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From this time till near the middle that earthly paradise. The scope of the thirteenth century, we find the of our paper does not allow us city steadily increasing in import- to detail the attempts — successful ance, though disturbed with the and the reverse-to gain a footing quarrels of its Guelphic and Ghibel on Italian soil under Henry IV., line chiefs, and impeded by some Henry the Proud, Henry the Lion, bloody struggles with its neighbours. and Frederick Red-beard, in the From 1293, the supreme chief was eleventh and twelfth centuries. These called the Gonfalonier (standard- attempts were always resisted by the bearer), but so jealous were the Popes and as many of the little muFlorentines ever of the long reten- nicipalities as wished to preserve tion of power in any one's hands, free and popular governments, and that their standard-bearer was re restrict German influence to districts lieved of his burthen at the end of north of the Alps. As a rule, Flotwo months.
rence, Bologna, and Milan, exhibiIn the middle of the fourteenth ted a Guelphic or anti-German spirit, century, we find the nobles destitute while Pisa, Arezzo, and Verona, of any effective influence in the supported the Ghibelline or prostate; and the chief management German pretensions. The names resting in the hands of the demo- themselves are said to be corruptions cratic families, the Alberti, the of two German patronymics, WaibRicci, and their patrician rivals, the linger and Welf. The families to Albizzi. In the year 1348, occurred whom these surnames belonged had the terrible pestilence, so well-re- been at open feud with each other membered by the readers of the for a long time; and at the battle of Decamerone. One hundred thousand Weinsberg in Suabia, 1140, Duke of the inhabitants perished in it. Conrad of Hohenstaufen, and Henry
the Lion, Duke of Saxony, of the
family of Wolf, both claimants of the About the beginning of the thir- Empire, raised the war cries Hoch teenth century, the great family with Waiblinger! and Hoch Welf! to which our paper is chiefly occupied animate their followers. These began to distinguish themselves as names assumed the sounds of benefactors to their city, by their at- Ghibellini and Guelfi in the mouths tention to its traffic and the share of the Italians. they took in public affairs. From 1378, when Salvaestro dei Medicis
THE FORTUNES OF COSMO DE MEDICIS. filled the office of Gonfalonier, the But, as mentioned above, the importance of the family held on in- Great Giovanni has died, and left to creasing, till Giovanni dei Medicis, his sons, Cosmo and Lorenzo, a who died in 1429, left to his sons, nearly incalculable amount of properCosmo and Lorenzo, an inheritance ty, and more care and anxiety conof wealth and honours not pre- nected with it than the generality of viously found attendant in any Flo even mercantile men would willingly rentine family
receive, even if accompanied by all Before we proceed further, it seems the treasures of Europe and Asia. It advisable to remove an obstacle out was supposed that the ex-Pope, of the of some few of our read- Balthazar Cossa, had revealed to ers, to whom the words Guelphs and Cosmo a hidden treasure of immense Ghibellines present no definite ideas. value. But even that could scarcely Since the early irruption of the Goths account for the mighty traffic which into the plains and valleys of Italy, he was directing a few years later in the German Emperors have ever in all the countries between Persia and dulged in the sin of covetousness for Spain, both kingdoms included. The
RISE OF THE MEDICIS.
