Edmund Garratt Gardner.

The story of Siena and San Gimignano online

. (page 1 of 29)
Online LibraryEdmund Garratt GardnerThe story of Siena and San Gimignano → online text (page 1 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

!■ .•.i»g»i.«|K











^^^^l•UBRAr -









. so












' ^^ '-^ ^

5 / "







•5- ^

A^tllBKAKY-6;/^^ ,



■,VAh liNKHi'V/A



'%i3Dfivsoi^ "^/saaAiNn-jwv'







fs©! ii^l i(a.. IMS












'If r ' \jO'^"'-"*"'^" '^'^'^A ^^i-iiftflMn ff.//; _

tr\j//% .MUyAnutlfj.^

:^' ^A


^tfOJIlVJJO"^ ^f


,OFrAtlF0Pi> ^^^OF•CAlIF0ff,;;, , 5Mf WIVFRJ//^ ^vvi

''^CAnvaan-^ '-^o



2 '^



'aujiivj avj "


■<IU3IIYJ 3\i ■





yiil rkhts resevued



















npHIS present volume is intended to provide a popular
history of the great Republic of Siena, in such a
form that it can also serve as a guide-book to that most
fascinating of Tuscan cities and its neighbourhood. San
Gimignano has been included, because no visitor to Siena
leaves the "fair town called of the Fair Towers" un-
visited ; I have made special reference to it in the title
of the book, to lay stress upon the point that, although
for administrative purposes San Gimignano is included
in the province (and in the circondarlo) of Siena, its
history is practically distinct from that of Siena and is
more intimately connected with the story of Florence.

The appended list of books and authorities, needless
to say, is not a complete bibliography, nor even a cata-
logue of those quoted in the course of this work. It
only represents some of those that my readers will find
most useful and helpful, or that will supply further in-
formation upon many topics which the limits of this
series of Mediaeval Towns have compelled me to treat
somewhat cursorily and scantily.

The lamented death of Miss Helen M, James de-
prived us of her assistance in the illustration of the last
three chapters, more especially of the two dealing with
San Gimignano. Her work has been at the service of


this series from the beginning ; but it is, perhaps, especi-
ally those who have had the privilege of knowing her,
and who have had the opportunity of appreciating her
character and her personality, that will realise the great-
ness of this loss. My friend and publisher, Mr J. M.
Dent, associates himself with me in dedicating this
volume to her memory.

E. G. G.

October 1902.



The Republic of Siena ..... I

Saint Catherine of Siena . . . . 43

7 he People u,iu the Petrucci . . . . 67

The Sculptors and Painters of Siena . . 99


The Campo of Siena and the Palace of the

Commune . . . . . .126

Tie Duomo and the Baptistery . . .149

In the Footsteps of Saint Catherine . . . 184




The Last Days of the Republic . . . 210

Through the City of the Firgin . . .246

Some Famous Convents and Monasteries . . 298


San Gimignano . . . . . .324


In the Toiun of the Beautiful To'wers . . 344

The Family of Pope Pius the Second . . 297

Bibliographical Appendix , . . . 366

General Index . . . . . • 373


*The Madonna ivith Saints [Neroccio d'l Barto-

lommeo Land'i). Photogravure . Frontispiece


Siena from behind San Domenico ... 5

La Castel Vecchio, the oldest part of Siena . . 8

*0n the Battlefeld of Montaperti

A street in Siena .....

La Croce del Travaglio ....

La Lupa ......

*St Catherine of Siena (^Andrea di Vanni^ .
^ Letter from St Catherine to Stefano Maconi
St Catherine' s Lamp ....

The Mangia 'Lonver ....

\The Elevation of Enea Silvio Piccolomini to the

Papacy as Pius IL ( Pi)ituricchio)
Via Fontehranda ....
The Porta Romana
\The Pulpit of the Duomo (^Niccolo Pisano and

his Pupils^. Photogravure . . facing lOO

t The Font of San Giovanni of Siena ( Giacomo

della Querela') .... facing 104

*The Madonna and Child {^detail from Duccio's

Altarpiece). Photogravure . . facing 112







facing 47











Ihtstioii outside the Porta Pispini, erected by

Baldnssare Peru%%i . . . i 1 6

Fia Giovanni Dupre . . . . .121

The Pa/azzo Pubblico . ■ ■ -133

The Jkariet-P/ace . . . . .146

The Duomo . . . . .151

Interior of the Duomo . . . . .163

jThe Canonisation of Saint Catherine, from

Pinturicchio's fresco. Photogravure . facing 174
J 7 he Crucifixion, by Duccio di Buoninsegna.

