History of Florence and the Affairs of Italy by Niccolò MachiavelliFrom the Earliest Times to the Death of Lorenzo the Magnificent

Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nz and Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com HISTORY OF FLORENCE AND OF THE AFFAIRS OF ITALY FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE DEATH OF LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT by NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI With an Introduction by HUGO ALBERT RENNERT, Ph.D. Professor of Romanic Languages and Literature, University of Pennsylvania. PREPARER’S NOTE This text was typed
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Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@ihug.co.nz and Dagny, dagnyj@hotmail.com





With an Introduction by

Professor of Romanic Languages and Literature, University of Pennsylvania.


This text was typed up from a Universal Classics Library edition, published in 1901 by W. Walter Dunne, New York and London. The translator was not named. The book contains a “photogravure” of Niccolo Machiavelli from an engraving.


Niccolo Machiavelli, the first great Italian historian, and one of the most eminent political writers of any age or country, was born at Florence, May 3, 1469. He was of an old though not wealthy Tuscan family, his father, who was a jurist, dying when Niccolo was sixteen years old. We know nothing of Machiavelli’s youth and little about his studies. He does not seem to have received the usual humanistic education of his time, as he knew no Greek.[*] The first notice of Machiavelli is in 1498 when we find him holding the office of Secretary in the second Chancery of the Signoria, which office he retained till the downfall of the Florentine Republic in 1512. His unusual ability was soon recognized, and in 1500 he was sent on a mission to Louis XII. of France, and afterward on an embassy to Cæsar Borgia, the lord of Romagna, at Urbino. Machiavelli’s report and description of this and subsequent embassies to this prince, shows his undisguised admiration for the courage and cunning of Cæsar, who was a master in the application of the principles afterwards exposed in such a skillful and uncompromising manner by Machiavelli in his /Prince/.

The limits of this introduction will not permit us to follow with any detail the many important duties with which he was charged by his native state, all of which he fulfilled with the utmost fidelity and with consummate skill. When, after the battle of Ravenna in 1512 the holy league determined upon the downfall of Pier Soderini, Gonfaloniere of the Florentine Republic, and the restoration of the Medici, the efforts of Machiavelli, who was an ardent republican, were in vain; the troops he had helped to organize fled before the Spaniards and the Medici were returned to power. Machiavelli attempted to conciliate his new masters, but he was deprived of his office, and being accused in the following year of participation in the conspiracy of Boccoli and Capponi, he was imprisoned and tortured, though afterward set at liberty by Pope Leo X. He now retired to a small estate near San Casciano, seven miles from Florence. Here he devoted himself to political and historical studies, and though apparently retired from public life, his letters show the deep and passionate interest he took in the political vicissitudes through which Italy was then passing, and in all of which the singleness of purpose with which he continued to advance his native Florence, is clearly manifested. It was during his retirement upon his little estate at San Casciano that Machiavelli wrote /The Prince/, the most famous of all his writings, and here also he had begun a much more extensive work, his /Discourses on the Decades of Livy/, which continued to occupy him for several years. These /Discourses/, which do not form a continuous commentary on Livy, give Machiavelli an opportunity to express his own views on the government of the state, a task for which his long and varied political experience, and an assiduous study of the ancients rendered him eminently qualified. The /Discourses/ and /The Prince/, written at the same time, supplement each other and are really one work. Indeed, the treatise, /The Art of War/, though not written till 1520 should be mentioned here because of its intimate connection with these two treatises, it being, in fact, a further development of some of the thoughts expressed in the /Discorsi/. /The Prince/, a short work, divided into twenty-six books, is the best known of all Machiavelli’s writings. Herein he expresses in his own masterly way his views on the founding of a new state, taking for his type and model Cæsar Borgia, although the latter had failed in his schemes for the consolidation of his power in the Romagna. The principles here laid down were the natural outgrowth of the confused political conditions of his time. And as in the /Principe/, as its name indicates, Machiavelli is concerned chiefly with the government of a Prince, so the /Discorsi/ treat principally of the Republic, and here Machiavelli’s model republic was the Roman commonwealth, the most successful and most enduring example of popular government. Free Rome is the embodiment of his political idea of the state. Much that Machiavelli says in this treatise is as true to-day and holds as good as the day it was written. And to us there is much that is of especial importance. To select a chapter almost at random, let us take Book I., Chap. XV.: “Public affairs are easily managed in a city where the body of the people is not corrupt; and where equality exists, there no principality can be established; nor can a republic be established where there is no equality.”

No man has been more harshly judged than Machiavelli, especially in the two centuries following his death. But he has since found many able champions and the tide has turned. /The Prince/ has been termed a manual for tyrants, the effect of which has been most pernicious. But were Machiavelli’s doctrines really new? Did he discover them? He merely had the candor and courage to write down what everybody was thinking and what everybody knew. He merely gives us the impressions he had received from a long and intimate intercourse with princes and the affairs of state. It was Lord Bacon, I believe, who said that Machiavelli tells us what princes do, not what they ought to do. When Machiavelli takes Cæsar Borgia as a model, he in nowise extols him as a hero, but merely as a prince who was capable of attaining the end in view. The life of the State was the primary object. It must be maintained. And Machiavelli has laid down the principles, based upon his study and wide experience, by which this may be accomplished. He wrote from the view-point of the politician,–not of the moralist. What is good politics may be bad morals, and in fact, by a strange fatality, where morals and politics clash, the latter generally gets the upper hand. And will anyone contend that the principles set forth by Machiavelli in his /Prince/ or his /Discourses/ have entirely perished from the earth? Has diplomacy been entirely stripped of fraud and duplicity? Let anyone read the famous eighteenth chapter of /The Prince/: “In what Manner Princes should keep their Faith,” and he will be convinced that what was true nearly four hundred years ago, is quite as true to-day.

Of the remaining works of Machiavelli the most important is the /History of Florence/ written between 1521 and 1525, and dedicated to Clement VII. The first book is merely a rapid review of the Middle Ages, the history of Florence beginning with Book II. Machiavelli’s method has been censured for adhering at times too closely to the chroniclers like Villani, Cambi, and Giovanni Cavalcanti, and at others rejecting their testimony without apparent reason, while in its details the authority of his /History/ is often questionable. It is the straightforward, logical narrative, which always holds the interest of the reader that is the greatest charm of the /History/. Of the other works of Machiavelli we may mention here his comedies the /Mandragola/ and /Clizia/, and his novel /Belfagor/.

After the downfall of the Republic and Machiavelli’s release from prison in 1513, fortune seems never again to have favoured him. It is true that in 1520 Giuliano de’ Medici commissioned him to write his /History of Florence/, and he afterwards held a number of offices, yet these latter were entirely beneath his merits. He had been married in 1502 to Marietta Corsini, who bore him four sons and a daughter. He died on June 22, 1527, leaving his family in the greatest poverty, a sterling tribute to his honesty, when one considers the many opportunities he doubtless had to enrich himself. Machiavelli’s life was not without blemish–few lives are. We must bear in mind the atmosphere of craft, hypocrisy, and poison in which he lived,–his was the age of Cæsar Borgia and of Popes like the monster Alexander VI. and Julius II. Whatever his faults may have been, Machiavelli was always an ardent patriot and an earnest supporter of popular government. It is true that he was willing to accept a prince, if one could be found courageous enough and prudent enough to unite dismembered Italy, for in the unity of his native land he saw the only hope of its salvation.

Machiavelli is buried in the church of Santa Croce at Florence, beside the tomb of Michael Angelo. His monument bears this inscription:

“Tanto nomini nullum par eulogium.”

And though this praise is doubtless exaggerated, he is a son of whom his country may be justly proud.

Hugo Albert Rennert.

[*] Villari, /Niccolo Machiavelli e i suoi tempi/, 2d ed. Milan, 1895-97, the best work on the subject. The most complete bibliography of Machiavelli up to 1858 is to be found in Mohl, /Gesch. u. Liter. der Staatswissenshaften/, Erlangen, 1855, III., 521-91. See also /La Vita e gli scritti di Niccolo Machiavelli nella loro Relazione col Machiavellismo/, by O. Tommasini, Turin, 1883 (unfinished).

The best English translation of Machiavelli with which I am acquainted is: The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, translated by Christian E. Detmold. Osgood & Co., Boston, 1882, 4 vols. 8vo.






Irruption of Northern people upon the Roman territories–Visigoths –Barbarians called in by Stilicho–Vandals in Africa–Franks and Burgundians give their names to France and Burgundy–The Huns– Angles give the name to England–Attila, king of the Huns, in Italy–Genseric takes Rome–The Lombards.

The people who inhabit the northern parts beyond the Rhine and the Danube, living in a healthy and prolific region, frequently increase to such vast multitudes that part of them are compelled to abandon their native soil, and seek a habitation in other countries. The method adopted, when one of these provinces had to be relieved of its superabundant population, was to divide into three parts, each containing an equal number of nobles and of people, of rich and of poor. The third upon whom the lot fell, then went in search of new abodes, leaving the remaining two-thirds in possession of their native country.

These migrating masses destroyed the Roman empire by the facilities for settlement which the country offered when the emperors abandoned Rome, the ancient seat of their dominion, and fixed their residence at Constantinople; for by this step they exposed the western empire to the rapine of both their ministers and their enemies, the remoteness of their position preventing them either from seeing or providing for its necessities. To suffer the overthrow of such an extensive empire, established by the blood of so many brave and virtuous men, showed no less folly in the princes themselves than infidelity in their ministers; for not one irruption alone, but many, contributed to its ruin; and these barbarians exhibited much ability and perseverance in accomplishing their object.

The first of these northern nations that invaded the empire after the Cimbrians, who were conquered by Caius Marius, was the Visigoths– which name in our language signifies “Western Goths.” These, after some battles fought along its confines, long held their seat of dominion upon the Danube, with consent of the emperors; and although, moved by various causes, they often attacked the Roman provinces, were always kept in subjection by the imperial forces. The emperor Theodosius conquered them with great glory; and, being wholly reduced to his power, they no longer selected a sovereign of their own, but, satisfied with the terms which he granted them, lived and fought under his ensigns, and authority. On the death of Theodosius, his sons Arcadius and Honorius, succeeded to the empire, but not to the talents and fortune of their father; and the times became changed with the princes. Theodosius had appointed a governor to each of the three divisions of the empire, Ruffinus to the eastern, to the western Stilicho, and Gildo to the African. Each of these, after the death of Theodosius, determined not to be governors merely, but to assume sovereign dominion over their respective provinces. Gildo and Ruffinus were suppressed at their outset; but Stilicho, concealing his design, ingratiated himself with the new emperors, and at the same time so disturbed their government, as to facilitate his occupation of it afterward. To make the Visigoths their enemies, he advised that the accustomed stipend allowed to this people should be withheld; and as he thought these enemies would not be sufficient alone to disturb the empire, he contrived that the Burgundians, Franks, Vandals, and Alans (a northern people in search of new habitations), should assail the Roman provinces.

That they might be better able to avenge themselves for the injury they had sustained, the Visigoths, on being deprived of their subsidy, created Alaric their king; and having assailed the empire, succeeded, after many reverses, in overrunning Italy, and finally in pillaging Rome.

After this victory, Alaric died, and his successor, Astolphus, having married Placidia, sister of the emperors, agreed with them to go to the relief of Gaul and Spain, which provinces had been assailed by the Vandals, Burgundians, Alans, and Franks, from the causes before mentioned. Hence it followed, that the Vandals, who had occupied that part of Spain called Betica (now Andalusia), being pressed by the Visigoths, and unable to resist them, were invited by Boniface, who governed Africa for the empire, to occupy that province; for, being in rebellion, he was afraid his error would become known to the emperor. For these reasons the Vandals gladly undertook the enterprise, and under Genseric, their king, became lords of Africa.