Great Turk was on intimate business fice to maintain several ordinary relations with Cosmo. He allowed houses. His boundless riches enhis agents to take up their posts in abled him to purchase the finest the best positions of Thrace and stuffs and the rarest spices on the Asia Minor for business, having for spot, and have them removed at low political reasons dislodged the agents freights, and his agents sold them at of Genoa and Venice. The Emirs cheaper rates by one-third than they of Babylon and the Egyptian Mame- could be got from others. Thus an lukes, facilitated for him the transit affluence of purchasers resorted to of silks and other precious articles his establishments, while those of from the East. He even purchased his fellow-traders were left to mind the relics of their once greatness themselves.” from the existing descendants of the The outcry against monster emperors of Constantinople. houses, some years since, is yet re
The chief families in Florence, membered. Let us suppose that besides the Medicis, were the the Lord Mayor of the day called a Strozzi, the Petrucci, the Barbadori, meeting at the general request of and the Albizzé. These, though not the citizens, and that a popular much united among themselves, orator brought a series of charges felt a
common fear and dislike of similar nature with those quoted of Cosmo. His riches, and conse- against one monster man of the halfquent influence, would at the desir- dozen occupying the city, and that able moment give him uncontrolled by general acclamation a vote of imauthority in his native city. To prisonment in Newgate was passed preserve their liberties, and allow a against the person of this big shopdue portion of well-being to families keeper. Yet this is what was done other than the Medicis, Cosmo, as in the bosom of the enlightened, head of the house, must be deposed mercantile, and free city of Florence. from his pride of place. In a coun We desire no acquaintance with cil held by these families, Cosmo's freedom of that complexion. Like destruction was resolved on ; but the generality of the inhabitants of they could not act without consent the Peninsula, the Florentines had given by the people. So a general a decided turn for the “ pleasant meeting was called, and the mer art of money-catching ;" and to find chant accused of high crimes and their Pactolus turned out of the misdemeanours against the common channel in which they themselves weal. “He was the cause," so the were watching, angered them exaccusers declared, “of the present ceedingly, and they would punish misery of Florence. He manufac- the constructor of the dam and the tured at Lyons and Antwerp, for new channels in body and goods. France, Spain, and England, goods Cosmo was arrested, and kept under which these countries had erewhile bolt and bar till his rivals in silkgot directly from Florence. Thus mercery, spicery, jewels, and carved he took the bread out of the mouths gold, could decide on his fate. of his fellow-citizens, to enrich abso And, indeed, these worthies were lute strangers, on the mere pretence now thrown into sore embarrassof getting things done at a cheaper ment. They knew the inconstant rate. Florentine merchants, the temperament of their fellow-citizens, highest in credit, could expect that they were scarcely for eight nothing but ruin. His mighty re- days in the one frame of mind; that, sources enabled him to make liberal perhaps, acted on by the rememadvances to needy folk, to give brance of Cosmo's liberality and extra credit, and otherwise mono- munificence, they might be heard polise a business which would suf- within a week clamouring for his
release, or perversely elect a Gon- evil action, provided that either
terms in the answer he gave as to
emperor's table, brought it into his
superintendent, at Cosmo's request,
inimitable buffoon and parasite, to
be their boon companion for the a half ring, got from Cosmo the evennext evening.
ing before, and mentioned the will Farganacia was the Theodore of the merchant, that he (the prior) ) Hook of Florence. Though of ig- should give him a hundred gold noble birth, his powers of conversa florins on the spot for himself, and tion, and his drollery and mimicry, a thousand to be handed over to made him the welcome guest at the Signor Guadagne, the Gonfalonier, tables of high and low. He had who was then in the middle of the always sufficient tact and command period of his two months' dictatorover himself to adapt the tone of ship. The money was handed over his exhibition to the taste of his to him without a moment's hesitacompany for the time being, and he tion, and he made no delay till he managed so skilfully that his mimicry was in the Gonfalonier's bed-chamor raillery of the absent never ex- ber, even before that great man was cited any deep enmity again him. aroused from sleep. Farganacia He could not, however, resist the was a privileged person. The first powers of good liquor when he hap- object on which Guadagne's eyes pened to be in low company, and a rested, on his awakening, was the debauch of three or four days was jester counting gold crowns on his no uncommon thing in his pleasant table, and the first sounds which career.
reached his ears were the very agreeNext evening the merchant, the able ones, that a thousand of the superintendent, and the jester sup- precious pieces were intended for ped together. Farganacia exerted himself. On learning the danger in his utmost gifts of pleasing powers, which Cosmo stood, and the service nor did he exert them in vain. At which was expected from himself, he first Cosmo seemed too downcast did not show the slightest reluctance for relief by any exhibition of wit, to undertake it. He did not belong or raillery, or humour; but he gra to the party inimical to the great dually relaxed ; and when Malavotta man; he held him in high esteem, was obliged to retire to attend to and resolved to save his life. If the some needful duty, he was well expectation of further favours weighpleased to leave the two together, ed with him, let him be forgiven. so interested did they seem in each Guadagne's praisworthy design was other.
