Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/191

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revolt. The lives of the Florentine envoys and officials were in no small danger. When Charles VIII at length entered Florence, Savonarola seems to have taken no part in the negotiations; the hero of the week was not the Friar, but the merchant, statesman and soldier, Piero Cap-poni, who tore the draft of the shameful treaty in two before the French King's face, crying, "Blow your trumpets and we will clang our bells." Yet the ultimate conditions were sufficiently humiliating, for all the Florentine coast fortresses were left in French hands, and the city was pledged to a huge subsidy. She had, however, at least escaped the restoration of the Medici, although she was forced to withdraw the price upon their heads. The main desire was to rid Florence of her dangerous guests. The treaty was signed on November 28; but on the 29th Charles showed no signs of stirring. Then it was that Savonarola went to warn him that it was God's will that he should leave. More efficacious, perhaps, were the arguments of the Scotch general Stuart d'Aubigni, who had led a French corps from the Romagna into the Arno valley. He very bluntly told the King that he was wasting time, and that he must push on to Naples. Thus on November 30 the French marched out, to their hosts1 infinite relief.

The next task was the reform of the constitution. The Palace bell summoned a Parlamento, a mass meeting of the people, to the great piazza, and the Signoria from its platform proposed a BaTia, or provisional government. The Medicean institutions, the Councils of the Hundred and of the Seventy, and the Otto di Pratica, a standing Committee for State affairs, which had already been suspended, were now abolished, while the members of the Otto di BaTia, the Ministry of Justice, were deposed. A board of Twenty was nominated to select the Signoria for one whole year; under the title of the Ten of War a commission was to be appointed for the subjection of Pisa. Within the year a register was to be drawn up of all citizens qualified for office, and at its expiration the popular traditional practice of appointing to all magistracies by lot should be resumed. This provisional government was virtually the substitution of oligarchy for monarchy; a group of aristocrats now held the power which Lorenzo de' Medici had striven to secure. Nevertheless the proposal was passed by acclamation in the Parlamento, and confirmed by the two older Councils of the People and the Commune.

It was impossible that such a piece of patchwork should stand the wear and tear of a restless people. The Councils of the Hundred, and of the Seventy, and the Otto di Pratica had been successively introduced, not merely for family or party purposes, but to strengthen administrative efficiency. The old municipal constitution was unequal to the needs of an expanding territory and of complicated international relations. This had been the justification for the rule of a family, or of groups of families who had no official place in the Constitution, of the Parte Guelfa, the Albizzi, the Medici. All the really operative elements in