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. 127-146.
In the year of Christ 1220, on the day of St.
Inf. x. 119;
also cap. 3:
El. i. 12:
Epist. vi (5)
118-120 Cecilia in November, there was crowned and consecrated Emperor at Rome Frederick II., king of Sicily, son of the Emperor Henry of Suabia, and of the Empress Constance, by Pope Honorius III., with great honour. In the beginning he was a friend of the Church, and well might he be, so many benefits and favours had he received from the Church, for through the Church his father Henry had for wife Constance, queen of Sicily, and for dowry the said realm, and the kingdom of Apulia; and when his father was dead, he being left a little child, was cared for and guarded by the Church as by a mother, and also his kingdom was defended, and he was elected king of the Romans against the Emperor Otho IV., and he was afterwards crowned Emperor, as aforesaid. But he, son of ingratitude that he was, not acknowledging Holy Church as a mother, but as a hostile stepmother, in all things was her enemy and persecutor, he and his sons, almost more than his precursors, as hereafter we shall make mention. This Frederick reigned thirty years as Emperor, and was a man of great capacity and of great valour, wise in books, and of natural intelligence, universal in all things; was acquainted with the 128 Latin tongue, and with our vernacular, with German and
1220 A. D. French, Greek and Arabic, of abounding talents, liberal and courteous in giving, courageous and prudent in arms, and was much feared. And he was dissolute and licentious after divers fashions, and had many concubines and catamites, after the manner of the Saracens, and he sought indulgence in all bodily pleasures, and led an epicurean life, not taking account that there were ever
Inf. x. 119. another life; and this was once chief cause why he became the enemy of the clergy and of Holy Church. And the other was his greed in taking and sequestrating the revenues of Holy Church, to squander them evilly. And many monasteries and churches he destroyed in his kingdom of Sicily and Apulia, and throughout all Italy, and this, either through his own vices and defects, or by
115-117. reason of the rulers of Holy Church who could not or would not deal with him, nor be content that he should have the Imperial rights, wherefore he subdued and smote Holy Church; or because that God permitted it as a Divine judgment, because the rulers of the Church had been the means through whom he became the child of the holy nun, Constance, they not remembering the persecutions which Henry, his father, and Frederick, his grandfather, had caused Holy Church to endure. This Frederick did many noteworthy things in his time, and raised in all the chief cities of Sicily and of Apulia, strong and rich fortresses which are still standing, and built the fortress of Capovana, in Naples, and the towers and gate upon the bridge over the river Volturno at Capua, the which are very marvellous; and he made the park for sport on the marsh of Foggia in Apulia, and made the hunting park near Gravina and Amalfi in the mountains. In winter he abode at Foggia, and in 129summer in the mountains, for the delights of the chase. And many other noteworthy things he caused to be made, as the castle of Prato, and the fortress of Samminiato, and many other things, as we shall make mention hereafter. And he had two sons by his first wife, Henry and Conrad, whom he caused each one during his lifetime to be elected king of the Romans; and by the daughter of King John of Jerusalem he had King Giordano, and by others he had King Frederick (from who are descended the lineage of those who are called of Antioch), King Enzo and King Manfred, who were great enemies to Holy Church; and during his life he and his sons lived and ruled with much earthly splendour; but in the end he and his sons because of their sins came to an ill end, and their line was extinguished, as we shall make mention hereafter.
In the year of Christ 1228, when M. Andrea of
1228 A. D. Perugia was Podestà of Florence, the Florentines led an army against Pistoia with the Carroccio, and this was because the Pistoians were making war against Montemurlo, and ill-treating it; and the said host laid waste the country round about the city up to the suburbs, and destroyed the towers of Montefiore which were very strong; and the fortress of Carmignano surrendered to the commonwealth of Florence. And note that upon 130 the rock of Carmignano there was a tower seventy cubits
1228 A. D.
xxv. 1-3. high, and thereupon two arms in marble, whereof the hands were ‘making the figs’ at Florence; wherefore the artificers of Florence, to express contempt for money or ought else offered to them, were wont to say: “I can’t see it, for the fortress of Carmignano is in the way.” And the Pistoians hereupon agreed to whatever terms the Florentines might devise, and caused the said fortress of Carmignano to be destroyed.
