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French invasion of the Italian peninsula

1494

The 66 tons of bronze which has been set aside to cast Leonardo's equestrian statue is sent instead to Ferrara to make cannons for the war against France.

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1494

King Charles VIII of France invades the Italian peninsula, throwing the city states into the turmoil of war.

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King Charles VIII (1470-1498), aged 24: king

Source: Primary

Luca Landucci

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1494

May 4

on Friday

4 months, 3 days later

Four French ambassadors entered Florence. They were lodged in the house which formerly belonged to Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a new moon that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.

1494

May 5

on Saturday

1 day later

They went to the Signoria, and having set forth the matters entrusted to them, receive a reply. On the 7th they left, and went to Rome.(1)

(1) During their sojourn in Florence they were served with the silver plate of the Signoria; and to do them honour, the musicians of the Signoria were sent to play before them.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a new moon that night.
Sunrise in Rome was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.

1494

July 10

on Tuesday

2 months, 6 days later

The French ambassadors returned from Rome; one of them remaining in Florence.

In these days the fleet of the King of Naples came to the Port of Pisa, and besieged Spezia and Porto Venere.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the first quarter that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 6:00 AM and sunset was at 6:07 PM.
Sunrise in Rome was at 6:00 AM and sunset was at 6:07 PM.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 6:00 AM and sunset was at 6:07 PM.
Sunrise in Porto Venere was at 6:00 AM and sunset was at 6:07 PM.

1494

August 5

on Sunday

26 days later

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.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing crescent that night.
Sunrise in Arezzo was at 6:01 AM and sunset was at 6:08 PM.
Sunrise in Genoa was at 6:01 AM and sunset was at 6:08 PM.

1494

September

27 days later

Leonardo da Vinci drops plans for the Sforza monument until it can be cast and begins reclamation work in the Sforza lands near Vigevano, freeing one vast tract of water and converting another to a grazing area.

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1494

September 11

on Tuesday

10 days later

The fleet of the King of Naples was defeated at Rapallo by that King of France and the Genoese; not in an encounter, but the Neapolitan fleet rashly landed 3 thousand soldiers, thinking to take Rapallo; and in the end they were cut off by the Genoese and the king, and could not return to their ships. They fled towards the mountains, and were all killed or taken prisoner; the fleet of the King of Naples being disarmed and destroyed.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing gibbous that night.
Sunrise in Rapallo was at 5:53 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.

1494

September 21

on Friday

10 days later

We heard that the King of France had entered Genoa, and that the Genoese were preparing to receive him with great honour, having decorated the whole city, and even taken down the gates and laid them on the ground, to show more splendour and to ensure the king's safety. But it was not true that the king was going there, although they expected him and had made all the preparations. It was said that he felt distrustful of the citizens.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Genoa was at 5:49 AM and sunset was at 5:56 PM.

1494

October 4

on Thursday

13 days later

More ambassadors from the King of France came to Florence, and going to the Signoria, could not obtain a decisive answer but only a vague one; so that on the 9th they both left Florence in indignation, and returned to the king without a safe-conduct. It was then said that the king swore to let his soldiers pillage Florence; and everyone thought it had been a piece of folly and rashness not to give the safe-conduct readily.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing crescent that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:45 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.

1494

October 23

on Tuesday

19 days later

We heard that the Duke of Calabria was dead, having died a natural death at Naples, possibly from despondency. It was extraordinary that father and son should have died within such a short interval, just when their country was in so much danger. Truly the fullness of time had come, and the hand of God struck. These things make us lay aside our pride, and take refuge in faith, when we consider that it will be the same for us all. Messer Francesco (Ah, you Frenchmen!), what is the use of subjugating other countries? May God pardon us our sins!

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Naples was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.

1494

October 26

on Friday

3 days later

Piero de' Medici left here to go on the way to Pisa, to meet the King of France; and when he reached the king, he caused the keys of Serezzano and of Pietrasanta to be given him, and also made him promises of money. The king wishing to know whether in truth he had been given this commission, sent Lorenzo, son of Giovanni Tornabuoni, who had gone with Piero de' Medici, back to Florence, to get it confirmed by the Signoria; but they refused to confirm it. Lorenzo, in some consternation, did not return to the French camp, and Piero was rather at fault. He acted like a young fellow, and perhaps with good results, since we remained friends with the king, thank God!

