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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. [84]-99.


A. D.
§ 19. — Of Robert Guiscard and his descendants, which were kings of Sicily and of Apulia.

Well, then, as was afore made mention, in the time of the Emperor Charles, which is called Charles the Fat, which reigned in the years of our Lord 880 unto 892, the pagan Northmen being come from Norway, passed into Germany and into France, pressing and tormenting the Gauls and the Germans. Charles, with a powerful hand, came against the Northmen, and peace being made and confirmed by matrimony, the 85 king of the Normans was baptised, and received at the
A. D.
sacred font by the said Charles, and in the end, Charles not being able to drive the Normans out of France, granted them a region on the further side of the Seine, called Lada Serena, the which unto this day is called Normandy, because of the said Normans, in the which land, from that time forward, the duke has reigned as king. The first duke, then, was Robert, to whom succeeded his son William, which begat Richard, and Richard begat the second Richard. This Richard begat Richard and Robert Guiscard, the which Robert Guiscard was not duke of Normandy, but brother of duke Richard. He, according to their usage, forasmuch as he was a younger son, had not the lordship of the duchy, and therefore desiring to make trial of his powers, he came, poor and needy, into Apulia, where at that time one Robert, a native of the country, was duke, to whom Robert Guiscard, coming, was first made his squire and was then knighted by him. Robert Guiscard having come then to this Duke Robert, won many victories with prowess against his enemies, for he was at war with the prince of Salerno; and carrying with him magnificent rewards, he returned into Normandy, bringing back report of the delights and riches of Apulia, having adorned his horses with golden bridles and shod them with silver, in witness of the facts he alleged; by the which thing, having roused many knights, following this emprise through desire of riches and glory, returning incontinent into Apulia, he took them with him, and gave faithful aid to the duke of Apulia against Godfrey, duke of the Normans; and, not long time after, Robert, duke of Apulia, being nigh unto death, by the will of his barons made him 86
A. D.
1078 A. D.
his successor in the duchy, and as he had promised him, he took his daughter to wife the year of Christ 1078. And a little time after, he conquered Alexis, emperor of Constantinople, who had taken possession of Sicily and of part of Calabria, and he conquered the Venetians and took all the kingdom of Apulia and of Sicily; and albeit he did this in violation of the Roman Church, to which the kingdom of Apulia belonged, and albeit the Countess Matilda made war against Robert Guiscard in the service of Holy Church, nevertheless, in the end, Robert being, of his own will, reconciled with Holy Church, was made lord of the said kingdom; and not long after, Gregory VII., with his cardinals, being besieged by the Emperor Henry IV. in the castle of S. Angelo, Robert came to Rome and drave away by force the said Henry with his Anti-pope which he had made by force, and he freed the Pope and the cardinals from the siege, and replaced the Pope in the Lateran Palace, having severely punished the Romans, who had shown favour to the Emperor Henry and to the Pope whom he had made against Pope Gregory. This Robert Guiscard, duke of Apulia, was once on a hunting excursion, and he followed the quarry into the depth of a wood, his companions not knowing what had become of him, or where he was, or what he was doing; and then Robert, seeing the night approaching, leaving the beast which he was pursuing, sought to return home; and turning, he found in the wood a leper, who importunately asked alms of him; and when he had said I know not what in reply, the leper said again that the anguish he endured availed him nought, yet him were liefer carry any weight or any burden; and when he asked of the leper what he would have, 87
A. D.
he said, “I desire that you will put me behind you on your horse”; lest abandoned in the wood, peradventure the beasts might devour him. Then Robert cheerfully received him behind him on his horse; and as they rode forward, the leper said to Robert — great baron as he was: — “My hands are so icy cold, that unless I may cherish them against thy flesh, I cannot keep myself on horseback.” Then Robert granted the leper to put his hands boldly under his clothing, and comfort his flesh and his members without fear; and when yet a third time the leper bespoke his pity, he put him upon his saddle, and he, sitting behind him, embraced the leper, and led him to his own chamber, and put him into his own bed, and set him in it with right good care to the end he might repose; no one of his household perceiving ought thereof. And when the banquet of supper was spread, having told his wife that he had lodged the leper in his bed, his wife incontinent went to the chamber to know if the poor sufferer would sup. The chamber, albeit there were no perfumes therein, she found as fragrant as if it had been full of sweet-smelling things, such that neither Robert nor his wife had ever known so sweet scents. and the leper, whom they had come thither to seek, they did not find, whereat the husband and the wife marvelled beyond measure at so great a wonder; but with reverence and with fear, both one and the other asked God to reveal to them what this might be. And the following day Christ appeared in a vision to Robert, saying, that it was Himself that He had revealed to him in the form of a leper, to make trial of his piety; and He announced to him that by his wife he should have sons, whereof one should be emperor the next king and the third duke. 88
A. D.
Encouraged by this promise Robert subdued the rebels of Apulia and of Sicily, and acquired lordship over all; and he had five sons: William, who took to wife the daughter of Alexis, the emperor of the Greeks, and was lord and possessor of his empire, but died without children (some say that this was the William which was called Longsword, but many say that this Longsword was not of the lineage of Robert Guiscard, but of the
Cf. Purg.
vii. 133-
race of the marquises of Montferrat); and the second son of Robert Guiscard was Boagdinos [Boemond], who was at the first duke of Tarentum; the third was Roger, duke of Apulia, which, after the death of his father, was crowned king of Sicily by Pope Honorius II.; the fourth son of Robert Guiscard was Henry, duke of the Normans; the fifth son, Richard Count Cicerat, that is, I suppose, count of Acerra. This Robert Guiscard, after having done many and noble things in Apulia, purposed and desired, by way of devotion, to go to Jerusalem on pilgrimage; and it was told him in a vision that he would die in Jerusalem. Therefore, having commended his kingdom to Roger, his son, he embarked by sea for the voyage to Jerusalem, and arriving in Greece, at the port which was afterwards called after him Port Guiscard, he began to sicken of his malady; and trusting in the revelation which had been made to him, he in no wise feared to die. There was over against the said port an island, to the which, that he might repose and recover his strength, he caused himself to be carried, and after being carried there he
1110 A.D.
grew no better, but rather grievously worse. Then he asked what this island was called, and the mariners answered that of old it was called Jerusalem. Which thing having hear, straightway certified of his death, 89 devoutly he fulfilled all those things which appertain to
1110 A. D.
the salvation of the soul, and died in the grace of God the year of Christ 1110, having reigned in Apulia thirty-three years. These things concerning Robert Guiscard may in part be read in chronicles, and in part I heard them narrated by those who fully knew the history of the kingdom of Apulia.