After that Frederick II. was crowned by Pope Honorius, as we have aforesaid, in the beginning he was the friend of the Church, but a little time after, through his pride and avarice, he began to usurp the rights of the Church throughout all his Empire, and in the realm of Sicily and Apulia, appointing bishops and archbishops and other prelates, and driving away those sent by the Pope, and raising imposts and taxes from the clergy, doing shame to Holy Church; for the which thing by the said Pope Honorius, which had crowned him, he was cited, and admonished that he should leave to Holy
Church her rights, and render the dues. But the Emperor perceived himself to be great in power and estate, alike through the force of the Germans and through that of the realm of Sicily, and that he was lord over sea and land, and was feared by all the rulers of Christendom, and also by the Saracens, and was buttressed around by the sons which he had of his first wife, daughter of the landgrave of Germany, to wit Henry and Conrad, the which Henry he had caused to be crowned in Germany king of the Romans, and Conrad was duke of Suabia, and Frederick of Antioch, his first natural son, he made king, and Enzo, his natural son, was king of Sardinia, and Manfred prince of Taranto; wherefore he would not yield obedience to the Church, but rather was he obstinate, living after the fashion of the world, in all bodily delights. For the which thing by the said Pope Honorius he was excommunicated the year of Christ 1220, and did not for that
1220 A. D. reason cease from persecuting the Church, but so much the more usurped its rights, and so remained the enemy of the Church and of the Pope Honorius as long as he lived. The which Pope passed from this life the year of Christ 1226, and after him was made Pope Gregory
1226 A. D. IX., born at Alagna in the Campagna, the which reigned as pope fourteen years; the which Pope Gregory had a great war with the Emperor Frederick, forasmuch as the Emperor would in no wise relinquish the rights and jurisdiction of Holy Church, but rather the more usurped them; and many churches of the kingdom he caused to be pulled down and deserted, laying heavy imposts upon the clergy and the churches; and whereas there were certain Saracens in the mountains of Trapali in Sicily, the Emperor, that he might be the more secure in the 132 island, and might keep them at a distance from the Saracens of Barbary, and also to the end that by them he might keep in fear his subjects in Apulia, by wit and promises drew them from those mountains, and put them in Apulia in an ancient deserted city, which of old was in league with the Romans, and was destroyed by the Samnites, to wit by those of Benivento, the which city was then called Licera, and now is called Nocera, and they were more than 20,000 men-at-arms; and that city they rebuilt very strong; the which ofttimes overran the places of Apulia to lay them waste. And when the said Emperor Frederick was at war with the Church, he
i. 10: 50,
63. i. 11:
i. 13: 31.
Par. xi. 53. caused them to come into the duchy of Spoleto, and besieged at that time the city of Assisi, and did great harm to Holy Church; for the which thing the said Pope Gregory confirmed against him the sentence given by Pope Honorius his predecessor, and again gave sentence of excommunication against him, the year of
1230 A. D. Christ 1230.
In these same times (albeit it had begun before) Henry Sciancato [the Lame], the first-born of the said Emperor Frederick, who had had him chosen king of the Romans by the electors of Germany as aforesaid, perceiving that the Emperor his father was doing all he might against Holy Church, and feeling the same heavy upon his conscience, time and again reproved his father, for that he was doing ill; whereat the Emperor set himself against him, and neither loving him nor dealing with him as with a son, raised up false accusers who testified that the said Henry had it in his mind to rebel against him as concerning his Empire, at the request of the Church. On the which plea (were it true or false) he seized his said son, King Henry, and two sons of his, little lads, and sent them into Apulia, into prison severally; and there he put him to death by starvation in great torment, and afterward Manfred put his sons to
121. death. The Emperor sent to Germany, and again had Conrad, his second son, elected king of the Romans in succession to himself; and this was the year of Christ 1236. Then after a certain time the Emperor put out
1236 A. D. the eyes of that wise man Master Piero dalle Vigne, the famous poet, accusing him of treason, but this came
31-108. about through envy of his great estate. And thereon the said M. Piero soon suffered himself to die of grief in prison, and there were who said that he himself took away his own life.
