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Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

CONSTITUTION  OF FLORENCE.                         93

Soderini became gonfalonicrc for life in 1502. At the same
time the old office of podesta, as we have already seen, was
abolished. Already other offices of the older time had expired
or become empty names.

In 1512 this constitution was overthrown, the gonfaloniere
was banished for life, and the dukedom of Florence was
founded, to be ruled over by one of the Mcdiccan family. It
was called the grand duchy of Tuscany in 1569.

We have devoted what may seem an unduly large space to
Estimate of Floi-on-   ^1C Constitution   of   FlOrCllCC, bllt   SUcll Was  tllC
tine constitution. complication of external or internal causes at
work in the development of this polity, that much more might
be added if we would fully explain every change and show its
historical connections. Besides this, Florence has had such
an illustrious place in the history of human progress that few
modern polities are so well worthy of being studied. Under
what form ought the government of Florence to be classed ?
M. Thicrs regards it as the most democratic of ancient and
of modern times.* Is there any justice in this opinion ? We
cannot see how a polity can be called democratic where the
nobles $nd patricians wielded the principal power until the
institution of the primo popolo^ and even until the government
of the upper guilds in 1282, After this, while the wealthy
class was contending against the,$rfl#dV, and finally overcame
them, the lower guilds had no share in power or office until
the middle of the fourteenth century. And when, finally,
after 1378, the lower guilds gained something like their
numerical importance for a time, their supremacy was short-
lived ; a faction of ottimati governed the state until they were
obliged to give it over to another set of men more popular
in the relations of the governing family to the people, but
equally oligarchic, nay, more verging towards tyranny*
There seems to have been but little democracy in all this*
* Capponi, preface to vol. i.