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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. 320-333.


§ 36. — How Pope Boniface VIII. gave pardons to all Christians which should go to Rome, in the year of the jubilee, 1300.

1300 A. D.
In the year of Christ 1300, according to the birth of Christ, inasmuch as it was held by many that after every hundred years from the nativity of Christ, the Pope which was reigning at the time granted great indulgences, Pope Boniface VIII., which then occupied the apostolic chair, in reverence for the nativity of Christ,
Cf. Purg.
ii. 98,99.
granted supreme and great indulgence after this manner; that within the whole course of this said year, to whatsoever Roman should visit continuously for thirty days the churches of the Blessed Apostles S. Peter and S. Paul, and to all other people which were not Romans which should do likewise for fifteen days, there should be granted full and entire remission of all their sins, both the guilt and the punishment thereof, they having made or to make confession of the same. And for consolation of the Christian pilgrims, every Friday and every solemn feast day, was shown in S. Peter’s the Veronica, the true
Par. xxxi.
image of Christ, on the napkin. For the which thing, a great part of the Christians which were living at that time, women as well as men, made the said pilgrimage from distant and divers countries, both from far and near. And it was the most marvellous thing that was ever seen, for throughout the year, without break, there were in Rome, besides the inhabitants of the city, 200,000 pilgrims, not counting those who were coming and going on their journeys;
Inf. xviii.
and all were suitably supplied and satisfied with provisions, horses as well as persons, and all was well ordered, and without tumult or strife; and I can bear witness to this, for I was present and saw it. And from the offerings made by 321 the pilgrims much treasure was added to the Church,
1300 A. D.
and all the Romans were enriched by the trade. And I, finding myself on that blessed pilgrimage in the holy city of Rome, beholding the great and ancient things therein, and reading the stories and the great doings of the Romans, written by Virgil, and by Sallust, and by Lucan, and Titus Livius, and Valerius, and Paulus Orosius, and other masters of history, which wrote alike of small things as of great, of the deeds and actions of the Romans, and also of foreign nations throughout the world, myself to preserve memorials and give examples to those which should come after took up their style and design, although as a disciple I was not worthy of such a work. But considering that our city of Florence, the daughter and creature of Rome, was rising, and had great things before her, whilst Rome was declining, it seemed to me fitting to collect in this volume and new chronicle all the deeds and beginnings of the city of Florence, in so far as it has been possible for me to find out and gather them together, and to follow the doings of the Florentines in detail, and the other notable things of the universe in brief, as long as it shall be God’s pleasure; in hope of which, rather than in my own poor learning, I undertook, by his grace, the said enterprise; and thus in the year 1300, having returned from Rome, I began to compile this book, in reverence to God and the blessed John, and in commendation of our city of Florence.

1300 A. D.
§ 37. — How Count Guido of Flanders and two sons of his surrendered to the king of France, and how they were deceived and cast into prison.

§ 38. — How the parties of the Blacks and Whites first began in the city of Pistoia.

