From Villani, Giovanni, Selfe, Rose E., translator. Villani’s Chronicle being selections from the First Nine Books of the Croniche Fiorentine of Giovanni Villani. London: Archibald Constable & Co. LTD, 1906; pp. 20-37.
Now when Catiline heard that the Romans were coming to besiege him in the city of Fiesole, and that Antony and Petreius were already with their host in the plain of Fiesole, upon the bank of the river Arno, and how that Metellus was already in Lombardy with his host of three legions which were coming from France, and the succour which he was expecting from his allies which had remained in Rome had failed him, he took counsel not to shut himself up in the city of Fiesole, but to go into France; and therefore he departed from that city with his people and with a lord of Fiesole who was called Fiesolanus, and he had his horses’ shoes reversed, to the end that when they departed the hoof-prints of the horses might show as if folk had entered into Fiesole, and not sallied forth thence, to cause the Romans to tarry near the city, that he might depart thence the more safely. And having departed by night, to avoid Metellus, he did not hold the direct road through the mountains which we call the Alps of Bologna, but took the plain by the side of the mountains, and came where to-day is the city of Pistoia, in the place called Campo Piceno, that was below where to-day is the fortress of Piteccio, purposing to cross the Apennine mountains by that why, and descend thence into Lombardy; but Antony and Petreius, hearing of his departure, straightway followed after him with their host along the plain, so that they overtook him in the said place, and Metellus, on the other side, set guards 21 at the passes of the mountains, to the end he might not pass thereby. Catiline, seeing himself to be thus straitened, and that he could not avoid the battle, gave himself and his followers to the chances of combat with great courage and boldness, in the which battle there was great slaughter of Romans from the city and of rebel Romans and of Fiesolans; at the end of which fierce battle Catiline was defeated and slain in that place of Piceno with all his followers; and the field remained to the Romans, but with such dolorous victory that the said two consuls, with twenty horse, who alone escaped, did not care to return to Rome. The which thing could not gain credence with the Romans till the senators sent thither to learn the truth; and, this known, there was the greatest sorrow thereat in Rome. And he who desires to see this history more fully, let him read the book of Sallust called Catilinarius. The injured and wounded of Catiline’s people who had escaped death in the battle, albeit they were but few, withdrew where is today the city of Pistoia, and there in vile habitations became the first inhabitants thereof, whilst their wounds were healing. And afterwards, by reason of the good situation and fruitful soil, the inhabitants thereof increased, which afterwards built the city of Pistoia, and by reason of the great mortality and pestilence which was near that place, both of their people and of the Romans, they gave it the name of Pistoia; and therefore it is not to be marvelled at if the Pistoians have been and are a fierce and cruel people in war among themselves and against others, being descended from the race of Catiline and from the remnants of such people as his, discomfited and wounded in battle.
After that Metellus, who was in Lombardy near the mountains of the Apennine Alps in the country of Modena, heard of the defeat and death of Catiline, straightway he came with his host to the place where the battle had been, and having seen the slain, through amazement at the strange and great mortality he was afeared, marvelling within himself as at a thing impossible. But afterwards he and his followers equally despoiled the camp of the Romans from the city and that of the enemy, seizing that which they found there; and this done he came towards Fiesole to besiege the city. The Fiesolans vigorously took to arms, and sallied forth from the city to the plain, fighting with Metellus and with his host, and by force thrust him back and drove him to the other side of the Arno with great hurt to his people, who with his followers encamped upon the hills, or upon the banks of the river; the Fiesolans with their host drew off from the other bank of the river Arno towards Fiesole.