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.
Sunrise in Serezzano was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.
Sunrise in Pietrasanta was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.

1494

October 29

on Monday

3 days later

The French took Fiovizzano by assault and sacked it.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a new moon that night.
Sunrise in Fiovizzano was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.

1494

November 4

on Sunday

6 days later

A proclamation was published by the Signoria, obliging everyone to give lodging to the French; and assuring them that nothing would be touched or taken away.(1) Most people were not pleased, because the Signoria showed more fear than was needful; they might have waited till any trouble began, although it was unpleasant for us. But God never removed His hand from off our head, because He heard the tears, and sighs, and prayers of His servants, who walk in truth, and who pray to Him all the day long that He should be merciful to the good and upright of heart, and to those who love the honour and glory of God above all things, praising Him in adversity as in prosperity, and desire nothing but to fulfil His will.

(1) I find that on the 11th November the Signori e Collegi decreed: Quod nullus audeat resistere aperire et reserrare domum suam quin gentes Regis Francorum possint capere lodiamenta et habere receptum. Significando cuilibet persone quod nulli erit facta aliqua iniuria.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the first quarter that night.

1494

November 5

on Monday

1 day later

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.

And observe that there were not hundreds but thousands of the French, so that the whole city was occupied in every corner; for those houses that were not marked were occupied in a moment when the men-at-arms and the infantry arrived, going into every street, and saying: Apri qua! (Open there!) and not caring whether the owners were rich or poor. They gave it to be understood that they meant to pay: but there were not many who paid. And when they did pay a certain amount, they paid for the horns and ate the ox (Italian proverb): "They didn't pay anything like what they cost." Few of us had sent away our womenkind, except the young girls, who were sent to convents and to relatives where no soldiers were quartered; but the French were really very well-behaved, for there was not a single one who said an unsuitable word to a woman. In their hearts they felt a secret dread, and kept asking how many men Florence could dispose of; and they were told that at the sound of a bell the city would have 100 thousand men from within and without at her command. The truth was this: that they had come with the idea of sacking Florence, as their king had promised them but they could not see the game begun, much less won. And all this was the doing of the Almighty.

On this same day, five ambassadors were chosen to go to the King of France, who was at Pisa. They were as follows: First, Fra Girolamo, a preacher of the Order of San Domenico, dwelling at San Marco, a native of Ferrara; whom we believe to be a prophet, and he does not deny it in his sermons, but always says da parte del Signore (I have it from the Lord . . .), and he preaches on important subjects. The second, Tanai de' Nerli; the third, Pandolfo Rucellai; the fourth, Giovanni Cavalcanti; and the fifth, Piero Soderini; all Florentine citizens. And they left the next day.

On the same day a number of French arrived, who were the vanguard of the king, and lodged in the houses assigned to them, which were marked with chalk. This evening at about 2 o'clock (10 p.m.) a few strokes of the bell were heard from the Palagio; and immediately the Piazza was full of men, it being thought that a portamento was going to be summoned, for everyone was excited and distrustful, continually expecting great events.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the first quarter that night.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.

1494

November 8

on Thursday

3 days later

Piero de' Medici returned to Florence, coming from the King of France, who was at Pisa; and when he reached his house, he threw out confetti (sweetmeats), and gave a lot of wine to the people, to make himself popular; declaring that he had settled everything satisfactorily with the king, and appearing to be in the best of humours.

This same day, the Signori published a proclamation that as long as the king should stay in Florence there would be no tax on firewood or on any kind of food; and only the half of the usual tax on wine; also that anyone might sell and provide meals.(1)

(1) This proclamation is really of the 6th November, and the exemptions and diminutions of the tax conceded by it are a little different from those quoted here: the duration of these was from the 9th to the 20th, and on the latter date they were prorogued for the whole month. This was done "in order that there should be an abundance of victuals in the city both for its inhabitants and the foreigners, and to help the poor people."

