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Chapter 6


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.

Niccolo Machiavelli