From Villani, Giovanni, Selfe, Rose E., translator. Villani’s Chronicle being selections from the First Nine Books of the Croniche Fiorentine of Giovanni Villani. London: Archibald Constable & Co. LTD, 1906; pp. 69-84.
After the death of Otho II., his son Otho III., was elected Emperor, and crowned by Pope Gregory V., in the year of Christ 979, and this Otho reigned twenty-four
979 A. D. years. After that he was crowned, he went into Apulia on pilgrimage to Mount S. Angelo, and afterwards returned by way of France into Germany, leaving Italy in good and peaceful estate. But when he was returned to Germany, Crescentius, the consul and lord of Rome, drave away the said Gregory from the papacy, and set a Greek therein, which was bishop of Piacenza, and very wise; but when the Emperor Otho heard this he was very wrath, and with his army returned to Italy, and besieged in Rome the said Crescentius and his Pope in the castle of S. Angelo, for therein had they taken refuge; and he took the said castle by siege, and caused Crescentius to be beheaded, and Pope John XVI. to have his eyes put out, and his hands cut off; and he restored his Pope Gregory to his chair, which was his kinsman by race; and leaving Rome and Italy in good estate, he returned to his country of Germany, and there 70 died in prosperity. With the said Otho III. there came into Italy the Marquis Hugh; I take it this must have been the marquis of Brandenburg, forasmuch as there is no other marquisate in Germany. His sojourn in Tuscany liked him so well, and especially our city of Florence, that he caused his wife to come thither, and took up his abode in Florence, as vicar of Otho, the Emperor. It came to pass, as it pleased God, that when he was riding to the chase in the country of Bonsollazzo, he lost sight, in the wood, of all his followers, and came out, as he supposed, at a workshop where iron was wont to be wrought. Here he found men, black and deformed, who, in place of iron, seemed to be tormenting men with fire and with hammer, and he asked what this might be: and they answered and said that these were damned souls, and that to similar pains was condemned the soul of the Marquis Hugh by reason of his worldly life, unless he should repent: who, with great fear, commended himself to the Virgin Mary, and when the vision was ended, he remained so pricked in the spirit, that after his return to Florence, he sold all his patrimony in Germany, and commanded that seven monasteries should be founded: the first was the Badia of Florence, to the honour of S. Mary; the second, that of Bonsollazzo, where he beheld the vision; the third was founded at Arezzo; the fourth at Poggibonizzi; the fifth at the Verruca of Pisa; the sixth at the city of Castello; the last was the one at Settimo; and all these abbeys he richly endowed, and lived afterwards with his wife in holy life, and had no son, and died in the city of Florence, on S. Thomas’ Day, in the year of Christ, 1006, and was buried with great honour in the Badia of Florence. And whilst the said Hugh was 71 living, he made in Florence many knights of the family
127-132. of the Giandonati, of the Pulci, of the Nerli, of the counts of Gangalandi, and of the family della Bella, which all for love of him, retained and bore his arms, barry, white and red, with divers charges.
Hugh Capet, as we before made mention, the lineage
987 A. D. of Charles the Great having failed, was made king of France, in the year of Christ 987. This Hugh was duke of Orleans (and by some it is held that his ancestors were all dukes and of high lineage), son of Hugh the Great, and his mother was sister to Otho I. of Germany; but by the more part it is said that his father was a great and rich burgher of Paris, a butcher, or trader in beasts by birth; but by reason of his great riches and possessions, when the duchy of Orleans was vacant, and only a daughter was left, he had her to wife, whence was born the said Hugh Capet, which was very wise and of
49-60. great possessions, and the kingdom of France was wholly governed by him; and when the lineage of Charles the Great failed, as was aforesaid, he was made king, and reigned twenty years.
