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JOHN RUSKIN, M.A.
LECTURE I. NICHOLAS THE PISAN
LECTURE II. JOHN THE PISAN
LECTURE III. SHIELD AND APRON
LECTURE IV. PARTED PER PALE
LECTURE V. PAX VOBISCUM
LECTURE VI. MARBLE COUCHANT
LECTURE VII. MARBLE RAMPANT
LECTURE VIII. FRANCHISE
LECTURE IX. THE TYRRHENE SEA
LECTURE X. FLEUR DE LYS
LIST OF PLATES.
THE ANCIENT SHORES OF ARNO
I. THE PISAN LATONA
II. NICCOLA PISANO'S PULPIT
III. THE FOUNTAIN OF PERUGIA
IV. NORMAN IMAGERY
V. DOOR OF THE BAPTISTERY. PISA
VI. THE STORY OF ST. JOHN. ADVENT
VII. " " " " " DEPARTURE
VIII. "THE CHARGE TO ADAM" GIOVANNI PISANO
IX. " " " " MODERN ITALIAN
X. THE NATIVITY. GIOVANNI PISANO
XI. " " MODERN ITALIAN
XII. THE ANNUNCIATION AND VISITATION
THE TUSCAN ART DIRECTLY ANTECEDENT TO THE FLORENTINE
YEAR OF VICTORIES
GIVEN BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD IN MICHAELMAS
NICHOLAS THE PISAN.
1. On this day, of this month, the 20th of October, six hundred and
twenty-three years ago, the merchants and tradesmen of Florence met
before the church of Santa Croce; marched through the city to the
palace of their Podesta; deposed their Podesta; set over themselves, in
his place, a knight belonging to an inferior city; called him "Captain
of the People;" appointed under him a Signory of twelve Ancients chosen
from among themselves; hung a bell for him on the tower of the Lion,
that he might ring it at need, and gave him the flag of Florence to
bear, half white, and half red.
The first blow struck upon the bell in that tower of the Lion began the
tolling for the passing away of the feudal system, and began the joy-
peal, or carillon, for whatever deserves joy, in that of our modern
liberties, whether of action or of trade.
2. Within the space of our Oxford term from that day, namely, on the
13th of December in the same year, 1250, died, at Ferentino, in Apulia,
the second Frederick, Emperor of Germany; the second also of the two
great lights which in his lifetime, according to Dante's astronomy,
ruled the world,--whose light being quenched, "the land which was once
the residence of courtesy and valour, became the haunt of all men who
are ashamed to be near the good, or to speak to them."
"In sul paese chadice e po riga
solea valore e cortesia trovar si
prima che federigo Bavessi briga,
or puo sicuramente indi passarsi
per qualuuche lasciassi per vergogna
di ragionar co buoni, e appressarsi."
PURO., Cant. 16.
3. The "Paese che Adice e Po riga" is of course Lombardy; and might
have been enough distinguished by the name of its principal river. But
Dante has an especial reason for naming the Adige. It is always by the
valley of the Adige that the power of the German Caesars descends on
Italy; and that battlemented bridge, which doubtless many of you
remember, thrown over the Adige at Verona, was so built that the German
riders might have secure and constant access to the city. In which city
they had their first stronghold in Italy, aided therein by the great
family of the Montecchi, Montacutes, Mont-aigu-s, or Montagues; lords,
so called, of the mountain peaks; in feud with the family of the
Cappelletti,--hatted, or, more properly, scarlet-hatted, persons. And
this accident of nomenclature, assisted by your present familiar
knowledge of the real contests of the sharp mountains with the flat
caps, or petasoi, of cloud, (locally giving Mont Pilate its title,
"Pileatus,") may in many points curiously illustrate for you that
contest of Frederick the Second with Innocent the Fourth, which in the
good of it and the evil alike, represents to all time the war of the
solid, rational, and earthly authority of the King, and State, with the
more or less spectral, hooded, imaginative, and nubiform authority of
the Pope, and Church.
4. It will be desirable also that you clearly learn the material
relations, governing spiritual ones,--as of the Alps to their clouds,
so of the plains to their rivers. And of these rivers, chiefly note the
relation to each other, first, of the Adige and Po; then of the Arno
and Tiber. For the Adige, representing among the rivers and fountains
of waters the channel of Imperial, as the Tiber of the Papal power, and
the strength of the Coronet being founded on the white peaks that look
down upon Hapsburg and Hohenzollern, as that of the Scarlet Cap in the
marsh of the Campagna, "quo tenuis in sicco aqua destituisset," the
study of the policies and arts of the cities founded in the two great
valleys of Lombardy and Tuscany, so far as they were affected by their
bias to the Emperor, or the Church, will arrange itself in your minds
at once in a symmetry as clear as it will be, in our future work,
secure and suggestive.
5. "Tenuis, in sicco." How literally the words apply, as to the native
streams, so to the early states or establishings of the great cities of
the world. And you will find that the policy of the Coronet, with its
tower-building; the policy of the Hood, with its dome-building; and the
policy of the bare brow, with its cot-building,--the three main
associations of human energy to which we owe the architecture of our
earth, (in contradistinction to the dens and caves of it,)--are
curiously and eternally governed by mental laws, corresponding to the
physical ones which are ordained for the rocks, the clouds, and the
The tower, which many of you so well remember the daily sight of, in
your youth, above the "winding shore" of Thames,--the tower upon the
hill of London; the dome which still rises above its foul and
terrestrial clouds; and the walls of this city itself, which has been
"alma," nourishing in gentleness, to the youth of England, because
defended from external hostility by the difficultly fordable streams of
its plain, may perhaps, in a few years more, be swept away as heaps of
useless stone; but the rocks, and clouds, and rivers of our country
will yet, one day, restore to it the glory of law, of religion, and of
6. I am about to ask you to read the hieroglyphs upon the architecture
of a dead nation, in character greatly resembling our own,--in laws and
in commerce greatly influencing our own;--in arts, still, from her
grave, tutress of the present world. I know that it will be expected of
me to explain the merits of her arts, without reference to the wisdom
of her laws; and to describe the results of both, without investigating
the feelings which regulated either. I cannot do this; but I will at
once end these necessarily vague, and perhaps premature,
generalizations; and only ask you to study some portions of the life
and work of two men, father and son, citizens of the city in which the
energies of this great people were at first concentrated; and to deduce
from that study the conclusions, or follow out the inquiries, which it
may naturally suggest.
7. It is the modern fashion to despise Vasari. He is indeed despicable,
whether as historian or critic,--not least in his admiration of Michael
Angelo; nevertheless, he records the traditions and opinions of his
day; and these you must accurately know, before you can wisely correct.
I will take leave, therefore, to begin to-day with a sentence from
Vasari, which many of you have often heard quoted, but of which,
perhaps, few have enough observed the value.
"Niccola Pisano finding himself under certain Greek sculptors who were
carving the figures and other intaglio ornaments of the cathedral of
Pisa, and of the temple of St. John, and there being, among many spoils
of marbles, brought by the Pisan fleet,  some ancient tombs, there
was one among the others most fair, on which was sculptured the hunting
of Meleager." 
[Footnote 1: "Armata." The proper word for a land army is "esercito."]
[Footnote 2: Vol. i., p. 60, of Mrs. Foster's English translation, to
which I shall always refer, in order that English students may compare
the context if they wish. But the pieces of English which I give are my
own direct translation, varying, it will be found, often, from Mrs.
Foster's, in minute, but not unimportant, particulars.]
Get the meaning and contents of this passage well into your minds. In
the gist of it, it is true, and very notable.
8. You are in mid thirteenth century; 1200-1300. The Greek nation has
been dead in heart upwards of a thousand years; its religion dead, for
six hundred. But through the wreck of its faith, and death in its
heart, the skill of its hands, and the cunning of its design,
instinctively linger. In the centuries of Christian power, the
Christians are still unable to build but under Greek masters, and by
pillage of Greek shrines; and their best workman is only an apprentice
to the 'Graeculi esurientes' who are carving the temple of St. John.
9. Think of it. Here has the New Testament been declared for 1200
years. No spirit of wisdom, as yet, has been given to its workmen,
except that which has descended from the Mars Hill on which St. Paul
stood contemptuous in pity. No Bezaleel arises, to build new
tabernacles, unless he has been taught by Daedalus.
10. It is necessary, therefore, for you first to know precisely the
manner of these Greek masters in their decayed power; the manner which
Vasari calls, only a sentence before, "That old Greek manner,
blundering, disproportioned,"--Goffa, e sproporzionata.
"Goffa," the very word which Michael Angelo uses of Perugino. Behold,
the Christians despising the Dunce Greeks, as the Infidel modernists
despise the Dunce Christians. 
[Footnote 1: Compare "Ariadne Floreutina," Sec. 46.]
11. I sketched for you, when I was last at Pisa, a few arches of the
apse of the duomo, and a small portion of the sculpture of the font of
the Temple of St. John. I have placed them in your rudimentary series,
as examples of "quella vecchia maniera Greca, goffa e sproporzionata."
My own judgment respecting them is,--and it is a judgment founded on
knowledge which you may, if you choose, share with me, after working
with me,--that no architecture on this grand scale, so delicately
skilful in execution, or so daintily disposed in proportion, exists
elsewhere in the world.
12. Is Vasari entirely wrong then?
No, only half wrong, but very fatally half wrong. There are Greeks, and
This head with the inlaid dark iris in its eyes, from the font of St.
John, is as pure as the sculpture of early Greece, a hundred years
before Phidias; and it is so delicate, that having drawn with equal
care this and the best work of the Lombardi at Venice (in the church of
the Miracoli), I found this to possess the more subtle qualities of
design. And yet, in the cloisters of St. John Lateran at Rome, you have
Greek work, if not contemporary with this at Pisa, yet occupying a
parallel place in the history of architecture, which is abortive, and
monstrous beyond the power of any words to describe. Vasari knew no
difference between these two kinds of Greek work. Nor do your modern
architects. To discern the difference between the sculpture of the font
of Pisa, and the spandrils of the Lateran cloister, requires thorough
training of the hand in the finest methods of draughtsmanship; and,
secondly, trained habit of reading the mythology and ethics of design.
I simply assure you of the fact at present; and if you work, you may
have sight and sense of it.
13. There are Greeks, and Greeks, then, in the twelfth century,
differing as much from each other as vice, in all ages, must differ
from virtue. But in Vasari's sight they are alike; in ours, they must
be so, as far as regards our present purpose. As men of a school, they
are to be summed under the general name of 'Byzantines;' their work all
alike showing specific characters of attenuate, rigid, and in many
respects offensively unbeautiful, design, to which Vasari's epithets of
"goffa, e sproporzionata" are naturally applied by all persons trained
only in modern principles. Under masters, then, of this Byzantine race,
Niccola is working at Pisa.
14. Among the spoils brought by her fleets from Greece, is a
sarcophagus, with Meleager's hunt on it, wrought "con bellissima
maniera," says Vasari.