Steps beside the Baptistery
Fontebranda .
House of St Catherine
Via della Galluzza
\The Ecstasy of St Catherine. Detail

Bazzi^ s fresco. Photogravure
A suburban Chapel

Banner-holder in the Piazza Postierla
An old fanale in the Piazza San Giusto
Via dei Termini
Porta Ovile .

Remains of a Mural lower
Palazzo Saracini .
The Tonver of Sanf Ansano
Pozzo della Diana
Via delle Sperandie
Via della Fonte
Fonte San Maurizio
Piazza and Palazzo Tolomei

facing 178


Jacing 2 04




At the older rircuit of the nvalls . 296

Fountain outside Posta Ovi/e . . . .299

-f Coronation of Virgin {^Andrea della Robbia) facing 304
*A Miracle of St Benedict ( Ba%%i) . facing 3 1 4

* Maurus and Placidus (^Bazzi) . . facing 3 20

*San Gimignano ..... fcf">g 325
^Apparition of St Gregory. i^Domenico Ghir-

landaio) ..... facing 330

* In the Toiun of the Fair Fo'wers . . fettling 34O

iThe Funeral of Santa Fina {^Domenico Ghir-

landaio) ..... facing 349

\ Heads of Choristers i^Doinenico Ghirlandaio) facing 352
t>S'/ Augustine at School. (^Benozzo Gozzoli) facing 358
Map of Siena ..... facing 372

* These illustrations are reproduced, ivith permission , from photo-
graphs by Messrs Alinari of Florence.

■]■ These illustrations are reproduced, ivith permission, from photo-
graphs by Messrs Lombardi of Siena.

IV e are indebted to Signer Enrico Torrini of Siena for permission
to make use (f his map.

The remaining illustrations are all from drazvings bi/ Helen M.

The Story of Siena


San Gimignano

The Republic of Siena

C lENiA. remains the most perfectly mediaeval of all the
larger cities of Tuscany. Its narrow streets, its
spacious Gothic palaces and churches, the three hills
upon which it rises enthroned, with the curiously pictur-
esque valleys between them, are still inclosed in frowning
walls of the fourteenth century. The Renaissance came
to it late, gave it its enduring epithet of " soft Siena,"
and blended harmoniously, almost imperceptibly, with its
mediaeval spirit.

According to the more picturesque of the traditions
respecting its origin, Siena was founded by Senius, the
son of Remus, who brought with him the image of the
Lupa, the slie-wolt suckling the twins, which still remains
the city's badge. When he offered sacrifice to his gods,
a dense black smoke arose from the altar of Apollo and
a pure white smoke from that of Diana — in commemora-
tion of which was made the halzana, the black and white

The Story of Siena

shield of the Commune that we still see upon Siena's
gates and public buildings. There are two other shields
associated with it : a blue shield with the word l.'ihertas
in gold letters ; a red shield with a white lion rampant.
According to other traditions, scarcely more his-
torical, the first was granted to Siena by Charlemagne,
the second (the arms of the People) by the Emperor

Siena was a place of very small importance during the
dark ages. As in the case of its neighbour and rival,
Florence, its epoch of greatness begins with the earlier
decades of the twelfth century, in the confused period
that followed the death of the Countess Matilda of
Tuscany. Throughout the greater part of the twelfth
century and at the beginning of the thirteenth, the
Republic of Siena was nominally ruled by Consuls, who
up to the middle of the twelfth century shared their
authority with the Bishop. They were men of noble
rank, usually three or sometimes six in number, elected
by the people in the parliament that met either before the
then Romanesque Duomo or in the Piazza di San
Cristofano, to hold office for one year. At first the
nobles were the greater power in the State ; some at
least were the descendants of the foreign invaders, the
counts and barons of the Prankish and German Emperors,
and the result of their prepotency was naturally combined
with the territorial rivalry with Florence to make Siena
throw in its lot with the Ghibellines, when the great
struggle between Papacy and Empire, between republican
ideals and feudal traditions, divided Italy. Gradually
five noble families came to stand out pre-eminently as the
sch'iatte jnagg'tori, with special privileges from the Re-
public and a predominating influence in the State, names
that we shall meet with again and again in Siena's
story ; the Piccolomini, the Tolomei, the Malavolti,
the Salimbeni and the Saracini. The Salimbeni were





