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prevailed upon to cite the modern Catiline (Corso Donati (')) and eleven others of the Blacks before him: and on their obeying the summons, those Whites who were in banishment were advised to seize the occasion , which had been made by his Holiness expressly to favour them, and penetrate into Florence, while their enemies were deprived of so many of their leaders (*). And so indeed they did: and on the twenty-second of July, advanced into the very heart of the city (' as far as the square of S. John ') in beautiful array, with their snowwhite banners and garlands of Olive in their bonnets, offerring not the smallest violence to any one; for although they had their swords drawn, their points were held down, and their cry was ever peace, peace, peace! Although the leaders were ffhites, their troops to the amount of i2oo raeu-atarms on horseback were chiefly from Bologna, Arezzo and Romagna; and they were dressed in white cloaks, a symbol both of their party and their pacific intentions. But the enterprize failed; in a great
(i) Un Cavaliere del la somiglianza di Catilina Romano, ma piu crudele di lui, gentile di aangue, bellodel corpo, piscevolr parlalore, adorno di belli costutni, lottile d'ingegno, coll' ammo sempre intento a mal fare, col quale molti masnadieri si raunavano, etc. Diuo Compagni, Lib i p. 43.
(a) Yet Villani denies the Pope was a party in the business. The Whiles being in such small numbers (and indeed almost all their troops being strangers) proves that it had been only a few heads of family that were expelled earlier than i3o4. Villani adds a few hundreds to the force as calculated by Dino Compagni, but agrees in representing them as a mixed horde of mercenaries .
degree by their own imprudence in having the foolhardiness to prefer to the friendly hours of shade the glaring meridian of a day so hot that the very air appeared to be on fire, and in taking no precautions to have water for themselves and horses; but also partly by the want of courage of their illassorted levies, and the defection of their partisans within the city. These, far from aiding them, retired into their houses; and some even took up arms against them and set fire to the buildings in their vicinity in order to recommend themselves to the Blacks; so that the unfortunate JFhite captains, betrayed by their own allies, assailed by their foes, and parched almost to death by the torrid sun , were beaten back with grievous loss in the battle and incalculable cruelties after it. Those that could be taken prisoners were either butchered on the spot, or reserved for the more ignominious fate of the rack and the gibbet: and the event was closely followed by the expulsion, not merely of all the C'.erchi and other white potentates, but radically of their entire party (0. They were henceforth doomed to roam about the rest of Italy in the utmost penury and 'slavery:' and that they should continue in that miserable situation 'long' (lungo tempo) was all that Dante could put into the mouth of Ciacco, or of any one else at any time , for they
(i)Dino Compagui Lib. 3, p. 65— Gio. Villaui, Lib. vin. cap. 7»~ Machiavelli, 1st- Fior. Lib a. p. 94.
were still in exile when he died. They dispersed themselves up and down from Calabria to the Alps, and, naturally allying with those of their fellowcitizens who had been exiled years before as Ghibellines, they all became known promiscuously under this latter old term of reproach; and the appellation Whites fell into disuse, and of course that opposed to it, Blacks, also. Dante consequently, who had been so unjustly accused of belonging to the former faction, was fated quite as unjustly to partake of its fresh obloquy and to be branded with a charge of Ghibellinism: but we have seen that he was already exiled and sentenced to be burnt alive, long before either he or the Whites had incurred that charge; and, as we go on, we shall have continual occasions of proving (what I affirmed from the beginning (0), that he was never either Guelph or Ghibelline, as clearly as, I hope, I have here done, that he was neither Black nor White.
Perhaps few better illustrations of the miserable fluctuation of things in Florence can be given, than the declaration of Boccaccio, (who wrote so shortly after the events we have been reciting) that those same Donati and Cerchi, so much spoken of as absolute masters of the Republic, were dropt into poverty and so gone out of notice that scarcely any remembrance of them existed W. In
fi) Hell, Comment, Canto i. p. 4.
(a) Furoa de' nostri di in tanto stato cfae guidarono le cose piccole c grandi, secondo il piacere loto, ovo oggi appena e ricordo di loro. Comento, Vol. i. p. i7.
fact, the one family decayed away in banishment, and the other was destined to be a speedy victim to the same populace that had so delighted, but a little before, in loading it with honors and privileges even beyond what was consistent with the Constitution: and thus was begun that declension of the Aristocracy, which Machiavelli considered as having been the immediate cause of the ruin of the liberty of his native land(0. Dante then, could he have foreseen the entire truth, would have made a still more lamentable addition to Ciacco's prophecy, and foretold the final subversion of political freedom with its manifold advantages.
'Within three years the Black faction shall rise, by the aid' (this is the text verbatim ) 'of one who quickly tacks ("). Long shall he lift his sublime front and keep crushed by heavy burdens the Whites, while they both lament and blush for their sufferings.'The usual way of understanding this
(i) Di qui nasceva le variation! delle insegne e le mutazioni dei titoli delle famiglie che i nubili per parere del pupolo facevano: tanto clie quella virtu d'anni e generosita d'animo ch'era nella nobilta si ipegneva ... e Firenze sempre piu umile e piu abbietta ne divenne. lit. Fior. Lib. 3. p. i4i.
(a) Biaggia is explained variously. The general way is to consider it a nautical term answering to coasting, or tacking. Tbere is also the various reading of alto or alte . Boccaccio gives the latter; and then the nominative to 'lift' may be either ' he ' (tal ) or (I'altra), > Black, faction': the Academicians read alto; and then it must be ' he ',as I have rendered it — uuless ( what seems a needless refinement) alto be used adverbially.
passage is to make the one mean Charles Valois: but I apply it not at all to him, but directly to Pope Boniface vni, on the concurrent authorities of Boccaccio and the Biccardi manuscript (0, as well as on what appear to me to be the most obvious considerations. This interpretation agrees exactly with the individual character of Boniface; with all the political events related in the last comment; and with Dante's recorded opinions. Of no Pope more than the one in question could it be more correcly said, that " he always joined with the prevailing powers, when they did not thwart his pretensions (a). " And what nature his pretensions often were, may be gathered from the claim that he made to the crown of Scotland: for, the king of that country having sought for the Pontiff's interference between him and our Edward I, a papal rescript was composed condemning both the royal litigants, and substituting "the Court of Bome's claim to he itself liege-lord of Scotland; a claim which had not once been heard of, but which, with a singular confidence, was now asserted to be full, entire, and derived from the most remote antiquity (3)." The fraudulent conduct
(i) Comento, Vol. i. p. S5i — Cioe Papa Bonifazio clie imprima piaggiava e uon mostrava di tenere parte. Bib. Rice. M. S. Cod. i0i6.—Mr. Gary in explaining it " Charlei of Valois" is not to be blamed; for many of the commentators do the same, evrn the last, M. Biagioli. Comento, Vol. i. p. i28.
(a) Hume, Hist. Vol. 3. p. 454.
(3) Id. Id. p. i00.