You may see that sarcophagus--any of you who go to Pisa;--touch it,
for it is on a level with your hand; study it, as Niccola studied it,
to your mind's content. Within ten yards of it, stand equally
accessible pieces of Niccola's own work and of his son's. Within fifty
yards of it, stands the Byzantine font of the chapel of St. John. Spend
but the good hours of a single day quietly by these three pieces of
marble, and you may learn more than in general any of you bring home
from an entire tour in Italy. But how many of you ever yet went into
that temple of St. John, knowing what to look for; or spent as much
time in the Campo Santo of Pisa, as you do in Mr. Ryman's shop on a
15. The sarcophagus is not, however, (with Vasari's pardon) in
'bellissima maniera' by any means. But it is in the classical Greek
manner instead of the Byzantine Greek manner. You have to learn the
difference between these.
Now I have explained to you sufficiently, in "Aratra Pentelici," what
the classical Greek manner is. The manner and matter of it being easily
summed--as those of natural and unaffected life;--nude life when nudity
is right and pure; not otherwise. To Niccola, the difference between
this natural Greek school, and the Byzantine, was as the difference
between the bull of Thurium and of Delhi, (see Plate 19 of "Aratra
Instantly he followed the natural fact, and became the Father of
Sculpture to Italy.
16. Are we, then, also to be strong by following the natural fact?
Yes, assuredly. That is the beginning and end of all my teaching to
you. But the noble natural fact, not the ignoble. You are to study men;
not lice nor entozoa. And you are to study the souls of men in their
bodies, not their bodies only. Mulready's drawings from the nude are
more degraded and bestial than the worst grotesques of the Byzantine or
even the Indian image makers. And your modern mob of English and
American tourists, following a lamplighter through the Vatican to have
pink light thrown for them on the Apollo Belvidere, are farther from
capacity of understanding Greek art, than the parish charity boy,
making a ghost out of a turnip, with a candle inside.
17. Niccola followed the facts, then. He is the Master of Naturalism in
Italy. And I have drawn for you his lioness and cubs, to fix that in
your minds. And beside it, I put the Lion of St. Mark's, that you may
see exactly the kind of change he made. The Lion of St. Mark's (all but
his wings, which have been made and fastened on in the fifteenth
century), is in the central Byzantine manner; a fine decorative piece
of work, descending in true genealogy from the Lion of Nemea, and the
crested skin of him that clothes the head of the Heracles of Camarina.
It has all the richness of Greek Daedal work,--nay, it has fire and
life beyond much Greek Daedal work; but in so far as it is non-natural,
symbolic, decorative, and not like an actual lion, it would be felt by
Niccola Pisano to be imperfect. And instead of this decorative
evangelical preacher of a lion, with staring eyes, and its paw on a
gospel, he carves you a quite brutal and maternal lioness, with
affectionate eyes, and paw set on her cub.
18. Fix that in your minds, then. Niccola Pisano is the Master of
Naturalism in Italy,--therefore elsewhere; of Naturalism, and all that
follows. Generally of truth, common-sense, simplicity, vitality,--and
of all these, with consummate power. A man to be enquired about, is not
he? and will it not make a difference to you whether you look, when you
travel in Italy, in his rough early marbles for this fountain of life,
or only glance at them because your Murray's Guide tells you,--and
think them "odd old things"?
19. We must look for a moment more at one odd old thing--the
sarcophagus which was his tutor. Upon it is carved the hunting of
Meleager; and it was made, or by tradition received as, the tomb of the
mother of the Countess Matilda. I must not let you pass by it without
noticing two curious coincidences in these particulars. First, in the
Greek subject which is given Niccola to read.
The boar, remember, is Diana's enemy. It is sent upon the fields of
Calydon in punishment of the refusal of the Calydonians to sacrifice to
her. 'You have refused _me_,' she said; 'you will not have Artemis
Laphria, Forager Diana, to range in your fields. You shall have the
Forager Swine, instead.'
Meleager and Atalanta are Diana's servants,--servants of all order,
purity, due sequence of season, and time. The orbed architecture of
Tuscany, with its sculptures of the succession of the labouring months,
as compared with the rude vaults and monstrous imaginations of the
past, was again the victory of Meleager.
20. Secondly, take what value there is in the tradition that this
sarcophagus was made the tomb of the mother of the
[Illustration: PLATE I:--THE PISAN LATONA. Angle of Panel of the
Adoration, in Niccola's Pulpit.]
Countess Matilda. If you look to the fourteenth chapter of the third
volume of "Modern Painters," you will find the mythic character of the
Countess Matilda, as Dante employed it explained at some length. She is
the representative of Natural Science as opposed to Theological.
21. Chance coincidences merely, these; but full of teaching for us,
looking back upon the past. To Niccola, the piece of marble was,
primarily, and perhaps exclusively, an example of free chiselling, and
humanity of treatment. What else it was to him,--what the spirits of
Atalanta and Matilda could bestow on him, depended on what he was
himself. Of which Vasari tells you nothing. Not whether he was
gentleman or clown--rich or poor--soldier or sailor. Was he never,
then, in those fleets that brought the marbles back from the ravaged
Isles of Greece? was he at first only a labourer's boy among the
scaffoldings of the Pisan apse,--his apron loaded with dust--and no man
praising him for his speech? Rough he was, assuredly; probably poor;
fierce and energetic, beyond even the strain of Pisa,--just and kind,
beyond the custom of his age, knowing the Judgment and Love of God: and
a workman, with all his soul and strength, all his days.
22. You hear the fame of him as of a sculptor only. It is right that
you should; for every great architect must be a sculptor, and be
renowned, as such, more than by his building. But Niccola Pisano had
even more influence on Italy as a builder than as a carver.
For Italy, at this moment, wanted builders more than carvers; and a
change was passing through her life, of which external edifice was a
necessary sign. I complained of you just now that you never looked at
the Byzantine font in the temple of St. John. The sacristan generally
will not let you. He takes you to a particular spot on the floor, and
sings a musical chord. The chord returns in prolonged echo from the
chapel roof, as if the building were all one sonorous marble bell.
Which indeed it is; and travellers are always greatly amused at being
allowed to ring this bell; but it never occurs to them to ask how it
came to be ringable:--how that tintinnabulate roof differs from the
dome of the Pantheon, expands into the dome of Florence, or declines
into the whispering gallery of St. Paul's.
23. When you have had full satisfaction of the tintinnabulate roof, you
are led by the sacristan and Murray to Niccola Pisano's pulpit; which,
if you have spare time to examine it, you find to have six sides, to be
decorated with tablets of sculpture, like the sides of the sarcophagus,
and to be sustained on seven pillars, three of which are themselves
carried on the backs of as many animals.
All this arrangement had been contrived before Niccola's time, and
executed again and again. But behold! between the capitals of the
pillars and the sculptured tablets there are interposed five cusped
arches, the hollow beneath the pulpit showing dark through their foils.
You have seen such cusped arches before, you think?
Yes, gentlemen, _you_ have; but the Pisans had _not_. And that
intermediate layer of the pulpit means--the change, in a word, for all
Europe, from the Parthenon to Amiens Cathedral. For Italy it means the
rise of her Gothic dynasty; it means the duomo of Milan instead of the
temple of Paestum.
24. I say the duomo of Milan, only to put the change well before your
eyes, because you all know that building so well. The duomo of Milan is
of entirely bad and barbarous Gothic, but the passion of pinnacle and
fret is in it, visibly to you, more than in other buildings. It will
therefore serve to show best what fulness of change this pulpit of
Niccola Pisano signifies.
In it there is no passion of pinnacle nor of fret. You see the edges of
it, instead of being bossed, or knopped, or crocketed, are mouldings of
severest line. No vaulting, no clustered shafts, no traceries, no
fantasies, no perpendicular flights of aspiration. Steady pillars, each
of one polished block; useful capitals, one trefoiled arch between
them; your panel above it; thereon your story of the founder of
Christianity. The whole standing upon beasts, they being indeed the
foundation of us, (which Niccola knew far better than Mr. Darwin);
Eagle to carry your Gospel message--Dove you think it ought to be?
[Illustration: PLATE II.--NICCOLA PISANO'S PULPIT.]
Eagle, says Niccola, and not as symbol of St. John Evangelist only, but
behold! with prey between its claws. For the Gospel, it is Niccola's
opinion, is not altogether a message that you may do whatever you like,
and go straight to heaven. Finally, a slab of marble, cut hollow a
little to bear your book; space enough for you to speak from at ease,--
and here is your first architecture of Gothic Christianity!
25. Indignant thunder of dissent from German doctors,--clamour from
French savants. 'What! and our Treves, and our Strasburg, and our
Poictiers, and our Chartres! And you call _this_ thing the first
architecture of Christianity!' Yes, my French and German friends, very
fine the buildings you have mentioned are; and I am bold to say I love
them far better than you do, for you will run a railroad through any of
them any day that you can turn a penny by it. I thank you also,
Germans, in the name of our Lady of Strasburg, for your bullets and
fire; and I thank you, Frenchmen, in the name of our Lady of Rouen, for
your new haberdashers' shops in the Gothic town;--meanwhile have
patience with me a little, and let me go on.
26. No passion of fretwork, or pinnacle whatever, I said, is in this
Pisan pulpit. The trefoiled arch itself, pleasant as it is, seems
forced a little; out of perfect harmony with the rest (see Plate II.).
Unnatural, perhaps, to Niccola?
Altogether unnatural to him, it is; such a thing never would have come
into his head, unless some one had shown it him. Once got into his
head, he puts it to good use; perhaps even he will let this somebody
else put pinnacles and crockets into his head, or at least, into his
son's, in a little while. Pinnacles,--crockets,--it may be, even
traceries. The ground-tier of the baptistery is round-arched, and has
no pinnacles; but look at its first story. The clerestory of the Duomo
of Pisa has no traceries, but look at the cloister of its Campo Santo.
27. I pause at the words;--for they introduce a new group of thoughts,
which presently we must trace farther.
The Holy Field;--field of burial. The "cave of Machpelah which is
before Mamre," of the Pisans. "There they buried Abraham, and Sarah his
wife; there they buried Isaac, and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried
How do you think such a field becomes holy,--how separated, as the
resting-place of loving kindred, from that other field of blood, bought
to bury strangers in?
When you have finally succeeded, by your gospel of mammon, in making
all the men of your own nation not only strangers to each other, but
enemies; and when your every churchyard becomes therefore a field of
the stranger, the kneeling hamlet will vainly drink the chalice of God
in the midst of them. The field will be unholy. No cloisters of noble
history can ever be built round such an one.
28. But the very earth of this at Pisa was holy, as you know. That
"armata" of the Tuscan city brought home not only marble and ivory, for
treasure; but earth,--a fleet's burden,--from the place where there was
healing of soul's leprosy: and their field became a place of holy
tombs, prepared for its office with earth from the land made holy by
one tomb; which all the knighthood of Christendom had been pouring out
its life to win.
29. I told you just now that this sculpture of Niccola's was the
beginning of Christian architecture. How do you judge that Christian
architecture in the deepest meaning of it to differ from all other?
