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Biographical notes on War Captains and Mercenary Leaders operating in Italy between 1330 and 1550

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The Chronicles of Walter VI of Brienne, Gualtieri di Brienne

Italian CondottieriThe Chronicles of Walter VI of Brienne, Gualtieri di Brienne

Cruel, greedy, ambitious, and cunning. Nominally the Duke of Athens, he struggles in vain for several years in Greece to reestablish his family's dominion against the Catalan company of the Almogavars. He becomes the lord of Florence and is expelled from the city. There, all signs that could remind of his name are erased. He dies in France fighting against the English in the Hundred Years' War

Indice delle Signorie dei Condottieri: ABCDEFGIJLMNOPQRSTUVZ

The Life and Times of Walter VI of Brienne, Gualtieri di Brienne.

Gualtieri di Brienne was an Italian condottiero whose remarkable life and military exploits significantly influenced medieval Italy’s history.

Gualtieri di Brienne (Walter VI of Brienne, Gualtieri VI) di Brienne, Duke of Athens, Count of Lecce and Brienne. Lord of Florence, Pistoia, Conversano, Casamassima, Putignano. He also owns considerable fiefs in the French region of Champagne, in Greece, and in Cyprus (three villages and a barn).

Born: 1304 
Death: 1356 (September)

Year, monthState, Comp. venturaOpponentConductActivity AreaActions taken and other salient facts
1311
Mar.Greece, CampaniaUpon the death of his father Gualtieri in the battle of Cephissus against the “Company of Almogavars,” he takes refuge in Naples with his mother Giovanna di Châtillon. Roberto d’Angiò reaffirms to the mother all the fiefs in the kingdom already possessed by her ancestors.
…………ApuliaHe continually fights against his vassals, the Prince of Taranto, and creditors who attempt to strip him of the County of Lecce. His fiefs of Conversano and Casamassima are mortgaged.
1321
Jan.CampaniaHe marries Beatrice d’Angiò, daughter of Prince Filippo di Taranto. The marriage is arranged by the King of Naples, Roberto d’Angiò, with the aim of enhancing the influence of the House of Taranto in Greece. For over five years, Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) skillfully exploits the position he has attained, continually announcing an imminent expedition to Greece while perpetually postponing it. In this way, he gains new favors, both by effectively defending himself against his rebellious vassals from Lecce and by obtaining a favorable ruling from a partisan college of arbitrators on certain alleged rights of patronage over the Chapel of the Trinity in Lecce.
…………BrienneBariApulia
…………BrienneCantelmiApulia
…………He initiates a lawsuit against his mother for not recognizing the debts she incurred on the family’s assets to financially support expeditions against the Almogavars. The King of France, Philip V, rules against him, and he is obliged to pay (partially) the debts incurred.
1325
MayNaplesUmbriaReported in Perugia at the head of 500 horsemen.
Oct.BattifolleFlorenceTuscanyHe supports the cause of Ugo di Battifolle in Ampinana, in the Mugello, with 20 horses and 200 infantrymen.
1326
Apr.Naples, FlorenceEmpire, LuccaCaptain of war, 400 horsemenTuscanyHe obtains permission to mortgage the revenues of feudal goods in favor of some Florentine merchants. At the same time, he opposes the militias of Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian. At the end of the month, he is sent to Florence by Duke Carlo di Calabria to oppose Castruccio Castracani. He is given the role of royal vicar and captain of war. He is granted a commission of 3 ounces of gold and 15 tarì per day when residing in the city, and 4 ounces when operating outside of Florence.
May, JuneUmbria, TuscanyFrom Perugia, Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) advanced into Tuscany, where his actions forced Castruccio Castracani to retreat and destroy the fortresses that enabled his continuous raids into the territory of Prato. As a result, the enemy demolished the castle of Petroio and three other fortified towers (battifolli). By mid-month, Walter entered Florence at the head of 400 cavalrymen. He was accompanied by his wife, Beatrice of Taranto (Beatrice di Taranto). They took residence in the Oltrarno area at the Mozzi Palace (palazzo dei Mozzi). By mid-June, Walter unilaterally appointed the new priors of the city and abolished the office of Captain of the People.
