Ferdinand Schevill.

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which still operate in our own day to produce armed
conflicts. But if the underlying causes of the wars
between Siena and Florence are unhappily familiar to
our thought and experience, there remains, separated
from our modern practice by a gulf of seven centuries,
the manner in which these wars were carried on. In
this respect Time has wrought an immense improve-
ment, of which we must take exact account if we would
seize the peculiar atmosphere enveloping a mediaeval

149



150 SIENA

campaign. Apart from our medical service, which as
a very recent achievement of science affords no basis for
comparisons, we have an elaborate international war-
code, under which non-combatants are safeguarded,
prisoners treated with humanity, and every care taken
to eliminate merely wanton cruelty. Many of the baser
passions had to be tamed, a process involving a radical
reform of conduct, before mankind could make this
general advance. In the campaigns, not only of Siena
and Florence, but of all the Italian cities, the absence
sometimes of even the most rudimentary humanitarian
impulses forces itself on our attention, and the brutality,
the uncontrolled fury, the total surrender to the pulses
of hate, burn us as with fire. Hear, for example, the
words of a poor Franciscan, Brother Salimbene of
Parma. Listening from his quiet retreat in the Emilia
to the noisy march of the world, he entered in his
chronicle with the pardonable garrulity of old age all
that he could learn about the great sea-fight of the year
1284 between the Genoese and the Pisans. The slaugh-
ter was terrible, and when the victorious Genoese had
sailed away with those whom they had spared as
prisoners in their hands, the women of Pisa went on
foot to seek out their husbands, sons, and brothers.

"And when the aforesaid women sought out their captives, the
jailers would answer them: 'Yesterday thirty died and to-day
forty. We cast them into the sea, and thus we do daily with the
Pisans.' So when those ladies heard such news of their dear ones
and could not find them, they fell down amazed with excess of
grief, and could scarce breathe for utter anguish and pain of heart.
. . . For the Pisans died in prison of hunger and famine and
misery and anguish and sadness." And he closes a heart-rending



THE RIVALRY WITH FLORENCE 151

passage with this significant statement: "Note, moreover, that
as there is a natural loathing between men and serpents, dogs and
wolves, horses and gryphons, so is there between the Pisans and
Genoese, Pisans and men of Lucca, Pisans and Florentines."*

Horses and gryphons! An amusing mythological
intrusion, but incapable of weakening the vibrant force
of the old man's statement. Like his spiritual father,
St. Francis, like the best men of the church for ages past,
he bewailed this unmitigated manner of carrying on
war; but many generations were to come and go before
the voice of humanity made itself heard above the
tumult of violence.

Let us give ear to one more and the weightiest witness
touching the moral background of the age before we
take up the detailed struggle of Florence and Siena.
Dante Alighieri was a younger contemporary of
Brother Salimbene. What was to him the summum
bonuniy the supreme hope and desire of mankind ?
Listen to this solemn sentence from the De Monarchia
(Book I, chap. 4): "And hence to the shepherds
sounded from on high the message not of riches, nor
pleasures, nor honors, nor length of life, nor health, nor
beauty, but the message of peace." The greatest thing
is the thing we miss most, and Dante neither had peace
in his own life nor did he see it anywhere about him in
the world. Even more moving than his own words is
the glimpse of the great exile which we get in a con-
temporary letter.f The writer was an inmate in a

* Coulton, "From St. Francis to Dante: A translation of all that is of
Primary Interest in the Chronicle of Salimbene," p. 218.

f The letter of Ira Ilario retains a certain biographical value even if it is,
as some contend, apocryphal. On its authenticity see Bartoli, " Delia Vita
di Dante," chapter 12.



152 SIENA

monastery high in the mountains above Luni. One
day a wanderer with the sad eyes of Ahasuerus entered
the gate. " Hither he came moved either by the religion
of the place or by some other feeling. And seeing him
... I asked him what he wished and sought. He
moved not, but stood silently contemplating the columns
and arches of the cloister. Again I asked him what he
wished. . . . Then slowly turning his head, and looking
at the friars and me, he answered 'Peace." The
stranger was the great Florentine.

