BECK index

Italian City States 1250-1400

by Sanderson Beck

Milan and the Visconti 1250-1400
Venice and Padua 1250-1350
Venice 1350-1400
Genoa and Pisa 1250-1400
Florence 1250-1336
Florence 1336-1400
Siena and Caterina
Rome and the Papal State 1250-1303
Rome and the Papal State 1303-1353
Rome and the Papal State 1353-1400
Sicily and Naples 1250-1400

This chapter has been published in the book Medieval Europe 1250-1400.
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Milan and the Visconti 1250-1400

Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250

In northern Italy the Ghibellines, who supported the emperor, were more prominent than the Guelfs, who sided with the pope; but in many cities both parties struggled for power. In Lombardy revolutions overthrew the Ghibelline domination except in despotic Verona and republican Pavia as Pallavicino retired and died in 1269. In Milan the Della Torre (Torriani) family banished Archbishop Ottone Visconti from 1262 to 1277. Charles of Anjou lost Piedmont to the Ghibellines in 1275 as his Della Torre allies faded away. Pope Nicholas III (1277-80) attempted to reclaim control of northern Italy from Rudolph, and fighting went on between the Ghibellines led by Archbishop Ottone and the Guelf league led by Cremona, mostly over Lodi, which was still held by the Della Torre. Ottone in 1278 called in Guglielmo (William) VII of Monteferrat as captain-general of Milan for four years.

Ottone finally captured Lodi, and in 1287 he persuaded the people to elect Matteo Visconti captain of the people for a year. In 1289 Matteo got his office term extended for five years, and he was given the power to nominate the podesta and to amend statutes. Using a private council that included twelve knights, he soon was able to decide on war or peace. By 1290 Novara and Vercelli had made Matteo their lord. In 1292 the Alessandrians went to war against the marquis of Montferrat and made Matteo captain for five years. Archbishop Ottone died in 1295, and in 1298 Emperor Albrecht of Austria named Matteo Visconti imperial vicar over the Lombard cities. That year he married the daughter of Alberto, the lord of Verona. Two years later his son Galeazzo married the daughter of the Marquis of Este, lord of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio, but Galeazzo forced a futile and costly war with Pavia.

Many people resented the Visconti’s power, and Matteo had several suspects put in irons, leaving Galeazzo in Milan with 2,000 men. The Milanese expelled Galeazzo, recalled the exiled Della Torre, and banned all the Visconti. At Piacenza in 1302 a Guelf alliance was formed by Milan, Pavia, Bergamo, Lodi, Asti, Novara, Vercelli, Crema, Como, Cremona, Alessandria, and Bologna. Alberto Scotto was made the leader, but he was expelled from the league a year later along with Alessandria and Tortona. He promised to restore the Visconti and allied with the despots of Mantua, Verona, and Parma. In 1304 the Guelf League attacked Alberto at Piacenza. People tried to overthrow their despots, and in 1306 the powerful podesta in Modena was removed. They recalled exiles and set up democratic governments.

Emperor Heinrich VII was on his way to Rome, and Matteo Visconti met him at Asti, where Archbishop Casone della Torre asked that his brothers be released from the prison of Guido della Torre. Guido had pawned Milan’s Iron Crown to a Jew. Heinrich reached Milan on December 23, 1310 without opposition and was crowned with a substitute on Epiphany in 1311. He made Matteo an imperial vicar for life. Both the Visconti and the Torriani were in the Milanese senate when Emperor Heinrich VII asked for 50,000 florins. Visconti added more for the Empress, and Della Torre proposed doubling it. Burghers protested; but Heinrich would not take less, and he kept hostages from the Visconti and the Torriani families. The two households joined against the Emperor, who ordered his men to attack the houses. Galeazzo sided with the Emperor, and the Torriani fled. Other Guelf cities expelled the imperial vicars and Ghibellines, but most cities were not prepared and had to submit to imperial forces. Heinrich’s imperial army grew as he traveled. The siege of Brescia dragged on from May to November as pestilence ravaged his troops and took his younger brother Waleran. Pisa sent a fleet that helped Heinrich avoid Florence, Lucca, and Parma.

In 1315 Matteo Visconti was threatened by the Bergamo exiles in the east and by the Guelf party of Pavia, Vercelli, and Alessandria in the west. So he gave concessions to the Bergamese exiles for peace and attacked Pavia by surprise. He treated it so severely that Tortona and Alessandria submitted. In 1322 as Matteo aged into his nineties, he sent devout messengers asking how he could remove his excommunication. The papal legate Bertrand du Poiet had often been defeated by Matteo, and he demanded that the Visconti recall and restore all their enemies they had oppressed in the last fifty years; then he should abdicate. The penitent Matteo put the proposal before the council. Galeazzo rushed back from Piacenza, and Matteo abdicated in his favor. Matteo died in 1322, but his death was kept secret while Galeazzo won over the army and the city to become captain-general.

Galeazzo had exiled a Ghibelline and seduced his wife, and this noble with Du Poiet’s help aroused a revolt in Piacenza. The pious people with whom Matteo had been negotiating and Lodrisio Visconti led a movement for peace and the Church, and they were joined by the German mercenaries whom Galeazzo had been unable to pay. Galeazzo led his faithful troops but failed three times to quell the revolt before leaving. Lodrisio changed his mind and paid the mercenaries, and they opened the gates for Galeazzo, who had gathered forces at Lodi. They marched in, and the rebels fled to the legate. Tortona and Alessandria welcomed the legate. Matteo’s warlike son Marco suffered two serious losses. The Guelfs of Genoa drove away the besieging Ghibellines. The people of Romagna rebelled and killed the despotic count of Montefeltro. Raymond of Cardona was besieging Milan. The Ghibelline cause was in trouble; but Emperor Ludwig sent an embassy, and the lords of Verona, Mantua, and Ferrara came to their defense, raising the siege of Milan in 1323. Cane, Passerino, and Como’s despot Franchino Rusca opposed Galeazzo and appealed to Emperor Ludwig, who had German mercenaries arrest Galeazzo. Duke Castruccio Castracani of Lucca freed the prisoners and hired Galeazzo as a mercenary leader; but he died the next year.

In 1328 Emperor Ludwig sold Milan back to the Visconti. Matteo’s nephew Azzo promised to pay the money, and Matteo’s third son Giovanni was made a cardinal by Ludwig’s alternative Pope Nicholas V. Then Azzo shut the gates to the Emperor and was appointed vicar of the Church by Pope John XXII, and his uncle Giovanni gave up his red hat and was made a bishop by Pope John. Then the Ghibelline hope Marco arrived after having won victories for Castruccio. Azzo invited him to a feast, and on the way Marco was assassinated. By the time he died suddenly in 1339 Azzo not only ruled Milan, but he also controlled ten towns in Lombardy—Como, Vercelli, Lodi, Piacenza, Cremona, Crema, Borgo, San Donnino, Bergamo, and Brescia. He was succeeded by his uncles Luchino, who ruled until 1349, and Giovanni, who paid the court of Avignon 50,000 florins and annual payments of 10,000 to be archbishop.

Then Giovanni Visconti ruled over a domain that also included Parma, Novara, Alba, Alessandria, Tortona, Pontremoli, and Asti. He bought Bologna from the Pepoli, and in 1351 he helped Benedetto Monaldeschi become the despot of Orvieto. After Mastino della Scala died and was succeeded by three weak sons, Giovanni had no rival in Lombardy. His nearest rival was Florence, and his intrigues tried to keep Tuscany in turmoil. When Albornoz came to reconquer the papal states in Italy, Giovanni used the opportunity to attack Mantua, Verona, Ferrara, and Padua. However, when he acquired Genoa, alarmed Venice sent ambassadors who got the princes to contribute 4,000 horse each to attack Archbishop Giovanni. Emperor Karl IV also came to their aid in 1353, and the next year Giovanni died unexpectedly from a carbuncle. The cities were divided among his three nephews Matteo, Bernabo, and Galeazzo, who was made administrator-in-chief of Milan. The war with the Venetian league continued with little energy. Oleggio Visconti defeated the Bolognese and became nearly independent there. When the Visconti told Oleggio to resign his position at Bologna, he joined the Venetian league. When peace was declared in 1358, Oleggio was recognized as the ruler of Bologna.

Oleggio helped his Visconti family in their war against the marquis of Montferrat that lasted several years amid many complications and intrigues. The Marquis was the imperial vicar of Piedmont and the lord of Turin, Alessandria, and other towns. He joined Padua, Verona, Mantua, and Ferrara of Lombardy in a league against Milan, and he got Beccaria of Pavia to change sides. One city after another in Piedmont went over from Milan to Montferrat. The Visconti besieged Pavia to punish the Beccaria. Fra Jacopo dei Bussolari was an Augustinian sent to preach in Pavia. He criticized public corruption, injustice, and cruel neglect, arousing the people against the Visconti. He led his followers to confront the besieging German mercenaries, who fled just before Pavia was about to fall in 1356. The citizens protected Bussolari from assassins, and he nominated twenty leaders to be tribunes of the people, instructing them to form companies of a hundred men in each district. By these nonviolent methods the Beccaria were removed from power. They could not murder the friar, and they tried to open their gates to the Visconti; but he discovered their intrigues. Twelve conspirators were executed, and all the Beccaria were driven out of Pavia in 1357. The Visconti had also lost Genoa, and they came to terms with Montferrat, who was to give back Asti. Pavia remained a republic, and the fortress was demolished. However, Montferrat refused to give up Asti, and the Visconti besieged Pavia again. When pestilence spread in the city, Bussolari capitulated. Galeazzo Visconti promised to preserve the municipal government but broke his oaths and reimposed autocratic authority.

The league of Montferrat, Mantua, Verona, Ferrara, and Bologna appealed to Emperor Karl IV, and he sent the militant Bishop Marcovald from Pisa, who charged two Visconti brothers with treason and tyranny. The Visconti believed they were imperial vicars and that they could execute Marcovald as a rebel. However, their mercenaries would not fight against the Grand Company. Montferrat detached five hundred horsemen from the army and attacked Novara by surprise. The lord of Parma took seven hundred horsemen but failed to take Vercelli. Then old Lodrisio Visconti led the army and defeated the Grand Company, taking Marcovald and six hundred men prisoners; but the mercenaries let them go, and by 1358 both sides were sick of the war and made peace. Genoa and Venice remained free cities, but despots ruled Milan, Verona, Mantua, Ferrara, Pavia, and Piedmont.

Bernabo and Galeazzo Visconti murdered their brother Matteo and absorbed many towns. In 1360 the Visconti purchased Isabelle of Valois, daughter of King Jean II of France, for 600,000 florins to marry eleven-year-old Gian Galeazzo. Bernabo tried to kill his nephew Gian Galeazzo several times, but his spies protected him. In 1385 Gian had his German guards capture Bernabo and his two sons, and they died in a dungeon. In his will Gian designated his chief advisor Francesco Barbavara to be president of the regency council. Padua was lost in 1390. In 1395 Gian Galeazzo paid Emperor Wenceslaus 100,000 florins to recognize the union of the Milanese states as a duchy. While marching to Rome to be crowned emperor, Ruprecht III of the Palatinate was defeated so badly at Brescia on October 21, 1401 by the Milanese that he returned to Germany. Gian defeated Bologna on June 26, 1402, and he attacked Florence; but he died of the plague on August 13.

Milan and the Sforzas

Venice and Padua 1250-1350

Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250

Renier Zeno was elected doge of Venice in 1253, and three years later he supported the papal crusade against the marauding Ezzelino da Romano. When Genoa expelled their commercial competitors from Acre and Tyre in 1258, Venice and Pisa fought a naval war against Genoa. Michael VIII Paleologus restored the Byzantine empire by capturing Constantinople on July 25, 1261, and Genoa became his ally; but he allowed Venice to maintain their colony in Constantinople. Venice’s top official in the city was replaced by a Genoese and was downgraded from podesta to bailo. Part of the Venetian quarter was assigned to Genoa, and Venice was banned from trading in the Black Sea. Venice began a naval war against the Greeks in 1262 and found itself at war with Genoa too. Venetians captured all 27 Genoese galleys at Trapani in western Sicily in 1264. That year Greek ambassadors came to Venice, and a five-year truce improved the situation.

The powerful Dandolo and Tiepolo clans struggled for power in Venice, and after a brawl in the piazza a law was passed banning family emblems or coats of arms on buildings. In July 1268 Zeno died and was replaced by Lorenzo Tiepolo. Venice was suffering from a bad harvest, but Padua, Treviso, and other towns refused to sell them grain. Venice had to import food from Sicily and from as far as Russia to avert famine. After that Venice imposed higher duties on goods passing through Venice to the mainland. This made Venice less popular in northern Italy and provoked a three-year war with Bologna. Venice made a five-year truce with Genoa in 1270.

Lorenzo Tiepolo died in August 1275, and 80-year-old Jacopo Contini was elected doge. Venice went to war against Ancona in 1277, and in March 1280 bed-ridden Contini retired on a pension. The new Doge Giovanni Dandolo made peace with Ancona but sent two fleets to subdue rebellious Trieste. Conflict over the patriarchal claims in the region continued until 1304 when they capitulated for an annual payment of 450 marks. In 1284 Pope Martin IV put Venice under its first interdict for refusing to support the crusade against Aragon’s Pedro III in Sicily. That year Venice began minting its golden ducat that was intended to be “like the florin only better.” In November 1289 Doge Dandolo died and was replaced by 38-year-old Pietro Gradenigo.

Venice challenged Genoa’s commercial monopoly in the Black Sea, and war broke out in October 1294. In the northeastern Mediterranean near the Gulf of Alexandretta the outnumbered Genoese lashed their ships together and fought off Venetian attacks, destroying 25 Venetian ships and killing the commander Marco Basegio. Genoa’s navy then attacked Venice’s colony of Crete and sacked Canea. Fighting in Constantinople resulted in many Venetians being slaughtered. Venice’s Rogerio Morosini attacked Greek and Genoese ships, ravaged Galata, and forced Emperor Andronicus to pay a large indemnity. A Venetian fleet led by Giovanni Soranzo broke the Genoese blockade of the Bosphorus and seized Caffa until Tatars forced them to withdraw. Fighting continued, and in 1298 Genoa won a big victory off the Dalmatian coast near Curzola, sinking or capturing 65 of Venice’s 95 ships while killing or wounding 9,000 men and taking 5,000 captives to Genoa.

