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Chapter 13


War with Castruccio--Castruccio marches against Prato and retires
without making any attempt--The emigrants not being allowed to
return, endeavor to enter the city by force, and are repulsed--
Change in the mode of electing the great officers of state--The
Squittini established--The Florentines under Raymond of Cardona
are routed by Castruccio at Altopascio--Treacherous designs of
Raymond--The Florentines give the sovereignty of the city to
Charles duke of Cambria, who appoints the duke of Athens for his
vicar--The duke of Calabria comes to Florence--The Emperor Louis
of Bavaria visits Italy--The excitement he produces--Death of
Castruccio and of Charles duke of Calabria--Reform of government.

About the same time, Uguccione lost the sovereignty of Lucca and of
Pisa, and Castruccio Castracani, a citizen of Lucca, became lord of
them, who, being a young man, bold and fierce, and fortunate in his
enterprises, in a short time became the head of the Ghibellines in
Tuscany. On this account the discords among the Florentines were laid
aside for some years, at first to abate the increasing power of
Castruccio, and afterward to unite their means for mutual defense
against him. And in order to give increased strength and efficacy to
their counsels, the Signory appointed twelve citizens whom they called
Buonomini, or good men, without whose advice and consent nothing of
any importance could be carried into effect. The conclusion of the
sovereignty of King Robert being come, the citizens took the
government into their own hands, reappointed the usual rectors and
magistracies, and were kept united by the dread of Castruccio, who,
after many efforts against the lords of Lunigiano, attacked Prato, to
the relief of which the Florentines having resolved to go, shut up
their shops and houses, and proceeded thither in a body, amounting to
twenty thousand foot and one thousand five hundred horse. And in order
to reduce the number of Castruccio's friends and augment their own,
the Signory declared that every rebel of the Guelphic party who should
come to the relief of Prato would be restored to his country; they
thus increased their army with an addition of four thousand men. This
great force being quickly brought to Prato, alarmed Castruccio so
much, that without trying the fortune of battle, he retired toward
Lucca. Upon this, disturbances arose in the Florentine camp between
the nobility and the people, the latter of whom wished to pursue the
foe and destroy him; the former were for returning home, saying they
had done enough for Prato in hazarding the safety of Florence on its
account, which they did not regret under the circumstances, but now,
that necessity no longer existing, the propriety of further risk
ceased also, as there was little to be gained and much to lose.
Not being able to agree, the question was referred to the Signory,
among whom the difference of opinion was equally great; and as the
matter spread throughout the city, the people drew together, and used
such threatening language against the nobility that they, being
apprehensive for their safety, yielded; but the resolution being
adopted too late, and by many unwillingly, gave the enemy time to
withdraw in safety to Lucca.

This unfortunate circumstance made the people so indignant against the
great that the Signory refused to perform the promise made to the
exiles, and the latter, anticipating the fact, determined to be
beforehand, and were at the gates of Florence to gain admittance into
the city before the rest of the forces; but their design did not take
effect, for their purpose being foreseen, they were repulsed by those
who had remained at home. They then endeavored to acquire by entreaty
what they had failed to obtain by force; and sent eight men as
ambassadors to the Signory, to remind them of the promise given, and
of the dangers they had undergone, in hope of the reward which had
been held out to them. And although the nobility, who felt the
obligation on account of their having particularly undertaken to
fulfill the promise for which the Signory had bound themselves, used
their utmost exertion in favor of the exiles, so great was the anger
of the multitude on account of their only partial success against
Castruccio, that they could not obtain their admission. This
occasioned cost and dishonor to the city; for many of the nobility,
taking offense at this proceeding, endeavored to obtain by arms that
which had been refused to their prayers, and agreed with the exiles
that they should come armed to the city, and that those within would
arm themselves in their defense. But the affair was discovered before
the appointed day arrived, so that those without found the city in
arms, and prepared to resist them. So completely subdued were those
within, that none dared to take arms; and thus the undertaking was
abandoned, without any advantage having been obtained by the party.
After the departure of the exiles it was determined to punish those
who had been instrumental in bringing them to the city; but, although
everyone knew who were the delinquents, none ventured to name and
still less to accuse them. It was, therefore, resolved that in order
to come at the truth, everyone should write the names of those he
believed to be guilty, and present the writing secretly to the
Capitano. By this means, Amerigo Donati, Teghiajo, Frescobaldi, and
Lotteringo Gherardini were accused; but, the judges being more
favorably disposed to them than, perhaps, their misdeeds deserved,
each escaped by paying a fine.

The tumults which arose in Florence from the coming of the rebels to
the gates, showed that one leader was insufficient for the companies
of the people; they, therefore, determined that in future each should
have three or four; and to every Gonfalonier two or three Pennonieri
(pennon bearers) were added, so that if the whole body were not drawn
out, a part might operate under one of them. And as happens in
republics, after any disturbance, some old laws are annulled and
others renewed, so on this occasion, as it had been previously
customary to appoint the Signory for a time only, the then existing
Signors and the Colleagues, feeling themselves possessed of sufficient
power, assumed the authority to fix upon the Signors that would have
to sit during the next forty months, by putting their names into a bag
or purse, and drawing them every two months. But, before the
expiration of the forty months, many citizens were jealous that their
names had not been deposited among the rest, and a new emborsation was
made. From this beginning arose the custom of emborsing or enclosing
the names of all who should take office in any of the magistracies for
a long time to come, as well those whose offices employed them within
the city as those abroad, though previously the councils of the
retiring magistrates had elected those who were to succeed them. These
emborsations were afterward called Squittini, or pollings,--and it was
thought they would prevent much trouble to the city, and remove the
cause of those tumults which every three, or at most five, years, took
place upon the creation of magistrates, from the number of candidates
for office. And not being able to adopt a better expedient, they made
use of this, but did not observe the defects which lay concealed under
such a trivial accommodation.