In the said times, when the Emperor Henry I. was
1010 A. D. 72 reigning, the city of Florence was much increased in inhabitants and in power, considering its small circuit, especially by the aid and favour of the Emperor Otho I., and of the second and third Otho, his son and grandson, which always favoured the city of Florence; and as the city of Florence increased, the city of Fiesole continually decreased, they being always at war and enmity together; but by reason of the strong position, and the strength in walls and in towers which the city of Fiesole possessed, in vain did the Florentines labour to overcome it; and albeit they had more inhabitants, and a greater number of friends and allies, yet the Fiesolans were continually warring against them. But when the Florentines perceived that they could not gain it by force, they made a truce with the Fiesolans, and abandoned the war between them; and making one truce after another, they began to grow friendly, and the citizens of one city to sojourn in the other, and to marry together, and to keep but little watch and guard one against the other. The Florentines perceiving that their city of Florence had no power to rise much, whilst they had overhead so strong a fortress as the city of Fiesole, one night secretly and subtly set an ambush of armed men in divers parts of Fiesole. The Fiesolans feeling secure as to the Florentines, and not being on their guard against them, on the morning of their chief festival of S. Romolo, when the gates were open, and the Fiesolans unarmed, the Florentines entered into the city
1010 A. D. under cover of coming to the festival; and when a good number were within, the other armed Florentines which were in ambush secured the gates of the city; and on a signal made to Florence, as had been arranged, all the host and power of the Florentines came on horse 73 and on foot to the hill, and entered into the city of Fiesole and traversed it, slaying scarce any man, nor doing any harm, save to those which opposed them. And when the Fiesolans saw themselves to be suddenly and unexpectedly surprised by the Florentines, part of them which were able fled to the fortress, which was very strong, and long time maintained themselves there. The city at the foot of the fortress having been taken and overrun by the Florentines, and the strongholds and they which opposed themselves being likewise taken, the common people surrendered themselves on condition that they should not be slain nor robbed of their goods; the Florentines working their will to destroy the city, and keeping possession of the bishop’s palace. Then the Florentines made a covenant, that whosoever desired to leave the city of Fiesole, and come and dwell in Florence, might come safe and sound with all his goods and possessions, or he might go to any place which pleased him; for the which thing they came down in great numbers to dwell in Florence, whereof there were and are great families in Florence. Others went to dwell in the region round about where they had farms and possessions. And when this was done, and the city was devoid of inhabitants and goods, the Florentines caused it to be all pulled down and destroyed, all save the bishop’s palace and certain other churches, and the fortress, which still held out, and did not surrender under the said conditions. And this was in the year of Christ 1010, and the Florentines and the Fiesolans
1010 A. D. which became citizens of Florence, took thence all the ornaments and pillars, and all the marble carvings which were there, and the marble war chariot which is in San Piero Scheraggio in Florence.
The city of Fiesole being destroyed save the fortress of the citadel, as has been aforesaid, many Fiesolans came thence to dwell in Florence and made one people with the Florentines, and by reason of their coming it behoved to increase the walls and the circuit of the city of Florence, as hereafter shall be narrated. And to the end the Fiesolans which were come to dwell in Florence might be more faithful and loving with the Florentines, they caused the arms of the said two commonwealths to be borne in common, and made the arms to be dimidiated red and white, as still to our times they are borne upon the Carroccio and in the host of the Florentines. The red was the ancient field which the Florentines had from the Romans, as we afore made mention, and they were wont to bear thereupon the white lily; and the white was the ancient field of the Fiesolans, bearing an azure moon: but from the said common arms they took away the white lily and the moon, and so had them dimidiated and uncharged; and they made common laws and statutes, living under one government of two citizen consuls, and with the council of the senate, to wit 100 men, the best of the city, as was the custom given by the Romans to the Florentines. And they increased greatly the city of Florence both in inhabitants and in power through the destruction of the city of Fiesole,
xvi. 46-48. and through the Fiesolans which came to dwell in Florence. Nevertheless, they were not a great people in comparison with what they are in our times; forasmuch as the city of Florence was of small extent, as has been narrated, and as may still be seen by tracing the first circuit, and there were hardly the fourth of the 75 inhabitants which there are to-day. The Fiesolans were much diminished, and at the destruction of Fiesole they were much scattered, and some went one way, and some another; but the most part thereof came to Florence. Yet it was a large city for those times; but, from what we find, all the Fiesolans together were not the half which there are now in our days. And note that the Florentines are always in schism, and in factions and in divisions among themselves, which is not to be marvelled at. One cause is by reason of the city being rebuilt, as was told in the chapter concerning its re-building, under the lordship and influence of the planet of Mars, which always inspires wars and divisions.