The Venetian prisoner Marco Polo spent his year in a Genoese jail writing his famous book of Travels. Marco was only seventeen years old in 1271 when his father Niccolo Polo took him on his second long journey to the Mongol court of Khubilai Khan in China. Marco became one of the Khan’s trusted officials, governing cities and provinces, and traveling to India and other places. Finally in 1292 he was allowed to leave by escorting a Mongol princess to marry a Persian khan. His stories of the exotic Orient were so unusual to Europeans that Marco Polo was called “Milion” for describing things in millions. Yet scholars later learned that most of his descriptions were accurate.

Matteo Visconti mediated a peace treaty between Venice and Genoa that was signed in May 1299. The two republics promised not to attack each other. The treaty also had to be ratified by Padua and Verona for Venice and by Asti and Tortona for Genoa.

In February 1297 Pietro Gradenigo proposed a new law which became permanent two years later and restricted those in the Council to relatives of those who had been in the Great Council between 1293 and 1297. The names of their legitimate descendants were written in the Golden Book. In 1300 Marin Bocconio tried to overthrow the government, but he and ten of his conspirators were caught and hanged.

In 1308 Fosco’s son Folco inherited Ferrara, and Fosco asked Venice to support his claim against the brothers of the late Marquis Azzo VIII of Este; but Pope Clement V asserted the papal claim to suzerainty over Ferrara and sided with the brothers to keep Venice out. Papal troops were sent, but the Venetian militia refused to withdraw. The papal legate offered to let Venice hold Ferrara as a papal fief for 20,000 ducats a year, but Venice declined the compromise. Venice, the Doge, and all his officers were threatened with an interdict. Doge Gradenigo refused to capitulate to the French Pope, and he appointed a Venetian as podesta to govern Ferrara and granted the Ferraresi the rights of Venetian citizenship. On March 27, 1309 Clement excommunicated the Venetians, and the interdict annulled commercial treaties and suspended trade as well as religious services. Venetian goods and assets were seized, and Venetian ships were attacked and plundered. In July the Cardinal Legate declared a crusade against Venice, and Florence, Lucca, Ancona, and other towns in Tuscany, Lombardy, and Romagna joined the siege of Ferrara. Marco Querini della Ca’ Grande and Giovanni Soranzo led the reinforcement of the citadel; but an epidemic spread, and on August 28 the papal forces stormed the fortress. Querini and a few escaped, but the rest were blinded or killed.

Suffering Venetians came to hate Doge Gradenigo, and demonstrations led to street fighting. One night Pietro Querini resisted a search, and he was arrested, convicted, and punished. His brother Marco Querini organized a conspiracy to overthrow Gradenigo. Bajamonte Tiepolo returned from his self-imposed exile, and a third group was led by Badoero Badoer. The insurrection was planned for June 15, 1310, but Marco Donato withdrew from the plot and informed Gradenigo several days ahead. The Dandolos were ready for them, and two Querini were killed. Bajamonte entered the piazza; but an old woman dropped a heavy stone that killed his standard-bearer, and he fled with his followers. Badoer’s group was arrested and beheaded, and Bajamonte went into exile in Dalmatia for four years. Venice developed the best security and intelligence services at that time.

The Great Council on July 10, 1310 established by decree a Council of Ten with emergency power which was intended to last for two and a half months and began on September 29, but they continually extended it for two months or more at a time until it finally became permanent in 1334. Members served for one year and could not be elected again until a year had passed. Two members of the same family could not be in the Ten, and three leaders served a month at a time. The Ten could not act without approval by the Doge and his cabinet of six councilors. All important issues had to be approved by the Great Council which had increased to about a thousand members.

Pietro Gradenigo died on August 13, 1311, and the elderly senator Stefano Giustinian served as doge until his death in July 1312. Then Giovanni Soranzo, who had conquered Caffa, was elected doge. In March 1313 Pope Clement V agreed to lift the ban in exchange for 90,000 gold florins. Venetian ships had become larger and better after the invention of the compass in 1275 and then the rudder. The merchant galley could carry 150 tons and had 200 oarsmen, who could be armed and fight. Giovanni Soranzo presided over an era of peace until he died on the last day of 1328.

Francesco Dandolo had persuaded the Pope to lift the interdict, and he was elected doge. Can Grande della Scala ruled Verona, Vicenza, Feltre, and Belluno, and in September 1328 he had taken over Padua. His Veronese army captured Treviso in July 1329, but Can Grande died of fever three days after entering the city. His nephew Mastino della Scala imposed heavy transit tolls on Venetian goods and conquered Brescia in 1332, and he got Parma from the Rossi and Lucca from the Florentines. Venice took a census that counted 40,100 able-bodied men between the ages of twenty and sixty. One out of twelve were inducted into the army, and many volunteered, increasing the army to 30,000. Pietro de’ Rossi was put in command, and on November 22 he invaded Padua and captured the fortress protecting the salt-works.

In March 1337 Venice, Azzo Visconti, Luigi Gonzaga of Mantua, and Obizzo d’Este formed a league to destroy the brothers Alberto and Mastino della Scala. Expenses were divided equally between Venice, Lombardy, and Florence, which was promised Lucca. Mastino sent Marsilio di Carrara to Venice to sue for peace, but Marsilio secretly promised the Doge he would deliver Padua for lordship of the city. On August 3 the gates were opened, and Pietro de’ Rossi entered and captured Alberto. Mastino was defending Brescia against Azzo but eventually capitulated. The treaty signed on January 24, 1339 allowed the Scaligeri to keep Lucca, but its fortresses and lands were returned to Florence. Venice got Treviso and let the house of Carrara govern Padua. For the first time Venice had extended its territory and could develop its own agriculture. Venice had a policy that allowed subject cities to be free and independent within the constraints of security.

Francesco Dandolo died on October 31, 1338, and one week later Bartolomeo Gradenigo was elected doge. Venice declined to sell galleys to England’s Edward III for his war against France because they were being threatened by the Turkish armada of 230 ships. When Gradenigo died on December 28, 1342, 37-year-old Andrea Dandolo was considered old enough to be doge. Venice joined a league for a crusade against the Turks and captured Smyrna before the league fell apart. In 1344 Tatars attacked Venetians and Genoese, and Genoa sent Simone Boccanegro to Venice to propose an alliance and a boycott of Tatar goods. Early in 1348 Venetian and Genoese merchant ships carried infected rats from the Crimea, and they brought the bubonic plague to Europe that caused the Black Death. Within a few weeks all the doctors in Venice had died of illness or fled. By summer six hundred people a day were dying in Venice, which eventually lost three-fifths of the population and fifty noble families.

Eccelino da Romano of Verona governed Padua so tyrannically that he allowed thousands of Paduans to die in prison after they had been defeated. Pope Alexander IV excommunicated him again for cruelty in 1254 and two years later declared a crusade against him. Archbishop Philip of Ravenna led a league against him that took Padua from him. However, Eccelino won a victory at Torricella on September 1, 1258 and tried to attack Milan; but he was wounded and captured at Cassano on September 27, 1259 and starved himself to death in October 7. His brother Albert was executed the next year, ending the power of the Romano family. Mastino della Scala became the lord of Verona in 1260 and governed until he was assassinated in 1277. He was succeeded by his brother and his brother’s children. Only in a few cases were Italian tyrannies hereditary. The house of Este ruled Ferrara; the Polenta governed Ravenna; and the house of Camino were despots over Treviso, Feltre, and Belluno.

In 1312 Heinrich VII appointed Verona’s Cane della Scala imperial vicar and gave Vicenza to him. The Paduans reacted by hiring mercenaries and declaring war. Cane suppressed popular government in Vicenza, and proscribed nobles took refuge in Padua, which was supported by Cremona, Treviso, and exiles from Verona. The leading Ghibelline in Padua was assassinated, and that party was exiled. The money-lenders Pietro d’Alticlinio and Ronco Agolanti became the chief men in Padua; but they were unpopular, and the Carraresi led the people who killed them both. Cane della Scala returned to power in Padua and became friends with Jacopo di Carrera, who was appointed lord of Padua by acclamation.

When Cremona revolted against Heinrich VII in 1311, he razed its walls, fined people heavily, and turned the city over to his German soldiers. By 1315 Cane della Scala was the leader of the Ghibelline league in Lombardy. He became an ally of Passerino, the lord of Mantua and Modena, with the intention to conquer Cremona, Parma, and Reggio. Famine in Cremona led to a riot until the Marquis of Cavalcabo was made lord of the city. He was replaced by another despot six months later, and in 1322 Milan’s Galeazzo Visconti took over Cremona.

Passerino indulged in debauchery in Mantua with his Gonzaga cousins, but one had an intrigue with Passerino’s mistress. Filippino Gonzaga got help from Cane della Scala, and gathering workers during the pretense of a harvest they entered Mantua and roused men to overthrow Passerino and his taxes. They killed Passerino and his son, and the Gonzaga brothers proclaimed their father Ludovico Gonzaga lord of Mantua in 1328. The next year Emperor Ludwig appointed him vicar, and his descendants ruled Mantua for nearly five centuries.

Venice 1350-1400

In 1350 the Genoese seized the Venetian ships at Caffa, and the embassy that Dandolo sent to Genoa was rebuffed. A Venetian fleet led by Marco Ruzzini captured ten of fourteen Genoese ships at Negropont. The four ships escaped to Chios and returned with nine more led by Filippo Doria, and they captured 23 Venetian merchant ships and sacked Negropont. Pedro IV of Aragon opposed Genoa and offered Venice eighteen men-of-war, and they signed a treaty in January 1351. At the mouth of the Bosphorus on February 13, 1352 the Genoese fleet led by Paganino Doria defeated the Venetians led by Nicolo Pisani. The Spaniards blockaded the port of Alghero on Sardinia. On August 29, 1353 Pisani got revenge by capturing 41 Genoese ships as Antonio Grimaldi went back to Genoa with only nineteen ships. Genoa was in a desperate situation and formed an alliance with the Visconti of Milan.

Zara and towns on the eastern Adriatic had often rebelled against Venetian rule, and in 1353 King Lajos of Hungary declared war on Venice and began attacking every year. Venice formed a league with Montferrat, Ferrara, Verona, Padua, Mantua, and Faenza. Bohemia’s Karl IV accepted 100,000 Venetian ducats but never engaged the enemy. Doge Andrea Dandolo was the first Venetian to earn a doctorate, and he wrote books on law and history. Francesco Petrarca wrote to his fellow humanist and friend but on behalf of the Visconti. His letters were admired for their style but accomplished little. Andrea Dandolo died on September 7, 1354. Two months later Paganino surprised the Venetian ships at Portolungo and captured an entire fleet of 56 ships. When Pisani and Nicolo Querini returned to Venice, they were punished.

Marin Falier became doge of Venice at the age of 76. He was jealous of his younger wife and was determined to punish a young man who had insulted him and her honor. The outraged Doge conspired with the Arsenal workers who composed his bodyguard and planned to massacre nobles in revenge; then he was to be proclaimed prince of Venice. The Council of Ten was informed by two or three sources of the conspiracy, and on the day of the coup they had about 7,000 militia ready to arrest the conspirators. Ten of the ringleaders were condemned to be hanged, and Doge Falier, after confessing, was beheaded on April 18, 1355. The main informer Marco Nigro was rewarded with 100 gold ducats a year for the rest of his life.

Three days after Falier was executed, Giovanni Gradenigo was elected doge. After Milan’s ruling archbishop died, the three Visconti brothers offered Venice a reasonable treaty with Genoa that was signed on June 1, 1355. Both maritime republics promised not to encroach on each other’s waters and to keep out of the Sea of Azov for three years. Each side deposited 100,000 gold florins as security against any violation. King Lajos of Hungary invaded Friuli in 1356 and demanded all Venetian territory on the east coast of the Adriatic. Giovanni Gradenigo died in August, and his successor Giovanni Dolfin had to escape from the siege of Treviso to get to Venice. When Padua’s governor Francesco da Carrara sided with Hungary, Venice imposed economic sanctions and sent a punitive expedition. Lajos offered to withdraw Hungarian forces from northern Italy and let Venice retain Istria if they would surrender Dalmatia, and on February 18, 1358 Venice accepted his terms at Zara. Venice sent an embassy to Emperor Karl IV, but he would not recognize their conquests. Two of the envoys on their return were arrested by Duke Rudolf of Austria because Venice had destroyed one of his castles in the war with Hungary. The other envoy Lorenzo Celsi escaped and became doge of Venice in 1361.

In September 1363 Venice learned that its colony of Crete had deposed Duke Leonardo Dandolo and was in revolt. Doge Lorenzo Celsi wrote letters to Pope Urban V, John V Paleologus, Lajos of Hungary, Peter of Cyprus, Giovanna of Naples, and other rulers, asking them not to support the Cretan rebels. In January 1364 Venice hired the condottiere Luchino dal Verme with a thousand cavalry and two thousand infantry, and in April they sailed in 33 Venetian galleys to Crete. The rebels released criminals and were not well organized, and they capitulated rather than be massacred. Candia surrendered on May 10, followed by Retimo and Canea. Leonardo Dandolo was released, and the rebel leaders were executed or banished. Yet guerrilla resistance continued until 1366.

The elderly Marco Cornaro was elected doge on July 21, 1365 and died three years later. When Andrea Contarini was elected, Venice was fighting against an insurrection in Trieste. He tightened the blockade in 1369, and the rebels capitulated on November 28. Carrara in Padua appealed to Hungary’s King Lajos, who only offered to mediate. Venice would not give up its monopoly on salt and hired the condottiere Renier dei Guaschi, declaring war. Carrara bribed two members of the Senate to hire assassins, but they were caught. The assassins were brutally executed; one treasonous senator was beheaded, and the other was banished for ten years. Padua was besieged for four years as a Hungarian army came to their defense. In the autumn of 1373 Carrara capitulated and agreed to pay Venice an indemnity of 250,000 ducats. Feltre was held by Venice as security. Resistance was aided by an Austrian army in Treviso, and Venice began using small cannons. By the end of 1376 the Duke of Austria had withdrawn his forces.

