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64                               POLITICAL SCIENCE.
guished, as the costituto del comune, from the costituto of the
captain or defensor of the people, and the " ordinances of
justice" formed a special code by themselves.
About the year 1207 the government by consuls came to
an end or was in part superseded by that of a
single magistrate called the podcsta (potesta).
It is probable that several years before this date and as early
as 1193 such an officer was at the head of affairs, and there
may have been several years when the old and new forms, of
magistracy alternated.* In that year (Ammirato, i., 62,
book i), a podesta whose name shows his Florentine ex-
traction and rettori of seven arts or guilds are mentioned as
having transactions with persons holding the castle of Trebbio.
However this may be, the officer designated by this name
was common in the towns of Italy at and after the time of
the peace of Constance in 1183. He was indeed a represen-
tative of the emperor, as the supreme judge and military
chief, but it does not appear that for this reason the Floren-
tines adopted the office. He was there as elsewhere of noble
or at least' knightly extraction, a foreigner, and a doctor of
law. He held his office for a year until 1290, when the term
was abridged to six months. During the scignory of King
Robert of Naples, vicars of his appointment superseded
podestas (1313-1322); there were two at once for a short
time (1266), and the office, being abolished in 1502, when the
grand council was instituted, gave place to a board of five
judges. The podesta was not a supreme magistrate in re-
ality, although his name was prefixed to public acts, and he
* The anonymous author of the " Discourse concerning the Gov-
ernment of Florence from 1280 to 1292,*' inserted by Count Cap-'
poni in his recent history, i., 378, append. No. 2, and first published
in the " Delizie degli Eruditi," ix., 256,—an exceedingly well-informed
writer,—says that 'Ma Podesta was most ancient in Florence, They
say that it [the office] commenced in 1202* It is found much earlier,
and is what in modern times is called in the masculine il Podesti.
So we shall call it."—G. Villani assigns it to 1207.