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to make as many partisans as he could of his fellow-citizens.'
He was formally elected Gonfaloniere on January 1, 1435. The rule of the Medici may be said to date from this day, and the supremacy of Cosimo de' Medici lasted thirty years, that is, until his death. It was a supremacy, however, which , at times he craftily contrived should appear to be supplanted by the ambitious action of his own partisans, and in which all the successes of an astute and resolute spirit were called into action to preserve the interests of his country abroad, as well as to secure his own authority and safety at home.
Speaking of the domestic policy of Cosimo de' Medici after his return Herr von Reumont says
• He found in Florence a propitious soil. His partisans had well prepared the way for him. All the chiefs of hostile factions had been sent into exile; many had been put to death. It was easy for him in his memoirs to boast that during the time he was Gonfaloniere no one had been banished, no one had suffered injury. This was not mercifulness in him, since he had no greater horror of violence and bloodshed than the majority of his contemporaries when political objects were in view, it was crafty calculation. He knew that he could leave it to others to make such an application of the laws of the State as would secure his position without rendering him liable to be taxed with a severe policy. He had managed this as well by the way in which he had made application of penal laws as by the way in which he had carried through his alteration of the constitution. At first he put forward Puccio Pucci for this purpose, who exhibited such zeal and acquired such authority that the Hotspurs of the party were called after him Puccini. When it was required to forward the ends of the party, even by the most sanguinary measures, Puccio, who was a capable man and had shown himself as such both in civil and diplomatic employments, knew no scruples. Cosimo made use of Luca Pitti still more than of him.'
Cosimo had other friends almost as valuable as these, especially Neri Capponi, Agnolo and Donato Acciaiuoli, Diotisalvi Neroni, Bernardo Giugni, and others.
A pitiful chapter might be written on the fate of the exiled adversaries of Cosimo, and their painful lives and those of their families. “Many families, once in good circumstances,
yea, even rich, fell into poverty; fathers and sons wandered * about among strangers, and their property was confiscated.
Noble women had to beg for alms. Rinaldo and Ormanno degli Albizzi, Messer Niccolò, and Baldassare Gianfigliazzi, Lodovico de' Rossi, Lamberto de' Lamberteschi, Bernardo Barbadoro, and Stefano Feruzzi, all men of high birth, were declared infamous, and their portraits, with abusive verses
beneath them, were painted on the walls of the Palazzo del Podestà by Andrea Castagno, who thence gained the name of Andrea degli Impiccati. All these passed the rest of their lives in exile, and died miserably.
But Cosimo did not content himself with rendering his enemies harmless, he had also to provide against any of his own friends and supporters becoming too powerful; and this he contrived to effect until the last ten years of his life, when the violent and ambitious counsels of Luca Pitti, the builder of the famous palace so well known to all travellers, prevailed.
It was under the leadership of Cosimo de' Medici that the traditional hostility of Florence to Milan gave place to another policy on the extinction of the race of the Visconti. Filippo Maria Visconti was the last of a race which, more than any other, symbolised the energy and the splendour, but at the same time the caprice and cruelty, of these medieval tyrannies of Italy. Among the various rivals who stepped forward as claimants to the rich heritage which he left behind him, two, the Republic of Venice and Francesco Sforza, the son of the famous Romagnuolo peasant who had founded one of the great schools of condottieri in Italy, became soon pre-eminent. The treachery, violence, and military skill of Sforza, joined with the advantage which accrued to him as the husband of a natural daughter of the last Visconti, ultimately prevailed; but without the aid of Florence and Cosimo de' Medici he would not have succeeded.
There is no ground for thinking that Cosimo felt any repug, nance in entering into that alliance with the faithless and merciless chief who had brought upon his city the enmity of her ancient ally the Republic of the Lagunes and of the Aragonese monarchs of Naples. Cosimo, it was clear, was governed by political considerations alone; yet these considerations, however profitable for the republic at the present, were pregnant with future evil not only to the Florentine State, but to all Italy, since a son of Francesco, animated by the same passion of ambition, and with the same disregard of all duties human and divine, after supplanting his nephew on the throne of Milan, invited the French into Italy, and opened that era of foreign invasions which perpetuated the divisions and ensured the slavery of Italy, and that general downfall of the liberty of Italian cities, among which Florence was to be the first victim.
In the beginning of 1464 it was evident Cosimo was approaching to his end. He had long been a sufferer from his hereditary complaint, the gout, which now beset him more severely and began to attack the nobler parts. He died on
August 1 of the same year, at the age of seventy-five.
Friends and enemies,' says Machiavelli, alike lamented his · death. They had not much confidence in Piero his son,
who, though a very good man, was of infirm health. . . . He ' not only surpassed all his contemporaries in wealth and * authority, but also in generosity and prudence; and among the qualities which contributed to make him prince in his own country was his surpassing all others in magnificence and generosity.' Cosimo of Medici,' says Gibbon, 'was the • father of a line of princes whose name and age were al'most synonymous with the restoration of learning; his credit
was kindled into fame; his riches were dedicated to the ser'vice of mankind; he corresponded at once with Cairo and
! • London, and a cargo of Indian spices and Greek books was often imported in the same vessel.'