1300 A. D.
In these times the city of Pistoia being in happy and great and good estate, among the other citizens there was one family very noble and puissant, not however of very ancient lineage, which was called the Cancellieri, born of one Ser Cancelliere, which was a merchant, and gained much wealth, and by his two wives had many sons, which by reason of their riches all became knights, and men of worth and substance, and from them were born many sons and grandsons, so at this time they numbered more than 100 men in arms, rich and puissant and of many affairs, so that not only were they the leading citizens of Pistoia, but they were among the most puissant families of Tuscany, There arose among them through their exceeding prosperity, and through the suggestion of the devil, contempt and enmity, between them which were born of one wife against them which were born of the other; and the one part took the name of the Black Cancellieri, and the other of the Whites, and this grew until they fought together, but it was not any very great affair. And one of those on the side of the White Cancellieri having been wounded, they on the side of the Black Cancellieri, to the end they might be at peace and concord with them, sent him which had done the injury and handed him over to the mercy of them which had received it, that they should take amends and vengeance for it at their will; they on the side of the White Cancellieri, ungrateful and proud, having neither pity nor love, cut off the hand of him which had been commended to their mercy on a horse manger. By which sinful beginning, not only was the house of the Cancellieri divided, but many violent deaths arose therefrom, and all the city of Pistoia was divided, for some held with one part and some with the 323 other, and they called themselves the Whites and the
1300 A. D.
Blacks, forgetting among themselves the Guelf and Ghibelline parties; and many civil strifes and much peril and loss of life arose therefrom in Pistoia; and not only in Pistoia, but afterwards the city of Florence and all Italy was contaminated by the said parties, as hereafter we shall be able to understand and know. The Florentines, fearing lest the said factions should stir up rebellion in the city to the hurt of the Guelf party, interposed to bring about an atonement between them, and took the lordship of the city, and brought both parties of the Cancellieri from Pistoia, and set them under bounds at Florence. The Black party were kept in the house of the Frescobaldi in Oltrarno, and the White party in the house of the Cerchi in Garbo, through kinship which there was between them. But like as one sick sheep infects all the flock, thus the accursed seed which came from Pistoia, being in Florence corrupted all the Florentines, and first divided all the races and families of the nobles, one part thereof holding to and favouring one side, and the other the other, and afterwards all the popolari. For the which cause and beginning of strife not only were the Cancellieri not reconciled together by the Florentines, but the Florentines by them were divided and broken up, increasing from bad to worse, as our treatise will hereafter make manifest.

§ 39. — How the city of Florence was divided and brought to shame by the said White and Black parties.

