Part 3 out of 3
assuredly by them wholly provoked, and by them finally decided. The war
was not actually ended until the battle of Tagliacozzo, fought in
August, 1268; but you need not recollect that irregular date, or
remember it only as three years after the great battle of Welcome,
Benevento; which was the decisive one. Recollect, therefore, securely:
1250. The First Trades Revolt in Florence.
1260. Battle of the Arbia.
1265. Battle of Welcome.
Then between the battle of Welcome and of Tagliacozzo, (which you might
almost English in the real meaning of it as the battle of Hart's Death:
'cozzo' is a butt or thrust with the horn, and you may well think of
the young Conradin as a wild hart or stag of the hills)--between those
two battles, in 1266, comes the second and central revolt of the trades
in Florence, of which I have to speak in next lecture.
233. The two German princes who perished in these two battles--Manfred
of Tarentum, and his nephew and ward Conradin--are the natural son, and
the legitimate grandson of Frederick II.: they are also the last
assertors of the infidel German power in south Italy against the
Church; and in alliance with the Saracens; such alliance having been
maintained faithfully ever since Frederick II.'s triumphal entry into
Jerusalem, and cornation as its king. Not only a great number of
Manfred's forts were commanded by Saracen governors, but he had them
also appointed over civil tribunals. My own impression is that he found
the Saracens more just and trustworthy than the Christians; but it is
proper to remember the allegations of the Church against the whole
Suabian family; namely, that Manfred had smothered his father Frederick
under cushions at Ferentino; and that, of Frederick's sons, Conrad had
poisoned Henry, and Manfred had poisoned Conrad. You will, however, I
believe, find the Prince Manfred one of the purest representatives of
northern chivalry. Against his nephew, educated in all knightly
accomplishment by his mother, Elizabeth of Bavaria, nothing could be
alleged by his enemies, even when resolved on his death, but the
splendour of his spirit and the brightness of his youth.
234. Of the character of their enemy, Charles of Anjou, there will
remain on your minds, after careful examination of his conduct, only
the doubt whether I am justified in speaking of him as Christian
against Infidel. But you will cease to doubt this when you have
entirely entered into the conditions of this nascent Christianity of
the thirteenth century. You will find that while men who desire to be
virtuous receive it as the mother of virtues, men who desire to be
criminal receive it as the forgiver of crimes; and that therefore,
between Ghibelline or Infidel cruelty, and Guelph or Christian cruelty,
there is always this difference,--that the Infidel cruelty is done in
hot blood, and the Christian's in cold. I hope (in future lectures on
the architecture of Pisa) to illustrate to you the opposition between
the Ghibelline Conti, counts, and the Guelphic Visconti, viscounts or
"against counts," which issues, for one thing, in that, by all men
blamed as too deliberate, death of the Count Ugolino della Gherardesca.
The Count Ugolino was a traitor, who entirely deserved death; but
another Count of Pisa, entirely faithful to the Ghibelline cause, was
put to death by Charles of Anjou, not only in cold blood, but with
resolute infliction of Ugolino's utmost grief;--not in the dungeon, but
in the full light of day--his son being first put to death before his
eyes. And among the pieces of heraldry most significant in the middle
ages, the asp on the shield of the Guelphic viscounts is to be much
remembered by you as a sign of this merciless cruelty of mistaken
religion; mistaken, but not in the least hypocritical. It has perfect
confidence in itself, and can answer with serenity for all its deeds.
The serenity of heart never appears in the guilty Infidels; they die in
despair or gloom, greatly satisfactory to adverse religious minds.
235. The French Pope, then, Urban of Troyes, had sent for Charles of
Anjou; who would not have answered his call, even with all the strength
of Anjou and Provence, had not Scylla of the Tyrrhene Sea been on his
side. Pisa, with eighty galleys (the Sicilian fleet added to her own),
watched and defended the coasts of Rome. An irresistible storm drove
her fleet to shelter; and Charles, in a single ship, reached the mouth
of the Tiber, and found lodgings at Rome in the convent of St. Paul.
His wife meanwhile spent her dowry in increasing his land army, and led
it across the Alps. How he had got his wife, and her dowry, we must
hear in Villani's words, as nearly as I can give their force in
English, only, instead of the English word pilgrim, I shall use the
Italian 'romeo' for the sake both of all English Juliets, and that you
may better understand the close of the sixth canto of the Paradise.
236. "Now the Count Raymond Berenger had for his inheritance all
Provence on this side Rhone; and he was a wise and courteous signor,
and of noble state, and virtuous; and in his time they did honourable
things; and to his court came by custom all the gentlemen of Provence,
and France, and Catalonia, for his courtesy and noble state; and there
they made many cobbled verses, and Provencal songs of great sentences."
237. I must stop to tell you that 'cobbled' or 'coupled' verses mean
rhymes, as opposed to the dull method of Latin verse; for we have now
got an ear for jingle, and know that dove rhymes to love. Also, "songs
of great sentences" mean didactic songs, containing much in little,
(like the new didactic Christian painting,) of which an example (though
of a later time) will give you a better idea than any description.
"Vraye foy de necessite,
Non tant seulement d'equite,
Nous fait de Dieu sept choses croire:
C'est sa doulce nativite,
Son baptesme d'humilite,
Et sa mort, digne de memoire:
Son descens en la chartre noire,
Et sa resurrection, voire;
La venue judicatoire,
Ou ly bons seront mis en gloire,
Et ly mals en adversite."
238. "And while they were making these cobbled verses and harmonious
creeds, there came a romeo to court, returning from the shrine of St.
James." I must stop again just to say that he ought to have been called
a pellegrino, not a romeo, for the three kinds of wanderers are,--
Palmer, one who goes to the Holy Land; Pilgrim, one who goes to Spain;
and Romeo, one who goes to Rome. Probably this romeo had been to both.
"He stopped at Count Raymond's court, and was so wise and worthy
(valoroso), and so won the Count's grace, that he made him his master
and guide in all things. Who also, maintaining himself in honest and
religious customs of life, in a little time, by his industry and good
sense, doubled the Count's revenues three times over, maintaining
always a great and honoured court. Now the Count had four daughters,
and no son; and by the sense and provision of the good romeo--(I can do
no better than translate 'procaccio' provision, but it is only a
makeshift for the word derived from procax, meaning the general talent
of prudent impudence, in getting forward; 'forwardness,' has a good
deal of the true sense, only diluted;)--well, by the sense and--
progressive faculty, shall we say?--of the good pilgrim, he first
married the eldest daughter, by means of money, to the good King Louis
of France, saying to the Count, 'Let me alone,--Lascia-mi-fare--and
never mind the expense, for if you marry the first one well, I'll marry
you all the others cheaper, for her relationship."
239. "And so it fell out, sure enough; for incontinently the King of
England (Henry III.) because he was the King of France's relation, took
the next daughter, Eleanor, for very little money indeed; next, his
natural brother, elect King of the Romans, took the third; and, the
youngest still remaining unmarried,--says the good romeo, 'Now for this
one, I will you to have a strong man for son-in-law, who shall be thy
heir;'--and so he brought it to pass. For finding Charles, Count of
Anjou, brother of the King Louis, he said to Raymond, "'Give her now to
him, for his fate is to be the best man in the world,'--prophesying of
him. And so it was done. And after all this it came to pass, by envy
which ruins all good, that the barons of Provence became jealous of the
good romeo, and accused him to the Count of having ill-guided his
goods, and made Raymond demand account of them. Then the good romeo
said, 'Count, I have served thee long, and have put thee from little
state into mighty, and for this, by false counsel of thy people, thou
art little grateful. I came into thy court a poor romeo; I have lived
honestly on thy means; now, make to be given to me my little mule and
my staff and my wallet, as I came, and I will make thee quit of all my
service.' The Count would not he should go; but for nothing would he
stay; and so he came, and so he departed, that no one ever knew whence
he had come, nor whither he went. It was the thought of many that he
was indeed a sacred spirit."