174. The other cause is more certain and natural, that the Florentines are to-day descended from two peoples so diverse in manners, and who ever of old had been enemies, as the Roman people and the people of Fiesole; and this we can see by true experience, and by the divers changes and parties and factions which after the said two peoples had been united into one, came to
61-78. pass in Florence from time to time, as in this book henceforward more fully shall be narrated.
After that the Fiesolans were come in great part to dwell in Florence, as aforesaid, the city multiplied in inhabitants and population; and as it increased in suburbs and dwellings, outside the small old city, after a little while it behoved of necessity that the city should increase its circuit, first with moats and palisades; and then in the time of Henry the Emperor they made the walls, to the end the suburbs and outgrowths,
by reason of the wars which arose in Tuscany about the matter of the said Henry, might not be taken nor destroyed, and the city more readily besieged by its enemies. Wherefore, at that time, in the year of Christ 1078, as hereafter, in narrating the story of Henry III., shall be mentioned, the Florentines began the new walls, beginning from the east side at the gate of S. Piero Maggiore, the which was somewhat behind the church so called, enclosing the suburb of S. Piero Maggiore and the said church within the new walls, and afterwards, drawing them nearer in on the north side, a little distance from the said suburb, they made an angle at a postern which was called the Albertinelli Gate from a family which dwelt in that place, which was so called; then they drew them on as far as the gate of the Borgo S. Lorenzo [suburb of S. Lawrence] enclosing the said church within the walls; and after this were two posterns, one at the forked way of the Campo Corbolini, and the other the one afterwards
1078 A. D. called the Porta del Baschiera. Then they ran on as far as the Porta S. Paolo, and then continued as far as the Carraia Gate, where the wall ended, by the Arno; and there afterwards they began and built a bridge which is called the Carraia Bridge from the name of that gate; and then the walls continuing, not however very high, along the bank of the Arno, included what had been without the old walls, to wit the suburb of San Brancazio [S. Pancras], and that of Parione, and that of Santo Apostolo, and of the Porte Sante Marie as far as the Ponte Vecchio; and then afterwards along the bank of Arno as far as the fortress of Altafonte. From this point the walls withdrew somewhat from the bank of Arno, so that there remained a road between, and two 77 postern gates whereby to come at the river; then they went on the same, and took a turn where now are the supports of the Rubaconte Bridge, and there at the turn was a gate called the Oxen Gate, because there without was held the cattle market, and afterwards it was named the gate of Master Ruggieri da Quona, forasmuch as the family of da Quona, when they came to dwell in the city, established themselves near the said gate. Then the walls went on behind S. Jacopo tra le Fosse (so called because it stood on fosses), as far as where to-day is the end of the piazza before the church of the Minor Friars called Santa Croce; and there was a postern which led to the island of Arno; then the walls went on in a straight lie without any gate or postern, returning to S. Piero Maggiore whence they began. And thus the new city of Florence on this side the Arno had five gates for the five sesti, one gate to each sesto, and divers posterns, as has been mentioned. In the Oltrarno [district beyond the Arno] were three roads, all three of which started from the Ponte Vecchio on the side beyond Arno. One was and still is called the Borgo Pidiglioso, seeing that it was inhabited by the baser sort. At the head of this was a gate called the Roman Gate, where now are the houses of the Bardi near S. Lucia de’ Magnoli across the Ponte Vecchio, and this was the road to Rome, by Fegghine and Arezzo. There were no other walls to the suburb about the road save the backs of the houses against the hill. The second road was that of Santa Felicita, called the Borgo di Piazza, which had a gate where now is the piazza of San Felice, where runs the road to Siena; and the third road was called after S. Jacopo, and had a gate where now are the houses of the Frescobaldi, where ran the road 78 to Pisa. None of the three suburbs lying around these roads of the sesto of Oltrarno had other walls save the said gates, and the backs of the outside houses, which enclosed the suburbs with orchards and gardens within. But, after that the Emperor Henry III. marched upon Florence, the Florentines enclosed Oltrarno within walls, beginning at the said gate to Rome, ascending behind the Borgo alla Costa below San Giorgio, and then coming out behind Santa Felicita, enclosing the Borgo di Piazza and the Borgo di San Jacopo, and roughly following the said Borghi. But afterwards the walls of Oltrarno on the hill were made higher as they are now, in the time when the Ghibellines first ruled the city of Florence, as we will make mention in due place and time. We will now leave for a time the doings of Florence, and we will treat of the emperors which were after Henry I., for it is necessary that we should tell of them here in order to continue our history.