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing gibbous that night.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:40 AM and sunset was at 5:47 PM.

1494

November 11

on Sunday

3 days later

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.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a full moon that night.
Sunrise in Empoli was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.

1494

November 12

on Monday

1 day later

Lorenzo son of Piero Francesco de' Medici returned, and dined at this own house of the Gora, and the same evening he went to meet the king, who was stopping at Legniaia, in the house of Piero Capponi. And on this same day the Bargello was made prisoner in the church of the Servi.(1) Also more French entered the city than any other day, and they filled every house, even the poorest, including all Camaldoli.

(1) His name was Piero Antonio dall' Aquila. The day before, a reward had been promised to anyone who would give information as to where he was hidden; and on the 14th the Priors decreed quod dono tradatur to the Signor Giovanni da Maddaloni, oratore (representative) of the King of France, who would receive him in the king's name.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a full moon that night.
Sunrise in Camaldoli was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.
Sunrise in Legniaia was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.

1494

November 13

on Tuesday

1 day later

We heard that the Pisans had risen and taken possession of the city; and pulling down a certain marble marzocco, had dragged it all over Pisa, and then thrown it into the Arno, crying, "Liberta!" We also heard that Piero and his brothers were at Bologna; and such a crowd of French and Swiss were coming into Florence, that there was great confusion and alarm and suspicion amongst all classes. You may think what it was to have all this crowd in our houses, and everything left as usual, with the women about, and to have to serve them with whatever they needed, at the greatest inconvenience.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a full moon that night.
Sunrise in Arno was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.
Sunrise in Bologna was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.

1494

November 14

on Wednesday

1 day later

Lorenzo son of Francesco de' Medici and his brother, and several other exiled citizens, returned to Florence, because the sentences were remitted of all those who had been exiled from 1434 onwards. Observe that Lorenzo de' Medici and his brother were also reinstated in their rights. And every house in the city was full.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a full moon that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:48 PM.

1494

November 15

on Thursday

1 day later

Numbers of French were still coming in; and preparations were made to receive the king with great honour.(1)

(1) Already on the 11th the Signoria had ordered that all the citizens, on the king's arrival, should go towards the Porta San Frediano, in as fine array as they could muster, to do him honour.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning gibbous that night.

1494

November 16

on Friday

1 day later

Many decorations were made for the king's arrival in the house of Piero de' Medici, and principally at the entrance of the palace. Two large columns were erected outside, one on each side of the gate, with ornamentation representing the arms of France, etc., too intricate to describe. It truly was a triumph; everything was done so well and on such a grand scale. I will not even begin to tell you how the interior was ordered. And spiritegli(1) and giants and triumphal cars went about the town, and stages on wheels for the miracle-play of the Nunziata, whilst there were innumerable embellishments and the arms of France all over Florence. Above the gate of the Palagio de' Signori were the said arms, very large and magnificently blazoned.

(1) See note to 5th July, 1478.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning gibbous that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:41 AM and sunset was at 5:49 PM.

1494

November 17

on Saturday

1 day later

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.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning gibbous that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:42 AM and sunset was at 5:49 PM.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 5:42 AM and sunset was at 5:49 PM.

1494

November 18

on Sunday

1 day later

The said king when to hear mass in Sa' Lorenzo, and I was at the same mass, and saw him quite close.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning gibbous that night.

1494

November 19

on Monday

1 day later

He again heard mass in Sa' Lorenzo; and then went for a ride through Florence, going to see the lions.(1) And it was his wish that some of the prisoners in the Palagio del Capitano should be liberated, those namely who were detained for political reasons; amongst them a Ser Lorenzo, and an Andrea, and others; and this desire of his to benefit the prisoners on the occasion of his passing through the town was granted.

(1) According to ancient custom, the Republic kept some lions in cages. These cages were behind the Palazzo del Capitano, now incorporated in the Palazzo Vecchio, whence the piece of street between Piazza di S. Firenze and the Logge del Grano is still called Via de' Leoni. This custom was discontinued towards the end of the seventeenth century.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:42 AM and sunset was at 5:49 PM.

