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Chapter 30

CHAPTER VII

Cosmo is banished to Padua--Rinaldo degli Albizzi attempts to
restore the nobility--New disturbances occasioned by Rinaldo degli
Albizzi--Rinaldo takes arms against the Signory--His designs are
disconcerted--Pope Eugenius in Florence--He endeavors to reconcile
the parties--Cosmo is recalled--Rinaldo and his party banished--
Glorious return of Cosmo.

Cosmo in some degree recovered his spirits, and while the citizens
were disputing about him, Federigo, by way of recreation, brought an
acquaintance of the Gonfalonier to take supper with him, an amusing
and facetious person, whose name was Il Farnagaccio. The repast being
nearly over, Cosmo, who thought he might turn this visit to advantage,
for he knew the man very intimately, gave a sign to Federigo to leave
the apartment, and he, guessing the cause, under pretense of going for
something that was wanted on the table, left them together. Cosmo,
after a few friendly expressions addressed to Il Farnagaccio, gave him
a small slip of paper, and desired him to go to the director of the
hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, for one thousand one hundred ducats; he
was to take the hundred for himself, and carry the thousand to the
Gonfalonier, and beg that he would take some suitable occasion of
coming to see him. Farnagaccio undertook the commission, the money was
paid, Bernardo became more humane, and Cosmo was banished to Padua,
contrary to the wish of Rinaldo, who earnestly desired his death.
Averardo and many others of the house of Medici were also banished,
and with them Puccio and Giovanni Pucci. To silence those who were
dissatisfied with the banishment of Cosmo, they endowed with the power
of a Balia, the Eight of War and the Capitano of the People. After his
sentence, Cosmo on the third of October, 1433, came before the
Signory, by whom the boundary to which he was restricted was
specified; and they advised him to avoid passing it, unless he wished
them to proceed with greater severity both against himself and his
property. Cosmo received his sentence with a cheerful look, assuring
the Signory that wherever they determined to send him, he would
willingly remain. He earnestly begged, that as they had preserved his
life they would protect it, for he knew there were many in the piazza
who were desirous to take it; and assured them, that wherever he might
be, himself and his means were entirely at the service of the city,
the people, and the Signory. He was respectfully attended by the
Gonfalonier, who retained him in the palace till night, then conducted
him to his own house to supper, and caused him to be escorted by a
strong armed force to his place of banishment. Wherever the cavalcade
passed, Cosmo was honorably received, and was publicly visited by the
Venetians, not as an exile, but with all the respect due to one in the
highest station.

Florence, widowed of so great a citizen, one so generally beloved,
seemed to be universally sunk in despondency; victors and the
vanquished were alike in fear. Rinaldo, as if inspired with a presage
of his future calamities, in order not to appear deficient to himself
or his party, assembled many citizens, his friends, and informed them
that he foresaw their approaching ruin for having allowed themselves
to be overcome by the prayers, the tears, and the money of their
enemies; and that they did not seem aware they would soon themselves
have to entreat and weep, when their prayers would not be listened to,
or their tears excite compassion; and that of the money received, they
would have to restore the principal, and pay the interest in tortures,
exile, and death; that it would have been much better for them to have
done nothing than to have left Cosmo alive, and his friends in
Florence; for great offenders ought either to remain untouched, or be
destroyed; that there was now no remedy but to strengthen themselves
in the city, so that upon the renewed attempts of their enemies, which
would soon take place, they might drive them out with arms, since they
had not sufficient civil authority to expel them. The remedy to be
adopted, he said, was one that he had long before advocated, which was
to regain the friendship of the grandees, restoring and conceding to
them all the honors of the city, and thus make themselves strong with
that party, since their adversaries had joined the plebeians. That by
this means they would become the more powerful side, for they would
possess greater energy, more comprehensive talent and an augmented
share of influence; and that if this last and only remedy were not
adopted, he knew not what other means could be made use of to preserve
the government among so many enemies, or prevent their own ruin and
that of the city.

Mariotto Baldovinetti, one of the assembly, was opposed to this plan,
on account of the pride and insupportable nature of the nobility; and
said, that it would be folly to place themselves again under such
inevitable tyranny for the sake of avoiding imaginary dangers from the
plebeians. Rinaldo, finding his advice unfavorably received, vexed at
his own misfortune and that of his party, imputed the whole to heaven
itself, which had resolved upon it, rather than to human ignorance and
blunders. In this juncture of affairs, no remedial measure being
attempted, a letter was found written by Agnolo Acciajuoli to Cosmo,
acquainting him with the disposition of the city in his favor, and
advising him, if possible, to excite a war, and gain the friendship of
Neri di Gino; for he imagined the city to be in want of money, and as
she would not find anyone to serve her, the remembrance of him would
be revived in the minds of the citizens, and they would desire his
return; and that if Neri were detached from Rinaldo, the party of the
latter would be so weakened, as to be unable to defend themselves.
This letter coming to the hands of the magistrates, Agnolo was taken,
put to the torture, and sent into exile. This example, however, did
not at all deter Cosmo's party.