At this time Theodosius, son of Arcadius, succeeded to the empire; and, bestowing little attention on the affairs of the west, caused those who had taken possession to think of securing their acquisitions. Thus the Vandals ruled Africa; the Alans and Visigoths, Spain; while the Franks and Burgundians not only took Gaul, but each gave their name to the part they occupied; hence one is called France, the other Burgundy. The good fortune of these brought fresh people to the destruction of the empire, one of which, the Huns, occupied the province of Pannonia, situated upon the nearer shore of the Danube, and which, from their name, is still called Hungary. To these disorders it must be added, that the emperor, seeing himself attacked on so many sides, to lessen the number of his enemies, began to treat first with the Vandals, then with the Franks; a course which diminished his own power, and increased that of the barbarians. Nor was the island of Britain, which is now called England, secure from them; for the Britons, being apprehensive of those who had occupied Gaul, called the Angli, a people of Germany, to their aid; and these under Vortigern their king, first defended, and then drove them from the island, of which they took possession, and after themselves named the country England. But the inhabitants, being robbed of their home, became desperate by necessity and resolved to take possession of some other country, although they had been unable to defend their own. They therefore crossed the sea with their families, and settled in the country nearest to the beach, which from themselves is called Brittany. The Huns, who were said above to have occupied Pannonia, joining with other nations, as the Zepidi, Eurili, Turingi, and Ostro, or eastern Goths, moved in search of new countries, and not being able to enter France, which was defended by the forces of the barbarians, came into Italy under Attila their king. He, a short time previously, in order to possess the entire monarchy, had murdered his brother Bleda; and having thus become very powerful, Andaric, king of the Zepidi, and Velamir, king of the Ostrogoths, became subject to him. Attila, having entered Italy, laid siege to Aquileia, where he remained without any obstacle for two years, wasting the country round, and dispersing the inhabitants. This, as will be related in its place, caused the origin of Venice. After the taking and ruin of Aquileia, he directed his course towards Rome, from the destruction of which he abstained at the entreaty of the pontiff, his respect for whom was so great that he left Italy and retired into Austria, where he died. After the death of Attila, Velamir, king of the Ostrogoths, and the heads of the other nations, took arms against his sons Henry and Uric, slew the one and compelled the other, with his Huns, to repass the Danube and return to their country; while the Ostrogoths and the Zepidi established themselves in Pannonia, and the Eruli and the Turingi upon the farther bank of the Danube.

Attila having left Italy, Valentinian, emperor of the west, thought of restoring the country; and, that he might be more ready to defend it against the barbarians, abandoned Rome, and removed the seat of government to Ravenna. The misfortunes which befell the western empire caused the emperor, who resided at Constantinople, on many occasions to give up the possession of it to others, as a charge full of danger and expense; and sometimes, without his permission, the Romans, seeing themselves so abandoned, created an emperor for their defense, or suffered some one to usurp the dominion. This occurred at the period of which we now speak, when Maximus, a Roman, after the death of Valentinian, seized the government, and compelled Eudocia, widow of the late emperor, to take him for her husband; but she, being of imperial blood, scorned the connection of a private citizen; and being anxious to avenge herself for the insult, secretly persuaded Genseric, king of the Vandals and master of Africa to come to Italy, representing to him the advantage he would derive from the undertaking, and the facility with which it might be accomplished. Tempted by the hope of booty, he came immediately, and finding Rome abandoned, plundered the city during fourteen days. He also ravaged many other places in Italy, and then, loaded with wealth, withdrew to Africa. The Romans, having returned to their city, and Maximus being dead, elected Avitus, a Roman, as his successor. After this, several important events occurred both in Italy and in the countries beyond; and after the deaths of many emperors the empire of Constantinople devolved upon Zeno, and that of Rome upon Orestes and Augustulus his son, who obtained the sovereignty by fraud. While they were designing to hold by force what they had obtained by treachery, the Eruli and the Turingi, who, after the death of Attila, as before remarked, had established themselves upon the farther bank of the Danube, united in a league and invaded Italy under Odoacer their general. Into the districts which they left unoccupied, the Longobardi or Lombards, also a northern people, entered, led by Godogo their king. Odoacer conquered and slew Orestes near Pavia, but Augustulus escaped. After this victory, that Rome might, with her change of power, also change her title, Odoacer, instead of using the imperial name, caused himself to be declared king of Rome. He was the first of those leaders who at this period overran the world and thought of settling in Italy; for the others, either from fear that they should not be able to hold the country, knowing that it might easily be relieved by the eastern emperors, or from some unknown cause, after plundering her, sought other countries wherein to establish themselves.


State of the Roman empire under Zeno–Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths–Character of Theodoric–Changes in the Roman empire– New languages–New names–Theodoric dies–Belisarius in Italy– Totila takes Rome–Narses destroys the Goths–New form of Government in Italy–Narses invites the Lombards into Italy–The Lombards change the form of government.

At this time the ancient Roman empire was governed by the following princes: Zeno, reigning in Constantinople, commanded the whole of the eastern empire; the Ostrogoths ruled Mesia and Pannonia; the Visigoths, Suavi, and Alans, held Gascony and Spain; the Vandals, Africa; the Franks and Burgundians, France; and the Eruli and Turingi, Italy. The kingdom of the Ostrogoths had descended to Theodoric, nephew of Velamir, who, being on terms of friendship with Zeno the eastern emperor, wrote to him that his Ostrogoths thought it an injustice that they, being superior in valor to the people thereabout, should be inferior to them in dominion, and that it was impossible for him to restrain them within the limits of Pannonia. So, seeing himself under the necessity of allowing them to take arms and go in search of new abodes, he wished first to acquaint Zeno with it, in order that he might provide for them, by granting some country in which they might establish themselves, by his good favor with greater propriety and convenience. Zeno, partly from fear and partly from a desire to drive Odoacer out of Italy, gave Theodoric permission to lead his people against him, and take possession of the country. Leaving his friends the Zepidi in Pannonia, Theodoric marched into Italy, slew Odoacer and his son, and, moved by the same reasons which had induced Valentinian to do so, established his court at Ravenna, and like Odoacer took the title of king of Italy.

Theodoric possessed great talents both for war and peace; in the former he was always conqueror, and in the latter he conferred very great benefits upon the cities and people under him. He distributed the Ostrogoths over the country, each district under its leader, that he might more conveniently command them in war, and govern them in peace. He enlarged Ravenna, restored Rome, and, with the exception of military discipline, conferred upon the Romans every honor. He kept within their proper bounds, wholly by the influence of his character, all the barbarian kings who occupied the empire; he built towns and fortresses between the point of the Adriatic and the Alps, in order, with the greater facility, to impede the passage of any new hordes of barbarians who might design to assail Italy; and if, toward the latter end of his life, so many virtues had not been sullied by acts of cruelty, caused by various jealousies of his people, such as the death of Symmachus and Boethius, men of great holiness, every point of his character would have deserved the highest praise. By his virtue and goodness, not only Rome and Italy, but every part of the western empire, freed from the continual troubles which they had suffered from the frequent influx of barbarians, acquired new vigor, and began to live in an orderly and civilized manner. For surely if any times were truly miserable for Italy and the provinces overrun by the barbarians, they were those which occurred from Arcadius and Honorius to Theodoric. If we only consider the evils which arise to a republic or a kingdom by a change of prince or of government; not by foreign interference, but by civil discord (in which we may see how even slight variations suffice to ruin the most powerful kingdoms or states), we may then easily imagine how much Italy and the other Roman provinces suffered, when they not only changed their forms of government and their princes, but also their laws, customs, modes of living, religion, language, and name. Any one of such changes, by itself, without being united with others, might, with thinking of it, to say nothing of the seeing and suffering, infuse terror into the strongest minds.

From these causes proceeded the ruin as well as the origin and extension of many cities. Among those which were ruined were Aquileia, Luni, Chiusi, Popolonia, Fiesole, and many others. The new cities were Venice, Sienna, Ferrara, Aquila, with many towns and castles which for brevity we omit. Those which became extended were Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Milan, Naples, and Bologna; to all of which may be added, the ruin and restoration of Rome, and of many other cities not previously mentioned.

From this devastation and new population arose new languages, as we see in the different dialects of France, Spain and Italy; which, partaking of the native idiom of the new people and of the old Roman, formed a new manner of discourse. Besides, not only were the names of provinces changed, but also of lakes, rivers, seas, and men; for France, Spain, and Italy are full of fresh names, wholly different from the ancient; as, omitting many others, we see that the Po, the Garda, the Archipelago, are names quite different from those which the ancients used; while instead of Cæsar and Pompey we have Peter, Matthew, John, etc.

Among so many variations, that of religion was not of little importance; for, while combating the customs of the ancient faith with the miracles of the new, very serious troubles and discords were created among men. And if the Christians had been united in one faith, fewer disorders would have followed; but the contentions among themselves, of the churches of Rome, Greece, and Ravenna, joined to those of the heretic sects with the Catholics, served in many ways to render the world miserable. Africa is a proof of this; having suffered more horrors from the Arian sect, whose doctrines were believed by the Vandals, than from any avarice or natural cruelty of the people themselves. Living amid so many persecutions, the countenances of men bore witness of the terrible impressions upon their minds; for besides the evils they suffered from the disordered state of the world, they scarcely could have recourse to the help of God, in whom the unhappy hope for relief; for the greater part of them, being uncertain what divinity they ought to address, died miserably, without help and without hope.

Having been the first who put a stop to so many evils, Theodoric deserves the highest praise: for during the thirty-eight years he reigned in Italy, he brought the country to such a state of greatness that her previous sufferings were no longer recognizable. But at his death, the kingdom descending to Atalaric, son of Amalasontha, his daughter, and the malice of fortune not being yet exhausted, the old evils soon returned; for Atalaric died soon after his grandfather, and the kingdom coming into the possession of his mother, she was betrayed by Theodatus, whom she had called to assist her in the government. He put her to death and made himself king; and having thus become odious to the Ostrogoths, the emperor Justinian entertained the hope of driving him out of Italy. Justinian appointed Belisarius to the command of this expedition, as he had already conquered Africa, expelled the Vandals, and reduced the country to the imperial rule.

Belisarius took possession of Sicily, and from thence passing into Italy, occupied Naples and Rome. The Goths, seeing this, slew Theodatus their king, whom they considered the cause of their misfortune, and elected Vitiges in his stead, who, after some skirmishes, was besieged and taken by Belisarius at Ravenna; but before he had time to secure the advantages of his victory, Belisarius was recalled by Justinian, and Joannes and Vitalis were appointed in his place. Their principles and practices were so different from those of Belisarius, that the Goths took courage and created Ildovadus, governor of Verona, their king. After Ildovadus, who was slain, came Totila, who routed the imperial forces, took Tuscany and Naples, and recovered nearly the whole of what Belisarius had taken from them. On this account Justinian determined to send him into Italy again; but, coming with only a small force, he lost the reputation which his former victories had won for him, in less time than he had taken to acquire it. Totila being at Ostia with his forces, took Rome before his eyes; but being unable to hold or to leave the city, he destroyed the greater part of it, drove out the citizens, and took the senators away from him. Thinking little of Belisarius, he led his people into Calabria, to attack the forces which had been sent from Greece.

Belisarius, seeing the city abandoned, turned his mind to the performance of an honourable work. Viewing the ruins of Rome, he determined to rebuild her walls and recall her inhabitants with as little delay as possible. But fortune was opposed to this laudable enterprise; for Justinian, being at this time assailed by the Parthians, recalled him; and his duty to his sovereign compelled him to abandon Italy to Totila, who again took Rome, but did not treat her with such severity as upon the former occasion; for at the entreaty of St. Benedict, who in those days had great reputation for sanctity, he endeavored to restore her. In the meantime, Justinian having arranged matters with the Parthians, again thought of sending a force to the relief of Italy; but the Sclavi, another northern people, having crossed the Danube and attacked Illyria and Thrace, prevented him, so that Totila held almost the whole country. Having conquered the Slavonians, Justinian sent Narses, a eunuch, a man of great military talent, who, having arrived in Italy, routed and slew Totila. The Goths who escaped sought refuge in Pavia, where they created Teias their king. On the other hand, Narses after the victory took Rome, and coming to an engagement with Teias near Nocera, slew him and routed his army. By this victory, the power of the Goths in Italy was quite annihilated, after having existed for seventy years, from the coming of Theodoric to the death of Teias.