"'■ '1


■mt '"^ A' If -s


;te>a#k:4^^ .i6///

<m^^ "^M^MM


The Republic of Siena

the richest and exercised considerable territorial sway
in the contado ; the Piccoloniini claimed to be of
pure Latin descent, and were undoubtedly of more
democratic tendencies. These nobles were divided
against themselves ; there was bitter feud between
the Salimbeni and the Tolomei, between the Mala-
volti and the Piccolomini. And presently the people
took advantage of this to rise and claim their share
in the administration of the city, and in the refor-
mation of 1 1 47 they obtained a third part of the

Gradually the Republic of Siena extended its sway
over the neighbouring townlets and over the castelle of
the contado, whose feudal lords were forced to reside in
the city for some months in the year, to fight for the
Commune in war. In spite of internal factions and dis-
sensions, the city increased in wtalth and prosperity ; its
commerce was largely extended ; fugitives from Milan,
flying from the Teutonic arms of Frederick Baibarossa,
introduced the Art of Wool ; Sienese gentlemen, led
by Filippo Malavolti — a noble whom we dimly discern
as a great figure in those far-off republican days — sailed
to Syria in Pisan galleys and shared in the capture of
Acre. Notwithstanding its traditional support of the
imperial cause, it was in this century that Siena gave to
the Church the " great Pope of the Lombard League "
— Orlando Bandinelli, who during his long pontificate
as Alexander III. (from 1159 to 1181) knew how to
uphold the rights of Italy no less than the claims of the
Papacy against the mightiest of the K.iisers. And,
indeed, the Ghibeliinism ot the Sienese was always of a
patriotic Italian type. In 1 186 they closed their gates
in the face of B.irbarossa, believing that he meant to
deprive them of their contado, and hurled back his son
Henry discomfited from the Porta CamoUia. At the
close of the century, Siena began to have a Podesta as


The Story of Siena

chief magistrate, like the other cities of Tuscany, who
was probably at the outset an imperial nominee, and the
consular government appears to have ceased by about
1 21 2; while the people became associated into Arts
or Guilds, somewhat resembling the more famous
Florentine associations, whose representatives sat in the
councils of the Republic and had their voice in the affairs
of State. ^ Already the glorious Duomo, though need-
less to say not in its present form, had been consecrated
by Pope Alexander, and the Dogana stood on the site
of the present Palazzo Comunale, a sign of increasing
commercial prosperity. A great part of the public
authority was now in the hands of the Camarlingo and
the four Provveditori di Biccherna, the officials who
presided over the finances of the Republic. Though
for a few years we still find the names of consuls, the
Podesta was from 1199 onwards the chief officer of the
State; we find in 1200 and in 1201 that Filippo
Malavolti held this office, but after 12 11 it was invari-
ably assigned to a foreigner. In 1208 the oldest of
the Sienese palaces, the Palazzo Tolomei, was built ;
although burned by the people on at least two occa-
sions, it still retains not a little of its early mediaeval

Throughout the greater part of the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, Siena — -usually more or less allied
with Pisa, Pistoia and the Conti Guidi — was engaged in
a series of wars with Florence, an intermittent struggle
alternating with hollow, insincere treaties of peace.
This was due to the antagonistic ideals of Guelf and
Ghibelline, to the growing commercial rivalry between
the two republics, each especially striving to get into the

' Rondoni (Sena vetus, p; 53) notes that, in contrast to
Florence, there ^vas no distinction between the Greater and
Lesser Arts in Siena.

I^he Republic of Siena

hands of its own merchants and noble bankers all the
increasingly lucrative affairs of the Roman Curia, and,
perhaps, more immediately to the fact that each was
striving to extend its contado at the expense of the
other. Poggibonsi, Colle di Val d'Elsa, Montalcino
and Montepulciano — in which right was probably with
Siena and might with Florence — were perpetual sources
of contention, and the Sienese suffered severe defeats
time after time. " Do not forget through eternity
those that deny thee, that withdraw themselves from the
homage they owe thee, that plot against thee and that
bring shame to thee." So runs the black book of the
Commune, the Memoriale delle Offese, in which these
things were recorded. " Be mindful of Montepulciano,
that, though it be of thy contado, most proudly
endeavours to withdraw itself therefrom." ^ Grosseto
was the first place of importance that, in 1224, fell
permanently into the hands of the Sienese, a town pre-
viously swayed by the Counts Aldobrandeschi of Santa
Fiora, those most potent nobles of the Sienese contado
whose pride and whose imperialistic tendencies are
recorded by Dante.

