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. -177.
The next year, 1254, Messer Guiscardo da Pietrasanta, of Milan, being Podestà of Florence, the Florentines marched against the city of Siena and encamped against
41. the castle of Montereggioni and laid siege to it, and of a surety they would have taken it, for the German garrison was in treaty to surrender it for 50,000 lire of 20 soldi to the gold florin; and in one single night the Ancients found twenty citizens each of whom offered a thousand of them, without counting smaller sums, so well disposed for the good of the commonwealth were the citizens of those days. But for the Sienese, for fear of losing Montereggioni, agreed to the terms of the Florentines, and peace was made between them and the Sienese, and they completely surrendered the castle of Montalcino to the Florentines.
1258 A. D. In the year of Christ 1258, when Messer Jacopo Bernardi di Porco was Podestà of Florence, at the end of the month of July they of the house of the Uberti, with their Ghibelline allies, incited thereto by Manfred, purposed to break up the Popolo of Florence, forasmuch as it seemed to them to lean towards the Guelf party. When the said plot was discovered by the Popolo, and they who had made it were summoned and cited to appear before the magistrates, they would not appear nor come before them, but the staff of the Podestà were grievously wounded and smitten by them; for the which thing the people ran to arms, and ran in fury to the houses of the Uberti, where is now the piazza of the palace of the people and of the priors, and there they slew Schiattuzzo degli Uberti and many of the followers and retainers of the Uberti, and they took Uberto Caini degli Uberti and Mangia degli Infangati, which when they had confessed the conspiracy in parliament were beheaded in Orto San Michele; and the rest of the family of the Uberti, with many other Ghibelline families, left Florence. The names of the Ghibelline families of renown which left Florence were these: the Uberti, the Fifanti, the Guidi, the Amidei, the Lamberti, the Scolari,
Par. xvi.and part of the Abati, Caponsacchi, Migliorelli, Soldanieri, Infangati, Ubriachi (Susan note different spelling from earlier), Tedaldini, Galigari, the della Pressa, Amieri, they of Cersino, the Razzanti, and many other houses and families of the popolari and of decayed magnates, which cannot all be named, and other 165 families of nobles in the country; and they went to
1258 A. D. Siena, which was governed in the Ghibelline interest, and was hostile to the Florentines; and their palaces and strongholds were destroyed, whereof there were many, and with the stones thereof they built the walls of San Giorgio Oltrarno, which the Popolo of Florence caused to be begun in those times by reason of the war with the Sienese. And afterwards, in the following September of the said year, the Popolo of Florence seized the abbot of Vallombrosa, which was a gentle
118, 119.man of the lords of Beccheria of Pavia in Lombardy, for they had been told that at the petition of the Ghibelline refugees from Florence he was plotting treason; and this by torture they made him confess, and wickedly in the piazza of Santo Apollinare by the outcry of the people they beheaded him, not regarding his dignity nor his holy orders; for the which thing the commonwealth of Florence and the Florentines were excommunicated by the Pope; and from the commonwealth of Pavia, whence came the said abbot, and from his kinsfolk, the Florentines which passed through Lombardy received much hurt and molestation. And truly it was said that the holy man was not guilty, albeit by his lineage he was a distinguished Ghibelline. For the which sin, and for many other deeds done by the wicked people, it was said by many wise men that God by Divine judgment permitted vengeance to come upon the said people in the battle and defeat of Montaperti, as hereafter we shall make mention. The said Popolo of Florence which ruled the city in these times was very proud and of high and great enterprises, and in many things was very arrogant; but one thing their rulers had, they were very loyal and true to the commonwealth, and 166
1258 A. D. when one which was an Ancient took and sent to his villa a grating which had belonged to the lion’s den, and was now lying about in the mud of the piazza of S. Giovanni, he was condemned therefor to a fine of 1,000 lire for embezzling the goods of the commonwealth.