It was now almost a year since Cosmo had been banished, and the end of
August, 1434, being come, Niccolo di Cocco was drawn Gonfalonier for
the two succeeding months, and with him eight signors, all partisans
of Cosmo. This struck terror into Rinaldo and his party; and as it is
usual for three days to elapse before the new Signory assume the
magistracy and the old resign their authority, Rinaldo again called
together the heads of his party. He endeavored to show them their
certain and immediate danger, and that their only remedy was to take
arms, and cause Donato Velluti, who was yet Gonfalonier, to assemble
the people in the piazza and create a Balia. He would then deprive the
new Signory of the magistracy, appoint another, burn the present
balloting purses, and by means of a new Squittini, provide themselves
with friends. Many thought this course safe and requisite; others,
that it was too violent, and likely to be attended with great evil.
Among those who disliked it was Palla Strozzi, a peaceable, gentle,
and humane person, better adapted for literary pursuits than for
restraining a party, or opposing civil strife. He said that bold and
crafty resolutions seem promising at their commencement, but are
afterward found difficult to execute, and generally pernicious at
their conclusion; that he thought the fear of external wars (the
duke's forces being upon the confines of Romagna), would occupy the
minds of the Signory more than internal dissensions; but, still, if
any attempt should be made, and it could not take place unnoticed,
they would have sufficient time to take arms, and adopt whatever
measures might be found necessary for the common good, which being
done upon necessity, would occasion less excitement among the people
and less danger to themselves. It was therefore concluded, that the
new Signory should come in; that their proceedings should be watched,
and if they were found attempting anything against the party, each
should take arms, and meet in the piazza of San Pulinari, situated
near the palace, and whence they might proceed wherever it was found
necessary. Having come to this conclusion, Rinaldo's friends
separated.

The new Signory entered upon their office, and the Gonfalonier, in
order to acquire reputation, and deter those who might intend to
oppose him, sent Donato Velluti, his predecessor, to prison, upon the
charge of having applied the public money to his own use. He then
endeavored to sound his colleagues with respect to Cosmo: seeing them
desirous of his return, he communicated with the leaders of the Medici
party, and, by their advice, summoned the hostile chiefs, Rinaldo
degli Albizzi, Ridolfo Peruzzi, and Niccolo Barbadoro. After this
citation, Rinaldo thought further delay would be dangerous: he
therefore left his house with a great number of armed men, and was
soon joined by Ridolfo Peruzzi and Niccolo Barbadoro. The force
accompanying them was composed of several citizens and a great number
of disbanded soldiers then in Florence: and all assembled according to
appointment in the piazza of San Pulinari. Palla Strozzi and Giovanni
Guicciardini, though each had assembled a large number of men, kept in
their houses; and therefore Rinaldo sent a messenger to request their
attendance and to reprove their delay. Giovanni replied, that he
should lend sufficient aid against their enemies, if by remaining at
home he could prevent his brother Piero from going to the defense of
the palace. After many messages Palla came to San Pulinari on
horseback, accompanied by two of his people on foot, and unarmed.
Rinaldo, on meeting him, sharply reproved him for his negligence,
declaring that his refusal to come with the others arose either from
defect of principle or want of courage; both of which charges should
be avoided by all who wished to preserve such a character as he had
hitherto possessed; and that if he thought this abominable conduct to
his party would induce their enemies when victorious to spare him from
death or exile, he deceived himself; but for himself (Rinaldo)
whatever might happen, he had the consolation of knowing, that
previously to the crisis he had never neglected his duty in council,
and that when it occurred he had used every possible exertion to repel
it with arms; but that Palla and the others would experience
aggravated remorse when they considered they had upon three occasions
betrayed their country; first when they saved Cosmo; next when they
disregarded his advice; and now the third time by not coming armed in
her defense according to their engagement. To these reproaches Palla
made no reply audible to those around, but, muttering something as he
left them, returned to his house.