All other noble architecture is for the glory of living gods and men;
but this is for the glory of death, in God and man. Cathedral,
cloister, or tomb,--shrine for the body of Christ, or for the bodies of
the saints. All alike signifying death to this world;--life, other than
of this world.
Observe, I am not saying how far this feeling, be it faith, or be it
imagination, is true or false;--I only desire you to note that the
power of all Christian work begins in the niche of the catacomb and
depth of the sarcophagus, and is to the end definable as architecture
of the tomb.
30. Not altogether, and under every condition, sanctioned in doing such
honour to the dead by the Master of it. Not every grave is by His
command to be worshipped. Graves there may be--too little guarded, yet
dishonourable;--"ye are as graves that appear not, and the men that
walk over them are not aware of them." And graves too much guarded, yet
dishonourable, "which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within
full of all uncleanness." Or graves, themselves honourable, yet which
it may be, in us, a crime to adorn. "For they indeed killed them, and
ye build their sepulchres."
Questions, these, collateral; or to be examined in due time; for the
present it is enough for us to know that all Christian architecture, as
such, has been hitherto essentially of tombs.
It has been thought, gentlemen, that there is a fine Gothic revival in
your streets of Oxford, because you have a Gothic door to your County
Remember, at all events, it was other kind of buried treasure, and
bearing other interest, which Niccola Pisano's Gothic was set to guard.
JOHN THE PISAN.
31. I closed my last lecture with the statement, on which I desired to
give you time for reflection, that Christian architecture was, in its
chief energy, the adornment of tombs,--having the passionate function
of doing honour to the dead.
But there is an ethic, or simply didactic and instructive architecture,
the decoration of which you will find to be normally representative of
the virtues which are common alike to Christian and Greek. And there is
a natural tendency to adopt such decoration, and the modes of design
fitted for it, in civil buildings. 
[Footnote: "These several rooms were indicated by symbol and device:
Victory for the soldier, Hope for the exile, the Muses for the poets,
Mercury for the artists, Paradise for the preacher."--(Sagacius Gazata,
of the Palace of Can Grande. I translate only Sismondi's quotation.)]
32. _Civil_, or _civic_, I say, as opposed to military. But again
observe, there are two kinds of military building. One, the robber's
castle, or stronghold, out of which he issues to pillage; the other,
the honest man's castle, or stronghold, into which he retreats from
pillage. They are much like each other in external forms;--but
Injustice, or Unrighteousness, sits in the gate of the one, veiled with
forest branches, (see Giotto's painting of him); and Justice or
Righteousness _enters_ by the gate of the other, over strewn forest
branches. Now, for example of this second kind of military
architecture, look at Carlyle's account of Henry the Fowler,  and of
his building military towns, or burgs, to protect his peasantry. In
such function you have the first and proper idea of a walled town,--a
place into which the pacific country people can retire for safety, as
the Athenians in the Spartan war. Your fortress of this kind is a
religious and civil fortress, or burg, defended by burgers, trained to
defensive war. Keep always this idea of the proper nature of a
fortified city:--Its walls mean protection,--its gates hospitality and
triumph. In the language familiar to you, spoken of the chief of
cities: "Its walls are to be Salvation, and its gates to be Praise."
And recollect always the inscription over the north gate of Siena: "Cor
magis tibi Sena pandit."--"More than her gates, Siena opens her heart
[Footnote 1: "Frederick," vol. i.]
33. When next you enter London by any of the great lines, I should like
you to consider, as you approach the city, what the feelings of the
heart of London are likely to be on your approach, and at what part of
the railroad station an inscription, explaining such state of her
heart, might be most fitly inscribed. Or you would still better
understand the difference between ancient and modern principles of
architecture by taking a cab to the Elephant and Castle, and thence
walking to London Bridge by what is in fact the great southern entrance
of London. The only gate receiving you is, however, the arch thrown
over the road to carry the South-Eastern Railway itself; and the only
exhibition either of Salvation or Praise is in the cheap clothes' shops
on each side; and especially in one colossal haberdasher's shop, over
which you may see the British flag waving (in imitation of Windsor
Castle) when the master of the shop is at home. 34. Next to protection
from external hostility, the two necessities in a city are of food and
water supply;--the latter essentially constant. You can store food and
forage, but water must flow freely. Hence the Fountain and the Mercato
become the centres of civil architecture.
Premising thus much, I will ask you to look once more at this cloister
of the Campo Santo of Pisa.
35. On first entering the place, its quiet, its solemnity, the
perspective of its aisles, and the conspicuous grace and precision of
its traceries, combine to give you the sensation of having entered a
true Gothic cloister. And if you walk round it hastily, and, glancing
only at a fresco or two, and the confused tombs erected against them,
return to the uncloistered sunlight of the piazza, you may quite easily
carry away with you, and ever afterwards retain, the notion that the
Campo Santo of Pisa is the same kind of thing as the cloister of
36. I will beg you to look at the building, thus photographed, more
attentively. The "long-drawn aisle" is here, indeed,--but where is the
A timber roof, simple as that of a country barn, and of which only the
horizontal beams catch the eye, connects an entirely plain outside wall
with an interior one, pierced by round-headed openings; in which are
inserted pieces of complex tracery, as foreign in conception to the
rest of the work as if the Pisan armata had gone up the Rhine instead
of to Crete, pillaged South Germany, and cut these pieces of tracery
out of the windows of some church in an advanced stage of fantastic
design at Nuremberg or Frankfort.
37. If you begin to question, hereupon, who was the Italian robber,
whether of marble or thought, and look to your Vasari, you find the
building attributed to John the Pisan; --and you suppose the son to
have been so pleased by his father's adoption of Gothic forms that he
must needs borrow them, in this manner, ready made, from the Germans,
and thrust them into his round arches, or wherever else they would go.
[Footnote 1: The present traceries are of fifteenth century work,
founded on Giovanni's design.]
We will look at something more of his work, however, before drawing
38. In the centres of the great squares of Siena and Perugia, rose,
obedient to engineers' art, two perennial fountains Without engineers'
art, the glens which cleave the sand-rock of Siena flow with living
water; and still, if there be a hell for the forger in Italy, he
remembers therein the sweet grotto and green wave of Fonte Branda. But
on the very summit of the two hills, crested by their great civic
fortresses, and in the centres of their circuit of walls, rose the two
guided wells; each in basin of goodly marble, sculptured--at Perugia,
by John of Pisa, at Siena, by James of Quercia.
39. It is one of the bitterest regrets of my life (and I have many
which some men would find difficult to bear,) that I never saw, except
when I was a youth, and then with sealed eyes, Jacopo della Quercia's
fountain.  The Sienese, a little while since, tore it down, and put
up a model of it by a modern carver. In like manner, perhaps, you will
some day knock the Elgin marbles to pieces, and commission an
Academician to put up new ones,--the Sienese doing worse than that (as
if the Athenians were _themselves_ to break their Phidias' work).
[Footnote 1: I observe that Charles Dickens had the fortune denied to
me. "The market-place, or great Piazza, is a large square, with a great
broken-nosed fountain in it." ("Pictures from Italy.")]
But the fountain of John of Pisa, though much injured, and glued
together with asphalt, is still in its place.
40. I will now read to you what Vasari first says of him, and it. (I.
67.) "Nicholas had, among other sons, one called John, who, because he
always followed his father, and, under his discipline, intended (bent
himself to, with a will,) sculpture and architecture, in a few years
became not only equal to his father, but in some things superior to
him; wherefore Nicholas, being now old, retired himself into Pisa, and
living quietly there, left the government of everything to his son.
Accordingly, when Pope Urban IV. died in Perugia, sending was made for
John, who, going there, made the tomb of that Pope of marble, the
which, together with that of Pope Martin IV., was afterwards thrown
down, when the Perugians
[Illustration: PLATE III.--THE FOUNTAIN OF PERUGIA.]
enlarged their vescovado; so that only a few relics are seen sprinkled
about the church. And the Perugians, having at the same time brought
from the mountain of Pacciano, two miles distant from the city, through
canals of lead, a most abundant water, by means of the invention and
industry of a friar of the order of St. Silvester, it was given to John
the Pisan to make all the ornaments of this fountain, as well of bronze
as of marble. On which he set hand to it, and made there three orders
of vases, two of marble and one of bronze. The first is put upon twelve
degrees of twelve-faced steps; the second is upon some columns which
put it upon a level with the first one;" (that is, in the middle of
it,) "and the third, which is of bronze, rests upon three figures which
have in the middle of them some griffins, of bronze too, which pour
water out on every side."
41. Many things we have to note in this passage, but first I will show
you the best picture I can of the thing itself.
The best I can; the thing itself being half destroyed, and what remains
so beautiful that no one can now quite rightly draw it; but Mr. Arthur
Severn, (the son of Keats's Mr. Severn,) was with me, looking
reverently at those remains, last summer, and has made, with help from
the sun, this sketch for you (Plate III.); entirely true and effective
as far as his time allowed.
Half destroyed, or more, I said it was,--Time doing grievous work on
it, and men worse. You heard Vasari saying of it, that it stood on
twelve degrees of twelve-faced steps. These--worn, doubtless, into
little more than a rugged slope--have been replaced by the moderns with
four circular steps, and an iron railing;  the bas-reliefs have been
carried off from the panels of the second vase, and its fair marble
lips choked with asphalt:--of what remains, you have here a rough but
[Footnote 1: In Mr. Severn's sketch, the form of the original
foundation is approximately restored.]
In which you see there is not a trace of Gothic feeling or design of
any sort. No crockets, no pinnacles, no foils, no vaultings, no
grotesques in sculpture. Panels between pillars, panels carried on
pillars, sculptures in those panels like the Metopes of the Parthenon;
a Greek vase in the middle, and griffins in the middle of that. Here is
your font, not at all of Saint John, but of profane and civil-
engineering John. This is _his_ manner of baptism of the town of
42. Thus early, it seems, the antagonism of profane Greek to
ecclesiastical Gothic declares itself. It seems as if in Perugia, as in
London, you had the fountains in Trafalgar Square against Queen
Elinor's Cross; or the viaduct and railway station contending with the
Gothic chapel, which the master of the large manufactory close by has
erected, because he thinks pinnacles and crockets have a pious
influence; and will prevent his workmen from asking for shorter hours,
or more wages.
43. It _seems_ only; the antagonism is quite of another kind,--or,
rather, of many other kinds. But note at once how complete it is--how
utterly this Greek fountain of Perugia, and the round arches of Pisa,
are opposed to the school of design which gave the trefoils to
Niccola's pulpit, and the traceries to Giovanni's Campo Santo.
The antagonism, I say, is of another kind than ours; but deep and wide;
and to explain it, I must pass for a time to apparently irrelevant
You were surprised, I hope, (if you were attentive enough to catch the
points in what I just now read from Vasari,) at my venturing to bring
before you, just after I had been using violent language against the
Sienese for breaking up the work of Quercia, that incidental sentence
giving account of the much more disrespectful destruction, by the
Perugians, of the tombs of Pope Urban IV., and Martin IV.
Sending was made for John, you see, first, when Pope Urban IV. died in
Perugia--whose tomb was to be carved by John; the Greek fountain being
a secondary business. But the tomb was so well destroyed, afterwards,
that only a few relics remained scattered here and there.
