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The fourteen men from the two parties not being able to
The government agree together, and there being danger of seri-
Of thepnors. ously evil results, some of the leading men of
the arts consulted together and procured a new board to be
put at the head of affairs, which was called the priors of the
arts. The consuls of the art or guild of Calimala set this on
foot and three men are mentioned as having been elected by
a part of the arts and by three of the wards, who like their
predecessors held office for two months. After their time
was out, six were chosen, one for a ward, and the other
principal guilds united in the plan. It thus became the lawful
government and continued, as long as the liberties of Flor-
ence lasted, to be the ordinary supreme administrative board
of Florence. In form it was no great innovation ; but in
spirit it amounted to a transfer of power from the commune
and the citizens in general to the guilds and for the time to
the seven higher ones. It was, in short, an abridgment of
the power of the nobility without intending at first to give
any share of power to the nine lower guilds. The citizens
of the wealthy class, the middle order, meant to rule the re-
public, excluding both nobles and plebeians. A plan like
this could not fail to bring on a struggle with the old grandi,
or nobles, and another was likely to occur with the lower
guilds and the working class outside of them. But the
grandi were already far weaker than they had been a century
before, and were incapable of union. Quite a number of
them also had gone into business, as merchants, exchangers
or manufacturers, and had been incorporated into the guilds.
Some figure as the champions of the new constitution. On
the other hand, the lower class, the popolo minuto, were so de-
pendent on the upper class that no immediate danger could
be discovered in that quarter.
The priors varied in number, from six to twelve, and when
the wards or sesti were replaced by quarters^ continued to
be eight. They were at first elected as the u fourteen " had