JuneTuscanyHe reaches Siena with 400 horsemen and 400 infantrymen.
JulyTuscanyHe is still in Siena, where he attempts to obtain lordship of the city. The authorities present him and his entourage with many gifts, particularly five robes of gold cloth valued at 8,238 lire: one for him along with a sugar bowl containing 1,000 florins; one for his wife, with a cup holding 300 florins; one for the Prince of Morea (with cup and 300 florins); one for the latter’s wife (the usual cup with 200 florins); and finally, one for the Despot of Romania (cup with 300 florins). Other members of his court are also honored, each receiving various gifts. Brienne actively participates in arranging a five-year truce between the Salimbeni and Tolomei families; he arms eleven knights, including Simone di Battifolle, the war captain of the republic. At the end of the month, he leaves Siena and requests 16,000 florins from the Florentines.
…………TuscanyHe exercises power in Florence until the arrival of the Duke of Calabria.
1327
JuneNaplesLazioHe is appointed to the defense of Rieti and holds the position of captain in the Abruzzi. He joins forces with Filippo d’Acaja to prevent Ludwig the Bavarian from passing through on his way to Rome.
Nov.He has disagreements with his father-in-law, King Roberto d’Angiò of Naples, regarding the dowry of his wife Beatrice, of which he is a creditor for three-quarters (2950 ounces).
1328
Winter, SpringHe reaches a truce with the “Company of Almogavars” that occupies the Duchy of Athens.
Nov.The King of Naples grants him an annual pension of 160 ounces, allowing him the opportunity to free himself from the feudal burdens that have constrained his actions.
1329He is appointed by Robert of Anjou (Roberto d’Angiò) as the vicar of Rieti. He will hold this position until 1341.
1330
JunePope John XXII declares a crusade against the “Company of Almogavars.”
JulyRoberto d’Angiò issues an edict providing that the barons who follow him to Greece will be exempted from service for the duration of the campaign.
1331
Mar. – JulyBrienneAlmogavari800 horsemen, 400 infantrymenApuliaHe sells many lands he owns in France and has the rest of his wife’s dowry delivered to him. With the proceeds, he hires 800 French horsemen, 500 veteran Tuscan infantrymen, and numerous mercenaries; he gathers the troops in Brindisi. He sends an emissary, Count Angelo da Crotone, to Ragusa (Dubrovnik) to charter some transport ships. Roberto d’Angiò mobilizes his feudal lords, the nobility of France and Apulia; numerous Tuscan Guelphs also rally under the banners of Gualtieri di Brienne.
Aug.Apulia, AlbaniaHe sets sail from Brindisi, lands in Arta in Albania, and compels the Despot of Epirus, Giovanni, to recognize the sovereignty of the King of Naples.
…………GreeceHe recaptures many fortresses such as Thebes, Athens, and Livadia. His attacks in Attica fail; the Venetian bailo of Euboea, Marino Zeno, denies him passage through the territories controlled by the Serenissima due to a truce in effect with the Catalan company. Brienne defeats the Almogavars in open battle; however, they retreat to fortresses and wear down his forces with guerrilla actions.
1332
Feb.Greece, ApuliaHe stops in Patras where Archbishop Guglielmo, following the Pope’s instructions, excommunicates his opponents. Gualtieri di Brienne decides to return to Lecce. During this venture, he loses a son, leaving him disheartened and in debt.
Mar.The expenses of the expedition are such that Roberto d’Angiò must intervene on his behalf with extraordinary subsidies (400 ounces of gold) so that he can meet his debts. The King of Naples also has to suspend numerous lawsuits for insolvency that creditors have brought against Brienne.
1334/1335ApuliaHe signs a treaty in Oria with Caterina di Valois, widow of Filippo di Taranto and titular Empress of Romania. She commits to financing a new campaign in Greece to reclaim her possessions in the deposed Despotate of Epirus. When Caterina di Valois entrusts the management of her interests to her lover Niccolò Acciaiuoli, Brienne withdraws from the venture. At the same time, the Angevins shift their focus from Greece to the reconquest of Sicily.
1336He entertains a new venture against the Almogavars, which ultimately ends in attempts to expand his aspirations onto vacant fiefs and in acts of aggression against less formidable neighbors, sparing not even a nephew of Pope John XXII.
1337
…………He alienates the fief of Castelluccio de’ Sauri, transferring it, with royal consent, to Count Tommaso d’Aquino of Belcastro.