The Venetian fleet forced the Byzantine emperor John V to surrender the strategic island of Tenedos at the entrance to the straits of the Sea of Marmara. When the Genoese helped Andronicus overthrow his father John, the new Emperor gave Tenedos to Genoa and arrested the Venetian leaders in Constantinople. King Peter of Cyprus helped Venice gain his future father-in-law Bernabo Visconti as an ally, and Milan and Venice signed a four-year treaty in November 1377. While the Venetian fleet was at Pola for the winter, their admiral Vettor Pisani was defeated by the Genoese navy, though their admiral Lucian Doria was killed. Genoa took fifteen galleys and 1,900 prisoners. Pisani with seven ships escaped to Venice and was blamed for the defeat. He was sentenced to six months in prison and was barred from any office for five years. The Genoese were strengthened by Francesco da Carrara and 5,000 Hungarians sent by King Lajos. Venice hired the condottiere Giacomo de’ Cavalli with 4,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry as well as archers. In July 1379 Carrara led 24,000 Italians and Hungarians against Chioggia near Venice while the Genoese navy blockaded it by sea. After heavy losses, Chioggia fell on August 16, 1379.

Venetians rallied to defend their country and insisted that Vettor Pisani be released. Pietro Doria was trying to starve Venice into surrendering. The magistrates did not collect their pay and ordered the wealthy to provide food for the poor. Men at the Arsenal worked day and night to produce forty new galleys. Doge Andrea Contarini went with the fleet now led again by Vettor Pisani that set out in December 1379. The long-awaited fleet led by Carlo Zeno arrived on January 1, 1380, and five days later a Venetian cannon killed Pietro Doria. In April the Genoese fleet led by Marco Maruffo captured twelve Venetian ships and their captain Taddeo Guistinian on their way back from collecting grain in Sicily. Pisani and Zeno managed to keep Maruffo from relieving the Genoese at Chioggia, and on June 24 the 4,000 starving Genoese surrendered. In August 1381 Count Amadeus VI of Savoy mediated a peace treaty at Turin. Venice regained fortresses around the lagoon from Carrara; but they recognized the loss of Dalmatia, and Amadeus was given Tenedos. Prisoners were exchanged without ransoms. Venice had tried to prevent Carrara from getting Treviso by ceding it to Duke Leopold of Austria in 1380; but after it was besieged two years later, Leopold sold it to Carrera along with Belluno, Ceneda, Feltre, and the trade route through the Dolomites to Tyrolia for 100,000 ducats.

Doge Andrea Contarini died on June 6, 1382, and his successor Michele Morosini died of the plague after only four and a half months. Antonio Venier was elected the 60th doge while he was capitano in Crete. A regency council governed until he returned to Venice on January 13, 1383. Venice was at peace and acquired Corfu in 1386. By the end of the century Venice also annexed part of southern Dalmatia, Nauplia and Argos in the Morea, and most of the islands in the Cyclades and Dodecanese. When Milan took Vicenza from Padua’s Carrara, he appealed to Doge Venier; but on May 29, 1388 the latter accepted an offer from Gian Galeazzo Visconti which restored Ceneda and Treviso and some fortresses to Venice in exchange for their recognizing his rights in Padua. Francesco Carrara abdicated to his son of the same name who was called Novello; but as a Venetian fleet sailed up the Brenta, Francesco Novello surrendered to the invading Milanese army. Novello escaped and organized a league that included Florence, Bologna, Mantua, and even Duke Robert of Bavaria. Venice changed sides and let Novello use Treviso for recovering Padua. Novella thanked the Doge and gained Venice’s approval for the treaty he signed at Genoa in 1392.

Gian Galeazzo attacked Mantua in 1395, and Venice joined Padua, Florence, and Bologna in defending the city. A truce was declared and became a peace agreement in 1400. Venice offered its fleet in the Black Sea to help King Sigismund of Hungary in the crusade against the Turks in 1396, and after their defeat they rescued Sigismund and thousands of Christians. Michele Steno was elected doge on December 1, 1400. Venetians felt much relief after Gian Galeazzo died of fever on August 13, 1402. Venice turned against Francesco Novello when the Duchess of Milan offered them Vicenza and Verona. Novello rejected an ultimatum to withdraw and mutilated the face of a Venetian herald. Offended Venice conquered Padua on November 4, 1404. The Carraresi father and son were imprisoned and were executed on January 17, 1405. This war was reported to have cost Venice two million ducats.

Venice had expelled Jews in 1395, and they were only allowed to return for fifteen days; they were required to wear distinguishing emblems such as a yellow circle or a yellow cap. However, gradually Jews returned, and the rules were not enforced. Venice paid the salaries of twelve doctors and required all licensed practitioners to study anatomy. The state established a school of medicine in 1368, and doctors were required to attend monthly meetings to keep current. Venice also had a respected system of laws, and every person was considered equal before the law. A trained corps of officials had the duty of helping strangers. The Great Council increased to about 1,500 members, but the Pregadi had 120 senators. Venice provided free primary education and more advanced study in law, medicine, and the humanities. Venice allocated an annual subsidy of 4,000 ducats for the University of Padua.

Venice 1400-53

Genoa and Pisa 1250-1400

Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250

In 1257 the Genoese overthrew the Milanese podesta Philip della Torre for being corrupt, and Guglielmo Boccanegra was proclaimed captain of the people for ten years. A council of 32 ancients was chosen. Two years later the nobles tried to remove him; but their plot failed, and they were banished. Boccanegra was given a larger salary and more protection, and by 1262 he controlled Genoa. The territorial classes rose up and challenged his army; but the Archbishop intervened, and Boccanegra resigned. The constitution was renewed, and the four families of the Grimaldi, Fieschi, Doria, and Spinola vied for power.

A 1270 revolution in Genoa gave popular support to Ghibelline nobles, and their navy defeated the Guelf forces of Charles of Anjou in 1273. Genoa then opened Ghibelline western Lombardy to a thousand Spanish troops to help Guglielmo (William) VII of Montferrat. In 1284 Genoa destroyed the Pisan fleet and captured 10,000 men. Genoa had such a large assembly that when debating the French-Sicilian war 105 councilors made speeches. Genoa allied with the Byzantine emperor Andronicus, and in 1299 at the battle of Corcyra their fleet burned 76 Venetian ships and captured 18 prizes with 7,000 prisoners. Genoa agreed to a peace treaty with Venice in May 1299.

In 1312 Emperor Heinrich VII visited Genoa and replaced the podesta with his imperial vicar, imposing a tribute of 60,000 florins. This enabled the Ghibelline Doria and Spinola to dominate Genoa, but they fought each other in 1314. The Doria called in the Guelf Grimaldi and Fieschi to drive out the Spinola. The Guelfs urged the Doria to make peace with the Spinola, whom they allowed back without their arms; but then the Doria left, followed by the Spinola. In 1318 Marco Visconti besieged Genoa while a Ghibelline fleet from Sardinia blockaded the sea-way. The Guelfs appealed to Robert of Naples, and they made him lord of Genoa for ten years. The Marquis of Montferrat, Castruccio Castracani of Lucca, and troops from Pisa and Sicily joined the Ghibellines while Florentines, Bolognese, and Guelfs from Romagna aided Robert and forced the Milanese army to withdraw in 1319. Robert ravaged Ghibelline possessions and then went to Provence to visit the Pope. The Ghibellines came back and besieged Genoa for four years.

The four families continued to struggle for control of Genoa. When the Doria and Spinola were governing, they established an abbot of the people. On September 23, 1339 an assembly of people nominated Simone Boccanegra to be their Doge. His power was limited, and councils represented the people. He moderated the radicals, restrained the feudatories in the countryside, unified the fortifications, and used the fleets to chastise the Turks, Tatars, and Moors. The nobles met at Ventimiglia and kept up the pressure until Boccanegra resigned on December 23, 1344.

Genoa came into conflict with the Byzantine emperor Cantacuzenus over Pera and attacked Constantinople in 1348, suffering heavy losses. The Greeks besieged Pera, and the knights of Rhodes tried to mediate and provided refuge for the women and children. The next year the Greeks launched a new fleet, but the Genoese threw them into a panic. Concerned about Venice, the Genoese offered to yield land and pay an indemnity, and Cantacuzenus graciously said he had enough land and accepted the peace.

In the Black Sea the Italians were expelled from Tana, and the Genoese welcomed them at Caffa, which was besieged for two years. Genoa burned Tana, ravaged the area, and called for a boycott of Tana. The Genoese attacked Venetian ships that traded with Tana, and in 1350 Venice sent a large fleet to take over Tana. Genoa’s fleet led by Paganino Doria won a costly victory over Venice’s admiral Nicolo Pisani and made the Greeks accept peace. The next year Venetians allied with Catalans defeated Genoa’s fleet led by Antonio Grimaldi off the coast of Sardinia. Genoa had 2,000 men killed and 3,500 taken prisoner. While Venice was at war against the Visconti, in 1354 Paganino Doria ravaged the coast of the Adriatic and threatened Venice. In the Archipelago he and his nephew inflicted a crushing defeat on Admiral Pisani, capturing him and nearly 6,000 Venetians. Venice sued for peace, agreed to pay an indemnity of 200,000 florins, established a counting-house at Caffa, and suspended their trade at Tana for three years. Filippo Doria attacked Tripoli and stole two million gold florins and 7,000 slaves. The law-abiding Genoese condemned this act of piracy and perpetually banished the freebooter and his accomplices.

Simone Boccanegra became doge again in 1356, but in 1363 he died after feasting with the king of Cyprus. The citizens were aroused, and his relatives were imprisoned. The plebeian Gabriello Adorno was made doge by the smaller burghers, but the merchants set up Leonardo da Montalto as a rival doge. During the civil war Adorno was the main doge until he was overthrown by Domenico di Campofregoso in 1371. Cyprus was divided by Genoese and Venetians, and in 1373 all the Genoese were murdered except one wounded witness who escaped to tell the story. A fleet under Admiral Damiano Catani was sent, and he made King Pierre Lusignan submit and agree to pay an annual tribute of 40,000 florins. The King married his daughter to Bernabo Visconti and remitted the dowry so that Bernabo would fight Genoa.

Niccola di Guarco became doge in 1378. Hungarian forces took Dalmatia from Venice, and they became Genoa’s ally in the war against Venice. Padua also sided with Genoa. Bernabo sent Milanese forces against Genoa’s territory, but they were defeated in September 1379. Byzantine emperor John V also sided with Venice. The war was fought over the island of Tenedos. On May 30, 1378 ten Venetian galleys led by Vettor Pisani defeated and captured Luigi de Fieschi and five of the eleven Genoese ships. Genoa won a victory over Pisani off Pola on May 7, 1379, but Luciano Doria was killed. The Genoese, Hungarians, and Paduans captured the fishing port of Chioggia near Venice on August 16 and surrounded the garrison of 3,000 Venetians, but on December 22 a Venetian fleet blockaded Chioggia. Genoa sent another fleet under Matteo Maruffo in May 1380; but Venice won a naval battle on June 24, and Chioggia surrendered. Both sides had suffered, and in the peace of Turin in 1381 Tenedos was given to Savoy. Genoa stopped sailing ships into the Adriatic. Genoa’s taxes were increased to pay for the war, and during Holy Week in 1383 the people revolted and won concessions from the doge, who fled in a disguise from the assaulted palace. Exiles returned, and rivalry increased. From 1390 to 1394 Genoa had ten revolutions and doges. Milan’s despot Gian Galeazzo arranged for France to send a vicar in 1396, and Genoa remained under French domination until 1411.

Pisa was defeated by Florence in 1254, and the Guelfs reconstructed the old aristocratic government by a more democratic constitution with twelve elders, forty senators, a general council, a podesta, and a captain of the people. The imperial Ghibellines tried to hold on to Sardinia, but their leader Ugolino della Gherardesca married his sister to the Guelf Giovanni Visconti, judge of Gallura in Sardinia. Disorders in the early 1270s caused Pisa to banish the Visconti, and in 1275 Ugolino went to Lucca, where the next year he forced them to accept Guelf exiles from Pisa. Reconciled with Guelfs, Ugolino returned to Pisa, but he was accused of treachery when serving as an admiral in the battle of Meloria against Genoa on August 6, 1284. In this naval battle Pisa suffered a devastating defeat, losing 5,000 men with 10,000 more captured.

Ugolino offered Castro in Sardinia to Genoa in exchange for their prisoners, but other Pisans opposed this capitulation. Negotiations with Genoa continued for thirteen months while Ugolino rose from captain of the people to podesta. When Florence and Lucca attacked Pisa, he made peace by ceding them some castles. He broke the truce by ordering Sardinian corsairs to prey on the Genoese, and he refused to share power with the Ghibelline archbishop Ruggieri dei Ubaldini, who became podesta. Ugolino was exiled briefly but tried to return with armed followers. Ubaldini accused him of treachery for ceding the castles and captured him and his sons on July 9, 1288. They were put in the Muda tower and died of starvation in March 1289. Pisa’s port was destroyed in 1290, and after that Pisa could no longer rival Genoa as a sea power.

While 10,000 Pisans languished in the prisons of Genoa, Guido di Montefeltro led the Ghibellines, and being up against the alliance of Genoa, Florence, and Lucca, he made peace with the Guelf league in 1293. Genoa controlled Corsica and part of Sardinia, but they freed the surviving prisoners for a large ransom. Pisa provided Emperor Heinrich VII with 60,000 florins for his journey into Italy, expunging his debts and supplying arms and ships, spending a total of two million florins. Yet Heinrich refused to support Pisa, though his body was buried there after his death in 1313. Pisa accepted Genoa’s imperial vicar Uguccione della Fagiola, who granted them a thousand German horsemen. After the Emperor’s army departed from Pisa, the Pisans asked his officer Uguccione to defend them. He declared war on Pisa’s enemy Lucca and was given lordship of the city for ten years. He then captured Lucca on June 14, 1314 and plundered it for three days as hundreds of silk artisans found refuge in Florence and Bologna. Uguccione had an aggressive foreign policy. He besieged Montecatini and defeated Philip of Taranto, prince of Naples, killing 2,000 and taking 1,500 prisoners in 1315. Pisans overthrew the absent Uguccione, who fled to Verona, and they made Count Galdo della Gherardesca captain of the people.