240. This pilgrim, you are to notice, is put by Dante in the orb of
justice, as a just servant; the Emperor Justinian being the image of a
just ruler. Justinian's law-making turned out well for England; but the
good romeo's match-making ended ill for it; and for Borne, and Naples
also. For Beatrice of Provence resolved to be a queen like her three
sisters, and was the prompting spirit of Charles's expedition to Italy.
She was crowned with him, Queen of Apulia and Sicily, on the day of the
Epiphany, 1265; she and her husband bringing gifts that day of magical
power enough; and Charles, as soon as the feast of coronation was over,
set out to give battle to Manfred and his Saracens. "And this Charles,"
says Villani, "was wise, and of sane counsel; and of prowess in arms,
and fierce, and much feared and redoubted by all the kings in the
world;--magnanimous and of high purposes; fearless in the carrying
forth of every great enterprise; firm in every adversity; a verifier of
his every word; speaking little,--doing much; and scarcely ever
laughed, and then but a little; sincere, and without flaw, as a
religious and catholic person; stern in justice, and fierce in look;
tall and nervous in person, olive coloured, and with a large nose, and
well he appeared a royal majesty more than other men. Much he watched,
and little he slept; and used to say that so much time as one slept,
one lost; generous to his men-at-arms, but covetous to acquire land,
signory, and coin, come how it would, to furnish his enterprises and
wars: in courtiers, servants of pleasure, or jocular persons, he
241. To this newly crowned and resolute king, riding south from Rome,
Manfred, from his vale of Nocera under Mount St. Augelo, sends to offer
conditions of peace. Jehu the son of Nimshi is not swifter of answer to
Ahaziah's messenger than the fiery Christian king, in his 'What hast
thou to do with peace?' Charles answers the messengers with his own
lips: "Tell the Sultan of Nocera, this day I will put him in hell, or
he shall put me in paradise."
242. Do not think it the speech of a hypocrite. Charles was as fully
prepared for death that day as ever Scotch Covenanter fighting for his
Holy League; and as sure that death would find him, if it found, only
to glorify and bless. Balfour of Burley against Claverhouse is not more
convinced in heart that he draws the sword of the Lord and of Gideon.
But all the knightly pride of Claverhouse himself is knit together, in
Charles, with fearless faith, and religious wrath. "This Saracen scum,
led by a bastard German,--traitor to his creed, usurper among his
race,--dares it look me, a Christian knight, a prince of the house of
France, in the eyes? Tell the Sultan of Nocera, to-day I put him in
hell, or he puts me in paradise."
They are not passionate words neither; any more than hypocritical ones.
They are measured, resolute, and the fewest possible. He never wasted
words, nor showed his mind, but when he meant it should be known.
243. The messenger returned, thus answered; and the French king rode on
with his host. Manfred met him in the plain of Grandella, before
Benevento. I have translated the name of the fortress 'Welcome.' It was
altered, as you may remember, from Maleventum, for better omen;
perhaps, originally, only [Greek: *maloeis*]--a rock full of wild
goats?--associating it thus with the meaning of Tagliacozzo.
244. Charles divided his army into four companies. The captain of his
own was our English Guy de Montfort, on whom rested the power and the
fate of his grandfather, the pursuer of the Waldensian shepherds among
the rocks of the wild goats. The last, and it is said the goodliest,
troop was of the exiled Guelphs of Florence, under Guido Guerra, whose
name you already know. "These," said Manfred, as he watched them ride
into their ranks, "cannot lose to-day." He meant that if he himself was
the victor, he would restore these exiles to their city. The event of
the battle was decided by the treachery of the Count of Caserta,
Manfred's brother-in-law. At the end of the day only a few knights
remained with him, whom he led in the last charge. As he helmed
himself, the crest fell from his helmet. "Hoc est signum Dei," he
said,--so accepting what he saw to be the purpose of the Ruler of all
things; not claiming God as his friend. not asking anything of Him, as
if His purpose could be changed; not fearing Him as an enemy; but
accepting simply His sign that the appointed day of death was come. He
rode into the battle armed like a nameless soldier, and lay unknown
among the dead.
245. And in him died all southern Italy. Never, after that day's
treachery, did her nobles rise, or her people prosper.
Of the finding of the body of Manfred, and its casting forth, accursed,
you may read, if you will, the story in Dante. I trace for you to-day
rapidly only the acts of Charles after this victory, and its
consummation, three years later, by the defeat of Conradin.
The town of Benevento had offered no resistance to Charles, but he gave
it up to pillage, and massacred its inhabitants. The slaughter,
indiscriminate, continued for eight days; the women and children were
slain with the men, being of Saracen blood. Manfred's wife, Sybil of
Epirus, his children, and all his barons, died, or were put to death,
in the prisons of Provence. With the young Conrad, all the faithful
Ghibel-line knights of Pisa were put to death. The son of Frederick of
Antioch, who drove the Guelphs from Florence, had his eyes torn out,
and was hanged, he being the last child of the house of Suabia. Twenty-
four of the barons of Calabria were executed at Gallipoli, and at Home.
Charles cut off the feet of those who had fought for Conrad; then--
fearful lest they should be pitied--shut them into a house of wood, and
burned them. His lieutenant in Sicily, William of the Standard,
besieged the town of Augusta, which defended itself with some
fortitude, but was betrayed, and all its inhabitants, (who must have
been more than three thousand, for there were a thousand able to bear
arms,) massacred in cold blood; the last of them searched for in their
hiding-places, when the streets were empty, dragged to the sea-shore,
then beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the sea. Throughout
Calabria the Christian judges of Charles thus forgave his enemies. And
the Mohammedan power and heresy ended in Italy, and she became secure
in her Catholic creed.
246. Not altogether secure under French dominion. After fourteen years
of misery, Sicily sang her angry vespers, and a Calabrian admiral burnt
the fleet of Charles before his eyes, where Scylla rules her barking
Salamis. But the French king died in prayerful peace, receiving the
sacrament with these words of perfectly honest faith, as he reviewed
his past life: "Lord God, as I truly believe that you are my Saviour,
so I pray you to have mercy on my soul; and as I truly made the
conquest of Sicily more to serve the Holy Church than for my own
covetousness, so I pray you to pardon my sins."
247. You are to note the two clauses of this prayer. He prays absolute
mercy, on account of his faith in Christ; but remission of purgatory,
in proportion to the quantity of good work he has done, or meant to do,
as against evil. You are so much wiser in these days, you think, not
believing in purgatory; and so much more benevolent,--not massacring
women and children. But we must not be too proud of not believing in
purgatory, unless we are quite sure of our real desire to be purified:
and as to our not massacring children, it is true that an English
gentleman will not now himself willingly put a knife into the throat
either of a child or a lamb; but he will kill any quantity of children
by disease in order to increase his rents, as unconcernedly as he will
eat any quantity of mutton. And as to absolute massacre, I do not
suppose a child feels so much pain in being killed as a full-grown man,
and its life is of less value to it. No pain either of body or thought
through which you could put an infant, would be comparable to that of a
good son, or a faithful lover, dying slowly of a painful wound at a
distance from a family dependent upon him, or a mistress devoted to
him. But the victories of Charles, and the massacres, taken in sum,
would not give a muster-roll of more than twenty thousand dead; men,
women, and children counted all together. On the plains of France,
since I first began to speak to you on the subject of the arts of
peace, at least five hundred thousand men, in the prime of life, have
been massacred by the folly of one Christian emperor, the insolence of
another, and the mingling of mean rapacity with meaner vanity, which
Christian nations now call 'patriotism.'