Within the city the factions raged furiously. The
power of the nobles or gentiluomint was waning, even in
Ghibelline Siena. It was laid to their charge that the
wars with Florence had taken so unfavourable a turn,
that the Florentines were ravaging the contado, had
hurled donkeys into Siena with their catapults, and on
one occasion had even penetrated into the city itself.
By what appears to have been a comparatively peaceful
revolution in 1233, the people obtained an increased
share in the government ; a supreme magistracy of
Twenty-four was created, elected annually by the General
1 Printed in the Archkiio Storico Itallano, series III. vol.


'7 he Story of Siena

Council, eijjht from each terzo of the city, half from
each order. ^ But their rule became irksome to the

more conserva-
tive section of
the nobles, who
formed a rival
party and strove
to oust the popo-
lan't from power.
In 1 240 it came
to blood, to
adopt the Dant-
esque phrase.
The opponents
of the new
regime, headed
by the Podestk,
Manfredi da
Sassuolo, rose
in arms; the
people, led by a
certain Aldo-
brandino di
Guido Cacci-
aconti, who is
described as one
of the *' grandi
del popolo di
Siena," and who
was of an old
feudal family,
rallied round
the Tw e n t y-

In Castel Vecchio, .

the oldest part of Siena

four. The battle began in three places in the city

1 Siena is still divided into terzi or thirds ; the Terzo di
Citta, the Terzo di San Martino, the Terzo di CamoUia.


The Republic of Siena

There was fighting up and down the narrow streets ;
there was flaming of torches and clashing of weapons
round the palaces and towers. The Palazzo Tolomei
and the Palazzo Malavolti were burned, and after
much devastation and bloodshed, when many had
fallen on either side, the Twenty-four got the upper-
hand, drove out a certain number of the nobles, and
appointed Aldobrandino Podesta. He was a strong
and prudent man, who put down disorder with a firm
liand, and reconciled many of the leaders of either party.
In the comparative tranquillity that followed, the streets
and squares of Siena were paved for the first time. But
the struggle with Florence proved disastrous. The
Sienese were forced to make a disadvantageous peace,
and, in 1255, there was an alliance concluded between the
rival republics, in the epoch of Guelf predominance that
followed the deaths of Frederick II. and King Conrad.
It was in this brief breathing space, of external peace
and internal tranquillity, that a knight of Siena, Messer
Folcacchiero de' Folcacchieri, wrote what was once
thought to be the earliest extant example of a regular
canzone, describing his own hapless plight through love :
2'utto lo mondo vive senzci guerra : " All the world is living
without war, yet I can find no peace." The constitution
at this time shows the usual bewildering number of separate
councils that we find in mediaeval Italian republics. The
four Provveditori di Biccherna with their Camarlingo still
administered the revenues of the State, the executive was
in the hands of the Podesta and Captain. Laws were
discussed and approved in the General Council of the
Campana, composed of " three hundred good Catholics,
not excommunicated nor suspected of heresy." There
was nominally a Parliament, which the Podesta and
Captain could not summon without the consent of two-
thirds of the Council of the Campana, and without pre-
viously explaining what they intended to propose. But


The Story of Siena

" the Twenty-four were the informing soul of the con-
stitution, and once a month they met in secret council
without the Podesta and Captain." ^

But it was not for long that the Lion shook hands
with the Wolf, as we see them at a later epoch on the
pavement of the Duomo. Florence was now the pre-
dominant power in Tuscany, fiercely democratic and
strenuously Guelf ; while Pisa and Siena alone clung to
the discredited cause of the Ghibellines, the latter thirsting
to recover Montalcino which had been lost in the last war.
Away in the south, Frederick's heroic son, King Manfred,
was upholding the claims of the imperial house of Suabia,
and Siena looked to him. A band of exiled Florentines
came to Siena in 1258, led by that tremendous Ghibelline
noble whom Dante was afterwards to see rising from his
fiery tomb as though he held all Hell in scorn, the man
whom the triumph of the Guelfs would torture more than
all the torments of his burning bed : Farinata degli
Uberti. In spite of the express terms of the treaty,
Siena turned a deaf ear to the remonstrance of her nominal
ally, and refused to expel the fugitives. War being now
inevitable, ambassadors were sent to Manfred to obtain
his aid. The price of the royal assistance was that the
Sienese should swear fidelity and obedience to him.
This was done, and in May 1259, from Lucera, the
King received the Commune under his protection. To
a second embassy, praying him to take the imperial crown
and to send a captain with an army into Tuscany, Manfred
answered that he loved Siena above all the cities of Italy,
and that he would shortly send to those parts such a
captain of his own blood and so great a force of armed
men with him "that he shall make the rough ways
smooth, and rule that province in peace." 2 And in