The night following, Metellus ordered and commanded that part of his host should pass the river Arno, at a distance from the host of the Fiesolans, and should place themselves in ambush between the city of Fiesole and the host of the Fiesolans, and of that company he made captain Fiorinus, a noble citizen of Rome of the race of the Fracchi or Floracchi, who was his prætor, which is as much as to say marshal of his host; and Fiorinus, as he was commanded by the consul, so 23 he did. In the morning, at the break of day, Metellus armed with all his people passing over the river Arno, began the battle against the Fiesolans, and the Fiesolans, vigorously defending the ford of the river, sustained the battle in the river Arno. Fiorinus, who was with his people in ambush, when he saw the battle begun, sallied forth boldly in the rear of the Fiesolans, who were fighting in the river against Metellus. The Fiesolans, surprised by the ambush, seeing themselves suddenly assailed by Fiorinus in the rear and by Metellus in front, put to confusion, threw down their arms and fled discomfited towards the city of Fiesole, wherefore many of them were slain and taken.
The Fiesolans being discomfited and driven back from the shores of Arno, Fiorinus the prætor, with the host of the Romans, encamped beyond the river Arno towards Fiesole, where were two little villages, one of which was called Villa Arnina, and the other Camarte [Casa Martis], that is campo or Domus Martis, where the Fiesolans on a certain day in the week held a market in all commodities for their towns and the region round about. The consul made a decree with Fiorinus that no one should sell or buy bread or wine or other things which might be of use to the troops save in the field where Fiorinus was stationed. After this the consul Quintus Metellus sent incontinent to Rome that they should send him men-at-arms to besiege the city of Fiesole, for the which cause the senators made a decree that Julius Cæsar, and Cicero, and Macrinus, with several legions of soldiers, should come to the siege and 24destruction of Fiesole; which, being come, besieged the said city. Cæsar encamped on the hill which rose above the city; Macrinus on the next hill or mountain, and Cicero on the other side; and thus they remained for six years besieging the said city, having through long siege and through hunger almost destroyed it. And likewise those in the host, by reason of the long sojourn and their many privations being diminished and enfeebled, departed from the siege, and returned to Rome, save Fiorinus, who remained at the siege with his followers in the plain where he had at first encamped, and surrounded himself with moats and palisades, after the manner of ramparts, or fortifications, and kept the Fiesolans in great straits; and thus he warred upon them long time, till his folk felt secure, and held their foes for nought. Then the Fiesolans having recovered breath somewhat, and mindful of the ill which Fiorinus had done and was doing to them, suddenly, and as if in despair, advanced by night with ladders and with engines to attack the camp or fortification of Fiorinus, and he and his people with but few guards and while they slept, not being on their guard against the Fiesolans, were surprised; and Fiorinus and his wife and his children were slain, and all his host in that place well-nigh destroyed, for few thereof escaped; and the said fortress and ramparts were destroyed, and burnt and done away with by the Fiesolans.
When the news was known at Rome, the consuls and senators and all the commonwealth being grieved at the misadventure which had befallen the good leader 25 Fiorinus, straightway took counsel that this should be avenged, and that a very great host should return once more to destroy the city of Fiesole, for the which were chosen these leaders: Count Rainaldus, Cicero, Teberinus, Macrinus, Albinus, Gneus Pompey, Cæsar, and Camertino Sezio, Conte Tudedino, that is Count of Todi, which was with Julius Cæsar, and of his chivalry. This man pitched his camp near to Camarti, nearly where to-day is Florence; Cæsar pitched his camp upon the hill which rose above the city, which is to-day called Mount Cecero, but formerly was called Mount Cæsar, after his name, or after the name of Cicero; but rather it is held to be after Cæsar, inasmuch as he was the greatest leader of the host. Rainaldus pitched his camp upon the hill over against the city on the other side of the Mugnone, and after his name it is so called until this day; Macrinus encamped on the hill still called after him; Camertinus in the region which is still called Camerata after his name. And all the other aforesaid lords, each one for himself pitched his camp around the city, some on the hills and some in the plain; but no other than these aforesaid have left their names to be a memorial of them. These lords, with their followers in great numbers, both horse and foot, besieging the city, arrayed and prepared themselves to make yet greater war upon the city than at the first; but by reason of the strength of the city the Romans wrought in vain, and many of them being dead by reason of the long siege and excessive toil, those great lords and consuls and senators well-nigh all returned to Rome; only Cæsar with his followers abode still at the siege. And during that sojourn he commanded his soldiers to go to the village of Camarti, nigh 26 to the river Arno, and there to build a council house wherein he might hold his council, and might leave it for a memorial of himself. This building in our vernacular we have named Parlagio [Parliament house]. And it was round and was right marvellously vaulted, and had an open space in the midst; and then began seats in steps all around; and from step to step, built upon vaulting, they rose, widening up to the very top, and the height thereof was more than sixty cubits, and it had two doors; and therein assembled the people to hold council, and from grade to grade the folk were seated, the most noble above, and then descending according to the dignity of the people; and it was so fashioned that all in the Parliament might see one another by face, and that all might hear distinctly that which one was saying; and it held commodiously an infinite multitude of people, and its name, rightly speaking, was Parlatorio [speaking place]. This was afterwards destroyed in the time of Totila, but in our days the foundations may yet be seen, and part of the vaulting near to the church of S. Simone in Florence, and reaching to the beginning of the square of Santa Croce; and part of the palaces of the Peruzzi are built thereupon, and the street which is called Anguillaia, which goes to Santa Croce, goes almost through the midst of the said Parliament house.