In the said time, our city of Florence was in the
1300 A. D.
greatest and happiest state which had ever been since it was rebuilt, or before, alike in greatness and power and in number of people, forasmuch as there were more than 324
1300 A. D.
30,000 citizens in the city, and more than 70,000 men capable of arms in the country within her territory; and she was great in nobility of good knights, and in free populace, and in riches, ruling over the greater part of Tuscany; whereupon the sin of ingratitude, with the instigation of the enemy of the human race, brought forth from the said prosperity pride and corruption, which put an end to the feasts and joyaunce of the Florentines. For hitherto they had been living in many delights and dainties, and in tranquillity and with continual banquets; and every year throughout almost all the city on the first day of May, there were bands and companies of men and of women, with sports and dances. But now it came to pass that through envy there arose factions among the citizens; and one of the chief and greatest began in the sesto of offence, to wit of Porte San Piero, between the house of the Cerchi, and the Donati; on the one side through envy, and on the other through rude ungraciousness. The head of the family of the Cerchi was one M. Vieri dei Cerchi, and he and those of his house were of great affairs, and powerful, and with great kinsfolk, and were very rich merchants, so that their company was among the largest in the world; these were luxurious, inoffensive, uncultured and ungracious, like folk come in a short time to great estate and
Cf. Purg.
xxiv. 22.
power. The head of the family of the Donati was M. Corso Donati, and he and those of his house were gentlemen and warriors, and of no superabundant riches, but were called by a gibe the Malefami. Neighbours they were in Florence and in the country, and while the one set was envious the other stood on their boorish dignity, so that there arose from the clash a fierce scorn between them, which was greatly inflamed by the ill 325 seed of the White and Black parties from Pistoia, as we
1300 A. D.
made mention in the last chapter. And the said Cerchi were the heads of the White party in Florence, and with them held almost all the house of the Adimari, save the branch of the Cavicciuli; all the house of the Abati, which was then very powerful, and part of them were Guelf and part were Ghibelline; a great part of the Tosinghi, specially the branch of Baschiera; part of the house of the Bardi, and part of the Rossi, and likewise some of the Frescobaldi, and part of the Nerli and of the Mannelli, and all the Mozzi, which then were very powerful in riches and in estate; all those of the house of the Scali, and the greater part of the Gherardini, all the Malespini, and a great part of the Bostichi and Giandonati, of the Pigli, and of the Vecchietti and
Par. xv.,
Arrigucci, and almost all the Cavalcanti, which were a great and powerful house, and all the Falconieri which were a powerful house of the people. And with them took part many houses and families of popolani, and lesser craftsmen, and all the Ghibelline magnates and popolani; and by reason of the great following which the Cerchi had, the government of the city was almost all in their power. On the side of the Blacks were all they of the house of the Pazzi, who may be counted with the Donati as the chiefs, and all the Visdomini and all the Manieri and Bagnesi, and all the Tornaquinci, and the Spini and the Bondelmonti, and the Gianfigliazzi, Agli, and Brunelleschi, and Cavicciuli, and the other part of the Tosinghi; all the part that was left of all the Guelf houses named above, for those which were not with the Whites held on the contrary with the Blacks. And thus from the said two parties all the city of Florence and its territory was divided and contaminated. 326
1300 A. D.
For the which cause, the Guelf party, fearing lest the said parties should be turned to account by the Ghibellines, sent to the court to Pope Boniface, that he might use some remedy. For the which thing the said Pope sent for M. Vieri de’ Cerchi, and when he came before him, he prayed him to make peace with M. Corso Donati and with his party, referring their differences to him; and he promised him to put him and his followers into great and good estate, and to grant him such spiritual favours as he might ask of him. M. Vieri, albeit he was in other things a sage knight, in this was but little sage, and was too obstinate and capricious, insomuch that he would grant nought of the Pope’s request; saying that he was at war with no man; wherefore he returned to Florence, and the Pope was moved with indignation against him and against his party. It came to pass a little while after that certain both of one party and of the other were riding through the city armed and on their guard, and with the party of the young Cerchi was Baldinaccio of the Adimari, and Baschiera of the Tosinghi, and Naldo of the Gherardini, and Giovanni Giacotti Malespini, with their followers, more than thirty on horseback; and with the young Donati were certain of the Pazzi and of the Spini, and others of their company. On the evening of the first of May, in the year 1300, while they were watching a dance of the ladies which was going forward on the piazza of Santa Trinità, one party began to scoff at the other, and to urge their horses one against the other, whence arose a great conflict and confusion, and many were wounded, and, as ill-luck would have it, Ricoverino, son of M. Ricovero of the Cerchi, had his nose cut off his face; and through the said scuffle that evening all the city was moved with apprehension and flew to arms. This 327 was the beginning of the dissensions and divisions in the
1300 A. D.
city of Florence and in the Guelf party, whence many ills and perils followed on afterwards, as in due time we shall make mention. And for this cause we have narrated thus extensively the origin of this beginning of the accursed White and Black parties, for the great and evil consequences which followed to the Guelf party, and to the Ghibellines, and to all the city of Florence, and also to all Italy; and like as the death of M. Bondelmonte the elder was the beginning of the Guelf and Ghibelline parties, so this was the beginning of the great ruin of the Guelf party and of our city. And note, that the
1299 A. D.
year before these things came to pass, the houses of the commonwealth were built, which began at the foot of the old bridge over the Arno, and extended towards the fortress of Altafronte, and to do this they raised the piles at the foot of the bridge, and they had of necessity to move the statue of Mars; and whereas at the first it looked towards the east, it was turned towards the north, wherefore, because of the augury of old, folk said: “May it please God that there come not great changes therefrom to our city.”

§ 40. — How the Cardinal d’ Acquasparta came as legate from the Pope to make peace in Florence, and could not do it.