The tomb, I have not the least doubt, was Gothic;--and the breaking of
it to pieces was not in order to restore it afterwards, that a living
architect might get the job of restoration. Here is a stone out of one
of Giovanni Pisano's loveliest Gothic buildings, which I myself saw
with my own eyes dashed out, that a modern builder might be paid for
putting in another. But Pope Urban's tomb was not destroyed to such
end. There was no qualm of the belly, driving the hammer,--qualm of the
conscience probably; at all events, a deeper or loftier antagonism than
one on points of taste, or economy.
44. You observed that I described this Greek profane manner of design
as properly belonging to _civil_ buildings, as opposed not only to
ecclesiastical buildings, but to military ones. Justice, or
Righteousness, and Veracity, are the characters of Greek art. These
_may_ be opposed to religion, when religion becomes fantastic; but they
_must_ be opposed to war, when war becomes unjust. And if, perchance,
fantastic religion and unjust war happen to go hand in hand, your Greek
artist is likely to use his hammer against them spitefully enough.
45. His hammer, or his Greek fire. Hear now this example of the
engineering ingenuities of our Pisan papa, in his younger days.
"The Florentines having begun, in Niccola's time, to throw down many
towers, which had been built in a barbarous manner through the whole
city; either that the people might be less hurt, by their means, in the
fights that often took place between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, or
else that there might be greater security for the State, it appeared to
them that it would be very difficult to ruin the Tower of the Death-
watch, which was in the place of St. John, because it had its walls
built with such a grip in them that the stones could not be stirred
with the pickaxe, and also because it was of the loftiest; whereupon
Nicholas, causing the tower to be cut, at the foot of it, all the
length of one of its sides; and closing up the cut, as he made it, with
short (wooden) under-props, about a yard long, and setting fire to
them, when the props were burned, the tower fell, and broke itself
nearly all to pieces: which was held a thing so ingenious and so useful
for such affairs, that it has since passed into a custom, so that when
it is needful, in this easiest manner, any edifice may be thrown down."
46. 'When it is needful.' Yes; but when is that? If instead of the
towers of the Death-watch in the city, one could ruin the towers of the
Death-watch of evil pride and evil treasure in men's hearts, there
would be need enough for such work both in Florence and London. But the
walls of those spiritual towers have still stronger 'grip' in them, and
are fireproof with a vengeance.
"Le mure me parean die ferro fosse,
. . . e el mi dixe, il fuoco eterno
Chentro laffoca, le dimostra rosse."
But the towers in Florence, shattered to fragments by this ingenious
engineer, and the tombs in Perugia, which his son will carve, only that
they also may be so well destroyed that only a few relics remain,
scattered up and down the church,--are these, also, only the iron
towers, and the red-hot tombs, of the city of Dis?
Let us see.
47. In order to understand the relation of the tradesmen and working
men, including eminently the artist, to the general life of the
thirteenth century, I must lay before you the clearest elementary
charts I can of the course which the fates of Italy were now appointing
My first chart must be geographical. I want you to have a clearly
dissected and closely fitted notion of the natural boundaries of her
states, and their relations to surrounding ones. Lay hold first,
firmly, of your conception of the valleys of the Po and the Arno,
running counter to each other--opening east and opening west,--Venice
at the end of the one, Pisa at the end of the other.
48. These two valleys--the hearts of Lombardy and Etruria--virtually
contain the life of Italy. They are entirely different in character:
Lombardy, essentially luxurious and worldly, at this time rude in art,
but active; Etruria, religious, intensely imaginative, and inheriting
refined forms of art from before the days of Porsenna.
49. South of these, in mid-Italy, you have Romagna,--the valley of the
Tiber. In that valley, decayed Rome, with her lust of empire
inextinguishable;--no inheritance of imaginative art, nor power of it;
dragging her own ruins hourly into more fantastic ruin, and defiling
her faith hourly with more fantastic guilt.
South of Romagna, you have the kingdoms of Calabria and Sicily,---Magna
Graecia, and Syracuse, in decay;----strange spiritual fire from the
Saracenic east still lighting the volcanic land, itself laid all in
50. Conceive Italy then always in these four masses: Lombardy, Etruria,
Now she has three great external powers to deal with: the western,
France--the northern, Germany--the eastern, Arabia. On her right the
Frank; on her left the Saracen; above her, the Teuton. And roughly, the
French are a religious chivalry; the Germans a profane chivalry; the
Saracens an infidel chivalry. What is best of each is benefiting Italy;
what is worst, afflicting her. And in the time we are occupied with,
all are afflicting her.
What Charlemagne, Barbarossa, or Saladin did to teach her, you can
trace only by carefullest thought. But in this thirteenth century all
these three powers are adverse to her, as to each other. Map the
methods of their adversity thus:---
51. Germany, (profane chivalry,) is vitally adverse to the Popes;
endeavouring to establish imperial and knightly power against theirs.
It is fiercely, but frankly, covetous of Italian territory, seizes all
it can of Lombardy and Calabria, and with any help procurable either
from robber Christians or robber Saracens, strives, in an awkward
manner, and by open force, to make itself master of Rome, and all
52. France, all surge and foam of pious chivalry, lifts herself in
fitful rage of devotion, of avarice, and of pride. She is the natural
ally of the church; makes her own monks the proudest of the Popes;
raises Avignon into another Rome; prays and pillages insatiably; pipes
pastoral songs of innocence, and invents grotesque variations of crime;
gives grace to the rudeness of England, and venom to the cunning of
Italy. She is a chimera among nations, and one knows not whether to
admire most the valour of Guiscard, the virtue of St. Louis or the
villany of his brother.
53. The Eastern powers--Greek, Israelite, Saracen--are at once the
enemies of the Western, their prey, and their tutors.
They bring them methods of ornament and of merchandise, and stimulate
in them the worst conditions of pugnacity, bigotry, and rapine. That is
the broad geographical and political relation of races. Next, you must
consider the conditions of their time.
54. I told you, in my second lecture on Engraving, that before the
twelfth century the nations were too savage to be Christian, and after
the fifteenth too carnal to be Christian.
The delicacy of sensation and refinements of imagination necessary to
understand Christianity belong to the mid period when men risen from a
life of brutal hardship are not yet fallen to one of brutal luxury. You
can neither comprehend the character of Christ while you are chopping
flints for tools, and gnawing raw bones for food; nor when you have
ceased to do anything with either tools or hands, and dine on gilded
capons. In Dante's lines, beginning
"I saw Bellincion Berti walk abroad
In leathern girdle, with a clasp of bone,"
you have the expression of his sense of the increasing luxury of the
age, already sapping its faith. But when Bellincion Berti walked abroad
in skins not yet made into leather, and with the bones of his dinner in
a heap at his door, instead of being cut into girdle clasps, he was
just as far from capacity of being a Christian.
55. The following passage, from Carlyle's "Chartism," expresses better
than any one else has done, or is likely to do it, the nature of this
Christian era, (extending from the twelfth to the sixteenth century,)
in England,--the like being entirely true of it elsewhere:--
"In those past silent centuries, among those silent classes, much had
been going on. Not only had red deer in the New and other forests been
got preserved and shot; and treacheries  of Simon de Montfort, wars
of Red and White Roses, battles of Crecy, battles of Bosworth, and many
other battles, been got transacted and adjusted; but England wholly,
not without sore toil and aching bones to the millions of sires and the
millions of sons of eighteen generations, had been got drained and
tilled, covered with yellow harvests, beautiful and rich in
possessions. The mud-wooden Caesters and Chesters had become steepled,
tile-roofed, compact towns. Sheffield had taken to the manufacture of
Sheffield whittles. Worstead could from wool spin yarn, and knit or
weave the same into stockings or breeches for men. England had property
valuable to the auctioneer; but the accumulate manufacturing,
commercial, economic skill which lay impalpably warehoused in English
hands and heads, what auctioneer could estimate?
[Footnote 1: Perhaps not altogether so, any more than Oliver's dear
papa Carlyle. We may have to read _him_ also, otherwise than the
British populace have yet read, some day.]
"Hardly an Englishman to be met with but could do something; some
cunninger thing than break his fellow-creature's head with battle-axes.
The seven incorporated trades, with their million guild-brethren, with
their hammers, their shuttles, and tools, what an army,--fit to conquer
that land of England, as we say, and hold it conquered! Nay, strangest
of all, the English people had acquired the faculty and habit of
thinking,--even of believing; individual conscience had unfolded itself
among them;--Conscience, and Intelligence its handmaid.  Ideas of
innumerable kinds were circulating among these men; witness one
Shakspeare, a wool-comber, poacher or whatever else, at Stratford, in
Warwickshire, who happened to write books!--the finest human figure, as
I apprehend, that Nature has hitherto seen fit to make of our widely
Teutonic clay. Saxon, Norman, Celt, or Sarmat, I find no human soul so
beautiful, these fifteen hundred known years;--our supreme modern
European man. Him England had contrived to realize: were there not
[Footnote 1: Observe Carlyle's order of sequence. Perceptive Reason is
the Handmaid of Conscience, not Conscience hers. If you resolve to do
right, you will soon do wisely; but resolve only to do wisely, and you
will never do right.]
"Ideas poetic and also Puritanic, that had to seek utterance in the
notablest way! England had got her Shakspeare, but was now about to get
her Milton and Oliver Cromwell. This, too, we will call a new
expansion, hard as it might be to articulate and adjust; this, that a
man could actually have a conscience for his own behoof, and not for
his priest's only; that his priest, be he who he might, would
henceforth have to take that fact along with him."
56. You observe, in this passage, account is given you of two things--
(A) of the development of a powerful class of tradesmen and artists;
and, (B) of the development of an individual conscience.
In the savage times you had simply the hunter, digger, and robber; now
you have also the manufacturer and salesman. The ideas of ingenuity
with the hand, of fairness in exchange, have occurred to us. We can do
something now with our fingers, as well as with our fists; and if we
want our neighbours' goods, we will not simply carry them off, as of
old, but offer him some of ours in exchange.
57. Again; whereas before we were content to let our priests do for us
all they could, by gesticulating, dressing, sacrificing, or beating of
drums and blowing of trumpets; and also direct our steps in the way of
life, without any doubt on our part of their own perfect acquaintance
with it,--we have now got to do something for ourselves--to think
something for ourselves; and thus have arrived in straits of conscience
which, so long as we endeavour to steer through them honestly, will be
to us indeed a quite secure way of life, and of all living wisdom.
