Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/211

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two-thirds was requisite. The government had a heavy responsibility to face; there was no police force which could control the Compagnacci; unless Savonarola could be silenced, civil war seemed certain.

Silence was soon imposed, not, indeed, from Florence but from Rome. In June arrived the brief of excommunication, which Savonarola at first obeyed. Other circumstances contributed to lull the popular excitement. The plague was raging; all who had the means left the city, and the younger Dominicans were sent to the hill convents. Either the violence of the Compagnacci or resentment at papal interference turned the tide of feeling. The Signorle until the close of 1497 were favourable to Savonarola, while public attention was diverted to an incident in which he had no direct part. Piero's attempt on Florence had been a farce, but its sequel was a tragedy. In August a disappointed Medicean agent, Lamberto della Antella, disclosed the details of the plot. Several leading citizens were arrested and others fled. It was proved that Bernardo del Nero, though Gonfalonier, was privy to the plot, together with at least two members of his Signorla, one of whom, Battista Serristori, was, curiously enough, a pronounced Savonarolist. The issue finally narrowed itself to the fate of five citizens, whose position well illustrates the composition of the Bigi. Bernardo had not, perhaps, favoured the conspiracy; he would have preferred an oligarchy with the younger line of Medici at its head; but he had information of the plot and would not betray his close associates. The soul of the attempt was Lorenzo Tornabuoni, a young man of thirty-two, the darling of Florentine society. Closely related to the Medici, he was well-nigh ruined by the revolution, but above all feared the apparently inevitable oligarchy; for he had been chief among the dandies who had been the personal rivals of Piero de' Medici's cousins. Of the others Niccolo Ridolfi was father-in-law to Piero's sister, and hoped for high position under a Restoration: Giannozzo Pucci belonged to the parvenu family in which the Medici had long found their cleverest and least scrupulous supporters: Giovanni Cambi was ruined by the Pisan war, for he had speculated in the Medicean syndicate for the development of land near Pisa. Money had been supplied by Lucrezia Salviati, Piero's sister, who frankly confessed that she wished her brother back.

The executive in Florence was notoriously timid in punishing criminals of high family; the term of office was so short that vengeance might speedily overtake the judge. Both Slgnoria and Eight hesitated to sentence the conspirators, and threw the responsibility on a large Pratica. Here opinion was almost unanimous in favour of death, and sentence was duly passed; whereon the friends of the accused demanded the right of appeal to the Council. The Signoria was divided, and once more referred the question to a Pratica, This meeting, with less unanimity than before, reported that delay was dangerous and that the safety of the State demanded a refusal of the appeal. Five