No sooner was Italy delivered from the Goths than Justinian died, and was succeeded by Justin, his son, who, at the instigation of Sophia, his wife, recalled Narses, and sent Longinus in his stead. Like those who preceded him, he made his abode at Ravenna, and besides this, gave a new form to the government of Italy; for he did not appoint governors of provinces, as the Goths had done, but in every city and town of importance placed a ruler whom he called a duke. Neither in this arrangement did he respect Rome more than the other cities; for having set aside the consuls and senate, names which up to this time had been preserved, he placed her under a duke, who was sent every year from Ravenna, and called her the duchy of Rome; while to him who remained in Ravenna, and governed the whole of Italy for the emperor, was given the name of Exarch. This division of the country greatly facilitated the ruin of Italy, and gave the Lombards an early occasion of occupying it. Narses was greatly enraged with the emperor, for having recalled him from the government of the province, which he had won with his own valor and blood; while Sophia, not content with the injury done by withdrawing him, treated him in the most offensive manner, saying she wished him to come back that he might spin with the other eunuchs. Full of indignation, Narses persuaded Alboin, king of the Lombards, who then reigned in Pannonia, to invade and take possession of Italy.

The Lombards, as was said before, occupied those places upon the Danube which had been vacated by the Eruli and Turingi, when Odoacer their king led them into Italy; where, having been established for some time, their dominions were held by Alboin, a man ferocious and bold, under whom they crossed the Danube, and coming to an engagement with Cunimund, king of the Zepidi, who held Pannonia, conquered and slew him. Alboin finding Rosamond, daughter of Cunimund, among the captives, took her to wife, and made himself sovereign of Pannonia; and, moved by his savage nature, caused the skull of Cunimund to be formed into a cup, from which, in memory of the victory, he drank. Being invited into Italy by Narses, with whom he had been in friendship during the war with the Goths, he left Pannonia to the Huns, who after the death of Attila had returned to their country. Finding, on his arrival, the province divided into so many parts, he presently occupied Pavia, Milan, Verona, Vicenza, the whole of Tuscany, and the greater part of Flamminia, which is now called Romagna. These great and rapid acquisitions made him think the conquest of Italy already secured; he therefore gave a great feast at Verona, and having become elevated with wine, ordered the skull of Cunimund to be filled, and caused it to be presented to the queen Rosamond, who sat opposite, saying loud enough for her to hear, that upon occasion of such great joy she should drink with her father. These words were like a dagger to the lady’s bosom and she resolved to have revenge. Knowing that Helmichis, a noble Lombard, was in love with one of her maids, she arranged with the young woman, that Helmichis, without being acquainted with the fact, should sleep with her instead of his mistress. Having effected her design, Rosamond discovered herself to Helmichis, and gave him the choice either of killing Alboin, and taking herself and the kingdom as his reward, or of being put to death as the ravisher of the queen. Helmichis consented to destroy Alboin; but after the murder, finding they could not occupy the kingdom, and fearful that the Lombards would put them to death for the love they bore to Alboin, they seized the royal treasure, and fled with it to Longinus, at Ravenna, who received them favorably.

During these troubles the emperor Justinus died, and was succeeded by Tiberius, who, occupied in the wars with the Parthians, could not attend to the affairs of Italy; and this seeming to Longinus to present an opportunity, by means of Rosamond and her wealth, of becoming king of the Lombards and of the whole of Italy, he communicated his design to her, persuaded her to destroy Helmichis, and so take him for her husband. To this end, having prepared poisoned wine, she with her own hand presented it to Helmichis, who complained of thirst as he came from the bath. Having drunk half of it, he suspected the truth, from the unusual sensation it occasioned and compelled her to drink the remainder; so that in a few hours both came to their end, and Longinus was deprived of the hope of becoming king.

In the meantime the Lombards, having drawn themselves together in Pavia, which was become the principal seat of their empire, made Clefis their king. He rebuilt Imola, destroyed by Narses, and occupied Remini and almost every place up to Rome; but he died in the course of his victories. Clefis was cruel to such a degree, not only toward strangers, but to his own Lombards, that these people, sickened of royal power, did not create another king, but appointed among themselves thirty dukes to govern the rest. This prevented the Lombards from occupying the whole of Italy, or of extending their dominion further than Benevento; for, of the cities of Rome, Ravenna, Cremona, Mantua, Padua, Monselice, Parma, Bologna, Faenza, Forli, and Cesena, some defended themselves for a time, and others never fell under their dominion; since, not having a king, they became less prompt for war, and when they afterward appointed one, they were, by living in freedom, become less obedient, and more apt to quarrel among themselves; which from the first prevented a fortunate issue of their military expeditions, and was the ultimate cause of their being driven out of Italy. The affairs of the Lombards being in the state just described, the Romans and Longinus came to an agreement with them, that each should lay down their arms and enjoy what they already possessed.


Beginning of the greatness of the pontiffs in Italy–Abuse of censures and indulgences–The pope applies to Pepin, king of France, for assistance–Donation of Pepin to the pontiff– Charlemagne–End of the kingdom of the Lombards–The title of cardinal begins to be used–The empire passes to the Germans– Berengarius, duke of Fruili, created king of Italy–Pisa becomes great–Order and division of the states of Italy–Electors of the emperor created.

In these times the popes began to acquire greater temporal authority than they had previously possessed; although the immediate successors of St. Peter were more reverenced for the holiness of their lives, and the miracles which they performed; and their example so greatly extended the Christian religion, that princes of other states embraced it, in order to obviate the confusion which prevailed at that period. The emperor having become a Christian and returned to Constantinople, it followed, as was remarked at the commencement of the book, that the Roman empire was the more easily ruined, and the church more rapidly increased her authority. Nevertheless, the whole of Italy, being subject either to the emperors or the kings till the coming of the Lombards, the popes never acquired any greater authority than what reverence for their habits and doctrine gave them. In other respects they obeyed the emperors or kings; officiated for them in their affairs, as ministers or agents, and were even sometimes put to death by them. He who caused them to become of more importance in the affairs of Italy, was Theodoric, king of the Goths, when he established the seat of his empire at Ravenna; for, Rome being without a prince, the Romans found it necessary, for their safety, to yield obedience to the pope; his authority, however, was not greatly increased thereby, the only advantage being, that the church of Rome was allowed to take precedence of that of Ravenna. But the Lombards having taken possession, and Italy being divided into many parts, the pope had an opportunity of greater exertion. Being as it were the head of Rome, both the emperor of Constantinople and the Lombards respected him; so that the Romans, by his means, entered into league with the Lombards, and with Longinus, not as subjects, but as equals. Thus the popes, at one time friends of the Greeks, and at another of the Lombards, increased their own power; but upon the ruin of the eastern empire, which occurred during the time of Heraclius, their influence was reduced; for the Sclavi, of whom we spoke before, again assailed Illyria, and having occupied the country, named it Sclavonia, after themselves; and the other parts were attacked by the Persians, then by the Saracens under Mohammed, and lastly by the Turks, who took Syria, Africa, and Egypt. These causes induced the reigning pope, in his distress, to seek new friends, and he applied to the king of France. Nearly all the wars which the northern barbarians carried on in Italy, it may be here remarked, were occasioned by the pontiffs; and the hordes, with which the country was inundated, were generally called in by them. The same mode of proceeding still continued, and kept Italy weak and unsettled. And, therefore, in relating the events which have taken place from those times to the present, the ruin of the empire will be no longer illustrated, but only the increase of the pontificate and of the other principalities which ruled Italy till the coming of Charles VIII. It will be seen how the popes, first with censures, and afterward with these and arms, mingled with indulgences, became both terrible and venerable; and how, from having abused both, they ceased to possess any influence, and were wholly dependent on the will of others for assistance in their wars.

But to return to the order of our narration. Gregory III. occupied the papacy, and the kingdom of the Lombards was held by Astolphus, who, contrary to agreement, seized Ravenna, and made war upon the pope. On this account, Gregory no longer relying upon the emperor of Constantinople, since he, for the reasons above given, was unable to assist him, and unwilling to trust the Lombards, for they had frequently broken their faith, had recourse to Pepin II., who, from being lord of Austria and Brabant, had become king of France; not so much by his own valor as by that of Charles Martel, his father, and Pepin his grandfather; for Charles Martel, being governor of the kingdom, effected the memorable defeat of the Saracens near Tours, upon the Loire, in which two hundred thousand of them are said to have been left dead upon the field of battle. Hence, Pepin, by his father’s reputation and his own abilities, became afterward king of France. To him Pope Gregory, as we have said, applied for assistance against the Lombards, which Pepin promised to grant, but desired first to see him and be honored with his presence. Gregory accordingly went to France, passing uninjured through the country of his enemies, so great was the respect they had for religion, and was treated honorably by Pepin, who sent an army into Italy, and besieged the Lombards in Pavia. King Astolphus, compelled by necessity, made proposals of peace to the French, who agreed to them at the entreaty of the pope–for he did not desire the death of his enemy, but that he should be converted and live. In this treaty, Astolphus promised to give to the church all the places he had taken from her; but the king’s forces having returned to France, he did not fulfill the agreement, and the pope again had recourse to Pepin, who sent another army, conquered the Lombards, took Ravenna, and, contrary to the wishes of the Greek emperor, gave it to the pope, with all the places that belonged to the exarchate, and added to them Urbino and the Marca. But Astolphus, while fulfilling the terms of his agreement, died, and Desiderius, a Lombard, who was duke of Tuscany, took up arms to occupy the kingdom, and demanded assistance of the pope, promising him his friendship. The pope acceding to his request, the other princes assented. Desiderius kept faith at first, and proceeded to resign the districts to the pope, according to the agreement made with Pepin, so that an exarch was no longer sent from Constantinople to Ravenna, but it was governed according to the will of the pope. Pepin soon after died, and was succeeded by his son Charles, the same who, on account of the magnitude and success of his enterprises, was called Charlemagne, or Charles the Great. Theodore I. now succeeded to the papacy, and discord arising between him and Desiderius, the latter besieged him in Rome. The pope requested assistance of Charles, who, having crossed the Alps, besieged Desiderius in Pavai, where he took both him and his children, and sent them prisoners to France. He then went to visit the pontiff at Rome, where he declared, THAT THE POPE, BEING VICAR OF GOD, COULD NOT BE JUDGED BY MEN. The pope and the people of Rome made him emperor; and thus Rome began to have an emperor of the west. And whereas the popes used to be established by the emperors, the latter now began to have need of the popes at their elections; the empire continued to lose its powers, while the church acquired them; and, by these means, she constantly extended her authority over temporal princes.

The Lombards, having now been two hundred and thirty-two years in the country, were strangers only in name, and Charles, wishing to reorganize the states of Italy, consented that they should occupy the places in which they had been brought up, and call the province after their own name, Lombardy. That they might be led to respect the Roman name, he ordered all that part of Italy adjoining to them, which had been under the exarchate of Ravenna, to be called Romagna. Besides this, he created his son Pepin, king of Italy, whose dominion extended to Benevento; all the rest being possessed by the Greek emperor, with whom Charles was in league. About this time Pascal I. occupied the pontificate, and the priests of the churches of Rome, from being near to the pope, and attending the elections of the pontiff, began to dignify their own power with a title, by calling themselves cardinals, and arrogated so great authority, that having excluded the people of Rome from the election of pontiff, the appointment of a new pope was scarcely ever made except from one of their own number: thus on the death of Pascal, the cardinal of St. Sabina was created pope by the title of Eugenius II. Italy having come into the hands of the French, a change of form and order took place, the popes acquiring greater temporal power, and the new authorities adopting the titles of count and marquis, as that of duke had been introduced by Longinus, exarch of Ravenna. After the deaths of some pontiffs, Osporco, a Roman, succeeded to the papacy; but on account of his unseemly appellation, he took the name of Sergius, and this was the origin of that change of names which the popes adopt upon their election to the pontificate.

In the meantime, the Emperor Charles died and was succeeded by Lewis (the Pious, after whose death so many disputes arose among his sons, that at the time of his grandchildren, the house of France lost the empire, which then came to the Germans; the first German emperor being called Arnolfus. Nor did the Carlovingian family lose the empire only; their discords also occasioned them the loss of Italy; for the Lombards, gathering strength, offended the pope and the Romans, and Arnolfo, not knowing where to seek relief, was compelled to create Berengarius, duke of Fruili, king of Italy. These events induced the Huns, who occupied Pannonia, to assail Italy; but, in an engagement with Berengarius, they were compelled to return to Pannonia, which had from them been named Hungary.