…………FranceEnglandFranceHe fights in France in the Hundred Years’ War on behalf of King Philip II.
…………FranceHe is part of an expedition in Normandy during which the cities of Penne, Puymirol, Blaye, and Bourg-sur-Gironde are captured.
1339
Sept.FranceEngaged in action in Picardy at Buironfosse.
1340
JuneFranceHe rides fruitlessly with the Viscount of Thouars, at the head of 4000 men, against Bavay and Maubeuge to the detriment of the Count of Hainaut.
JulyFranceHe accompanies the French sovereign from Béthune towards Arras and Douai.
…………FranceA truce follows between the contenders.
1341
…………FranceHe goes to Avignon in search of support from Pope Benedict XII, with the aim of returning to Greece.
JulyHe returns to the Kingdom of Naples. On the eve of his departure for Florence, Roberto d’Angiò will postpone the trials against him and those accompanying him on the expedition to Greece.
1342
…………FlorenceCampana, TuscanyHe leaves Naples without seeking permission from the king, and accompanied by Uguccione dei Buondelmonti and Manno Donati, arrives in Florence.
MayFlorencePisaCaptain of warAccompanied by Buondelmonti and Manno Donati, he goes to the camp of Malatesta Malatesta Guastafamiglia, located on the Serchio near Lucca. He supports Bruschino Tedesco with 1500 horsemen in a sortie against the Pisans besieging the city. He routs the opponents; the river swells, and instead of following up, Malatesta sounds the retreat. Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) returns to Florence; he lodges with 350 barbute in the monastery of Santa Croce. The Pisans enter Lucca; by the end of the month, he is appointed for one year as captain of war, conservator, and defender of the commune of Florence and the Guelph party.
JuneFlorenceGhibellinesTuscanyHe repels an attack on Arezzo carried out by the Tarlati, Francesco Ordelaffi, Cortona, the della Faggiuola, the Pazzi of Valdarno, and the Ubertini. The Florentines advance him 2000 ducats even though he does not carry out the expected review of his company of horsemen.
JulyTuscanyHe does not counter a raid towards Montevarchi by Tarlatino Tarlati; on the contrary, he captures Francesco degli Ubertini, brother of the Bishop of Arezzo, who had incited rebellion in Castiglione degli Ubertini. He has the latter beheaded in Florence. He also captures and executes in Florence Rodolfo Pugliesi, who had tried to forcefully enter Prato at the head of 300 infantrymen and 25 horsemen after making an agreement with Count Niccolò di Cerbaia and the Ubaldinis. The same fate befalls Giovanni dei Medici, guilty of having previously allowed Tarlatino Tarlati to escape from Lucca to Pisa, who had been entrusted to him by Giberto da Fogliano.
Aug.TuscanyHe also orders the beheading of the Florentine captain Guglielmo Altoviti, found guilty of corruption. This is followed by other sentences for barratry against numerous Florentine notables, who are fined and sentenced to exile. Through all these acts against the “fat people,” he quickly gains the trust of the “great” and the “lesser people.”
Sept.TuscanyWith the help of the captain of the people, Guglielmo d’Assisi, he assaults the Palazzo dei Priori in Florence; he is proclaimed by a general parliament as the lifelong lord of the city. The castles of Castiglion Fiorentino, Volterra, Arezzo, Colle di Val d’Elsa, San Miniato, San Gimignano, Prato, Pistoia, and Serravalle Pistoiese are delivered to him for money. His stipend immediately includes 800 French and Burgundian horsemen, not to mention the Italians; many of his relatives move from France to Florence. During the same period, he also assumes the lordship of Pistoia: it is granted to him for three years, with more stringent limitations compared to the previous conditions accepted by the Florentines.
Oct.TuscanyHe reconciles with the Pisans. Lucca falls into the hands of Pisa in exchange for a payment of 8000 florins for fifteen years; Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) obtains the castles of Laterina, Barga, and Pietrasanta, in addition to those already in the possession of the Florentines in Valdarno and Val di Nievole. He is also appointed lord of Colle di Val d’Elsa. He elects new priors in Florence; however, he soon loses the support of the “great” when he condemns a member of the Bardi family, who had come into conflict with a commoner who had offended him. By the end of the month, the lordship of Pistoia is granted to him for life.