1494

November 20

on Tuesday

1 day later

There were murmurs all over the city to the effect that the king wished to reinstate Piero de' Medici, and the ruling citizens seemed much vexed about this matter.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:42 AM and sunset was at 5:50 PM.

1494

November 21

on Wednesday

1 day later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

The city was in great dread of being pillaged, and it was considered a bad sign that the king did not wish to sign the agreement. The French seemed to be becoming more and more masters of the place; they did not allow the citizens to go about armed, day or night, but took away their weapons, and kept striking and stabbing them. No one ventured to speak or to go out after the Ave Maria (at 5 o'clock); and the French went about robbing in the night, their guards parading the city. Everyone was so discouraged and intimidated, that when they saw anyone carrying stones or gravel they went crazy and struck out.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:50 PM.

1494

November 21

on Wednesday

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.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Sarzana was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:50 PM.

1494

November 23

on Friday

2 days later

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.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.
Sunrise in Serezzano was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:50 PM.

1494

November 24

on Saturday

1 day later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

There was much whispering amongst the people, who said suspiciously: "This king doesn't know what he wishes; he has not yet signed the agreement." And many declared that some of his counsellors were endeavouring to hinder it, as there was a certain Signore di Bre,(1) lodging in the house of Giovanni Tornabuoni, who said that he had promised some people to get Piero reinstated, and to persuade the king to ask for this, but perhaps it was not true. This was, as I say, the opinion of many of the citizens, and therefore they were in great dread; still more so when it was said that the king was going this morning to dine in the Palagio with the Signori and that he had caused all the armed men to be removed from the Palagio, and he was going there with many armed men, so that everyone suspected him of evil designs. There was no one who did not take pains this morning to fill his house with bread and with weapons and with stones, and to strengthen his house as much as possible, everyone being of the mind and intention to die fighting, and to slay anyone if needful, in the manner of the Sicilian Vespers. And fear was so widespread(2) that when at the dinner hour people began to say Serra, serra! (Shut everything!), it came about that the whole of Florence locked itself in, one fleeing here and another there, without any fresh cause or disturbance, the consequence being that many of the French rushed to the Porta a San Friano and took possession of the Ponte alia Carraia. And in Borgo Ognissanti and in Via Palazzuolo, and in Borgo San Friano, so many stones were thrown from the windows that they were not able to get to the gates; and when they asked the reason of it, no one knew. Therefore the king did not go to dine in the Palagio; and, by divine permission, the French became so uneasy that it caused them to change their evil intentions towards us who only had good ones. Anyone can see that God does not abandon Florence, but we are not sufficiently grateful. At this time we heard that the French troops which had been in Romagna were passing by in the neighbourhood of Dicomano.

(1) Some Florentines historians call him di Bles, and it was Philippe de Bresse, afterwards Duke of Savoy.

(2) The greatest confusion seems to have been caused by the Swiss, who were quartered near the Porta al Prato inside and out, and who tried to force their way through Borgo Ognissanti, in order to approach the king's quarters.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.
Sunrise in Dicomano was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.
Sunrise in Emilia-Romagna was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.

1494

November 25

on Sunday

1 day later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

There was nothing new except that the French were so alarmed that they stood on guard night and day. They took the citizens' arms from them, and robbed anyone whom they encountered at night; so that some of those bold Florentines who had had the idea of slaying the French when they met them at night, were themselves slain or wounded. If the French had stayed longer they (these rash Florentines) would have gone the right way to work to bring about trouble. It is always the case that certain thoughtless men endanger cities, not considering what it means to kindle the spark; it may happen that a man of no account arouses the anger of a king by some piece of folly, without the city being to blame.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.

Source: Primary

Landucci, Luca, trans. Alice de Rosen Jervis, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1927. "A Florentine Diary", p. 71

1494

November 26

on Monday

1 day later

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.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a new moon that night.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 5:44 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.

