At daybreak on the 21st of July, there did not appear in the piazza above eighty men in arms friendly to the Signory, and not one of the Gonfaloniers; for knowing the whole city to be in a state of insurrection they were afraid to leave their homes.
They abolished the office of Gonfalonier of Justice, and also the Gonfaloniers of the companies of the people; and instead of the twelve Buonuomini, or good men, created eight counsellors, four from each party. The government having been established in this manner, the city might have been in repose if the great had been content to live in that moderation which civil society requires.
The nobility having left the palace, the office of the four councillors was taken from their party, and conferred upon twelve of the people. To the eight signors who remained, a Gonfalonier of Justice was added, and sixteen Gonfaloniers of the companies of the people; and the council was so reformed, that the government remained wholly in the hands of the popular party.
The proper function of the Gonfaloniers was, in concert with their Gonfalons and companies, to defend with arms the city from perils foreign and civil, when occasion rose, and to control the fire-guards specially deputed by that magistracy in four convenient stations.
It was then evening, and they advised the signors to assemble the consuls of the trades, who proposed that whatever armed force was in Florence should be collected, and with the Gonfaloniers of the people and their companies, meet under arms in the piazza next morning.
In this tremendous uproar, the Signory, finding themselves abandoned by their armed force, by the leaders of the arts, and by the Gonfaloniers, became dismayed; for none had come to their assistance in obedience to orders; and of the sixteen Gonfalons, the ensign of the Golden Lion and of the Vaio, under Giovenco della Stufa and Giovanni Cambi alone appeared; and these, not being joined by any other, soon withdrew.
"Ancients," and "priors," the heads of the "arts," supersede the consuls. The "podesta" is more and more limited to a judicial function. In some of the Guelf cities, there is "a gonfalonier of justice," to curb the nobility. In Florence, there were also twenty subordinate gonfaloniers. The final triumph of Guelfs and of republicanism in Florence was in 1253.
"The signory issued orders that the gonfaloniers of the people and their companies should assemble in the public square at daylight the next morning, but less than a hundred men appeared under arms in support of the government, while our forces had grown to more than three thousand. "A body of the plebeians first assembled at San Pietro, but there was no force to oppose them.
The leaders of the republic also re-established the companies of the people, and gave them the ensigns that were first used by the companies of the Arts; the heads of which were called Gonfaloniers of the companies and colleagues of the Signory; and ordered, that when any disturbance arose they should assist the Signory with arms, and in peace with counsel.
On the first day a deputation of the chief Jews, including the three gonfaloniers and the rabbis, headed the senatorial cortége, and, attired in a parti-colored costume of red and yellow, marched across the whole city, from the Piazza of the People to the Capitol, through a double fire of scurrilities.