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. -162.
At this time the Emperor Frederick was laying siege to the city of Parma in Lombardy, because they had rebelled against his lordship and held with the Church; and within Parma was the Pope’s legate with mounted men-at-arms sent by the Church to aid them. Frederick was without the city, with all his forces and with the Lombards, and abode there many months, and had sworn never to depart thence until he should have taken it; and for this reason he had made a camp over against the said city of Parma, after the manner of another town, with moats and palisades and towers, and houses roofed and walled, to which he gave the name of Vittoria; and by the said siege he had much straitened the city of Parma, and it was so poorly furnished with victuals, that they could hold out but a short while longer, and this the Emperor knew well by his spies; and for the said cause he held them for folk well-nigh vanquished, and troubled himself little about them. It came to pass, as it pleased God, that one day the Emperor was taking his pleasure in the chase, with birds
135. and with dogs, going forth from Vittoria with certain of his barons and servants; and the citizens of Parma, having learnt this from their spies, as folk reckless, or 147 rather desperate, all sallied forth from Parma in arms,
1248 A. D. foot and horse together, and vigorously attacked the said camp of Vittoria in divers parts. The Emperor’s soldiers, unprepared and in disorder, with insufficient guards (as they who took little thought of their enemies), seeing themselves thus suddenly and fiercely attacked, and being unable to defend themselves in the absence of their lord, were all put to flight and discomfiture, albeit there were three times as many horse and foot as there were in Parma; in which defeat many of them were taken or slain, and the Emperor himself, when he heard the news, fled with great shame to Cremona; and the Parmesans took the said camp, wherein they found great store of muniments of war, and victual, and vessels of silver, and all the treasure which the Emperor had in Lombardy, and the crown of the said Emperor, which the Parmesans still have in the sacristy of their bishop’s palace; whereby they were all enriched. And when they had spoiled the said palace of its booty, they set fire thereto, and destroyed it utterly, to the end there might be no trace of it, whether as city or as camp, for ever. And this was the first Tuesday in February, in the year of Christ 1248.
A short time afterwards the Emperor departed from Lombardy, leaving there his natural son Enzo, king of Sardinia, with many horsemen, as his vicar-general over the Lombard League, and came into Tuscany, and found that the Ghibelline party which was ruling the city of Florence had laid siege in the month of March to the fortress of Capraia, wherein were the leaders of the chief
1248 A. D. families of Guelf nobles exiled from Florence. And when the Emperor came into Tuscany, he would not enter into the city of Florence, nor ever had entered therein, but was ware of it, for by soothsayers or by the saying of some demon or prophecy, he had discovered that he should die in Firenze, wherefore he feared greatly. Nevertheless, he came to the army, and went to sojourn in the castle of Fucecchio, and left the greater part of his followers at the siege of Capraia, which stronghold being straitly besieged, and having scanty provisions, was not
1249 A. D. able to hold out longer; and the besieged held counsel about coming to parley, and they would have been granted any liberal terms which they desired; but a certain shoemaker, an exile from Florence, which had been a leading Ancient, not being invited to the said council, came to the gate very wrathful, and cried to the host that the town could hold out no longer, for the which thing the host would not consent to treat, wherefore they within, as dead men, surrendered themselves to the mercy of the Emperor. And this was in the month of May, in the year of Christ 1249. And the captains of the said Guelfs were Count Ridolfo of Capraia, and M. Rinieri Zingane of the Bondelmonti. And when they came to Fucecchio to the Emperor, he took them all with him prisoners to Apulia; and afterwards, by reason of letters and ambassadors sent to him by the Ghibellines of Florence, he put out the
1248 A. D. eyes of all which belonged to the great noble families in Florence, and then drowned them in the sea, save M. Rinieri Zingane, because he found him so wise and great of soul that he would not put him to death, but he put out his eyes, who afterwards ended his life as a monk in the island of Montecristo. And the 149aforesaid shoemaker was spared by the besiegers; and when
1248 A. D. the Guelfs had returned to Florence, he also returned thither, and being recognised in the parliament, at the outcry of the people he was stoned, and vilely dragged along the ground by the children, and thrown into the moats.