1241 A. D.
100-102. It came to pass afterwards, as it pleased God, that there was elected Pope Messer Ottobuono dal Fiesco, of the counts of Lavagna of Genoa, the which was cardinal, and was made Pope as being the greatest friend and confidant whom the Emperor Frederick had in Holy Church, to the end there might be peace between the Church and him; and he was called Pope Innocent IV., and this was the year of Christ 1241, and he reigned as Pope eleven years, and added to the Church many cardinals from divers countries of Christendom. And when he was elected Pope, the tidings were brought to the Emperor Frederick with great rejoicing, knowing that he was his great friend and protector. But the Emperor when he heard it, was greatly disturbed, whence his barons marvelled much, and he said: “Marvel not; for this election will be of much hurt to us; for he was our friend when cardinal, and now he will be our enemy as Pope;” and so it came to pass, for when the said Pope was consecrated, he demanded back from the Emperor the lands and jurisdictions which held of the Church, as to which request the Emperor held some time in treaty as to an agreement, but all was vanity and deception. In the end, the said Pope seeing himself to have been led about by deceitful words, to the hurt and shame of himself and of Holy Church, became more an enemy of the Emperor Frederick than his predecessors had been; and seeing that the power of the Emperor was so great that he ruled tyrannously over almost the whole of Italy, and that the roads were all taken and guarded by his guards, so that none could come to the court of Rome without his will 135 and license, the said Pope seeing himself in the said manner thus besieged, sent secret orders to his kinsfolk at Genoa, and caused twenty galleys to be armed, and
1241 A. D. straightway caused them to come to Rome, and thereupon embarked with all his cardinals and will all his court, and immediately caused himself to be conveyed to his city of Genoa without any opposition; and having tarried some time in Genoa, he came to Lyons on the Rhone, by the way of Provence; and this was the year of Christ 1241.
When Pope Innocent was at Lyons, he called a general council in the said place, and invited from throughout the whole world bishops and archbishops and other prelates, who all came thither; and there came to see him as far as the monastery of Crugni [Clugny] in Burgundy the good King Louis of France, and afterwards he came as far as to the council at Lyons, where he offered himself and his realm to the service of the said Pope and of Holy Church against the Emperor Frederick, and against all the enemies of Holy Church; and then he took the cross to go over seas. And when King Louis was gone the Pope enacted sundry things in the said council to the good of Christendom, and canonized sundry saints, as the Martinian Chronicle makes mention where it treats of him. And this done, the Pope summoned the said Frederick to the said council, as to a neutral place, to excuse himself of thirteen articles proved against him of things done against
1245 A. D. the faith of Christ, and against Holy Church; the which Emperor would not there appear, but sent thither his ambassadors and representatives — the bishop of Frenneborgo [Freiburg] in Germany, and Brother Hugh, master of the mansion of S. Mary of the Germans, and
55-78. the wise clerk and master Piero dalle Vigne of the Kingdom, who, making excuses for the Emperor that he was not able to come by reason of sickness and suffering in his person, prayed the said Pope and his brethren to pardon him, and averred that he would cry the Pope mercy, and would restore that which he had seized of the Church; and they offered, if the Pope would pardon him, that he would bind himself so to frame it that within one year the soldan of the Saracens should render up to his command the Holy Land over seas. And the said Pope, hearing the endless excuses and vain offers of the Emperor, demanded of the said ambassadors if they had an authentic mandate for this, whereon they produced a full authorization, under the golden seal of the said Emperor, to promise and undertake it all. And when the Pope had it in his hand, in full council, the said ambassadors being present, he denounced Frederick on all the said thirteen criminal articles, and to confirm it said: “Judge, faithful Christians, whether Frederick betrays Holy Church and all Christendom or no: for according to his mandate he offers within one year to make the soldan restore the Holy Land, very clearly showing that the soldan holds it through him, to the shame of all Christians.” And this said and declared, he caused the process against the said Emperor to be published; and condemned him and excommunicated him as a heretic and persecutor of Holy Church, laying to his charge many 137 foul crimes proved against him; and he deprived him