Nov.FlorenceComp. venturaTuscanyHe combats the Great Company. His troops, commanded by Gerozzo Bardi, lay siege to Ettore di Panigo in Laterina to prevent him from joining Guarnieri di Urslingen in Romagna.
Dec.TuscanyIn his governance, he increasingly favors the lesser people; he collects 500,000 florins from taxes and fines, of which he sends more than 200,000 to France and Apulia. At the end of the month, he acquires Volterra from Ottaviano Belforti, the lord of the city, in exchange for an annual annuity of 1500 florins.
1343
Mar.TuscanyHe allies with the Pisans. The Medici and the great begin to conspire against him. On his part, he seizes Colle di Val d’Elsa and attempts to become the lord of Siena as well, by encouraging its internal struggles.
JulyFlorenceRebelsTuscanyHe forms connections with Mastino della Scala, the Marquises of Este, and the Lord of Bologna, Taddeo Pepoli. Three simultaneous conspiracies are organized in Florence to overthrow him from the city’s lordship. The third and most decisive conspiracy is uncovered; Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) initially lacks the courage to act. He requests 300 horsemen as reinforcements from Pepoli and summons 300 of the city’s leading citizens to the palace intending to kill them. By the end of the month, Florence revolts, and 300 of his men are killed or captured in the square; he barricades himself in the palace with 400 soldiers and is besieged by 1000 armed citizens on horseback and another 10,000 as infantry. He tries to placate the “great” by releasing some conspirators he had previously arrested. This conciliatory measure has no effect. The rebels are reinforced by horsemen and infantry from Siena (300 horsemen and 400 crossbowmen under the command of Francesco di Montone), San Miniato (200 infantry), Prato (500 infantry), and the counts Simone and Guido di Battifolle (400 infantry), and Pisa (500 horsemen); these forces are immediately sent back, and on their return journey, they are attacked by the inhabitants of Montelupo Fiorentino, Capraia, Empoli, and Pontorme. At the same time in Florence, officials and military personnel loyal to him are killed, found isolated in the streets or in their homes.
Aug.Tuscany, EmiliaAt the beginning of the month, he is forced to surrender by Burgundian mercenaries; before leaving Florence, he is compelled to hand over to the rebels three of his officials demanded by the crowd (Guglielmo d’Assisi, the latter’s son, and Cerrettieri Visdomini). These men are lynched and dismembered. He exits Florence through the Porta di San Niccolò, escorted by Francesco di Montone’s Sienese troops and the men of Simone and Guido di Battifolle. In Poppi, he announces the acts of his renunciation of lordship; he then takes refuge in Bologna, where Taddeo Pepoli, his ally, is the lord. During the journey, more than 400 of his horses are killed or looted. He is hosted in Ferrara by Obizzo d’Este; from there, he travels to Francolino and reaches Venice, where he embarks for Apulia. The commune of Florence celebrates his expulsion and decides to annually run a palio on the day of Saint Anne, the day the revolt began.
…………FranceHe plots against the Florentines. A bounty of 10,000 florins is placed in Florence for anyone who kills him. He is depicted by Giottino, along with some followers, as a traitor and oath-breaker, in the Palazzo del Podestà.
1344
June – JulyFranceHe is reported in Avignon at the court of Pope Clement VI.
1346
Feb.FranceThe King of France, Philip of Valois, upon his request, orders the arrest of Florentines present in the kingdom. There are strong pressures for Florence to recognize a substantial compensation for Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) by the month of May.
JulyFranceThe ban against the Florentines is reiterated. He is recognized with the right of reprisal against Florentine merchants living in France.
1347
JulyIn Florence, all signs that could remind of his name are erased.
1351
Aug.FranceFollowing repeated diplomatic initiatives, the reprisals against the Florentines are revoked in France by the new king, John II. In exchange, the Florentines cancel the bounty on his head. The Duke of Athens remains in France for the entire year.
Oct.FranceAt the end of the month, in Paris, he grants as a privilege to Graziano of Venice some of his assets located in Romania.
1353