In the time of the said Popolo in Florence it came to pass that there was presented to the commonwealth a very fine and strong lion, the which was in a den in the piazza of San Giovanni. It came to pass that by lack of care on the part of the keeper, the said lion escaped from its den, running through the streets, whence all the city was moved with fear. It came to a stand at Orto San Michele, and there caught hold of a boy and held him between its paws. The mother, whose only child he was, and not born till after his father’s death, on hearing what had chanced, ran up to the lion in desperation, shrieking aloud and with dishevelled hair, and snatched the child from between its paws, and the lion did no hurt either to the woman or to the child, but only gazed steadfastly and kept still. Now the question was what was the cause of this, whether the nobility of the nature of the lion, or that fortune preserved the life of the said child, to the end he might avenge his father, the which he did, and was afterwards called Orlanduccio of the lion, of 167
Calfette. And note, that at the time of the said Popolo, and before and afterwards for a long time, the citizens of Florence lived soberly, and on coarse food, and with
97-99. little spending, and in manners and graces were in many respects coarse and rude; and both they and their wives were clad in coarse garments, and many wore skins without lining, and caps on their heads, and all
112, 113. wore leather boots on their feet, and the Florentine ladies wore boots without ornaments, and the greatest
101. were contented with one close-fitting gown of scarlet sere or camlet, girt with a leathern girdle after the
102, 103. ancient fashion, with a hooded cloak lined with miniver, which hood they wore on their head; and the common women were clad in coarse green cambric after the same fashion; and 100 lire was the common dowry for wives, and 200 or 300 lire was, in those times, held to be excessive; and the most of the maidens were
103-105. twenty or more years old before they were wedded. After such habits and plain customs then lived the Florentines, but they were true and trustworthy to one another and to their commonwealth, and with their simple life and poverty they did greater and more virtuous things than are done in our times with more luxury and with more riches.
1260 A. D.In the said year 1260, Ezzelino of Romano, which 168
25-30. is a Trevisan castle, was defeated and wounded and taken prisoner by the Marquis Pallavicino, and by the Cremonese in the country around Milan, near to the bridge of Casciano over the river Adda, as he was on his way to seize Milan, having with him more than 1,500 horsemen; from the which wounds he died in prison, and was buried with honour in the village of Solcino. He knew by augury that he should die in a village of the country of Padua, which was called Basciano, and he would not enter therein; and when he felt himself wounded he asked what the place was called, and they answered, “Casciano”; then he said, “Casciano and Basciano are all the same,” and he gave himself up for dead. This Ezzelino was the most cruel and redoubtable tyrant that ever was among Christians, and ruled by his force and tyranny (being by birth a gentleman of the house of Romano), long time the Trevisan March and the city of Padua, and a great part of Lombardy; and he brought to an end a very great part of the citizens of Padua, and blinded great numbers of the best and most noble, taking their possessions, and sending them begging through the world, and many others he put to death by divers sufferings and torments, and burnt at one time 11,000 Paduans; and by reason of their innocent blood, by miracle, no grass grew there again for evermore. And under semblance of a rugged and cruel justice he did much evil, and was a great scourge in his time in the Trevisan March and in Lombardy, to punish them for their sin of ingratitude. At last, as it pleased God, by less powerful men than his own he was vilely defeated and slain, and all his followers were dispersed and his family and his rule came to nought.
Now some time before the said year, by reason of
1260 A. D. discord among the electors of the Empire, two Emperors had been elected; one party (that is to say, three of the electors) choosing Alfonso, king of Spain, and the other party of the electors choosing Richard, earl of Cornwall, and brother to the king of England; and because the realm of Bohemia was in discord, and there were two which claimed to be king thereof, each one gave his voice to his own party. And for many years there had been this discord between the two pretenders, but the Church of Rome gave more favour to Alfonso of Spain, to the end that he might, with his forces, come and beat down the pride and lordship of Manfred; for the which cause the Guelfs of Florence sent him ambassadors, to encourage his coming, promising him great succour, to the end he might favour the Guelf party. And the ambassador was Ser Brunetto Latini, a man of great
23-120. wisdom and authority; but before the embassage was ended the Florentines were defeated at Montaperti, and King Manfred gained great vigour and state throughout Italy, and the power of the Church was much abased, for the which thing Alfonso of Spain abandoned the enterprise of the Empire, and neither did Richard of England follow it up.
In these times the Ghibelline refugees from Florence (who being in the city of Siena were ill-supported against the Florentines by the Sienese, forasmuch as they had no forces to bring against their host) took
counsel amongst themselves to sent their ambassa
1260 A. D.dors into Apulia, to King Manfred, for succour. And when they were come thither, albeit they were of the best and chiefest of the band, much time elapsed, and Manfred did not dispatch their affair, nor give audience to their request, by reason of the manifold businesses he had to do. And when at last they had a mind to depart, and took their leave of him very ill-content, Manfred promised them 100 German horsemen for their aid. Whereupon the said ambassadors were troubled at this his first offer, and were minded to make their reply in the way of refusing so sorry an aid, for they were ashamed to return to Siena, inasmuch as they had hoped for more than 1,500 horsemen. But hereon
Inf. x. 32. Messer Farinata degli Uberti said, “Be not dismayed, neither refuse any aid of his, be it never so small. Let us have grace of him to send his standard with them, and when it be come to Siena we will set it in such a place that he must needs send us further succour.” And so it came to pass; and following the wise counsel of the knight, they accepted Manfred’s offer, praying him as a grace to give his own standard to their captain, and so he did. And when they returned to Siena with so poor an aid, great scorn was made thereof by the Sienese, and great dismay came upon the Florentine refugees, which had looked for aid and support from Manfred beyond measure greater.