B. C.Fiesole having been besieged as aforesaid the second time, and the city being much wasted and afflicted both by reason of hunger and also because their aqueducts had been cut off and destroyed, the city surrendered to Cæsar and to the Romans at the end of two years and 27 four months and six days (for so long had the siege lasted), on condition that any which desired to leave the city might go in safety. The city was taken by the Romans, and despoiled of all its wealth, and was destroyed by Cæsar, and laid waste to the foundations;
124-126. and this was about seventy-two years before the birth of Christ.
After the city of Fiesole was destroyed, Cæsar with his armies descended to the plain on the banks of the river Arno, where Fiorinus and his followers had been slain by the Fiesolans, and in this place began to build a city, in order that Fiesole should never be rebuilt; and he dismissed the Latin horsemen whom he had with him, enriched with the spoils of Fiesole; and these Latins were called Tudertines. Cæsar, then, having fixed the boundaries of the city, and included two places called Camarti and Villa Arnina [of the Arno], purposed to call it Cæsaræa from his own name. But when the Roman senate heard this, they would not suffer Cæsar to call it after his name, but they made a decree and order that the other chief noble Romans who had taken part in the siege of Fiesole should go and build the new city together with Cæsar, and afterwards populate it; and that whichever of the builders had first completed his share of the work should call it after his own name, or howso else it pleased him.
Then Macrinus, Albinus, Gneus Pompey, and Marcius, furnished with materials and workmen, came from Rome to the city which Cæsar was building, and agreed with Cæsar to divide the work after this manner: that Albinus undertook to pave all the city, which was a
noble work and gave beauty and charm to the city, and to this day fragments of the work are found, in digging, especially in the sesto of Santo Piero Scheraggio, and in Porta San Piero, and in Porta del Duomo, where it shows that the ancient city was. Macrinus caused the water to brought in conduits and aqueducts, bringing it from a distance of seven miles from the city, to the end the city might have abundance of good water to drink and to cleanse the city; and this conduit was carried from the river called Marina at the foot of Montemorello, gathering to itself all the springs above Sesto and Quinto and Colonnata. And in Florence the said springs came to a head at a great palace which was called “caput aquæ,” but afterwards in our speech if was called Capaccia, and the remains can be seen in the Terma until this day. And not that the ancients, for health’s sake, used to drink spring waters brought in by conduits, forasmuch as they were purer and more wholesome than water from wells; seeing that few, indeed very few, drank wine, but the most part water from conduits, but not from wells; and as yet there were very few vines. Gneus Pompey caused the walls of the city to be built of burnt bricks, and upon the walls of the city he built many round towers, and the space between one tower and the other was twenty cubits, and it was so that the towers were of great beauty and strength. Concerning the size and circuit of the city we can find no chronicle which makes mention thereof; save that when Totila, the scourge of God, destroyed it, history records that it was very great. Marcius, the other Roman lord, caused the Capitol to be built after the fashion of Rome, that is to say the palace, or master fortress of the city, and this was
of marvelous beauty; into which the water of the Arno came by a hollowed and vaulted passage, and returned into the Arno underground; and the city, at every festival, was cleansed by the outpouring of this duct. This Capitol stood where to-day is the piazza which is called the Mercato Vecchio, over against the church which is called S. Maria, in Campidoglio. This seems to be the best supported opinion; but some say that it was where the place is now called the Guardingo [citadel];
