occupy many places, but from the complaints made
    against them of mismanaging the operations of the war; and Astorre
    Gianni had certainly given very sufficient cause for the charges
    against him.

    There is a fertile and populous valley near Pietrasanta, called
    Seravezza, whose inhabitants, on learning the arrival of the
    commissary, presented themselves before him and begged he would
    receive them as faithful subjects of the Florentine republic. Astorre
    pretended to accept their proposal, but immediately ordered his forces
    to take possession of all the passes and strong positions of the
    valley, assembled the men in the principal church, took them all
    prisoners, and then caused his people to plunder and destroy the whole
    country, with the greatest avarice and cruelty, making no distinction
    in favor of consecrated places, and violating the women, both married
    and single. These things being known in Florence, displeased not only
    the magistracy, but the whole city.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 28
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Niccolo Machiavelli essay and need some advice, post your Niccolo Machiavelli essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?