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    Chapter 29

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    Chapter 30
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    Cosmo de' Medici, his character and mode of proceedings--The
    greatness of Cosmo excites the jealousy of the citizens--The
    opinion of Niccolo da Uzzano--Scandalous divisions of the
    Florentines--Death of Niccolo da Uzzano--Bernardo Guadagni,
    Gonfalonier, adopts measures against Cosmo--Cosmo arrested in the
    palace--He is apprehensive of attempts against his life.

    During the war the malignant humors of the city were in constant
    activity. Cosmo de' Medici, after the death of Giovanni, engaged more
    earnestly in public affairs, and conducted himself with more zeal and
    boldness in regard to his friends than his father had done, so that
    those who rejoiced at Giovanni's death, finding what the son was
    likely to become, perceived they had no cause for exultation. Cosmo
    was one of the most prudent of men; of grave and courteous demeanor,
    extremely liberal and humane. He never attempted anything against
    parties, or against rulers, but was bountiful to all; and by the
    unwearied generosity of his disposition, made himself partisans of all
    ranks of the citizens. This mode of proceeding increased the
    difficulties of those who were in the government, and Cosmo himself
    hoped that by its pursuit he might be able to live in Florence as much
    respected and as secure as any other citizen; or if the ambition of
    his adversaries compelled him to adopt a different course, arms and
    the favor of his friends would enable him to become more so. Averardo
    de' Medici and Puccio Pucci were greatly instrumental in the
    establishment of his power; the former by his boldness, the latter by
    unusual prudence and sagacity, contributed to his aggrandizement.
    Indeed the advice of wisdom of Puccio were so highly esteemed, that
    Cosmo's party was rather distinguished by the name of Puccio than by
    his own.

    By this divided city the enterprise against Lucca was undertaken; and
    the bitterness of party spirit, instead of being abated, increased.
    Although the friends of Cosmo had been in favor of it, many of the
    adverse faction were sent to assist in the management, as being men of
    greater influence in the state. Averardo de' Medici and the rest being
    unable to prevent this, endeavored with all their might to calumniate
    them; and when any unfavorable circumstance occurred (and there were
    many), fortune and the exertions of the enemy were never supposed to
    be the causes, but solely the want of capacity in the commissary. This
    disposition aggravated the offenses of Astorre Gianni; this excited
    the indignation of Rinaldo degli Albizzi, and made him resign his
    commission without leave; this, too, compelled the captain of the
    people to require the appearance of Giovanni Guicciardini, and from
    this arose all the other charges which were made against the
    magistrates and the commissaries. Real evils were magnified, unreal
    ones feigned, and the true and the false were equally believed by the
    people, who were almost universally their foes.

