The dedication of the cathedral of Florence was celebrated by Pope Eugenius IV and the papal chapel, then resident in Florence. The Pope's magister capellae (master, or leader, of the chapel) was then Guillaume Dufay, a native of the region of Cambrai in northern France.
The operai of the Florentine Cathedral stated that in order to improve the level of divine worship there, Ugolino de Giugnis, a canon of the Cathedral, was commissioned to elect "Magister Benotto and his associates who sing at the church of San Giovanni (the Baptistry) to sing Vespers at Santa Maria del Fiore on festive and solemn days." Another document dated the same day mentions writing to Lorenzo de' Medici, "ambassador of Florence to the pope, presently in Ferrara,' so that he could inform the pope of the decision, specifying the number of singers to join Benotto as three.
At this time the lantern of the cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore was begun; and the palace of Cosimo de' Medici; and the churches of San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito, and the Badia on the way to Fiesole; also many houses near the walls in the neighbourhood of San Barnaba and Sant'Ambrogio, and in several other parts.
(1) Some writers place this fact in 1472, and others in 1474, some mistake the year and not the month; but Landucci states the truth, which is confirmed by the following two extracts taken from the Archives of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. On the 28th May, 1471, 2 lire 8 soldi given to Marchione, servant of the Opera (Administrative Office), to buy bread and wine for the workmen when they put up the ball. And on the 1st June 3 lire paid to the trumpeters of the Palagio; taken by Matteo di Madonna Andreagia, to be given them for their trouble when they played on the lantern when the cross was put up (Quaderna di Cassa, ad an).
A bell was hung in Santa Maria del Fiore, the largest of all, recast.
A lad of about twenty-three, a peasant from the neighbourhood of the Sieci, was arrested, who on Easter night had shut himself up in Santa Maria del Fiore, and hidden under the altar of Our Lady towards the Chapter-house; the next morning he robbed the Madonna of certain silver ornaments on her arms and legs and eyes, and behaved in a disgusting way to show his contempt. And imagine how utterly worthless this crazy fellow was, when he had only been liberated by the captain on Holy Thursday after having been imprisoned for theft. On Saturday he was hung from the Campanile. I have mentioned him rather than others, because having been let out of prison on Thursday, the very next Sunday he committed this outrage.
At about 15 in the forenoon (11 a.m.) in Santa Maria del Fiore, whilst high mass was being celebrated and the Host elevated, Giuliano, son of Piero, son of Cosimo de' Medici, and Francesco Nori were killed, near the choir of the said church towards the door which goes to the Servi; and Lorenzo de' Medici was wounded in the neck, and fled into the sacristy and escaped. They were killed in consequence of a certain conspiracy made by Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi and Franceschino de' Pazzi and Guglielmo de' Pazzi, the which Guglielma was he brother-in-law of Lorenzo de' Medici, his wife being a sister of theirs, called Bianca. And the sons of Messer Piero de' Pazzi were also there, that is, Andrea and Renato and Niccolo; and of the house of Salviati, there were Francesco, Bishop of Pisa, and Jacopo Salviati, who was son-in-law to Filippo Tornabuoni, and another Jacopo also a Salviati, and Jacopo, son of Messer Poggio, Bracciolini and Bernardo Bandini of the house of Baroncegli, and Amerigo Corsi, and many others. The conspirators brought Cardinal di San Giorgio(1) here, who was a young man; he entered Florence on the day above-mentioned, and they all came together in Santa Maria del Fiore, and, as I have said, at the elevation of the Host seized their swords, and it is said that Francesco de' Pazzi struck Giuliano, and Bandini the other. And having killed Giuliano they wanted to kill Lorenzo, but did not succeed, as he fled into the sacristy. Meantime the Bishop de' Salviati, with Jacopo, son of Messer Poggio, and two of his relatives who were both called Jacopo, went to the Palagio, with several priests, feigning to desire to speak to the Signoria, and they spoke to the Gonfaloniere, and