248. But that the Crusaders, (whether led by St. Louis or by his
brother,) who habitually lived by robbery, and might be swiftly enraged
to murder, were still too savage to conceive the spirit or the
character of this Christ whose cross they wear, I have again and again
alleged to you; not, I imagine, without question from many who have
been accustomed to look to these earlier ages as authoritative in
doctrine, if not in example. We alike err in supposing them more
spiritual or more dark, than our own. They had not yet attained to the
knowledge which we have despised, nor dispersed from their faith the
shadows with which we have again overclouded ours.
Their passions, tumultuous and merciless as the Tyrrhene Sea, raged
indeed with the danger, but also with the uses, of naturally appointed
storm; while ours, pacific in corruption, languish in vague maremma of
misguided pools; and are pestilential most surely as they retire.
FLEUR DE LYS.
249. Through all the tempestuous winter which during the period of
history we have been reviewing, weakened, in their war with the opposed
rocks of religious or knightly pride, the waves of the Tuscan Sea,
there has been slow increase of the Favonian power which is to bring
fruitfulness to the rock, peace to the wave. The new element which is
introduced in the thirteenth century, and perfects for a little time
the work of Christianity, at least in some few chosen souls, is the law
of Order and Charity, of intellectual and moral virtue, which it now
became the function of every great artist to teach, and of every true
citizen to maintain.
250. I have placed on your table one of the earliest existing
engravings by a Florentine hand, representing the conception which the
national mind formed of this spirit of order and tranquillity,
"Cosmico," or the Equity of Kosmos, not by senseless attraction, but by
spiritual thought and law. He stands pointing with his left hand to the
earth, set only with tufts of grass; in his right hand he holds the
ordered system of the universe--heaven and earth in one orb;--the
heaven made cosmic by the courses of its stars; the earth cosmic by
[Illustration: PLATE IX.--THE CHARGE TO ADAM. MODERN ITALIAN. ]
the seats of authority and fellowship,--castles on the hills and cities
in the plain.
251. The tufts of grass under the feet of this figure will appear to
you, at first, grotesquely formal. But they are only the simplest
expression, in such herbage, of the subjection of all vegetative force
to this law of order, equity, or symmetry, which, made by the Greek the
principal method of his current vegetative sculpture, subdues it, in
the hand of Cora or Triptolemus, into the merely triple sceptre, or
animates it, in Florence, to the likeness of the Fleur-de-lys.
252. I have already stated to you that if any definite flower is meant
by these triple groups of leaves, which take their authoritatively
typical form in the crowns of the Cretan and Laciuian Hera, it is not
the violet, but the purple iris; or sometimes, as in Pindar's
description of the birth of Ismus, the yellow water-flag, which you
know so well in spring, by the banks of your Oxford streams.  But,
in general, it means simply the springing of beautiful and orderly
vegetation in fields upon which the dew falls pure. It is the
expression, therefore, of peace on the redeemed and cultivated earth,
and of the pleasure of heaven in the uncareful happiness of men clothed
without labour, and fed without fear.
[Footnote 1: In the catalogues of the collection of drawings in this
room, and in my "Queen of the Air" you will find all that I would ask
you to notice about the various names and kinds of the flower, and
their symbolic use.--Note only, with respect to our present purpose,
that while the true white lily is placed in the hands of the Angel of
the Annunciation even by Florentine artists, in their general design,
the fleur-de-lys is given to him by Giovaiini Pisano on the facade of
Orvieto; and that the flower in the crown-circlets of European kings
answers, as I stated to you in my lecture on the Corona, to the
Narcissus fillet of early Greece; the crown of abundance and
253. In the passage, so often read by us, which announces the advent of
Christianity as the dawn of peace on earth, we habitually neglect great
part of the promise, owing to the false translation of the second
clause of the sentence. I cannot understand how it should be still
needful to point out to you here in Oxford that neither the Greek words
[Greek: *"en anthriopois evdokia,"*] nor those of the vulgate, "in
terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis," in the slightest degree justify
our English words, "goodwill to men."
Of God's goodwill to men, and to all creatures, for ever, there needed
no proclamation by angels. But that men should be able to please
_Him_,--that their wills should be made holy, and they should not only
possess peace in themselves, but be able to give joy to their God, in
the sense in which He afterwards is pleased with His own baptized Son;-
-this was a new thing for Angels to declare, and for shepherds to
254. And the error was made yet more fatal by its repetition in a
passage of parallel importance,--the thanksgiving, namely, offered by
Christ, that His Father, while He had hidden what it was best to know,
not from the wise and prudent, but from some among the wise and
prudent, and had revealed it unto babes; not 'for so it seemed good' in
His sight, but 'that there might be well pleasing in His sight,'--
namely, that the wise and simple might equally live in the necessary
knowledge, and enjoyed presence, of God. And if, having accurately read
these vital passages, you then as carefully consider the tenour of the
two songs of human joy in the birth of Christ, the Magnificat, and the
Nunc dimittis, you will find the theme of both to be, not the newness
of blessing, but the equity which disappoints the cruelty and humbles
the strength of men; which scatters the proud in the imagination of
their hearts; which fills the hungry with good things; and is not only
the glory of Israel, but the light of the Gentiles.
255. As I have been writing these paragraphs, I have been checking
myself almost at every word,--wondering, Will they be restless on their
seats at this, and thinking all the while that they did not come here
to be lectured on Divinity? You may have been a little impatient,--how
could it well be otherwise? Had I been explaining points of anatomy,
and showing you how you bent your necks and straightened your legs, you
would have thought me quite in my proper function; because then, when
you went with a party of connoisseurs through the Vatican, you could
point out to them the insertion of the clavicle in the Apollo
Belvidere; and in the Sistine Chapel the perfectly accurate delineation
of the tibia in the legs of Christ. Doubtless; but you know I am
lecturing at present on the goffi, and not on Michael Angelo; and the
goffi are very careless about clavicles and shin-bones; so that if,
after being lectured on anatomy, you went into the Campo Santo of Pisa,
you would simply find nothing to look at, except three tolerably well-
drawn skeletons. But if after being lectured on theology, you go into
the Campo Santo of Pisa, you will find not a little to look at, and to
256. For a single instance, you know Michael Angelo is admitted to have
been so far indebted to these goffi as to borrow from the one to whose
study of mortality I have just referred, Orcagna, the gesture of his
Christ in the Judgment, He borrowed, however, accurately speaking, the
position only, not the gesture; nor the meaning of it.  You all
remember the action of Michael Angelo's Christ,--the right hand raised
as if in violence of reprobation; and the left closed across His
breast, as refusing all mercy. The action is one which appeals to
persons of very ordinary sensations, and is very naturally adopted by
the Renaissance painter, both for its popular effect, and its
capabilities for the exhibition of his surgical science. But the old
painter-theologian, though indeed he showed the right hand of Christ
lifted, and the left hand laid across His breast, had another meaning
in the actions. The fingers of the left hand are folded, in both the
figures; but in Michael Angelo's as if putting aside an appeal; in
Orcagna's, the fingers are bent to draw back the drapery from the right
side. The right hand is raised by Michael Angelo as in anger; by
Orcagna, only to show the wounded palm. And as, to the believing
disciples, He showed them His hands and His side, so that they were
glad,--so, to the unbelievers, at their judgment, He shows the wounds
in hand and side. They shall look on Him whom they pierced.
[Footnote: I found all this in M. Didron's Iconographie, above quoted;
I had never noticed the difference between the two figures myself.]
