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Cosimo Speaks to the Signory after the Proclamation of Exile 21/02/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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Cosimo gave this speech in 1433: it is recorded in Fabroni (Ross trans).

If I thought that this my misfortune and terrible ruin might serve to bring peace to this blessed people not only would exile be acceptable but I should even welcome death, if I were sure that my descendants, Signori, might pride themselves on my having been the cause of the wished-for union of your Republic. As you have decided that I am to go to Padua, I declareth at I am content to go, and to stay wherever you command, not only in the Trevisian State, but should you send me to live amongst the Arabs, or any other people alien to our customs, I would go most willingly; and if your Lordships command me to discover the origin of the ill, as a beloved son is bound to obey his father’s wishes and a good servant the orders of his masters, o would I obey you for the peace of your people. One thing I beg of you, O Signori, that seeing you intend to preserve my life, you take care that it should not be taken by wicked citizens and thus you be put to shame. I do not so much fear the pain of death as the abominable infamy of undeserved assassination, for a violent death is the manifest sign and outcome of a bad life, and I have not led the life of a villain, but of an honest and good merchant. Even if I have not been faultless I have always tried to merit the love of good men, because my actions were good. As, however, disaster comes to me by your orders, I accept it as a boon, and as a benefit to me and to my belongings. Have a care, O Signori, that those should not have their way who are in the Piazza with arms in their hands and anxiously desire my blood, without regard for my innocence. My pain would be small, because such a death being over in a short time cannot be very painful or hard to bear; nothing is so brief as death. But you would earn perpetual infamy by having made me a promise which was broken by villainous citizens: infamy is worse than an innocent death. If I go to the Trevisian State, I leave my heart and my soul with you, and shall only be happy when I can do something for the good of your people, as I pray you and every good citizen to do. Every trouble will be easy to bear as long as I know that my adversity will bring peace and happiness to the city. I know, and this is no small comfort to me, that I never permitted wrong to be done to any one. I never frequented the Palace save when I was summoned; I never roused hatred of the Republic amongst your subalterns because I never ill- treated them; I always declined to be nominated an official, which is often prejudicial to the body and hurtful to the soul; with no small pride I affirm that none can say my ill-behaviour ever caused a city to rebel or to be taken from you; on the contrary our money bought several: ask your soldiers how many times they were paid by me for the Commune with m y own money, to be returned to me when convenient to the Commune. Never have I been found wanting when the Commune could be enlarged, and although I am exiled, I shall ever be ready at the call of this people. In conclusion, Signori, I pray God to keep you in his grace and in happiness in this fortunate Republic, and to give me patience to bear my unhappy life.

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