107, 108. beside the Piazza di Popolo (so called from the Priors’ Palace), which was another fortress. Guardingo was the name afterwards given to the remains of the walls and arches after the destruction by Totila, where the bad quarter was. And the said lords each strove to be in advance of the work of the others. And at one same time the whole was completed, so that to none of them was the favour granted of naming the city according to his desire, but by many it was at first called “Little Rome.” Others called it Floria, because Fiorinus, who was the first builder in that spot, had there died, he being the fiore [flower] of warlike deeds and of chivalry, and because in the country and fields around where the city was built there always grew flowers and lilies. Afterwards the greater part of the inhabitants consented to call it Floria, as being built among flowers, that is, amongst many delights. And of a surety it was, inasmuch as it was peopled by the best of Rome, and the most capable, sent by the
70 B. C. senate in due proportion from each division of Rome, chosen by lot from the inhabitants; and they admitted among their number those Fiesolans which desired there to dwell and abide. But afterwards it was, through long use of the vulgar tongue, called Fiorenza, that is “flowery sword.” And we find that it was built in the year 682, 30 after the building of Rome and seventy years before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. And note that it is not
124-126. to be wondered at that the Florentines are always at war and strife among themselves, being born and descended from two peoples so contrary and hostile and different in habits as were the noble Romans in their virtue and the rude Fiesolans fierce in war.
After that the city of Florence was built and peopled, Julius Cæsar being angered because he, having been the first builder thereof, and having had the victory over the city of Fiesole, had nevertheless not been permitted to call the city after his name, departed therefrom and returned to Rome, and for his zeal and valour was elected consul and sent against the French, where he abode ten years whilst he was conquering France and England and Germany; and when he returned victorious to Rome his triumph was refused him, because he had transgressed the decree (made by Pompey the consul, and by the senate, through envy, under colour of virtue), that no one was to continue in any command for more than five years. The which Cæsar returning with his army of French and Germans from beyond the Alps, Italians, Pisans, Pirates, Pistoians, and also Florentines, his fellow-citizens, brought footmen and horsemen and slingers with him to begin a civil war, because his triumph had been refused him, but moreover that he might be lord of Rome as he had desired long time. So he fought against Pompey and the senate of Rome. And after
Par. vi. 65.
(3) 47-49. the great battle between Cæsar and Pompey, well-nigh all the combatants were slain in Emathia, to wit 31Thessaly in Greece, as may fully be read in Lucan the poet, by whoso desires to know the history. And after that Cæsar had gained the victory over Pompey, and over many kings and peoples who were helping those Romans who were his enemies, he returned to Rome, and so became the first Emperor of Rome, which is as much as to say commander over all. And after him came Octavianus Augustus, his nephew and adopted son, who
and ii. 12.
(3) 64-73. was reigning when Christ was born, and after many victories ruled over all the world in peace; and thence-forward Rome was under imperial government, and held under its jurisdiction and that of the Empire all the whole world.
In the time of Numa Pompilius by a divine miracle
30-41. there fell from heaven into Rome a vermilion-colored shield, for the which cause and augury the Romans took that ensign for their arms, and afterwards added S.P.Q.R. in letters of gold, signifying Senate of the People of Rome; the same ensign they gave to all the cities which they built, to wit, vermilion. Thus did they to Perugia, and to Florence, and to Pisa; but the Florentines, because of the name of Fiorinus and of the city, charged it with the white lily; and the Perugians sometimes with the white griffin; and Viterbo kept the red field, and the Orvietans charged it with the white eagle. It is true that the Roman lords, consuls and dictators, after that the eagle appeared as an augury over the Tarpeian rock, to wit, over the treasure chamber of the
101, 102. Capitol, as Titus Livius makes mention, added the eagle 32
ii. 11: 23.