1260 A. D. It happened in the year of Christ 1260, in the month of May, that the people and commonwealth of Florence 171 gathered a general host against the city of Siena and led
1260 A. D. thither the carroccio. And note, that the carroccio, which was led by the commonwealth and people of Florence, was a chariot on four wheels, all painted red, and two tall red masts stood up together thereupon, whereon was fastened and waved the great standard of the arms of the commune, which was dimidiated white and red, and still may be seen to-day in S. Giovanni. And it was drawn by a great pair of oxen covered with red cloth, which were set apart solely for this, and belonged to the Hospitallers of Pinti, and he who drove them was a freeman of the commonwealth. This carroccio was used by our forefathers in triumphs and solemnities, and when they went out with the host, the neighbouring counts and knights brought it from the armoury of S. Giovanni and conducted it to the piazza of the Mercato Nuovo, and having halted by a landmark, which is still there, in the form of a stone carved like a chariot, they committed it to the keeping of the people, and it was led by popolani in the expeditions of war, and to guard it were chosen the best and strongest and most virtuous among the foot soldiers of the popolani, and round it gathered all the force of the people. And when the host was to be assembled, a month before the time when they were to set forth, a bell was hung upon the arch of Porte Sante Marie, which was at the head of the Mercato Nuovo, and there was rung by day and by night without ceasing. And this they did in their pride, to give opportunity to the enemy, against whom the host should go forth, to prepare themselves. And some called it Martinella, and some the Asses’ Bell. And when the Florentine host went forth, they took down the bell from the arch and put it into a wooden tower upon a car, and 172 the sound thereof guided the host. By these two pomps of the carroccio and of the bell was maintained the lordly pride of the people of old and of our forefathers in their expeditions. We will leave this and will turn to the Florentines, how they made war against the Sienese, and took the castle of Vicchio, and that of Mezzano, and Casciole, which pertained to the Sienese, and encamped themselves against Siena, hard by the entrance gate by the monastery of S. Petronella; and there they had brought to them, upon a knoll which could be seen from the city, a tower wherein they kept their bell; and in contempt of the Sienese, and as a record of their victory, they filled it with earth and planted an olive tree in it, the which, until our own days, was still there. It fell out at that siege that one day the Florentine refugees gave a feast to Manfred’s German soldiers, and having plied them with wine till they were drunk, in the uproar they incited them to arm themselves and mount on horseback to assail the host of the Florentines, promising them large gifts and double pay; and this was done craftily by the wise, in pursuance of the counsel of Farinata degli Uberti which he had given in Apulia. The Germans, beside themselves and hot with wine, sallied forth from Siena and vigorously assailed the camp of the Florentines, and because they were unprepared and off their guard, holding as nought the force of the enemy, the Germans, albeit they were but few folk, did great hurt to the host in that assault, and many of the people and of the horsemen made a sorry show in that sudden assault, and fled in terror, supposing that the assailants were more in number. But in the end, perceiving their error, they took to arms, and defended themselves against the Germans, and of all those who sallied forth from Siena 173 not one escaped alive, for they were all slain and beaten
1260 A. D. down, and the standard was taken and dragged through the camp and carried to Florence; and this done, shortly afterwards the Florentine host returned to Florence.
The Sienese and the Florentine refugees, perceiving how ill the Florentines had fared in the assault of so small a number of German horsemen, considered that if they had a greater number thereof, they would be victorious in the war. Immediately they provided themselves with money, procuring from the company of the Salimbeni, which were merchants of those days, 20,000 florins of gold, and gave them in pledge the fortress of Tentennana and several more castles of the commonwealth, and sent their ambassadors again into Apulia with the said money to King Manfred, saying how his few German followers by their great vigour and valour had undertaken to assail the whole host of the Florentines, and had turned a great part thereof to flight; but
1260 A. D. if they had been more, they would have had the victory; but by reason of their small number, they had all been left upon the field, and his standard had been dragged about and insulted in the camp and in Florence and round about. And beside this they plied the best reasons they knew to move Manfred, who, having heard the tidings, was wrath, and with the money of the Sienese, who paid half the charges for three months, and at his own cost, sent into Tuscany Count Giordano, his marshal, with 800 German horsemen, to go with the 174
1260 A. D.said ambassadors; who reached Siena in the end of July, the year of Christ 1260, and by the Sienese were received with great rejoicing, and they and all the Ghibellines of Tuscany drew thence great vigour and courage. And when they were come to Siena, immediately the Sienese sent forth their host against the castle of Montalcino, which was under the commands of the commonwealth of Florence, and sent for aid to the Pisans, and to all the Ghibellines of Tuscany, so that, what with the horsemen of Siena and the Florentine refugees, and the Germans and their allies, there were found 1,800 horsemen in Siena, whereof the greater part were Germans.