58. Now the centre of this new freedom of thought is in Germany; and
the power of it is shown first, as I told you in my opening lecture, in
the great struggle of Frederick II. with Rome. And German freedom of
thought had certainly made some progress, when it had managed to reduce
the Pope to disguise himself as a soldier, ride out of Rome by
moonlight, and gallop his thirty-four miles to the seaside before
[Illustration: PLATE IV.--NORMAN IMAGERY.]
summer dawn. Here, clearly, is quite a new state of things for the Holy
Father of Christendom to consider, during such wholesome horse-
59. Again; the refinements of new art are represented by France--
centrally by St. Louis with his Sainte Chapelle. Happily, I am able to
lay on your table to-day--having placed it three years ago in your
educational series--a leaf of a Psalter, executed for St. Louis
himself. He and his artists are scarcely out of their savage life yet,
and have no notion of adorning the Psalms better than by pictures of
long-necked cranes, long-eared rabbits, long-tailed lions, and red and
white goblins putting their tongues out.  But in refinement of
touch, in beauty of colour, in the human faculties of order and grace,
they are long since, evidently, past the flint and bone stage,--refined
enough, now,--subtle enough, now, to learn anything that is pretty and
fine, whether in theology or any other matter.
[Footnote 1: I cannot go to the expense of engraving this most subtle
example; but Plate IV. shows the average conditions of temper and
imagination in religious ornamental work of the time.]
60. Lastly, the new principle of Exchange is represented by Lombardy
and Venice, to such purpose that your Merchant and Jew of Venice, and
your Lombard of Lombard Street, retain some considerable influence on
your minds, even to this day.
And in the exact midst of all such transition, behold, Etruria with her
Pisans--her Florentines,--receiving, resisting, and reigning over all:
pillaging the Saracens of their marbles--binding the French bishops in
silver chains;--shattering the towers of German tyranny into small
pieces,--building with strange jewellery the belfry tower for newly-
conceived Christianity;--and, in sacred picture, and sacred song,
reaching the height, among nations, most passionate, and most pure.
I must close my lecture without indulging myself yet, by addition of
detail; requesting you, before we next meet, to fix these general
outlines in your minds, so that, without disturbing their distinctness,
I may trace in the sequel the relations of Italian Art to these
political and religious powers; and determine with what force of
passionate sympathy, or fidelity of resigned obedience, the Pisan
artists, father and son, executed the indignation of Florence and
fulfilled the piety of Orvieto.
SHIELD AND APRON.
61. I laid before you, in my last lecture, first lines of the chart of
Italian history in the thirteenth century, which I hope gradually to
fill with colour, and enrich, to such degree as may be sufficient for
all comfortable use. But I indicated, as the more special subject of
our immediate study, the nascent power of liberal thought, and liberal
art, over dead tradition and rude workmanship.
To-day I must ask you to examine in greater detail the exact relation
of this liberal art to the illiberal elements which surrounded it.
62. You do not often hear me use that word "Liberal" in any favourable
sense. I do so now, because I use it also in a very narrow and exact
sense. I mean that the thirteenth century is, in Italy's year of life,
her 17th of March. In the light of it, she assumes her toga virilis;
and it is sacred to her god Liber.
63. To her god _Liber_,--observe: not Dionusos, still less Bacchus, but
her own ancient and simple deity. And if you have read with some care
the statement I gave you, with Carlyle's help, of the moment and manner
of her change from savageness to dexterity, and from rudeness to
refinement of life, you will hear, familiar as the lines are to you,
the invocation in the first Georgic with a new sense of its meaning:--
"Vos, O clarissima mundi
Lumina, labentem coelo quae ducitis annum,
Liber, et alma Ceres; vestro si munere tellus
Chaoniam pingui glandem mutavit arista,
Poculaqu' inventis Acheloia miscuit uvis,
Munera vestra cano."
These gifts, innocent, rich, full of life, exquisitely beautiful in
order and grace of growth, I have thought best to symbolize to you, in
the series of types of the power of the Greek gods, placed in your
educational series, by the blossom of the wild strawberry; which in
rising from its trine cluster of trine leaves,--itself as beautiful as
a white rose, and always single on its stalk, like an ear of corn, yet
with a succeeding blossom at its side, and bearing a fruit which is as
distinctly a group of seeds as an ear of corn itself, and yet is the
pleasantest to taste of all the pleasant things prepared by nature for
the food of men, --may accurately symbolize, and help you to
remember, the conditions of this liberal and delightful, yet entirely
modest and orderly, art, and thought.
[Footnote 1: I am sorry to pack my sentences together in this confused
way. But I have much to say; and cannot always stop to polish or adjust
it as I used to do.]
64. You will find in the fourth of my inaugural lectures, at the 98th
paragraph, this statement,--much denied by modern artists and authors,
but nevertheless quite unexceptionally true,--that the entire vitality
of art depends upon its having for object either to _state a true
thing_, or _adorn a serviceable one_. The two functions of art in
Italy, in this entirely liberal and virescent phase of it,--virgin art,
we may call it, retaining the most literal sense of the words virga and
virgo,--are to manifest the doctrines of a religion which now, for the
first time, men had soul enough to understand; and to adorn edifices or
dress, with which the completed politeness of daily life might be
invested, its convenience completed, and its decorous and honourable
65. That pride was, among the men who gave its character to the
century, in honourableness of private conduct, and useful magnificence
of public art. Not of private or domestic art: observe this very
"Such was the simplicity of private manners,"--(I am now quoting
Sismondi, but with the fullest ratification that my knowledge enables
me to give,)--"and the economy of the richest citizens, that if a city
enjoyed repose only for a few years, it doubled its revenues, and found
itself, in a sort, encumbered with its riches. The Pisans knew neither
of the luxury of the table, nor that of furniture, nor that of a number
of servants; yet they were sovereigns of the whole of Sardinia,
Corsica, and Elba, had colonies at St. Jean d'Acre and Constantinople,
and their merchants in those cities carried on the most extended
commerce with the Saracens and Greeks." 
[Footnote 1: Sismondi; French translation, Brussels, 1838; vol. ii., p.
66. "And in that time," (I now give you my own translation of Giovanni
Villani,) "the citizens of Florence lived sober, and on coarse meats,
and at little cost; and had many customs and playfulnesses which were
blunt and rude; and they dressed themselves and their wives with coarse
cloth; many wore merely skins, with no lining, and _all_ had only
leathern buskins;  and the Florentine ladies, plain shoes and
stockings with no ornaments; and the best of them were content with a
close gown of coarse scarlet of Cyprus, or camlet girded with an old-
fashioned clasp-girdle; and a mantle over all, lined with vaire, with a
hood above; and that, they threw over their heads. The women of lower
rank were dressed in the same manner, with coarse green Cambray cloth;
fifty pounds was the ordinary bride's dowry, and a hundred or a hundred
and fifty would in those times have been held brilliant,
('isfolgorata,' dazzling, with sense of dissipation or extravagance;)
and most maidens were twenty or more before they married. Of such gross
customs were then the Florentines; but of good faith, and loyal among
themselves and in their state; and in their coarse life, and poverty,
did more and braver things than are done in our days with more
refinement and riches."
[Footnote 1: I find this note for expansion on the margin of my
lecture, but had no time to work it out:--'This lower class should be
either barefoot, or have strong shoes--wooden clogs good. Pretty
Boulogne sabot with purple stockings. Waterloo Road--little girl with
her hair in curlpapers,--a coral necklace round her neck--the neck
bare--and her boots of thin stuff, worn out, with her toes coming
through, and rags hanging from her heels,--a profoundly accurate type
of English national and political life. Your hair in curlpapers--
borrowing tongs from every foreign nation, to pinch you into manners.
The rich ostentatiously wearing coral about the bare neck; and the
poor--cold as the stones and indecent.']
67. I detain you a moment at the words "scarlet of Cyprus, or camlet."
Observe that camelot (camelet) from _kamaelotae_, camel's skin, is a
stuff made of silk and camel's hair originally, afterwards of silk and
wool. At Florence, the camel's hair would always have reference to the
Baptist, who, as you know, in Lippi's picture, wears the camel's skin
itself, made into a Florentine dress, such as Villani has just
described, "col tassello sopra," with the hood above. Do you see how
important the word "Capulet" is becoming to us, in its main idea?
68. Not in private nor domestic art, therefore, I repeat to you, but in
useful magnificence of public art, these citizens expressed their
pride:--and that public art divided itself into two branches--civil,
occupied upon ethic subjects of sculpture and painting; and religious,
occupied upon scriptural or traditional histories, in treatment of
which, nevertheless, the nascent power and liberality of thought were
apparent, not only in continual amplification and illustration of
scriptural story by the artist's own invention, but in the acceptance
of profane mythology, as part of the Scripture, or tradition, given by
69. Nevertheless, for the provision of things necessary in domestic
life, there developed itself, together with the group of inventive
artists exercising these nobler functions, a vast body of craftsmen,
and, literally, _man_ufacturers, workers by hand, who associated
themselves, as chance, tradition, or the accessibility of material
directed, in towns which thenceforward occupied a leading position in
commerce, as producers of a staple of excellent, or perhaps inimitable,
quality; and the linen or cambric of Cambray, the lace of Mechlin, the
wool of Worstead, and the steel of Milan, implied the tranquil and
hereditary skill of multitudes, living in wealthy industry, and humble
70. Among these artisans, the weaver, the ironsmith, the goldsmith, the
carpenter, and the mason necessarily took the principal rank, and on
their occupations the more refined arts were wholesomely based, so that
the five businesses may be more completely expressed thus:
The weaver and embroiderer,
The ironsmith and armourer,
The goldsmith and jeweller,
The carpenter and engineer,
The stonecutter and painter.
You have only once to turn over the leaves of Lionardo's sketch book,
in the Ambrosian Library, to see how carpentry is connected with
engineering,--the architect was always a stonecutter, and the
stonecutter not often practically separate, as yet, from the painter,
and never so in general conception of function. You recollect, at a
much later period, Kent's description of Cornwall's steward:
"KENT. You cowardly rascal!--nature disclaims in thee, a tailor made
CORNWALL. Thou art a strange fellow--a tailor make a man?
KENT. Ay, sir; a stonecutter, or a painter, could not have made him so
ill; though they had been but two hours at the trade."
71. You may consider then this group of artizans with the merchants, as
now forming in each town an important Tiers Etat, or Third State of the
people, occupied in service, first, of the ecclesiastics, who in
monastic bodies inhabited the cloisters round each church; and,
secondly, of the knights, who, with their retainers, occupied, each
family their own fort, in allied defence of their appertaining streets.
72. A Third Estate, indeed; but adverse alike to both the others, to
Montague as to Capulet, when they become disturbers of the public
peace; and having a pride of its own,--hereditary still, but consisting
in the inheritance of skill and knowledge rather than of blood,--which
expressed the sense of such inheritance by taking its name habitually
from the master rather than the sire; and which, in its natural
antagonism to dignities won only by violence, or recorded only by
heraldry, you may think of generally as the race whose bearing is the
Apron, instead of the shield.
73. When, however, these two, or in perfect subdivision three, bodies
of men, lived in harmony,--the knights remaining true to the State, the
clergy to their faith, and the workmen to their craft,--conditions of
national force were arrived at, under which all the great art of the
middle ages was accomplished. The pride of the knights, the avarice of
the priests, and the gradual abasement of character in the craftsman,
changing him from a citizen able to wield either tools in peace or
weapons in war, to a dull tradesman, forced to pay mercenary troops to
defend his shop door, are the direct causes of common ruin towards the
close of the sixteenth century.