became somewhat confused. The Gonfaloniere perceived the treachery, and he and his companions shut themslves up here and there, and ordered the doors to be closed, and the bell run for a parlamento. And what with the rumour which came from Santa Maria del Fiore of Giuliano's death and the bell ringing at the Palagio, the city was immediately in arms. And Lorenzo de' Medici was taken to his house. Meantime Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi rushed on horseback to the Piazza de' Signori, crying "Popolo e liberta!" (The People and Liberty!), wishing to take the Palagio, but the bishop not having succeeded in getting possession of it, Messer Jacopo was not able to enter. He then went towards his own house, and was advised to take to flight; and he fled by the Porta all Croce, together with many men-at-arms, in the Piazza and at Lorenzo de' Medici's house. And numbers of men on the side of the conspirators were killed in the Piazza; amongst others a priest of the bishop's was killed there, his body being quartered and the head cut off, and then the head was stuck on the top of a lance, and carried about Florence the whole day, and one quarter of his body was carried on a spit all through the city, with the cry of: "Death to the traitors!" That same evening the cardinal was taken to the Palagio, barely escaping with his life, all his companions being captured without exception.
And the bishop remained in the Palagio with all the rest. And that evening they hung Jacopo, son of Messer Poggio, from the windows of the Palagio de' Signori, and likewise the Bishop of Pisa, and Franceschino de' Pazzi, naked; and about twenty men besides, some at the Palagio de' Signori, and others at the Palagio dell Podesta and at the Casa del Capitano, all at the windows.
The next day (the 27th) they hung Jacopo Salviati, son-in-law of Filippo Tornabuoni, and the other Jacopo, also at the windows, and many others of the households of the cardinals and of the bishop. And the day after that (the 28th April, 1478), Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi was captured at Belforte. And that evening of the 28th, about 23 in the evening (7 p.m.), Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi and Renato de' Pazzi were hung at the windows of the Palagio de'' Signori, above the ringhiera(2); and so many of their men with them, that during these three days the number of those killed amounted to more than seventy. The cardinal remained a prisoner of the Palagio, and no harm was done him, except that he was made to write to the Holy Father, with his own hand, all that had happened. And the same day the prisoners in the Stinche(3) managed to break open the prison, and all escaped - with the exception of one unfortunate man who was captured and hung.
(1) Rafaello Riario.
(2) The ringhiera was the platform consisting in three steps and railing, which used to be round the Palagio (Palazzo Vecchio) on the front and on the north. It was used for haranguing the people and was only demolished in 1812, when the present steps and platform replaced it. (Trans.)
(3) The Stinche were the old prisons, which formed a large rectangular mass between the Via del Diluvio (now Via del Fosso), the Via del Palagio (now Via Ghibellina), the Via del Mercatino, and the Via de' Lavatoi. The exterior walls were extremely high, and windowless. The name was derived from that of a fortress which had rebelled against Florence at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and which the Florentines retook, bringing the prisoners back as a trophy. Originally intended for traitors and revels, these prisons were used afterwards for various purposes, even for madmen; whilst later on debtors and bankrupts were confined there, and others with life-sentences. In 1835, under the Grand-duke Leopold, it was decreed that they should be sold, and shops and houses were built on the area; also the large hall, called Filamonica, and riding-school, afterwards replaced by the Pagliani theatre, now called the Verdi. (Trans.)
The Holy Father gave a plenary indulgence in Santa Maria del Fiore for one day, from vespers on the 24th March till the next vespers, on the 25th March, which people availed themselves of with great devotion. The Cause of this was the preaching of Brother Antonio da Vergiegli in Santa Maria del Fiore during Lent, which bore good fruit.