Pisa still monopolized trade with Palestine, Africa, and Spain. Count Nieri della Gherardesca succeeded his dead nephew, but he was challenged by plebeians led by Coscetto di Colle in two days of street fighting. Nieri had Coscetto beheaded, but the people drove fifteen leading exiles out of the city. In 1323 Hugo Bassi led a revolt in Sardinia, killing Pisans and opening its ports to Alfonso’s Aragonese fleet. Cagliari was besieged and then reinforced in 1324. Pisa sent a new fleet with an army, and both sides suffered heavy casualties, Alfonso losing 15,000 men. Pisa retained Cagliari as a fief, but Sardinia became Aragon’s. The next year Pisa’s fleet was taken, and the war resumed. Pisa lost Cagliari when their fleet commanded by Doria was badly defeated. In 1326 Pope John XXII arranged for the prisoners to be exchanged without ransoms.

Pisa sent envoys to Emperor Ludwig and offered him 60,000 florins for independence and neutrality; but Castruccio persuaded him to seize them and demand that Pisa open its gates. Ludwig found Pisa’s gates closed, and Castruccio commanded the siege. The treasury was exhausted, and the people wanting democratic reforms rose up and accepted the Emperor, who released the envoys, agreed to the pay the amount, and ordered his soldiers to behave in the city. Pisa formed a parliament which denounced the capitulation and recalled the exiles. In 1327 Ludwig fined them 500,000 florins and gave Pisa to Empress Margaret. Castruccio took control but died in 1328. His son fled from a revolt, and Tarlatino of Pietra Mala was made imperial vicar; but in 1329 Marco Visconti helped the plebeian leader Bonifazio della Gherardesca to drive out the vicar and his guard.

Pisa once again was an independent republic under Bonifazio’s democracy. When the general council learned that Mastino della Scala of Florence had bought Lucca, they declared war. Luchino Visconti of Milan sent Pisa 2,000 cavalry led by Giovanni Visconti of Oleggio. They besieged Lucca in 1341, and the next year Lucca surrendered to the Pisans. This war cost Pisa 1,500,000 florins. Oleggio was caught in a conspiracy and expelled from Pisa. Luchino in Milan arrested all the Pisans in his army and sent Oleggio with 2,000 troops to ravage Pisan lands; but most of them were wiped out by malaria, and peace was made in 1345. Pisa suffered in the famine of 1347 and from the Black Death of 1348. The Raspanti were driven out, and Andrea Gambacorta led the government. In 1355 he turned Pisa over to Emperor Karl IV during his visit to Italy. The Raspanti rebelled and killed 150 of his soldiers. The Gambacorti were arrested and had their houses razed. Karl had seven Pisans decapitated, exacted a large fine, and went back to Germany. The aristocrats led by the Raspanti once again governed Pisa, and in 1360 they executed eight and banished ten plotters. Pisa went to war against Florence in 1362 and lost 3,000 infantry before making peace in 1364.

Agnello was Pisa’s ambassador to Milan, and he became president of the council; but he was overthrown, and Pietro Gambacorti was recalled and became captain of the people. Emperor Karl IV visited Italy again in 1368 and recognized Pisa’s independence. Jacopo d’Appiano treacherously killed Pietro and took over the city, but he was under the Visconti of Milan. He died in 1398 and was succeeded by his son, who sold Pisa to the Visconti for 200,000 florins.

Genoa, Pisa, and Siena 1400-1517

Florence 1250-1336

Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250

After Emperor Friedrich II died in 1250, the people of Florence established the First Democracy under twelve ancients (anziani) with the commune placed above both the Guelf and Ghibelline factions. Florence turned to Pisa’s traditional rival Genoa as an ally. Florence went to war against Ghibelline towns and attacked Pistoia first, and even Siena surrendered in 1254. Florentines argued they were fighting for democracy, but they were extending their hegemony. The famous gold florin was issued in 1252 with the red lily and John the Baptist representing Florence.

When Manfred was crowned king of Sicily at Palermo in 1258, the Ghibellines rose up in Florence but were defeated and withdrew; now it was the Guelfs’ turn to destroy the Ghibelline homes. In 1252 the tyrants Eccelino da Romano of Verona and Uberto Pallavicino of Cremona had formed a Ghibelline league of Italian cities. In 1258 Eccelino took Brescia; but Pallavicino fought for Manfred and defeated the cruel Eccelino at Cassano. Siena appealed to Manfred, who sent troops in 1259. Montemassi was besieged the next year, and at Montaperti the Florentines lost 10,000 men and retreated.

The Guelfs abandoned towns in Tuscany to the Ghibellines, and Manfred’s vicar-general, Count Guido Novello, became podesta of Florence. The Ghibellines took revenge against the Guelfs, ruining more buildings in Florence as the Guelfs fled to Lucca, which was forced to banish the Guelf refugees in 1264. The French Pope Urban IV (1261-64) countered by putting Siena and Florence under interdict, for their merchants were the papal bankers and helped collect Church revenues.

Joachite prophecies had indicated that 1260 would be the year of the apocalypse, and a hermit of Perugia started the self-flagellating movement that spread south to Rome and north to Lombardy. The mass movement soon died out in Italy; but it spread north of Alps in 1261, though it was suppressed the next year.

In Florence growing capitalism helped develop the merchant guilds (arti), and in 1282 they seized power by choosing six priors as rulers from their seven major guilds, which were the judges and notaries, cloth dealers and refiners, money-changers, wool manufacturers, retailers of Por Santa Maria and silk merchants, physicians and apothecaries, and furriers. The five minor guilds were butchers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, carpenters, and second-hand dealers. To preserve trade secrets masters and men could not marry anyone other than a Florentine woman without permission. Maximum prices were fixed for every item, and workers had to obey many rules. In the 13th century money could not be borrowed at less than thirty percent interest. Peasant farmers had to give the proceeds from half the crop to the land owner. The podesta was still chief judge and leader of the army, but he was now under the six priors, who were elected every two months. The remaining serfs were liberated by a law in 1289. That year Florence crushed Arezzo for having elected Ghibellines. However, Pisa was not so easy to suppress, and many complained of these wars that went on until 1292. Nine more minor guilds were given a military organization. In 1293 Florence passed the Ordinances of Justice to control the magnates (grandi), who were excluded from influential positions, were required to post bonds for their good behavior, were penalized double for certain crimes, and were liable for the actions of their relatives.

Corso Donati had been podesta twice in Bologna. In 1289 he was podesta in Pistoia and led sixty knights against Ghibellines at Campaldino, giving him control over Florence. He was involved in feuds with many other magnates and even wounded his cousin Simone in 1294, killing one of his grooms, but in the trial his cousin was fined. The trial was sensational, and the sentence on January 23, 1295 provoked a riot. The priors investigated, and Giano della Bella’s brother Taldo had incited people against the podesta. Giano had tried to stop the angry people and became so unpopular that he was ordered arrested on February 15. Giano fled to France and had his life condemned and his property confiscated. Corso Donati tried to get rid of the Ordinances but only got a revision on July 6 that those on guild rolls did not have to be actively involved in the business. In Pistoia the Cancellieri family had split into Whites and Blacks, dividing the entire city. In 1296 the government of Florence took over Pistoia for five years and divided offices between the Whites and Blacks.

The wealthy Vieri de’ Cerchi also had fought at Campaldino and had gained a following. Corso Donati managed to get his supporter Monfiorito da Coderta elected podesta; but when he favored Corso in a suit by condemning the property of Corso’s mother-in-law, Monfiorito was arrested and removed from office. Corso had to pay a heavy fine and was banned in May 1299. In April 1300 the Whites condemned for treason three Florentines in Rome including the papal banker Simone Gherardi degli Spini. Pope Boniface VIII ordered the sentences revoked, and in June he sent his chief advisor, Cardinal Acquarsparta to mediate the conflict between the Blacks and Whites. The priors confirmed the sentences and recalled the Whites the previous priors had banished but not the banished Blacks. After the 1300 jubilee celebration in May 1301 the Cerchi took the side of the Pistoiese Whites and expelled the Black leaders. The Cerchi were called Whites, and the Blacks appealed to the Donati faction. Lucca expelled its Whites, and this the Pope approved.

Pope Boniface VIII appointed Charles of Valois peacemaker (paciarius) in September and sent him and his knights to conquer the Whites in Tuscany. On November 1, 1301 a thousand papal forces led by Charles entered Florence, and four days later a Parliament of Peace appointed him mediator. The rebel Donati with Black supporters joined them and attacked their enemies while releasing those in prison. For five days they plundered, burned, and fought the Whites, looting warehouses, abusing women, and holding children for ransom. Finally the Pope ordered Charles to guarantee the safety of the Whites. However, in January 1302 lists of Whites were summoned for trials. Since those who appeared had their lives and property condemned, most listed (including Dante) left the city. That year 559 death sentences were pronounced, though few were executed. To the Black Guelfs the White Guelfs had become like Ghibellines as they took refuge in the Ghibelline cities of Arezzo, Pisa, and Pistoia. In April 1302 Charles was given 24,000 florins for his mediation and left Florence, and in May at Rome he was sent to invade Sicily.

Florence was one of the cities Pope Benedict XI excommunicated in 1304. On June 10 of that year the Donati, Tosinghe, and Medici sent the priest Neri degli Abati, who started a fire in their enemies’ palaces that burned some 1,400 houses and warehouses in the heart of Florence. Lucchese troops had aided them, and Pope Benedict summoned the chiefs of Florence and Lucca to his court at Perugia on July 6, but the next day Benedict died of dysentery or, as some suspected, of poison. Napoleon Orsini got the English subject Bertrand de Got, the archbishop of Bordeaux, elected pope as Clement V. He sent Orsini as Rector of Romagna in May 1306; but Florence negotiated directly with Clement, and Orsini was withdrawn in early 1309.

The Ghibellines naturally appealed to Emperor Albrecht, but he would not come to Italy. By the autumn of 1308 Corso Donati’s bad finances got him in trouble, and he was threatened with imprisonment. He gathered men and arms, but the Blacks in the government had his houses surrounded by the armed forces of the guilds. He tried to escape on a horse, but Catalan mercenaries killed him with a lance on October 6. That year the two great banks of the Mozzi and Franzesi failed, and two years later the Cerchi bank failed too. When Emperor Heinrich VII was traveling toward Rome in 1310, Betto de’ Brunelleschi spoke for the independence of the Black Guelfs in Florence. The commune worked on the third circle of walls around the city which they had begun in 1284 and would complete in 1328. In 1311 a partial failure of the harvest doubled the price of wheat. Instead of dismissing their mercenaries, they levied the estimo tax on wealth several times in one year. In February two Donati youths avenged Corso’s death by killing the rich Betto. Heinrich while in Genoa on Christmas Eve proclaimed Florence an outlaw, fined the city 5,000 pounds of gold, and ordered its citizens’ goods seized throughout the empire. Yet he did not lead his army there but went directly to Rome to be crowned. On his way back Heinrich with about 2,000 knights camped outside of Florence but did not lay siege. The Guelf army was twice that size. Disease in the imperial camp affected Heinrich as well, and they left to go to safe Pisa.

In the 14th century the number of Florentine aristocrats who served as knights decreased rapidly as the wealthy were allowed to hire substitutes. The standing army became professionals who fought for profit more than patriotism. In the spring of 1313 Pistoia had turned to King Robert of Naples, making him signoria for five years, and he appointed the podesta in Florence. Uguccione went to war against the league of the Tuscan Guelfs and defeated them west of Pistoia on August 29, 1315. During this crisis the wealthy Florentines revolted against the estimo tax and demanded indirect taxes that spread the burden. His lieutenant Castruccio Castracane aspired to lead his town of Lucca, and in 1316 Uguccione ordered him arrested; but on the same day a rebellion broke out in Pisa that overthrew Uguccione. Castruccio let him leave and came to a peace agreement with the Tuscan Guelfs in May 1317.

The Guelfs won over Genoa, and in 1320 the Ghibelline Castruccio went to war against Genoa. The Florentines attacked Lucca, causing Castruccio to return home. The Florentines had renewed Robert’s signoria until 1322, and that year they devised their capitano laws. These were revised again by the statuo laws of 1325 which proved to be quite lasting. Castruccio captured Pistoia on May 5, 1325, and the next day he appointed the Catalan Raymond of Cardona the war captain. By now almost all the cavalry were mercenaries, and Raymond led them and 15,000 citizen infantry that in June began capturing castles between Lucca and Pistoia. Castruccio led his army to a strong defensive position, and in the battle on September 23 they defeated the tired Florentine army near Altopascio. Castruccio’s army pursued them to Florence and destroyed the fields around the city. In December the Florentines appealed to Robert’s son Charles, duke of Calabria. They made him regent for ten years, and he was to provide one thousand French knights for an annual stipend of 200,000 gold florins; he also was to nominate the podesta, priors, and other officials and would have authority over peace and war. Duke Charles arrived with his knights in July 1326.

Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria appointed Castruccio imperial vicar, and he came to be crowned at Milan and at Rome in 1328. While Castruccio was in Rome for the ceremony, the Florentines attacked and captured Pistoia. Castruccio returned and regained it with a siege in August, but he died of a fever in September. In the spring of 1329 Ludwig departed and went back to Munich. Duke Charles of Calabria died on November 9, freeing Florence from his despotism. In the next ten years trade and industry improved, and the population increased greatly. Although only 50,000 florins were needed for administration, the war costs were usually five times that amount. During the prosperity Florence engaged in offensive wars and maintained a standing army of nearly a thousand horsemen. In 1336 Florence made an alliance with Venice to try to get Lucca from Mastino della Scala of Verona; but then Venice made a deal with Mastino that prevented Florence from regaining Lucca.

Florence 1336-1400

Florence with its banks had become the greatest financial center in the world. In the late 1330s mercenaries and war expenses had caused Florence’s debt to double in less than a decade. By the end of 1338 all the indirect consumption taxes and treasury income had been pledged to creditors for the next six years. The Treaty of Venice in 1339 ended nineteen years of continuous fighting for Florence. That year Edward III of England borrowed so much for wars that he could not pay his creditors, and the two Florentine houses in England went into bankruptcy. This caused a run on the Bardi and the Peruzzi banks in Florence. The Bardi and Frescobaldi families had tried to seize power, and in 1340 they were banished. The governing Twenty of Florence authorized an attack on the Pisan army that was besieging Lucca, but they were defeated on October 2, 1341 and again in the spring of 1342. Lucca surrendered to Pisa on July 6.