74. But the deep underlying cause of the decline in national character
itself, was the exhaustion of the Christian faith. None of its
practical claims were avouched either by reason or experience; and the
imagination grew weary of sustaining them in despite of both. Men could
not, as their powers of reflection became developed, steadily conceive
that the sins of a life might be done away with, by finishing it with
Mary's name on the lips; nor could tradition of miracle for ever resist
the personal discovery, made by each rude disciple by himself, that he
might pray to all the saints for a twelvemonth together, and yet not
get what he asked for.
75. The Reformation succeeded in proclaiming that existing Christianity
was a lie; but substituted no theory of it which could be more
rationally or credibly sustained; and ever since, the religion of
educated persons throughout Europe has been dishonest or ineffectual;
it is only among the labouring peasantry that the grace of a pure
Catholicism, and the patient simplicities of the Puritan, maintain
their imaginative dignity, or assert their practical use.
76. The existence of the nobler arts, however, involves the harmonious
life and vital faith of the three classes whom we have just
distinguished; and that condition exists, more or less disturbed,
indeed, by the vices inherent in each class, yet, on the whole,
energetically and productively, during the twelfth, thirteenth,
fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. But our present subject being
Architecture only, I will limit your attention altogether to the state
of society in the great age of architecture, the thirteenth century. A
great age in all ways; but most notably so in the correspondence it
presented, up to a just and honourable point, with the utilitarian
energy of our own days.
77. The increase of wealth, the safety of industry, and the conception
of more convenient furniture of life, to which we must attribute the
rise of the entire artist class, were accompanied, in that century, by
much enlargement in the conception of useful public works: and--not by
_private_ enterprise,--that idle persons might get dividends out of
the public pocket,--but by _public_ enterprise,--each citizen paying
down at once his share of what was necessary to accomplish the benefit
to the State,--great architectural and engineering efforts were made
for the common service. Common, observe; but not, in our present sense,
republican. One of the most ludicrous sentences ever written in the
blindness of party spirit is that of Sismondi, in which he declares,
thinking of these public works only, that 'the architecture of the
thirteenth century is entirely republican.' The architecture of the
thirteenth century is, in the mass of it, simply baronial or
ecclesiastical; it is of castles, palaces, or churches; but it is true
that splendid civic works were also accomplished by the vigour of the
newly risen popular power.
"The canal named Naviglio Graude, which brings the waters of the Ticino
to Milan, traversing a distance of thirty miles, was undertaken in
1179, recommended in 1257, and, soon after, happily terminated; in it
still consists the wealth of a vast extent of Lombardy. At the same
time the town of Milan rebuilt its walls, which were three miles round,
and had sixteen marble gates, of magnificence which might have graced
the capital of all Italy. The Genovese, in 1276 and 1283, built their
two splendid docks, and the great wall of their quay; and in 1295
finished the noble aqueduct which brings pure and abundant waters to
their city from a great distance among their mountains. There is not a
single town in Italy which at the same time did not undertake works of
this kind; and while these larger undertakings were in progress, stone
bridges were built across the rivers, the streets and piazzas were
paved with large slabs of stone, and every free government recognized
the duty of providing for the convenience of the citizens." 
[Footnote 1: Simondi, vol ii. chap. 10.]
78. The necessary consequence of this enthusiasm in useful building,
was the formation of a vast body of craftsmen and architects;
corresponding in importance to that which the railway, with its
associated industry, has developed in modern times, but entirely
different in personal character, and relation to the body politic.
Their personal character was founded on the accurate knowledge of their
business in all respects; the ease and pleasure of unaffected
invention; and the true sense of power to do everything better than it
had ever been yet done, coupled with general contentment in life, and
in its vigour and skill.
It is impossible to overrate the difference between such a condition of
mind, and that of the modern artist, who either does not know his
business at all, or knows it only to recognize his own inferiority to
every former workman of distinction.
79. Again: the political relation of these artificers to the State was
that of a caste entirely separate from the noblesse;  paid for their
daily work what was just, and competing with each other to supply the
best article they could for the money. And it is, again, impossible to
overrate the difference between such a social condition, and that of
the artists of to-day, struggling to occupy a position of equality in
wealth with the noblesse,--paid irregular and monstrous prices by an
entirely ignorant and selfish public; and competing with each other to
supply the worst article they can for the money.
[Footnote 1: The giving of knighthood to Jacopo della Quercia for his
lifelong service to Siena was not the elevation of a dexterous workman,
but grace to a faithful citizen.]
I never saw anything so impudent on the walls of any exhibition, in any
country, as last year in London. It was a daub professing to be a
"harmony in pink and white" (or some such nonsense;) absolute rubbish,
and which had taken about a quarter of an hour to scrawl or daub--it
had no pretence to be called painting. The price asked for it was two
hundred and fifty guineas.
80. In order to complete your broad view of the elements of social
power in the thirteenth century, you have now farther to understand the
position of the country people, who maintained by their labour these
three classes, whose action you can discern, and whose history you can
read; while, of those who maintained them, there is no history, except
of the annual ravage of their fields by contending cities or nobles;--
and, finally, that of the higher body of merchants, whose influence was
already beginning to counterpoise the prestige of noblesse in Florence,
and who themselves constituted no small portion of the noblesse of
The food-producing country was for the most part still possessed by the
nobles; some by the ecclesiastics; but a portion, I do not know how
large, was in the hands of peasant proprietors, of whom Sismondi gives
this, to my mind, completely pleasant and satisfactory, though, to his,
very painful, account:--
"They took no interest in public affairs; they had assemblies of their
commune at the village in which the church of their parish was
situated, and to which they retreated to defend themselves in case of
war; they had also magistrates of their own choice; but all their
interests appeared to them enclosed in the circle of their own
commonality; they did not meddle with general politics, and held it for
their point of honour to remain faithful, through all revolutions, to
the State of which they formed a part, obeying, without hesitation, its
chiefs, whoever they were, and by whatever title they occupied their
81. Of the inferior agricultural labourers, employed on the farms of
the nobles and richer ecclesiastics, I find nowhere due notice, nor
does any historian seriously examine their manner of life. Liable to
every form of robbery and oppression, I yet regard their state as not
only morally but physically happier than that of riotous soldiery, or
the lower class of artizans, and as the safeguard of every civilized
nation, through all its worst vicissitudes of folly and crime. Nature
has mercifully appointed that seed must be sown, and sheep folded,
whatever lances break, or religions fail; and at this hour, while the
streets of Florence and Verona are full of idle politicians, loud of
tongue, useless of hand and treacherous of heart, there still may be
seen in their market-places, standing, each by his heap of pulse or
maize, the grey-haired labourers, silent, serviceable, honourable,
keeping faith, untouched by change, to their country and to Heaven. 
[Footnote 1: Compare "Sesame and Lilies," sec. 38, p. 58. (P. 86 of the
small edition of 1882.)
82. It is extremely difficult to determine in what degree the feelings
or intelligence of this class influenced the architectural design of
the thirteenth century;--how far afield the cathedral tower was
intended to give delight, and to what simplicity of rustic conception
Quercia or Ghiberti appealed by the fascination of their Scripture
history. You may at least conceive, at this date, a healthy animation
in all men's minds, and the children of the vineyard and sheepcote
crowding the city on its festa days, and receiving impulse to busier,
if not nobler, education, in its splendour. 
[Footnote 1: Of detached abbeys, see note on Education of Joan of Arc,
"Sesame and Lilies," sec. 82, p. 106. (P. 158 of the small edition of
83. The great class of the merchants is more difficult to define; but
you may regard them generally as the examples of whatever modes of life
might be consistent with peace and justice, in the economy of transfer,
as opposed to the military license of pillage.
They represent the gradual ascendancy of foresight, prudence, and order
in society, and the first ideas of advantageous national intercourse.
Their body is therefore composed of the most intelligent and temperate
natures of the time,--uniting themselves, not directly for the purpose
of making money, but to obtain stability for equal institutions,
security of property, and pacific relations with neighbouring states.
Their guilds form the only representatives of true national council,
unaffected, as the landed proprietors were, by merely local
circumstances and accidents.
84. The strength of this order, when its own conduct was upright, and
its opposition to the military body was not in avaricious cowardice,
but in the resolve to compel justice and to secure peace, can only be
understood by you after an examination of the great changes in the
government of Florence during the thirteenth century, which, among
other minor achievements interesting to us, led to that destruction of
the Tower of the Death-watch, so ingeniously accomplished by Niccola
Pisano. This change, and its results, will be the subject of my next
lecture. I must to-day sum, and in some farther degree make clear, the
facts already laid before you.
85. We have seen that the inhabitants of every great Italian state may
be divided, and that very stringently, into the five classes of
knights, priests, merchants, artists, and peasants. No distinction
exists between artist and artizan, except that of higher genius or
better conduct; the best artist is assuredly also the best artizan; and
the simplest workman uses his invention and emotion as well as his
fingers. The entire body of artists is under the orders (as shopmen are
under the orders of their customers), of the knights, priests, and
merchants,--the knights for the most part demanding only fine
goldsmiths' work, stout armour, and rude architecture; the priests
commanding both the finest architecture and painting, and the richest
kinds of decorative dress and jewellery,--while the merchants directed
works of public use, and were the best judges of artistic skill. The
competition for the Baptistery gates of Florence is before the guild of
merchants; nor is their award disputed, even in thought, by any of the
86. This is surely a fact to be taken much to heart by our present
communities of Liverpool and Manchester. They probably suppose, in
their modesty, that lords and clergymen are the proper judges of art,
and merchants can only, in the modern phrase, 'know what they like,' or
follow humbly the guidance of their golden-crested or flat-capped
superiors. But in the great ages of art, neither knight nor pope shows
signs of true power of criticism. The artists crouch before them, or
quarrel with them, according to their own tempers. To the merchants
they submit silently, as to just and capable judges. And look what men
these are, who submit. Donatello, Ghiberti, Quercia, Luca! If men like
these submit to the merchant, who shall rebel?
87. But the still franker, and surer, judgment of innocent pleasure was
awarded them by all classes alike: and the interest of the public was
the _final _rule of right,--that public being always eager to see, and
earnest to learn. For the stories told by their artists formed, they
fully believed, a Book of Life; and every man of real genius took up
his function of illustrating the scheme of human morality and
salvation, as naturally, and faithfully, as an English mother of to-day
giving her children their first lessons in the Bible. In this endeavour
to teach they almost unawares taught themselves; the question "How
shall I represent this most clearly?" became to themselves, presently,
"How was this most likely to have happened?" and habits of fresh and
accurate thought thus quickly enlivened the formalities of the Greek
pictorial theology; formalities themselves beneficent, because
restraining by their severity and mystery the wantonness of the newer
life. Foolish modern critics have seen nothing in the Byzantine school
but a barbarism to be conquered and forgotten. But that school brought
to the art-scholars of the thirteenth century, laws which had been
serviceable to Phidias, and symbols which had been beautiful to Homer:
and methods and habits of pictorial scholarship which gave a refinement
of manner to the work of the simplest craftsman, and became an
education to the higher artists which no discipline of literature can
now bestow, developed themselves in the effort to decipher, and the
impulse to re-interpret, the Eleusinian divinity of Byzantine
88. The words I have just used, "pictorial scholarship," and "pictorial
theology," remind me how strange it must appear to you that in this
sketch of the intellectual state of Italy in the thirteenth century I
have taken no note of literature itself, nor of the fine art of Music
with which it was associated in minstrelsy. The corruption of the
meaning of the word "clerk," from "a chosen person" to "a learned one,"
partly indicates the position of literature in the war between the
golden crest and scarlet cap; but in the higher ranks, literature and
music became the grace of the noble's life, or the occupation of the
monk's, without forming any separate class, or exercising any
materially visible political power. Masons or butchers might establish
a government,--but never troubadours: and though a good knight held his
education to be imperfect unless he could write a sonnet and sing it,
he did not esteem his castle to be at the mercy of the "editor" of a
manuscript. He might indeed owe his life to the fidelity of a minstrel,
or be guided in his policy by the wit of a clown; but he was not the
slave of sensual music, or vulgar literature, and never allowed his
Saturday reviewer to appear at table without the cock's comb.