When the said host came back to Florence there was great contention amongst the citizens, inasmuch as the Ghibellines, who ruled the land, crushed the people with insupportable burdens, taxes, and imposts; and with little to show for it, for the Guelfs were already established up and down in the territory of Florence, holding many fortresses and making war upon the city. And besides all this, they of the house of the Uberti and all the other Ghibelline nobles tyrannized over the people with ruthless extortion and violence and outrage. Wherefore the good citizens of Florence, tumultuously gathering together, assembled themselves at the church of San Firenze; but not daring to remain there, because of the power of the Uberti, they went and took their stand at the church of the Minor Friars at Santa Croce, and remaining there under arms they dared not to return to
1250 A. D. their homes, lest when they had laid down their arms they should be broken by the Uberti and the other nobles and condemned by the magistrates. So they went under arms to the houses of the Anchioni of San Lorenzo, which were very strong, and there, still under arms, they forcibly elected thirty-six corporals of the people, and took away the rule from the Podestà, which was then in Florence, and removed all the officials. And this done, with no further conflict they ordained and created a popular government with certain new ordinances and statutes. They elected captain of the people M. Uberto da Lucca, and he was the first captain of Florence, and they elected twelve Ancients of the people, two for each sesto, to guide the people and counsel the said captain, and they were to meet in the houses of the Badia over the gate which goes to Santa Margherita, and to return to their own homes to eat and sleep; and this was done on the twentieth day of October, the year of Christ 1250. And on this day the said captain distributed twenty standards amongst the people, giving them to certain corporals divided according to companies of arms and districts, including sundry parishes, in order that when need were every man should arm himself and draw to the standard of his company, and then with the said standards draw to the said captain of the people. And they had a bell made which the said captain kept in the Lion’s Tower. And the chief standard of the people, which was the captain’s, was dimidiated white and red.
In the said year 1250, the Emperor Frederick being
1250 A. D. in Apulia, in the city of Firenzuola, at the entrance to the Abruzzi, fell grievously sick, and for all his augury he knew not how to take heed; for he had learned that he must die in Firenze, wherefore, as aforesaid, never would he set foot in Firenze, neither in Faenza; yet ill did he interpret the lying word of the demon, for he was bidden beware lest he should die in Firenze, and he took no heed of Firenzuola. It came to pass that, his malady increasing upon him, there being with him one of his bastard sons, named Manfred, which was desirous of having the treasure of Frederick, his father, and the lordship of the kingdom and of Sicily, and fearing that Frederick might recover him of that sickness, or leave a testament, the said Manfred made a league with his private chamberlain, and promising him many gifts and
iii. 121. great lordship, covered the mouth of Frederick with a bolster and so stifled him, and after the said manner the said Frederick died, deposed from the Empire, and excommunicated by Holy Church, without repentance or sacrament of Holy Church. And by this may we note the word which Christ said in the Gospel: “Ye shall die in your sins,” for so it came to pass with Frederick, which was such an enemy to Holy Church, who brought his wife and King Henry, his son, to death, and saw himself discomfited, and his son Enzo taken, and himself, by his son Manfred, vilely slain, and without repentance; and this was the day of S. Lucy in December, the said year 1250. And him dead, the said Manfred became guardian of the realm and of all the treasure, and caused the body of Frederick to be 152
1250 A. D. brought and buried with honour in the church of Monreale above the city of Palermo in Sicily, and at his burying he desired to write many words of his greatness and power and the mighty deeds done by him; but one Trottano, a clerk, made these brief verses, the which were very pleasing to Manfred and to the other barons, and he caused them to be engraven on the said sepulchre, the which said: —
1250 A. D. And note, that at the time when the Emperor Frederick died, he had sent into Tuscany for all the hostages of the Guelfs to cause them to be put to death; and on the way to Apulia, when they were in Maremma, they heard news of the death of Frederick, and the guards, for fear, abandoned them, who escaped to Campiglia, and thence returned to Florence and to the other cities of Tuscany, very poor and in great need.
The same night that the Emperor Frederick died, the Podestà who ruled for him in Florence, died also, who
1250 A. D. was named Messer Rinieri di Montemerlo; for, as he slept in his bed, there fell upon him of the vaulting from the roof of the chamber, which was in the house of the Abati. And this was a sure sign that in the city of Florence his lordship was to be ended, and this came 153 to pass very soon; for the common people having risen
1250 A. D. in Florence against the violence and outrages of the Ghibelline nobles, as we have said, and tidings coming to Florence of the death of the said Frederick, a few days after, the people of Florence recalled and restored to Florence the party of the Guelfs who had been banished thence, causing them to make peace with the
Cf. Inf. x.