257. And thus, as we follow our proposed examination of the arts of the
Christian centuries, our understanding of their work will be absolutely
limited by the degree of our sympathy with the religion which our
fathers have bequeathed to us. You cannot interpret classic marbles
without knowing and loving your Pindar and AEschylus, neither can you
interpret Christian pictures without knowing and loving your Isaiah and
Matthew. And I shall have continually to examine texts of the one as I
would verses of the other; nor must you retract yourselves from the
labour in suspicion that I desire to betray your scepticism, or
undermine your positivism, because I recommend to you the accurate
study of books which have hitherto been the light of the world.
258. The change, then, in the minds of their readers at this date,
which rendered it possible for them to comprehend the full purport of
Christianity, was in the rise of the new desire for equity and rest,
amidst what had hitherto been mere lust for spoil, and joy in battle.
The necessity for justice was felt in the now extending commerce; the
desire of rest in the now pleasant and fitly furnished habitation; and
the energy which formerly could only be satisfied in strife, now found
enough both of provocation and antagonism in the invention of art, and
the forces of nature. I have in this course of lectures endeavoured to
fasten your attention on the Florentine Revolution of 1250, because its
date is so easily memorable, and it involves the principles of every
subsequent one, so as to lay at once the foundations of whatever
greatness Florence afterwards achieved by her mercantile and civic
power. But I must not close even this slight sketch of the central
history of Val d'Aruo without requesting you, as you find time, to
associate in your minds, with this first revolution, the effects of two
which followed it, being indeed necessary parts of it, in the latter
half of the century.
259. Remember then that the first, in 1250, is embryonic; and the
significance of it is simply the establishment of order, and justice
against violence and iniquity. It is equally against the power of
knights and priests, so far as either are unjust,--not otherwise.
When Manfred fell at Benevento, his lieutenant, the Count Guido
Novello, was in command of Florence. He was just, but weak; and
endeavoured to temporize with the Guelphs. His effort ought to be
notable to you, because it was one of the wisest and most far-sighted
ever made in Italy; but it failed for want of resolution, as the
gentlest and best men are too apt to fail. He brought from Bologna two
knights of the order--then recently established--of joyful brethren;
afterwards too fatally corrupted, but at this time pure in purpose.
They constituted an order of chivalry which was to maintain peace, obey
the Church, and succour widows and orphans; but to be bound by no
monastic vows. Of these two knights, he chose one Guelph, the other
Ghibelline; and under their balanced power Gruido hoped to rank the
forces of the civil, manufacturing, and trading classes, divided into
twelve corporations of higher and lower arts.  But the moment this
beautiful arrangement was made, all parties--Guelph, Ghibelline, and
popular,--turned unanimously against Count Guido Novello. The
benevolent but irresolute captain indeed gathered his men into the
square of the Trinity; but the people barricaded the streets issuing
from it; and Guido, heartless, and unwilling for civil warfare, left
the city with his Germans in good order. And so ended the incursion of
the infidel Tedeschi for this time. The Florentines then dismissed the
merry brothers whom the Tedeschi had set over them, and besought help
from Orvieto and Charles of Anjou; who sent them Guy de Montfort and
eight hundred French riders; the blessing of whose presence thus, at
their own request, was granted them on Easter Day, 1267.
[Footnote: The seven higher arts were, Lawyers, Physicians, Bankers,
Merchants of Foreign Goods, Wool Manufacturers, Silk Manufacturers,
Furriers. The five lower arts were, Retail Sellers of Cloth, Butchers,
Shoemakers, Masons and Carpenters, Smiths.]
On Candlemas, if you recollect, 1251, they open their gates to the
Germans; and on Easter, 1267, to the French.
260. Remember, then, this revolution, as coming between the battles of
Welcome and Tagliacozzo; and that it expresses the lower revolutionary
temper of the trades, with English and French assistance. Its immediate
result was the appointment of five hundred and sixty lawyers,
woolcombers, and butchers, to deliberate upon all State questions,--
under which happy ordinances you will do well, in your own reading, to
leave Florence, that you may watch, for a while, darling little Pisa,
all on fire for the young Conradin. She sent ten vessels across the
Gulf of Genoa to fetch him; received his cavalry in her plain of
Sarzana; and putting five thousand of her own best sailors into thirty
ships, sent them to do what they could, all down the coast of Italy.
Down they went; startling Gaeta with an attack as they passed; found
Charles of Anjou's French and Sicilian fleet at Messina, fought it,
beat it, and burned twenty-seven of its ships.
261. Meantime, the Florentines prospered as they might with their
religious-democratic constitution,--until the death, in the odour of
sanctity, of Charles of Anjou, and of that Pope Martin IV. whose tomb
was destroyed with Urban's at Perugia. Martin died, as you may
remember, of eating Bolsena eels,--that being his share in the miracles
of the lake; and you will do well to remember at the same time, that
the price of the lake eels was three soldi a pound; and that Niccola of
Pisa worked at Siena for six soldi a day, and his son Giovanni for
262. And as I must in this place bid farewell, for a time, to Niccola
and to his son, let me remind you of the large commission which the
former received on the occasion of the battle of Tagliacozzo, and its
subsequent massacres, when the victor, Charles, having to his own
satisfaction exterminated the seed of infidelity, resolves, both in
thanksgiving, and for the sake of the souls of the slain knights for
whom some hope might yet be religiously entertained, to found an abbey
on the battle-field. In which purpose he sent for Niccola to Naples,
and made him build on the field of Tagliacozzo, a church and abbey of
the richest; and caused to be buried therein the infinite number of the
bodies of those who died in that battle day; ordering farther, that, by
many monks, prayer should be made for their souls, night and day. In
which fabric the king was so pleased with Niccola's work that he
rewarded and honoured him highly.
263. Do you not begin to wonder a little more what manner of man this
Nicholas was, who so obediently throws down the towers which offend the
Ghibelliues, and so skilfully puts up the pinnacles which please the
Guelphs? A passive power, seemingly, he;--plastic in the hands of any
one who will employ him to build, or to throw down. On what exists of
evidence, demonstrably in these years here is the strongest brain of
Italy, thus for six shilling a day doing what it is bid.
264. I take farewell of him then, for a little time, ratifying to you,
as far as my knowledge permits, the words of my first master in Italian
art, Lord Lindsay.
"In comparing the advent of Niccola Pisano to that of the sun at his
rising, I am conscious of no exaggeration; on the contrary, it is the
only simile by which I can hope to give you an adequate impression of
his brilliancy and power relatively to the age in which he flourished.
Those sons of Erebus, the American Indians, fresh from their
traditional subterranean world, and gazing for the first time on the
gradual dawning of the day in the East, could not have been more
dazzled, more astounded, when the sun actually appeared, than the popes
and podestas, friars and freemasons must have been in the thirteenth
century, when from among the Biduinos, Bonannos, and Antealmis of the
twelfth, Niccola emerged in his glory, sovereign and supreme, a fount
of light, diffusing warmth and radiance over Christendom. It might be
too much to parallel him in actual genius with Dante and Shakspeare;
they stand alone and unapproachable, each on his distinct pinnacle of
the temple of Christian song; and yet neither of them can boast such
extent and durability of influence, for whatever of highest excellence
has been achieved in sculpture and painting, not in Italy only, but
throughout Europe, has been in obedience to the impulse he primarily
gave, and in following up the principle which he first struck out.
"His latter days were spent in repose at Pisa, but the precise year of
his death is uncertain; Vasari fixes it in 1275; it could not have been
much later. He was buried in the Campo Santo. Of his personal character
we, alas! know nothing; even Shakspeare is less a stranger to us. But
that it was noble, simple, and consistent, and free from the petty
foibles that too frequently beset genius, may be fairly presumed from
the works he has left behind him, and from the eloquent silence of
265. Of the circumstances of Niccola Pisano's death, or the ceremonials
practised at it, we are thus left in ignorance.
