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Chapter 5


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

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

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.

Niccolo Machiavelli