49, 50. Ghibellines, and this was the seventh day of January, the year of Christ 1250.
Greatly did the party for the Church and the Guelf party rejoice throughout all Italy at the death of the Emperor, and the party for the Empire, and the Ghibellines were brought low, inasmuch as Pope Innocent returned from beyond the mountains with his court to Rome, bringing aid to the faithful followers of the Church. It came to pass that in the month of July, in the year of Christ 1251, the people and commonwealth of Florence gathered a host against the city of Pistoia, which had rebelled against them, and fought with the said inhabitants of Pistoia, and discomfited them at Mount Robolini with great loss in slain and prisoners of the men of Pistoia. And at that time Messer Uberto da Mandella of Milan was Podestà of Florence. And because the government of the Popolo was not pleasing to the greater part of the Ghibelline families in Florence, forasmuch as it seemed to them that they favoured the Guelfs more than was pleasing to them, and as in past times they were used to do violence, and to be tyrannical, relying on the Emperor, therefore they
1251 A. D. were even now unwilling to follow the people and the commonwealth on the said expedition against Pistoia, rather did they both in word and in deed oppose it through factious hatred; forasmuch as Pistoia was ruled in those days by the Ghibelline party; whereby was caused so great mistrust, that when the host returned victorious from Pistoia, the said Ghibelline families in Florence were banished and sent forth from the city by
1251 A. D. the people of Florence, the said month of July, 1251. And the heads of the Ghibellines in Florence being banished, the people and the Guelfs who remained in the lordship of Florence, changed the arms of the commonwealth of Florence, and whereas of old they bore the field red and the lily white, they now made on the
151-154. contrary the field white and the lily red; and the Ghibellines retained the former standard, but the ancient standard of the commonwealth dimidiated white and red, to wit, the standard that went with the host upon the carroccio, never was changed. We will leave for a while the doings of the Florentines, and we will tell somewhat of the coming of King Conrad, son of the Emperor Frederick.
When King Conrad of Germany heard of the death of the Emperor Frederick, his father, he prepared with a great company to pass into Apulia and Sicily, to take possession of the said Kingdom, of the which Manfred, his bastard brother, had become vicar-general, and was ruling it altogether, save only the cities of Naples and of Capua, the which had rebelled after the death of 155
Frederick, and were returned to obedience to the
1251 A. D. Church; as also many cities of Lombardy and Tuscany, on occasion of the death of the said Frederick, had changed their government and returned to the obedience of the Church. The said Conrad would not adventure himself to come by land, but being arrived in the Trevisan March, he caused a great fleet to be equipped by the Venetians, and from thence by sea with all his people came to Apulia the year of Christ 1251. And albeit Manfred was wrath at his coming, forasmuch as he had purposed to be lord of the said kingdom, he made a great welcome to Conrad, his brother,
1251 A. D.rendering him much honour and reverence, and when he was in Apulia he led a host against the city of Naples, the which before had been five times attacked and besieged by Manfred, prince of Salerno, and he had not been able to conquer it; but Conrad, with his great host after a long siege, gained the city by surrender, on condition that he should neither slay the defenders nor dismantle the place. But Conrad did not abide by the pact, but so soon as he was in Naples he caused the walls and all the fortresses of Naples to be destroyed; and the like did he to the city of Capua, which had rebelled; and in a short space he had restored all the Kingdom to his lordship, casting down every rebel, or whosoever was a friend or follower of Holy Church; and not only the laity but the monks and holy persons he caused to die by torments, robbing the churches, and subduing whosoever was not in obedience to him, and appointing to benefices, as if he were Pope; so that if
1252 A. D. Frederick, his father, was a persecutor of Holy Church, this Conrad, if he had lived longer, would have been worse; but as it pleased God, a little time after, he was 156
1252 A. D. smitten with a grievous sickness, but not mortal, and as he was being tended by leeches and physicians, Manfred, his brother, to remain in power, caused the said
iii. 121. leeches for money and great promises to poison him by a clyster. By such a judgment of God, by his brother’s deed, of such a death did he die without repentance and excommunicated, the year of Christ 1252. And he left behind him in Germany a young son who was named Conradino, whose mother was daughter to the Duke of Bavaria.