Peace, the peace which in his poem he said he sought
from world to world,* was the aspiration of his deepest
mood. But here we come upon an anomaly, painful
in such a man, but intensely human. Though he
craved a better day, and dreamt of peace and love, he
was buffeted by all the passions of his age. That was
the price he paid, and probably paid gladly, for being
alive. Does he not share every hatred by which his
fellow-citizens, ranging from the humble wool-carder to
the proud merchant of the Calimala, were fused into a
nation animated by a common patriotism ? In his
verse rival Pisa becomes the vitupero delle genti, neigh-
boring Pistoia is urged to make an ash-heap of itself for
its sins, and the upland Sienese are sneered at as fickle-
hearted children, a genie vana. His attitude is equally
uncompromising toward his fellow-citizens, or rather
toward that presumptuous section of his fellow-citizens
who conducted his beloved Florence along a different
political path from that which he would have wished
her to travel; he has nailed their reputations, while
the world lasts and poetry is power, to the gallows.

*"Purg.," V, 61.



THE RIVALRY WITH FLORENCE 153

No, Dante might cry peace, peace, but, while he himself
travailed with hate, showing us in the vast panorama
of his poem his whole generation stirred in every fibre
with the like passion, there could be no peace.

Returning to the rivalry of Florence and Siena, I
repeat that it TVad its origin iri~a territorial issue, re-
enforced and embittered by unrestrained commercial
competincm7 The reader will recall that, as soon as the
twjo_towns became independent commonwealths, they
entered upon a struggle to control each one its own
comitatus or county. In the early Middle Age, during
the Germanic domination, the comitatus or count's
territory was the civil counterpart of the diocese or
bishop's territory, and, in a general way, the boundaries
of the two administrative units of church and state
coincided. But there were regions of divergence. The
failure of the Sienese diocesan boundary to include
eighteen baptisteries, lying to the east and included
within the political boundary of Siena, was at the bottom
of the long lawsuit, of which we have heard, between
the bishops of Arezzo and Siena. Northward, in the
direction toward Florence, there was even graver trouble,
to understand which we must familiarize ourselves with
certain important facts in the Florentine political
development. Owing to some confusion of the ninth
century which escapes our knowledge, the county of
Fiesole had been united with that of Florence, giving
Florence a civil territory larger than that of any other
Tuscan town. How far the boundary of the combined
county of Florence-Fiesole extended southward was
uncertain, but the Florentines raised the claim that it
reached beyond the Chianti hills, nay, even to a succes-



154 SIENA

sion of points, the nearest of which was not above seven
or eight miles from the Sienese walls.

Apart from the doubt which, in view of the prevail-
ing mediaeval confusion in the matter of boundaries, the
Sienese might reasonably entertain concerning the jus-
tice of the Florentine claim, they were urged by the most
elementary considerations of safety to keep a neighbor
of the metal of Florence at a more comfortable distance
from the gates. At this point the reader is requested to
examine the accompanying map * and to take note how
close to Siena the probable southern boundary line
of the combined county of Florence-Fiesole extended.
Even so the Florentines raised objections and claimed
a still further extension southward. Agreement prov-
ing impossible in the face of such insolence, the de-
cision had to be referred to the field, and since, as we
shall presently see, Florence was victorious, her view
naturally triumphed. As early as 1203 an arbiter, the
potesta of Poggibonsi, rendered a decision favorable in
all respects to Florence, with the result that down to
the last days of the independent existence of the two
republics, the boundary between them practically re-
mained as traced by Florence and confirmed by the
so-called "lodo" of 1203.

During the early jnediaeval centuries this boundary
dispute between_Siena and Florence slumberedTassum-
ing importance Qnly with fbfijwellth^century^ for not
till then didjhe two cities Jbegin to extend their domin-
ions beyond their_g2J]s, In this movement of expan-
sion they had no sooner clashed with the great nobles
of their respective contados than they began to quarrel

*See p. 177.