(1) The provision is of the 16th March, 1478, Old Style, and perhaps the 25th is the day on which it was published. It was made to limit the concession of safe-conducts, and the causes which led to it may be read in the exordium which I have pleasure in publishing as a document which describes the way of thinking at that time. "The high and magnificent Signori having in mind how grave is the sin of homicide, by which man, a creature made and created in the image of God, is destroyed; and seeking the reasons why it is so very frequent under our jurisdiction; find among other things that it is encouraged by the facility of pardon and roper severity not being used in punishing such a detestable and abominable excess, he who commits the homicide being allowed to be continually in the presence of those who have suffered from the offence and of those who desire to live virtuously; none of whom can regard such manslayers without great indignation and perturbation of mind. And although the laws of the Florentine people bitterly avenge and punish such crimes, and give security against them; notwithstanding, whatever may be the reason, either too great humanity (which in reality one ought to call cruelty), or else undisciplined charity, such entirely right and just decrees are not properly observed. And the high Signori and discreet chief citizens wish to remedy these things which are so contrary to honest living and against divine laws, by making the fear of pubishment deter men from committing them, when they are deprived of all hope of pardon, and by adjuring the magistrates not only not to overlook such things, but to enforce the law with severity, hoping firmly that this provision may hav ea good effect" (State Archives of Florence, Consigli maggiori Provv. Reg. ad annum).
The term "Signori e Collegi" used in the decrees meant as follows: the Signori were the eight Priori and the Gonfaloniere della Giustizia, and the Collegi were the sixteen Gonfalonieri della Compagnie and the twelve men (three from each quarter) formerly called the twelve Buonuomini, who were summoned by the Signori to take council on almost every occasion. (Trans.)
On Easter Sunday, in an incident called the Pazzi conspiracy, a group including members of the Pazzi family, backed by the Archbishop of Pisa and his patron Pope Sixtus IV, attacks Lorenzo de' Medici and his brother and co-ruler Giuliano in the Cathedral of Florence. Giuliano is killed, but Lorenzo escapes with only a stab wound.
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.)
One Fra Bernardino,(1) of the Franciscan Order, having been elected preacher for Lent in Santa Maria del Fiore, preached very enthusiastically over and over again, persuading the people to make a Monte di Pieta, and to send away the Jews. As a consequence the boys got incensed against the Jews, and a number of them went to the house of a Jew called Manullino, who was a moneylender at the Vacca,(2) wanting to assassinate him and to pillage his premises. The "Eight," however, promptly sent their men to stop the mischief and published proclamations threatening offenders with the gallows. Thus the commotion was soon ended. The next morning, the 13th, the "Eight" sent to Fra Bernardino forbidding him to continue preaching, and despatched him to the Osservanza di San Miniato.(2) But even that did not satisfy them, and the morning after, Friday the 14th, the "Eight" sent their men again, some of them actually going in person, and commanded him to leave the neighbourhood entirely. This seemed a bad prognostic to those who were desirous to live a Christian life, as he was considered a saint. And it was not long before misfortunes happened to some of these "Eight": one of them broke his neck by falling from his horse, another this thing, and another that. Amongst the rest, that one who had gone in person to drive Fra Bernardino away from the Osservanza died mad in hospital. This the matter ended ill. God save us!
(1) The Beato Bernardino da Feltre.
(2) The Vacca was that piece of street which began between the houses of the archbishop's palace and the Ghetto, and led to the Piazza degli Orlandini. There was a money-changer's office in this spot in the fourteenth century also, and it belonged to a Christian.
In Santa Maria del Fiore a stone half as big as a mule's pack fell from one of the rough windows high up on the cupola, towards the sacristy where the priests robe themselves; it fell just at the side of the choir. It happened at the hour when the priests robe themselves to say vespers, but although the church was already full of people, it hurt no one, which was a marvellous thing. God was pleased to be so gracious.