89. On the other hand, what was noblest in thought or saying was in
those times as little attended to as it is now. I do not feel sure
that, even in after times, the poem of Dante has had any political
effect on Italy; but at all events, in his life, even at Verona, where
he was treated most kindly, he had not half so much influence with Can
Grande as the rough Count of Castelbarco, not one of whose words was
ever written, or now remains; and whose portrait, by no means that of a
man of literary genius, almost disfigures, by its plainness, the
otherwise grave and perfect beauty of his tomb.
PARTED PER PALE.
90. The chart of Italian intellect and policy which I have endeavoured
to put into form in the last three lectures, may, I hope, have given
you a clear idea of the subordinate, yet partly antagonistic, position
which the artist, or merchant,--whom in my present lecture I shall
class together,--occupied, with respect to the noble and priest. As an
honest labourer, he was opposed to the violence of pillage, and to the
folly of pride: as an honest thinker, he was likely to discover any
latent absurdity in the stories he had to represent in their nearest
likelihood; and to be himself moved strongly by the true meaning of
events which he was striving to make ocularly manifest. The painter
terrified himself with his own fiends, and reproved or comforted
himself by the lips of his own saints, far more profoundly than any
verbal preacher; and thus, whether as craftsman or inventor, was likely
to be foremost in defending the laws of his city, or directing its
91. The contest of the craftsman with the pillaging soldier is
typically represented by the war of the Lombard League with Frederick
II.; and that of the craftsman with the hypocritical priest, by the war
of the Pisans with Gregory IX. (1241). But in the present lecture I
wish only to fix your attention on the revolutions in Florence, which
indicated, thus early, the already established ascendancy of the moral
forces which were to put an end to open robber-soldiership; and at
least to compel the assertion of some higher principle in war, if not,
as in some distant day may be possible, the cessation of war itself.
The most important of these revolutions was virtually that of which I
before spoke to you, taking place in mid-thirteenth century, in the
year l250,--a very memorable one for Christendom, and the very crisis
of vital change in its methods of economy, and conceptions of art.
92. Observe, first, the exact relations at that time of Christian and
Profane Chivalry. St. Louis, in the winter of 1248-9, lay in the isle
of Cyprus, with his crusading army. He had trusted to Providence for
provisions; and his army was starving. The profane German emperor,
Frederick II., was at war with Venice, but gave a safe-conduct to the
Venetian ships, which enabled them to carry food to Cyprus, and to save
St. Louis and his crusaders. Frederick had been for half his life
excommunicate,--and the Pope (Innocent IV.) at deadly spiritual and
temporal war with him;--spiritually, because he had brought Saracens
into Apulia; temporally, because the Pope wanted Apulia for himself.
St. Louis and his mother both wrote to Innocent, praying him to be
reconciled to the kind heretic who had saved the whole crusading army.
But the Pope remained implacably thundrous; and Frederick, weary of
quarrel, stayed quiet in one of his Apulian castles for a year. The
repose of infidelity is seldom cheerful, unless it be criminal.
Frederick had much to repent of, much to regret, nothing to hope, and
nothing to do. At the end of his year's quiet he was attacked by
dysentery, and so made his final peace with the Pope, and heaven,--aged
93. Meantime St. Louis had gone on into Egypt, had got his army
defeated, his brother killed, and himself carried captive. You may be
interested in seeing, in the leaf of his psalter which I have laid on
the table, the death of that brother set down in golden letters,
between the common letters of ultramarine, on the eighth of February.
94. Providence, defied by Frederick, and trusted in by St. Louis, made
such arrangements for them both; Providence not in anywise regarding
the opinions of either king, but very much regarding the facts, that
the one had no business in Egypt, nor the other in Apulia.
No two kings, in the history of the world, could have been happier, or
more useful, than these two might have been, if they only had had the
sense to stay in their own capitals, and attend to their own affairs.
But they seem only to have been born to show what grievous results,
under the power of discontented imagination, a Christian could achieve
by faith, and a philosopher by reason. 
[Footnote 1: It must not be thought that this is said in disregard of
the nobleness of either of these two glorious Kings. Among the many
designs of past years, one of my favorites was to write a life of
Frederick II. But I hope that both his, and that of Henry II. of
England, will soon be written now, by a man who loves them as well as I
do, and knows them far better.]
95. The death of Frederick II. virtually ended the soldier power in
Florence; and the mercantile power assumed the authority it
thenceforward held, until, in the hands of the Medici, it destroyed the
We will now trace the course and effects of the three revolutions which
closed the reign of War, and crowned the power of Peace.
96. In the year 1248, while St. Louis was in Cyprus, I told you
Frederick was at war with Venice. He was so because she stood, if not
as the leader, at least as the most important ally, of the great
Lombard mercantile league against the German military power.
That league consisted essentially of Venice, Milan, Bologna, and Genoa,
in alliance with the Pope; the Imperial or Ghibelline towns were, Padua
and Verona under Ezzelin; Mantua, Pisa, and Siena. I do not name the
minor towns of north Italy which associated themselves with each party:
get only the main localities of the contest well into your minds. It
was all concentrated in the furious hostility of Genoa and Pisa; Genoa
fighting really very piously for the Pope, as well as for herself; Pisa
for her own hand, and for the Emperor as much as suited her. The mad
little sea falcon never caught sight of another water-bird on the wing,
but she must hawk at it; and as an ally of the Emperor, balanced Venice
and Genoa with her single strength. And so it came to pass that the
victory of either the Guelph or Ghibelline party depended on the final
action of Florence.
97. Florence meanwhile was fighting with herself, for her own
amusement. She was nominally at the head of the Guelphic League in
Tuscany; but this only meant that she hated Siena and Pisa, her
southern and western neighbours. She had never declared openly against
the Emperor. On the contrary, she always recognized his authority, in
an imaginative manner, as representing that of the Caesars. She spent
her own energy chiefly in street-fighting,--the death of Buondelmonti
in 1215 having been the root of a series of quarrels among her nobles
which gradually took the form of contests of honour; and were a kind of
accidental tournaments, fought to the death, because they could not be
exciting or dignified enough on any other condition. And thus the
manner of life came to be customary, which you have accurately, with
its consequences, pictured by Shakspeare. Samson bites his thumb at
Abraham, and presently the streets are impassable in battle. The
quarrel in the Canongate between the Leslies and Seytons, in Scott's
'Abbot,' represents the same temper; and marks also, what Shakspeare
did not so distinctly, because it would have interfered with the
domestic character of his play, the connection of these private
quarrels with political divisions which paralyzed the entire body of
the State.--Yet these political schisms, in the earlier days of Italy,
never reached the bitterness of Scottish feud,  because they were
never so sincere. Protestant and Catholic Scotsmen faithfully believed
each other to be servants of the devil; but the Guelph and Ghibelline
of Florence each respected, in the other, the fidelity to the Emperor,
or piety towards the Pope, which he found it convenient, for the time,
to dispense with in his own person. The street fighting was therefore
more general, more chivalric, more good-humoured; a word of offence set
all the noblesse of the town on fire; every one rallied to his post;
fighting began at once in half a dozen places of recognized
convenience, but ended in the evening; and, on the following day, the
leaders determined in contended truce who had fought best, buried their
dead triumphantly, and better fortified any weak points, which the
events of the previous day had exposed at their palace corners.
Florentine dispute was apt to centre itself about the gate of St.
Peter,  the tower of the cathedral, or the fortress-palace of the
Uberti, (the family of Dante's Bellincion Berti and of Farinata), which
occupied the site of the present Palazzo Vecchio. But the streets of
Siena seem to have afforded better barricade practice. They are as
steep as they are narrow--extremely both; and the projecting stones on
their palace fronts, which were left, in building, to sustain, on
occasion, the barricade beams across the streets, are to this day
important features in their architecture.
[Footnote 1: Distinguish always the personal from the religious feud;
personal feud is more treacherous and violent in Italy than in
Scotland; but not the political or religious feud, unless involved with
vast material interests.]
[Footnote 2: Sismondi, vol. ii., chap. ii.; G. Villani, vi., 33.]
98. Such being the general state of matters in Florence, in this year
1248, Frederick writes to the Uberti, who headed the Ghibellines, to
engage them in serious effort to bring the city distinctly to the
Imperial side. He was besieging Parma; and sent his natural son,
Frederick, king of Antioch, with sixteen hundred German knights, to
give the Ghibellines assured preponderance in the next quarrel.
The Uberti took arms before their arrival; rallied all their Ghibelline
friends into a united body, and so attacked and carried the Guelph
barricades, one by one, till their antagonists, driven together by
local defeat, stood in consistency as complete as their own, by the
gate of St. Peter, 'Scheraggio.' Young Frederick, with his German
riders, arrived at this crisis; the Ghibellines opening the gates to
him; the Guelphs, nevertheless, fought at their outmost barricade for
four days more; but at last, tired, withdrew from the city, in a body,
on the night of Candlemas, 2nd February, 1248; leaving the Ghibellines
and their German friends to work their pleasure,--who immediately set
themselves to throw down the Guelph palaces, and destroyed six-and-
thirty of them, towers and all, with the good help of Niccola Pisano,--
for this is the occasion of that beautiful piece of new engineering of
99. It is the first interference of the Germans in Florentine affairs
which belongs to the real cycle of modern history. Six hundred years
later, a troop of German riders entered Florence again, to restore its
Grand Duke; and our warmhearted and loving English poetess, looking on
from Casa Guidi windows, gives the said Germans many hard words, and
thinks her darling Florentines entirely innocent in the matter. But if
she had had clear eyes, (yeux de lin  the Romance of the Rose calls
them,) she would have seen that white-coated cavalry with its heavy
guns to be nothing more than the rear-guard of young Frederick of
Antioch; and that Florence's own Ghibellines had opened her gates to
them. Destiny little regards cost of time; she does her justice at that
telescopic distance just as easily and accurately as close at hand.
[Footnote 1: Lynx.]
