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1478

May 9

Ambassadors came to Florence from the Pope; and finally, after a few days, they were sent away again without our having consented to give up the cardinal, whom they had wished to take back with them. And at this time many armed men were placed in the Piazza, and a patrol of birri (sergeants) paraded the city day and night and the city-guards all night. No one went out after one o'clock (9 p.m.), whatever class he belonged to; not a sound was heard in the city at night; and no one carried arms at any time.

1480

September 2

Two silk-mercers' shops in Porta Santa Maria, near Vacchereccia(1) were burnt down; and the other night the whole Canto di Vacchereccia as far as the Chiassolino del Buco was burnt down.(2) And the fire rushed across to the opposite side of the street and burnt down all the other corner of the Vacchereccia, destroying about 20 shops of the silk-mercers and money-changers. There was great loss, many having all their property consumed.

1482

March 14

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.

1487

November 18

The aforesaid ambassador of the sultan presented to the Signoria the giraffe, lion, and other beasts; and he sat in the midst of the Signoria, on the ringhiera, he speaking and they thanking him by means of an interpreter. A great crowd had collected in the Piazza that morning to see this. The ringhiera was decorated with spalliere(1) and carpets, and all the principal citizens had taken their places upon it. This ambassador remained here several months, and was maintained at our cost and presented with many gifts.

1491

May 1

The coinage was changed: that is, silver coins began to be used; and it was decided that the grossone should be worth 16 quattrini and a half, like the old silver ones. All the taxes were to be paid in silver, which meant a little increase to the people, as a quarter more had to be paid, when there was need, on the contrary, to relieve them. This increase was made by divine permission, on account of our sins; because the poor are generally worse than the rich and great. Praise be to God!

1494

November 5

Certain messengers of the King of France arrived and went about Florence marking the houses which they preferred. They came indoors and entered all the rooms, marking one for such and such a lord, and another for such and such a baron.

November 9

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)

November 9

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

November 10

The citizens again came armed into the Piazza, and set to recruit more men. Antonio de Bernardo, Ser Giovanni son of Ser Bartolomeo, Ser Simone da Staggia, Ser Ceccone son of Ser Barone, Ser Lorenzo of the Dogana, Lorenzo son of Giovanni Tornabuoni, and Piero Tornabuoni, were fetched from their houses and made prisoner. The Signoria published a proclamation commanding anyone who had, property belonging to Piero de' Medici or to the cardinal his brother, or to Ser Giovanni, Ser Simeone, Ser Bernardo, and Ser Lorenzo of the Dogana,(1) to declare it, on pain of death. And a second proclamation was published, which had been decided upon by the council composed of all the veduti e seduti.(2) There were an immense number of citizens present. Ant this morning they pillaged the cardinal's house, which was in Sant' Antonio(3) di Firenze, sending their men to claim the last things that still remained.

November 11

A man arrived in the Piazza, having entered the city by the Porta alla Croce, and said that he had passed men-at-arms and infantry on the road to Florence, belonging to Piero de' Medici. Cries of Popolo e Liberta immediately resounded everywhere, and in less than half an hour the whole city was in arms, men of classes rushing to the Piazza with incredible haste, and with deafening cries of Popolo e Liberta. I verily believe that if the whole world had come against them, such a union could not have been broken; it being permitted by the Lord that the people should make such a demonstration, during this danger from the French, who had come to Florence with the evil intent of sacking it. But when they saw of what sort the people were, their heart failed them. As soon as the truth was known, that no armed men were approaching, a proclamation was made ordering all to lay aside their weapons, an this was about the dinner-hour. The Gonfaloni, however, remained on guard day and night, with a good number of men; and horsemen and foot-soldiers belonging to the King of France were continually entering. The Signoria had had the Porta di San Friano(1) opened. This evening the King of France remained at Empoli; and more than 6 thousand men came before the king, and as many with him, and another 6 thousand behind him. And at this time the taxes were lightened and many pardons granted.(2)

November 17

The King of France entered Florence at 22 in the evening (6 p.m.) by the Porta a San Friano, and passed through the Piazza (de' Signori), proceeding so slowly that it was already 24 (8 p.m.) before he reached Santa Maria del Fiore. He dismounted at the steps, and walked up to the High Altar, there being so many torches that they made a double row from the door to the altar, leaving a way clear in the middle, along which he went with his barons and all his suite, amidst such tumultuous shouting of Viva Francia as was never heard. Only think that all Florence was there, either in the church or outside. Everyone shouted, great and small, old and young, and all from their hearts, without flattery. When he was seen on foot he seemed to the people somewhat less imposing, for he was infact a very small man. Nevertheless there was no one who did not feel favourably disposed towards him. Therefore it should have been eas tomake him understand that our hearts are innocent of guile, and that we are truly devoted to him; so that he ought to feel moved towards us in uncommon measure, and to trust us absolutely. This is really the case, and he will see in the future what the faith of the Florentines signifies. Upon coming out of church, he remounted his horse and rode on to the palace of Piero de' Medici, amidst continued cries of Viva Francia. Never was such joy seen before, or so much honour done to anyone, with heartfelt sincerity, as we were in hopes that he would bring us peace and rest. In the end it proved not to be so, as he took Pisa from us and gave it to the Pisans, which he had no right to do, seeing that he could not give what was not his.(1)