The more exemplary death of Charles of Aujou took place on the 7th of
January, then, 1285; leaving the throne of Naples to a boy of twelve;
and that of Sicily, to a Prince of Spain. Various discord, between
French, Spanish, and Calabrese vices, thenceforward paralyzes South
Italy, and Florence becomes the leading power of the Guelph faction.
She had been inflamed and pacified through continual paroxysms of civil
quarrel during the decline of Charles's power; but, throughout, the
influence of the nobles declines, by reason of their own folly and
insolence; while the people, though with no small degree of folly and
insolence on their own side, keep hold of their main idea of justice.
In the meantime, similar assertions of law against violence, and the
nobility of useful occupation, as compared with that of idle rapine,
take place in Bologna, Siena, and even at Rome, where Bologna sends her
senator, Branca Leone, (short for Branca-di-Leone, Lion's Grip,) whose
inflexible and rightly guarded reign of terror to all evil and thievish
persons, noble or other, is one of the few passages of history during
the middle ages, in which the real power of civic virtue may be seen
exercised without warping by party spirit, or weakness of vanity or
266. And at last, led by a noble, Giano della Bella, the people of
Florence write and establish their final condemnation of noblesse
living by rapine, those 'Ordinamenti della Giustizia,' which
practically excluded all idle persons from government, and determined
that the priors, or leaders of the State, should be priors, or leaders
of its arts and productive labour; that its head 'podesta' or 'power'
should be the standard-bearer of justice; and its council or parliament
composed of charitable men, or good men: "boni viri," in the sense from
which the French formed their noun 'bonte.'
The entire governing body was thus composed, first, of the Podestas,
standard-bearer of justice; then of his military captain; then of his
lictor, or executor; then of the twelve priors of arts and liberties--
properly, deliberators on the daily occupations, interests, and
pleasures of the body politic;--and, finally, of the parliament of
"kind men," whose business was to determine what kindness could be
shown to other states, by way of foreign policy.
267. So perfect a type of national government has only once been
reached in the history of the human race. And in spite of the seeds of
evil in its own impatience, and in the gradually increasing worldliness
of the mercantile body; in spite of the hostility of the angry soldier,
and the malignity of the sensual priest, this government gave to Europe
the entire cycle of Christian art, properly so called, and every
highest Master of labour, architectural, scriptural, or pictorial,
practised in true understanding of the faith of Christ;--Orcagna,
Giotto, Brunelleschi, Lionardo, Luini as his pupil, Lippi, Luca,
Angelico, Botticelli, and Michael Angelo.
268. I have named two men, in this group, whose names are more familiar
to your ears than any others, Angelico and Michael Angelo;--who yet are
absent from my list of those whose works I wish you to study, being
both extravagant in their enthusiasm,--the one for the nobleness of the
spirit, and the other for that of the flesh. I name them now, because
the gifts each had were exclusively Florentine; in whatever they have
become to the mind of Europe since, they are utterly children of the
269. You are accustomed, too carelessly, to think of Angelico as a
child of the Church, rather than of Florence. He was born in l387,--
just eleven years, that is to say, after the revolt of Florence
_against_ the Church, and ten after the endeavour of the Church to
recover her power by the massacres of Faenza and Cesena. A French and
English army of pillaging riders were on the other side of the Alps,--
six thousand strong; the Pope sent for it; Robert Cardinal of Geneva
brought it into Italy. The Florentines fortified their Apennines
against it; but it took winter quarters at Cesena, where the Cardinal
of Geneva massacred five thousand persons in a day, and the children
and sucklings were literally dashed against the stones.
270. That was the school which the Christian Church had prepared for
their brother Angelica. But Fesole, secluding him in the shade of her
mount of Olives, and Florence revealing to him the true voice of his
Master, in the temple of St. Mary of the Flower, taught him his lesson
of peace on earth, and permitted him his visions of rapture in heaven.
And when the massacre of Cesena was found to have been in vain, and the
Church was compelled to treat with the revolted cities who had united
to mourn for her victories, Florence sent her a living saint, Catherine
of Siena, for her political Ambassador.
271. Of Michael Angelo I need not tell you: of the others, we will read
the lives, and think over them one by one; the great fact which I have
written this course of lectures to enforce upon your minds is the
dependence of all the arts on the virtue of the State, and its kindly
The absolute mind and state of Florence, for the seventy years of her
glory, from 1280 to 1350, you find quite simply and literally described
in the ll2th Psalm, of which I read you the descriptive verses, in the
words in which they sang it, from this typically perfect manuscript of
Gloria et divitie in domo ejus, justitia ejus manet in seculum seculi.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen reotis, misericors, et miserator, et
Jocundus homo, qui miseretur, et commodat: disponet sermones suos in
Dispersit, dedit pauperibus; justitia ejus manet in seculum seculi;
cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria.
I translate simply, praying you to note as the true one, the _literal_
meaning of every word:--
Glory and riches are in his house. His justice remains for ever.
Light is risen in darkness for the straightforward people.
He is merciful in heart, merciful in deed, and just.
A jocund man; who is merciful, and lends.
He will dispose his words in judgment.
He hath dispersed. He hath given to the poor. His justice remain!
for ever. His horn shall be exalted in glory.
272. With vacillating, but steadily prevailing effort, the Florentines
maintained this life and character for full half a century.
You will please now look at my staff of the year 1300, [Footnote: Page
33 in my second lecture on Engraving.] adding the names of Dante and
Orcagna, having each their separate masterful or prophetic function.
That is Florence's contribution to the intellectual work of the world
during these years of justice. Now, the promise of Christianity is
given with lesson from the fleur-de-lys: Seek ye first the royalty of
God, and His justice, "and all these things," material wealth, "shall
be added unto you." It is a perfectly clear, perfectly literal,--never
failing and never unfulfilled promise. There is no instance in the
whole cycle of history of its not being accomplished,--fulfilled to the
uttermost, with full measure, pressed down, and running over.
273. Now hear what Florence was, and what wealth she had got by her
justice. In the year 1330, before she fell, she had within her walls a
hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, of whom all the men--(laity)--
between the ages of fifteen and seventy, were ready at an instant to go
out to war, under their banners, in number twenty-four thousand. The
army of her entire territory was eighty thousand; and within it she
counted fifteen hundred noble, families, every one absolutely
submissive to her gonfalier of justice. She had within her walls a
hundred and ten churches, seven priories, and thirty hospitals for the
sick and poor; of foreign guests, on the average, fifteen hundred,
constantly. From eight to ten thousand children were taught to read in
her schools. The town was surrounded by some fifty square miles of
uninterrupted garden, of olive, corn, vine, lily, and rose.
And the monetary existence of England and France depended upon her
wealth. Two of her bankers alone had lent Edward III. of England five
millions of money (in sterling value of this present hour).
274. On the 10th of March, 1337, she was first accused, with truth, of
selfish breach of treaties. On the l0th of April, all her merchants in
France were imprisoned by Philip Valois; and presently afterwards
Edward of England failed, quite in your modern style, for his five
millions. These money losses would have been nothing to her; but on the
7th of August, the captain of her army, Pietro de' Rossi of Parma, the
unquestioned best knight in Italy, received a chance spear-stroke
before Monselice, and died next day. He was the Bayard of Italy; and
greater than Bayard, because living in a nobler time. He never had
failed in any military enterprise, nor ever stained success with
cruelty or shame. Even the German troops under him loved him without
bounds. To his companions he gave gifts with such largesse, that his
horse and armour were all that at any time he called his own. Beautiful
and pure as Sir Galahad, all that was brightest in womanhood watched
and honoured him.
And thus, 8th August, 1337, he went to his own place.--To-day I trace
the fall of Florence no more.