…………BrienneBrindisiApuliaHe returns to Italy. A wealthy merchant from Brindisi, Filippo da Ripa, is summoned to court in Naples by King Louis of Taranto. He does not appear, knowing the purpose of the summons: to obtain money. Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) gathers 400 horsemen and 1500 infantrymen to move against Brindisi. The population prevents his entry into the city. He camps outside the walls and begins raiding the surrounding territory. The sovereign intervenes, ordering him to cease his actions. During the same days, returning from his captivity in Hungary, Louis of Taranto’s elder brother, Robert, arrives in Naples. He gains the lordship of Brindisi, and the Duke of Athens is forced to lift the siege.
…………BrienneCasertaApuliaWalter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) remains steadfast in his intentions. He sows discord between Filippo da Ripa and Count Filippo della Ratta of Caserta, son of Diego. The latter, incited by Niccolò Acciaiuoli, Seneschal of the Kingdom, attempts to seize his fiefs. Brienne defeats his opponent in Lecce and (in May) forces him to retreat into Taranto. The siege proves futile.
Spring/Dec.CampaniaThe sovereign, upon his brother’s insistence, bans Count Filippo della Ratta of Caserta. Filippo della Ratta strengthens his position in his lands of Sesto and Tuliverno (Triverno). The siege operations begin by Roberto of Taranto and Walter VI of Brienne (Gualtieri di Brienne) (100 horsemen). Forced to retreat due to lack of resources, he turns towards Brindisi, where Filippo da Ripa, having expelled the rival faction of the Knights from the city, is causing havoc. Da Ripa surrenders to the king’s brother. In the summer, the conflict with della Ratta resumes; there is a period of stagnation; Brienne receives 300 horsemen from the sovereign and with such reinforcements, he again attacks the Count of Caserta. He attempts to occupy Maddaloni, while his opponent plunders the Terra di Lavoro and all nearby territories up to the gates of Naples.
1355
…………FranceEnglandFranceHe leaves Apulia and moves to France, where he confronts the English on behalf of King John II. He opposes the troops of the Prince of Wales, the Black Prince.
Nov.FranceHe cuts off the route in Gascony for the English who are returning to Bordeaux, and he lays in wait at Cragny with Astorgio di Durafort. He is defeated.
1356
MayGrand ConstableFranceGualtieri is appointed as the Grand Constable of the kingdom in place of Giacomo di Borbone, Count of La Marche and Ponthieu, who has resigned.
Sept.FranceIn the middle of the month, he participates in the Battle of Poitiers, where he commands the second division. 3000 French cavalrymen face 2000 English archers supported by 1600/1800 dismounted cavalry. The first French lines are engulfed in a cloud of arrows, causing them to retreat in disorder, which in turn disrupts the rear ranks. The English cavalry mount their horses and counterattack, overwhelming the bulk of the enemy forces. Gualtieri di Brienne dies during the battle alongside Jean de Clermont, while a third army commander, Arnoul d’Andrehem, is taken prisoner. Legend has it that he was slain with dagger thrusts after being thrown from his wounded horse from behind by a Florentine soldier fighting for the English. Among the French, 2426 men-at-arms are killed, as well as the Bishop of Chalons, Duke Pierre de Bombon, and 16 other baron and noble captains. Thousands of infantrymen also perish, including nearly all the Scots who followed William Douglas in the charge of the heavy cavalry he led. Among the French, at least 2000 horses are captured, along with many nobles, including King John and one of Brienne’s own sons. The Duke of Athens is buried in Sarno. In his will, he orders the return of the lands of Putignano and Conversano, which he had usurped from the Order of the Knights Hospitaller. He commissions the construction of the Santa Croce convent and church in Lecce, with the latter being rebuilt in the Baroque style in the 1600s. Gualtieri di Brienne is also responsible for the reconstruction of Roca on the Adriatic. In Florence, he expands Piazza della Signoria and a portion of the Palazzo Vecchio. His portrait by Cristofano dell’Altissimo can be found in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He is remembered in the novel “Il Cavaliere Errante” by the Marquess of Saluzzo, Tommaso III. Niccolò Tommaseo focuses on the last days of his Florentine rule in the historical account “Il Duca d’Atene,” first published in Paris in 1837 and later in Milan in 1858.

