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. 192. 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* i * Capponi, preface to vol. i.