The Signory, knowing Rinaldo and his party had taken arms, finding
themselves abandoned, caused the palace to be shut up, and having no
one to consult they knew not what course to adopt. However, Rinaldo,
by delaying his coming to the piazza, having waited in expectation of
forces which did not join him, lost the opportunity of victory, gave
them courage to provide for their defense, and allowed many others to
join them, who advised that means should be used to induce their
adversaries to lay down their arms. Thereupon, some of the least
suspected, went on the part of the Signory to Rinaldo, and said, they
did not know what occasion they had given his friends for thus
assembling in arms; that they never had any intention of offending
him, and if they had spoken of Cosmo, they had no design of recalling
him; so if their fears were thus occasioned they might at once be
dispelled, for that if they came to the palace they would be
graciously received, and all their complaints attended to. These words
produced no change in Rinaldo's purpose; he bade them provide for
their safety by resigning their offices, and said that then the
government of the city would be reorganized, for the mutual benefit of
all.

It rarely happens, where authorities are equal and opinions contrary,
that any good resolution is adopted. Ridolfo Peruzzi, moved by the
discourse of the citizens, said, that all he desired was to prevent
the return of Cosmo, and this being granted to them seemed a
sufficient victory; nor would he, to obtain a greater, fill the city
with blood; he would therefore obey the Signory; and accordingly went
with his people to the palace, where he was received with a hearty
welcome. Thus Rinaldo's delay at San Pulinari, Palla's want of
courage, and Ridolfo's desertion, deprived their party of all chance
of success; while the ardor of the citizens abated, and the pope's
authority did not contribute to its revival.

Pope Eugenius was at this time at Florence, having been driven from
Rome by the people. These disturbances coming to his knowledge, he
thought it a duty suitable to his pastoral office to appease them, and
sent the patriarch Giovanni Vitelleschi, Rinaldo's most intimate
friend, to entreat the latter to come to an interview with him, as he
trusted he had sufficient influence with the Signory to insure his
safety and satisfaction, without injury or bloodshed to the citizens.
By his friend's persuasion, Rinaldo proceeded with all his followers
to Santa Maria Nuova, where the pope resided. Eugenius gave him to
understand, that the Signory had empowered him to settle the
differences between them, and that all would be arranged to his
satisfaction, if he laid down his arms. Rinaldo, having witnessed
Palla's want of zeal, and the fickleness of Ridolfo Peruzzi, and no
better course being open to him, placed himself in the pope's hands,
thinking that at all events the authority of his holiness would insure
his safety. Eugenius then sent word to Niccolo Barbadoro, and the rest
who remained without, that they were to lay down their arms, for
Rinaldo was remaining with the pontiff, to arrange terms of agreement
with the signors; upon which they immediately dispersed, and laid
aside their weapons.

The Signory, seeing their adversaries disarmed, continued to negotiate
an arrangement by means of the pope; but at the same time sent
secretly to the mountains of Pistoia for infantry, which, with what
other forces they could collect, were brought into Florence by night.
Having taken possession of all the strong positions in the city, they
assembled the people in the piazza and created a new balia, which,
without delay, restored Cosmo and those who had been exiled with him
to their country; and banished, of the opposite party, Rinaldo degli
Albizzi, Ridolfo Peruzzi, Niccolo Barbadoro, and Palla Strozzi, with
so many other citizens, that there were few places in Italy which did
not contain some, and many others beyond her limits were full of them.
By this and similar occurrences, Florence was deprived of men of
worth, and of much wealth and industry.

The pope, seeing such misfortunes befall those who by his entreaties
were induced to lay down their arms, was greatly dissatisfied, and
condoled with Rinaldo on the injuries he had received through his
confidence in him, but advised him to be patient, and hope for some
favorable turn of fortune. Rinaldo replied, "The want of confidence in
those who ought to have trusted me, and the great trust I have reposed
in you, have ruined both me and my party. But I blame myself
principally for having thought that you, who were expelled from your
own country, could preserve me in mine. I have had sufficient
experience of the freaks of fortune; and as I have never trusted
greatly to prosperity, I shall suffer less inconvenience from
adversity; and I know that when she pleases she can become more
favorable. But if she should never change, I shall not be very
desirous of living in a city in which individuals are more powerful
than the laws; for that country alone is desirable in which property
and friends may be safely enjoyed, not one where they may easily be
taken from us, and where friends, from fear of losing their property,
are compelled to abandon each other in their greatest need. Besides,
it has always been less painful to good men to hear of the misfortunes
of their country than to witness them; and an honorable exile is
always held in greater esteem than slavery at home." He then left the
pope, and, full of indignation, blaming himself, his own measures, and
the coldness of his friends, went into exile.

Cosmo, on the other hand, being informed of his recall, returned to
Florence; and it has seldom occurred that any citizen, coming home
triumphant from victory, was received by so vast a concourse of
people, or such unqualified demonstrations of regard as he was upon
his return from banishment; for by universal consent he was hailed as
the benefactor of the people, and the FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY.

Niccolo Machiavelli