Romano was at this time emperor of Greece, having, while prefect of the army, dethroned Constantine; and as Puglia and Calabria, which, as before observed, were parts of the Greek empire, had revolted, he gave permission to the Saracans to occupy them; and they having taken possession of these provinces, besieged Rome. The Romans, Berengarius being then engaged in defending himself against the Huns, appointed Alberic, duke of Tuscany, their leader. By his valor Rome was saved from the Saracens, who, withdrawing from the siege, erected a fortress upon Mount Gargano, by means of which they governed Puglia and Calabria, and harassed the whole country. Thus Italy was in those times very grievously afflicted, being in constant warfare with the Huns in the direction of the Alps, and, on the Neapolitan side, suffering from the inroads of the Saracens. This state of things continued many years, occupying the reigns of three Berengarii, who succeeded each other; and during this time the pope and the church were greatly disturbed; the impotence of the eastern, and the disunion which prevailed among the western princes, leaving them without defense. The city of Genoa, with all her territory upon the rivers, having been overrun by the Saracens, an impulse was thus given to the rising greatness of Pisa, in which city multitudes took refuge who had been driven out of their own country. These events occurred in the year 931, when Otho, duke of Saxony, the son of Henry and Matilda, a man of great prudence and reputation, being made emperor, the pope Agapito, begged that he would come into Italy and relieve him from the tyranny of the Berengarii.

The States of Italy were governed in this manner: Lombardy was under Berengarius III. and Alfred his son; Tuscany and Romagna were governed by a deputy of the western emperor; Puglia and Calabria were partly under the Greek emperor, and partly under the Saracens; in Rome two consuls were annually chosen from the nobility, who governed her according to ancient custom; to these was added a prefect, who dispensed justice among the people; and there was a council of twelve, who each year appointed rectors for the places subject to them. The popes had more or less authority in Rome and the rest of Italy, in proportion as they were favorites of the emperor or of the most powerful states. The Emperor Otho came into Italy, took the kingdom from the Berengarii, in which they had reigned fifty-five years, and reinstated the pontiff in his dignity. He had a son and a nephew, each named Otho, who, one after the other, succeeded to the empire. In the reign of Otho III., Pope Gregory V. was expelled by the Romans; whereupon the emperor came into Italy and replaced him; and the pope, to revenge himself on the Romans, took from them the right to create an emperor, and gave it to three princes and three bishops of Germany; the princes of Brandenburg, Palatine, and Saxony, and the bishops of Magonza, Treveri, and Colonia. This occurred in the year 1002. After the death of Otho III. the electors created Henry, duke of Bavaria, emperor, who at the end of twelve years was crowned by Pope Stephen VIII. Henry and his wife Simeonda were persons of very holy life, as is seen by the many temples built and endowed by them, of which the church of St. Miniato, near Florence, is one. Henry died in 1024, and was succeeded by Conrad of Suabia; and the latter by Henry II., who came to Rome; and as there was a schism in the church of three popes, he set them all aside, and caused the election of Clement II., by whom he was crowned emperor.


Nicholas II. commits the election of the pope to the cardinals– First example of a prince deprived of his dominions by the pope– Guelphs and Ghibellines–Establishment of the kingdom of Naples– Pope Urban II. goes to France–The first crusade–New orders of knighthood–Saladin takes from the Christians their possessions in the east–Death of the Countess Matilda–Character of Frederick Barbarossa–Schism–Frederick creates an anti-pope–Building of Alexandria in Puglia–Disgraceful conditions imposed by the pope upon Henry, king of England–Reconciliation of Frederick with the pope–The kingdom of Naples passes to the Germans–Orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis.

Italy was at this time governed partly by the people, some districts by their own princes, and others by the deputies of the emperor. The highest in authority, and to whom the others referred, was called the chancellor. Of the princes, the most powerful were Godfred and the Countess Matilda his wife, who was daughter of Beatrice, the sister of Henry II. She and her husband possessed Lucca, Parma, Reggio, Mantua, and the whole of what is now called THE PATRIMONY OF THE CHURCH. The ambition of the Roman people caused many wars between them and the pontiffs, whose authority had previously been used to free them from the emperors; but when they had taken the government of the city to themselves, and regulated it according to their own pleasure, they at once became at enmity with the popes, who received far more injuries from them than from any Christian potentate. And while the popes caused all the west to tremble with their censures, the people of Rome were in open rebellion against them; nor had they or the popes any other purpose, but to deprive each other of reputation and authority.

Nicholas II. now attained the papacy; and as Gregory V. had taken from the Romans the right to create an emperor, he in the same manner determined to deprive them of their share in the election of the pope; and confined the creation to the cardinals alone. Nor did this satisfy him; for, having agreed with the princes who governed Calabria and Puglia, with methods which we shall presently relate, he compelled the officers whom the Romans appointed to their different jurisdictions, to render obedience to him; and some of them he even deprived of their offices. After the death of Nicholas, there was a schism in the church; the clergy of Lombardy refused obedience to Alexander II., created at Rome, and elected Cadolo of Parma anti-pope; and Henry, who hated the power of the pontiffs, gave Alexander to understand that he must renounce the pontificate, and ordered the cardinals to go into Germany to appoint a new pope. He was the first who felt the importance of spiritual weapons; for the pope called a council at Rome, and deprived Henry of both the empire and the kingdom. Some of the people of Italy took the part of the pope, others of Henry; and hence arose the factions of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines; that Italy, relieved from the inundations of barbarians, might be distracted with intestine strife. Henry, being excommunicated, was compelled by his people to come into Italy, and fall barefooted upon his knees before the pope, and ask his pardon. This occurred in the year 1082. Nevertheless, there shortly afterward arose new discords between the pope and Henry; upon which the pope again excommunicated him, and the emperor sent his son, also named Henry, with an army to Rome, and he, with the assistance of the Romans, who hated the pope, besieged him in the fortress. Robert Guiscard them came from Puglia to his relief, but Henry had left before his arrival, and returned to Germany. The Romans stood out alone, and the city was sacked by Robert, and reduced to ruins. As from this Robert sprung the establishment of the kingdom of Naples, it seems not superfluous to relate particularly his actions and origin.

Disunion having arisen among the descendants of Charlemagne, occasion was given to another northern people, called Normans, to assail France and occupy that portion of the country which is now named Normandy. A part of these people came into Italy at the time when the province was infested with the Berengarii, the Saracans, and the Huns, and occupied some places in Romagna, where, during the wars of that period, they conducted themselves valiantly. Tancred, one of these Norman princes, had many children; among the rest were William, surnamed Ferabac, and Robert, called Guiscard. When the principality was governed by William, the troubles of Italy were in some measure abated; but the Saracens still held Sicily, and plundered the coasts of Italy daily. On this account William arranged with the princes of Capua and Salerno, and with Melorco, a Greek, who governed Puglia and Calabria for the Greek emperor, to attack Sicily; and it was agreed that, if they were victorious, each should have a fourth part of the booty and the territory. They were fortunate in their enterprise, expelled the Saracens, and took possession of the island; but, after the victory, Melorco secretly caused forces to be brought from Greece, seized Sicily in the name of the emperor, and appropriated the booty to himself and his followers. William was much dissatisfied with this, but reserved the exhibition of his displeasure for a suitable opportunity, and left Sicily with the princes of Salerno and Capua. But when they had parted from him to return to their homes, instead of proceeding to Romagna he led his people towards Puglia, and took Melfi; and from thence, in a short time, recovered from the Greek emperor almost the whole of Puglia and Calabria, over which provinces, in the time of pope Nicholas II. his brother Robert Guiscard was sovereign. Robert having had many disputes with his nephews for the inheritance of these states, requested the influence of the pope to settle them; which his holiness was very willing to afford, being anxious to make a friend of Robert, to defend himself against the emperor of Germany and the insolence of the Roman people, which indeed shortly followed, when, at the instance of Gregory, he drove Henry from Rome, and subdued the people. Robert was succeeded by his sons Roger and William, to whose dominion not only was Naples added, but all the places interjacent as far as Rome, and afterward Sicily, of which Roger became sovereign; but, upon William going to Constantinople, to marry the daughter of the emperor, his dominions were wrested from him by his brother Roger. Inflated with so great an acquisition, Roger first took the title of king of Italy, but afterward contented himself with that of king of Puglia and Sicily. He was the first who established and gave that name to this kingdom, which still retains its ancient boundaries, although its sovereigns have been of many families and countries. Upon the failure of the Normans, it came to the Germans, after these to the French, then to the Aragonese, and it is now held by the Flemish.

About this time Urban II. became pope and excited the hatred of the Romans. As he did not think himself safe even in Italy, on account of the disunion which prevailed, he directed his thoughts to a generous enterprise. With his whole clergy he went into France, and at Anvers, having drawn together a vast multitude of people, delivered an oration against the infidels, which so excited the minds of his audience, that they determined to undertake the conquest of Asia from the Saracens; which enterprise, with all those of a similar nature, were afterward called crusades, because the people who joined in them bore upon their armor and apparel the figure of a cross. The leaders were Godfrey, Eustace, and Baldwin of Bouillon, counts of Boulogne, and Peter, a hermit celebrated for his prudence and sagacity. Many kings and people joined them, and contributed money; and many private persons fought under them at their own expense; so great was the influence of religion in those days upon the minds of men, excited by the example of those who were its principal ministers. The proudest successes attended the beginning of this enterprise; for the whole of Asia Minor, Syria, and part of Egypt, fell under the power of the Christians. To commemorate these events the order of the Knights of Jerusalem was created, which still continues, and holds the island of Rhodes–the only obstacle to the power of the Mohammedans. The same events gave rise to the order of the Knights Templars, which, after a short time, on account of their shameless practices, was dissolved. Various fortunes attended the crusaders in the course of their enterprises, and many nations and individuals became celebrated accordingly. The kings of France and England joined them, and, with the Venetians, Pisans, and Genoese, acquired great reputation, till the time of Saladin, when, by whose talents, and the disagreement of the Christians among themselves, the crusaders were robbed of all that glory which they had at first acquired; and, after ninety years, were driven from those places which they had so honorably and happily recovered.

After the death of Urban, Pascal II. became pope, and the empire was under the dominion of Henry IV. who came to Rome pretending friendship for the pontiff but afterward put his holiness and all his clergy in prison; nor did he release them till it was conceded that he should dispose of the churches of Germany according to his own pleasure. About this time, the Countess Matilda died, and made the church heir to all her territories. After the deaths of Pascal and Henry IV. many popes and emperors followed, till the papacy was occupied by Alexander III. and the empire by Frederick, surnamed Barbarossa. The popes during this period had met with many difficulties from the people of Rome and the emperors; and in the time of Barbarossa they were much increased. Frederick possessed military talent, but was so full of pride that he would not submit to the pontiff. However, at his election to the empire he came to Rome to be crowned, and returned peaceably to Germany, where he did not long remain in the same mind, but came again into Italy to subdue certain places in Lombardy, which did not obey him. It happened at this time that the cardinal St. Clement, of a Roman family, separated from Alexander, and was made pope by some of the cardinals. The Emperor Frederick, being encamped at Cerma, Alexander complained to him of the anti-pope, and received for answer, that they were both to go to him, and, having heard each side, he would determine which was the true pope. This reply displeased Alexander; and, as he saw the emperor was inclined to favor the anti-pope, he excommunicated him, and then fled to Philip, king of France. Frederick, in the meantime, carrying on the war in Lombardy, destroyed Milan; which caused the union of Verona, Padua, and Vicenza against him for their common defense. About the same period the anti- pope died, and Frederick set up Guido of Cremona, in his stead.