I will review the points I wish you to remember; and briefly meet, so
far as I can, the questions which I think should occur to you.
275. I have named Edward III. as our heroic type of Franchise. And yet
I have but a minute ago spoken of him as 'failing' in quite your modern
manner. I must correct my expression:--he had no intent of failing when
he borrowed; and did not spend his money on himself. Nevertheless, I
gave him as an example of frankness; but by no means of honesty. He is
simply the boldest and royalest of Free Riders; the campaign of Crecy
is, throughout, a mere pillaging foray. And the first point I wish you
to notice is the difference in the pecuniary results of living by
robbery, like Edward III., or by agriculture and just commerce, like
the town of Florence. That Florence can lend five millions to the King
of England, and loose them with little care, is the result of her olive
gardens and her honesty. Now hear the financial phenomena attending
military exploits, and a life of pillage.
276. I give you them in this precise year, 1338, in which the King of
England failed to the Florentines.
"He obtained from the prelates, barons, and knights of the
[Illustration: PLATE X.--THE NATIVITY. GIOVANNI PISANO. ]
shires, one half of their wool for this year--a very valuable and
extraordinary grant. He seized all the tin "(above-ground, you mean Mr.
Henry!)" in Cornwall and Devonshire, took possession of the lands of
all priories alien, and of the money, jewels, and valuable effects of
the Lombard merchants. He demanded certain quantities of bread, corn,
oats, and bacon, from each county; borrowed their silver plate from
many abbeys, as well as great sums of money both abroad and at home;
and pawned his crown for fifty thousand florins." 
[Footnote 1: Henry's "History of England," book iv., chap. i.]
He pawns his queen's jewels next year; and finally summons all the
gentlemen of England who had forty pounds a year, to come and receive
the honour of knighthood, or pay to be excused!
277. II. The failures of Edward, or of twenty Edwards, would have done
Florence no harm, had she remained true to herself, and to her
neighbouring states. Her merchants only fall by their own increasing
avarice; and above all by the mercantile form of pillage, usury. The
idea that money could beget money, though more absurd than alchemy, had
yet an apparently practical and irresistibly tempting confirmation in
the wealth of villains, and the success of fools. Alchemy, in its day,
led to pure chemistry; and calmly yielded to the science it had
fostered. But all wholesome indignation against usurers was prevented,
in the Christian mind, by wicked and cruel religious hatred of the race
of Christ. In the end, Shakspeare himself, in his fierce effort against
the madness, suffered himself to miss his mark by making his usurer a
Jew: the Franciscan institution of the Mount of Pity failed before the
lust of Lombardy, and the logic of Augsburg; and, to this day, the
worship of the Immaculate Virginity of Money, mother of the Omnipotence
of Money, is the Protestant form of Madonna worship.
278. III. The usurer's fang, and the debtor's shame, might both have
been trodden down under the feet of Italy, had her knights and her
workmen remained true to each other. But the brotherhoods of Italy were
not of Cain to Abel--but of Cain to Cain. Every man's sword was against
his fellow. Pisa sank before Genoa at Meloria, the Italian AEgos-
Potamos; Genoa before Venice in the war of Chiozza, the Italian siege
of Syracuse. Florence sent her Brunelleschi to divert the waves of
Serchio against the walls of Lucca; Lucca her Castruccio, to hold mock
tournaments before the gates of vanquished Florence. The weak modern
Italian reviles or bewails the acts of foreign races, as if his destiny
had depended upon these; let him at least assume the pride, and bear
the grief, of remembering that, among all the virgin cities of his
country, there has not been one which would not ally herself with a
stranger, to effect a sister's ruin.
279. Lastly. The impartiality with which I have stated the acts, so far
as known to me, and impulses, so far as discernible by me, of the
contending Church and Empire, cannot but give offence, or provoke
suspicion, in the minds of those among you who are accustomed to hear
the cause of Religion supported by eager disciples, or attacked by
confessed enemies. My confession of hostility would be open, if I were
an enemy indeed; but I have never possessed the knowledge, and have
long ago been cured of the pride, which makes men fervent in witness
for the Church's virtue, or insolent in declamation against her errors.
The will of Heaven, which grants the grace and ordains the diversities
of Religion, needs no defence, and sustains no defeat, by the humours
of men; and our first business in relation to it is to silence our
wishes, and to calm our fears. If, in such modest and disciplined
temper, you arrange your increasing knowledge of the history of
mankind, you will have no final difficulty in distinguishing the
operation of the Master's law from the consequences of the disobedience
to it which He permits; nor will you respect the law less, because,
accepting only the obedience of love, it neither hastily punishes, nor
pompously rewards, with what men think reward or chastisement. Not
always under the feet of Korah the earth is rent; not always at the
call of Elijah the clouds gather; but the guarding mountains for ever
stand round about Jerusalem; and the rain, miraculous evermore, makes
green the fields for the evil and the good.
280. And if you will fix your minds only on the conditions of human
life which the Giver of it demands, "He hath shown thee, oh man, what
is good, and what doth thy Lord require of thee, but to do justice, and
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God," you will find that
such obedience is always acknowledged by temporal blessing. If, turning
from the manifest miseries of cruel ambition, and manifest wanderings
of insolent belief, you summon to your thoughts rather the state of
unrecorded multitudes, who laboured in silence, and adored in humility,
widely as the snows of Christendom brought memory of the Birth of
Christ, or her spring sunshine, of His Resurrection, you may know that
the promise of the Bethlehem angels has been literally fulfilled; and
will pray that your English fields, joyfully as the banks of Arno, may
still dedicate their pure lilies to St. Mary of the Flower.
(NOTES ON THE PLATES ILLUSTRATING THIS VOLUME.)
In the delivery of the preceding Lectures, some account was given of
the theologic design of the sculptures by Giovanni Pisano at Orvieto,
which I intended to have printed separately, and in more complete form,
in this Appendix. But my strength does not now admit of my fulfilling
the half of my intentions, and I find myself, at present, tired, and so
dead in feeling, that I have no quickness in interpretation, or skill
in description of emotional work. I must content myself, therefore, for
the time, with a short statement of the points which I wish the reader
to observe in the Plates, and which were left unnoticed in the text.
The frontispiece is the best copy I can get, in permanent materials, of
a photograph of the course of the Arno, through Pisa, before the old
banks were destroyed. Two arches of the Ponte-a-Mare which was carried
away in the inundation of 1870, are seen in the distance; the church of
La Spina, in its original position overhanging the river; and the
buttressed and rugged walls of the mediaeval shore. Never more, any of
these, to be seen in reality, by living eyes.
PLATE I.--A small portion of a photograph of Nicolo Pisano's Adoration
of the Magi, on the pulpit of the Pisan Baptistery. The intensely Greek
character of the heads, and the severely impetuous chiselling (learned
from Late Roman rapid work), which drives the lines of the drapery
nearly straight, may be seen better in a fragment of this limited
measure than in the crowded massing of the entire subject. But it may
be observed also that there is both a thoughtfulness and a tenderness
in the features, whether of the Virgin or the attendant angel, which
already indicate an aim beyond that of Greek art.
PLATE II--The Pulpit of the Baptistery (of which the preceding plate
represents a portion). I have only given this general view for
convenience of reference. Beautiful photographs of the subject on a
large scale are easily attainable.
PLATE III.--The Fountain of Perugia. Executed from a sketch by Mr.