November 21

About 21 in the evening (5 p.m.) the Signori called a council of the most worthy men in the city, and explained to them how the king had said one thing and now wished another, and how he demanded the reinstatement of Piero de' Medici, and asked them what answer they advised to be given him. And they all replied to the effect that Piero's return could not be consented to upon any condition whatever, even if the king wished it; and that the king should be told that everything else but this would be granted him. They declared, moreover, that if it were necessary to take up arms, they should go against the king and everyone who differed from them saying, "If they king has 20 thousand men, we can call up 50 thousand of our own in the city"; showing no fear of the king, and also showing that a great hatred had arisen between the citizens and this Piero de' Medici; why this way, the Lord alone knows. At this time, as it pleased God, there was a little disturbance in the Piazza de' Signori, all the people being suspicious, and excited at the least noise, and always on the look-out for some danger. They really lived in dread and a sort of dismay, mostly caused by having their houses full of the French. And it was continually being repeated that the king had promised his soldiers Florence should be sacked. Therefore, as soon as there was this little disturbance in the Piazza, everyone hastened home, and all the shops were closed, one sending his silk goods and another his woollen goods away to his house or to some place of security. This suspicion was tacit, not a word being said; but many of the French, no less dismayed than we were, suspecting they knew not what, took up arms, and seized the Porta a San Friano and the bridges, so as to be able to escape. Possibly it had been so arranged among themselves beforehand, in case it should be needful. The result was that the Signoria and the council who had held the aforesaid consultation, when they heard that all the shops were being closed, felt still more acutely the danger of Piero's return; and the Signori urged the most worthy men of the council to go to the king and point out to him the danger of the city, begging him not to semand this thing, as it could only entail evil, etc. Hence the king, seeing the opposition of the citizens, and also realising his own danger, replied: "I am not here to cause disturbances, but to bring peace; and if I thought of this thing, it was only in the idea of pleasing the people and everyone. I wish for nothing but the general good, and no more need be said about Piero's return." Then the citizens make this offer to the king: "Whatever you may be pleased to ask from us freely, we shall be ready to bring to your aid." Thereupon the king asked that the city of Florence should lend him 120 thousand florins, 50 thousand to be paid at once, and 70 thousand before the end of July; and besides this, that for the duration of the war they should lend him 12 thousand a year. After the end of the war, our city should be left entirely free; and whether he died, or whether he conquered or not, it should still be left free. He only demanded the forts of Pisa and a few others that he had taken, Sarzana, etc., so that he should be able to return in safety to his country. He did not receive a reply immediately. Everyone said that a little time was needed, on account of the money.

December 2

A parlamento was held in the Piazza de' Signori at about 22 in the evening (6 p.m.), and all the Gonfaloni came into the Piazza, each with his respective citizens behind him unarmed. But there were a number of armed men placed at all the ways leading into the Piazza; and many articles and statutes were read out, which formed several folios. Before beginning the reading it was asked whether two-thirds of the citizens were present; and the bystanders said that it was so. Then the reading began, and it was declared in the said articles that all the laws from 1434 onwards were annulled, and that the Settanta, the Dieci, and the Otto di Balia were also abolished, and that the government must be carried on by the Council of the People and the Commune, and that the balloting-bags must be closed and the names drawn by lot, as was usual in communes; and an election should take place as soon as possible. For the present, twenty of the noblest and ablest men should be appointed who would do the work of the Signoria and the other offices, together with the Signori and Collegi, until the election should be arranged. And the citizens must be content with the result of the ballot. And the said twenty men should among them, who should attend to the war with Pisa and to other necessary things.(1)

1495

January 1

1st January. The new Signoria entered into office, and it was a great joy to see the whole Piazza filled with citizens, quite different from other times, as a new thing, thanking God who had given this impartial government to Florence, and delivered us from subjection. And all this had been done at the instigation of the Frate.

1508

May 10

Piero Soderini wrote to the Marquis of Massa-Carrara, begging him to retain a large block of marble until Michelangelo could come in person and superintend its rough-hewing for a colossal statue to be placed on the Piazza in Florence.

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