It became a proverbial saying, which was addressed to people of munificent tastes, So you think you are Cosimo de'
* Medici.' He had inherited a good fortune from his father, which he increased unceasingly by activity, sure judgment, and good fortune. He ruled the money market not only in Italy but abroad. In all the countries of the West he had banks of his own established, and he superintended the management of them all himself. His earlier years,' says Machiavelli, 'were full of trouble, as his exile, captivity, and personal dan' gers fully testify. But after the age of forty he enjoyed the
greatest felicity, and not only those who assisted him in his . public business, but his agents who conducted his commercial * speculations throughout Europe, participated in his pros‘perity Hence many enormous fortunes took their origin in
different families of Florence, as in that of the Tornabuoni, • the Barri, the Portinari, and the Sachetti.'
No small part of the interest, however, which now attaches to Cosimo's name is due to his munificent protection of scholars, writers, and poets, his foundation of libraries, and his patronage of the arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture. To architecture he was especially devoted, and gave full employment to the activity of Michellozzo Michellozzi, and Filippo Brunelleschi. Besides the sacred edifices San Lorenzo, San Marco, Santa Verdiana, and others to which he so largely contributed, he built the regal palace in Florence now known as the Palazzo Riccardi, besides his villas at Careggi, Fiesoli, Caffagiuolo, and Trebbio, and, among other works, erected a hospital at Jerusalem for poor and infirm pilgrims.
In painting and sculpture Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, and Donatello owed much to his encouragement, and it was under his
supremacy that Ghiberti cast the famous gates of the Baptistery, declared by Michel Angelo to be worthy to be the gates of Paradise.
• He was,' says Machiavelli, of middle stature, olive com* plexion, and venerable aspect, not learned, but exceedingly • eloquent, endowed with great natural capacity, generous to • his friends, kind to the poor, comprehensive in discourse, * cautious in advising, and in his speeches and replies grave and
witty. When Rinaldo degli Albizzi at the beginning of - his exile sent to him to say “ that the hen was hatching," he ' replied, “ that she would find it difficult to hatch out of her
" 66 nest.
Some others of the exiles gave him to understand • that they were not asleep, and he replied, “he believed it, « « for he had robbed them of their sleep."
Piero de' Medici, surnamed “il Gottoso,' from the severity with which he had suffered at an early age from gout, during the short period of five years by which alone he survived his father, maintained the influence of his family. Coming as he did between an illustrious father and an equally illustrious son, his fame has been somewhat obscured by the more splendid achievements of his predecessor and of his successor. Nevertheless he possessed by no means despicable talents. He was eight and forty years of age at his father's death, having been quite a youth when the rapid change cf fortune took place which raised the house of the Medici to the greatest prosperity. Consequently during the years of his manhood he had become habituated to that supremacy of consideration in the Florentine State to which his family had arrived. The weakness of his health had not prevented him from taking a somewhat leading part in public affairs even during his father's lifetime, while it probably contributed to develope in him that moderation of character by which he was distinguished. More open-hearted and trusting than his father, he lacked somewhat of that political caution and knowledge of human nature by which the latter had steered his course clear of the dangers which surrounded him. He had by his side a valiant helper in his wife, Lucrezia Tornabuoni, of the ancient family of that name, who were a branch of the primæval Florentine nobility which has given its name to one of the chief streets in the city. Lucrezia, without neglecting those duties of the Florentine housewife which, in spite of the withering denunciations of Dante, still retained something of their primitive simplicity, devoted herself successfully to the composition of lyrical and religious poetry, and cultivated the society of men of art and learning, such as Pulci, Politian, and her intellectual gifts were
inherited largely by her son Lorenzo, in whose education she exercised a decisive influence. Happier than so many of the noble Florentine ladies her contemporaries, who either dragged out a wandering existence with their husbands-feeding upon that hope deferred of restoration to their country which ended by breaking their hearts, or else lived in solitude and poverty at home deprived of the head of the household, himself banished to a foreign land-she saw three generations of the Medici family recognised as the leading citizens of her country, yet not without having her own share of the suspense, anxieties, and terror inseparable from a life of public distinction in such agitated times.
Lucrezia bore her husband seven children, of whom two sons and two daughters alone survived. Lorenzo, the eldest, was born on January 1, 1449, and consequently was only sixteen years of age when his grandfather Cosimo died. In appearance the impression suggested by Lorenzo was that of power not of beauty; he was above the middle stature, his breast and shoulders were broad, and he was strongly built, yet supple and active of frame. His features were not beautiful, his sight was weak, his nose was not of classic form, his chin was sharp, and his complexion was colourless.
He had no sense of smell, and his voice was harsh. Thus, while he was endowed with some great personal advantages he had defects which he overcame by perseverance, and by the force of his remarkable intellectual and moral qualities. His earliest education was entrusted by his grandfather to Gentile dei Becchi, afterwards Bishop of Arezzo, a faithful friend of the house of Medici, a man of high literary attainments and tastes, which he had cultivated in the society of the chief literati of the time, Francisco Filelfo, Marsilio Ficino, Politian, and others. Later, in 1457, Piero de' Medici entrusted his instruction to Cristoforo Landino, professor of poetry and rhetoric in the city of Florence, while Johannes Argyropulos, a learned Greek refugee, took charge of his instruction in the Aristotelean philosophy, and Marsilio Ficino instructed him in the doctrines of Platonism, which powerfully influenced his mind and character, for to the cultivated minds of Italy in that age, Platonism, even more than Christianity, was a faith, a religion.
Under these instructors Lorenzo developed the various talents and tastes of his versatile genius to astonishing perfection. To whatever study he devoted himself in that he speedily achieved a proficiency to which few arrive after years of patience and application. His mother took charge of his religious instruction, and brought him up in the strict practice