Arthur Severn. The perspective of the steps is not quite true; we both
tried to get it right, but found that it would be a day or two's work,
to little purpose, and so let them go at hazard. The inlaid pattern
behind is part of the older wall of the cathedral; the late door is of
PLATE IV., LETTER E.--From Norman Bible in the British Museum; showing
the moral temper which regulated common ornamentation in the twelfth
PLATE V.--Door of the Baptistery at Pisa. The reader must note that,
although these plates are necessarily, in fineness of detail, inferior
to the photographs from which they are taken, they have the inestimable
advantage of permanence, and will not fade away into spectres when the
book is old. I am greatly puzzled by the richness of the current
ornamentation on the main pillars, as opposed to the general severity
of design. I never can understand how the men who indulged in this
flowing luxury of foliage were so stern in their masonry and figure-
PLATE VI.--Part of the lintel of the door represented on Plate V.,
enlarged. I intended, in the Lecture on Marble Couchant, to have
insisted, at some length, on the decoration of the lintel and side-
posts, as one of the most important phases of mystic ecclesiastical
sculpture. But I find the materials furnished by Lucca, Pisa, and
Florence, for such an essay are far too rich to be examined cursorily;
the treatment even of this single lintel could scarcely be enough
explained in the close of the Lecture. I must dwell on some points of
Look back to Section 175 in "Aratra Pentelici," giving statement of the
four kinds of relief in sculpture. The uppermost of these plinths is of
the kind I have called 'round relief'; you might strike it out on a
coin. The lower is 'foliate relief'; it looks almost as if the figures
had been cut out of one layer of marble, and laid against another
The uppermost, at the distance of my diagram, or in nature itself,
would scarcely be distinguished at a careless glance from an egg-and-
arrow moulding. You could not have a more simple or forcible
illustration of my statement in the first chapter of "Aratra," that the
essential business of sculpture is to produce a series of agreeable
bosses or rounded surfaces; to which, if possible, some meaning may
afterwards be attached. In the present instance, every egg becomes an
angel, or evangelist, and every arrow a lily, or a wing.  The whole
is in the most exquisitely finished Byzantine style.
[Footnote: In the contemporary south door of the Duomo of Genoa, the
Greek moulding is used without any such transformation.]
I am not sure of being right in my interpretation of the meaning of
these figures; but I think there can be little question about it. There
are eleven altogether; the three central, Christ with His mother and
St. Joseph; then, two evangelists, with two alternate angels, on each
side. Each of these angels carries a rod, with a fleur-de-lys
termination; their wings decorate the intermediate ridges (formed, in a
pure Greek moulding, by the arrows); and, behind the heads of all the
figures, there is now a circular recess; once filled, I doubt not, by a
plate of gold. The Christ, and the Evangelists, all carry books, of
which each has a mosaic, or intaglio ornament, in the shape of a cross.
I could not show you a more severe or perfectly representative piece of
The heads of the eleven figures are as simply decorative as the ball
flowers are in our English Gothic tracery; the slight irregularity
produced by different gesture and character giving precisely the sort
of change which a good designer wishes to see in the parts of a
The moulding closes at each extremity with a palm-tree, correspondent
in execution with those on coins of Syracuse; for the rest, the
interest of it consists only in these slight variations of attitude by
which the figures express wonder or concern at some event going on in
their presence. They are looking down; and I do not doubt, are intended
to be the heavenly witnesses of the story engraved on the stone below,
--The Life and Death of the Baptist.
The lower stone on which this is related, is a model of skill in
Fiction, properly so called. In Fictile art, in Fictile history, it is
equally exemplary. 'Feigning' or 'affecting' in the most exquisite way
by fastening intensely on the principal points.
Ask yourselves what are the principal points to be insisted on, in the
story of the Baptist.
He came, "preaching the Baptism of Repentance for the remission of
sins." That is his Advice, or Order-preaching.
And he came, "to bear witness of the Light." "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sins of the world." That is his declaration, or
And the end of his own life is in the practice of this preaching--if
you will think of it--under curious difficulties in both kinds.
Difficulties in putting away sin--difficulties in obtaining sight. The
first half of the stone begins with the apocalyptic preaching. Christ,
represented as in youth, is set under two trees, in the wilderness. St.
John is scarcely at first seen; he is only the guide, scarcely the
teacher, of the crowd of peoples, nations, and languages, whom he
leads, pointing them to the Christ. Without doubt, all these figures
have separate meaning. I am too ignorant to interpret it; but observe
generally, they are the thoughtful and wise of the earth, not its
ruffians or rogues. This is not, by any means, a general amnesty to
blackguards, and an apocalypse to brutes, which St. John is preaching.
These are quite the best people he can find to call, or advise. You see
many of them carry rolls of paper in their hands, as he does himself.
In comparison with the books of the upper cornice, these have special
meaning, as throughout Byzantine design.
"Adverte quod patriarchae et prophetse pinguntur cum rotulis
in manibus; quidam vero apostoli cum libris, et quidam
cum rotulis. Nempe quia ante Christi adventum fides figurative
ostendebatur, et quoad multa, in se implicita erat. Ad
quod ostendendum patriarchse et prophetae pinguntur cum rotulis,
per quos quasi qusedam imperfecta cognitio design atur;
quia vero apostoli a Christo perfecte edocti suut, ideo libris,
per quos designatur perfecta cognitio, uti possunt."
WILLIAM DURANDUS, quoted by Didron, p. 305.
PLATE VII.--Next to this subject of the preaching comes the Baptism:
and then, the circumstances of St. John's death. First, his declaration
to Herod, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife:" on
which he is seized and carried to prison:--next, Herod's feast,--the
consultation between daughter and mother, "What shall I ask?"--the
martyrdom, and burial by the disciples. The notable point in the
treatment of all these subjects is the quiet and mystic Byzantine
dwelling on thought rather than action. In a northern sculpture of this
subject, the daughter of Herodias would have been assuredly dancing;
and most probably, casting a somersault. With the Byzantine, the debate
in her mind is the only subject of interest, and he carves above, the
evil angels, laying their hands on the heads, first of Herod and
Herodias, and then of Herodias and her daughter.
PLATE VIII.--The issuing of commandment not to eat of the tree of
knowledge. (Orvieto Cathedral.)
This, with Plates X. and XII., will give a sufficiently clear
conception to any reader who has a knowledge of sculpture, of the
principles of Giovanni Pisano's design. I have thought it well worth
while to publish opposite two of them, facsimiles of the engravings
which profess to represent them in Gruiier's monograph  of the
Orvieto sculptures; for these outlines will, once for all, and better
than any words, show my pupils what is the real virue of mediaeval
work,--the power which we medievalists rejoice in it for. Precisely the
qualities which are _not_ in the modern drawings, are the essential
virtues of the early sculpture. If you like the Gruner outlines best,
you need not trouble yourself to go to Orvieto, or anywhere else in
Italy. Sculpture, such as those outlines represent, can be supplied to
you by the acre, to order, in any modern academician's atelier. But if
you like the strange, rude, quaint, Gothic realities (for these
photographs are, up to a certain point, a vision of the reality) best;
then, don't study mediaeval art under the direction of modern
illustrators. Look at it--for however short a time, where you can find
it--veritable and untouched, however mouldered or shattered. And abhor,
as you would the mimicry of your best friend's manners by a fool, all
restorations and improving copies. For remember, none but fools think
they can restore--none, but worse fools, that they can improve.
[Footnote: The drawings are by some Italian draughtsman, whose name it
is no business of mine to notice.]
Examine these outlines, then, with extreme care, and point by point.
The things which they have refused or lost, are the things you have to
love, in Giovanni Pisano.
I will merely begin the task of examination, to show you how to set
about it. Take the head of the commanding Christ. Although inclined
forward from the shoulders in the advancing motion of the whole body,
the head itself is not stooped; but held entirely upright, the line of
forehead sloping backwards. The command is given in calm authority; not
in mean anxiety. But this was not expressive enough for the copyist,--
"How much better _I_ can show what is meant!" thinks he. So he puts the
line of forehead and nose upright; projects the brow out of its
straight line; and the expression then becomes,--"Now, be very careful,
and mind what I say." Perhaps you like this 'improved' action better?