Purg. x. 80.
Par. vi. 32,
100.to their arms on the ensign; and we find that the consul Marius in the battle of the Cimbri had on his ensigns the silver eagle, and a similar ensign was borne by Catiline when he was defeated by Antonius in the parts about Pistoia, as Sallust relates. And the great Pompey bore the azure field and silver eagle, and Julius Cæsar bore the vermilion field and golden eagle, as Lucan makes mention in verse, saying:
After that Cæsar and Pompey, and Macrinus and Albinus and Marcius, Roman nobles and builders of the 33 new city of Florence, had returned to Rome, their labours being completed, the city began to increase and multiply both in Romans and Fiesolans who had settled as its inhabitants, as in a short time it became a fine city for those times; for the emperors and senate of Rome advanced it to the best of their power, much like another little Rome. Its citizens, being in prosperous state, determined to build in the said city a marvellous temple in honour of the god Mars, by reason of the victory which the Romans had had over the city of Fiesole; and they sent to the senate of Rome to send them the best and most skilful masters that were in Rome, and this was done. And they caused to be brought white and black marbles and columns from many distant places by sea, and then by the Arno; they brought stone and columns from Fiesole, and founded and built the said temple in the place anciently called Camarti, and where the Fiesolans held their market. Very noble and beautiful they built it with eight sides, and when it had been built with great diligence, they dedicated it to the god Mars, who was the god of the Romans, and they had his effigy carved in marble in the likeness of an armed cavalier on horseback; they placed him on a marble pillar in the midst of that temple, and held him in great reverence, and adored him as their god so long as paganism continued in Florence. And we find that the said temple was begun during the reign of Octavianus Augustus, and that it was built under the ascendant of such a constellation that it will continue almost to eternity; and this we find written in a certain place engraved within the space of the said temple.
73. The city of Luni, which is now destroyed, was very ancient, and we find from the stories of Troy, that from the city of Luni there went a fleet of soldiers in aid of the Greeks against the Trojans; afterwards it was destroyed by soldiers from beyond the mountains, by reason of a lady, the wife of a lord, who, when on the way to Rome, was adulterously seduced in this city of Luni, wherefore, as the said lord returned, he destroyed the city by force, and to-day the country is desert and unhealthy. And note that of old the coasts were much inhabited, and albeit inland there were few cities, and few inhabitants, yet in Maremma and Maretima, towards Rome on the coast of the Campagna, there were many cities and inhabitants, which to-day are consumed and brought to nought by reason of the corruption of
152. the air: for there was the great city of Populonia, and Soana, and Talamone, and Grosseto, and Civitaveglia, and Mascona, and Lansedonia, which were with their troops at the siege of Troy; and in Campagna, Baia, Pompeia, Cumina, and Laurenza, and Albania. And the cause why to-day these cities of the coast are almost without inhabitants and unhealthy, and also why Rome is less healthy, is said by the great masters of astronomy to be because of the movement of the eighth sphere of 35 heaven, which in every hundred years moves one degree
Nuova § 2.
ii. 15. towards the North Pole, and thus it will move 15° in 1,500 years, and afterwards will turn back in like manner, if it be the pleasure of God that the world shall endure so long; and by the said change of the heaven is changed the quality of the earth and of the air, and where it was inhabited and healthy, it now is without inhabitants and unhealthy, and also the converse. And furthermore, we see that in the course of nature all things in the world change, and rise and diminish, as Christ said with His mouth that nothing here abides.