After the death of the Emperor Henry I., Conrad I. was elected and consecrated by Pope Benedict VIII., in the year of Christ 1015. He was of Suabia, and reigned twenty years as emperor, and when he came into Italy, not being able to obtain the lordship of Milan, he laid siege to it, right in the suburbs of the city itself; but as he was assuming the iron crown outside of Milan in a church, while Mass was being sung, there came great thunder and lightning into the church, and some died therefrom; and the Archbishop which was singing Mass at the altar, rose and said to the Emperor Conrad, that he had visibly seen S. Ambrose, which sternly menaced him except he abandoned the siege of 79 Milan; and he, thus admonished, withdrew his host, and made peace with the Milanese. He was a just man, and made many laws, and kept the Empire in peace long time. Yea, and he went into Calabria against the Saracens which were come to lay waste the country, and fought against them, and, with great shedding of Christian blood, he drove them away and overcame them. This Conrad took much delight in sojourning at Florence when he was in Tuscany, and he advanced it greatly, and many citizens of Florence received knighthood from his hand, and were in his service. And to the intent it may be known who were the noble and powerful citizens in those times in the city of Florence, we will briefly make mention thereof.
As before has been narrated, the first re-building of
1015 A. D. the smaller Florence was according to the division of four quarters, after the four gates; and to the end we may the better describe the noble families and houses which in the said times, after Fiesole had been destroyed, were great and powerful in Florence, we will recount them according to the quarters where they dwelt. And first, they of the Porta del Duomo, which
xxv. 5. was the first fold and abiding place of the re-built Florence, and where all the noble citizens of Florence on Sundays gathered and held civil converse around the Duomo, and where were celebrated all the marriages, and peacemakings, and every festival and solemnity of the commonwealth; and next, the Porta San Piero, and then Porta San Brancazio, and Porta Sante Marie. And 80 the Porta del Duomo was inhabited by the family of the Giovanni, and of the Guineldi, which were the first to rebuild the city of Florence, whence afterwards were descended many families of nobles in Mugello, and in Valdarno, and in many cities, which now are popolari
104. and almost come to an end. There were the Barucci which dwelt near Santa Maria Maggiore, which are now extinct; the Scali and Palermini were of their lineage.
108. There were also in the said quarter Arrigucci, and Sizi, and the family della Tosa: these della Tosa were of one
112-114. lineage with the Bisdomini, and were patrons and defenders of the bishopric; but one of them departed from his kin of the Porta San Piero, and took to wife a lady
Cf. Par. xv.
100. called la Tosa, which was the heiress of her family, and hence was derived the name. Also there were the della Pressa, which abode among the Chiavaiuoli, gentlemen.
In the quarter of Porta San Piero were the Bisdomini, which, as aforesaid, were the patrons of the bishopric, and
89. the Alberighi, and theirs was the church of Santa Maria Alberighi towards the house of the Donati, and now,
104. nought remains of them; the Rovignani were very great, and dwelt on Porta San Piero (their houses afterwards belonged to the Counts Guidi, and afterwards to the Cerchi), and from them were born all the Counts Guidi, as has afore been told, of the daughter of the good Messer Bellincione Berti; in our days all that family have disappeared; the Galligari, and Chiarmontesi, and Ardinghi, which dwelt in Orto San Michele, were very ancient; and likewise the Giuochi, which now are popolani, which 81 dwelt by Santa Margherita; the Elisei, which likewise are now popolani, who dwell near the Mercato Vecchio;
106, 107. and in that place dwelt the Caponsacchi, which were Fiesolan magnates; the Donati or Calfucci, which were all one family; but the Calfucci have come to nought; and the della Bella of San Martino have also become
115-120. popolani; and the family of the Adimari, which were descended from the house of the Cosi, which now dwell in Porta Rossa, and they built Santa Maria Nipotecosa; and albeit they are now the chief family of that sesto, and of Florence, nevertheless, they were not of the most ancient in those days.
