It is from this epoch that the supremacy of the Visconti, hitherto the unsuccessful rivals of the Guelphic Torriani for the signory of Milan, dates.
They conferred the signory upon him for life; and, had he not mismanaged matters, he might have held the city in his grasp. Italy was settling cown and turning her attention to home comforts, arts and literature.
We use the term "domination" rather than "signory" inasmuch as, strictly speaking, Petrucci was never lord of the state, and left its established form of government intact; but he exercised despotic authority in virtue of his strength of character and the continued increase of his personal power.
A signory adverse to Giano having been elected, he was driven into exile in 1295.
The Florentines now turned their eyes towards Lucca; they might have acquired the city immediately after Castruccio's death for 80,000 florins, but failed to do so owing to differences of opinion in the signory; Martino della Scala, lord of Verona, promised it to them in 1335, but Lucca broke his word, and although their finances were not then very flourishing they allied themselves with Venice to make war on him.
The signory meanwhile created a balia of 80 which repealed some of the laws promoted by the parte, and partly enfranchised the ammoniti.
A large body of ciompi (wool carders) gathered outside the city and conspired to subvert the signory and establish a popular government.
They demanded a share in the government for the popolo minuto, but as soon as this was granted Tommaso Strozzi, as spokesman of the ciompi, obliged the signory to resign their powers to the Eight.
Rinaldo's proposal for a coup d'etat met with no response from his own party, and he failed to prevent the election of a pro-Medici signory in 1434.
The former at once assumed Magnin - the reins of government and became ruler of Florence in a way neither Cosimo nor Piero had ever attempted; he established his domination by means of balie consisting of the signory, the accoppiatori, and 240 other members, all Mediceans, to be renewed every five years (1471).
The signory appointed Piero Capponi, a man of great ability and patriotism, and experienced in diplomacy, the gonfaloniere Francesco Valori, the Dominican Giorgio Vespucci, and the jurisconsult and diplomatist Domenico Bonsi, rule, 's every five years, appointed all the magistrates and Y Y PP g syndics to conduct the negotiations with the French king.
When the king began to hint at the recall of Piero de' Medici, whose envoys had gained his ear, the signory ordered the citizens to be ready to fly to arms. The proposal was dropped, but Charles demanded an immense sum of money before he would leave the city; long discussions followed, and when at last he presented an insolent ultimatum the syndics refused to accept it.
The Greater Council was to elect another council of 80 citizens over forty years old, also to be changed every six months; this body, which the signory must consult once a week, together with the colleges and the signory itself, was to appoint ambassadors and commissaries of war, and deal with other confidential matters.
The Piagnoni were out of power, and a signory of Arrabbiati having been elected in 1498, a mob of Savonarola's opponents attacked the convent of St Mark where he resided, and he himself was arrested and imprisoned.
The outgoing signory secured the election of another which was of their way of thinking, and on the 22nd of May 1498 Savonarola was condemned to death and executed the following day.
To give more stability to the government, the office of gonfaloniere, with the right of proposing laws to the signory, was made a life appointment.
The signory, at last realizing that Malatesta was a traitor, dismissed him; but it was too late, and he now behaved as though he were governor of Florence; when the troops attempted to enforce the dismissal he turned his guns on them.
On the 9th of August the signory saw that all hope was lost and entered into negotiations with Don Surrender Ferrante Gonzaga, the new imperial commander.
But Florence was torn by factions - the Ottimati the signory was abolished, Alessandro created gonfaloniere for life, and his lordship made hereditary in his family by imperial patent.
The signory resolved to be rid of their dangerous guests; and, when Charles threatened to sound his trumpets unless the sums exacted were paid, Capponi tore up the treaty in his face and made the memorable reply: "Then we will ring our bells."
There was also an upper council of eighty, which in conjunction with the signory decided all questions of too important and delicate a nature for discussion in the larger assembly.
A signory openly hostile to Savonarola took office in May, and on Ascension Day his enemies ventured on active insult.
But the signory, in feigned anxiety for the public peace, besought him to suspend his discourses.
And now, the Arrabbiati signory putting no check on the Compagnacci, the city returned to the wanton licence of Lorenzo's reign.
Now too the Piagnoni quitted office; the new signory was less friendly, and the prior was persuaded by his adherents to retire to St Mark's.
The signory tried to conciliate the pope by relating the wonderful spiritual effects of their preacher's words, but Alexander was obdurate.
The papal threats were now too urgent to be disregarded, and the cowed signory entreated Savonarola to put an end to his sermons.
Aided by the signory, which was playing into the hands of Rome, the Arrabbiati and Compagnacci pressed the matter on, and the way was now clear for Savonarola's destruction.
The next morning, the signory having decreed the prior's.
The signory refused to send their prisoners to Rome, but they did Rome's behests.
But the signory insisted that the false prophet should suffer death before the Florentines whom he had so long led astray.
The only favour Savonarola craved before death was a short interview with his fellow victims. This the signory unwillingly granted.
In that city Ser Piero followed his profession with success, as notary to many of the chief families in the city, including the Medici, and afterwards to the signory or governing council of the state.
In 1478 we find him receiving an important commission from the signory, and in 1480 another from the monks of San Donato in Scopeto.
One of the two may have been a picture of the Virgin appearing to St Bernard, which we know he was commissioned to paint in that year for a chapel in the Palace of the Signory, but never finished: the commission was afterwards transferred to Filippino Lippi, whose performance is now in the Badia.
The leave of absence granted to him by the signory on the request of the French viceroy was for three months only.
The period was several times extended, at first grudgingly, Soderini complaining that Leonardo had treated the republic ill in the matter of the battle picture; whereupon the painter honourably offered to refund the money paid, an offer which the signory as honourably refused.
The king arrived in May 1507, and soon afterwards Leonardo's services were formally and amicably transferred from the signory of Florence to Louis, who gave him the title of painter and engineer in ordinary.