The Pope sent us an Indulgence, to be obtained by attending six churches: Santa Maria del Fiore, the Nunziata dei Servi, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito, and Sa' Jacopo in Campo Corbolini.(1) And it began on this day and lasted till Easter. Everyone who wished to obtain it had to visit these six churches on three mornings, confessing and doing penance; and had to lend aid, at the said churches, to the forces sent against the Turks.
(1) This church, which was founded in the year 1000, is preceded by a little peristyle closed by wooden gates, as the church is no longer in use. On the capitals of the columns are the arms of the Alberti. In 1206 it passed into the possession of the Knights of Jerusalem, and a good many of their tombs are in the interior. It stands in the Via Faenza, and must not be confounded with either of the two other churches of the same name: San Jacopo tra Fosse, and San Jacopo in Borgo San Jacopo. (Trans.)
In a tabernacle in Orto Sa' Michele there was placed the figure of San Tommaso beside Jesus, and the Jesus in bronze, which is the most beautiful thing imaginable, and the finest head of the Saviour that has as yet been made; it is by Andrea del Verrocchio.
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)
(1) The Gate of San Frediano, towards Empoli. (Trans.)
(2) I here add, that the office of the Otto di Pratica (the Eight Councillors), the Consiglio del Settanta (Council of the Seventy), and that of the Hundred, all institutions of the Medici and their adherents, were done away with and annulled.
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)
(1) Many of the things decreed in this assembly are merely a confirmation of the orders given by the Signoria in November, and to which it was wished to give a ceremonious sanction. The offices entirely abolished were the Consiglio del Cento (Council of the Hundred, appointed under Lorenzo after 1480); the Settanta (the Seventy, also instituted under Lorenzo; both these acted as if they had full powers, without summoning an assembly); the Dodici Procuratori (chosen from the Seventy every six months, who looked after internal affairs); the Otto di Pratica (also chosen from the Seventy every six months, who were ministers of foreign affairs), and the Accoppiatori (these ten officials were only appointed during the time of the elections, and had gradually usurped more and more power under Lorenzo). The rest were only reformed.
Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:
Fra Girolamo preached, and ordered that alms should be given for the Poveri Vergognosi(1) in four churches: Santa Maria del Fiore, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, and Santo Spirito; which were collected on the following day, Sunday. And so much was given that it was impossible to estimate it: gold and silver, woollen and linen materials, silks and pearls and other things; everyone contributed so largely out of love and charity.
(1) The Company of Buonuomini, who care for the Poveri Vergognosi, was formed before 1521, and used to care for the wants of the prisoners in the Stinche and the Bargello. They met in the old church of San Martino, to which offerings were brought, and they later extended their administrations to other honourable poor in the city. In the church of San Martino the twelve Buonuomini are painted in twelve frescoed lunettes. (Trans.)
Landucci, Luca, trans. Alice de Rosen Jervis, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1927. "A Florentine Diary", p. 74
The procession was made, and more offerings were given for the Poveri Vergognosi, without stint. It was a marvellous procession, of such a number of men and women of high estate, and carried out with perfect obedience to the Frate, who had ordered that no woman should stand upon the stone seats along the walls, but that they should stay inside their houses with the door open, if they wished. Not a single woman was seen standing on the stone seats or elsewhere. Such devotion was shown as perhaps will never happen again. The alms given were not less than on the previous day. I did not hear the exact amount, but it must have been thousands of florins.
27th January. The Consiglio Maggiore (Great Council) met and appointed a council of 80 men, who with the Signoria would have to choose the ambassadors, reply to letters, and do much other business.(1)
(1) On the 23rd December a provision was made which established that by the 15th January these 80 citizens must be appointed. "It is seen to be necessary, for matters that may happen any day, that the Signoria or other magistrates should have a certain number of citizens with whom they may confer and whose opinion they can ask, and so that the magistrates should not have to call up one more than another on their authority."
31st January. The "Eighty" wanted to carry through certain things, but they did not succeed.