§ 20. — Concerning the successors of Robert Guiscard which were kings of Sicily and Apulia.

Afterwards, Roger, son of Duke Robert Guiscard, begat the second Roger; and this Roger, after the death of his father, was made king of Sicily, and he begat William and Constance his sister. This William honourably
Par. iii.
112, 113.
Par. xx.
and magnificently ruled the kingdom of Sicily, and he took to wife the daughter of the king of England, and by her he had neither son nor daughter; and when his father Roger was dead, and the sovereignty of the kingdom had passed to William, a prophecy was made known, that Constance, his sister, should rule over the realm of Sicily in destruction and ruin; wherefore King William, having called his friends and wise men, asked counsel of them what he should do with his sister Constance; and it was counselled him by the greater part of them that if he desired the royal sovereignty should be secure, he should cause her to be put to death. But among the others was one named Tancred, duke of Tarentum, which had been nephew to Robert Guiscard through the sister who is thought to have been wife to Bagnamonte [Boemond], prince of Antioch; this man, opposing the counsel of the others, appeased King William, that he should not cause the innocent lady to be put to death; and so it came to pass that the 90 said Constance was preserved from death, and she, not of her own will, but through fear of death, lived in the guise of a nun in a certain convent of nuns. William being dead, the aforesaid Tancred succeeded him in the kingdom, having taken it to himself against the will of the Church of Rome to which pertained the right and property of that kingdom. This Tancred, instructed by natural wit, was very full of learning, and he had a wife more beautiful than the Sibyl, but as many think without breasts, by whom he begat two sons and three daughters: the first was called Roger, which in his father’s lifetime was made king, and he died; the second was William the younger, which in his father’s lifetime was made king, and after his father was dead he held the kingdom for a time. During these things, Tancred being alive and on the throne, Constance, sister to King William, already perhaps fifty years old, was a nun in her body but not in her mind in the city of Palermo. Discord then having arisen between King Tancred and the archbishop of Palermo, perhaps for this cause, that Tancred was usurping the rights of the Church, the archbishop then thought how he might transfer the kingdom of Sicily to other lordship, and made a secret treaty with the Pope, that Constance should be married to Henry,
Par. iii.
duke of Suabia, son of the great Frederick; and Henry having taken to wife her to whom the kingdom seemed to pertain by right, was crowned by Pope Celestine. This Henry, when Tancred was dead, entered into the kingdom of Apulia, and punished many of them which had held with Tancred, and had shown him favour, and which had done injury to Queen Constance, and had done shame to the nobility of her honour. This Constance was the mother — we shall not say of Frederick 91 II. who was long king of the Roman Empire, — but rather of Frederick who brought the said Empire to destruction, as will appear fully in his deeds. When Tancred was dead then, the kingdom passed to his son William, young in years and in wisdom; but Henry having entered the kingdom with his army the year of Christ 1197, made
1197 A. D.
a false truce with the young King William, and having taken him by fraud and secretly into Suabia, few knowing thereof, he sent him into banishment with his sister, and having caused his eyes to be put out, he there kept him under ward till his death. With this William son of Tancred were taken his three sisters, to wit, Alberia, Constance, and Ernadama. When the Emperor Henry was dead, and the young William who had been castrated and whose eyes had been put out was dead also, Philip, duke of Suabia, through the prayers of his wife, which was daughter of the Emperor Manuel of Constantinople, delivered these three daughters of King Tancred from exile and from prison, and let them go free. And Alberia or Aceria had three husbands: the first was Count Walter of Brienne, brother of King John, from whom was born Walteran, count of Joppa, to whom the king of Cyprus gave his daughter in marriage. After Count Walter had been slain by Count Trebaldo [Diephold], the German, Alberia was wedded to Count James of Tricarico, by whom she had Count Simon and the Lady Adalitta; and he being dead, Pope Honorius gave Alberia to wife to Count Tigrimo, count palatine in Tuscany; and for dowry he gave her the region of Lizia and of Mount Scaglioso in the kingdom of Apulia. Constance was the wife of Marchesono [Ziani], doge of Venice. The third sister, who was named Ernadama, had no husband. These were the fortunes of the 92 successors of Robert Guiscard in the kingdom of Sicily and of Apulia, down to Constance, mother of the Emperor Frederick the son of King Henry; and thus it may be seen that Robert Guiscard and his successors ruled over the kingdom of Sicily and of Apulia 120 years. We will now leave the kings of Sicily and of Apulia; and we will relate concerning the wise Countess Matilda.

§ 21. — Of the Countess Matilda.

The mother of Countess Matilda is said to have been the daughter of one who reigned as emperor in Constantinople, in whose court was an Italian of distinguished manners and of great race and well nurtured, skilled in arms, expert and endowed with every gift, such as they are in whom noble blood is wont to declare itself illustriously. Now all these things made him to be loved of all men and gave grace to his ways. And he began to turn his eyes upon the emperor’s daughter, and was secretly united to her in marriage, and they took such jewels and moneys as they might, and she fled with him into Italy. And they came first to the bishopric of Reggio, in Lombardy. From this lady, then, and from her husband, was born the doughty Countess Matilda. But the father of the lady aforesaid, that is to say the emperor of Constantinople, who had no other daughter, caused great searching to be made, if by any means he might find her; and found she was, by them that were seeking, in the said place; and when they begged of her that she would return to her father, who would marry her again to any prince she might choose, she gave answer that she had chosen to have him she now had above all other, and it were a thing impossible to abandon him and ever be united to 93 another man. And when all this was told again to the emperor, straightway he sent letters and confirmed the marriage, and money without end, with orders to buy fortresses and villages at any price and erect new castles. And they bought in the said place three fortresses, very nigh together, and because of this close neighbourhood, they are commonly called the Tre Castella at Reggio. And not far from the said three fortresses the lady had such a castle built upon a mountain as might never be taken, the which castle was called Canossa, and there the countess afterward founded and endowed a noble convent of nuns. This was in the mountains; but on the plain she built Guastalla and Sulzariani, and she bought land along the Po and built divers monasteries, and divers noble bridges did she make across the rivers of Lombardy. And moreover Garfagnana and the greater part of the Frignano, and parts of the see of Modena, are said to have been her possessions, and in the Bolognese district the great and spacious towns of Arzellata and Medicina were of her patrimony; and she had many others in Lombardy. And in Tuscany she established fortresses and the turret at Polugiana, within her jurisdiction, and she liberally endowed many noblemen, under fee, and made them her vassals. In divers places she built many monasteries, and endowed many cathedral churches and others. And in the end, when the Countess Matilda’s father and mother were dead, and she was their heir, she thought to marry, and having heard of the fame and the person and the other qualities of a native of Suabia, whose name was Guelf, she sent formal messages to him and authorised agents who should establish a contract of marriage between him and her, albeit they were not present in person together, and 94 who should arrange the place where the wedding should take place. The ring was given at the noble castle of the Conti Ginensi, which is now, however, destroyed. And as Guelf approached the said castle, the Countess Matilda went to meet him with a great cavalcade, and there was held the festival of the wedding right joyously. But soon did sadness follow gladness in that the marriage bond was not consummated, by failure of conception, which is expressly declared to be the purpose of marriage.

