This government from its establishment in 1381, till the alterations now made, had continued six years; and the internal peace of the city remained undisturbed until 1393. During this time, Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti, usually called the Count of Virtu, imprisoned his uncle Bernabo, and thus became sovereign of the whole of Lombardy. As he had become duke of Milan by fraud, he designed to make himself king of Italy by force. In 1391 he commenced a spirited attack upon the Florentines; but such various changes occurred in the course of the war, that he was frequently in greater danger than the Florentines themselves, who, though they made a brave and admirable defense, for a republic, must have been ruined, if he had survived. As it was, the result was attended with infinitely less evil than their fears of so powerful an enemy had led them to apprehend; for the duke having taken Bologna, Pisa, Perugia, and Sienna, and prepared a diadem with which to be crowned king of Italy at Florence, died before he had tasted the fruit of his victories, or the Florentines began to feel the effect of their disasters.
Maso degli Albizzi—His violence excites the anger of the people—They have recourse to Veri de’ Medici—The modesty of Veri—He refuses to assume the dignity of prince, and appeases the people—Discourse of Veri to the Signory—The banished Florentines endeavor to return—They secretly enter the city and raise a tumult—Some of them slain, others taken to the church of St. Reparata—A conspiracy of exiles supported by the duke of Milan—The conspiracy discovered and the parties punished—Various enterprises of the Florentines—Taking of Pisa—War with the king of Naples—Acquisition of Cortona.
During the war with the duke of Milan the office of Gonfalonier of Justice fell to Maso degli Albizzi, who by the death of Piero in 1379, had become the inveterate enemy of the Alberti: and as party feeling is incapable either of repose or abatement, he determined, notwithstanding Benedetto had died in exile, that before the expiration of his magistracy, he would revenge himself on the remainder of that family. He seized the opportunity afforded by a person, who on being examined respecting correspondence maintained with the rebels, accused Andrea and Alberto degli Alberti of such practices. They were immediately arrested, which so greatly excited the people, that the Signory, having provided themselves with an armed force, called the citizens to a general assembly or parliament, and appointed a Balia, by whose authority many were banished, and a new ballot for the offices of government was made. Among the banished were nearly all the Alberti; many members of the trades were admonished, and some put to death. Stung by these numerous injuries, the trades and the lowest of the people rose in arms, considering themselves despoiled both of honor and life. One body of