1494

November 27

on Tuesday

1 day later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

The king went out to see certain tents which had been set up on the Prato d'Ognissanti, and which had been presented to him by the Duke of Ferrara; there being one for the king himself that was really magnificent, with a sitting-room, a bedroom, and a chapel, and many other things besides. He was to have left this morning, but did not do so; the joy-bells were rung and bonfires were made. This morning more of the troops from Romagna reached Dicomano, and were quartered there, about 20 horses being put into my place even. I left my young son Benedetto there, and they nearly slew him several times, although he paid them proper respect, as I had impressed upon him. It was at a great cost to us. They were quartered everywhere, in the Val di Sieve, as far as the Ponte a Sieve and the Sieci, and then they went on along the upper valley of the Arno.(1)

(1) The king having proclaimed that all those who were with him should pay, on leaving, for everything that they had had, the Signoria, with a proclamation on this date, ordered the Florentines to be lenient in their demands, and requested anybody who thought himself overcharged to have recourse to them, threatening to cut off the hand of anyone who should offend the French. The following day they imposed the punishment of six blows of the lash upon anyone who should molest or strike the French.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a new moon that night.
Sunrise in Emilia-Romagna was at 5:44 AM and sunset was at 5:52 PM.
Sunrise in Dicomano was at 5:44 AM and sunset was at 5:52 PM.

1494

November 29

on Thursday

2 days later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

The rest of the king's troops which were in Romagna went past here, coming from San Godenzo to Dicomano and to the Ponte a Sieve, and then going along the upper valley of the Arno, doing much damage. At Corella they slew about eleven men, and took others prisoners and placed ransoms upon them; ruining all the country like a flame of fire. The wall of my house at Dicomano was broken, and also all the locks, whilst my farm was entered forcibly, and suffered not a little, the wine and corn being consumed, and any household goods to which they took a fancy being carried off. Those whom they slew at Corella were certain old men who had come to receive them, but there was a misunderstanding. It is true that at first certain young men had come out and tried to force them back, but these old men caused the others to desist; these brutes of Frenchmen, however, struck them on the head and left them lying dead in the fields; and they committed cruelties on all sides.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a new moon that night.
Sunrise in Emilia-Romagna was at 5:45 AM and sunset was at 5:52 PM.
Sunrise in Dicomano was at 5:45 AM and sunset was at 5:52 PM.
Sunrise in Corella was at 5:45 AM and sunset was at 5:52 PM.
Sunrise in Arno was at 5:45 AM and sunset was at 5:52 PM.

1494

December 12

on Wednesday

13 days later

12th December (Friday). Antonio di Bernardo di Miniato was hung, in the morning before dawn, at the windows of the Casa del Capitano; and he remained hanging there till 24 in the evening (8 p.m.). During these days the French in the district of Cortona had taken some silk belonging to the Florentines, which was coming from the Levant, and was worth 40 thousand florins, and were not willing to return it. They returned it in the end, however, though it cost a lot of trouble.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a full moon that night.
Sunrise in Levant was at 5:51 AM and sunset was at 5:58 PM.
Sunrise in Cortona was at 5:51 AM and sunset was at 5:58 PM.

1494

December 14

on Friday

2 days later

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.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a full moon that night.
Sunrise in Castelnuovo was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.
Sunrise in Pietrasanta was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.
Sunrise in Rome was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.
Sunrise in Sarzana was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:52 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.

1495

January 8

on Tuesday

25 days later

8th January (Thursday). It was said that the King of France wished to have the Castel Sant' Agnolo and the Pope and the cardinals, and the brother of the Turk,(1) who were in the said castello, delivered over to him.

(1) This was Zim or Gemme, son of the great Maometto and brother of the reigning Bajazet II., with whom he was disputing the Empire, and therefore he had taken refuge with the Pope.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing gibbous that night.

1495

January 9

on Wednesday

1 day later

9th January (Friday). We heard that the king had caused the French to give up certain silks belonging to Florence, which they had taken, and that they were in the hands of the Florentines in Rome; and that he was treating the Florentine nation well. And every day there passed horses with loads of French clothes (probably uniforms), which went to the French camp at Rome.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a full moon that night.
Sunrise in Rome was at 6:04 AM and sunset was at 6:12 PM.

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