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store of wealth, and governed provoked no envy is a high the commonwealth of Florence with wisdom and justice. One year, it is true, he spent in exile, having been ostracised by the citizens, ever jealous of their freedom. But after his return his popularity never waned, and at his death the classic title, Pater Patria, was conferred upon him by public decree. Thus he passed to the


He has been the victim of excessive praise and unmerited blame. Ficinus, employing the language of flattery, said, "I owe to Plato much, to Cosimo no less." The friends of that vague, uncaptured dream called Liberty reproached him with having trespassed upon the privileges of the citizens. He was neither Plato nor tyrant, but a highly cultured gentleman, a banker of sleepless energy, and a statesman well skilled in foreign policy. Machiavelli, always a moderate historian, paints his portrait in amiable colours. He was liberal and magnificent more than other men. He lived in Florence like a prince; his actions were princely; yet "he was 80 governed by wisdom, as he never exceeded the bounds of civil modesty. For in his conversation, in riding, in marrying his children and kinsfolk, he was like unto all other discreet and modest citizens, because he well knew that extraordinary things, which are of all men with admiration beholden, do win more envy than those which, without ostentation, be honestly earned." That he

tribute to his character. He possessed all those qualities which become а statesman. "He was eloquent," says Machiavelli, "and full of a natural wisdom, friendly to his friends, and pitiful to the poor. In conversation he was frugal, in counsel advised, in execution speedy, in speech and censuring witty and grave.' What wonder, then, that he dominated the Signoria of Florence until his death?

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With his grandson Lorenzo, who succeeded Piero in 1469, a new chapter opened in the history of the Medici. Lorenzo, justly called the Magnificent, was not born to hold the balance in a "free" State. was a true despot, in the best sense of that maligned word. He had an innate knowledge of the people. He understood how to flatter the citizens with the pomp and pageantry of power, and under his splendid rule Florence forgot the meaning, if it retained the forms, of democracy. From his youth upwards he cherished a frank love of display. The tournament which celebrated his betrothal to Clarice Orsini dazzled the eyes even of the sternest republicans. Puloi set its glories to the music of his immortal verse, as though he were the laureate of a king. The grandeur of Lorenzo drew all eyes upon him. parel befitted the occasion and his princely ambition. A diamond shone in the centre of his shield, rubies and diamonds sparkled in his cap. He wore, says a biographer, "a velvet

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surcoat with a cape of white silk edged with red, and a silk scarf embroidered with roses and pearls. For the actual combat he wore another surcoat of velvet fringed with gold, with a helmet adorned with three blue feathers. His horse was draped with red and white velvet, embroidered with pearls.

Such was his magnificence while his father still lived. When he succeeded to the headship of his house, he proved that no despot in Italy could outshine him. And like the other despots, he encouraged scholarship and the arts with a noble generosity which surpassed the generosity of his own noble predecessors. Not merely did he found the University of Pisa, but he made Florence the centre of the new learning. Thither flocked all those who would study the newly-found treasures of ancient literature. From Oxford as from Paris came enthusiastic scholars eager to learn the secrets of antiquity, and to purchase the copies of Greek and Latin manuscripts, faithfully made by Vespasiano da Bisticci and his staff. Lavish in all things, Lorenzo was most lavish in the collection of books. Lascari ransacked the East for his master, and from one journey brought back no less than 200 Greek manuscripts, of which 80 were until that time unknown. Indeed, it is not too much to say that had it not been for Lorenzo, the efflorescence of learning which we associate with the name of Erasmus could not have been.

Nor was Lorenzo content to be a mere collector. He did his best, both by precept and example, to restore the Tuscan language, and he solaced his leisure by the composition of verses, which remain to attest his skill. From the cares of state, which were neither few nor light, he turned always to literature as a relaxation. Excommunicated by the Pope, attacked by assassins, assailed in the councils of his state, he confesses that death would be a far less evil than those present to him. "In this unfortunate plight," says he, "it is surely not to be wondered at if I endeavoured to alleviate my anxiety by turning to more agreeable subjects of meditation.