1245 A. D. of the lordship of the Empire, and of the realm of Sicily, and of that of Jerusalem, absolving from all fealty and oaths all his barons and subjects, excommunicating whoever should obey him, or should give him aid or favour, or further should call him Emperor or king. And the said sentence was passed at the said council at Lyons on the Rhone, the year of Christ 1245, the 17th of July. The principal causes why Frederick was condemned were four: first, forasmuch as when the Church invested him with the realm of Sicily and of Apulia, and afterwards with the Empire, he swore to the Church before his barons, and before the Emperor Baldwin of Constantinople, and before all the court of Rome, to defend Holy Church in all her honours and rights against all men, and to pay the rightful tribute, and to restore all the possessions and jurisdictions of Holy Church, of the which things he had done the contrary, and was perjured, and treacherous, and had vilely and wrongfully defamed Pope Gregory IX. and his cardinals by his letters throughout the whole world. The second thing was, that he broke the peace made by him with the Church, not remembering the pardons granted to him by withdrawal of the excommunications, and with respect to all the misdeeds done by him against Holy Church; and in that peace he had sworn and promised never to injure those who had been with the Church against him; but he had done quite the contrary, seeing that he had scattered them all, either by death or by exile, them and their families, taking away their possessions, and had not restored either to the Templars or to the Hospitallers their mansions which he had occupied, the which by the articles of the peace he had promised to restore and 138
1245 A. D. give back; and by force he had kept vacant eleven archbishoprics, with many bishoprics and abbeys in the Empire and in the Kingdom, not suffering those who were duly elected by the Pope to held or to till them; doing violence and extortions on sacred persons, constraining them to appear and plead before his bailiffs and secular lords. The third cause was the sacrilege he had done, when by the galleys of Pisa, and by his son King Enzo, he had taken the cardinals and many prelates at sea, as we afore told, and caused some to be drowned in the sea, and kept some dying in cruel and harsh prisons. The fourth cause was, because he was found and convicted in many articles of heresy in the faith; and certainly he was no Christian Catholic, living always more after his delight and pleasure than according to reason or just law; and in fellowship with the Saracens. Likewise he used the Church and her officers but little or not at all, and did no alms; so that not without great and evident causes he was deposed and condemned; and albeit he did much injury and persecution to Holy Church after that he was condemned, yet in a short time every honour and power and greatness God took from him, and showed him His wrath as we shall make mention hereafter. And because many have made question, who was to blame in the quarrel, whether the Church or the Emperor, hearing his excuses in his letters, therefore to this I make answer and say, that manifestly not by one divine miracle but by many was it shown that the Emperor was to blame, as God showed by open and visible judgments in his wrath upon Frederick and his seed.
The said Frederick being deposed and condemned as has been afore said, the Pope sent word to the electors of Germany who elect the king of the Romans, that they should without delay make a new choice for the Empire; and this was done, for they elected William, count of Holland and landgrave, a valiant lord, to whom the Church gave her support, causing a great part of Germany to rebel, and gave indulgence and pardon as if they were going over seas, to whoever should be against the said Frederick; whence in Germany there was great war between the said elected King William of Holland and King Conrad, son of the said Frederick; but the war endured but a short time, for the said King William died, the year of Christ . . . . and the said Conrad reigned in Germany, whom his father Frederick the Emperor had caused to be elected king, as we shall make mention. From this sentence Frederick appealed to the successor of Pope Innocent, and sent his letters and messengers throughout all Christendom, complaining of the said sentence, and setting forth how iniquitous it was, as appears by his epistle written by the said Messer Piero dalle Vigne, which begins, after the salutation: “Although we believe, that words of the already current tidings, etc.” But considering the real facts as to the process, and as to the deeds of Frederick against the Church, and as to his dissolute and uncatholic life, he was guilty and deserving of the deposition, for the reasons set forth in the said process; and afterwards for the deeds done by the said Frederick after his deposition; for if before he was and had been cruel and persecuting to Holy Church and to the believers in Tuscany 140 and in Lombardy, afterwards he was much more so, as long as he lived, as hereafter we shall make mention. We will now leave for a time the story of the doings of Frederick, and turn back to where we left off telling of the doings of Florence and of the other noteworthy events which came to pass in those days throughout the whole world; returning afterwards to the doings and to the end of the said Frederick and of his sons.