THE RIVALRY WITH FLORENCE 155

with one another. If Siena was hemmed in by the So-
arzi, the Cacciaconti, the Aldobrandeschi and other
clans, Florence was hardly less hampered by the two
great houses of the Guidi and the Alberti, who held
scores of castles all around the city. Under the stimu-
lus of an unscrupulous rivalry, Florence secretly en-
courageaand often lent open aid to the Sienese nobles,
while Siena followed the same policy towqrd the F|QJ-
entine magnates. When we recollect that each of the
two towns was territorially and commercially in contact
with other towns, Florence especially with Arezzo,
Pistoia, and Pisa, Siena more particularly with Arezzo
and Orvieto, we are prepared to understand that they
never faced each other like two duellists, each of whom
relies upon himself alone, but that their city neighbors
were inevitably drawn into the conflict. Nor does that
exhaust the political and military factors of which we
must take account in this keen rivalry. As pope and
emperor enjoyed considerable, if varying, power, towns
so savagely hostile as Siena and Florence would not
hesitate to enlist the support of one or the other for
their side^ When Florence became Guelph, holding
with remarkable steadiness to the alliance with Rome,
Siena had really no choice left but to become Ghibelline
jmd seek her salvation in a union with the emperor.
Thus the nobles of the respective contados, the neigh-
boring free communes of Tuscany, the emperor and
pope all play parts in the long feud between Florence
and Siena, but while the presence of these numerous
agents often obscures the issue and complicates the
situation, we are certainly not wrong in affirming that
no matter with what helpers and under what battle-



156 SIENA

cries the two towns clashed in field and council-
chamber, in the mind and heart of each was ever
uppermost its own security and greatness.

The first armed conflict of Florence and Siena
bringing the_territorial issue between them into sharp
relief occurred in the year 1129 at Vignale, a castle
situated in the disputed Chianti territory.* The Sienese
had seized an opportunity to enter and fortify it, when
the Florentines hurried up and drove them out again.
In 1141, we are informed, the Florentines pushed an
incursion into Sienese territory as far as the Porta
Camellia, the north gate of the town, and in the year
1145 we hear of a great Florentine victory on the slopes
of Monte Maggio, that wooded mountain intercepting
the gaze of whosoever standing on the Sienese ramparts
looks toward the setting sun. In the battle of Monte
Maggio the Guidi, the leading feudal family of the Arno
valley, fought on the side of Siena, and though defeated,
or rather because defeated, continued to nurse a rancor-
ous hatred for the Florentine commonwealth. In
company with their ally, Siena, they now planned a
stroke which was to check the further progress south-
ward of the Arno city.

The via francigena, of such importance to Siena, fol-
lowed, as we know, the Elsa valley until it reached the
Arno, crossed the river by the bridge at Fucecchio, and

*The Annales Senenses ("Monumenta Germ.," XIX) report, without
explaining, an earlier clash than the above, a clash of 1114. The wars of
Florence and Siena in the twelfth century are a difficult subject, upon which
many scholars have exercised their ingenuity. In addition to Davidsohn
("Geschichte von Florenz") and Santini ("Contado e Politica Esteriore del
Sec., XII"), much valuable material has been contributed by Villari ("I
Primi Due Secoli della Storia di Firenze") and Hartwig ("Quellen und
Forschungen zur Geschichte von Florenz").



THE RIVALRY WITH FLORENCE 157

then turned sharply west to Lucca. Half-way down
the Elsa valley lay the hamlet of Poggibonsi, so favor-
ably situated on a hill that whoever controlled it might
hope to hold the key to the whole region. Poggibonsi
was a possession of the Guidi, but lay, so the Arno
burghers clamorously affirmed, in Florentine territory.
Toward the middle of the twelfth century little Poggi-
bonsi on the Elsa became the center of a web of in-
trigues which almost defies unravelling. Suffice it that
the Guidi, filled with wrath at the presumptuous
Florentines, deftly spun their threads to play Poggibonsi
into the hands of Siena. In the year 1155 the cabal, in
which even the pope was induced to take a hand, scored
a complete success. The Florentines, hurrying up with
an army to protest with force against the diminution of
their authority, were defeated, and Poggibonsi for the
present remained in the hands of Siena, a welcome
guarantee to that town against further Florentine en-
croachment on the Elsa side, f

If one thing more than another distinguished the Arno
burghers it was that they could bide their time with the
patience of a hunter in the woods. Desirous of trapping
Poggibonsi, they waited for their opportunity nineteen
years. Then they intrigued with the Cacciaconti, lords
of Asciano and neighboring points and ancient enemies
of Siena, and acquired a foothold in the important
Asciano itself. When the Sienese arrived on the scene,
prepared to undertake the siege of the little town, the
Florentines advanced upon them to the cry of San

t Poggibonsi in the twelfth century is a story by itself and a fascinating
one for the student of Tuscany. For a coherent account see Davidsohn, p.
457^-f an d passim; also, Santini, "Contado e Politica Esteriore", pp. 57,
81-83, 100-106.



