The French ambassador left; and at this time we lost the Castellina. And Messer Niccolo Vitelozzi(1) was going about sacking certain forts of Citta di Castello, and burning men, women, and children, with every sort of cruetly. After that, Messer Lorenzo of Citta di Castello(2) burnt some of our fortresses in the district of Arezzo, and committed atrocities, burning people. They were both cruel men. Such generally come to a bad end. Godly people, as we read in Holy Scripture, never come to a bad end.
(1) Or rather, Vitelli, ally of the Florentines and of Lorenzo de' Medici.
Brolio was taken by assault. And on the same day a man died of plague, in the Casa del Capitano(1), in prison, to which he had been condemned for life; and another man who was sick of the plague was taken out of prison and carried to the hospital of La Scala,(2) where all those sick of the plague were carried. At this time the plague had increased so much, that 40 or more were sick at the hospital, and 7 or 8 died every day, and some days even 11; besides others in the district who did not go to the hospital.
(1) THe house of the Capitano del Popolo, which was behind the Palazzo Vecchio.
(2) The hospital of the Scala was in the street of that name, at the corner of the Via Polverosa (now Via degli Oricellari), and where the convent of San Martino was afterwards built.
We regained Castelnuovo. At this time there were between 60 and 70 sick of the plague in the hospital and district together, and it was spreading to the camp also.
On this same day the enemy's camp was moved to the Monte a Sansovino. They were beginning to go a little further away.
A boy was found sick of the plague at the gate of the hospital of San Pagolo,(1) and no one could be found to carry him to the hospital of La Scala.
(1) On the Piazza Nuova di Santa Maria Novella, under the Loggie. This building, diminished in size, remained a hospital for many years. Lately, however, it has been changed into an educational institution for poor girls. (Trans.)
The "Eight," who were in office, and their notary, were deposed, for having burnt certain books.
And on the same day, the Monte a Sansovino was lost; the garrison capitulating on condition that their persons and property should be respected. And everyone said that if the truce had not been made, the enemy would have had to break up their camp, as they were so short of provisions that they could not have held out more than three days. Our forces never chose to make a sortie. Hence came the evil; and everyone marvelled that the enemy were not completely victorious after this, for they won much glory.
The plague was now decreasing.
The State arrested a son of Filippo Tornabuoni, called Alessandro, and he was confined within certain boundaries in Sicily. It was said to be because he had designs against Lorenzo de' Medici, who was his relative; this may not have been the case, but I only repeat what was said.(1)
At this time Pietrasanta was besieged very closely. There were many of our commissaries there, with a fine troop of men.
The wax tapers and the palii were now removed from San Giovanni, and the order was given that they should no longer be placed there.(2) The church was thoroughly cleaned, and remained perfectly simple without these decorations; up till this time all the offerings of tapers and palii used to be placed here, so that nothing of the church itself could be seen.
(1) On the day of san Giovanni (24th June) the magistrates stood on the ringhiera of the Palagio, to receive the deputations sent by tributary towns, the palii being hung round the ringhiera in order: from Pisa, Arezzo, Pistoia, Volterra, Cortona, Lusignano, Castiglione, Aretino, etc. The tapers were brought on splendid painted cars. The Marzocco was crowned four days before and four days after, and during this time there was an indemnity for debtors, etc. The tapers and palii were all put in San Giovanni, the palii being hung on iron rings, and remaining there for one year, when they were removed to place for the fresh ones. The old ones were used for decoration on public fetes, or for altar-cloths, or were sold by auction. (Trans.)
The Florentines made the Count of Pitigliano(1) Capitano, and gave him the baton. And the Sienese made the Signore da Farnese their Capitano.
And up till now my brother Gostanzo had gained 20 palii with his Barbary hose Draghetto, that is, 20 races from the 8th October, 1481, to the 25 June, 1485; the first was Santa Liperata, the next Sant' Anna, and San Vittorio several. Once when he won San Vittorio he sold the palio to the Aretini for 40 gold florins, and then he went to Arezzo and won it back again. And when he went to race at Siena, there was a tie between his horse and one belonging to Lorenzo de' Medici, called La Lucciola (Firefly), that of Gostanzo being in reality one head's length in advance of the other. And the people who were present declared that he had won, and told him to go to the magistrate, and they would bear witness. Gostanzo, however, refused to do this, out of respect for Lorenzo, and as it happened, Lorenzo was proclaimed the winner. Another year, also at Siena, a meaner trick was played him: namely, when Gostanzo's horse was a bowshot in advance, and reached the winning-post, he dismounted and got up on the palio; then another horse came up, and they said that Gostanzo's horse had not passed the winning-post, and that the other one had passed it. Therefore the prize was given to the other. A very great injustice, that a rider who had not won the palio should receive it! It was most unfortunate, as my brother had such a good horse. He rushed about so much after this Barbary horse that in the end it proved his death. He died on the 12th September, 1485.
(1) Niccola Orsini.
Piero de' Medici went to meet the Duke of Calabria, in the neighbourhood of Arezzo, to visit him, as one visits a great gentleman, a lord. The French ambassadors who were in Florence, having asked for their safe-conduct, and not receiving it at once, when they knew of this journey of Piero's began to suspect us of not being friendly to their king; at least this was said in the city, and it was said that the king threatened the Florentines. It was difficult to persuade them that we were faithful friends, and that their suspicions were without foundation. All this, however, I only heard by report.
In these days the fleet of the King of France arrived at Genoa, and there was much talk of an encounter.
13th January (Tuesday). The mortars were fetched from Arezzo and sent to Pisa, and many spingarde,(1) and a quantity of powder. All this time it was endeavoured to keep peace, amongst the discords of the citizens.
(1) Spingarda; a small old-fashioned piece of ordnance.
The Ten write to Galeotto Giugni, saying that Michelangelo's presence is urgently required at Florence, since the work of fortification is going on apace, "a multitude of men being employed, and no respect being paid to feast-days and holidays." It would also seem that toward the close of the month, Michelangelo is expected at Arezzo, in order to survey and make suggestions on the defences of the city.