Now that we have briefly made some mention of our neighboring cities in Tuscany, we will return to our subject and tell of our city of Florence. As we recounted before, the said city was ruled long time under the government and lordship of the emperors of Rome, and ofttimes the emperors came to sojourn in Florence when they were journeying into Lombardy, and into Germany, and into France to conquer provinces. And we find that Decius, the Emperor, in the first year of his reign, which was in the year of Christ 270, was in Florence, the treasure-house and chancelry
270 A. D. of the Empire, sojourning there for his pleasure; and the said Decius cruelly persecuted the Christians whosesoever he could hear of them or find them, and he heard tell how the blessed Saint Miniato was living as a hermit 36 near to Florence, with his disciples and companions, in a wood which was called Arisbotto of Florence, behind the place where now stands his church, above the city of Florence. This blessed Miniato was first-born son to the king of Armenia, and having left his kingdom for the faith of Christ, to do penance and to be far away from his kingdom, he went over seas to gain pardon at Rome, and then betook himself to the said wood, which was in those days wild and solitary, forasmuch as the city of Florence did not extend and was not settled beyond Arno, but was all on this side; save only there was one bridge across the Arno, not however where the bridges now are. And it is said by many that is was the ancient bridge of the Fiesolans which led from Girone to Candegghi, and this was the ancient and direct road and way from Rome to Fiesole, and to go into Lombardy and across the mountains. The said Emperor Decius caused the said blessed Miniato to be taken, as his story narrates. Great gifts and rewards were offered to him as to a king’s son, to the end he should deny Christ; and he, constant and firm in the faith, would have none of his gifts, but endured divers martyrdoms: in the end the said Decius caused him to be beheaded where now stands the church of Santa Candida alla Croce al Gorgo; and many faithful followers of Christ received martyrdom at that place. And when the head of the blessed Miniato had been cut off, by a miracle of Christ, with his hands he set it again upon his trunk, and on his feet passed over Arno, and went up to the hill where now stands his church, where at that time was a little oratory in the name of the blessed Peter the Apostle, where many bodies of holy martyrs were buried; and when S. Miniato was come to that 37 place, he gave up his soul to Christ, and his body was there secretly buried by the Christians; the which place, by reason of the merits of the blessed S. Miniato, was devoutly venerated by the Florentines after that they were become Christians, and a little church was built there in his honour. But the great and noble church of marble which is there now in our times, we find to have been built later by the zeal of the venerable Father Alibrando, bishop and citizen of Florence, in the year of Christ 1013, begun on the 26th day of the month
1013 A. D. of April by the commandment and authority of the catholic and holy Emperor Henry II. of Bavaria, and of his wife the holy Empress Gunegonda, which was reigning in those times; and they presented and endowed the said church with many rich possessions in Florence and in the country, for the good of their souls, and caused the said church to be repaired and rebuilt of marbles as it is now; and they caused the body of the blessed Miniato to be translated to the altar which is beneath the vaulting of the said church with much reverence and solemnity by the said bishop and the clergy of Florence, with all the people, both men and women, of the city of Florence; but afterwards the said church was completed by the commonwealth of Florence, and the stone steps were made which lead down by the
100-105. hill; and the consuls of the art of the Calimala were put in charge of the said work of S. Miniato, and were to protect it.
We find that our city of Florence remained under the government of the Roman Empire for about 350 years after its first foundation, observing pagan ways, and worshipping idols, albeit there were many Christians, after the fashion whereof I have spoken, but they remained concealed in divers hermitages and caverns without the city, and they which were within did not declare themselves as Christians for fear of the persecutions which the emperors of Rome and their vicars and ministers brought upon the Christians, until the time of the great Constantine, son of Constantine the Emperor, and of Helena his wife, daughter of the king of Britain,
115-117. which was the first Christian emperor, and endowed the Church with all the possessions of Rome, and gave liberty to the Christians in the time of the blessed Pope Sylvester, who baptized him and made
94, 95. him a Christian, cleansing him from leprosy by the power of Christ, and this was in the year of Christ
320 A. D. about 320. The said Constantine caused many churches to be built in Rome to the honour of Christ, and having destroyed all the temples of paganism and of the idols,
55-57. and established Holy Church in her liberty and lordship, and having brought the temporal affairs of the Church under due system and order, he departed to Constantinople, which he caused to be thus named, after his own name (for before this it was called Byzantium), and he raised it to great state and lordship, and there he made his seat, leaving here in command of Rome his patricians or censors, that is, vicars, which defended Rome, and fought for her, and for the Empire. After the said Constantine, which reigned more than thirty years, first 39 in command of Rome, and then in command of Constantinople, there were left three sons, Constantine, and Constantius, and Constans, which had war and contentions among themselves, and one of them, to wit, Constantine, was a Christian, and the next, Constantius, was a heretic, and persecuted the Christians by reason of his heresy, which was begun in Constantinople by one named Arius, and this heresy was called Arian, after his name, which spread much error throughout all the world, and throughout the Church of God. These sons of Constantine by their dissensions greatly laid waste the Empire of Rome, and in a sense abandoned it, and henceforward it always seemed as if it were declining, and its sovereignty becoming less; and there began to be two and three emperors at one time, and one would be reigning in Constantinople, and another in the Empire of Rome, and one would be Christian, and another an Arian heretic, persecuting the Christians and the Church, and this endured long time, so that all Italy was infected thereby. Of the other emperors before and after, we shall make no ordered record, save of those which pertain to our subject; but he who desires to find them in order should read the Martinian Chronicle, and therein he will find the emperors and the popes which were in those times set forth in order.