Sources

-“Crudele e avaro,..di brutta e spiacevole presenza, imperocché egli fu di color nero, avea la barba lunga e rada, la sua persona era molto piccola, e quella sparuta e poco graziosa.” AMMIRATO

-“Questo duca d’Atena era di poca fermezza e di meno fede, cupido e avaro e male gratioso, picolo de persona e bruto e barbaricino, e parea meglio greco che francesco, sagace e malitioso. E molti denari mandava in Francia a’ suoi parenti.” A. DEL TURA

-“Qui, non more humano, sed spiritu diabolico inspiratus, et omni ferocitate repletus, dominatus fuit eandem civitatem et ipsius dominus fecit laqueo suspendi XXIJ de militibus melioribus dictae civitatis et ipsos homines omnes expoliavit et alia crudelissima extitit operatus more tirannico.” G. DA BAZZANO

-“Ancorche fosse di natione Francese, allevato nondimeno in Grecia, e fatto sagacissimo.” PIGNA

-“Era di maravigliosa sagacità, e ingegno.” PELLINI

-“Piccoletto di persona e brutto e barbaricino e parea meglio greco che francese, sagace e malizioso molto.” VILLANI

-“Nell’insieme, una figura storica di non grandissimo rilievo, uno dei tanti, mezzo cavalieri e mezzo avventurieri, che formicolavano, con grandi ambizioni e scarsi risultati, attorno alle spoglie dell’impero latino d’Oriente, dopo che questo cadde, nel 1261, se non fosse stata la straordinaria fortuna che l’aveva portato alla signoria di Firenze, la città più ricca d’Europa in quel tempo, che egli non ebbe altro pensiero che quello di mungere quanto meglio poteva, suscitando ad un tempo l’ammirazione e l’invidia del mondo cavalleresco a cui apparteneva. La base contraddittoria, magnatizia-popolare su cui si fondava il suo governo non poteva durare a lungo: la ricchezza di Firenze, anche se momentaneamente compromessa dalla crisi delle compagnie bancarie, era pur sempre dovuta a quella classe di capitalisti, industriali e mercanti, che il duca aveva voluto estromettere dal governo. Né i magnati né tanto meno i “minuti” avevano le idee, la capacità, lo spirito di intraprendenza per sostituirli, come mostrerà, venticinque anni dopo, il tumulto dei Ciompi…  I contemporanei Giovanni e Matteo Villani, Marchionne di Coppo Stefani, il Boccaccio, danno già un’interpretazione della figura del Brienne, quale tiranno giustamente sbalzato di seggio, che rimarrà nella storiografia fiorentina e non fiorentina, senza attenuanti, benché una ce ne fosse- Giovanni Villani vi accenna – ed era che il tiranno in casa ce l’avevano voluto i Fiorentini stessi. Il sentimento popolare verso il tiranno è espresso da Antonio Pucci e da altri poeti popolari: maestro Paolo dell’Abbaco, Saviozzo da Siena ecc. dai contemporanei l’opinione vulgata sul duca è passata dal Machiavelli, che gli dedica ben cinque capitoli del libro II delle “Istorie fiorentine” (e un cenno nei “Discorsi”..a proposito del modo errato tenuto dal duca nel soffocare la congiura.”  ” SESTAN