1252 A. D. Conrad, called king of Germany, being dead, Manfred remained lord and governor of Sicily and of the Kingdom, albeit through the death of Conrad, some cities of the Kingdom rebelled, and Pope Innocent IV., with a great host of the Church, entered into the Kingdom to regain the lands which Manfred was holding against the will of the Church, and under sentence of excommunication; and when the said host of the Church had entered into the Kingdom, all the cities and villages as far as Naples surrendered themselves to the said Pope; but he had sojourned but a short time in Naples ere he fell sick, and passed from this life the year of Christ 1252, and was buried in the city of Naples. Wherefore by the death of the said Pope, and by the vacancy which the Church had after him, which for more than two years abode without pastors, Manfred regained all the Kingdom, and his strength increased greatly both far and near; and with great care he allied himself with all the cities of Italy which were Ghibelline 157and faithful to the Empire, and aided them by his Ger
1254 A. D.man knights, making a league and alliance with them in Tuscany and in Lombardy. And when the said Manfred saw himself in glory and state, he thought to have himself made king of Sicily and of Apulia, and to the end this might come to pass, he sought for the friendship of the greatest barons of the Kingdom, with monies and gifts and promises and offices. And knowing that King Conrad, his brother, had left a son named Conradino, the which was by law the rightful heir to the realm of Sicily, and was in Germany under the guardianship of his mother, he devised guileful practices whereby to become king; wherefore he gathered together all the barons of the Kingdom, and took counsel with them what should be done with the lordship, forasmuch as he had received tidings that his nephew Conradino was grievously sick, and could never rule over a realm; wherefore it was counselled by his barons that he should send his ambassadors into Germany to learn of the state of Conradino, and if he were dead or ill; and meanwhile they counselled that Manfred should be made king. To this Manfred agreed, seeing it was he which had falsely arranged it all, and he sent the said ambassadors to Conradino and to his mother with rich presents and great offers. The which ambassadors being come to Suabia, found the boy whom his mother guarded most carefully, and with him she kept many other boys of gentle birth clothed in his garments; and when the said ambassadors asked for Conradino, his mother being in dread of Manfred, showed to them one of the said children, and they with rich presents, offered him gifts and reverence, among the which gifts were poisoned comfits from Apulia, and the boy having eaten 158
1255 A. D. of them, straightway died. They, believing Conradino to be dead by poison, departed from Germany, and when they had returned to Venice, they caused sails of black cloth to be made to their galley and all the rigging to be black, and they were attired in black, and when they were come into Apulia, they made a show of great grief, as they had been instructed by Manfred. And having reported to Manfred, and to the German barons, and to those of the Kingdom how Conradino was dead, and Manfred having made show of deep affliction, by the call of his friends and of all the people (as he had arranged), he was elected king of Sicily and of Apulia, and at Monreale, in Sicily, caused himself to be crowned, the year of Christ 1255.
1255 A. D. After the death of Pope Innocent, and the vacancy which followed, there was elected Pope Alexander IV., born in the city of Alagna, in Campagna, the year of Christ 1255, and he sat on the papal throne seven years, and certain months and days. The which Pope Alexander, hearing how Manfred had caused himself to be crowned king of Sicily against the will of Holy Church, by the said Pope Manfred was required to abandon the lordship of the Kingdom and of Sicily, the which he would neither hearken to, nor obey; for the which thing the said Pope first excommunicated and deprived him, and then sent against him Otho, the cardinal legate, with a great host of the Church, and he took many places on the coasts of Apulia; to wit, the city of Sipanto, and Mount Santagnolo, and Barletta and Bari, as far as Otranto in Calabria; but afterwards the said host, by 159 reason of the death of the said legate, returned with labour lost, and Manfred took back and regained all, and this was the year of Christ 1256. The said King
1256 A. D. Manfred was son of a beautiful lady, of the family of the Marquises of Lancia in Lombardy, of whom the Emperor Frederick was enamoured, and he was beauti
107.ful in person, and, like his father, but even more, dissolute in every fashion; a musician he was, and singer, and loved to see around him buffoons and minstrels, and beautiful concubines, and was always clad in green raiment; very liberal was he, and courteous, and gracious, so that he was much loved and in great