The Florentines were so disappointed that they hired the French count Walter of Brienne, the duke of Athens, as their war captain on August 1. He made peace with Pisa to stop the financial losses from that war. When he stopped payments on war loans on November 20, the bankers turned against him. He conceded a three-year moratorium to keep creditors away and returned to the estimo tax to raise revenues. By 1342 Florence had a public debt of 800,000 florins, and interest rates were above 15%. They could not redeem contracts nor pay interest regularly. Magnates were upset because the despot had not repealed harsh Ordinances, and the people complained that he removed their taxation privileges. On July 2 Walter formed an alliance with Mastino della Scala of Verona and Taddeo Pepoli of Bologna. However, during his despotism many of the subject towns renounced their allegiance. In 1343 three conspiracies of the wealthy and powerful against Walter coalesced after the discovery of one, and on July 26 they attacked the palace. After six days he threw the police chief and his son to a mob that cut them up. On August 6 Walter was allowed to leave under safe conduct of the Sienese.

The Fourteen made up of seven magnates and seven burghers reorganized the government of Florence. They abolished the Ordinances and called for twelve priors with four of them magnates, but on September 22 a mob insisted that the four magnates be removed. Of the eight priors two were to be from the seven greater guilds, three from the five middle guilds, and three from the nine lesser guilds. The gonfalonier of justice was added as the ninth prior, and the Ordinances of Justice were re-enacted. From 1343 to 1347 financial and puritanical reforms were implemented. The public debt was called the Il Monte (the mountain), and the interest rate was limited to 5%. The greatest bank, the house of Bardi, surrendered to its creditors in 1346. Florence extended its hegemony to many towns such as Colle di Val d’Elsa, San Gimignano, Prato, and Pistoia, but they also allowed them some self-government. Crops were often inadequate, and malnutrition caused contagion. In 1348 the Black Death came to Florence, and by some estimates took up to two-thirds of the population. When Milan invaded Tuscany in 1351, Florence stopped the Visconti aggression.

Florence had three economic classes—the wealthy merchants of the seven greater guilds, the shopkeepers and artisans of the fourteen lesser guilds, and the unorganized workers. In 1342 the textile workers petitioned Walter of Brienne for a guild, and he approved. After he was overthrown, the lesser guilds prevented the workers from having a guild until the revolution of 1378. They made it a crime for workers to form a guild, and a law banned any meeting of ten of more workers for any purpose at all. When the wool-carder Ciuto Brandini tried to reconstitute the workers guild in 1345, he was arrested, condemned by a public official, and hanged. In 1347 the magnates began accusing some from the lesser guilds of Ghibellinism in order to keep them out of offices. The Black Death devastated the crowded quarters of the poor in 1348, and for a while fewer workers earned increased wages; but gradually more workers immigrated, and the old wage scale returned.

When Emperor Karl came to Italy in 1355, he sold Florence a charter for 100,000 gold florins. In 1358 the captains of the Guelf party were given the power to exclude men from office by handing them a warning (ammonizione). Those who defied the warning could be charged with treason. In 1362 Florence went to war against Pisa, and after two years both sides were economically exhausted. The war cost Florence more than a million florins. They had bent the law to triple the interest rate to 15%. In 1366 the prior Uguccione de’ Ricci got a law passed that added representatives from the lesser guilds to the executive captains of the Guelf party. In August 1368 a famished crowd in the grain market seized twenty sacks of wheat before they were dispersed. This led to an unusual strike by the dyers, who were then locked out, breaking the strike.

Florence suffered hunger in the winter of 1374-75, and the papal legate in Bologna banned the export of grain. In June 1375 John Hawkwood, who had previously served as legate, led a band of foreigners who plundered Florence and demanded ransoms. These incidents provoked the Florentines to go to war against the papacy, and by the spring of 1376 the entire Papal State was having convulsions. The committee of eight seized and sold ecclesiastical property and ordered the clergy to ignore the papal interdict. This War of the Eight Saints against the Pope lasted three years and left Florence with a debt of 3,500,000 florins. In 1378 Salvestro de’ Medici was the gonfalonier of justice, and on June 18 he rallied the people in the piazza against the plotting leaders of the Guelf party. The leaders fled, and the people plundered and set fire to their houses. The common people called themselves the ciompi, and on July 21 in the piazza they petitioned for the right of association and participation in the government as a recognized guild. The mob spread through the city plundering and burning, and the next day they drove the leaders from the palace. A young wool-comber named Michele di Lando in sandals and a ragged shirt led them. Before leaving, the old government had accepted the petition of July 21, and so the people proclaimed him gonfalonier of justice and head of a provisional government.

As the balia organized itself they formed three unions for dyers, shirt-makers, and the largest guild called the Popolo Minuto. The greater guilds closed their shops, and workers were threatened with hunger. In late August an ultra-radical group set up a government in a piazza and demanded a share in the state. Michelle di Lando drove away their messengers with his sword, and calling upon people to follow him in expelling the radicals, they drove them out of the city. The dyers and shirt-makers guilds were included in the lesser guilds, but the Popolo Minuto was abolished.

In December 1380 a law returned the interest rate to 5%. In January 1382 people rose up against the demagogue magnate Giorgio Scali and executed him. With the people divided the employers quickly induced the priors to summon a parliament to turn the power over to a select committee. This was voted on January 21 and marked the fall of Florentine democracy. In 1384 Florence took over Arezzo by purchasing it from the French military adventurer De Coucy for 40,000 florins. In times of crisis a general assembly was often called to designate special power (balia) to a commission. In 1387 this power was used to reduce the participation of the lesser guilds to one-fourth of the public offices. The major guilds had six priors and the gonfalonier, and they banished the rich Benedetto degli Alberti and members of his family. Maso degli Albizzi was getting revenge for the death of his uncle Pietro degli Albizzi. In 1393 Maso was gonfalonier of justice, and emergency power was used again to exile the Alberti clan. The Alberti were financially ruined, and they were stigmatized as magnates. The wealthy merchants were governing as oligarchs.

Milan’s Gian Galeazzo Visconti began invading Umbria and Tuscany in 1390, and the war against Florence went on for twelve years during which he conquered Perugia, Siena, and Pisa. The Milanese had encircled Florence by June 1402, but Gian Galeazzo suddenly died of disease, saving Florence.

Florence, the Medici and Machiavelli

Siena and Caterina

Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250

Siena was often at war with Florence, and after being defeated in 1254 Siena gave up hegemony over Poggibonsi, Montepulciano, and Montalcino. When Siena provided refuge for Farinata degli Uberti and other exiles from Florence, another war became likely. Manfred sent a few soldiers to help Siena, but they were all killed by Florence. Manfred then sent German cavalry. When Florence demanded that Siena tear down its walls, the governing Twenty-four were shocked and sent word their answer would be on the battlefield. Buonaguida Lucari was elected dictator and led a passionate procession. On September 3, 1260 Siena’s army of less than 20,000 won an astonishing victory over Florence at Montaperti, taking thousands of prisoners. Provenzano Salvi became the leader of Siena. However, in 1266 the Ghibellines suffered a set-back when Manfred fell at Benevento. The Guelfs gained strength, and war broke out again with Florence, which with French help defeated Provenzano and his German and Spanish allies. He and more than a thousand Sienese were killed at Val d’Elsa. Charles of Anjou’s vicar Guy de Montfort forced Siena to open its gates to the Guelf exiles and join the Guelf league. In 1277 the Guelf party on the Siena council excluded the grandi of the nobility from public office, and a democratic council of twenty-four governed. In 1280 they were reduced to fifteen, and by 1285 Siena was being ruled by nine rich merchants. Yet they were changed every two months, and nobles were still excluded from the council.

As Emperor Heinrich VII approached in 1313, the Nine closed the streets with chains to prevent riots. On October 25, 1318 the Tolomei magnates organized a demonstration, and they fought a hundred soldiers of the Nine in front of the palace; but the Tolomei and other nobles did not bring their retainers, and they were dispersed. In 1321 Siena revitalized its university with scholars from Bologna. The Nine suppressed another revolt in 1324. In the late 1330s in the Great Council chamber Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted murals to good and bad government. Good government was represented allegorically by justice, concord, prudence, courage, peace, magnanimity, and temperance. Bad government was depicted by tyranny, pride, avarice, treason, division, and cruelty. In 1346 a third attempted revolution during a famine was defeated; plebeians were hanged, but the Captain of War did not dare punish the nobles. In 1348 the Black Death killed 80,000 in Siena, about three-fourths of the people. Bernardo Tolomei, who founded the Monte Oliveto retreat, came into the city to serve the ill and died also.

On March 23, 1355 Emperor Karl IV entered Siena with loud acclaim, and two days later people stormed the palace. Karl accepted the resignation of the Nine (Noveschi) and prevented their being killed, though a mob sacked the palaces of the finance ministry and burned state and criminal records in front of him. A committee of twelve popolani and eight nobles appointed a new governing council of Twelve (Dodicini). Karl appointed the Patriarch of Aquileia as his vicar, and 150 nobles were added to the general assembly of 400. A few days later while Karl was stranded at Pisa, the Twelve made the Vicar renounce his office and surrender the castles he had garrisoned in their territory. The Twelve were not as competent as the Nine had been and tended to be corrupt. Montepulciano repudiated Siena and changed their allegiance to Perugia. The Twelve tried to incite Cortona against Perugia. In 1358 Siena sent 500 cavalry and some infantry to support Cortona, and in 1365 Montepulciano submitted to Siena once more.

News that Karl IV was returning to Italy in 1368 touched off a series of revolutions in Siena. On September 2 the nobles put aside the feud between the Salimbeni and the Tolomei and turned out the Twelve. Then three weeks later Malatesta, the Salimbeni, and the people with 8,000 armed men drove the nobles out of the palace and the city. They set up a consulate with five representing the great families of the Salimbeni, Tolomei, Piccolomini, Saracini, and Malavolti plus five country squires and three wealthy burghers. They sent representatives to Emperor Karl as did the Twelve (Dodicini), who were supported by the Salimbeni. Karl sent his imperial vicar Malatesta Unghero with 800 horsemen, and the Salimbeni opened the gates. Malatesta ruled the city for four months, and an assembly of 124 citizens organized a new Twelve with three Noveschi, four Dodicini, and five common people (popolo minuto). However, on December 11 the common people stormed the palace and expelled the Noveschi and the Dodicini. They added ten more common people to form the Council of the Fifteen Reformers. A few days later an assembly of 150 burghers decided to add four Dodicini and three Noveschi to eight Reformers to make up the Fifteen. Karl IV entered Siena on December 22 and resided at the palace of the Salimbeni. He tried to help them overthrow the Reformers; but on January 18, 1369 his knights were beaten back, and the Emperor became a prisoner, pleading and offering concessions. Having got what they wanted, they granted the Emperor 20,000 florins, and he was able to depart Siena with his dignity intact.

In 1371 the starving wool-workers rioted, ransacked the granaries, and tried to overthrew the government again; but they were suppressed, and the ringleaders were tortured and condemned to death. The people rose up, shouting “Down with the Noveschi! Down with the Dodicini! Long live the people!” After a battle the nobles and burghers were victorious and sustained their government. However, only three Noveschi were retained, and the other twelve were from the common people, making the Reform government more democratic. In 1385 another party organized from a lower social stratum called the people (il popolo) combined with the Noveschi and the Dodicini to overthrow the Reform government. The government was run by four Noveschi and four Dodicini while only two of the ten priors were from the people. More than four thousand citizens were banished, and less than a sixth returned. Siena had difficulty competing with Florence, Genoa, and Venice, and their commerce, banking, and industry declined. In 1395 Siena submitted to Milan, and in 1399 they turned the city over to its duke Gian Galeazzo Visconti. He was ambitious to become king of Italy, but he died of illness in 1402.

Giovanni Colombini was a wealthy merchant who founded the Jesuati in 1360. They were devoted to living in poverty, practicing penitential discipline, serving in hospitals, and preaching to the public. He met with Pope Urban V while he was traveling from Avignon to Rome, and his order was approved before Colombini died on July 31, 1367.

Caterina Benincasa was born on March 25, 1347 as the second-to-last child in a family that had 25 children. Her twin sister died at birth, and only twelve children reached maturity. Caterina grew up near the church and cloister of San Domenico. According to her confessor and spiritual director Raymond of Capua, she dedicated her virginity to God at the age of seven and cut off her golden hair at age fifteen to avoid marriage. That year she joined the Mantellates, who were mostly widows who wore a habit and served the poor from their homes. Caterina became a Dominican nun at eighteen and spent the next three years silently in her room except for attending mass. In 1368 she dedicated herself as the bride of Christ and went back to her family so that she could serve the poor and the sick with the Mantellate sisters. She experienced her “mystical death” two years later when she appeared to be unconscious for four hours while she was experiencing ecstatic union with God.  She was successful at healing feuds and was often called upon to arbitrate.

Caterina began traveling in 1374 by going to Florence, where Raymond became her confessor. The next year she tried to keep Pisa and Lucca from joining the anti-papal league. She suggested that the military turn their attention to the holy land where she hoped to live. At Pisa she experienced the stigmata, but she requested that it only be visible to her. In May 1376 the council of Florence asked her to intercede with Pope Gregory XI to lift the interdict he had imposed. She arrived at Avignon on June 18; but she was disappointed when the Florentines rejected her and sent their own ambassadors. She wrote them a severe letter. Caterina had three main goals—a crusade in the holy land, reforming the corrupt clergy, and getting the Pope to return to Rome. Most of the cardinals were French and did not want to leave the luxurious palaces at Avignon. She strengthened Gregory’s resolve to go to Rome, and he arrived there on January 17, 1377.

Back in Siena in early 1377 Caterina founded a woman’s monastery with strict discipline outside the city. She learned to read, but for many years she dictated her letters. In 1377 she learned to write and began her Dialogue. Pope Gregory sent her to Florence as a peacemaker, but he died on March 27 and was succeeded by Urban VI. The French elected Clement VII as pope also, causing a schism. Caterina was nearly assassinated during riots in Florence. She lamented missing martyrdom but went back to Siena so as not to cause injustice. She wrote many letters, and Pope Urban sent for her in late November. Caterina fasted in Rome except for communion, and her stomach shrank. She became ill and lost the use of her legs on February 26, 1380. She was confined to bed and died on April 29 at the age of 33. Pope Pius II declared her a saint in June 1461.