At the time that the said great Constantine became a Christian, and gave freedom and sovereignty to the Church, and S. Sylvester, the Pope, was openly established in the papacy in Rome, there spread through Tuscany, and throughout Italy, and afterwards through
all the world, the true faith and belief of Jesus Christ. And in our city of Florence, the true faith began to be adopted, and paganism to be abolished, in the time of * * * * who was made bishop of Florence by Pope Sylvester; and from the noble and beautiful temple of the Florentines, of which mention has been made above, the Florentines removed their idol, which they called
146. the god Mars, and placed it upon a high tower, by the river Arno, and would not break or destroy it, because in their ancient records they found that the said idol of Mars had been consecrated under the ascendant of such a planet, that if it were broken or set aside
143-150. in a place of contempt, the city would suffer peril and injury, and undergo great changes. And although the Florentines had lately become Christians, they still observed many pagan customs, and long continued to observe them, and they still stood in awe of their ancient idol of Mars, so little were they perfected as yet in the holy faith; and this done, they consecrated their said temple in honour of God and of the
25, 47. blessed S. John the Baptist, and called it the Duomo of S. Giovanni; and they decreed that the feast on the day of his nativity should be celebrated with solemn
42. sacrifices, and that a race should be run for a samite cloak, and this custom has been always observed by the Florentines on that day. And they had baptismal fonts erected in the middle of the temple, where people and
134, 135. children were and still are baptized; and on Holy Saturday, when in the said fonts the baptismal water and fire were blessed, they ordered that the said holy fire should be carried through the city after the custom of Jerusalem, so that some one should enter into every house with a lighted torch, for them to kindle their fires 41 from. And from this solemnity came the privilege of the “great torch,” which pertained to the house of the Pazzi, from some hundred and seventy years before 1300; because one of their ancestors, named Pazzo, strong and tall in person, bore a larger torch than any other, and was the first to take the sacred fire, and then the others received it from him. The said duomo, after that it had been consecrated to Christ, was enlarged by the space where to-day is the choir, and the altar of the blessed John; but at the time that the said duomo was the temple of Mars, this addition had not been made thereto, nor the turret and ball at the summit; and indeed it was open above after the fashion of Santa Maria Ritonda of Rome, to the intent their idol, the god Mars, which was in the midst of the temple, might be open to the sky. But after the second rebuilding of Florence, in the year of Christ 1150, the cupola was built upon columns, and the ball, and the golden cross which is at the top, by the consuls of the Art of Calimala, to which the commonwealth of Florence had committed the charge of the building of the said work in honour of S. John. And by many people which have journeyed through the world it is said to be the most beautiful temple or duomo of any that may be found; and in our times has been completed the work of the histories depicted within in mosaic. And we find, from ancient records, that the figure of the sun carved in mosaic, which says: “En giro torte sol ciclos, et rotor igne,” was done by astronomy, and when the sun enters into the sign of Cancer, it shines at mid-day on that place through the opening above, where is the turret.