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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 472 pages of information about History of Florence and of the Affairs of Italy.
fortune than the former; for when he had taken Rome, Sienna, the whole of La Marca and Romagna, and had only Florence itself to vanquish, he died.  Thus death has always been more favorable to the Florentines than any other friend, and more potent to save them than their own valor.  From the time of the king’s decease, peace was preserved both at home and abroad for eight years, at the end of which, with the wars of Filippo, duke of Milan, the spirit of faction again broke out, and was only appeased by the ruin of that government which continued from 1381 to 1434, had conducted with great glory so many enterprises; acquired Arezzo, Pisa, Cortona, Leghorn, and Monte Pulciano; and would have accomplished more if the citizens had lived in unity, and had not revived former factions; as in the following book will be particularly shown.

BOOK IV

CHAPTER I

License and Slavery peculiar defects in republican governments—­Application of this reflection to the state of Florence—­Giovanni di Bicci di’ Medici re-establishes the authority of his family—­Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan, endeavors to make amicable arrangements with the Florentines—­Their jealousy of him—­Precautionary measures against him—­War declared—­The Florentines are routed by the ducal forces.

Republican governments, more especially those imperfectly organized, frequently change their rulers and the form of their institutions; not by the influence of liberty or subjection, as many suppose, but by that of slavery and license; for with the nobility or the people, the ministers respectively of slavery or licentiousness, only the name of liberty is in any estimation, neither of them choosing to be subject either to magistrates or laws.  When, however, a good, wise, and powerful citizen appears (which is but seldom), who establishes ordinances capable of appeasing or restraining these contending dispositions, so as to prevent them from doing mischief, then the government may be called free, and its institutions firm and secure; for having good laws for its basis, and good regulations for carrying them into effect, it needs not, like others, the virtue of one man for its maintenance.  With such excellent laws and institutions, many of those ancient republics, which were of long duration, were endowed.  But these advantages are, and always have been, denied to those which frequently change from tyranny to license, or the reverse; because, from the powerful enemies which each condition creates itself, they neither have, nor can possess any stability; for tyranny cannot please the good, and license is offensive to the wise:  the former may easily be productive of mischief, while the latter can scarcely be beneficial; in the former, the insolent have too much authority, and in the latter, the foolish; so that each requires for their welfare the virtue and the good fortune of some individual who may be removed by death, or become unserviceable by misfortune.

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