By reason of the aforesaid events and the factions of
1300 A. D.
the White and Black parties, the captains of the Guelf party and their council were fearful lest through the said divisions and strifes the Ghibelline party might rise to more power in Florence, which under the plea of good government already seemed likely; and many Ghibellines held to be good men were beginning to be set in office; 328
1300 A. D.
and moreover those which held with the Black party, to recover their estate, sent ambassadors to the court to Pope Boniface to pray him, for the good of the city and for the party of the Church, to take some action. For the which thing straightway the Pope appointed as
Par. xii.
legate to follow up this matter Brother Matteo d’ Acquasparta, his cardinal bishop of Porto, of the Order of the Minor Friars, and sent him to Florence, which came there in the month of June following, in the said year 1300, and was received with great honour by the Florentines. And when he had taken some repose in Florence, he craved jurisdiction from the commonwealth to reconcile the Florentines together; and to the end he might take away the said White and Black parties he desired to reform the city, and to throw the offices open again; and those which were of one part and of the other which were worthy to be priors, their names were to be put into a bag together, in each of the sesti, and were to be drawn thence every two months, as chance would have it; forasmuch as through the ill-will which, had arisen from the factions and divisions, there was never an election of priors by the colleges of Consuls of the Arts but that almost all the city was moved to uproar, and at times with great preparation of arms. They of the White party which were at the head of the government of the city, through fear of losing their estate, and of being deceived by the Pope and the legate by means of the said reformation, took the worse counsel, and would not yield obedience; for the which thing the said legate was offended, and returned to court, and left the city of Florence excommunicate and under interdict.


§ 41. — Concerning the evils and dangers which followed afterwards to our city.

When the legate was departed from Florence the city
1300 A. D.
remained in great turmoil and in evil state. It came to pass in the month of December following that M. Corso Donati went with his followers, and they of the house of the Cerchi with their followers, to the burial of a lady of the house of Frescobaldi; and when the two parties came face to face, they were minded to assault one another, wherefore all the folk which were at the burial rose in uproar; and thus every one returned in flight to his own house, and all the city flew to arms, and each of the parties gathered a great assembly at their house. M. Gentile dei Cerchi, Guido Cavalcanti, Baldinaccio and
xxxii. 1.
Vita Nuova
3: 97-100;
24: 19,
45; 25:
31: 21-24;
33: 4;
De Vulg.
El. i. 13:
37; ii. 6:
68; 12: 16,
Corso of the Adimari, Baschiera della Tosa, and Naldo of the Gherardini, with their companions and followers on horse and on foot, went in haste to Porte San Piero to the house of the Donati, and not finding them at Porte San Piero, hastened to San Piero Maggiore, where was M. Corso with his companions and assembly, and by them they were stoutly resisted and driven back and wounded, to the shame and dishonour of the Cerchi and of their followers; and for this they were condemned, both the one party and the other, by the commonwealth. A little while after, certain of the Cerchi were in the country at Nepozzano and Pugliano at their country homes and farms; and as they were returning to Florence, they of the house of the Donati, being assembled with their friends at Remole, opposed their path, and there were wounds and assaults both on one side and on the other; for the which cause both one side and the other were accused and condemned for the assemblage and assaults; and the greater part of those of the 330
1300 A. D.
house of the Donati, not being able to pay their fine, chose imprisonment, and were put under confinement. The Cerchi desired to follow their example, for M. Torrigiano dei Cerchi had said: “They shall not overcome us in this wise, as they did the Tedaldini, eating them up by fines”; so he induced his companions to choose imprisonment, against the will of M. Vieri dei Cerchi and of the other wise men of his house, which knew the disposition and wantonness of their youths; and it came to pass that a certain accursed Ser Neri degli Abati, overseer of that prison, eating with them, set before them a present of a poisoned black-pudding, whereof they ate; whence in a little while, after two days, two of the White and two of the Black Cerchi died, and Pigello Portinari and Ferraino dei Bronci, and for this no vengeance was taken.

§ 42. — Of the same.