Caterina of Siena believed deeply in prayer as a way to know oneself and God. She believed that charity is the central force in human life. She began her Dialogue with four petitions to God for herself, for reform of the Church, for the redemption of the world, and for divine providence. She described a way of perfection and emphasized charity and other virtues that included discernment. She saw the Christ as a bridge from this world to God.

Genoa, Pisa, and Siena 1400-1517

Rome and the Papal State 1250-1303

Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250

After Emperor Friedrich II died in December 1250, Pope Innocent IV tried to reclaim the papal lands and so continued the struggle against Friedrich’s son and heir, Konrad IV. Konrad’s illegitimate brother Manfred suppressed a rebellion in Apulia. By 1253 Konrad had won back Capua and Naples. Pope Innocent appealed to England’s Henry III and excommunicated Konrad, who died of malaria in 1254. Innocent made a treaty with Manfred, appointing him papal vicar; but then he disregarded that and the claims of Konrad’s son Konradin when he recognized Pietro Ruffo as vicar of Sicily and Calabria, making them fiefs of the Papal State. Manfred seized the royal treasure at Lucera and organized Saracen and German forces. Pietro Ruffo agreed to recognize Manfred as Konradin’s regent (balio) in exchange for acknowledgment of his regency over Sicily and Calabria. Innocent also allowed Perugia to tax their clergy and pursue a war against Foligno. Pope Innocent IV died in December 1254; he had used the papal authority for political power to wreck the German empire in Italy, but in doing so he had corrupted the papacy and began its decline.

In Rome the commercial class made the Ghibelline noble Brancaleone degli Andalo of Bologna podesta in August 1252, and he kept order by making the clergy amenable to civil law and by hanging recalcitrant nobles. The people called him their captain, and he promoted the organization of the thirteen guilds. When the clergy and nobility imprisoned him after his term of office, the guilds got him restored to his position. He subjected Tivoli and quadrupled its annual tribute. Brancaleone was given dictatorial power to suppress the rebellion of the Colonna. Pope Innocent IV excommunicated Brancaleone; after interdicting Bologna for not restoring Roman hostages kept for Brancaleone’s safety, Innocent even tried to have him assassinated. Brancaleone was expelled from Rome in November 1255, but he returned as senator in the spring of 1257. After Brancaleone died in 1258, hostility between the Hohenstaufens and Pope Alexander IV (1254-61) kept Rome in turmoil. Alexander made a deal with England’s Henry III in May 1255. The Romans elected Henry’s brother Richard of Cornwall their king and senator for life in April 1261, one month before Alexander died.

Jacques Pantaleon of Troyes was elected Pope Urban IV (1261-64), and he paid 150,000 marks of the papal debt to the Roman bankers. He also spent money on soldiers and fortifications. In 1263 after negotiations with Manfred broke down, he accepted Louis IX’s brother Charles of Anjou as king of Sicily. The Romans elected Charles senator for life in 1264. Charles swore not to reunite the Sicilian kingdom with the imperial crown, not to assume power in Lombardy or Tuscany, to preserve clergy immunity, and to pay tribute to the papacy and to support it with military force. Thus the French replaced the Germans as the power in Italy. Urban spent 200,000 pounds of Sienese money on the war and left the papacy in debt when he died in October 1264. He had appointed seven French cardinals in a conclave of seventeen.

Another Frenchman named Guy Foulquois was elected Pope Clement IV in February 1265. He persuaded French bishops to tithe for three years to a crusade against Manfred led by Charles of Anjou. Charles avoided the Sicilian blockade by having his galleys towed up the Tiber in May 1265. In Rome he was invested as king of Sicily and crusading chief. Homeless Florentine Guelfs helped the French army of Charles defeat and kill Manfred near Beneventum on February 26, 1266. Count Guido and the German imperialist forces agreed to leave Florence so that the interdict could be lifted, and the next year the remaining Ghibellines had to give way to the French army of Charles and the Guelfs. Charles became podesta and held the position for the next thirteen years. Konrad’s 16-year-old son Konradin was the last legitimate Hohenstaufen heir, and he invaded Italy in 1268, entering a receptive Rome on July 24. After his army was tired by the march to Tagliacozzo, they were defeated by Charles on August 22. Konradin was finally captured, convicted of treason, and publicly beheaded in Naples on October 29, 1268. Clement died one month later.

Pope Clement IV had appointed Charles of Anjou pacifier (paciarus) of Tuscany in 1267 for three years; but promises were broken when no parliament was held and general taxes were collected. Charles had to give up the senatorship of Rome but regained it for ten years in 1269. Charles confiscated masses of land and endowed nearly seven hundred Frenchman or natives of Provence with fiefs, 160 in 1269 alone. Charles gained the support of fifteen communes of the Guelf league in Tuscany, and each member contributed a quota of military forces. He and the Florentines defeated Siena and their Ghibelline allies, and the next year Pisa and Siena accepted Guelf domination. The most zealous Ghibelline rebels fled Florence under threat of death, and the confinati who stayed were reduced to poverty. Lucera surrendered in 1269. The next year revolt in Sicily was suppressed when Konrad Capece was captured and executed. The ambitious Charles tried to secure alliances in the east with marriages of his relatives to the kingdoms of Achaia and Hungary.

For nearly three years the cardinals meeting at Viterbo were divided between the Italians and the French and could not garner a two-thirds vote for a new pope. Finally on September 1, 1271 they elected Teobaldo Visconti, archdeacon of Liège, as Pope Gregory X. He tried to mediate the Guelf-Ghibelline conflict at a Lyons assembly in 1273; but when the Guelf leaders in Florence did not cooperate, Gregory placed the city under an interdict. Also in 1273 Charles of Anjou urged 140 families from Provence to settle at Lucera. Pope Gregory confronted King Alfonso X of Castile in Provence and persuaded him to renounce his Roman kingship. Then the Pope met Emperor Rudolf of Hapsburg and got him to occupy Milan with German forces; but Gregory could not convince Rudolf to renounce Romagna before he died in January 1276. Three popes were elected and died in the next seventeen months.

In November 1277 Cardinal Giangaetano Orsini was elected Pope Nicholas III, and in 1278 he persuaded Charles of Anjou to let his Roman senatorship expire and to resign his vicariate of Tuscany. Nicholas also persuaded Emperor Rudolf to recognize papal sovereignty over the Romagna. The poet Dante later satirized Nicholas for his nepotism. Nicholas appointed his nephews as legates of Tuscany and Romagna and sent the Dominican cardinal Latino to make peace at Florence in 1279. A new constitution replaced the power of Charles, but Nicholas also made his brother, Cardinal Matteo Rosso Orsini, his vicar and senator of Rome. However, after Pope Nicholas died in August 1280, Rudolf sent a vicar to Tuscany. Since the Geremei had expelled the Ghibelline Lambertazzi from Bologna in 1274, conflicts there had become bitter. The Lambertazzi exiles fled to Faenza and prepared for war, which was still raging in 1280.

In February 1281 Charles of Anjou managed to get another French cardinal, Simon de Brie, elected as Pope Martin IV, and he appointed his patron Charles senator of Rome once again and employed his French administrators. Efforts Nicholas had made to reconcile the Byzantine and Roman churches were canceled when Pope Martin excommunicated the Greeks. The Pope claimed to be the feudal lord of Naples and Sicily. When the Sicilians revolted against the French rulers, Martin defended the wronged dynasty of Charles of Anjou against Aragon’s King Pedro III. Martin put Aragon and Sicily under the interdict, and told Christians to tithe for a crusade against Pedro. Pope Martin also appointed French rectors, officials, and generals in the Romagna in the war against the Ghibellines, and the Guelfs acquired the salt-fields of Cervia. In January 1284 a grain shortage in Rome caused a popular revolt against the Angevin administration.

The Roman Giacomo Savelli was elected Pope Honorius IV on April 2, 1285. He did not try to enforce papal rule in the Romagna and Umbria. Honorius served two years before he died; but not until February 15, 1288 was the Franciscan Jerome of Ascoli elected Nicholas IV. He could not stop the Romans from attacking Viterbo and using large sums of money to buy peace. After Charles II of Anjou was released from captivity, Pope Nicholas crowned him king of Sicily on May 29, 1289. Nicholas died on April 4, 1292. During a long and bitter conclave fighting broke out in Rome as the Colonna battled the Orsini. Plague spread in the summer of 1293, and many cardinals went to Perugia. Roman and Angevin troops were called in to Rome and expelled both Colonna and Orsini. Finally the cardinals elected the hermit Pietro of Morrone, and he was crowned Celestine V on August 29, 1294. He resided in Naples and tended to do whatever his Angevin advisors told him; he was persuaded to abdicate on December 13. Of the twelve cardinals he appointed, seven were French, and three were Neapolitan.

The Campagnole cardinal Benedict Caetani was elected Pope Boniface VIII on Christmas day in 1294. He kept Celestine a prisoner in his castle of Fumone until he died on May 19, 1296. That year Boniface issued his bull Clericis laicos in which he condemned France’s Philippe IV for levying tribute on the French clergy without the Pope’s consent to pay for a war against England’s King Edward I. Philippe reacted by stopping contributions to the papal treasury and by expelling the Pope’s emissaries from France. In 1297 Boniface canonized Louis IX and offered to mediate between France and England, but he asked Philippe for a loan for his papal forces commanded by Charles of Valois.

Pope Boniface used his office to promote the fortunes of his Caetani family. His nephew Pietro Caetani brought 200,000 florins to Rome on May 3, 1297 to purchase maritime lands from the Annibaldi, but Stephen Colonna attacked the mule train and seized the money. The Colonna returned the treasure but would not surrender their castles as punishment. On May 10 Boniface issued a bull that excommunicated the Colonna, and he preached a crusade against them that attacked their castles. The last Colonna castle in the Romagna was taken in the fall of 1299, and Boniface spent more than a half million florins in papal funds purchasing these lands.

Boniface helped mediate a peace between Bologna and the Este. Wars were held off in 1300 during the first jubilee celebration in which 200,000 pilgrims visited Rome at a time as 30,000 came and went each day. Boniface promised remission of sins, and the churches received large sums of money. After the jubilee year the Pope asked Philippe IV of France to send his brother Charles of Valois to Rome with knights, and it was financed by papal revenues. In the spring of 1302 Charles marched south to help his cousin Charles II of Anjou in Naples.

Complaints against Philippe IV’s seizing Church property reached Pope Boniface, and he sent Bishop Bernard of Pamiers to ask the French king to contribute to his crusade. Philippe had his legate arrested. On December 5, 1301 Boniface issued the bull Ausculta fili (“Give ear, my son”), declaring that God had placed the Pope above kings and kingdoms. Philippe called a parliament of the three estates, and the Pope convened a council in Rome in October 1302. In his famous bull Unam sanctam he argued that the Church is master of both the temporal sword which is wielded for the Church and the spiritual sword which is wielded by the Church. The Pope declared Philippe a heretic and sent Jean Lemoine of Amiens as cardinal legate to announce that the French king had been excommunicated for preventing French bishops from going to Rome. When his messenger was imprisoned, the legate fled. In June 1303 the French parliament accused Boniface of simony, sorcery, incest, murdering Celestine, and other crimes. Montepellier’s law professor William of Nogaret organized a plot that abducted Pope Boniface from his residence at Anagni on September 7. He was supported by Sciarra Colanna and the Colanni family and 300 mercenaries on horses. Boniface received them seated on a throne. The palaces were looted, and the cathedral was burned. Three days later the Caetani family gathered a force in Anagni that rescued Boniface and drove out the conspirators. They took him to Rome, but the Colonna would not let him leave. Boniface refused to eat and beat his head against a wall; he died on October 11, 1303.

Rome and the Papal State 1303-1353

Niccolo Boccasini was elected to be Pope Benedict XI, but he refused to withdraw the acts of his predecessor. He died of dysentery on July 7, 1304; but a long conclave was divided before the cardinals chose Bertrand de Got, the archbishop of Bordeaux, on June 5, 1305 to be Pope Clement V. After a brief peace the war between the Caetani and the Colanni continued. In 1306 the Este were overthrown in Ferrara, and their adversaries, the White government in Bologna, also fell. Napoleon Orsini went to Bologna on behalf of the Pope, but he was also expelled. Clement supported the White army at Arezzo and put Florence and Bologna under interdict.

When Emperor Heinrich VII came to Italy in 1312, the Roman Guelfs expelled the imperialist senator and put Robert of Anjou’s brother John of Gravina in charge of the Roman Capitol. When he ordered the Ghibellines to disarm, the Colanni refused, provoking a civil war. The Orsini supported Robert, and the Colanni fought for the Emperor. When Clement V ordered John of Gravina to withdraw his troops from Rome, an Angevin embassy persuaded him to change his mind. John refused to open the gates for Heinrich VII. Louis of Savoy held the Lateran church for the Emperor, and the imperial troops entered by the northwest and fought their way to the Lateran on May 6. Pope Clement issued a bull on June 19, proclaiming a truce for one year between Heinrich VII and Robert of Anjou, king of Naples. Heinrich received it in Tivoli, and his lawyers questioned the Pope’s authority to impose a truce. Robert had the garrison close the gates, and Heinrich was crowned at St. John’s Lateran church on June 29. Street-fighting in Rome prevented a reconciliation between Heinrich and Robert. Instead Heinrich made an alliance with Frederic of Sicily on July 4. Before he died on April 20, 1314 Clement drafted a bull making Robert of Anjou vicar of imperial lands in Italy except for Genoa.

More than two years went by before Jacques Dueze of Cahors was elected Pope John XXII on August 7, 1316. He published the bull Si fratrum the next April which declared that during an imperial vacancy the papacy had jurisdiction in the empire. In July he issued Clement’s bull that claimed papal authority in imperial lands. With Robert of Naples as imperial vicar the Papal State became an Angevin protectorate for twenty years. John XXII conferred the supreme government of Rome on Robert of Anjou on January 23, 1317. A lawsuit against the Ghibellines Matteo Visconti, Dan Grande Scala, and Raynaldo Bonacolsi in 1318 resulted in their being excommunicated. The next year Pope John sent Cardinal Bertrand du Poujet as his legate to northern Italy, and he remained there for fifteen years. In 1322 Matteo Visconti was condemned as a heretic, and economic and religious sanctions against Milan stimulated his fall in May. After a five-year siege the Ghibellines in Genoa were defeated.