1st February. They did not carry through anything, because they said that the only thing they wished to carry through was a tax on property.
4th February. The tax on property was passed by the "Eighty."
5th February. The tax on property, that is to say, the Decima, was passed by the Consiglio Maggiore; but the provision that it could not be imposed more than once a year, or less frequently.(1)
(1) It was called Decima because the tenth of the value on all land and house property had to be paid. See note 5th February, 1495.
(1) The original provision (see Reg. di Prow, ad an.) is entitled Lex pads et appelationis sex fabarum Provosio, and contains arrangements for the peace, as the Diary says; which consist in an indulgence, or amnesty as we should now say, within certain limits, for anyone who had favoured the Government in power till the 9th November. There is also an article which ordains that anyone eligible for office who for some reason of State has been condemned by the Signori or the Otto di Balia or di Guardia to death, confinement, banishment, or imprisonment, or to a fine above 300 (large) florins, can and may appeal to the Great Council," and be absolved by them with certain ceremonies. And it is this, I think, that was meant by doing away with the authority of the six fave, i.e. the six votes with which the Signori or the Otto could condemn.
19th March. It was carried through the Great Council. And the petition declares that all political offences would be cancelled from the day of Piero de' Medici being driven out, except where fraud was involved; and that the Signoria should not be able to imprison without the consent of the Great Council.
19th March. It was carried through the "Eighty" also.
Most Revered Father, — I learn from one of your letters that the Spedalingo has not yet come back to Florence and that as a consequence you have been unable to conclude the business about the farm as you desired. It has given me annoyance also, for I supposed you had already paid over the money for it. I half suspect that the Spedalingo has gone away on purpose so that he may not have to give up this source of income but may continue to hold both the money and the farm. Please let me know about it, for should matters be as I fear I would take my money from his keeping and place it elsewhere.
As for my affairs here, I should get on all right if only my marbles were to arrive : but I seem to be most unfortunate in this matter, for since I arrived there have not been two fine days in succession. A boat happened to get here some days ago, but it was only by the greatest good fortune that it escaped accident, as the weather was most unfavourable : and as soon as I had unloaded it the river suddenly rose in flood and submerged it (the marble), so that even p30 now I have not been able to set to work on anything, although I make promises to the Pope and encourage him to hope in order that he may not lose his temper with me ; hoping myself all the time that the weather will improve and that I shall soon be able to begin work—God grant it so ! Please take all the drawings, that is to say, all those papers I put into the sack of which I told you, and make them up into a little bundle and send them to me by some carrier. But see that they are securely done up and run no risk of damage from rain, so that not even the smallest paper may suffer hurt. Bid the carrier take good care of them, for some are of the very greatest importance. Write and say into whose charge you have given them and what I have to pay the man. As to Michele, I wrote to say that he was to put that chest in safety somewhere under cover and then come immediately to Rome where he should want for nothing. I do not know what he has done. I beg of you to enquire into this ; and, further, I beg of you to put yourself to a little trouble over these two things — that is to say, first to see that the chest is put in a safe place under cover, and afterwards I would like you to have the marble Madonna brought to your house, and take care that nobody shall see it. I am not sending you any money for these two things because I do not think they will cost much. If you have to borrow, you can do so, because very soon — if my marble arrives I will send you money for this purpose and for your own use.
p31 I wrote asking you to enquire of Bonifazio the name of the man in Lucca to whom he was going to pay those fifty ducats I am sending to Matteo di Cucherello at Carrara, and I asked you to write the name in the unsealed letter I sent you, which you were to forward to the said Matteo at Carrara so that he might know where to go in Lucca in order to get the money. I expect you have already done this. I beg you also to tell me to whom Bonifazio is paying the money at Lucca, so that I may know his name and can write to Matteo at Carrara telling him from whom he is to receive the said money in Lucca. No more. Do not send me anything more than I write for : my clothes and shirts I give to you and to Giovansimone. Pray to God that my affairs may prosper, and bear in mind that I wish you to invest about a thousand ducats of my money in land, as we have agreed.