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The attacks made upon him were the natural result of his policy. Lorenzo, as Machiavelli tells us, "being full of youth and authority, would needs take all upon him, and make every man know that all things were done by him.” Therein he consulted not merely his own ambition, but the welfare of Florence; and as it turned out, his brother Giuliano's fear lest, desiring too much, they should lose all, was unfounded. But it is not strange that Lorenzo's determination to be a prince should have stirred the resentment of the citizens and aroused the jealousy of the other nobles. Thus it was that the Pazzi resolved to take revenge, and with the help of Pope Sixtus IV. made such an attack upon the Medici as might well have been their undoing.

But conspiracies, as the political philosopher tells us, generally end in the ruin of the conspirators, and in the greatness of those against whom they conspired. And thus it happened to Lorenzo. The plot which should have involved him in ruin did but establish him more firmly in the seat of government. But, since in its environing circumstances of treachery and blasphemy the conspiracy of the Pazzi is characteristic of the Italian renaissance, it shall be related here at some length.

The plot was made with an Italian cunning, and supported as we have said by the authority of the Pope. At first the assassins, among whom were Francesco de Pazzi and Bernardo Bandini, hoped to kill Lorenzo and Giuliano as they sat at meat. But Giuliano was prevented by ill-health from attending the feast, arranged for a murderous purpose, and the conspirators agreed to do the deed in the Cathedral Church of St Reparata. The time appointed was at the raising of the Host, and all seemed to aid their enterprise. The church was full, but Giuliano had not come. The rest, a real masterpiece of cynicism, shall be told in Machiavelli's own words. "Wherefore," he writes, "Francesco de Pazzi with Bernardo (who had charge of Giuliano's death) went into his house, and there by entreaty and cunning persuaded him to come to the church. And truly it is a thing worthy memory to know how so great hatred could be so covertly kept secret

in the minds of Francesco and Bernardo. For both by the way going to going to the church they entertained Giuliano with pleasant speeches and youthful dalliance. Also, Francesco, under colour of familiar and friendly courtesy, took Giuliano in his arms to feel whether he had on any armour or garment of defence." The traitors shrank from no deceit, and at the prearranged signal one part at least of their plot was successfully achieved. Giuliano fell, covered with wounds. But Lorenzo, either by his own resource or by the negligence of those appointed to kill him, escaped with a slight wound in his throat. Florence took a swift and just revenge upon the murderers. Francesco and Bernardo were put to death. The Archbishop Salviati was hanged from the window of the palace, and though Lorenzo never ceased to mourn the loss of his beloved and accomplished brother, the heartless and illomened plot of the Pazzi had no other result than to make him a greater and yet more resolute prince.

Though the plot had failed, the Pope and his faction remained the determined enemies of Florence. She fought with courage, and found the odds against her too strong. Battle after battle she lost. Town after town surrendered to the foe. Then it was that Lorenzo took a desperate resolve. would go himself to Naples and persuade the King, his most powerful enemy, to come to terms. "In the dangerous circumstances in which our


city is placed "-thus he wrote stool for the throne.
to the Signoria-"it is better
to act than to deliberate. I
therefore mean, with your per-
mission, to go directly to
Naples, conceiving that as I
am the person chiefly aimed
at by your enemies, I may,
by delivering myself into their
hands, perhaps be the means
of restoring peace to my fel-
low-citizens." Alone and with-
out escort he set out, was
graciously received at Naples,
and by his eloquence secured
lasting peace for Italy. Be-
ing come into the King's pres-
ence, he debated the estate of
Italy, the honours of princes
and people, and what might
be hoped of the peace and
feared by the war. "Which
the King hearing," says the
historian, "grew into more
admiration, to find in him so
noble a mind, so ready a wit,
and so great a judgment.'