*          *          *          *          *

The countess then, in silence, fearing deception and being averse to the other burdens of matrimoney, passed her life in chastity even to her death, and giving herself to works of piety she built and endowed many churches and monasteries and hospitals. And once an again she came with a great army and mightily interposed in service of Holy Church and succoured her. Once was against the Normans, who had taken away the duchy of Apulia from the Church by violence, and were laying waste the confines of Campagna. Them did the Countess Matilda, devout daughter of S. Peter that she was, together with Godfrey, duke of Spolete, drive off as far as to Aquino in the time of Alexander II., Pope of Rome. The second time she fought against the Emperor Henry III. of Bavaria, and overcame him. And yet once again she fought for the Church in Lombardy against Henry IV., his son, and overcame him, in the time of Pope Calixtus II. And she made a will and offered up all her patrimony on the altar of S. Peter, and made the Church of rome heir of it all. And not long after she died in God, and she is buried in the church at Pisa, which she had largely endowed. It was in the 1115th year of the Nativity that the countess died. We will 95 leave to speak of the Countess Matilda, and will turn
1115 A. D.
back to follow the history of the Emperor Henry III. of Bavaria.

§ 22. — Again how Henry III. of Bavaria renewed war
1080 A. D.
against the Church. § 23. — How the said Emperor Henry besieged the city of Florence. § 24. — How in these
1089 A. D.
times was the great crusade over seas. § 25. — How the Florentines began to increase their territory. § 26. — How the Florentines conquered and destroyed the fortress of Prato. § 27. — How Henry IV. of Bavaria was elected
1107 A. D.
Emperor, and how he persecuted the Church. § 28.. — How at last the said Emperor Henry IV. returned to obedience to Holy Church.

§ 29. — How the Florentines defeated the Vicar of the Emperor Henry IV.

In the year of Christ 1113 the Florentines marched
1113 A. D.
against Montecasciolo, which was making war upon the city, having been stirred to rebellion by M. Ruberto Tedesco, vicar of the Emperor Henry in Tuscany, who was stationed with his troops in Samminiato del Tedesco, so called because the vicars of the Emperors with their troops of Tedeschi [Germans] were stationed in the said fortress to harry the cities and castles of Tuscany that would not obey the Emperors. And this M. Ruberto was routed and slain by the Florentines, and the fortress was taken and destroyed.

§ 30. — How the city of Florence took fire twice, whence a great part of the city was burnt.
1115 A. D.

In the year of Christ 1115, in the month of May, fire broke out in the Borgo Santo Apostolo, and was so great 96
1115 A.D.
and impetuous that a good part of the city was burnt, to the great hurt of the Florentines. And in that self-same year died the good Countess Matilda. And after,
1117 A. D.
in the year 1117, fire again broke out in Florence, and of a truth that which was not burnt in the first fire was burnt in the second, whence great hurt befell the Florentines, and not without cause and judgment of God, forasmuch as the city ws evilly corrupted by heresy, among
Cf. Inf. x.
others by the sect of the epicureans, through the vice of licentiousness and gluttony, and this over so large a part, that the citizens were fighting among themselves for the faith with arms in their hands in many parts of Florence, and this plague endured long time in Florence
Par. xi.
Par. xii.
till the coming of the holy Religions of St. Francis and of St. Dominic, the which Religions through their holy brothers, the charge of this sin of heresy having been committed to them by the Pope, greatly exterminated it in Florence, and in Milan, and in many other cities of Tuscany and of Lombardy in the time of the blessed Peter Martyr, who was martyred by the Paterines in Milan; and afterwards the other inquisitors wrought the like. And in the flames of the said fires in Florence were burnt many books and chronicles which would more fully have preserved the record of past things in our city of Florence, wherefore few are left remaining; for the which thing it has behoved us to collect from other veracious chronicles of divers cities and countries, great part of those things whereof mention has been made in this treatise.