On the thirty-first day of January, one thousand five hundred and six.
Your MICHELAGNIOLO, in Rome.
P.S. — Lodovico : I beg you to send on the enclosed letter addressed to Piero d'Argiento, and I beg you to see that he receives it. I think it might be well to send it through the medium of the Jesuits, as he visits them frequently. I beg you to see to this.
The Michele mentioned in this letter is Michele di Piero di Pippo, a stone cutter of Settignano, who was p32 sent to Carrara in connection with the marbles for the facade of San Lorenzo in Florence. With regard to the "Madonna" mentioned further on, it is not certain whether Michelangelo refers to the marble bas-relief now preserved in the Casa Buonarroti in Florence or to the Madonna and Child which is the chief treasure of Notre Dame at Bruges. In passing, it may be worth while to draw attention to the obvious nervousness which marks all Michelangelo's financial transactions. The instructions with regard to the banker at Lucca are characteristic, and afford sufficient proof of the artist's aversion to trusting his money in the hands of other people.
Most Revered Father, — I have to-day received a letter from you, from which I learn that Lapo and Lodovico have been talking to you. I am content that you should rebuke me, because I deserve to be rebuked as a wretch and a transgressor quite as much as anyone else, and perhaps more. But you must understand that I have not transgressed in any wise in the matter for which you rebuke me, either against them or against anyone else, unless it be that I have done more than I ought. All the men with whom I have ever had dealings know very well what I give them ; and if anyone knows it, Lapo and Lodovico are the two who know it best of all, for in a month and a half one of them has had twenty-seven broad ducats and the other eighteen broad ducats, each with their expenses. Therefore I beg of you not to be carried away by their story. When they complained about me you ought to have asked how long they were with me and how much they had received from me then you would have had to ask them what cause they had for complaint. But the reason of their great anger, particularly of that rascal Lapo, is this they had given it out on all sides that they were the men who were doing this work, or rather, that they were in partnership with me ; and they never realised — Lapo in particular — that he was not the master until I sent him off. Only then did he understand that he was in my service ; and having already given p35 a great deal of trouble and caused the Pope's favour to show signs of declining, it appeared a strange thing to him that I should drive him away like a beast. I am sorry that he should still have seven ducats of mine, but when I return to Florence he shall most assuredly pay me back, though if he has any conscience he would also feel obliged to give me back the other money he has received. But enough. I shall say no more about it as I have written a sufficiently full account of their performances to Messer Agniolo (the Herald). I beg you to go to him, and if you can take Granaccio with you, do so, and let him read the letter I have written so that he may understand what abject creatures they are. But I beg of you to keep silent as to what I have written about Lodovico, for if I cannot find anyone else to come here and cast the metal I shall endeavour to get him back, because as a matter of fact I have not dismissed him ; only Lapo, who received more blame than he cared to support alone, lightened his own load by corrupting Lodovico. You will learn the whole matter from the Herald, and also how you are to act. Do not have any dealings with Lapo, for he is too great a scoundrel, and we have nothing to do with either of them.
With reference to Giovansimone, it does not seem to me advisable that he should come here, as the Pope is leaving during Carnival ; I believe he will visit Florence on the way, and he does not leave affairs here in good order. According to rumour, there is a want of confidence prevalent here which it is wise neither to inquire into nor to write about : but enough that, even if nothing were to happen — and I believe p36 nothing will — I do not want to have the care of brothers on my shoulders. Do not be surprised at this and do not breathe a word of it to anyone, because I have need of assistants, and I should find none willing to come if this were known. And besides, I still think things may turn out well. I shall soon be back in Florence and I will behave in such a manner as to satisfy Giovansimone and the others, if it please God ! To-morrow I will write you another letter with reference to certain moneys I wish to send to Florence, telling you what to do with them. I understand about Piero ; he will answer on my behalf, for he is a good fellow, as he has always been.