158 SIENA

Giovanni, their patron saint, and defeated them roundly
(1174). In spite of spirited efforts the sons of the
Virgin could not recover from this calamity, and in the
year 1176 were obliged to accept peace at the dictation
of their enemies. The conditions of the victors were
hard : they acquired one-half of the Sienese interest in
Poggibonsi and forced from Siena a recognition of the
Chianti boundary line as drawn by themselves.

The next crisis in the affairs of the two rivals occurred
injthe year 1 197, when the suddenjeath of the Emperor
Henry VI broke the tyrannical yoke which his masterful
will had imposed on the Tuscan cities. We have ob-
served how, by the charter of the year 1 186, Henry had
in effect limited the authority of the Sienese consuls to
the city itself. The like or a similar policy he had pur-
sued with reference to the other towns, with the result
that they had lost their hold on their respective contados,
ambition and prize of many decades of combat. In
1197, therefore, the towns, relieved of the imperial
incubus, made a general Tuscan alliance with the main
object of permitting each one to repossess itself of its de-
pendent territory. We have taken note of the " submis-
sions," which Siena now successfully enforced from
Cacciaconti, Ardengeschi, and others of her feudal foes.
But the contado issue, revived by the Tuscan league,
naturally brought the old Chianti boundary dispute
once more to the front. Siena was very desirous to
improve her position against her grasping neighbor, but
as Florence would not yield one inch of her historical
claim, the upland city, in order to avoid war, agreed
to have the Chianti matter settled once for all by the
decision of an umpire. The potesta of Poggibonsi was



THE RIVALRY WITH FLORENCE 159

accepted for this office, and in the year 1203 pronounced
the "lodo" already mentioned, favorable in every respect
to the Florentine claims. A little later, in the year 1208,
Siena resigned all her remaining rights to Poggibonsi.
Thus, after a struggle of almost one hundred years, the
defeat of Siena, with regard to the various questions
touching her northern boundary, was indisputable and
complete. With the new century the conflict between
the now thoroughly embittered towns continued, but
Siena, persuaded of her inability to break through the
Florentine line to the north, with shifty resolution turned
her chief attention in another direction.*

To understand fully the change which now occurred
in the Sienese policy of conquest we must return to the
Tuscan league of 1 197. From that union of cities Siena
received authority to possess herself of her contado.
Accordingly, as soon as the nobles had been reduced to
obedience, she laid siege to the hill-town of Montalcino,
and in the year 1201 raised her banner over its walls.
Then, moving step by step, she undertook to subjugate
Montepulciano, even more important than Montalcino,
for Montepulciano reared its threatening towers not only
near the via francigena, but also directly over the road
which penetrated eastward to the Chiana valley and
to central Italy. On the basis of an express agreement



* Of course Poggibonsi and the northern boundary were not eliminated
from the subsequent struggles, for Florence did not enter into permanent
possession of the little town in 1208. The interference of the emperor
presently effected the liberation of Poggibonsi, without, however, in the least
discouraging the ambition of the Arno burghers. Throughout the thirteenth
century Poggibonsi, when free as well as when unfree, remained a centre of
dark intrigue directed against Florence. For the astonishing vicissitudes of
the little town in the thirteenth century see Davidsohn, " Geschichte von F.,"
especially II 1 , pp. 219, 428, 513; and II", p. 64.



160 SIENA

the Florentines had supported the Sienese in their
campaign against Montalcino, but now when the latter
moved on Montepulciano the Arno burghers took alarm.
A strong Siena was not to their taste, and although
Montepulciano was proved before commissioners of the
Tuscan league to lie, beyond the peradventure of a
doubt, in Sienese territory,* and, therefore, to be lawful
Sienese prey, the Florentines were ready to resort to
any and every device before they sanctioned Sienese
rule at that commanding point. The result was war, in
fact a whole succession of wars, spun out through the
greater part of the thirteenth century, with Montepul-
ciano as the storm-centre, and a number of other Sienese
towns, such as Montalcino and Grosseto, involved
whenever Florence could induce them to rise in revolt.
Between the new wars and those of the previous century
over Poggibonsi and the Chianti boundary existed as a
bond the inalterable resolution of Florence to thwart
the expansion of Siena.