1300 A. D.
The city of Florence, being in such heat and dangers from strifes and enmities, whence very often the city was in uproar and at arms, M. Corso Donati, the Spini, the Pazzi, and some of the Tosinghi and Cavicciuli, and their followers, both magnates and popolani of their faction of the Black party, with the captains of the Guelf party, which were then of their mind and purpose, assembled in the church of Santa Trinità, and there took counsel and oath together to send ambassadors to the court to Pope Boniface, to the end he might invite some prince of the house of France, which should restore them to their estate, and abase the Popolo and the White party, and for this end to spend to their utmost power; and thus they did, wherefore the news spreading through the city through some report, the commonwealth and 331 the people were much troubled, and inquisition was
1300 A. D.
made by the magistrates; wherefore M. Corso Donati, which was leader in the matter, was condemned in goods and in person; and the other leaders thereof, in more than 20,000 pounds, and they paid them. And this done, there were banished and set under bounds Sinibaldi, brother of M. Corso, and some of his family, and M. Rosso, and M. Rossellino della Tosa, and others their companions; and M. Giacchinotto and M. Pazzino dei Pazzi, and some of the younger members of their families, and M. Geri Spini and some of his family, to the village of the Pieve. And to still all anxiety of the people sent the chiefs of the other party out of the city and placed them under bounds at Serrezzano; to wit, M. Gentile, and M. Torrigiano and Carbone of the Cerchi, and some of their companions, Baschiera della Tosa and some of his family, Baldinaccio degli Adimari and some of his family, Naldo dei Gherardini and some of his family, Guido Cavalcanti and some of his family, and Giovanni Giacotti Malespini. But this party abode less time under bounds, forasmuch as they were recalled by reason of the unhealthiness of the place, and Guido Cavalcanti
Inf. x. 58-
69, 110,
returned thence sick, whence he died; and he was a great loss, seeing that he was a philosopher and a man accomplished in many things, save only that he was too sensitive and passionate. In such fashion was our city guided in that storm.

§ 43. — How Pope Boniface sent into France for M. Charles of Valois.

When the legate, Brother Matteo d’ Acquasparta, had
1300 A. D.
returned to the papal court, he informed Pope Boniface of the evil and uncertain condition of the city of 332
1300 A. D.
Florence; and afterwards, by reason of the things which came to pass after the departure of the legate, as we have said, and by reason of the importunity and free expenditure of the captains of the Guelf party, and of the aforesaid exiles which were at the village of the Pieve hard by the court, and of M. Geri Spini (for he and his company were merchants for Pope Boniface and his general advisers), it came to pass that by their zeal and industry, and by that of M. Corso Donati, who followed the court wheresoever it went, the said Pope Boniface took counsel to send for M. Charles of Valois, brother of the king of France with a double purpose; principally for the aid of King Charles in his Sicilian war, giving the king of France and the said M. Charles to understand that he would cause him to be elected Emperor of the Romans, and confirm the election, or at the least by the authority of the Pope and of Holy Church would make him imperial lieutenant for the Church in virtue of the rights of the Church when the Empire is vacant; and beyond this he gave him the title of Peacemaker in Tuscany, to the end he might use all his force to bring Florence to his purpose. And when he sent his legate into France for the said M. Charles, the said M. Charles by the will of the king, his brother, came, as we shall hereafter make mention, in the hope of being Emperor, because of the promises of the Pope, as we have said.

1301 A. D.
§ 44. — How the Guelfs were driven from Agobbio, and how they afterwards recovered the city and drove the Ghibellines thence.

§ 45. — How the Black party were driven out of Pistoia.

In the year of Christ 1301, in the month of May, the 333 White party in Pistoia, with the aid and favour of the
1301 A. D.

Inf. xxiv.
Whites which were governing the city of Florence, drove thence the Black party and destroyed their houses, palaces and possessions, and among others a strong and rich possession of palaces and towers which pertained to the Black Cancellieri, which was called Damiata.

1301 A. D.
§ 46. — How the Interminelli and their followers were driven out of Lucca. § 47. — How the Guelf refugees from Genoa were peaceably restored. § 48. — How a comet appeared in the heavens.


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