difficult of execution; promptness That was the moment waited for and finesse were much needed. If by Cosmo. In a few words he made time were lost, Malavotta would be Farganacia aware of the critical po- inevitably induced to administer the sition in which he stood, asked his poison; or if found incorruptible, the services, mentioned the mode in enemy was powerful and clever which he required them, and pro- enough to excite the people to inmised instant compensation. The
The vest the prison, and have the mermerryman was taken by surprise, chant out to his death. He therebut through his high esteem for the 1. re opened a communication with merchant, and probably the higher the faction, pretended to be anxious esteem for his resources, the request for the destruction of their great was complied with; and Malavotta, rival, and expressed a confident on his return to table, found his opinion that the object could be atguests pleasantly occupied with some tained in a legal mode without city news, flavoured by an infusion attaching obloquy to any one. This of scandal.
gave them much pleasure. They At dawn of next morning, Farga- broke off the negotiation with Manacia requested an audience of the lavotta, and gave all their aid to the Prior of the Jacobins, presented him Gonfalonier in his measure for bring
ing Cosmo to justice. Guadagne cial duties and privileges. They imlost no time; he prepared for the puted guilt to his most innocent trial
, sounded the magistrates, and actions, and raised such a clamour, induced them to come to such de- and excited the resentment of the cision as he impressed on them to people to such a degree that, but be the just and right one under the for the influence of his relatives and circumstances. Being determined the nobility, he would have lost his to save his life, he felt it useless to head. He was sent into exile, and have him declared innocent, or even his grateful friend, Cosmo, gave him punished in any way which should a hearty welcome in Venice. leave him liable to be set on by his Each heartily longed for his recal, enemies in a forceful and illegal but Cosmo was endowed with more manner.
patience and insight into the most The trial was hurried ; the sen certain means of obtaining it, and tence pronounced was exile, and all brought his more impatient comwas over two days before the Perucci panion into his views. They wrote and their faction expected. The to their most influential friends to trial being over, the chief magistrate unite their interests in the election expressed his fears that unless the of an active and friendly Gonfadecree were put in execution at lonier, and these wrought in concert once, the prisoner's powerful friends with such energy, that when the would do something to prevent its election day arrived, the choice fell being carried out. He therefore on the worthy Nicolas Cocco, notrepaired to the prison at the head withstanding the strenuous but too of the magistrates and their force, lately organised opposition of the took out the prisoner, and had him hostile families, with whose names sent under a strong guard beyond our readers are familiar. the boundary of the republic. It was
The new ruler was a favourite not till they approached the limits both with the nobility and the peoof Florence that Cosmo became ple, and he set about the recal of fully sensible of the friendliness and Guadagne so prudently and skilfully, ability of the Gonfalonier. Great that the audience in the public were the surprise and consternation meetings began to wonder why he of the cabal when they discovered had been banished. For, after all, what had been done. "They called what had he done ? Merely sent a council of the families to decide a fellow citizen into exile rather on some step, and the delay which hurriedly in order to keep his head the discussion necessarily occasion- on his shoulders. Farganacia reed enabled their foeman to get into ligiously kept within his own breast his possession much of his portable the little scene at early dawn in the property which had been in keeping late Gonfalonier’s bed-chamber, when here and there.
the gold florins of Florence played All the fury of the Perucci, the their part. The unstable citizens Albizzi, and the Strozzi, was now soon were incapable of recollecting turned against the Gonfalonier. Some a single instance in Guadagne's conof the younger members of the duct worthy of blame, and he was families would even exert them- recalled with general acclaim, the selves to depose him from his high objections of Perucci and Co. notoffice before the month was expired. withstanding. The elders did not choose to pro
So far all was pleasant, but no one ceed to such lengths, but the mo as yet had dared to raise his voice ment he was divested of power, for the reversal of Cosmo's sentence. they had him arraigned for various That far-seeing man, however, adoptassumed infringements on his offi- ed a very simple but effective plan