The Romans, from the absence of the pope, and from the emperor being in Lombardy, had reacquired some authority in Rome, and proceeded to recover the obedience of those places which had been subject to them. And as the people of Tusculum refused to submit to their authority, they proceeded against them with their whole force; but these, being assisted by Frederick, routed the Roman army with such dreadful slaughter, that Rome was never after either so populous or so rich. Alexander now returned to the city, thinking he could be safe there on account of the enmity subsisting between the Romans and the emperor, and from the enemies which the latter had in Lombardy. But Frederick, setting aside every other consideration, led his forces and encamped before Rome; and Alexander fled to William, king of Puglia, who had become hair of that kingdom after the death of Roger. Frederick, however, withdrew from Rome on account of the plague which then prevailed, and returned to Germany. The cities of Lombardy in league against him, in order to command Pavia and Tortona, which adhered to the imperial party, built a city, to be their magazine in time of war, and named in Alexandria, in honor of the pope and in contempt of Frederick.

Guido the anti-pope died, and Giovanni of Fermo was appointed in his stead, who, being favored by the imperialists, lived at Montefiascone. Pope Alexander being at Tusculum, whither he had been called by the inhabitants, that with his authority he might defend them from the Romans, ambassadors came to him from Henry, king of England, to signify that he was not blamable for the death of Thomas à Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, although public report had slandered him with it. On this the pope sent two cardinals to England, to inquire into the truth of the matter; and although they found no actual charge against the king, still, on account of the infamy of the crime, and for not having honored the archbishop so much as he deserved, the sentence against the king of England was, that having called together the barons of his empire, he should upon oath before them affirm his innocence; that he should immediately send two hundred soldiers to Jerusalem, paid for one year; that, before the end of three years, he should himself proceed thither with as large an army as he could draw together; that his subjects should have the power of appealing to Rome when they thought proper; and that he should annul whatever acts had been passed in his kingdom unfavorable to ecclesiastical rule. These terms were all accepted by Henry; and thus a great king submitted to a sentence that in our day a private person would have been ashamed of. But while the pope exercised so great authority over distant princes, he could not compel obedience from the Romans themselves, or obtain their consent that he should remain in Rome, even though he promised to intermeddle only with ecclesiastical affairs.

About this time Frederick returned to Italy, and while he was preparing to carry on new wars against the pope, his prelates and barons declared that they would abandon him unless he reconciled himself with the church; so that he was obliged to go and submit to the pope at Venus, where a pacification was effected, but in which the pope deprived the emperor of all authority over Rome, and named William, king of Sicily and Puglia, a coadjutor with him. Frederick, unable to exist without war, joined the crusaders in Asia, that he might exercise that ambition against Mohammed, which he could not gratify against the vicars of Christ. And being near the river Cydnus, tempted by the clearness of its waters, bathed therein, took cold, and died. Thus the river did a greater favor to the Mohammedans than the pope’s excommunications had done to the Christians; for the latter only checked his pride, while the former finished his career. Frederick being dead, the pope had now only to suppress the contumacy of the Romans; and, after many disputes concerning the creation of consuls, it was agreed that they should elect them as they had been accustomed to do, but that these should not undertake the office, till they had first sworn to be faithful to the church. This agreement being made, Giovanni the anti-pope took refuge in Mount Albano, where he shortly afterward died. William, king of Naples, died about the same time, and the pope intended to occupy that kingdom on the ground that the king had left only a natural son named Tancred. But the barons would not consent, and wished that Tancred should be king. Celestine III., the then pope, anxious to snatch the kingdom from the hands of Tancred, contrived that Henry, son of Frederick should be elected emperor, and promised him the kingdom on the condition that he should restore to the church all the places that had belonged to her. To facilitate this affair, he caused Gostanza, a daughter of William, who had been placed in a monastery and was now old, to be brought from her seclusion and become the wife of Henry. Thus the kingdom of Naples passed from the Normans, who had been the founders of it, to the Germans. As soon as the affairs of Germany were arranged, the Emperor Henry came into Italy with Gostanza his wife, and a son about four years of age named Frederick; and, as Tancred was now dead, leaving only an infant named Roger, he took possession of the kingdom without much difficulty. After some years, Henry died in Sicily, and was succeeded in the kingdom by Frederick, and in the empire by Otho, duke of Saxony, who was elected through the influence of Innocent III. But as soon as he had taken the crown, contrary to the general expectation, he became an enemy of the pope, occupied Romagna, and prepared to attack the kingdom. On this account the pope excommunicated him; he was abandoned by every one, and the electors appointed Frederick, king of Naples, emperor in his stead. Frederick came to Rome for his coronation; but the pope, being afraid of his power, would not crown him, and endeavored to withdraw him from Italy as he had done Otho. Frederick returned to Germany in anger, and, after many battles with Otho, at length conquered him. Meanwhile, Innocent died, who, besides other excellent works, built the hospital of the Holy Ghost at Rome. He was succeeded by Honorius III., in whose time the religious orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis were founded, 1218. Honorius crowned Frederick, to whom Giovanni, descended from Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, who commanded the remainder of the Christian army in Asia and still held that title, gave a daughter in marriage; and, with her portion, conceded to him the title to that kingdom: hence it is that every king of Naples is called king of Jerusalem.


The state of Italy–Beginning of the greatness of the house of Este–Guelphs and Ghibellines–Death of the Emperor Frederick II. –Manfred takes possession of the kingdom of Naples–Movements of the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Lombardy–Charles of Anjou invested by the pope with the kingdom of Naples and Sicily–Restless policy of the popes–Ambitious views of pope Nicholas III.–Nephews of the popes–Sicilian vespers–The Emperor Rodolph allows many cities to purchase their independence–Institution of the jubilee –The popes at Avignon.

At this time the states of Italy were governed in the following manner: the Romans no longer elected consuls, but instead of them, and with the same powers, they appointed one senator, and sometimes more. The league which the cities of Lombardy had formed against Frederick Barbarossa still continued, and comprehended Milan, Brescia, Mantua, and the greater number of the cities of Romagna, together with Verona, Vicenza, Padua, and Trevisa. Those which took part with the emperor, were Cremona, Bergamo, Parma, Reggio, and Trento. The other cities and fortresses of Lombardy, Romagna, and the march of Trevisa, favored, according to their necessities, sometimes one party, sometimes the other.

In the time of Otho III. there had come into Italy a man called Ezelin, who, remaining in the country, had a son, and he too had a son named Ezelin. This person, being rich and powerful, took part with Frederick, who, as we have said, was at enmity with the pope; Frederick, at the instigation and with the assistance of Ezelin, took Verona and Mantua, destroyed Vicenza, occupied Padua, routed the army of the united cities, and then directed his course towards Tuscany. Ezelin, in the meantime, had subdued the whole of the Trevisian March, but could not prevail against Ferrara, which was defended by Azone da Este and the forces which the pope had in Lombardy; and, as the enemy were compelled to withdraw, the pope gave Ferrara in fee to this Azone, from whom are descended those who now govern that city. Frederick halted at Pisa, desirous of making himself lord of Tuscany; but, while endeavoring to discover what friends and foes he had in that province, he scattered so many seeds of discord as occasioned the ruin of Italy; for the factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines multiplied,–those who supported the church taking the name of Guelphs, while the followers of the emperor were called Ghibellines, these names being first heard at Pistoia. Frederick, marching from Pisa, assailed and wasted the territories of the church in a variety of ways; so that the pope, having no other remedy, unfurled against him the banner of the cross, as his predecessor had done against the Saracens. Frederick, that he might be suddenly abandoned by his people, as Frederick Barbarossa and others had been, took into his pay a number of Saracens; and to bind them to him, and establish in Italy a firm bulwark against the church, without fear of papal maledictions, he gave them Nocera in the kingdom of Naples, that, having a refuge of their own, they might be placed in greater security. The pontificate was now occupied by Innocent IV., who, being in fear of Frederick, went to Genoa, and thence to France, where he appointed a council to be held at Lyons, where it was the intention of Frederick to attend, but he was prevented by the rebellion of Parma: and, being repulsed, he went into Tuscany, and from thence to Sicily, where he died, leaving his son Conrad in Suabia; and in Puglia, Manfred, whom he had created duke of Benevento, born of a concubine. Conrad came to take possession of the kingdom, and having arrived at Naples, died, leaving an infant son named Corradino, who was then in Germany. On this account Manfred occupied the state, first as guardian of Corradino, but afterward, causing a report to be circulated that Corradino had died, made himself king, contrary to the wishes of both the pope and the Neapolitans, who, however, were obliged to submit.

While these things were occurring in the kingdom of Naples, many movements took place in Lombardy between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. The Guelphs were headed by a legate of the pope; and the Ghibelline party by Ezelin, who possessed nearly the whole of Lombardy beyond the Po; and, as in the course of the war Padua rebelled, he put to death twelve thousand of its citizens. But before its close he himself was slain, in the eightieth year of his age, and all the places he had held became free. Manfred, king of Naples, continued those enmities against the church which had been begun by his ancestors, and kept the pope, Urban IV., in continual alarm; so that, in order to subdue him, Urban summoned the crusaders, and went to Perugia to await their arrival. Seeing them few and slow in their approach, he found that more able assistance was necessary to conquer Manfred. He therefore sought the favor of France; created Louis of Anjou, the king’s brother, sovereign of Naples and Sicily, and excited him to come into Italy to take possession of that kingdom. But before Charles came to Rome the pope died, and was succeeded by Clement IV., in whose time he arrived at Ostia, with thirty galleys, and ordered that the rest of his forces should come by land. During his abode at Rome, the citizens, in order to attach him to them, made him their senator, and the pope invested him with the kingdom, on condition that he should pay annually to the church the sum of fifty thousand ducats; and it was decreed that, from thenceforth, neither Charles nor any other person, who might be king of Naples, should be emperor also. Charles marched against Manfred, routed his army, and slew him near Benevento, and then became sovereign of Sicily and Naples. Corradino, to whom, by his father’s will, the state belonged, having collected a great force in Germany, marched into Italy against Charles, with whom he came to an engagement at Tagliacozzo, was taken prisoner while endeavoring to escape, and being unknown, put to death.

Italy remained in repose until the pontificate of Adrian V. Charles, being at Rome and governing the city by virtue of his office of senator, the pope, unable to endure his power, withdrew to Viterbo, and solicited the Emperor Rodolph to come into Italy and assist him. Thus the popes, sometimes in zeal for religion, at others moved by their own ambition, were continually calling in new parties and exciting new disturbances. As soon as they had made a prince powerful, they viewed him with jealousy and sought his ruin; and never allowed another to rule the country, which, from their own imbecility, they were themselves unable to govern. Princes were in fear of them; for, fighting or running away, the popes always obtained the advantage, unless it happened they were entrapped by deceit, as occurred to Boniface VIII., and some others, who under pretense of friendship, were ensnared by the emperors. Rodolph did not come into Italy, being detained by the war in which he was engaged with the king of Bohemia. At this time Adrian died, and Nicholas III., of the Orsini family, became pontiff. He was a bold, ambitious man; and being resolved at any event to diminish the power of Charles, induced the Emperor Rodolph to complain that he had a governor in Tuscany favorable to the Guelphic faction, who after the death of Manfred had been replaced by him. Charles yielded to the emperor and withdrew his governor, and the pope sent one of his nephews, a cardinal, as governor for the emperor, who, for the honor done him, restored Romagna to the church, which had been taken from her by his predecessors, and the pope made Bertoldo Orsino duke of Romagna. As Nicholas now thought himself powerful enough to oppose Charles, he deprived him of the office of senator, and made a decree that no one of royal race should ever be a senator in Rome. It was his intention to deprive Charles of Sicily, and to this end he entered into a secret negotiation with Peter, king of Aragon, which took effect in the following papacy. He also had the design of creating two kings out of his family, the one in Lombardy, the other in Tuscany, whose power would defend the church from the Germans who might design to come into Italy, and from the French, who were in the kingdom of Naples and Sicily. But with these thoughts he died. He was the first pope who openly exhibited his own ambition; and, under pretense of making the church great, conferred honors and emolument upon his own family. Previous to his time no mention is made of the nephews or families of any pontiff, but future history is full of them; nor is there now anything left for them to attempt, except the effort to make the papacy hereditary. True it is, the princes of their creating have not long sustained their honors; for the pontiffs, being generally of very limited existence, did not get their plants properly established.

