As a result of a tragic stone-throwing game with his Florentine compatriots, Andrea del Verrocchio kills Antonio di Domenico, a woodworker aged 14. He is imprisoned and tried for involuntary manslaughter, but released soon afterward, the judges being used to stone-throwing cases, not unusual in in Florence. Verrocchio is guilt-stricken for the rest of his life, and it’s thought the accidental death was the reason he didn’t put a stone in the hand of his celebrated David.
A certain hermit came to the house of Lorenzo de' Medici at the Poggio a Caiano; and the servants declared that he intended to murder Lorenzo, so they took him and sent him to the Bargello, and he was put to the rack.
A chancellor of Count Girolamo was hung at the windows of the Bargello. He had been captured by one of the Altoviti,(1) who was a proscribed rebel, and in order to be pardoned, found out this man, and caught him between Piombino and Pisa; and he won his pardon.
The new Signoria(1) entered into office, and were stricter than the last. They sent for the citizens and required everyone to pay his debts; and they imprisoned them in the Bargello and the Stinche. Many were afflicted and worn out by so many wars.
It happened that a certain unbeliever, to spite the Christians, but mostly out of folly, went about Florence disfiguring the images of Our Lady, and amongst others, that which is on the pilaster of Orto San Michele, outside. He scratched the eyes of the Child, and of San Nofri (Onophrius), and threw mud in the face of Our Lady.(1) On this account, the boys began to throw stones at him, and they were joined by grown men, who in their fury stoned him to death with great stones, and then dragged his body about with much vituperation.
About 20 in the afternoon (4 p.m.), when it was ringing for vespers,(1) Piero son of Lorenzo de' Medici wished to go to the Signoria in the Palagio, taking his armed men with him. The Signori not allowing this, he did not choose to go alone, and turned back.(1) Now men began to collect in the Piazza, and in the Palagio were heard cries of Popolo e Liberta! (The People and Liberty!), whilst the bell was rung for a parlamento, and men appeared at the windows with the same cry. Immediately the Gonfaloniere del Bue(2) came into the Piazza, and behind him Francesco Valori and other citizens on horseback, all crying Popolo e Liberta! These were the first to arrive; but before an hour had passed, the Piazza was filled with all the Gonfaloni and all the citizens, troops of armed men crying loudly, Popolo e Liberta! Although the people did not very well understand what all this tumult was about, nevertheless not many citizens went to Piero de' Medici's house. The Tornabuoni and some other citizens went there armed, with many men under their command, and coming into the street before his door, cried, Palle! Piero then mounted his horse, to come into the Piazza with his men, starting several times, and then stopping again. I think that he perceived how few citizens were with him, and also he must have been told that the Piazza was full of armed men. Meanwhile the cardinal, his brother, left his house, accompanied by many soldiers and by those citizens who were there, and came down the Corso as far as Orto San Michele, crying Popolo e Liberta like the rest; declaring that he separated himself from Piero. The only consequence was that the Piazza turned against him, menacing him with the points of their weapons shouting at him as a traitor, and not choosing to accept him. He turned back, not without danger. And now a proclamation was issued, at the Canto della Macina(3) and in the Via de' Martegli(4) next to the Chiassolino (little alley) ordering every foreigner to lay down his arms, and forbidding anyone on pain of death to aid or abet Piero de' Medici. In consequence of this, many abandoned Piero and laid down their arms. They dropped off on all sides, so that few remained with him. Therefore Piero left this house and went towards the Porta a San Gallo, which he had caused to be kept open for him by his brother Giuliano with many soldiers and by friends outside. Signor Pagolo Orsini was waiting outside with horses and armed men in readiness to enter, but it did not seem the right moment, and when Piero arrived they decided it would be best to go away, taking Giuliano with them. The poor young cardinal remained in his house, and I saw him at a window kneeling with joined hands, praying Heaven to have mercy. I was much touched when I saw him, considering him to be a good lad and of upright character. It was said that when he had seen Piero ride away, he disguised himself as a monk and took his departure also. Another proclamation was published in the Piazza, announcing that whoever slew Piero de' Medici should have 2 thousand ducats and whoever slew the cardinal should have a thousand. And after this many soldiers left the Piazza with Jacopo de' Nerli, and going to the house of Ser Giovanni son of Ser Bartolomeo,(5) pillaged it. And then the crowd rose, with the cry of Antonio di Bernardo,(5) and pillaged his house also, and pillaged the Bargello. The number of soldiers and of the people going about robbing increased every moment; and this all happened before 24 in the evening (8 p.m.), less than four hours from when the disturbance began. Then the Signoria published a proclamation forbidding any more houses to be pillaged, on pain of death; and the Gonfaloni went about the city all night to guard it, crying Popolo e Liberta, carrying lighted torches, so that no more harm was done, except that a certain serving-man of the Bargello who cried Palle, was killed in the Piazza. And now Girolamo son of Marabotto Tornabuoni, and Pierantonio Carnesecchi, and others of that party, turned and cried Popolo e Liberta like the rest. When they were about to enter the Piazza, however, weapons were pointed against them, and they were only saved by their cuirasses, and had to escape as best they might. In fact, Girolamo Tornabuoni had his cuirass torn off in Orto San Michele, but when he begged for mercy, his life was spared. And Giovan Francesco Tornabuoni was severely wounded in the throat, and returned home. When the disturbance began, some of the French who were quartered in Florence armed themselves and joined Piero's party, crying Francia. I believe it was pointed out to them that the matter was between citizens only, and that if they were to do anything against the Palagio, they would put themselves in the wrong; therefore they acted accordingly, returning to their lodgings and then going about the city unarmed.(6)
Giambologna writes to Francesco I de' Medici: "today we brought the marble for your Excellency's Florence to the sea shore: passing through Seravezza the populace was greatly excited, chanted "Palle, palle", and paraded to the sound of bells, arquebuses, trombones and bagpipes..."