    All these events and extraordinary modes of proceeding were perfectly
    known to Niccolo da Uzzano and the other leaders of the party; and
    they had often consulted together for the purpose of finding a remedy,
    but without effect; though they were aware of the danger of allowing
    them to increase, and the great difficulty that would attend any
    attempt to remove or abate them. Niccolo da Uzzano was the earliest to
    take offense; and while the war was proceeding without, and these
    troubles within, Niccolo Barbadoro desirous of inducing him to consent
    to the ruin of Cosmo, waited upon him at his house; and finding him
    alone in his study, and very pensive, endeavored, with the best
    reasons he could advance, to persuade him to agree with Rinaldo on
    Cosmo's expulsion. Niccolo da Uzzano replied as follows: "It would be
    better for thee and thy house, as well as for our republic, if thou
    and those who follow thee in this opinion had beards of silver instead
    of gold, as is said of thee; for advice proceeding from the hoary head
    of long experience would be wiser and of greater service to all. It
    appears to me, that those who talk of driving Cosmo out of Florence
    would do well to consider what is their strength, and what that of
    Cosmo. You have named one party, that of the nobility, the other that
    of the plebeians. If the fact corresponded with the name, the victory
    would still be most uncertain, and the example of the ancient nobility
    of this city, who were destroyed by the plebeians, ought rather to
    impress us with fear than with hope. We have, however, still further
    cause for apprehension from the division of our party, and the union
    of our adversaries. In the first place, Neri di Gino and Nerone di
    Nigi, two of our principal citizens, have never so fully declared
    their sentiments as to enable us to determine whether they are most
    our friends our those of our opponents. There are many families, even
    many houses, divided; many are opposed to us through envy of brothers
    or relatives. I will recall to your recollection two or three of the
    most important; you may think of the others at your leisure. Of the
    sons of Maso degli Albizzi, Luca, from envy of Rinaldo, has thrown
    himself into their hands. In the house of Guicciardini, of the sons of
    Luigi, Piero is the enemy of Giovanni and in favor of our adversaries.
    Tommaso and Niccolo Soderini openly oppose us on account of their
    hatred of their uncle Francesco. So that if we consider well what we
    are, and what our enemies, I cannot see why we should be called NOBLE
    any more than they. If it is because they are followed by the
    plebeians, we are in a worse condition on that account, and they in a
    better; for were it to come either to arms or to votes, we should not
    be able to resist them. True it is, we still preserve our dignity, our
    precedence, the priority of our position, but this arises from the
    former reputation of the government, which has now continued fifty
    years; and whenever we come to the proof, or they discover our
    weakness we shall lose it. If you were to say, the justice of our
    cause ought to augment our influence and diminish theirs I answer,
    that this justice requires to be perceived and believed by others as
    well as by ourselves, but this is not the case; for the justice of our
    cause is wholly founded upon our suspicion that Cosmo designs to make
    himself prince of the city. And although we entertain this suspicion
    and suppose it to be correct, others have it not; but what is worse,
    they charge us with the very design of which we accuse him. Those
    actions of Cosmo which lead us to suspect him are, that he lends money
    indiscriminately, and not to private persons only, but to the public;
    and not to Florentines only, but to the /condottieri/, the soldiers of
    fortune. Besides, he assists any citizen who requires magisterial aid;
    and, by the universal interest he possesses in the city, raises first
    one friend and then another to higher grades of honor. Therefore, to
    adduce our reasons for expelling him, would be to say that he is kind,
    generous, liberal, and beloved by all. Now tell me, what law is there
    which forbids, disapproves, or condemns men for being pious, liberal,
    and benevolent? And though they are all modes adopted by those who aim
    at sovereignty, they are not believed to be such, nor have we
    sufficient power to make them to be so esteemed; for our conduct has
    robbed us of confidence, and the city, naturally partial and (having
    always lived in faction) corrupt, cannot lend its attention to such
    charges. But even if we were successful in an attempt to expel him
    (which might easily happen under a favorable Signory), how could we
    (being surrounded by his innumerable friends, who would constantly
    reproach us, and ardently desire to see him again in the city) prevent
    his return? It would be impossible for they being so numerous, and
    having the good will of all upon their side, we should never be secure
    from them. And as many of his first discovered friends as you might
    expel, so many enemies would you make, so that in a short time he
    would return, and the result would be simply this, that we had driven
    him out a good man and he had returned to us a bad one; for his nature
    would be corrupted by those who recalled him, and he, being under
    obligation, could not oppose them. Or should you design to put him to
    death, you could not attain your purpose with the magistrates, for his
    wealth, and the corruption of your minds, will always save him. But
    let us suppose him put to death, or that being banished, he did not
    return, I cannot see how the condition of our republic would be
    ameliorated; for if we relieve her from Cosmo, we at once make her
    subject to Rinaldo, and it is my most earnest desire that no citizen
    may ever, in power and authority, surpass the rest. But if one of
    these must prevail, I know of no reason that should make me prefer
    Rinaldo to Cosmo. I shall only say, may God preserve the city from any
    of her citizens usurping the sovereignty, but if our sins have
    deserved this, in mercy save us from Rinaldo. I pray thee, therefore,
    do not advise the adoption of a course on every account pernicious,
    nor imagine that, in union with a few, you would be able to oppose the
    will of the many; for the citizens, some from ignorance and others
    from malice, are ready to sell the republic at any time, and fortune
    has so much favored them, that they have found a purchaser. Take my
    advice then; endeavor to live moderately; and with regard to liberty,
    you will find as much cause for suspicion in our party as in that of
    our adversaries. And when troubles arise, being of neither side, you
    will be agreeable to both, and you will thus provide for your own
    comfort and do no injury to any."