V. E. i.
12, 21 sqq. favour; but all his way of life was epicurean, caring neither for God nor the saints, but only for bodily delights. An enemy he was to Holy Church, and to priests and monks, occupying the churches as his father had done, and was a very rich lord, alike from the treasure bequeathed to him by the Emperor and by King Conrad, his brother, and from his kingdom, which was rich and fruitful; and, for all the wars that he had with the Church, he kept it in good state so long as he lived, so that he increased much in riches and in power by sea and by land. For wife he took the daughter of the despot of Romagna, by whom he had sons and daughters. The arms which he took and bore were those of the Empire, save where the Emperor, his father, bore the gold field and the black eagle, he bore the silver field and the black eagle. This Manfred caused the city of Sipanto in Apulia to be destroyed, forasmuch as through the marshes around it was not healthy, and it had no harbour; and by its citizens, at two miles distance upon the rock, and in a place where there might be a good harbour, he caused a city to be founded, 160
1256 A. D.which after his name was called Manfredonia, the which has now the best harbour that there is between Venice and Brindisi. And of that city was Manfred Bonetta, count chamberlain of the said King Manfred, a delightsome man, a musician and singer, who caused the great bell of Manfredonia to be made in his memory, the which is the largest that can be found for size, and because of its size cannot be rung. We will now leave speaking of Manfred until fit place and time, and will return where we left off in our subject, namely to the doings of Florence and of Tuscany and of Lombardy, albeit they were much mixed up with the doings of the said King Manfred in many things.
In this time, the city of Florence being in happy state under the rule of the Popolo, a bridge was built over the Arno from Santa Trinita to the house of the Frescobaldi in Oltrarno, and in this the zeal of Lamberto Frescobaldi helped much, which was a noted Ancient in the Popolo, and he and his had come to great state and riches.
The host of the Florentines having returned, and being
1252 A. D. at rest after the victories aforesaid, the city increased greatly in state and in riches and lordship and in great quietness; for the which thing the merchants of Florence, for the honour of the commonwealth, ordained with the people and commonwealth that golden coins should be struck at Florence; and they promised to furnish the gold, for before the custom was to strike silver coins of 12 pence the piece. And then began the good coins of gold, 24 carats fine, the which are called golden florins, and each was worth 20 soldi. And this was in the time of the said M. Filippo degli Ugoni of Brescia, in the month of November, the year of Christ 1252. The which florins weighed eight to the ounce, and on one side was the stamp of the lily and on the other
136. of S. John. By reason of the said new money of the golden florin there fell out a pretty story, and worth narrating. The said new florins having begun to circulate through the world, they were carried to Tunis in Barbary; and being brought before the king of Tunis, which was a worthy and wise lord, they pleased him much, and he caused them to be tried; and finding them to be of fine gold, he much commended them, and having caused his interpreters to interpret the imprint and legend on the florin, he found that it said: S. John the Baptist, and on the side of the lily, Florence. Perceiving it to be Christian money, he sent to the Pisan merchants, who were then free of the city and were 162
1252 A. D. much with the king (and even the Florentines traded in Tunis through the Pisans), and asked them what manner of city among Christians was this Florence which made the said florins. The Pisans answered spitefully through envy, saying: “They are our inland Arabs”: which is to say, “our mountain rustics.” Then answered the king wisely: “It does not seem to me the money of Arabs. O you Pisans, what manner of golden money is yours?” Then were they confused, and knew not how to answer. He asked if there were among them any one from Florence, and there was found there a merchant from Oltrarno, by name Pera Balducci, discreet and wise. The king asked him of the state and condition of Florence, whom the Pisans called their Arabs; the which answered wisely, showing the power and magnificence of Florence, and how Pisa in comparison was neither in power nor in inhabitants the half of Florence, and that they had no golden money, and that the florin was the fruit of many victories gained by the Florentines over them. For the which cause the Pisans were shamed, and the king, by reason of the florin and by the words of our wise fellow-citizen, made the Florentines free of the city, and allowed them a place of habitation and a church in Tunis, and he gave them the same privileges as the Pisans. And this we knew to be true from the said Pera, a man worthy of faith, for we were among his colleagues in the office of prior.