The Florentine refugees, by whose embassy and deed King Manfred had sent Count Giordano with 800 German horsemen, thought within themselves that they had done nothing if they could not draw the Florentines out into the field, inasmuch as the aforesaid Germans were not paid save for three months, and already more than one month and a half of this had passed, since their coming, nor had they more money wherewith to pay them, nor did they look for any from Manfred; and should the time for which they had been paid pass by without having done aught, they would return into Apulia, to the great peril of the state. They reasoned that this could not be contrived without skill and subtlety of war, which business was committed to M. Farinata degli Uberti and M. Gherardo Ciccia de’ Lamberti. These subtly chose out two wise
minor friars as their messengers to the people of
1260 A. D. Florence, and first caused them to confer with nine of the most powerful men of Siena, who made endless show to the said friars that the government of Messer Provenzano Salvani was displeasing to them, who was the greatest of the citizens of Siena, and that they would
109-142. willingly yield up the city to the Florentines in return for 10,000 florins of gold, and that they were to come with a great host, under guise of fortifying Montalcino, as far as the river Arbia; and then they with their own forces, and with those of their followers, would give up to the Florentines the gate of Santo Vito, which is on the road to Arezzo. The friars, under this deceit and treachery, came to Florence with letters and seals from the aforesaid, and were brought before the Ancients of the people, and proposed to them means whereby they might do great things for the honour of the people and commonwealth of Florence; but the thing was so secret that it must under oath be revealed to but few. Then the Ancients chose from among themselves Spedito di Porte San Piero, a man of great vigour and boldness, and one of the principal leaders of the people, and with him Messer Gianni Calcagni, of Vacchereccia; and when they had sworn upon the altar, the friars unfolded the said plot, and showed the said letters. The said two Ancients, who showed more eagerness than judgment, gave faith to the plot; and immediately the said 10,000 golden florins were procured, and were deposited, and a council was assembled of magnates and people, and they represented that of necessity it behoved to send a host to Siena to strengthen Montalcino, greater than the one sent in May last to Santa Petronella. The nobles of the great Guelf houses of Florence, and Count 176
1260 A. D. Guido Guerra, which was with them, not knowing of the pretended plot, and knowing more of war than the popolani did, being aware of the new body of German troops which was come to Siena, and of the sorry show which the people made at Santa Petronella when the hundred Germans attacked them, considered the enterprise not to be without great peril. And also esteeming the citizens to be divided in mind, and ill disposed to raise another host, they gave wise counsel, that it were best that the host should not go forth at present, for the reasons aforesaid; and also they showed how for little cost Montalcino could be fortified, and how the men of Orvieto were prepared to fortify it, and alleged that the said Germans had pay only for three months, and had already served half the time, and by giving them play enough, without raising a host, shortly they would be scattered, and would return into Apulia; and the Sienese and the Florentine refugees would be left in worse plight than they were before. And the spokesman for them all was M. Tegghiaio Aldobrandi degli Adimari, a wise
Inf. vi. 79.
xvi. 40-42. knight and valiant in arms, and of great authority, and he counselled the better course in full. His counsel ended, the aforesaid Spedito, the Ancient, a very presumptuous man, rudely replied, bidding him to look to his breeches if he as afraid; and M. Tegghiaio replied that at the pinch he would not dare to follow him into the battle where he would lead; and these words ended, next uprose M. Cece de Gherardini to say the same that Messer Tegghiaio had said. The Ancients commanded him not to speak, and the penalty was 100 pounds if any one held forth contrary to the command of the Ancients. The knight was willing to pay it, so that he might oppose the going; but the Ancients would 177 not have it, rather they made the penalty double; again
1260 A. D. he desired to pay, and so it reached 300 pounds; and when he yet wanted to speak and to pay, the command was that his head should be forfeit; and there it stopped. But, through the proud and heedless people, the worse counsel won the day, that the said host should proceed immediately and without delay.