Lorenzo's son, the cardinal, received the hat from the Pope.(1) It was given him at the Badia on the way to Fiesole (i.e. at San Domenico), and many citizens went out to meet him when he came into Florence to visit the Signoria; and the next day he went to hear mass in Santa Maria del Fiore. And on this day the Signoria presented him with 30 loads of gifts carried by porters, being silver plate, and basins, and ewers, and dishes, and all the silver utensils that can possibly be used by a great lord. According to what was said, they were estimated at more than 20 thousand florins, although that seems impossible to me; but it was public report, and therefore I set it down. It was certainly a rich and magnificent gift. Praise be to God!
(1) When he had been made cardinal in 1488 he had not received the insignia, being only thirteen years old.
At about 3 at night (11 p.m.) the lantern of the cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore was struck by a thunderbolt and it was split almost in half; that is, one of the marble niches and many other pieces of marble on the side towards the door leading to the Servi,(1) were taken off in a miraculous way; none of us had ever in our lives seen lightning have such an effect before. If it had happened at the time when the sermon was being preached (for a sermon is preached every morning now, with 15 thousand people listening), it must of necessity have killed hundreds of persons. But the Lord did not permit it. This marble niche fell and struck the roof of the church between the two doors which lead to the Servi, and broke the roof and the vaulting in five places, finally fixing itself in the brick floor of the church. And many bricks and much other material from the vaulting fell also, reaching as far as the benches placed for the sermon, where many people would have been sitting. Some material fell in the choir as well, but not very much. Many pieces of marble fell outside the building, beyond the door leading to the Servi; one piece falling on the stepping-stones in the street, and after having split the stone, burying itself underground; another piece was hurled across the street, and struck the roof of the house opposite the said door, where it split the roof and many beams and vaultings, and finally buried itself in the ground under the cellar. Although the house was full of people, no one was injured. A man called Luca Ranieri lived there. You may imagine that they nearly died of amazement and terror at the fearful noise; for besides that which fell into the cellar, many pieces fell on the roofs all around. The gallery on the cupola was also injured.(2)
And observe that this great niche fell inside the church, and made a large hole in the pavement; but did not spoil anything, not even the worth of a grosso. It was considered a great marvel, and significative of some extraordinary event, especially as it had happened suddenly, when the weather was calm, and the sky without a cloud.
(1) See note to 26th April, 1478.
(2) In the Maruccellian Code we read on that margin this note: "The following fact happened in the year . . . that the same church was struck by lightning, with a similar effect, and a block of marble was detached and remained resting on certain beams, which would have killed many if it had fallen; and Messer Vincenzio, the sculptor, was there."
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)
(1) On the same day the Signoria itself decreed that as long as the king remained in Florence each householder should keep a light burning every night in a window looking on to the street, from eight o'clock in the evening till one o'clock in the morning. And there was also a debate whether the keys of the Porte a San Frediano, San Gallo, and San Piero Gattolini (now Porta Romana) should be given to him.
The king rode out with a great troop of horsemen, and came to the Croce di San Giovanni; and when he was near the steps of Santa Maria del Fiore, he turned back and went towards the Servi; but having gone a few paces, he turned round again, and again went to the Croce di San Giovanni,(1) going at the back of San Giovanni, through that narrow Chiassolino,(2) and coming under the Volta di San Giovanni, d' Cialdonai(2); and those who saw him laughed,(3) and said slighting things of him, causing his reputation to suffer. Then he went through the Mercato Vecchio, and on as far as San Felice in Piazza, to see the festa of San Felice, which they were having on his account; but when he reached the door he would not enter; and they repeated everything several times, but he did not enter once.(4) Many people said that he was afraid, and did not wish to be shut in, and this proved to us that he was more afraid than we were; and woe to him if a disturbance had begun, although there would also have been great danger for us. But the Lord has always helped us, on account of the prayers of His servants and of the number of holy monks and nuns in the city, who are in truth on their way to God. At this time two Venetian ambassadors to the king arrived, and there were also the Genoese ambassadors, who came, it was said, to demand Serezzana and other things from him.
