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the silk guild reached its highest point of prosperity. The
constitution in various respects had become a form, one may
say, a shell. There were no longer disputes between upper
and lower guilds,* but rich and poor divided society. The
men at the head of affairs saw, in Giovanni del Medici, one
who, on account of his wealth and great popularity, might
prove a formidable rival, but he seems to have been unam-
bitious and prudent, content to be a great merchant and
money-lender  the richest man of Florence, if not of Italy.
(Capponi, ii., 153.) His sons, however, Cosimo, and Lorenzo,
the elder, had greater political aspirations, and it might justly
be suspected that if they came into active political life, they
would pull the Albizzi party down. He died in 1429,
recommending to his sons to be always on the people's side*
but not to seek to lead the people, nor be the heads of a
section, nor authors of disturbances in the republic, Niccolo
da Uzzano died in 1432, depriving the ruling party of its
wisest counsellor. Just before the death of Giovanni, the tax
system was thoroughly revised, yet so as to place it in the
power of the reigning party to distress a political adversary
by unjust assessments, t

The father of Rinaldo degli Albizzi, Maso, above spoken
The Medici in f> had kept his place at the head of his party
power-              and the state, and had been acceptable to the
inferior class ; but Rinaldo, although an accomplished man,
wanted prudence. He felt that Cosimo dei Medici could not
fail to become an active rival, and resolved to crush him. By
his influence the signoria cited Cosimo before them and put
him in prison, Kparlamento was summoned, and a balia was
* Yet a little before Giovanni dei Medici's death, Rinaldo wanted
him to enter into a plan to reduce the fourteen lower jniiUki to
t Comp. what von Reumont says of the catasto in his Lorenzo dei
Medici, i., 40 onward (in the German), and see Macchiav., b. iv,
\iv., 24),