In 1325, Castruccio, having taken possession of Pistoia, became so
powerful that the Florentines, fearing his greatness, resolved, before
he should get himself firmly seated in his new conquest, to attack him
and withdraw it from his authority. Of their citizens and friends they
mustered an army amounting to 20,000 foot and 3,000 horse, and with
this body encamped before Altopascio, with the intention of taking the
place and thus preventing it from relieving Pistoia. Being successful
in the first part of their design, they marched toward Lucca, and laid
the country waste in their progress; but from the little prudence and
less integrity of their leader, Ramondo di Cardona, they made but
small progress; for he, having observed them upon former occasions
very prodigal of their liberty, placing it sometimes in the hands of a
king, at others in those of a legate, or persons of even inferior
quality, thought, if he could bring them into some difficulty, it
might easily happen that they would make him their prince. Nor did he
fail frequently to mention these matters, and required to have that
authority in the city which had been given him over the army,
endeavoring to show that otherwise he could not enforce the obedience
requisite to a leader. As the Florentines did not consent to this, he
wasted time, and allowed Castruccio to obtain the assistance which the
Visconti and other tyrants of Lombardy had promised him, and thus
become very strong. Ramondo, having willfully let the opportunity of
victory pass away, now found himself unable to escape; for Castruccio
coming up with him at Altopascio, a great battle ensued in which many
citizens were slain and taken prisoners, and among the former fell
Ramondo, who received from fortune that reward of bad faith and
mischievous counsels which he had richly deserved from the
Florentines. The injury they suffered from Castruccio, after the
battle, in plunder, prisoners, destruction, and burning of property,
is quite indescribable; for, without any opposition, during many
months, he led his predatory forces wherever he thought proper, and it
seemed sufficient to the Florentines if, after such a terrible event,
they could save their city.

Still they were not so absolutely cast down as to prevent them from
raising great sums of money, hiring troops, and sending to their
friends for assistance; but all they could do was insufficient to
restrain such a powerful enemy; so that they were obliged to offer the
sovereignty to Charles duke of Calabria, son of King Robert, if they
could induce him to come to their defense; for these princes, being
accustomed to rule Florence, preferred her obedience to her
friendship. But Charles, being engaged in the wars of Sicily, and
therefore unable to undertake the sovereignty of the city, sent in his
stead Walter, by birth a Frenchman, and duke of Athens. He, as
viceroy, took possession of the city, and appointed the magistracies
according to his own pleasure; but his mode of proceeding was quite
correct, and so completely contrary to his real nature, that everyone
respected him.

The affairs of Sicily being composed, Charles came to Florence with a
thousand horse. He made his entry into the city in July, 1326, and his
coming prevented further pillage of the Florentine territory by
Castruccio. However, the influence which they acquired without the
city was lost within her walls, and the evils which they did not
suffer from their enemies were brought upon them by their friends; for
the Signory could not do anything without the consent of the duke of
Calabria, who, in the course of one year, drew from the people 400,000
florins, although by the agreement entered into with him, the sum was
not to exceed 200,000; so great were the burdens with which either
himself or his father constantly oppressed them.

To these troubles were added new jealousies and new enemies; for the
Ghibellines of Lombardy became so alarmed upon the arrival of Charles
in Tuscany, that Galeazzo Visconti and the other Lombard tyrants, by
money and promises, induced Louis of Bavaria, who had lately been
elected emperor contrary to the wish of the pope, to come into Italy.
After passing through Lombardy he entered Tuscany, and with the
assistance of Castruccio, made himself master of Pisa, from whence,
having been pacified with sums of money, he directed his course
towards Rome. This caused the duke of Calabria to be apprehensive for
the safety of Naples; he therefore left Florence, and appointed as his
viceroy Filippo da Saggineto.

After the departure of the emperor, Castruccio made himself master of
Pisa, but the Florentines, by a treaty with Pistoia, withdrew her from
obedience to him. Castruccio then besieged Pistoia, and persevered
with so much vigor and resolution, that although the Florentines often
attempted to relieve her, by attacking first his army and then his
country, they were unable either by force or policy to remove him; so
anxious was he to punish the Pistolesi and subdue the Florentines. At
length the people of Pistoia were compelled to receive him for their
sovereign; but this event, although greatly to his glory, proved but
little to his advantage, for upon his return to Lucca he died. And as
one event either of good or evil seldom comes alone, at Naples also
died Charles duke of Calabria and lord of Florence, so that in a short
time, beyond the expectation of their most sanguine hopes, the
Florentines found themselves delivered from the domination of the one
and the fear of the other. Being again free, they set about the
reformation of the city, annulled all the old councils, and created
two new ones, the one composed of 300 citizens from the class of the
people, the other of 250 from the nobility and the people.

The first was called the Council of the People, the other the Council
of the Commune.

Niccolo Machiavelli