To Nicholas succeeded Martin IV., of French origin, and consequently favorable to the party of Charles, who sent him assistance against the rebellion of Romagna; and while they were encamped at Furli, Guido Bonatto, an astrologer, contrived that at an appointed moment the people should assail the forces of the king, and the plan succeeding, all the French were taken and slain. About this period was also carried into effect the plot of Pope Nicholas and Peter, king of Aragon, by which the Sicilians murdered all the French that were in that island; and Peter made himself sovereign of it, saying, that it belonged to him in the right of his wife Gostanza, daughter of Manfred. But Charles, while making warlike preparations for the recovery of Sicily, died, leaving a son, Charles II., who was made prisoner in Sicily, and to recover his liberty promised to return to his prison, if within three years he did not obtain the pope’s consent that the kings of Aragon should be invested with the kingdom of Sicily.

The Emperor Rodolph, instead of coming into Italy, gave the empire the advantage of having done so, by sending an ambassador, with authority to make all those cities free which would redeem themselves with money. Many purchased their freedom, and with liberty changed their mode of living. Adolpho of Saxony succeeded to the empire; and to the papacy, Pietro del Murrone, who took the name of Celestino; but, being a hermit and full of sanctity, after six months renounced the pontificate, and Boniface VIII. was elected.

After a time the French and Germans left Italy, and the country remained wholly in the hands of the Italians; but Providence ordained that the pope, when these enemies were withdrawn, should neither establish nor enjoy his authority, and raised two very powerful families in Rome, the Colonnesi and the Orsini, who with their arms, and the proximity of their abode, kept the pontificate weak. Boniface then determined to destroy the Colonnesi, and, besides excommunicating, endeavored to direct the weapons of the church against them. This, although it did them some injury, proved more disastrous to the pope; for those arms which from attachment to the faith performed valiantly against its enemies, as soon as they were directed against Christians for private ambition, ceased to do the will of those who wished to wield them. And thus the too eager desire to gratify themselves, caused the pontiffs by degrees to lose their military power. Besides what is just related, the pope deprived two cardinals of the Colonnesi family of their office; and Sciarra, the head of the house, escaping unknown, was taken by corsairs of Catalonia and put to the oar; but being afterward recognized at Marseilles, he was sent to Philip, king of France, who had been excommunicated and deprived of the kingdom. Philip, considering that in a war against the pontiff he would either be a loser or run great hazards, had recourse to deception, and simulating a wish to come to terms, secretly sent Sciarra into Italy, who, having arrived at Anagnia, where his holiness then resided, assembled a few friends, and in the night took him prisoner. And although the people of Anagnia set him at liberty shortly after, yet from grief at the injury he died mad. Boniface was founder of the jubilee in 1300, and fixed that it should be celebrated at each revolution of one hundred years. In those times various troubles arose between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions; and the emperors having abandoned Italy, many places became free, and many were occupied by tyrants. Pope Benedict restored the scarlet hat to the cardinals of the Colonnesi family, and reblessed Philip, king of France. He was succeeded by Clement V., who, being a Frenchman, removed the papal court to Avignon in 1305.


The Emperor Henry comes into Italy–The Florentines take the part of the pope–The Visconti originate the duchy of Milan–Artifice of Maffeo Visconti against the family of de la Torre–Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti, first duke of Milan–The Emperor Louis in Italy –John, king of Bohemia, in Italy–League against the king of Bohemia and the pope’s legate–Origin of Venice–Liberty of the Venetians confirmed by Pepin and the Greek emperor–Greatness of Venice–Decline of Venice–Discord between the pope and the emperor–Giovanna, queen of Naples–Rienzi–The jubilee reduced to fifty years–Succession of the duke of Milan–Cardinal Egidio the pope’s legate–War between the Genoese and the Venetians.

At this time, Charles II. of Naples died, and was succeeded by his son Robert. Henry of Luxemburg had been elected to the empire, and came to Rome for his coronation, although the pope was not there. His coming occasioned great excitement in Lombardy; for he sent all the banished to their homes, whether they were Guelphs or Ghibellines; and in consequence of this, one faction endeavoring to drive out the other, the whole province was filled with war; nor could the emperor with all his endeavors abate its fury. Leaving Lombardy by way of Genoa, he came to Pisa, where he endeavored to take Tuscany from King Robert; but not being successful, he went to Rome, where he remained only a few days, being driven away by the Orsini with the consent of King Robert, and returned to Pisa; and that he might more securely make war upon Tuscany, and wrest the country from the hands of the king, he caused it to be assailed by Frederick, monarch of Sicily. But when he was in hope of occupying Tuscany and robbing the king of Naples of his dominions, he died, and was succeeded by Louis of Bavaria. About the same period, John XXII. attained the papacy, during whose time the emperor still continued to persecute the Guelphs and the church, but they were defended by Robert and the Florentines. Many wars took place in Lombardy between the Visconti and the Guelphs, and in Tuscany between Castruccio of Lucca and the Florentines. As the family of Visconti gave rise to the duchy of Milan, one of the five principalities which afterward governed Italy, I shall speak of them from a rather earlier date.

Milan, upon recovering from the ruin into which she had been thrown by Frederick Barbarossa, in revenge for her injuries, joined the league formed by the Lombard cities for their common defense; this restrained him, and for awhile preserved alive the interests of the church in Lombardy. In the course of the wars which followed, the family of La Torre became very potent in that city, and their reputation increased so long as the emperor possessed little authority in the province. But Frederick II. coming into Italy, and the Ghibelline party, by the influence of Ezelin having grown powerful, seeds of the same faction sprang up in all the cities. In Milan were the Visconti, who expelled the La Torres; these, however, did not remain out, for by agreement between the emperor and the pope they were restored to their country. For when the pope and his court removed to France, and the emperor, Henry of Luxemburg, came into Italy, with the pretext of going to Rome for his crown, he was received in Milan by Maffeo Visconti and Guido della Torre, who were then the heads of these families. But Maffeo, designing to make use of the emperor for the purpose of expelling Guido, and thinking the enterprise not difficult, on account of the La Torre being of the contrary faction to the imperial, took occasion, from the remarks which the people made of the uncivil behavior of the Germans, to go craftily about and excite the populace to arm themselves and throw off the yoke of these barbarians. When a suitable moment arrived, he caused a person in whom he confided to create a tumult, upon which the people took arms against the Germans. But no sooner was the mischief well on foot, than Maffeo, with his sons and their partisans, ran to Henry, telling him that all the disturbance had been occasioned by the La Torre family, who, not content to remain peaceably in Milan, had taken the opportunity to plunder him, that they might ingratiate themselves with the Guelphs of Italy and become princes in the city; they then bade him be of good cheer, for they, with their party, whenever he wished it, were ready to defend him with their lives. Henry, believing all that Maffeo told him, joined his forces to those of the Visconti, and attacking the La Torre, who were in various parts of the city endeavoring to quell the tumult, slew all upon whom they could lay hands, and having plundered the others of their property, sent them into exile. By this artifice, Maffeo Visconti became a prince of Milan. Of him remained Galeazzo and Azzo; and, after these, Luchino and Giovanni. Giovanni became archbishop of Milan; and of Luchino, who died before him, were left Bernabo and Galeazzo; Galeazzo, dying soon after, left a son called the Count of Virtu, who after the death of the archbishop, contrived the murder of his uncle, Bernabo, became prince of Milan, and was the first who had the title of duke. The duke left Filippo and Giovanmaria Angelo, the latter of whom being slain by the people of Milan, the state fell to Filippo; but he having no male heir, Milan passed from the family of Visconti to that of Sforza, in the manner to be related hereafter.

But to return to the point from which we deviated. The Emperor Louis, to add to the importance of his party and to receive the crown, came into Italy; and being at Milan, as an excuse for taking money of the Milanese, he pretended to make them free and to put the Visconti in prison; but shortly afterwards he released them, and, having gone to Rome, in order to disturb Italy with less difficulty, he made Piero della Corvara anti-pope, by whose influence, and the power of the Visconti, he designed to weaken the opposite faction in Tuscany and Lombardy. But Castruccio died, and his death caused the failure of the emperor’s purpose; for Pisa and Lucca rebelled. The Pisans sent Piero della Corvara a prisoner to the pope in France, and the emperor, despairing of the affairs of Italy, returned to Germany. He had scarcely left, before John king of Bohemia came into the country, at the request of the Ghibellines of Brescia, and made himself lord of that city and of Bergamo. And as his entry was with the consent of the pope, although he feigned the contrary, the legate of Bologna favored him, thinking by this means to prevent the return of the emperor. This caused a change in the parties of Italy; for the Florentines and King Robert, finding the legate was favorable to the enterprises of the Ghibellines, became foes of all those to whom the legate and the king of Bohemia were friendly. Without having regard for either faction, whether Guelph or Ghibelline, many princes joined them, of whom, among others, were the Visconti, the Della Scala, Filippo Gonzao of Mantua, the Carrara, and those of Este. Upon this the pope excommunicated them all. The king, in fear of the league, went to collect forces in his own country, and having returned with a large army, still found his undertaking a difficult one; so, seeing his error, he withdrew to Bohemia, to the great displeasure of the legate, leaving only Reggio and Modena guarded, and Parma in the care of Marsilio and Piero de’ Rossi, who were the most powerful men in the city. The king of Bohemia being gone, Bologna joined the league; and the leaguers divided among themselves the four cities which remained of the church faction. They agreed that Parma should pertain to the Della Scalla; Reggio to the Gonzaga; Modena to the family of Este, and Lucca to the Florentines. But in taking possession of these cities, many disputes arose which were afterward in a great measure settled by the Venetians. Some, perhaps, will think it a species of impropriety that we have so long deferred speaking of the Venetians, theirs being a republic, which, both on account of its power and internal regulations, deserves to be celebrated above any principality of Italy. But that this surprise may cease when the cause is known, I shall speak of their city from a more remote period; that everyone may understand what were their beginnings, and the causes which so long withheld them from interfering in the affairs of Italy.

When Attila, king of the Huns, besieged Aquileia, the inhabitants, after defending themselves a long time, began to despair of effecting their safety, and fled for refuge to several uninhabited rocks, situated at the point of the Adriatic Sea, now called the Gulf of Venice, carrying with them whatever movable property they possessed. The people of Padua, finding themselves in equal danger, and knowing that, having became master of Aquileia, Attila would next attack themselves, also removed with their most valuable property to a place on the same sea, called Rivo Alto, to which they brought their women, children, and aged persons, leaving the youth in Padua to assist in her defense. Besides these, the people of Monselice, with the inhabitants of the surrounding hills, driven by similar fears, fled to the same rocks. But after Attila had taken Aquileia, and destroyed Padua, Monselice, Vicenza, and Verona, the people of Padua and others who were powerful, continued to inhabit the marshes about Rivo Alto; and, in like manner, all the people of the province anciently called Venetia, driven by the same events, became collected in these marshes. Thus, under the pressure of necessity, they left an agreeable and fertile country to occupy one sterile and unwholesome. However, in consequence of a great number of people being drawn together into a comparatively small space, in a short time they made those places not only habitable, but delightful; and having established among themselves laws and useful regulations, enjoyed themselves in security amid the devastations of Italy, and soon increased both in reputation and strength. For, besides the inhabitants already mentioned, many fled to these places from the cities of Lombardy, principally to escape from the cruelties of Clefis king of the Lombards, which greatly tended to increase the numbers of the new city; and in the conventions which were made between Pepin, king of France, and the emperor of Greece, when the former, at the entreaty of the pope, came to drive the Lombards out of Italy, the duke of Benevento and the Venetians did not render obedience to either the one or the other, but alone enjoyed their liberty. As necessity had led them to dwell on sterile rocks, they were compelled to seek the means of subsistence elsewhere; and voyaging with their ships to every port of the ocean, their city became a depository for the various products of the world, and was itself filled with men of every nation.