In the quarter of the Porta San Brancazio were very
Inf. vi. 80,
88. great and potent the house of the Lamberti, descended from German forefathers. The Ughi were most ancient, which built Santa Maria Ughi, and all the hill of Montughi was theirs, but now they are extinct. The Catellini were most ancient, and now there is no record of them. It is said that the family Tieri were of their lineage, descended from a bastard. The Pigli were
xvi. 92. gentlemen and magnates in those times, and the Soldanieri, and the Vecchietti; very ancient were the dell’ Arca, and now they are extinct; and the Migliorelli, which now are nought; and the Trinciavelli of Mosciano were very ancient.
In the quarter of Porta Santa Maria, which is now included in the sesto of San Piero Scheraggio and in that of Borgo, there were many powerful and ancient
89. families. The chief were the Uberti, whose ancestor was born in Germany and came thence, which dwelt where is now the Piazza of the Priors, and the Palace of the People; the Fifanti, called Bogolesi, dwelt at the side of Porta Santa Maria; and the Galli, Cappiardi, Guidi; and the Filippi, which not have come to nought, were then great and powerful, and dwelt in
89. the Mercato Nuovo. And likewise the Greci, whereto pertained all the Borgo dei Greci, are now come to an end and extinct, save that there are in Bologna of their
89. lineage; the Ormanni which dwelt where is now the said Palace of the People, and who are now called Foraboschi. And behind San Piero Scheraggio where are now the houses of the family of the Petri, dwelt they of Pera or Peruzza; and from their name the postern
124-126; which was there was called the Peruzza Gate. Some say that the Peruzzi of to-day were descended from this
104. lineage, but this I do not affirm. The Sacchetti which dwell in the Garbo were very ancient; around the New
92, 127, 93.
133. Market the Bostichi were of note, and the della Sannella, and the Giandonati, and the Infangati. In the Borgo Santo Apostolo the Gualterotti, and the Importuni, which are now popolani, were then magnates. The Bondelmonti were noble and ancient citizens in the
136-144. country, and Montebuoni was their fortress, and many others in Valdigrieve; first they settled in Oltrarno, and
xv. 97, 98. then they betook themselves to the Borgo. The Pulci, and the Counts of Gangalandi, Ciuffagni, and Nerli of Oltrarno, were at one time great and powerful, together with the Giandonati, and the della Bella named above; and from the Marquis Hugh which built the Badia of Florence, they took their arms and knighthood, for they were of great account with him.
In those times, the year of Christ 1070, there passed into
1070 A. D. Italy Robert Guiscard, duke of the Normans, the which
48. by his prowess and wit did great things, and wrought in the service of Holy Church against the Emperor Henry III., who was persecuting it, and against the Emperor Alexis, and against the Venetians, as we shall make mention hereafter: for the which thing he was made lord over Sicily and Apulia, with the confirmation of Holy Church; and his descendants after him, down to the time of Henry of Suabia, father of Frederick II., were kings
120. and lords thereof. And also in those same times was the worthy and wise Countess Matilda, the which reigned in
119. Tuscany and in Lombardy, and was well-nigh sovereign lady over all, and did many great things in her time for Holy Church, so that it seems to me reasonable and fitting to speak of their beginning and of their state, in this our treatise, forasmuch as they were much mixed up with the doings of our city of Florence through the consequences which followed their doings in Tuscany. And first we will tell of Robert Guiscard, and then of the Countess Matilda, and their beginnings and their doings briefly, returning afterwards to our subject and the deeds of our 84 city of Florence, the which by the increase and the doings of the Florentines began to multiply and to extend the fame of Florence throughout the whole world, more than it had been heretofore; and therefore almost by necessity it behoves us in our treatise to narrate more universally henceforward of the Popes and of the Emperors and of the kings, and of many provinces of the world, the events and things which happened in those times, forasmuch as they have much to do with our subject, and because the aforesaid Emperor Henry III. was the beginner of the scandal between the Church and the Empire, and afterwards the Guelfs and Ghibellines, whence arose the parties of the Empire and of the Church in Italy, the which so grew that all Italy was infected thereby and almost all Europe, and many ills and perils, and destructions and changes have followed thereupon to our city and to the whole world, such as following on with our treatise we shall mention in their times. And we will begin now, at the head of every page to mark the year of our Lord, following on in order of time, to the end that the events of past times may be the more easily looked out in our treatise.