In order to bring the new phase of the struggle before
us as succinctly as possible, I shall set down the wars in
their chronological order. There was war between
Florence and Siena from 1207 to i2o8Vagainfrom 1229
to 1235, another war from 1251 to 1254, and a final
struggle with interruptions- from 1258 to 1270. Even
the intervals of peace witnessed some disturbances,
because Tuscany, with its many other cities, provided
each with its own set of quarrels, was almost always in a
state of confusion, which inevitably reacted upon the
delicate relations of our two rivals. I do not purpose

* The evidence, taken down by the commissioners and entirely conclusive
on the point at issue, may be found in Muratori, "Antiq. It.," IV, 576 ff.



THE RIVALRY WITH FLORENCE 161

to follow these wars with any detail until we get to
Montaperti and the dazzling prospect, brief as summer
lightning, which it opened to the Sienese. The military
art of that century was a pitiable thing, and the capri-
cious course of assaults, sieges, and retreats must exas-
perate every modern reader. To Mr. Maurice Hewlett,
considering the ways of the Tuscan cities,* their cam-
paigns reach unimagined heights of futility. Siena,
Pisa, Arezzo, Florence and the rest are to his amused
view very like a pack of ill-tempered village curs, who
bark and snarl at one another until with a sudden rush
they roll over in the dust, biting right and left, and then,
yapping rage and victory, make for home. With due
allowance for the exaggerations of the romantic tempera-
ment, it remains none the less true that there is little
profit to be had of the ordinary Tuscan war. Its back-
ground of mediaeval manners alone is perenially inter-
esting, and as that can be recovered best out of the mouth
of contemporaries, or from writers who were sufficiently
close to contemporaries to share their sentiments, I shall
content myself with following the events at the hand of
expressive selections from the chroniclers. f

The war of 1207 began with a siege by the Sienese of
Montepulciano. To make a diversion the Florentines
with their allies the Aretines and Count Guido, who,
following the wavering practice of his kind, was now on
the Florentine side attacked the castle of Montalto,
not far from Asciano. On the 29th of June the Sienese

* In his " Road in Tuscany."

f Readers interested in the political combinations and military incidents of
these wars are referred to the second volume of Davidsohn's "Geschichte
von Florenz." They will find there a brilliant, detailed reconstruction of
the complicated affairs of Tuscany in the thirteenth century.



162 SIENA

came up to the relief of Montalto, and a great battle
ensued, of which a Florentine eye-witness has left a
curious account.

"The Florentines, investing the aforesaid castle, assaulted
it with many mangonels, and in order that the garrison might not
effect a retreat . . . guards were set round about. On a certain
day, however, when the sun shot down hot rays, and the guards
wearied by work were resting in the shade . . . behold the
Sienese, come to snatch the castle garrison from danger by a sudden
stroke. . . . But the Florentines, seizing their arms, rushed upon
them and drove them into flight, pursuing them for four miles, not
over ways suited for war, but through woods and thickets difficult
even for wild beasts. . . . And the tents and the whole equipment
of the army was seized, and of knights and foot-soldiers twelve
hundred or thereabouts were captured, and very many on both
sides were killed. . . . However, I desire not to omit what,
though I did not see, by virtue of my being of that expedition I
heard, to wit, that the women, coming from afar, with tears,
sought the bodies of their husbands, and each in order to find one
had to turn many corpses over seeking for her own. They cried
aloud, weeping together, and owing to the altered features scarce
one recognized her husband. . . . " *

That signal defeat obliged the Sienese to desist from
attacking Montepulciano and to make peace. They
would have to await their opportunity, and the oppor-
tunity in the changing circumstances of Tuscany always
came. Hear the version of the next encounter as given
by the great Florentine chronicler, Villani:

"In the year 1229 the Sienese broke the peace with the Floren-
tines, because against the articles of peace they laid siege to Monte-
pulciano in the month of June of the said year. On which ac-

* "Sanzanomis Gesta Florentinorum." Hartwig, "Quellen und Forschun-
gen," I, p. 15.



THE RIVALRY WITH FLORENCE 163

count in the following September, Messer Giovanni Bottacci being
potesta of Florence, the Florentines -led an army against the
Sienese and harried the countryside to Pieve Asciata and dis-
mantled Montelisciai, one of their castles not three miles from
Siena. And the next year, Otto da Mandello of Milan being
potesta of Florence, the Florentines led an army against the
Sienese on the 3ist of May, and they brought the carroccio with them
and, passing by the city of Siena, went to San Quirico a Rosenna



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