Bernardo takes possession of Prato, but is not assisted by the inhabitants—He is taken, and the tumult appeased—Corruption of Florence—The duke of Milan in Florence—The church of Santo Spirito destroyed by fire—The rebellion of Volterra, and the cause of it—Volterra reduced to obedience by force, in accordance with the advice of Lorenzo de’ Medici—Volterra pillaged.
Cesare Petrucci held the office of Provost of Prato for the Florentine people, at this period. It is customary with governors of towns, similarly situated, to keep the keys of the gates near their persons; and whenever, in peaceful times, they are required by any of the inhabitants, for entrance or exit, they are usually allowed to be taken. Bernardo was aware of this custom, and about daybreak, presented himself at the gate which looks toward Pistoia, accompanied by the Palandra and about one hundred persons, all armed. Their confederates within the town also armed themselves, and one of them asked the governor for the keys, alleging, as a pretext, that some one from the country wished to enter. The governor not entertaining the slightest suspicion, sent a servant with them. When at a convenient distance, they were taken by the conspirators, who, opening the gates, introduced Bernardo and his followers. They divided themselves into two parties, one of which, led by Salvestro, an inhabitant of Prato, took possession of the citadel; the other following Bernardo, seized the palace, and placed Cesare with all his family in the custody of some of their number. They then raised the cry of liberty, and proceeded through the