§ 31. — How the Pisans took Majorca, and the Florentines protected the city of Pisa.

1117 A. D.
In the year of Christ 1117 the Pisans made a great 97 expedition of galleys and ships against the island of
1117 A. D.
Majorca, which the Saracens held, and when the said armada had departed from Pisa and was already assembled at Vada for the voyage, the commonwealth of Lucca marched upon Pisa to seize the city. Hearing this, the Pisans dared not go forward with their expedition for fear that the Lucchese should take possession of their city; and to draw back from their emprise did not seem for their honour in view of the great outlay and preparation which they had made. Wherefore they took counsel to send their ambassadors to the Florentines, for the two commonwealths in those times were close friends. And they begged them that they would please to protect the city, trusting them as their inmost friends and dear brothers. And on this the Florentines undertook to serve them and to protect their city against the Lucchese and all other. Wherefore the commonwealth of Florence sent thither armed folk in abundance, horse and foot, and encamped two miles outside the city, and in respect for their women they would not enter Pisa, and made a proclamation that whosoever should enter the city should answer for it with his person; and one who did enter was accordingly condemned to be hung. And when the old men who had been left in Pisa prayed the Florentines for love of them to pardon him, they would not. But the Pisans still opposed, and begged that at least they would not put him to death in their territory; whereupon the Florentine army secretly purchased a field from a peasant in the name of the commonwealth of Florence, and thereon they raised the gallows and did the execution to maintain their decree. And when the host of the Pisans returned from the conquest of Majorca they gave great 98
1117 A. D.
thanks to the Florentines, and asked them what memorial they would have of the conquest — the metal gates or two columns of porphyry which they had taken and brought from Majorca. The Florentines chose the columns, and the Pisans sent them to Florence covered with scarlet cloth, and some said that before they sent them they put them in the fire for envy. and the said columns are those which stand in front of San Giovanni.

§ 32. — How the Florentines took and destroyed the fortress of Fiesole.

1125 A. D.
In the year of Christ 1125, the Florentines came with an army to the fortress of Fiesole, which was still standing and very strong, and it was held by certain gentlemen Cattani, which had been of the city of Fiesole, and thither resorted highwaymen and refugees and evil men, which sometimes infested the roads and country of Florence; and the Florentines carried on the siege so long that for lack of victuals the fortress surrendered, albeit they would never have taken it by storm, and they caused it to be all cast down and destroyed to the foundations, and they made a decree that none should ever dare to build a fortress again at Fiesole.

§ 33. — From where the miles are measured in the territory
1125 A. D.
of Florence. § 34. — How Roger, duke of Apulia, was at war with the Church, and afterwards was reconciled with the Pope, and how after that there were two
1147 A. D.
Popes in Rome at one time. § 35. — Tells of the second crusade over seas.

1135 A. D.
§ 36. — How the Florentines destroyed the fortress of Montebuono.

In the year of Christ 1135 the fortress of Montebuono 99 was standing, which was very strong and pertained to
1135 A. D.
the house of the Bondelmonti, which were Cattani and
Par. xvi.
ancient gentlemen of the country, and from the name of this their castle the house of Bondelmonti took their name; and by reason of its strength, and because the road ran at the foot thereof, therefore they took toll, for the which thing the Florentines did not desire, nor would they have, such a fortress hard by the city; and they went thither with an army in the month of June and took it, on condition that the fortress should be destroyed, and the rest of the possessions should still pertain to the said Cattani, and that they should come and dwell in Florence. And thus the commonwealth of Florence began to grow, and by force, rather than by right, their territory increased, and they subdued to their jurisdiction every noble of the district, and destroyed the fortresses.

§ 37. — How the Florentines were discomfited at Monte
1147 A. D.
dicroce by the Counts Guidi. § 38. — How they of Prato
1154 A. D.
were discomfited by the Pistoians at Carmignano.





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