1237 A. D. The year of Christ 1237, Messer Rubaconte da Mandello of Milan being Podestà of Florence, the new bridge was made in Florence, and he laid the first stone with his own hand, and threw the first trowelful of mortar, and from the name of the said Podestà the
xii. 102. bridge was named Rubaconte. And during his government all the roads in Florence were paved; for before there was but little paving, save in certain particular places, master streets being paved with bricks; and through this convenience and work the city of Florence became more clean, and more beautiful, and more healthy.
In the said times when Frederick was in Lombardy, having been deposed from the title of Emperor by Pope Innocent, as we have said, in so far as he could he sought to destroy in Tuscany and in Lombardy the faithful followers of Holy Church, in all the cities where he had power. And first he began to demand hostages from all the cities of Tuscany, and took them from both Ghibellines and Guelfs, and sent them to Samminiato del Tedesco; but when this was done, he released the Ghibellines and retained the Guelfs, which were afterwards abandoned as poor prisoners, and abode long time in Samminiato as beggars. And forasmuch as our city of Florence in those times was not among the least notable and powerful of Italy, he desired especially to vent his spleen against it, and to increase the accursed parties of the Guelfs and Ghibellines, which had begun long time before through the death of M. Bondelmonte, and before, as we have already shown. But albeit ever since this the said parties had continued among the nobles of Florence (who were also ever and again at war among themselves by reason of their private enmities), and albeit they were divided into the said parties, each holding with his own, they which were called the Guelfs loving the side of the Pope and of Holy Church, and they which were called the Ghibellines loving and favouring the Emperor and his allies, nevertheless, the people and commonwealth had been maintained in unity to the well-being and honour, and good estate of the republic. But now the said Emperor sent ambassadors and letters to the family of the Uberti, which were heads of his party, and their allies which
1248 A. D. were called Ghibellines, inviting them to drive their enemies, which were called Guelfs, from the city, and offering them aid of his horsemen; and this caused the Uberti to begin dissension and civil strife in Florence, whence the city began to be disordered, and the nobles and all the people to be divided, some holding to one party, and some to the other; and in divers
109, 110. parts of the city there was fighting long time. Among the other places, the chief was at the houses of the Uberti, which were where the great palace of the people now is. They gathered there with their allies, and fought against the Guelfs of the sesto of San Piero Scheraggio, whereof were leaders the family dal Bagno,
127. called Bagnesi, and the Pulci, and the Guidalotti, and all the allies of the Guelfs of that sesto; and also the Guelfs of Oltrarno passing over the mill-dams, came to succour them when they were attacked by the Uberti. The second place of combat was in the Porte San Piero, where the leaders of the Ghibellines were the Tedaldini, forasmuch as they had the strongest dwellings
117. in palaces and towers, and with them held the Caponsacchi, the Lisei, the Giuochi and Abati, and Galigari, and the fighting was against the house of the Donati, and the Visdomini, and Pazzi, and Adimari. And the third place of combat was in Porte del Duomo, at the tower of Messer Lancia of the Cattani of Castiglione, and of Cersino, to whom belonged the heads of the Ghibellines, with the Agolanti and Brunelleschi, and many popolari of their party, against the Tosinghi, Agli and
108. Arriguchi. And the fourth combat and battle was in San Brancazio, whereof the leaders for the Ghibellines
110, 111. were the Lamberti, and Toschi, Amieri, Cipriani, and Migliorelli, with many followers of the Popolo, against 143 the Tornaquinci, and Vecchietti, and Pigli, albeit part
1248 A. D. of the Pigli were Ghibellines. And the Ghibellines drew up in San Brancazio at the tower of the Scarafaggio [Scarabæus] of the Soldanieri, and from that tower an arrow struck M. Rustico Marignolli in the face (who was bearing the Guelf standard, to wit, a crimson lily on a white field) whence he died; and the
151-154. very day that the Guelfs were expelled, and before they departed, they came in arms to bury him in San Lorenzo; and when the Guelfs were departed, the canons of San Lorenzo carried away the body, to the end that the Ghibellines might not unbury it and do it outrage, forasmuch as he was a great leader of the Guelf party. And the next force of the Ghibellines was in the Borgo, whereof the leaders were the Scolari, and Soldanieri, and