Also in 1322 a Guelf army of crusaders led by Fulcieri da Calboli attacked towns in the march of Ancona, and the continuing war caused 340 landholdings of Ghibelline rebels of Spoleto to lay uncultivated by 1327. In April of that year Sciarra Colonna and Jacopo Savelli overthrew the Angevin government in Rome and expelled Senator Annibaldo Annibaldi. John of Gravina led an Angevin army, but their assault on Rome failed even though it was supported by Genoese ships in the Tiber. Ghibellines led by Sciarra Colonna drove out the Guelfs and the vicar of Robert and governed Rome with 52 burghers, four chosen from each of thirteen districts. They invited Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria into Rome, and he was crowned on January 7, 1328. On May 12 he chose Pietro Rainalducci to be the alternative Pope Nicholas V. Ludwig left Rome in August and returned to Germany in 1330. In August of that year Pisans turned his Pope over to Avignon. Pietro submitted to Pope John XXII and was held by him in his palace until his death in 1333.

Bologna had a university that attracted 15,000 students, and the city accepted many exiled Whites from Florence. The student Jacques de Valence ran off with the niece of a famous professor of canon law, and her angry father had Jacques seized and decapitated by the Podesta. In protest the entire faculty of the university transferred to Siena in 1322. Bologna was torn apart by civil war. On November 15, 1325 Raynaldo Passerino and his allies won a victory at Zapolino in which 2,000 Bolognese were killed, and 600 nobles were imprisoned at Modena. In 1327 the papal legate Bertrand du Poujet seized Modena, and that year Bologna submitted to him. The legate’s signoria governed so effectively that in 1332 Pope John XXII proposed transferring the papal seat from Avignon to Bologna. In 1333 the legate Bertrand du Poujet attacked Ferrara, but in April the papal force, led by John of Armagnac and reinforced by French troops led by Jan of Bohemia, was defeated by the league of Ferrara as thousands were killed. Pope John appointed Bertrand de Déaulx, Archbishop of Embrun, as his new papal legate, and in 1334 he negotiated with the league. Déaulx went to Bologna to confer with Poujet, but in March 1334 the Este helped Bologna rebel and massacred the French mercenaries. The war in Lombardy cost the Pope more than three million florins.

After the papal legate was expelled from Bologna, the Maltraversa burghers were defeated and exiled with the Ghibellines in 1334. Giacomo Pepoli quarreled with the Bishop, who wounded him with a knife. A riot erupted, and the mob plundered and burned the episcopal palace. Brandaligi dei Gozzadini led the Maltraversa faction, but Pepoli persuaded them to disarm and then forced them to flee. They pillaged the houses of their opponents and drove out the oligarchs in 1337. Giacomo’s father Taddeo Pepoli won over the mercenary troops and was proclaimed lord of Bologna. A general council voted him into power, ending the republic. Pepoli made peace with the Church, promised to pay an annual tribute, and offered his troops in support of the Pope.

The Cistercian James Fournier was elected to be Pope Benedict XII on December 20, 1334, and he reversed many of the policies of his predecessor John XXII. He promised not to fight wars. In May 1335 he appointed Bertrand de Déaulx to visit and reform the papal lands in Italy, and he promulgated constitutions at various parliaments. Factions in Italy continued their struggles, and in September 1335 the Orsini and Colonna fought to control the bridges over the Tiber. In 1337 Benedict was elected senator of Rome for life. Bertrand de Déaulx tried to arrange truces, but in 1338 baronial families resumed control of the Tiber bridges. Jean Amiel was sent out from Avignon to Italy as a second papal reformer in 1339. That year Obizzo d’Este was appointed papal vicar for Ferrara. After Taddeo Pepoli seized the signoria of Bologna in August 1337, an interdict was proclaimed against Bologna in March 1339. Florentines intervened with the Pope, and a settlement was reached in 1340; but Benedict did not make Taddeo papal vicar, and he encouraged elections. In October 1341 Benedict ended the Florentines’ monopoly of papal banking.

The pacifist Benedict died on April 25, 1342, and the worldly Clement VI was elected on May 7. After the aristocratic leaders left Rome to call on the new Pope in Avignon, a popular revolution put the “Thirteen Good Men” in power. They sent Cola di Rienzo to try to persuade the Pope to return to Rome and to declare 1350 a year of jubilee. Clement agreed to the latter and appointed Cola papal notary of the Roman Civic Chamber, a high position supervising the income of Rome. In 1345 Count Niccolo Caetani of Fondi fought Terracina in the papal Campagna, provoking a Genoese fleet to seize the port in 1346. Queen Giovanna of Naples sent an army against him in September, but they were defeated. Clement sent Cardinal Bertrand de Déaulx to Italy with increased authority in August.

On May 20, 1347 the Romans elected the persuasive Cola di Rienzo and the papal vicar Raymond of Orvieto rectors of the city, which the Pope confirmed. Cola called himself a tribune and arranged alliances with the Guelf communes in Umbria. The Orsini family helped him use force against the prefect John of Vico, the lord of Viterbo. Cola dropped Raymond as his co-rector, and on August 2 he alone received embassies from twenty Italian cities and provinces. Ten years later a chronicler recorded Cola’s “Ordinances of the Good State” as follows:

1. Those who kill were to receive death.
2. Lawsuits were to be concluded within fifteen days.
3. The houses of convicted criminals were not to be destroyed but placed in the hands of the commune.
4. A militia of twenty-five horse and a hundred infantry was to be established in each of the thirteen rioni.
5. The commune was to assist widows and orphans.
6. A coast guard boat was to patrol the mouth of the Tiber to protect merchant shipping.
7. All income from hearth taxation, salt gabelles, punitive fines and gate tolls was to go to the Buono Stato.
8. The Rector of the People, not a baron, was to control access routes to the city.
9. No noble fortresses were to be permitted.
10. Barons were to ensure roads to the City were safe or receive a fine of a thousand marks.
11. Monasteries were to receive financial aid from the commune.
12. Each rione was to have a granary to ensure the food supply.
13. The families of soldiers killed were to be compensated.
14. The Roman People were to have authority over all Destretto towns.
15. False accusations were to attract the penalty of the accused’s crime.1

For six months Cola di Rienzo was able to humiliate Roman magnates and challenge papal sovereignty. In October the tribune Cola snubbed the papal legate, and his fortunes began to decline. The cardinals persuaded the Pope to have Cola replaced, and Clement ordered the papal legate Bertrand de Déaulx to proceed against Cola. On November 20 the Colonna and their allies fought Cola’s new militia, and Stefano Colonna was killed. Cola claimed that he was avenging the murders of Boniface VIII and Bertoldo Orsini in 1333. Giovanni Pipino’s men killed one of Cola’s constables during a skirmish at the barricades. A Neapolitan soldier led his troops in a revolt in December that forced Cola to flee to his Orsini friends in the Castel Saint’Angelo.

By the end of 1347 Pope Clement VI had appointed Astorge de Durfort as papal rector in the Romagna. The next year Cardinal Annibaldo di Ceccano was sent as legate to resolve the civil war in the kingdom of Naples and to organize the Roman jubilee, which brought two million visitors to Rome in 1350. He was so unpopular that an archer tried to shoot him, and he was eventually poisoned. When Giovanni di Ricciardo de’ Manfredi seized Faenza in February 1350, Astorge de Durfort appealed to the Pepoli and the Florentines. The Malatesta rebelled. Astorge formed an alliance with the Este and the Della Scala to bring Bologna and the Romagna under control. On July 6 he imprisoned Giovanni Pepoli. On October 16 Pepoli sold Bologna to Archbishop Giovanni Visconti of Milan for 200,000 florins. A Visconti embassy went to Avignon and agreed to pay a war indemnity of 100,000 florins plus an annual census of 12,000 florins to rule Bologna for twelve years. Pope Clement provided France’s Philippe VI with large amounts of money and had little left for troops in Italy. He began with a papal treasury of nearly 1,500,000 florins; but when he died on December 6, 1352, only 35,000 florins remained. The records of the account books show that John XXII spent 64% of papal income on war, Benedict XII less than 6%, Clement VI about 21%, and Innocent VI at least 40%.

Cola di Rienzo went to Prague in July 1350 to appeal to Emperor Karl IV, who, after hearing his grandiose claims and an interrogation, put him in prison for heresy. In August 1352 Karl turned him over to the Curia in Avignon. Cola was tried by three cardinals and sentenced to death, but Petrarca pleaded for him. When Stephen Aubert became Pope Innocent VI on December 18, he let Cola abjure all his heterodox opinions and then pardoned him. Innocent sent to Italy as his legate the Castilian Gil Albornoz, who had become archbishop of Toledo in 1338 and cardinal at Avignon in 1350. In September 1353 Albornoz collected money from Archbishop Giovanni Visconti in Milan to hire German mercenaries. Albornoz went to Rome accompanied by Cola di Rienzo while the tribune Baroncelli was in power. Cola served as a knight in the Legate’s army and commanded a company in May 1354. That summer they subdued Giovanni di Vico in Viterbo and then Orvieto with a siege. By the end of the year the duchy of Spoleto submitted to papal authority. Albornoz made Cola senator in August and left him to govern Rome. Cola hanged the popular Fra Moreale and besieged the Colonna at Palestrina; but he could not pay his soldiers and levied unpopular taxes on wine and salt. The people revolted, and Cola was wounded by an arrow in the head. Before he could make a speech, he was stabbed with a sword and killed by a mob on October 8.

Rome and the Papal State 1353-1400

Karl IV made a quick visit to Italy, and Albornoz crowned him emperor in Rome on April 5, 1355. Albornoz defeated Malatesta on April 29 at Paderno. In the peace agreement the Malatesta became vicars of Rimini and three other towns for ten years and agreed to pay 6,000 florins annually and provide a hundred knights each year in Romagna and the march of Ancona. The Guelf Galeotto Malatesta became captain of 2,000 mercenaries and later captain-general. The Polentani of Ravenna cooperated and were given a vicariate, and the Manfredi of Faenza also submitted. Some Ghibellines submitted; but the tyrant Francesco Ordelaffi and his wife Cia degli Ubaldini resisted so much that Innocent VI preached a crusade against him that lasted until 1357. In four years (1353-57) the Papacy spent 560,000 florins on the wars in the Papal State. In April 1357 Albornoz issued his famous constitutions that affected public law for centuries.

In May 1357 Androin de la Roche, the abbot of Cluny, replaced Albornoz as legate in Italy, and he tried to reduce military expenses. In the summer four cardinals agreed that the Pope would support Bernabo Visconti as papal vicar in Bologna. Albornoz was appointed again and arrived in Florence in November 1358, but he could not persuade them to join a new Guelf league. He did convince the Church to accept a census payment from the illegitimate Oleggio Giovanni, who ruled Bologna. The Visconti army was besieging Bologna. In 1360 Oleggio ceded the city to the Church in exchange for offices such as being vicar of Fermo. On March 17 Gomez Garcia, the nephew of Albornoz, entered Bologna as its rector for the Pope.

After Pope Innocent VI died, he was succeeded by Urban V on September 28, 1362. The following March he declared the Visconti heretics. During the early 1360s the Romagna suffered from a plague and wars as the Church tried to suppress rebellions. A peace agreement was made in February 1364, and the Church paid a war indemnity of a half million florins to the Visconti. Four mercenary companies still roved around Italy, and in January 1365 Albornoz and his nephew on behalf of the kingdom of Naples paid the White Company 160,000 florins and a hundred English bows for a six-month period. The war between Rome and Velletri went on until 1367 as did rebellion in Campagna. That year the English Company defeated Perugia, and the duchy of Spoleto was taken from Perugia and given to the Church. Pope Urban V traveled to Rome in June 1367. After Albornoz died on August 22, Urban sent his brother, Cardinal Anglic Grimoard, as legate to Italy to replace the peaceful Androin de la Roche for the last time and to push for war against the Visconti. Also that year Emperor Karl IV led his army into Italy. On October 21, 1368 he entered Rome with the Pope for the coronation of his empress. They planned to pacify Italy and also met with the Greek emperor John V Paleologus.

On February 11, 1369 Pope Urban V and his allies signed a treaty with the Visconti at Bologna, ending the war in Lombardy. This enabled the Visconti to send their mercenaries into Tuscany. That threat moved Florence to form an alliance with the Church in November 1369 and renew the Guelf league in April 1370. Florentine mediation helped the Church secure Perugia by November. Urban V embarked from Corneto on September 5 to return to Avignon. Bernabo Visconti bragged that he had chased the Emperor and the Pope out of Italy. When the war was renewed in May 1371, new papal legates and agents were sent into Italy. The Visconti defeated the papal coalition at Rubiera on June 2, 1372. The Florentines withdrew from the alliance, but they were replaced by the Green Count Amadeo of Savoy, joining Montferrat and Giovanna of Naples among others. Pope Gregory XI (1370-78) sent the French captains Enguerrand de Coucy and Viscount Raymond of Turenne to battle the Visconti. John Hawkwood and the English Company defected from the Visconti and sided with the Church. The papal alliance won a victory at Montechiari near Brescia on May 8, 1373, and in October they took Vercelli in Piedmont. The canonist Giovanni da Legnano of Bologna justified the papal war and was a partisan of Albornoz while Caterina of Siena and others kept calling for peace.

By 1375 the Church had run out of money, and unpaid troops in Lombardy mutinied, holding the bishop of Arezzo. The Papal coalition signed a treaty with the Visconti on June 4 at Bologna. Yet Florence formed an alliance with Bernabo Visconti in July, and they urged towns to revolt against the greed of the priests. On December 3 the town of Citta da Castello had the papal garrison and officials killed in various ways, and four days later Perugia rebelled. Even Bologna joined the trend on March 19, 1376. Many of the 72 fortresses in the Papal State that had been built up by Albornoz were demolished. As the Church often could not pay their mercenaries, they resorted to plundering. Pope Gregory XI was financing his move back to Italy, and he arrived at Rome in January 1377. Three weeks later the people of Cesena rose up and killed the three hundred Bretons in the garrison. In revenge the legate called in English mercenaries from Faenza to punish the town. They massacred about 4,000 people while some 8,000 fled to neighboring towns. Strangely, the opposing commanders-in-chief switched sides during the war in 1377. The rebellious feudatory Ridolfo da Varano of Camerino came back to the papal side, and Hawkwood was hired by Florentines and Bernabo Visconti to fight the papal forces.