    These words somewhat abated the eagerness of Barbadoro, so that
    tranquillity prevailed during the war with Lucca. But this being
    ended, and Niccolo da Uzzano dead, the city being at peace and under
    no restraint, unhealthy humors increased with fearful rapidity.
    Rinaldo, considering himself now the leader of the party, constantly
    entreated and urged every citizen whom he thought likely to be
    Gonfalonier, to take up arms and deliver the country from him who,
    from the malevolence of a few and the ignorance of the multitude, was
    inevitably reducing it to slavery. These practices of Rinaldo, and
    those of the contrary side, kept the city full of apprehension, so
    that whenever a magistracy was created, the numbers of each party
    composing it were made publicly known, and upon drawing for the
    Signory the whole city was aroused. Every case brought before the
    magistrates, however trivial, was made a subject of contention among
    them. Secrets were divulged, good and evil alike became objects of
    favor and opposition, the benevolent and the wicked were alike
    assailed, and no magistrate fulfilled the duties of his office with

    In this state of confusion, Rinaldo, anxious to abate the power of
    Cosmo, and knowing that Bernardo Guadagni was likely to become
    Gonfalonier, paid his arrears of taxes, that he might not, by being
    indebted to the public, be incapacitated for holding the office. The
    drawing soon after took place, and fortune, opposed to our welfare,
    caused Bernardo to be appointed for the months of September and
    October. Rinaldo immediately waited upon him, and intimated how much
    the party of the nobility, and all who wished for repose, rejoiced to
    find he had attained that dignity; that it now rested with him to act
    in such a manner as to realize their pleasing expectations. He then
    enlarged upon the danger of disunion, and endeavored to show that
    there was no means of attaining the blessing of unity but by the
    destruction of Cosmo, for he alone, by the popularity acquired with
    his enormous wealth, kept them depressed; that he was already so
    powerful, that if not hindered, he would soon become prince, and that
    it was the part of a good citizen, in order to prevent such a
    calamity, to assemble the people in the piazza, and restore liberty to
    his country. Rinaldo then reminded the new Gonfalonier how Salvestro
    de' Medici was able, though unjustly, to restrain the power of the
    Guelphs, to whom, by the blood of their ancestors, shed in its cause,
    the government rightly belonged; and argued that what he was able
    unjustly to accomplish against so many, might surely be easily
    performed with justice in its favor against one! He encouraged him
    with the assurance that their friends would be ready in arms to
    support him; that he need not regard the plebeians, who adored Cosmo,
    since their assistance would be of no greater avail than Giorgio Scali
    had found it on a similar occasion; and that with regard to his
    wealth, no apprehension was necessary, for when he was under the power
    of the Signory, his riches would be so too. In conclusion, he averred
    that this course would unite and secure the republic, and crown the
    Gonfalonier with glory. Bernardo briefly replied, that he thought it
    necessary to act exactly as Rinaldo had advised, and that as the time
    was suitable for action, he should provide himself with forces, being
    assured from what Rinaldo had said, he would be supported by his

    Bernardo entered upon the duties of his office, prepared his
    followers, and having concerted with Rinaldo, summoned Cosmo, who,
    though many friends dissuaded him from it, obeyed the call, trusting
    more to his own innocence than to the mercy of the Signory. As soon as
    he had entered the palace he was arrested. Rinaldo, with a great
    number of armed men, and accompanied by nearly the whole of his party,
    proceeded to the piazza, when the Signory assembled the people, and
    created a Balia of two hundred persons for the reformation of the
    city. With the least possible delay they entered upon the
    consideration of reform, and of the life or death of Cosmo. Many
    wished him to be banished, others to be put to death, and several were
    silent, either from compassion toward him or for fear of the rest, so
    that these differences prevented them from coming to any conclusion.

    There is an apartment in the tower of the palace which occupies the
    whole of one floor, and is called the Alberghettino, in which Cosmo
    was confined, under the charge of Federigo Malavolti. In this place,
    hearing the assembly of the Councils, the noise of arms which
    proceeded from the piazza, and the frequent ringing of the bell to
    assemble the Balia, he was greatly apprehensive for his safety, but
    still more less his private enemies should cause him to be put to
    death in some unusual manner. He scarcely took any food, so that in
    four days he ate only a small quantity of bread, Federigo, observing
    his anxiety, said to him, "Cosmo, you are afraid of being poisoned,
    and are evidently hastening your end with hunger. You wrong me if you
    think I would be a party to such an atrocious act. I do not imagine
    your life to be in much danger, since you have so many friends both
    within the palace and without; but if you should eventually lose it,
    be assured they will use some other medium than myself for that
    purpose, for I will never imbue my hands in the blood of any, still
    less in yours, who never injured me; therefore cheer up, take some
    food, and preserve your life for your friends and your country. And
    that you may do so with greater assurance, I will partake of your
    meals with you." These words were of great relief to Cosmo, who, with
    tears in his eyes, embraced and kissed Federigo, earnestly thanking
    him for so kind and affectionate conduct, and promising, if ever the
    opportunity were given him, he would not be ungrateful.
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