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Vanni, a lawer, happing to be the luckless wight, was assaulted so violently by that juvenile ruffian , that, although he was not exactly put to death, he was severely lacerated in the face and had a hand cut off (0. It was the style of the age, that to have complete revenge one must punish, not the actual criminal, but some innocent member of the same body. To have wreaked it on the former would have been only a chastisement to be expected; and not likely to cause that profound desolation, which true revenge required. Besides, since the first violence had fallen on an innocent man, it was necessary, to maintain equality , that the second too should be directed against one as innocent (a). Amadore's father however (who must have been somewhat of an exception to the rudeness of the times) obliged him to go to ask pardon of his cousin, Vanni; and, with marvellous generosity considering his knowledge of the man, delivered up his son to Vanni's father to be sentenced as he thought proper; only conjuring him not to forget that the youth, though culpable, was his near relative. The barbarity of what succeeded is rendered far more flagrant if (as some write (3))
(i) His left baud , except the thumb. Fior. ut supra .
(?) Sismondi, Hist, des Rrpub. Ital. Vol. It. p. y8.
(3) Priorista Fiorentino. p. 40... .Jen leggiermenu... Indeed neither Villani, nor Diuo Compagni, nor Macchiavelli mentions the cutting mtt of more than one hand; and surely one suffices. Brnvenuti of Imola's recital of the matter is still more different: he speaks of a hand amputated for uo othtr offence than a slap given by one child to another. itiHTO vt.
"Vanni had only been slightly wounded, and that not premeditatedly, but in a fray: for his brutal father, opening the door to Amadore, led him forthwith into the stable, and cut off his right hand upon the manger and gave him a deep gash across the face, without uttering any other speech
than this 'now you are at liberty to return
home and say to him who sent you, that wounds are healed by steel, not by words.' This savage act, which in a well-regulated community would have only excited universal abhorrence, and been quietly punished by the insulted law of the land, gave, in Pistoja, immediate birth to two furious factions, the Blacks and the Whites; who adopted these adverse colours in the Cockades which they hastened to assume. Nor did the pestilence rest in Pistoja ; but spreading like wild-fire throughout Tuscany, it arrived in a few weeks at Florence, which, as if impatient of peace and prosperity, received with transport the pledge of civil war and separated at once, nobles and people (all
promiscuously without exception 'male and
female, poor and rich, priest and friar(0') into Blacks and whites: the former banner being hoisted by the ancient and potent Donati; and the latter by the Cerchi, a family of less illustrious
In this however he is not so likely to be accurate, as the chrouiolsrs of Pistoja itself. As to the substance of the atrocity, all agree. Mur. Antiq. Ital. Vol. i. p. n36.
(i) ist. Pistolesi, ap. Rer. Ital. Scrip. T. xi. p. 3D8.
■A (TO It
extraction, but richer than any other in the Commonwealth .' The Donati or chiefs of the Blacks, (says Boccaccio (l))' were somewhat on the decline in point of fortune: and this consideration contributed perhaps a little to render them still more affable towards their fellow citizens of every rank T than their natural courtesy prompted: the Cerchi, or white chieftains were on the contrary all of them rich, and not only very haughty and proud, but even rather rude and contumelious in their manners, as if they disdained to caress their townsmen or in anyway seek after popularity.' These factions entering into Florence in the first days of May, i3oo, gave rise to incessant sanguinary broil* during the entire month: the Pope in vain endeavouring to appease them, by calling the -eldest of the Cerchi to Rome; for this White chieftain refused to make peace with the Donati, under the pretence of his not being at war with them; and few circumstances prove more intelligibly the barbarity of society then, than its being a ball that was pitched upon as a rendezvous for the two factions to appear at armed; whereupon tliey advanced from mutual coarse jests and reviling to an actual fray, which cost one of th«
(i) I cap! Bianchi erano tutti ricchi ed agiati uomioi, e per questo ron erano. tolamente superbi ed altieri, re a anchr ielvatichetti intorno a costumi citadineichi, e non era no accnstanti ail' usanze degli uomini ue gli cairezzavauo, come per avventura faceva la parte Nera, la quale era piupovera. ComeDto, Vol. i. p. iio.
Cerchi his nose (,). Thus when Dante commenced Prior on the fifteenth of June, he found the streets filled with riot and blood; (exactly as Ciacco predicts', who is now speaking, we must recollect, on the night of the eighth of April 00) and insubordination had reached such a height, and so little respect was paid either to laws or magistrates, that it was with the utmost difficulty the FPhites could be prevented from sacking the houses of the Blacks even at broad noonday. This atrocity was attempted on return from a burial; and it would certainly have been effected, had not the chief of the Blacks, Corso Donati, relied more on individual courage than on succour from Government r add to all this, a Papal legate, who was sent to pacify the City, left it the seeds of still worse disorder by leaving it his interdiction. Nevertheless our poet contrived to keep the State from falling to pieces under his administration; and those two months, (for the Priorship never continued longer ) as well as the remainder of the year, passed over unsullied by at least the most reprehensible of treasons , that of madly applying for foreign force. Scarce an hour however elapsed without some infringement of the public tran
(i) Et, ut breviter dicam, nno sero ad nnnm tripudium Dominirum orta lit* inter aliquos de utraque parte, fuit amputatui nasui uni Recoverino de Circulis. Benvenu'i Im. ap. Mur. Antiq. Ital. Vol. i. i040.
(a) Hell, Comment, Canto II. p. 67.
y CtlTO vr.
quillity (0; and even the remedy of a dungeon only occasioned additional crimes: for many leaders of both factions being thrown into prison, the Black prisoners bribed the Jailor and had all the White ones poisoned in a dish of pudding, or flummery (»). But in the February of I3oi the state of things became much worse; and to such extremities of mutual massacre had the rival parties advanced, ere the close of the month, that the Blacks resolved to dispatch an Ambassador to the Pope in order to engage him to procure them the aid of a French army, on the stipulation that they would deliver up the city to any Prince, or King, his Holiness might appoint. The Priors then in office alarmed at the discovery of such a nefarious conspiracy, sent for Dante whom (although he had six months before ceased his ministerial functions and relapsed
(i) 'For twenty-eight years' ( »ay the Pistoiese Chronicler!, and Florence was certainly not less anarchical than Pistoja ) ' the battles, murders, and burnings continued in town and country, dav and night; more than once men were slain not only in presence of th« chief magistrate but in the very town hall at noon while the Judge, the Gonfaloniere, and the Podesta were presiding therewith their guards, nor could these attempt to prevent such violence; so great the force of the offenders . At last the Podesta finding his orders disregarded and not even his person secure from insult, laid down his wand of office and judging such people totally unworthy of either laws or Magistrates went away, and left them free to butcher one another without any legal incumbrance'... in preseuza del Giudice, del Podesta,edi sua famiglia 1'uccise, non potendo cosa alcuna dalla famiglia del Podesta essergli contrastata, per la gente cbe avea seco .... siccbe il Podesta puose la bacchetta della Podesteria in terra, e rifiut6 la Signoria, e si part). M. A. Salvi, delle Hist. di Pistoia, Vol. i. p. aR4.—1st. Pitt, ap. Rer. Ital. Scrip. Vol. xi. p. 368—273.
(») . . . in un migliaccio.... Pi iorista Fioreutino, p. 4a.