history of florence

In the words of Dante, “Conveniasi a qvella pietra scema che gvarda il ponte che fiorenza fesse vittima nella sva pace postrema. ” Peace has ended in Florence. It was a cold February day in 1216 when Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti was viciously murdered by Schiatta Uberti and Oddo Arrighi. This resulted a feud that would continue on between the families until well into the fourteenth century. This feud would change Florence completely and it would never return to what it once was. The Buondelmonti family were not always powerful in Florence. According to Dante in his work The Divine Comedy, III.

Paradiso he writes, “The majority of the Buondelmonti family migrated to Florence in 1135 due to the destruction of their castle of Montebuono in the Valdigreve which was close to Florence. ” (Dante 283). Ironically it was actually the Florentines that destroyed the Buondelmonti castle which in turn resulted in them moving to Florence and slowly gaining power. The events leading up to the start of the feud were rather ridiculous. It is rumored to all have started over an argument at a banquet between a member of the Buondelmonti family and a member of the Uberti family.

This argument escalated to a more dangerous level, which raised tensions between the two families. As a sign of good faith the Buondelmonti family promised one of their own, Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti to a lady of the Amidei family because they were a close ally to the Uberti family. All seemed to be going well until on the day of the wedding Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti ran off and married a lady of the Donati family, the daughter of Gualdrada Donati. (Ruud 4). Thus infuriating both the Uberti family as well as the Amidei family.

This led to the murder of Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti. The escalation of hostility between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the Guelphs supporting the Pope and the Ghibellines supporting the Emperor. The Buondelmonti family and their followers were Guelphs, thus it only made sense that the Uberti family, Amidei family and their followers who opposed the Buondelmonti family would be Ghibelline. This caused the feud to escalate even further than just retaliation for the murder of Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti. As a result of this feud, between 1215 and 1278, the Guelphs and Ghibellines of Dante’s native Tuscany were involved in a power struggle that included numerous plots, betrayals, strange alliances, and sometimes open warfare. ” (Ruud 4). The feud continued with the fighting of the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Florence when according to Christopher Kleinhenz in the Medieval Italy:

An Encyclopedia: Volume 1, “In 1247 Buondelmonti led the Guelphs’ resistance to the imposition of Frederick of Antioch as Tuscan vicar-general by his father Frederick II. (Kleinhenz 165). However, the Buondelmonti’s effort failed which resulted in many of the Guelphs fleeing the city for a time being. The tide would later turn in 1266 after the Battle of Benevento. To quickly go more in depth on the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Florence, Jay Ruud in his novel Critical Companion to Dante states, “Citizens relying on Florence’s commercial interests, like the bankers and the wool merchants, tended to be Guelph, while the ‘old money’ aristocracy were generally Ghibellines. ” (Ruud 4).

However, the Guelphs were eventually able to prevail in Florence after a decisive Guelph victory at the Battle of Benevento over the Ghibellines forces of Manfred in 1266. This victory secured peace in Florence for nearly 30 years, until the Guelph party began to split into two rival factions in the 1290s. The parties were the Neri or Black Guelphs, and the Bianchi or the White Guelphs. Eventually the White Guelphs would become allied with the Ghibelline party. In order to have a chance to reestablish themselves many Buondelmonti established strong binding ties with the Angevin court of Naples.

Although the Buondelmonti family were unable to hold office due to the Ordinances of Justice in 1293, many Buondelmonti would manage to serve in office and on many missions. For example, Benghi who married the daughter of Albetti count of Certaldo held important military captaincies and was also the podesta of Prato. However, during the Ciompi rebellion in 1378 he was exiled for being a member of the Guelph ruling oligarchy. It was at this time that many Buondelmonti’s changed their name to Montebuoni and the feud between the Buondelmonti family and both the Amidei and Uberti families came to an end.

What started out as a disagreement at a banquet led to a complete change in the dynamics of Florence. If this disagreement had not occurred, Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti would never have been promised to marry into the Amidei family. Therefore, Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti would never have been murdered causing the true start of the feud. If this never occurred the feud would have never begun. Finally, if the feud would have never begun then there most likely would not have been as severe a split between Guelphs and Ghibellines in Florence. All in all it was this turn of events that would change Florence forever.

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