Be it so; only, it is not Giovanni Pisano's design; but the modern
Next, take the head of Eve. It is much missed in the photograph--nearly
all the finest lines lost--but enough is got to show Giovanni's mind.
It appears, he liked long-headed people, with sharp chins and straight
noses. It might be very wrong of him; but that was his taste. So much
so, indeed, that Adam and Eve have,
[Illustration: PLATE XI.--THE NATIVITY. MODERN ITALIAN.]
both of them, heads not much shorter than one-sixth of their entire
Your modern Academy pupil, of course, cannot tolerate this monstrosity.
He indulgently corrects Giovanni, and Adam and Eve have entirely
orthodox one-eighth heads, by rule of schools.
But how of Eve's sharp-cut nose and pointed chin, thin lips, and look
of quiet but rather surprised attention--not specially reverent, but
looking keenly out from under her eyelids, like a careful servant
receiving an order?
Well--those are all Giovanni's own notions;--not the least classical,
nor scientific, nor even like a pretty, sentimental modern woman. Like
a Florentine woman--in Giovanni's time--it may be; at all events, very
certainly, what Giovanni thought proper to carve.
Now examine your modern edition. An entirely proper Greco-Roman academy
plaster bust, with a proper nose, and proper mouth, and a round chin,
and an expression of the most solemn reverence; always, of course, of a
classical description. Very fine, perhaps. But not Giovanni.
After Eve's head, let us look at her feet. Giovanni has his own
positive notions about those also. Thin and bony, to excess, the right,
undercut all along, so that the profile looks as thin as the mere
elongated line on an Etruscan vase; and the right showing the five toes
all well separate, nearly straight, and the larger ones almost as long
as fingers! the shin bone above carried up in as severe and sharp a
curve as the edge of a sword.
Now examine the modern copy. Beautiful little fleshy, Venus-de'-Medici
feet and toes--no undercutting to the right foot,--the left having the
great-toe properly laid over the second, according to the ordinances of
schools and shoes, and a well-developed academic and operatic calf and
leg. Again charming, of course. But only according to Mr. Gibson or Mr.
Power--not according to Giovanni.
Farther, and finally, note the delight with which Giovanni has dwelt,
though without exaggeration, on the muscles of the breast and ribs in
the Adam; while he has subdued all away into virginal severity in Eve.
And then note, and with conclusive admiration, how in the exact and
only place where the poor modern fool's anatomical knowledge should
have been shown, the wretch loses his hold of it! How he has entirely
missed and effaced the grand Greek pectoral muscles of Giovanni's Adam,
but has studiously added what mean fleshliness he could to the Eve; and
marked with black spots the nipple and navel, where Giovanni left only
the severe marble in pure light.
These instances are enough to enable you to detect the insolent changes
in the design of Giovanni made by the modern Academy-student in so far
as they relate to form absolute. I must farther, for a few moments,
request your attention to the alterations made in the light and shade.
You may perhaps remember some of the passages. They occur frequently,
both in my inaugural lectures, and in "Aratra Pentelici," in which I
have pointed out the essential connection between the schools of
sculpture and those of chiaroscuro. I have always spoken of the Greek,
or essentially sculpture-loving schools, as chiaroscurist; always of
the Gothic, or colour-loving schools, as non-chiaroscurist. And in one
place, (I have not my books here, and cannot refer to it,) I have even
defined sculpture as light-and-shade drawing with the chisel.
Therefore, the next point you have to look to, after the absolute
characters of form, is the mode in which the sculptor has placed his
shadows, both to express these, and to force the eye to the points of
his composition which he wants looked at. You cannot possibly see a
more instructive piece of work, in these respects, than Giovanni's
design of the Nativity, Plate X. So far as I yet know Christian art,
this is the central type of the treatment of the subject; it has all
the intensity and passion of the earliest schools, together with a
grace of repose which even in Ghiberti's beautiful Nativity, founded
upon it, has scarcely been increased, but rather lost in languor. The
motive of the design is the frequent one among all the early masters;
the Madonna lifts the covering from the cradle to show the Child to one
of the servants, who starts forward adoring. All the light and shade is
[Illustration: PLATE XII.--THE ANNUNCIATION AND VISITATION.]
to fix the eye on these main actions. First, one intense deeply-cut mass
of shadow, under the pointed arch, to throw out the head and lifted hand
of the Virgin. A vulgar sculptor would have cut all black behind the
head; Giovanni begins with full shadow; then subdues it with drapery
absolutely quiet in fall; then lays his fullest possible light on the
head, the hand, and the edge of the lifted veil.
He has undercut his Madonna's profile, being his main aim, too
delicately for time to spare; happily the deep-cut brow is left, and
the exquisitely refined line above, of the veil and hair. The rest of
the work is uninjured, and the sharpest edges of light are still
secure. You may note how the passionate action of the servant is given
by the deep shadows under and above her arm, relieving its curves in
all their length, and by the recess of shade under the cheek and chin,
which lifts the face.
Now take your modern student's copy, and look how _he_ has placed his
lights and shades. You see, they go as nearly as possible exactly where
Giovanni's _don't_. First, pure white under this Gothic arch, where
Giovanni has put his fullest dark. Secondly, just where Giovanni has
used his whole art of chiselling, to soften his stone away, and show
the wreaths of the Madonna's hair lifting her veil behind, the accursed
modern blockhead carves his shadow straight down, because he thinks
that will be more in the style of Michael Angelo. Then he takes the
shadows away from behind the profile, and from under the chin, and from
under the arm, and puts in two grand square blocks of dark at the ends
of the cradle, that you may be safe to look at that, instead of the
Child. Next, he takes it all away from under the servant's arms, and
lays it all behind above the calf of her leg. Then, not having wit
enough to notice Giovanni's undulating surface beneath the drapery of
the bed on the left, he limits it with a hard parallel-sided bar of
shade, and insists on the vertical fold under the Madonna's arm, which
Giovanni has purposely cut flat that it may not interfere with the arm
above; finally, the modern animal has missed the only pieces of womanly
form which Giovanni admitted, the rounded right arm and softly revealed
breast; and absolutely removed, as if it were no part of the
composition, the horizontal incision at the base of all--out of which
the first folds of the drapery rise.
I cannot give you any better example, than this modern Academy-work, of
the total ignorance of the very first meaning of the word 'Sculpture'
into which the popular schools of existing art are plunged. I will not
insist, now, on the uselessness, or worse, of their endeavours to
represent the older art, and of the necessary futility of their
judgment of it. The conclusions to which I wish to lead you on these
points will be the subject of future lectures, being of too great
importance for examination here. But you cannot spend your time in more
profitable study than by examining and comparing, touch for touch, the
treatment of light and shadow in the figures of the Christ and sequent
angels, in Plates VIII. and IX., as we have partly examined those of
the subject before us; and in thus assuring yourself of the uselessness
of trusting to any ordinary modern copyists, for anything more than the
rudest chart or map--and even that inaccurately surveyed--of ancient
The last plate given in this volume contains the two lovely subjects of
the Annunciation and Visitation, which, being higher from the ground,
are better preserved than the groups represented in the other plates.
They will be found to justify, in subtlety of chiselling, the title I
gave to Giovanni, of the Canova of the thirteenth century.
I am obliged to leave without notice, at present, the branch of ivy,
given in illustration of the term 'marble rampant,' at the base of
Plate VIII. The foliage of Orvieto can only be rightly described in
connection with the great scheme of leaf-ornamentation which ascended
from the ivy of the Homeric period in the sculptures of Cyprus, to the
roses of Botticelli, and laurels of Bellini and Titian.