For many years the Venetians sought no other dominion than that which tended to facilitate their commercial enterprises, and thus acquired many ports in Greece and Syria; and as the French had made frequent use of their ships in voyages to Asia, the island of Candia was assigned to them in recompense for these services. While they lived in this manner, their name spread terror over the seas, and was held in veneration throughout Italy. This was so completely the case, that they were generally chosen to arbitrate in controversies between the states, as occurred in the difference between the Colleagues, on account of the cities they had divided among themselves; which being referred to the Venetians, they awarded Brescia and Bergamo to the Visconti. But when, in the course of time, urged by their eagerness for dominion, they had made themselves masters of Padua, Vicenza, Trevisa, and afterward of Verona, Bergamo, and Brescia, with many cities in Romagna and the kingdom of Naples, other nations were impressed with such an opinion of their power, that they were a terror, not only to the princes of Italy, but to the ultramontane kings. These states entered into an alliance against them, and in one day wrested from them the provinces they had obtained with so much labor and expense; and although they have in latter times reacquired some portions, still possessing neither power nor reputation, like all the other Italian powers, they live at the mercy of others.

Benedict XII. having attained the pontificate and finding Italy lost, fearing, too, that the emperor would assume the sovereignty of the country, determined to make friends of all who had usurped the government of those cities which had been accustomed to obey the emperor; that they might have occasion to dread the latter, and unite with himself in the defense of Italy. To this end he issued a decree, confirming to all the tyrants of Lombardy the places they had seized. After making this concession the pope died, and was succeeded by Clement VI. The emperor, seeing with what a liberal hand the pontiff had bestowed the dominions of the empire, in order to be equally bountiful with the property of others, gave to all who had assumed sovereignty over the cities or territories of the church, the imperial authority to retain possession of them. By this means Galeotto Malatesti and his brothers became lords of Rimino, Pesaro, and Fano; Antonio da Montefeltro, of the Marca and Urbino; Gentile da Varano, of Camerino; Guido di Polenta, of Ravenna; Sinibaldo Ordelaffi, of Furli and Cesena; Giovanni Manfredi, of Faenza; Lodovico Alidossi, of Imola; and besides these, many others in divers places. Thus, of all the cities, towns, or fortresses of the church, few remained without a prince; for she did not recover herself till the time of Alexander VI., who, by the ruin of the descendants of these princes, restored the authority of the church.

The emperor, when he made the concession before named, being at Tarento, signified an intention of going into Italy. In consequence of this, many battles were fought in Lombardy, and the Visconti became lords of Parma. Robert king of Naples, now died, leaving only two grandchildren, the issue of his sons Charles, who had died a considerable time before him. He ordered that the elder of the two, whose name was Giovanna or Joan, should be heiress of the kingdom, and take for her husband Andrea, son of the king of Hungary, his grandson. Andrea had not lived with her long, before she caused him to be murdered, and married another cousin, Louis, prince of Tarento. But Louis, king of Hungary, and brother of Andrea, in order to avenge his death, brought forces into Italy, and drove Queen Joan and her husband out of the kingdom.

At this period a memorable circumstance took place at Rome. Niccolo di Lorenzo, often called Rienzi or Cola di Rienzi, who held the office of chancellor at Campidoglio, drove the senators from Rome and, under the title of tribune, made himself the head of the Roman republic; restoring it to its ancient form, and with so great reputation of justice and virtue, that not only the places adjacent, but the whole of Italy sent ambassadors to him. The ancient provinces, seeing Rome arise to new life, again raised their heads, and some induced by hope, others by fear, honored him as their sovereign. But Niccolo, notwithstanding his great reputation, lost all energy in the very beginning of his enterprise; and as if oppressed with the weight of so vast an undertaking, without being driven away, secretly fled to Charles, king of Bohemia, who, by the influence of the pope, and in contempt of Louis of Bavaria, had been elected emperor. Charles, to ingratiate himself with the pontiff, sent Niccolo to him, a prisoner. After some time, in imitation of Rienzi, Francesco Baroncegli seized upon the tribunate of Rome, and expelled the senators; and the pope, as the most effectual means of repressing him, drew Niccolo from his prison, sent him to Rome, and restored to him the office of tribune; so that he reoccupied the state and put Francesco to death; but the Colonnesi becoming his enemies, he too, after a short time, shared the same fate, and the senators were again restored to their office. The king of Hungary, having driven out Queen Joan, returned to his kingdom; but the pope, who chose to have the queen in the neighborhood of Rome rather than the king, effected her restoration to the sovereignty, on the condition that her husband, contenting himself with the title of prince of Tarento, should not be called king. Being the year 1350, the pope thought that the jubilee, appointed by Boniface VIII. to take place at the conclusion of each century, might be renewed at the end of each fifty years; and having issued a decree for the establishment of it, the Romans, in acknowledgment of the benefit, consented that he should send four cardinals to reform the government of the city, and appoint senators according to his own pleasure. The pope again declared Louis of Tarento, king, and in gratitude for the benefit, Queen Joan gave Avignon, her inheritance, to the church. About this time Luchino Visconti died, and his brother the archbishop, remaining lord of Milan, carried on many wars against Tuscany and his neighbors, and became very powerful. Bernabo and Galeazzo, his nephews, succeeded him; but Galeazzo soon after died, leaving Giovan Galeazzo, who shared the state with Bernabo. Charles, king of Bohemia, was then emperor, and the pontificate was occupied by Innocent VI., who sent Cardinal Egidio, a Spaniard, into Italy. He restored the reputation of the church, not only in Rome and Romagna, but throughout the whole of Italy; he recovered Bologna from the archbishop of Milan, and compelled the Romans to accept a foreign senator appointed annually by the pope. He made honorable terms with the Visconti, and routed and took prisoner, John Agut, an Englishman, who with four thousand English had fought on the side of the Ghibellines in Tuscany. Urban V., hearing of so many victories, resolved to visit Italy and Rome, whither also the emperor came; after remaining a few months, he returned to the kingdom of Bohemia, and the pope to Avignon. On the death of Urban, Gregory XI. was created pope; and, as the Cardinal Egidio was dead, Italy again recommenced her ancient discords, occasioned by the union of the other powers against the Visconti; and the pope, having first sent a legate with six thousand Bretons, came in person and established the papal court at Rome in 1376, after an absence of seventy-one years in France. To Gregory XI., succeeded Urban VI., but shortly afterwards Clement VI. was elected at Fondi by ten cardinals, who declared the appointment of Urban irregular. At this time, the Genoese threw off the yoke of the Visconti under whom they had lived many years; and between them and the Venetians several important battles were fought for the island of Tenedos. Although the Genoese were for a time successful, and held Venice in a state of siege during many months, the Venetians were at length victorious; and by the intervention of the pope, peace was made in the year 1381. In these wars, artillery was first used, having been recently invented by the Dutch.


Schism in the church–Ambitious views of Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti–The pope and the Romans come to an agreement–Boniface IX. introduces the practice of Annates–Disturbance in Lombardy– The Venetians acquire dominion on terra firma–Differences between the pope and the people of Rome–Council of Pisa–Council of Constance–Filippo Visconti recovers his dominion–Giovanna II. of Naples–Political condition of Italy.

A schism having thus arisen in the church, Queen Joan favored the schismatic pope, upon which Urban caused Charles of Durazzo, descended from the kings of Naples, to undertake the conquest of her dominions. Having succeeded in his object, she fled to France, and he assumed the sovereignty. The king of France, being exasperated, sent Louis of Anjou into Italy to recover the kingdom for the queen, to expel Urban from Rome, and establish the anti-pope. But in the midst of this enterprise Louis died, and his people being routed returned to France. In this conjuncture the pope went to Naples, where he put nine cardinals into prison for having taken the part of France and the anti-pope. He then became offended with the king, for having refused to make his nephew prince of Capua; and pretending not to care about it, requested he would grant him Nocera for his habitation, but, having fortified it, he prepared to deprive the king of his dominions. upon this the king pitched his camp before the place, and the pope fled to Naples, where he put to death the cardinals whom he had imprisoned. From thence he proceeded to Rome, and, to acquire influence, created twenty-nine cardinals. At this time Charles, king of Naples, went to Hungary, where, having been made king, he was shortly afterward killed in battle, leaving a wife and two children at Naples. About the same time Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti murdered Bernabo his uncle and took the entire sovereignty upon himself; and, not content with being duke of Milan and sovereign of the whole of Lombardy, designed to make himself master of Tuscany; but while he was intent upon occupying the province with the ultimate view of making himself king of Italy, he died. Boniface IX. succeeded Urban VI. The anti-pope, Clement VI., also died, and Benedict XIII. was appointed his successor.

Many English, Germans, and Bretons served at this period in the armies of Italy, commanded partly by those leaders who had from time to time authority in the country, and partly by such as the pontiffs sent, when they were at Avignon. With these warriors the princes of Italy long carried on their wars, till the coming of Lodovico da Cento of Romagna, who formed a body of Italian soldiery, called the Company of St. George, whose valor and discipline soon caused the foreign troops to fall into disrepute, and gave reputation to the native forces of the country, of which the princes afterward availed themselves in their wars with each other. The pope, Boniface IX., being at enmity with the Romans, went to Scesi, where he remained till the jubilee of 1400, when the Romans, to induce him to return to the city, consented to receive another foreign senator of his appointing, and also allowed him to fortify the castle of Saint Angelo: having returned upon these conditions, in order to enrich the church, he ordained that everyone, upon vacating a benefice, should pay a year’s value of it to the Apostolic Chamber.

After the death of Giovanni Galeazzo, duke of Milan, although he left two children, Giovanmaria and Filippo, the state was divided into many parts, and in the troubles which ensued Giovanmaria was slain. Filippo remained some time in the castle of Pavia, from which, through the fidelity and virtue of the castellan, he escaped. Among others who occupied cities possessed by his father, was Guglielmo della Scala, who, being banished, fell into the hands of Francesco de Carrera, lord of Padua, by whose means he recovered the state of Verona, in which he only remained a short time, for he was poisoned, by order of Francesco, and the city taken from him. These things occasioned the people of Vicenza, who had lived in security under the protection of the Visconti, to dread the greatness of the lord of Padua, and they placed themselves under the Venetians, who, engaging in arms with him, first took Verona and then Padua.

At this time Pope Boniface died, and was succeeded by Innocent VII. The people of Rome supplicated him to restore to them their fortresses and their liberty; but as he would not consent to their petition, they called to their assistance Ladislaus, king of Naples. Becoming reconciled to the people, the pope returned to Rome, and made his nephew Lodovico count of La Marca. Innocent soon after died, and Gregory XII. was created, upon the understanding to renounce the papacy whenever the anti-pope would also renounce it. By the advice of the cardinals, in order to attempt the reunion of the church, Benedict, the anti-pope, came to Porto Venere, and Gregory to Lucca, where they made many endeavors, but effected nothing. Upon this, the cardinals of both the popes abandoned them, Benedict going to Spain, and Gregory to Rimini. On the other hand, the cardinals, with the favor of Balthazar Cossa, cardinal and legate of Bologna, appointed a council at Pisa, where they created Alexander V., who immediately excommunicated King Ladislaus, and invested Louis of Anjou with the kingdom; this prince, with the Florentines, Genoese, and Venetians, attacked Ladislaus and drove him from Rome. In the head of the war Alexander died, and Balthazar Cossa succeeded him, with the title of John XXIII. Leaving Bologna, where he was elected, he went to Rome, and found there Louis of Anjou, who had brought the army from Provence, and coming to an engagement with Ladislaus, routed him. But by the mismanagement of the leaders, they were unable to prosecute the victory, so that the king in a short time gathered strength and retook Rome. Louis fled to Provence, the pope to Bologna; where, considering how he might diminish the power of Ladislaus, he caused Sigismund, king of Hungary, to be elected emperor, and advised him to come to Italy. Having a personal interview at Mantua, they agreed to call a general council, in which the church should be united; and having effected this, the pope thought he should be fully enabled to oppose the forces of his enemies.

At this time there were three popes, Gregory, Benedict, and Giovanni, which kept the church weak and in disrepute. The city of Constance, in Germany, was appointed for the holding of the council, contrary to the expectation of Pope John. And although the death of Ladislaus had removed the cause which induced the pope to call the council, still, having promised to attend, he could not refuse to go there. In a few months after his arrival at Constance he discovered his error, but it was too late; endeavoring to escape, he was taken, put into prison, and compelled to renounce the papacy. Gregory, one of the anti-popes, sent his renunciation; Benedict, the other, refusing to do the same, was condemned as a heretic; but, being abandoned by his cardinals, he complied, and the council elected Oddo, of the Colonnesi family, pope, by the title of Martin V. Thus the church was united under one head, after having been divided by many pontiffs.

