The inhabitants of Seravezza appeal to the Signory—Complaints against Rinaldo degli Albizzi—The commissaries changed—Filippo Brunelleschi proposes to submerge the country about Lucca—Pagolo Guinigi asks assistance of the duke of Milan—The duke sends Francesco Sforza—Pagolo Guinigi expelled—The Florentines routed by the forces of the duke—The acquisitions of the Lucchese after the victory—Conclusion of the war.
A few of the inhabitants of the valley of Seravezza, having escaped the hands of the commissary, came to Florence and acquainted every one in the streets with their miserable situation; and by the advice of those who, either through indignation at his wickedness or from being of the opposite party, wished to punish the commissary, they went to the Council of Ten, and requested an audience. This being granted, one of them spoke to the following effect: “We feel assured, magnificent lords, that we shall find credit and compassion from the Signory, when you learn how your commissary has taken possession of our country, and in what manner he has treated us. Our valley, as the memorials of your ancient houses abundantly testify, was always Guelphic, and has often proved a secure retreat to your citizens when persecuted by the Ghibellines. Our forefathers, and ourselves too, have always revered the name of this noble republic as the leader and head of their party. While the Lucchese were Guelphs we willingly submitted to their government; but when enslaved by the tyrant, who forsook his old friends to join the Ghibelline faction, we have obeyed him more through force than good will. And God knows how often we have prayed, that we might have an opportunity of showing our attachment to our ancient party. But how blind are mankind in their wishes! That which we desired for our safety has proved our destruction. As soon as we learned that your ensigns were approaching, we hastened to meet your commissary, not as an enemy, but as the representative of our ancient lords; placed our valley, our persons, and our fortunes in his hands, and commended them to his good faith, believing him to possess the soul, if not of a Florentine, at least of a man. Your lordships will forgive us; for, unable to support his cruelties, we are compelled to speak. Your commissary has nothing of the man but the shape, nor of a Florentine but the name; a more deadly pest, a more savage beast, a more horrid monster never was imagined in the human mind; for, having assembled us in our church under pretense of wishing to speak with us, he made us prisoners. He then burned and destroyed the whole valley, carried off our property, ravaged every place, destroyed everything, violated the women, dishonored the virgins, and dragging them from the arms of their mothers, gave them up to the brutality of his soldiery. If by any injury to the Florentine people we merited such treatment,