100. "Frederick of _Antioch_." Note the titular coincidence. The
disciples were called Christians first in Antioch; here we have our
lieutenant of Antichrist also named from that town. The anti-Christian
Germans got into Florence upon Sunday morning; the Guelphs fought on
till Wednesday, which was Candlemas;--the Tower of the Death-watch was
thrown down next day. It was so called because it stood on the Piazza
of St John; and all dying people in Florence called on St. John for
help; and looked, if it might be, to the top of this highest and best-
built of towers. The wicked anti-Christian Ghibellines, Nicholas of
Pisa helping, cut the side of it "so that the tower might fall on the
Baptistery. But as it pleased God, for better reverencing of the
blessed St. John, the tower, which was a hundred and eighty feet high,
as it was coming down, plainly appeared to eschew the holy church, and
turned aside, and fell right across the square; at which all the
Florentines marvelled, (pious or impious,) and the _people_ (anti-
Ghibelline) were greatly delighted."
101. I have no doubt that this story is apocryphal, not only in its
attribution of these religious scruples to the falling tower; but in
its accusation of the Ghibellines as having definitely intended the
destruction of the Baptistery. It is only modern reformers who feel the
absolute need of enforcing their religious opinions in so practical a
manner. Such a piece of sacrilege would have been revolting to
Farinata; how much more to the group of Florentines whose temper is
centrally represented by Dante's, to all of whom their "bel San
Giovanni" was dear, at least for its beauty, if not for its sanctity.
And Niccola himself was too good a workman to become the instrument of
the destruction of so noble a work,--not to insist on the extreme
probability that he was also too good an engineer to have had his
purpose, if once fixed, thwarted by any tenderness in the conscience of
the collapsing tower. The tradition itself probably arose after the
rage of the exiled Ghibellines had half consented to the destruction,
on political grounds, of Florence itself; but the form it took is of
extreme historical value, indicating thus early at least the suspected
existence of passions like those of the Cromwellian or Garibaldian
soldiery in the Florentine noble; and the distinct character of the
Ghibelline party as not only anti-Papal, but profane.
102. Upon the castles, and the persons of their antagonists, however,
the pride, or fear, of the Ghibellines had little mercy; and in their
day of triumph they provoked against themselves nearly every rational
as well as religious person in the commonwealth. They despised too much
the force of the newly-risen popular power, founded on economy,
sobriety, and common sense; and, alike by impertinence and pillage,
increased the irritation of the civil body; until, as aforesaid, on the
20th October, 1250, all the rich burgesses of Florence took arms; met
in the square before the church of Santa Croce, ("where," says
Sismondi, "the republic of the dead is still assembled today,") thence
traversed the city to the palace of the Ghibelline podesta; forced him
to resign; named Uberto of Lucca in his place, under the title of
Captain of the People; divided themselves into twenty companies, each,
in its own district of the city, having its captain  and standard;
and elected a council of twelve ancients, constituting a seniory or
signoria, to deliberate on and direct public affairs.
[Footnote 1: 'Corporal,' literally'.]
103. What a perfectly beautiful republican movement! thinks Sismondi,
seeing, in all this, nothing but the energy of a multitude; and
entirely ignoring the peculiar capacity of this Florentine mob,--
capacity of two virtues, much forgotten by modern republicanism,--
order, namely; and obedience; together with the peculiar instinct of
this Florentine multitude, which not only felt itself to need captains,
but knew where to find them.
104. Hubert of Lucca--How came they, think you, to choose _him _out of
a stranger city, and that a poorer one than their own? Was there no
Florentine then, of all this rich and eager crowd, who was fit to
I cannot find any account of this Hubert, Bright mind, of Ducca;
Villani says simply of him, "Fu il primo capitano di Firenze."
They hung a bell for him in the Campanile of the Lion, and gave him the
flag of Florence to bear; and before the day was over, that 20th of
October, he had given every one of the twenty companies their flags
also. And the bearings of the said gonfalons were these. I will give
you this heraldry as far as I can make it out from Villani; it will be
very useful to us afterwards; I leave the Italian when I cannot
105. A. Sesto, (sixth part of the city,) of the other side of Arno.
Gonfalon 1. Gules; a ladder, argent.
2. Argent; a scourge, sable.
3. Azure; (una piazza bianca con
4. Gules; a dragon, vert.
B. Sesto of St. Peter Scheraggio.
1. Azure; a chariot, or.
2. Or; a bull, sable.
3. Argent; a lion rampant, sable.
4. (A lively piece, "pezza gagliarda")
Barry of (how many?) pieces,
argent and sable.
You may as well note at once of this kind of bearing, called
'gagliarda' by Villani, that these groups of piles, pales, bends, and
bars, were called in English heraldry 'Restrial bearings,' "in respect
of their strength and solid substance, which is able to abide the
stresse and force of any triall they shall be put unto."  And also
that, the number of bars being uncertain, I assume the bearing to be
'barry,' that is, having an even number of bars; had it been odd, as of
seven bars, it should have been blazoned, argent; three bars, sable;
or, if so divided, sable, three bars argent.
[Footnote 1: Guillim, sect. ii., chap. 3.]
This lively bearing was St. Pulinari's.
C. Sesto of Borgo.
1. Or; a viper, vert.
2. Argent; a needle, (?) (aguglia)
3. Vert; a horse unbridled;
draped, argent, a cross,
D. Sesto of St. Brancazio.
1. Vert; a lion rampant, proper.
2. Argent; a lion rampant, gules.
3. Azure; a lion rampant, argent.
E. Sesto of the Cathedral gates.
1. Azure; a lion (passant?) or.
2. Or; a dragon, vert.
3. Argent; a lion rampant,
azure, crowned, or.
F. Sesto of St. Peter's gates.
1. Or; two keys, gules.
2. An Italian (or more definitely
a Greek and Etruscan bearing;
I do not know how to
blazon it;) concentric bands,
argent and sable. This is
one of the remains of the
Greek expressions of storm;
hail, or the Trinacrian limbs,
being put on the giant's
shields also. It is connected
besides with the Cretan
labyrinth, and the circles of
3. Parted per fesse, gules and
vai (I don't know if vai
means grey--not a proper
heraldic colour--or vaire).
106. Of course Hubert of Lucca did not determine these bearings, but
took them as he found them, and appointed them for standards;  he
did the same for all the country parishes, and ordered them to come
into the city at need. "And in this manner the old people of Florence
ordered itself; and for more strength of the people, they ordered and
began to build the palace which is behind the Badia,--that is to say,
the one which is of dressed stone, with the tower; for before there was
no palace of the commune in Florence, but the signory abode sometimes
in one part of the town, sometimes in another.
[Footnote 1: We will examine afterwards the heraldry of the trades,
chap, xi., Villani.]
107. "And as the people had now taken state and signory on themselves,
they ordered, for greater strength of the people, that all the towers
of Florence--and there were many 180 feet high --should be cut down
to 75 feet, and no more; and so it was done, and with the stones of
them they walled the city on the other side Arno."
[Footnote: 120 braccia.]
108. That last sentence is a significant one. Here is the central
expression of the true burgess or townsman temper,--resolute
maintenance of fortified peace. These are the walls which modern
republicanism throws down, to make boulevards over their ruins.
109. Such new order being taken, Florence remained quiet for full two
months. On the 13th of December, in the same year, died the Emperor
Frederick II.; news of his death did not reach Florence till the 7th
January, 1251. It had chanced, according to Villani, that on the actual
day of his death, his Florentine vice-regent, Rinieri of Montemerlo,
was killed by a piece of the vaulting  of his room falling on him as
he slept. And when the people heard of the Emperor's death, "which was
most useful and needful for Holy Church, and for our commune," they
took the fall of the roof on his lieutenant as an omen of the
extinction of Imperial authority, and resolved to bring home all their
Guelphic exiles, and that the Ghibellines should be forced to make
peace with them. Which was done, and the peace really lasted for full
six months; when, a quarrel chancing with Ghibelline Pistoja, the
Florentines, under a Milanese podesta, fought their first properly
communal and commercial battle, with great slaughter of Pistojese.
Naturally enough, but very unwisely, the Florentine Ghibellines
declined to take part in this battle; whereupon the people, returning
flushed with victory, drove them all out, and established pure Guelph
government in Florence, changing at the same time the flag of the city
from gules, a lily argent, to argent, a lily gules; but the most
ancient bearing of all, simply parted per pale, argent and gules,
remained always on their carroccio of battle,--"Non si muto mai."
[Footnote 1: "Una volta ch' era sopra la camera."]
110. "Non si muto mai." Villani did not know how true his words were.
That old shield of Florence, parted per pale, argent and gules, (or our
own Saxon Oswald's, parted per pale, or and purpure,) are heraldry
changeless in sign; declaring the necessary balance, in ruling men, of
the Rational and Imaginative powers; pure Alp, and glowing cloud.
Church and State--Pope and Emperor--Clergy and Laity,--all these are
partial, accidental--too often, criminal--oppositions; but the bodily
and spiritual elements, seemingly adverse, remain in everlasting
Not less the new bearing of the shield, the red fleur-de-lys, has
another meaning. It is red, not as ecclesiastical, but as free. Not of
Guelph against Ghibelline, but of Labourer against Knight. No more his
serf, but his minister. His duty no more 'servitium,' but
'ministerium,' 'mestier.' We learn the power of word after word, as of
sign after sign, as we follow the traces of this nascent art. I have
sketched for you this lily from the base of the tower of Giotto. You
may judge by the subjects of the sculpture beside it that it was built
just in this fit of commercial triumph; for all the outer bas-reliefs
are of trades.
111. Draw that red lily then, and fix it in your minds as the sign of
the great change in the temper of Florence, and in her laws, in mid-
thirteenth century; and remember also, when you go to Florence and see
that mighty tower of the Palazzo Vecchio (noble still, in spite of the
calamitous and accursed restorations which have smoothed its rugged
outline, and effaced with modern vulgarisms its lovely sculpture)--
terminating the shadowy perspectives of the Uffizii, or dominant over
the city seen from Fesole or Bellosguardo,--that, as the tower of
Giotto is the notablest monument in the world of the Religion of
Europe, so, on this tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, first shook itself to
the winds the Lily standard of her liberal,--because honest,--commerce.
112. My last lecture ended with a sentence which I thought, myself,
rather pretty, and quite fit for a popular newspaper, about the 'lily
standard of liberal commerce.' But it might occur, and I hope did
occur, to some of you, that it would have been more appropriate if the
lily had changed colour the other way, from red to white, (instead of
white to red,) as a sign of a pacific constitution and kindly national
113. I believe otherwise, however; and although the change itself was
for the sake of change merely, you may see in it, I think, one of the
historical coincidences which contain true instruction for us.
Quite one of the chiefest art-mistakes and stupidities of men has been
their tendency to dress soldiers in red clothes, and monks, or pacific
persons, in black, white, or grey ones. At least half of that mental
bias of young people, which sustains the wickedness of war among us at
this day, is owing to the prettiness of uniforms. Make all Hussars
black, all Guards black, all troops of the line black; dress officers
and men, alike, as you would public executioners; and the number of
candidates for commissions will be greatly diminished. Habitually, on