Filippo Visconti was, as we have said, in the fortress of Pavia. But Fazino Cane, who in the affairs of Lombardy had become lord of Vercelli, Alessandria, Novara, and Tortona, and had amassed great riches, finding his end approach, and having no children, left his wife Beatrice heiress of his estates, and arranged with his friends that a marriage should be effected between her and Filippo. By this union Filippo became powerful, and reacquired Milan and the whole of Lombardy. By way of being grateful for these numerous favors, as princes commonly are, he accused Beatrice of adultery and caused her to be put to death. Finding himself now possessed of greater power, he began to think of warring with Tuscany and of prosecuting the designs of Giovanni Galeazzo, his father.

Ladislaus, king of Naples, at his death, left to his sister Giovanna the kingdom and a large army, under the command of the principal leaders of Italy, among the first of whom was Sforza of Cotignuola, reputed by the soldiery of that period to be a very valiant man. The queen, to shun the disgrace of having kept about her person a certain Pandolfello, whom she had brought up, took for her husband Giacopo della Marca, a Frenchman of the royal line, on the condition that he should be content to be called Prince of Tarento, and leave to her the title and government of the kingdom. But the soldiery, upon his arrival in Naples, proclaimed him king; so that between the husband and the wife wars ensued; and although they contended with varying success, the queen at length obtained the superiority, and became an enemy of the pope. Upon this, in order to reduce her to necessity, and that she might be compelled to throw herself into his lap, Sforza suddenly withdrew from her service without giving her any pervious notice of his intention to do so. She thus found herself at once unarmed, and not having any other source, sought the assistance of Alfonzo, king of Aragon and Sicily, adopted him as her son, and engaged Braccio of Montone as her captain, who was of equal reputation in arms with Sforza, and inimical to the pope, on account of his having taken possession of Perugia and some other places belonging to the church. After this, peace was made between the queen and the pontiff; but King Alfonzo, expecting she would treat him as she had her husband, endeavored secretly to make himself master of the strongholds; but, possessing acute observation, she was beforehand with him, and fortified herself in the castle of Naples. Suspicions increasing between them, they had recourse to arms, and the queen, with the assistance of Sforza, who again resumed her service, drove Alfonzo out of Naples, deprived him of his succession, and adopted Louis of Anjou in his stead. Hence arose new contests between Braccio, who took the part of Alfonzo, and Sforza, who defended the cause of the queen. In the course of the war, Sforza was drowned in endeavoring to pass the river Pescara; the queen was thus again unarmed, and would have been driven out of the kingdom, but for the assistance of Filippo Visconti, the duke of Milan, who compelled Alfonzo to return to Aragon. Braccio, undaunted at the departure of Alfonzo, continued the enterprise against the queen, and besieged L’Aquilla; but the pope, thinking the greatness of Braccio injurious to the church, received into his pay Francesco, the son of Sforza, who went in pursuit of Braccio to L’Aquilla, where he routed and slew him. Of Braccio remained Oddo, his son, from whom the pope took Perugia, and left him the state of Montone alone; but he was shortly afterward slain in Romagna, in the service of the Florentines; so that of those who had fought under Braccio, Niccolo Piccinino remained of greatest reputation.

Having continued our general narration nearly to the period which we at first proposed to reach, what remains is of little importance, except the war which the Florentines and Venetians carried on against Filippo duke of Milan, of which an account will be given when we speak particularly of Florence. I shall, therefore, continue it no further, briefly explaining the condition of Italy in respect of her princes and her arms, at the period to which we have now come. Joan II. held Naples, La Marca, the Patrimony and Romagna; some of these places obeyed the church, while others were held by vicars or tyrants, as Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio, by those of the House of Este; Faenza by the Manfredi; Imola by the Alidossi; Furli by the Ordelaffi; Rimini and Psaro by the Malatesti; and Camerino by those of Varano. Part of Lombardy was subject to the Duke Filippo, part to the Venetians; for all those who had held single states were set aside, except the House of Gonzaga, which ruled in Mantua. The greater part of Tuscany was subject to the Florentines. Lucca and Sienna alone were governed by their own laws; Lucca was under the Guinigi; Sienna was free. The Genoese, being sometimes free, at others, subject to the kings of France or the Visconti, lived unrespected, and may be enumerated among the minor powers.

None of the principal states were armed with their own proper forces. Duke Filippo kept himself shut up in his apartments, and would not allow himself to be seen; his wars were managed by commissaries. The Venetians, when they directed their attention to terra firma, threw off those arms which had made them terrible upon the seas, and falling into the customs of Italy, submitted their forces to the direction of others. The practice of arms being unsuitable to priests or women, the pope and Queen Joan of Naples were compelled by necessity to submit to the same system which others practiced from defect of judgment. The Florentines also adopted the same custom, for having, by their frequent divisions, destroyed the nobility, and their republic being wholly in the hands of men brought up to trade, they followed the usages and example of others.

Thus the arms of Italy were either in the hands of the lesser princes, or of men who possessed no state; for the minor princes did not adopt the practice of arms from any desire of glory, but for the acquisition of either property or safety. The others (those who possessed no state) being bred to arms from their infancy, were acquainted with no other art, and pursued war for emolument, or to confer honor upon themselves. The most noticed among the latter were Carmignola, Francesco Sforza, Niccolo Piccinino the pupil of Braccio, Agnolo della Pergola, Lorenzo di Micheletto Attenduli, il Tartaglia, Giacopaccio, Cecolini da Perugia, Niccolo da Tolentino, Guido Torello, Antonia dal Ponte ad Era, and many others. With these, were those lords of whom I have before spoken, to which may be added the barons of Rome, the Colonnesi and the Orsini, with other lords and gentlemen of the kingdoms of Naples and Lombardy, who, being constantly in arms, had such an understanding among themselves, and so contrived to accommodate things to their own convenience, that of those who were at war, most commonly both sides were losers; and they had made the practice of arms so totally ridiculous, that the most ordinary leader, possessed of true valor, would have covered these men with disgrace, whom, with so little prudence, Italy honored.

With these idle princes and such contemptible arms, my history must, therefore, be filled; to which, before I descend, it will be necessary, as was at first proposed, to speak of the origin of Florence, that it may be clearly understood what was the state of the city in those times, and by what means, through the labours of a thousand years, she became so imbecile.



The custom of ancient republics to plant colonies, and the advantage of it–Increased population tends to make countries more healthy–Origin of Florence–Aggrandizement of Florence–Origin of the name of Florence–Destruction of Florence by Totila–The Florentines take Fiesole–The first division in Florence, and the cause of it–Buondelmonti–Buondelmonti slain–Guelphs and Ghibellines in Florence–Guelphic families–Ghibelline families– The two factions come to terms.

Among the great and wonderful institutions of the republics and principalities of antiquity that have now gone into disuse, was that by means of which towns and cities were from time to time established; and there is nothing more worthy the attention of a great prince, or of a well-regulated republic, or that confers so many advantages upon a province, as the settlement of new places, where men are drawn together for mutual accommodation and defense. This may easily be done, by sending people to reside in recently acquired or uninhabited countries. Besides causing the establishment of new cities, these removals render a conquered country more secure, and keep the inhabitants of a province properly distributed. Thus, deriving the greatest attainable comfort, the inhabitants increase rapidly, are more prompt to attack others, and defend themselves with greater assurance. This custom, by the unwise practice of princes and republics, having gone into desuetude, the ruin and weakness of territories has followed; for this ordination is that by which alone empires are made secure, and countries become populated. Safety is the result of it; because the colony which a prince establishes in a newly acquired country, is like a fortress and a guard, to keep the inhabitants in fidelity and obedience. Neither can a province be wholly occupied and preserve a proper distribution of its inhabitants without this regulation; for all districts are not equally healthy, and hence some will abound to overflowing, while others are void; and if there be no method of withdrawing them from places in which they increase too rapidly, and planting them where they are too few the country would soon be wasted; for one part would become a desert, and the other a dense and wretched population. And, as nature cannot repair this disorder, it is necessary that industry should effect it, for unhealthy localities become wholesome when a numerous population is brought into them. With cultivation the earth becomes fruitful, and the air is purified with fires–remedies which nature cannot provide. The city of Venice proves the correctness of these remarks. Being placed in a marshy and unwholesome situation, it became healthy only by the number of industrious individuals who were drawn together. Pisa, too, on account of its unwholesome air, was never filled with inhabitants, till the Saracens, having destroyed Genoa and rendered her rivers unnavigable, caused the Genoese to migrate thither in vast numbers, and thus render her populous and powerful. Where the use of colonies is not adopted, conquered countries are held with great difficulty; districts once uninhabited still remain so, and those which populate quickly are not relieved. Hence it is that many places of the world, and particularly in Italy, in comparison of ancient times, have become deserts. This has wholly arisen and proceeded from the negligence of princes, who have lost all appetite for true glory, and of republics which no longer possess institutions that deserve praise. In ancient times, by means of colonies, new cities frequently arose, and those already begun were enlarged, as was the case with Florence, which had its beginning from Fiesole, and its increase from colonies.

It is exceedingly probable, as Dante and Giovanni Villani show, that the city of Fiesole, being situate upon the summit of the mountain, in order that her markets might be more frequented, and afford greater accommodation for those who brought merchandise, would appoint the place in which to told them, not upon the hill, but in the plain, between the foot of the mountain and the river Arno. I imagine these markets to have occasioned the first erections that were made in those places, and to have induced merchants to wish for commodious warehouses for the reception of their goods, and which, in time, became substantial buildings. And afterward, when the Romans, having conquered the Carthaginians, rendered Italy secure from foreign invasion, these buildings would greatly increase; for men never endure inconveniences unless some powerful necessity compels them. Thus, although the fear of war induces a willingness to occupy places strong and difficult of access, as soon as the cause of alarm is removed, men gladly resort to more convenient and easily attainable localities. Hence, the security to which the reputation of the Roman republic gave birth, caused the inhabitants, having begun in the manner described, to increase so much as to form a town, this was at first called the Villa Arnina. After this occurred the civil wars between Marius and Sylla; then those of Cæsar, and Pompey; and next those of the murderers of Cæsar, and the parties who undertook to avenge his death. Therefore, first by Sylla, and afterward by the three Roman citizens, who, having avenged the death of Cæsar, divided the empire among themselves, colonies were sent to Fiesole, which, either in part or in whole, fixed their habitations in the plain, near to the then rising town. By this increase, the place became so filled with dwellings, that it might with propriety be enumerated among the cities of Italy.

There are various opinions concerning the derivation of the word Florentia. Some suppose it to come from Florinus, one of the principal persons of the colony; others think it was originally not Florentia, but Fluentia, and suppose the word derived from /fluente/, or flowing of the Arno; and in support of their opinion, adduce a passage from Pliny, who says, “the Fluentini are near the flowing of the Arno.” This, however, may be incorrect, for Pliny speaks of the locality of the Florentini, not of the name by which they were known. And it seems as if the word Fluentini were a corruption, because Frontinus and Cornelius Tacitus, who wrote at nearly the same period as Pliny, call them Florentia and Florentini; for, in the time of Tiberius, they were governed like the other cities of Italy. Besides, Cornelius refers to the coming of ambassadors from the Florentines, to beg of the emperor that the waters of the Chiane might not be allowed to overflow their country; and it is not at all reasonable that the city should have two names at the same time. Therefore I think that, however derived, the name was always Florentia, and that whatever the origin might be, it occurred under the Roman empire, and began to be noticed by writers in the times of the first emperors.

When the Roman empire was afflicted by the barbarians, Florence was destroyed by Totila, king of the Ostrogoths; and after a period of two hundred and fifty years, rebuilt by Charlemagne; from whose time, till the year 1215, she participated in the fortune of the rest of Italy; and, during this period, first the descendants of Charles, then the Berengarii, and lastly the German emperors, governed her, as in our general treatise we have shown. Nor could the Florentines, during those ages, increase in numbers, or effect anything worthy of memory,