^ Rondoni, op. clt. p. 60.

2 Letter of August nth, 1259. still preserved in the Archivio
diStatoof Siena, quoted byPaoli,Z./ Batiag/ia Ji Monta/ierti,p. 13.

The Republic of Siena

December the Count Giordano d'Anglano, the King's
near kinsman, appeared in Siena, with a small force of
Germans. He at once took the field in the Maremma,
where Grosseto and Montemassi had rebelled from Siena,
and forced the former town to surrender in February.
Hearing that the Florentines were making huge pre-
parations, and were sending supplies to Montepulciano
and Montalcino, another embassy was sent to Manfred
in March, headed by the most influential citizen of Siena,
Provenzano Salvani.

No sooner had spring come than the Florentine army,
headed by their Podesta, Jacopino Rangoni of Modena,
entered the territory of the republic and advanced upon
Siena by way of Colle and Montcreggioni, forcing the
Sienese to raise the siege of Montemassi, and to withdraw
all their troops for the defence of the city. On the
morning of May i8th, there was a smart engagement at
Santa Petronilla outside the Porta Camollia. A small
force of Germans and Sienese made a vigorous sortie, in
which the Germans bore the brunt of the fighting, lost
the greater part of their number killed, and the royal
banner fell into the hands of the Florentines, who retired
to their encampment, having suffered severely in killed
and wounded. They broke up their camp and retreated
on the 20th, almost simultaneously with the return of
Provenzano and his colleagues to Siena followed by
a strong force of German and Italian mercenaries from
the King.i The war was at once renewed with activity,
Provenzano Salvani being the leading spirit through-

1 The documents cited by Paoli prove conclusively that the
story, told by Giovanni Villani, of Farinata contriving that the
Germans should be annihilated at Santa Petronilla and the
royal standard lost, in order that Manfred might be induced
to send a larger force, has no historical foundation. Neither
is it a fact that the Sienese were forced to induce the Florentines
to resume hostilities because the Germans had been hired for
only three months.


The Story oj^ Siena

out. Montemassi was taken and Montalcino rigorously

The critical condition of Montalcino combined with
Ghibelline intrigues to bring the Florentines again into
the field. Farinata and his fellow exiles gave the anzian't,
who then ruled in Florence, to understand that Siena
was thirsting for a change of government, for the over-
throw of the Twenty-tour, and the banishment of
Provenzano, " who was the greatest popolano of Siena,"
and that the nobles were prepared to sell the city to the
Florentines. In spite of the strenuous opposition of
Tegghiaio Aldobrandino and the Conte Guidoguerra,
the Florentines decided instantly to resume hostilities—
nominally to relieve Montalcino, in reality to destroy Siena.
They called the people to arms to follow the standards
of their companies, summoned aid from Lucca and
Bologna and all the Guelf cities of their league. At the
beginning of September the army of Florence with the
Carroccio or battle car of the Republic, over which floated
the red and white standard of the Commune, entered the
Sienese contado, where it was joined by the men of
Perugia and Orvieto. Without counting these, there
were at least 3000 horsemen and more than 30,000
infantry ; but there were traitors in the army, in secret
understanding with the enemy. From their camp beyond
the Arbia, the captain and commissaries of the Florentines
sent ambassadors to the Sienese, to demand their instant
and absolute submission. " Straightway throw down your
walls," they began, " in order that we may enter your
city at whatever place likes us best."

Forthwith the Twenty-four of Siena summoned the
council to meet in the church of San Cristofano. There
was some wavering at first. The worthy burghers knew

Online LibraryEdmund Garratt GardnerThe story of Siena and San Gimignano → online text (page 1 of 29)