(1) The column with a small cross at the top of it, which was put up to commemorate the miracle of San Zenobi, in the year 341, as stated in the inscription. It was broken down by the flood of 1333 and set up again, which accounts for the inscription not being so old. (Trans.)
(2) This Chiassolino (alley) and the Volta da' Cialdonai were demolished when the Piazza was enlarged. (Trans.)
(3) The autographic MS. has a gap from page 17 till the 1st December, 1494; therefore I have supplied the missing pages from the MS. copy at the Marucelliana Library (Jodico del Badia).
(4) I copy this fragment from the Storie of Jacopo Nardi, who disagrees from what Landucci says here: "His Majesty the King, having rested a few days, was entertained by the representation of some solemn and beautiful feste, like that very singular one of the Virgine Annunziata, which is represented with ingenious and marvellous skill in the Church of San Felice in Piazza, and which pleased and delighted him so much, that having seen it once publicly, he wished to see it again incognito and privately." Our author also mentions this edificio (representation) of the Annunciation on 16th November, 1494. In Vasari's Life of Brunelleschi this is finely described.
Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:
The king went together with the Signoria to hear mass at Santa Maria del Fiore and here he swore to observe the articles which had been drawn up, and which were as follows: that we should lend him 120 thousand florins, giving him 50 thousand florins now, and the rest before the end of July 1495; and that he should leave and give back to us the forts of Pisa and all the others; and leave our territory free and unmolested; and that Piero de' Medici should be confined to boundaries 100 miles away from Florence; and that the price of 2000 florins placed upon his head should be taken off, and also off his brothers'. All this he swore to observe, on the altar of Santa Maria del Fiore, before Christ Jesus, on the word of a king.(1)
(1) These articles had been signed the preceding day in the palace of the Medici, where the king was quartered. The Marquis Gino Capponi published them in the Archivio Storico Italiano, I Serie, vol. I., pp. 348-75. There are twenty-seven articles, and the last twelve regard entirely the persons and interests of the Medici.
Landucci, Luca, trans. Alice de Rosen Jervis, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1927. "A Florentine Diary", p. 71
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
14th December (Sunday). We heard how those Frenchmen who were marking the houses in Rome had been driven away, and many had been killed; the Romans wishing to defend themselves and not accept the Frenchmen in their city.
This same day we heard that the Pope and the cardinals had entered the castle of Sant' Angelo, and that the Duke of Calabria had arrived there with a large force, so that it was judged that it would fare badly with the French. It was also said that the king had sent a proclamation to Pisa, to the effect that the Pisans should submit to the Florentines; otherwise the Florentines would make such war upon them that they would be entirely destroyed, at the expense of the said King of France; that is to say that the money which he was to receive would be used instead for the cost of such an expedition; which was not true, but there was always a great deal of talk.(1)
The same day Fra Girolamo did his utmost in the pulpit to persuade Florence to adopt a good form of government; he preached in Santa Maria del Fiore every day, and to-day which was a Sunday, he wished that there should be no women, but only men; he wished that only the Gonfalonier and one of the Signori should remain in the Palagio, and that all the offices of Florence should be there; and he preached much about State matters, and that we ought to love and fear God, and love the common weal; and no one must set himself up proudly above the rest. He always favoured the people and he insisted that no one ought to be put to death, but there must be other forms of punishment; and he continued to preach in this manner every morning. Many forms were drawn up, and there was much controversy among the citizens, so that every day it was expected that the bell would be rung for a parlamento.
(1) There must have been some truth in it, as we read in the Memoriale of Portoveneri, where there are so many notices of the rebellion and war of Pisa, that on the 4th December there reached this city a herald from the king with the articles which the latter had agreed to with the Florentines, in which it is said: "Everything must be given back that formerly belonged to the Florentines. And this day the said messenger of the King has gone to Sarzana and to Pietrasanta and to Fivizzano and to Bagnone and to Castel-Nuovo and all Luligiana, to consign it to the Florentines." This was agreed to in the treaty.