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4 - To destroy them or to live there

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Mikael Hörnqvist
Affiliation:
Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
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Summary

The ruling nation seeks to transform other peoples into its own image.

Solomon Ibn Verga

When the Florentine colonist Piero Vaglienti, a few days before the entry of the French into Pisa in November 1494, approached the Florentine commissioner with a proposal for having one hundred fifty or two hundred leading Pisan citizens deported to Florence as a precautionary measure, he was received with a mixture of indifference and complacent arrogance. Since the commissioner found it inconceivable that the Pisans, who had been under Florentine rule for almost a century, would be able to recall the city's past liberty any more, he saw no reason to doubt their loyalty. Of course, he was spectacularly wrong. The night after the French had entered Pisa, the streets of the city resounded to the ancient cry “libertà! libertà!” The marzocchi, the Florentine lions and the very emblem of Florentine rule, on the bridges over the Arno were destroyed and thrown into the river. Over night, lifelong friendships between Pisans and Florentines turned into animosity, as Florentine citizens were attacked and their houses sacked. Around this time, a Pisan notary wrote in his Ricordi: “The Pisans have always been a free and generous people. The wars they have fought against the Ligurians and the Genoese since the commencement of the Pisan name have demonstrated their worth … Liberty has always been dear to our people, because it was given to us by our ancestors and betters.”

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Machiavelli and Empire , pp. 113 - 147
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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