Pope Gregory XI died at Rome on March 27, 1378. While the Roman mob shouted that they wanted a Roman or at least an Italian, on April 8 the conclave elected the Neapolitan archbishop of Bari, Bartolomeo Prignano, to be Pope Urban VI. His followers took over Rome and defeated the Bretons by the end of April. Urban soon deprived Onorato Caetani of his office as count of Campagna, but the ultramontane cardinals joined him at the Caetani centers of power at Anagni in May and then at Fondi in the summer. On September 20 they began the schism by electing Robert of Geneva to be the alternative pope Clement VII. He tried to overthrow Urban; but Romans resisted, and his supporters had to give up the castle of Sant’Angelo. Clement was accepted by the Neapolitan and French courts, but Queen Giovanna and her heir Louis the Angevin could not win the war against the Urbanists. So Clement went to Gaeta, then to Naples, and finally to Avignon in June 1379. That year Taddeo Aggoguidi and Nanne Gozzadini led a revolt that overthrew the papal domination of Bologna. Charles of Durazzo turned against Urban in 1385 when he sent Alberigo da Barbiano to besiege the Pope at Nocera in the Abruzzi. Urban returned to Rome, and his enemy Francesco di Vico was killed in 1387. Under pressure from Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Florence and Bologna submitted to Pope Clement. Urban called for a parliament of the Papal State at Rome in November 1388, but he died in Rome on October 15, 1389.

Urban VI was succeeded by another Neapolitan, Pietro Tomacelli, who became Pope Boniface IX. War broke out the next spring, and some cities returned to Roman obedience. Boniface entered Perugia on October 17, 1392 and recalled the exiled Raspanti, but he had to flee Perugia from a Raspanti uprising on July 30, 1393. The mercenary Biordo di Michelotti took over the city and expanded his power to Todi, Orvieto, Assisi, Nocera, Spello, and other fortresses in Umbria. In Rome the Colonna and the Savelli rebelled in 1394, but truces were made in 1397. Boniface sent Pandolfo Malatesta and other condottieri against Michelotti, who was treacherously murdered by agents of the abbot of San Pietro of Perugia. However, Boniface was not strong enough to take over Umbria. In 1398 Onorato Caetani and the Colonna tried but failed to unify the opposition to Boniface, who with Ladislas of Naples defeated them militarily in 1399.

Rome, Popes, and Naples 1400-1517

Sicily and Naples 1250-1400

Italian Republics and Norman Sicily 1095-1197
Friedrich II, Italy and German Empire 1197-1250

As Manfred took over Calabria from Pietro Ruffo, the Sicilian towns went over to the new Pope Alexander IV (1254-61); but in 1256 the ruthless Manfred had his Hohenburg enemies blinded and Pietro Ruffo murdered as he conquered the Regno, Terra di Lavoro, and Sicily. In 1258 Manfred was crowned king of Sicily at Palermo. Pope Clement IV proclaimed Charles of Anjou king of Sicily at Rome on May 23, 1265, and the army of Charles defeated Manfred’s army and killed Manfred at the battle of Benevento on February 26, 1266. Duke Konradin of Swabia was the 14-year-old son of Konrad IV. His partisans in Sicily rebelled against the French Charles, and the revolt spread to Calabria and Puglia. Konradin entered Rome in July 1268 to great acclaim. His army included Italian, Spanish, Arab, Roman, and German soldiers, and on August 23 they met the French army of Charles at Tagliacozzo in central Italy. After an initial victory Konradin’s troops turned to plundering and then were defeated. Konradin tried to sail for Sicily, but he and Margrave Friedrich of Baden were caught and imprisoned by Charles at the Castel dell’Ovo in Naples. Konradin and Friedrich were tried as traitors and beheaded on October 29. Charles captured Lucera and put down the revolt in Sicily by the end of 1270. He confiscated many large estates, paid his soldiers, and gave fiefs to hundreds of Frenchmen. Charles lived extravagantly in Naples and visited Sicily only once while returning from the eighth crusade at Tunis. During his reign no Sicilian parliament met.

King Pedro III of Aragon was married to Manfred’s daughter Constance and aimed to conquer her inheritance by forming an alliance with the Byzantine Michael VIII Paleologus, enemy of Charles of Anjou. First Pedro proclaimed a crusade against Africa to raise arms. During vespers of Easter week 1282 at Palermo a French soldier accosted a Sicilian woman and was murdered by her husband. Fighting escalated into a revolt, and by morning 2,000 French had been massacred. The Sicilian rebels chose Pedro III of Aragon as their king. He landed at Trapani on August 30, and five days later he was proclaimed king at Palermo. Pedro’s navy drove out the Angevin forces which retreated to Calabria. In January 1283 Pope Martin IV reacted by deposing Pedro and proclaiming a crusade and an interdict against him.

Charles of Anjou had appointed his son Charles the Lame, prince of Salerno, as regent of the Regno; but he was captured by Ruggiero (Roger) di Lauria while trying to conquer Naples in 1284, and his father Charles died of fever the following January. In sixteen years Charles had appointed only 25 Italians out of 125 provincial justiciars in the kingdom of Sicily. When Pedro III of Aragon also died in 1285, his son Jaime became king of Sicily. Most of Sicilian trade shifted from Florence to Catalan merchants. The Roman Pope Honorius IV (1285-87) kept order in the papal city while enriching his Savelli relatives as the Orsini revolted from Charles II and appointed Roman senators; but Honorius died in April 1287. Pope Nicholas IV (1288-92) countered the Savelli by favoring the house of Colonna. Charles the Lame was eventually released, and Nicholas crowned him king of Sicily in 1289; but fighting went on in the Regno. That year Charles II expelled the Jews from Anjou and Maine, and in the early 1290s he encouraged inquisitors to force many Jews in Apulia to convert. Sicily with a parliament thrived under Jaime and the influence of Aragon. Charles II persuaded the cardinals to elect the old hermit Pietro di Morrone to be Pope Celestine in 1294. He moved the curia to Naples and appointed eight French and four Italian cardinals from the Angevin party. When Neapolitans rioted in front of his palace, Celestine fled to Dalmatia, where he was captured and imprisoned until his death in 1296.

At Naples on December 23, 1294 Gaetani was elected Boniface VIII. He recognized Robert of Naples, the oldest surviving son of Charles II, as the heir in February 1297. The next month Robert married Yolande, sister of Jaime and Frederic. Frederic had been raised in Sicily and was appointed viceroy before being elected king in 1296. When a papal convoy was raided by Sciarra in March, Boniface issued a bull that deprived the two Colonna cardinals of their benefices. They denied that Celestina had abdicated and were punished with an interdict, confiscation, and a crusade. They were supported by the Orsini, Florence, and other Tuscan Guelfs, but in September 1298 the city of Palestrina was destroyed. King Frederic III fled from Naples, and in July 1299 Neapolitan and Aragonese fleets defeated the Sicilians; Frederic escaped with only seventeen galleys. Robert and his brother Philip of Taranto captured Catania and besieged Messina. Ruggiero di Lauria destroyed a Sicilian fleet on June 14, 1300. However, Frederic’s infantry won a victory over the Angevin cavalry near Trapani in December, capturing Philip and relieving Messina. Peace was made at Caltabellotta in 1302. Charles yielded his rights in Sicily, and Frederic promised that after his death Sicily would be returned to the Angevins. Charles II’s daughter Eleanor of Anjou was married to Frederic in 1303.

Between 1312 and 1327 the Angevins invaded Sicily in seven major campaigns, killing thousands of men and destroying crops, leaving it a poverty-stricken island of widows. The war continued sporadically until 1372. Frederic III (r. 1298-1337) promised that there would be no taxes except those approved by the parliament. After his death Sicily was supposed to be independent, but many envied the rich Spanish nobles in a feudal society. During the reign of his son Pedro II (1337-42) strife increased between the families of Ventimiglia, Palizzi, Chiaramonte, and Antiochia. In the second half of the 14th century two families dominated—the Chiaramonte of Modica County and the Ventimiglia of Geraci County. As Pedro’s son Louis was only five years old, Sicily was governed by a regency involving his mother, Elisabeth of Carinthia, and his uncle, Duke Giovanni of Randazzo. When Louis died in 1355, Sicily was governed by Frederic IV (the Simple), who made peace with Naples and the Papacy in 1372.

Upon Frederic IV’s death in 1377 his young daughter Maria became queen of Sicily, which was really ruled by four barons. Artala de’Alagona governed the east from Catania. Guglielmo Peralta lived in Sciacca and governed the south. Manfredi Chiaramonte was most prominent at Palermo and owned Modica in the southeast. Count Francesco Ventimiglia of Geraci controlled most of the northern coast. These four vicars imposed taxes and annexed land. Maria married Martin the Younger in February 1390. They landed with an army in 1392 and were supported by two of the vicars. Andrea Chiaramonte was besieged at Palermo, captured, and beheaded. His estates were given to the general Bernardo Cabrera. Martin renounced the treaty of 1372 and called himself king of Sicily. He summoned parliaments at Catania in 1397 and Syracuse in 1398. He imposed Spanish procedures and ruled by decree.

Charles II of Anjou spent the rest of his life in Naples and improved the city. When he died in 1309, Robert the Wise inherited the kingdom of Naples. Robert had been taken hostage by Aragon’s Pedro III in 1282, and he had spent his time studying. Robert supported the Guelfs and opposed Emperor Heinrich’s visit to Rome and the despots Matteo Visconti and Can Grande della Scala of northern Italy. Robert had also inherited territory in Piedmont. He became senator of Rome in 1317, and by defeating the Visconti he became lord of Genoa and Brescia. Robert lived for a while at Avignon to try to persuade Pope John XXII to defeat the Ghibellines. In 1324 he returned to Naples to defend his lands. He remained neutral during Emperor Ludwig’s visit to Rome in 1328, but his opposition to Jan of Bohemia’s invasion in 1330 ruptured his relationship with Pope John, who offered Jan some of Robert’s territory in southern France. Robert joined a league that included Guelfs and Ghibellines, and they drove Jan out of Italy in 1336. Robert continued to lose territory in the north, and after Frederic’s death in 1337 he was unable to regain Sicily. Robert had the best library of his time under the great scholar, Paul of Perugia. He patronized literature and the arts and was admired by Boccaccio and Petrarch.

Robert’s son Charles of Calabria had died in 1328, and in 1343 Robert died and was succeeded by his 16-year-old granddaughter Giovanna (Joanna). She was married to 15-year-old Andrew of Hungary. Although she was the ruling Queen, Hungarians led by Fra Roberto tried to rule. On the night of September 18, 1345 a gang of conspirators murdered Andrew. Some suspected Giovanna, and Hungary’s King Lajos invaded Naples. Giovanna fled to Avignon, where she was tried and acquitted of Andrew’s murder. Then she sold Avignon to Pope Clement VI for 80,000 florins in order to finance her return to Naples. She married her cousin, Prince Luigi of Taranto, on August 20, 1346. Pope Clement persuaded King Lajos to renounce his claim to Naples, and in 1353 Giovanna and Luigi were crowned queen and king. In 1360 Luigi led an invasion of Sicily to support an insurrection against Frederic the Simple; but the next year Luigi and Giovanna had to flee from Naples when King Lajos invaded again. Luigi died on May 26, 1362.

Giovanna married the Aragonese Jaime IV of Majorca on September 26, 1363, but he was called the duke of Calabria rather than king. Jaime tried to regain his kingdom of Majorca, but he was defeated and fled to Bordeaux. He joined an invasion of Castile, where he eventually died of illness or poison in 1375. Giovanna’s fourth marriage was to Duke Otto of Brunswick and began on September 25, 1376. She adopted Louis of Anjou as her heir and supported Pope Clement VII in Avignon; but in April 1380 Pope Urban VI declared her a heretic and bestowed her kingdom on her niece’s husband Charles of Durazzo. He invaded Naples with a Hungarian army and defeated Otto at San Germano and besieged Giovanna in the Castel dell’Ovo. Charles captured her and imprisoned her at San Fele. When he learned that her heir Louis of Anjou was coming to conquer Naples, Charles had Giovanna strangled to death on May 12, 1382.

Louis of Anjou was financially supported by Pope Clement VII and Bernabo Visconti, and he invaded Naples with 40,000 troops, including those of Amadeus VI of Savoy. Charles III of Durazzo hired 14,000 mercenaries led by John Hawkwood and Bartolomeo d’Alviano, and they used guerrilla tactics. After Amadeus became ill and died on March 1, 1383, his troops withdrew. King Jean II of France sent more troops led by Enguerrand of Coucy, and they conquered Arezzo and invaded Naples; but after Louis died at Bari on September 20, 1384, Enguerrand sold Arezzo to Florence and went back to France. Pope Urban VI excommunicated Charles and his wife and put Naples under interdict. Charles sent Alberico da Barbiano to besiege the Pope at Nocera, but after six months the Neapolitan barons Raimondello Orsini and Tommaso di Sanseverino liberated the Pope. Charles III went to Hungary to claim that throne in 1385, but the widow of King Lajos had him assassinated on February 24, 1386. The dowager Margherita of Durazzo fought for her 9-year-old son Ladislas (r. 1386-1414) and persuaded Pope Urban VI to recognize him.

Louis II of Anjou was crowned king of Naples by Pope Clement VII of Avignon on November 1, 1389. The next year Louis took over Naples, and young Ladislas fled to the fortress of Gaeta. In 1399 while Louis II was off fighting the count of Lecce, Ladislas returned to Naples. Louis decided to go back to Provence.

Naples and Sicily 1400-1517


1. Quoted in Greater than Emperor: Cola di Rienzo (ca. 1313-54) and the World of Fourteenth-Century Rome by Amanda Collins, p. 197-198.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book Medieval Europe 1250-1400.
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Crusaders and Byzantine Decline 1250-1400
Eastern Europe 1250-1400
Catholic Ethics 1250-1350
German Empire 1250-1400
Scandinavia 1250-1400
Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1250-1400
Italian City States 1250-1400
Dante and Marsilius
Petrarca and Boccaccio
Low Countries and Burgundy 1250-1400
France and National War 1250-1400
England, Scotland, and Ireland 1250-1400
Mystics, Wyclif, Gower, and Chaucer
Summary and Evaluation


World Chronology 750-1300
World Chronology 1300-1400
Chronology of Europe to 1400

BECK index