127, 93. Guidi, against the Bondelmonti, Giandonati, Bostichi and Calalcanti, Scali and Gianfigliazzi. In Oltrarno it was the Ubbriachi and the Mannelli (and there were no other nobles of renown, but families of the popolari) against the Rossi and the Nerli. Thus it came to pass
115. that the said frays endured long time, and there was fighting at barricades from street to street, and from one tower to another (for there were many in Florence in these times, 100 cubits and more in height), and with mangonels and other engines they fought together by day and by night. And in the midst of this strife and fighting the Emperor Frederick sent into Florence King Frederick, his bastard son, with 1,600 horsemen of his German followers. When the Ghibellines heard that they were nigh unto Florence, they took courage fighting with more force and boldness against the Guelfs, which had no allies, nor were expecting any succour, forasmuch as the Church was at Lyons on the Rhone 144
1248 A. D. beyond the mountains, and the power of Frederick was beyond measure great in all parts of Italy. And on this occasion the Ghibellines used a device of war; for at the house of the Uberti the greater part of the Ghibelline forces assembled, and when the fight began at the places of battle set forth above, they went in a mass to oppose the Guelfs, and in this wise they overcame them well nigh in every part of the city, save in their own neighbourhood against the barricades of the Guidalotti and the Bagnesi, which endured more stoutly; and to that place the Guelfs repaired, and all the forces of the Ghibellines against them. At last, the Guelfs saw themselves to be hard pressed, and heard that Frederick’s knights were already in Florence (King Frederick having already entered with his followers on Sunday morning), yet they held out until the following Wednesday. Then, not being able longer to resist the forces of the Ghibellines, they abandoned the defence,
x. 48. and departed from the city on the night of S. Mary Candlemas in the year of Christ 1248. When the Guelf party were driven from Florence, the nobles of that party withdrew, some of them to the fortress of Montevarchi in Valdarno, and some to the fortress of Capraia; and Pelago, and Ristonchio, and Magnale, up to Cascia, were held by the Guelfs, and were called the League; and therein they made war against the city and the territory around Florence. Other popolani of that party repaired to their farms and to their friends in the country. The Ghibellines which remained masters in Florence, with the forces and the horsemen of the Emperor Frederick, changed the ruling of the city after their mind, and caused thirty-six fortresses of the Guelfs to be destroyed, palaces and great 145 towers, among the which the most noble was that of the
1248 A. D. Tosinghi upon the Mercato Vecchio, called the Palace, 90 cubits high, built with marble columns, and a tower thereto 130 cubits. Also the Ghibellines attempted a yet more impious deed, forasmuch as the Guelfs resorted much to the church of S. Giovanni, and all the good people assembled there on Sunday morning, and there they solemnized marriages; and when the Ghibellines came to destroy the towers of the Guelfs, there was one among them very great and beautiful which was upon the piazza of S. Giovanni, at the entrance of the street of the Adimari, and it was called the tower of the Guardamorto, forasmuch as of old all the good folk which died were buried at S. Giovanni; and the Ghibellines, purposing to rase to the ground the said tower, caused it to be propped up in such wise that when the fire was applied to the props it should fall upon the church of S. Giovanni; and this was done. But as it pleased God, by reverence and miracle of the blessed John, the tower, which was 120 cubits high, showed manifestly, when it came to fall, that it would avoid the holy church, and turned and fell directly upon the piazza, wherefore all the Florentines marvelled and the popolo rejoiced greatly. And note, that since the city of Florence had been rebuilt, not one house had been destroyed, and the said accursed destruction thereof was then begun by the Ghibellines. And they ordained that of the Emperor Frederick’s followers there should remain 1,800 German horsemen in their pay, whereof Count Giordano was captain. It came to pass that in the same year when the Guelfs were driven from Florence, they which were at Montevarchi were attacked by the German troops which were in garrison in the 146
1248 A. D. fortress of Gangareta in the market place of the said Montevarchi, and there was a fierce battle of but few people, as far as the Arno, between the Guelf refugees from Florence, and the Germans. In the end the Germans were discomfited, and a great part thereof slain and taken prisoners, and this was in the year of Christ 1248.