P.S. I have something else to add in reply to the curious behaviour Lapo attributes to me. I want to tell you one thing, and it is this. I bought seven hundred and twenty pounds of wax, and before I bought it I told Lapo to find out where it could be got, and to settle the price, saying that I would give him the money so that he could buy it. Lapo went, and came back again, and told me that it could not be got for a farthing less than nine broad ducats and twenty bolognini the hundred (pounds), which is equal to nine ducats forty soldi. He added that I ought to take the opportunity without delay because I had been very fortunate. I replied that he was to go and find out whether he could get the odd forty soldi per hundred knocked off and that I would then buy it. He answered that the Bolognesi were of such a nature that they would not abate one farthing of the price p37 they had asked. This raised my suspicions, and I let the matter drop. Later in the same day I called Piero aside and told him secretly to go and ask the price of the wax per hundred. Piero went to the same man as Lapo and bargained with him for eight and a half ducats, to which price I agreed, and afterwards I sent Piero to receive his commission, and he got that also. This is one of my strange performances. Of a truth I know it seemed strange to him that I was able to see through his deceit. It was not enough for him to receive eight broad ducats a month and his expenses, but in addition he tried to swindle me ; and he may have swindled me on many occasions of which I know nothing, for I trusted him. I have never met a man who appeared more honest, so I suppose his straightforward look must have misled many another person. Therefore do not trust him in anything, and pretend not to see him.
The Francesco Granaccio mentioned here was a painter and a fellow-student with Michelangelo in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio. He studied also with Michelangelo in the Medici Garden at San Marco.
Giovan Simone, — Some days ago I received a letter from thee which gave me much pleasure. Since then I have written thee two letters, and I suppose I have had the same good fortune with respect to them that I usually have, that is to say, I suppose they have not arrived.
I may tell thee that, please God, two months will not pass before I return to Florence : and all that I have promised to do for Buonarroto and for thee I am prepared to carry out. I do not write to thee of my intentions at full length, nor do I say how eager I am to help you, because I am loath that others should get to know of our affairs : be of good cheer, however, for greater — or rather, better — things are in store for thee than thou thinkest. I have no more to tell thee on this head. Thou must know that here everyone is preparing for war, and this is the fourth day that the whole district has been under arms and a prey to rumoured dangers, with which the Church in especial is threatened : the cause of it being the Bentivogli, p46 who have made an attempt to enter the city with a great following of people. The high courage and prudence of his lordship the Legate, however, and the admirable precautions he has taken have, I believe, saved the patrimony from them once more, since at the twenty-third hour this evening we had news from their forces that they were turning back again with small honour to themselves, No more. Pray God for me : and live in happy expectation, because soon I shall be back in Florence.
The 2nd day of May.
The Bentivogli, sometime lords of Bologna, had been driven out by the Papal forces, and it was as a result of this reoccupation that Julius visited the city, as related in Michelangelo's letters. Shortly after the Pope's departure, however, Annibale Bentivoglio made the attempt to which this letter refers, but was repulsed by the Papal Legate, the Cardinal di Pavia.
Pope Clement VII offers Michelangelo a pension in order to retain his services. It appears that Michelangelo only asked for fifteen ducats a month, and that his friend Pietro Gondi had proposed twenty-five ducats. Fattucci rebuked him in affectionate terms for his want of pluck, informing him that "Jacopo Salviati has given orders that Spina should be instructed to pay you a monthly provision of fifty ducats." Moreover, all the disbursements made for the work at S. Lorenzo were to be provided by the same agent in Florence, and to pass through Michelangelo's hands. A house was assigned him, free of rent, at S. Lorenzo, in order that he might be near his work. Henceforth he was in almost weekly correspondence with Giovanni Spina on affairs of business, sending in accounts and drawing money by means of his then trusted servant, Stefano, the miniaturist.
Symonds, John Addington: "The Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti", Modern Library (New York), p.239
When Lord Leighton took over the Royal Academy it was a tumultuous period as they had been evicted from their former residence in Trafalgar Square and they were moving into their new one in London. The old Royal Academy was in the process of becoming the one we know today.