The Substance of Power: A Tuscan AAR
Above: The city of Florence
Antonio Falconi was not the richest man in Florence, though he was not poor. Nor was he the cleverest, though he was no fool. Nor may be it said that he was a man of the people - and for that at least he was profoundly thankful.
The Falconi family were one of the oldest and proudest families in the city and if their haughtiness sometimes hid a lack of intellect and imagination it also allowed them to move in illustrious and prestigious circles and Antonio who after the death of his fearsome father the previous year had become head of the family, had little difficulty becoming an important figure in the druggists’ guild (who traded in spices and rare gems from the East). He subsequently found himself elected, at the youthful age of thirty-one to the Signoria, the nine-man government of Florence that was chosen every two months. He began his term at the beginning of the year 1419.
“What do you think of Guiducci's plan?” asked his friend Delbene over dinner at Antonio's home. Guiducci, a fellow Signoria appointee was the representative of the jurists’ guild and had proposed a major reform of the taxation laws in Florence*. Naturally this had been deeply unpopular with many Florentines who wanted their money safely away from the government who might do anything with it. Conservatives – which normally included the Falconi family – also opposed such a radical move. Surprisingly though Antonio admitted he intended to support it.
“I’m not exactly happy with Guiducci’s reforms,” he said confessed conspiratorially, “but I need his support. I want to sign a trade agreement with Portugal and the Mamluk Sultan and I need his vote to authorise the embassies.”
“Which upright citizen is best suited to lead such embassies I wonder?” queried Delbene, eyebrow raised.
“Only if the city asks,” was the patriotic reply.
“One thing worries me,” said Delbene frowning, “Medici. Giovanni is the richest man in the city and I doubt he'll be happy with this law - I know his bank will take a hit. You might be making yourself a powerful enemy my friend.”
Antonio waved off this worry dismissively. “My friend, Giovanni like all Medici's has no interest in politics. Believe me for all his wealth he's powerless. We have nothing to worry from the Medici family.”
* Build a Tax Collector