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Peace being thus established, Lorenzo remained until his death the chief citizen of Florence, which he ruled with firmness and equity. Ever mindful of the future, he bred his son Giovanni for the Church, and saw him elected Cardinal at the age of fourteen. For well he knew that the fortunes of the family would be irrefragable when once a Medici had sat upon the throne of St Peter. He found his house a house of bankers; he left it a house of princes, strong in its own faith as in its alliances. In one thing only did he fail-in merchandise,and his very failure showed that the Medici were exchanging the counting - house


was greatly loved," says Machiavelli, "both of God and fortune. All his enterprises had good success, and his enemies misadventure. His manner of life, his wisdom and fortune, caused the princes not only of Italy, but others farther off, to know him, and with admiration to esteem him. In discourse he was eloquent, in counsel wise, in execution quick and courageous; neither were there in him many vices to blemish those virtues, although he was greatly delighted with love of women, and took pleasure in jesting and taunting; and would also play at children's games, unseemly in so great a personage.' This unseemliness he shared with many other great personages, and the fact that the fault found with him is so trivial gives us a fair measure of his honour and honesty.

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With Lorenzo the Magnificent the house of Medici culminated. His son, Pietro the Unfortunate, ruled for two brief years, and then with every one of his name was driven into banishment. city in Europe would give them shelter. In misery and distress they wandered up and down Germany. France knew them, and had they not been checked by the Channel they would have taken refuge in England. Poor and homeless, they suffered an added grief in the knowledge that their palace was sacked, their treasures made the sport of thieves, and their library scattered to the winds. The work of destruc

tion, begun by the enraged democrats of Florence, was finished by Charles VIII. and his army. The city endured as evil a fate as its rulers, and after eighteen years of anarchy was compelled to recall to its aid and to their government the Medici, whom it had insolently driven into exile. Once more the tradition of clemency stayed their hand. Revenge was theirs and they took it not. Remembering the mercy shown to their enemies by Cosimo and Lorenzo, they pursued no vindictive policy. The reprisals which stained so many Italian revolutions were not for them. They put no men to death. They confiscated no property. They banished none, save Soderini, their archenemy, and some of his family. But though the Medici returned, Florence was still the sport of intrigue and faction. The ablest members of the house, moreover, had sought the larger stage of Rome for the display of their talents. Giovanni, Lorenzo's son, and Giulio, the bastard of Giuliano, Cardinals both, aspired to the papacy, and cared not what became of Florence, so long as they could turn it to their own purpose. Giovanni, who ruled at Rome as Leo X., had none of the moderation nor the statecraft which distinguished his illustrious father. A true son of his age, he carried both vice and virtue to a high point of excellence. A loyal patron of the Arts, he yielded to none of his house in love of splendour and display, and he died so suddenly

that the suspicion of poison was not easily dispelled. Giulio, who assumed the title of Clement VII., was of a far more sinister character, and if he laid a violent hand upon Florence it was to oust Ippolito, the rightful heir, that he might advance the unspeakable Alessandro, surnamed the Moor, his own son by a mulatto woman. The rule of the ruffian Alessandro was brief and disastrous. He died, like the supplanted Ippolito, by the hand of an assassin, hired by his cousin Lorenzo to avenge an insult to his sister. In these intrigues and conspiracies no thought was given to Florence, and that proud democracy felt for the first time the weight of a tyrant's hand. A still heavier burden was to be laid upon it. Cosimo, afterwards the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, and a member of a younger branch of the house, took advantage of the confusion into which the city was thrown by Alessandro's death. Hitherto unknown, Cosimo gathered an army together, won a battle at Montemurlo in 1537, and, though but a boy of seventeen, took the advice given by Machiavelli to all princes, and put to death without ruth or mercy all those who opposed him. The first of the Medici to win the State by the sword, he did not scruple in keeping it by the sword, and Florence had no cause to regret his domination. He added vastly to her territory; he raised Tuscany to the state of a Grand Duchy; and he died a crowned and sceptred

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