-“(Con) fama di valente e di gran signore. Ambizioso, scaltro, poco delicato di coscienza.” BALAN

-“Avea il duca moltissima ambizione e sufficiente talento.” PIGNOTTI

-“In exercitu autem vigilando, et impigre res obeundo commendationem sibi non exiguam comparavit.” SANT’ANTONINO

-“Uomo di somma scaltrezza vide le tristi civili gare, e ne fece pro suo.” PECORI

-“Era tenuto in grande riputazione nelle cose di guerra.” ZAZZERI

“Gualtierius eratgallus, claro natus generes quemnudo inanique titulo Athenarum Ducem vocitabant.” BRUNI

-“Buon ministro in apparenza, ma tristo d’animo, gonfio d’iattanza.” BIADI

-“Il dittatore (a Firenze) non si condusse in modo sostanzialmente diverso dagli altri signori che, per altre vie, avevano acquistato il dominio sul Comune: per esempio dai Visconti. Come essi, egli procurò di assicurare innanzitutto la “pace” tra i cittadini, cioè la fine della lotta politica, richiamando esiliati, amnistiando condannati, diffondendo la persuasione che stava schiudendosi per tutti una nuova era di tranquillità, in cui ognuno avrebbe rinunciato a intervenire nelle questioni del governo e a mormorare e a parteggiare con compagni di fazione. Ma contro gl’irriducibili fu feroce, e continuò a seminare il terrore con le minacce e cn le effettive spoliazioni, torture, supplizi. Anch’egli lasciò intatta l’impalcatura esterna del Comune, senza convocarne mai i Consigli e scegliendo i priori fra le persone a lui personalmente devote, in modo da costituire intorno a sé una sorta di corte di gente interessata al perpetuarsi della sua signoria.” VALERI

-“Tolse le armi ai principali cittadini, appose ovunque il proprio stemma, impedì che i Priori avessero una qualche autorità di fatto, si circondò di armati, fece costruire un’antiporta davanti all’ingresso del Palazzo della Signoria, che divenne sempre più una fortificazione, organizzò grandi feste, impose forti tassazioni (in dieci mesi incassò solo a Firenze quattrocentomila fiorini d’oro), e governò nel terrore tra continui processi e impiccagioni di sospetti partecipanti a congiure contro di lui.” BATINI

-“Fu cacciato de Fiorenza missore Gottifredo, conte de Brienne, duca de Atena, signore perpetuale de Fiorenza; e folli fatta molta onta e molto despiacere e detuperio e danno; e fuoro morti homini e loro carne fu manicata (mangiata).” ANONIMO ROMANO

-“La sollevazione popolare (1343), che costrinse il duca alla fuga da una porticina seminascosta di Palazzo Vecchio, avvenne proprio nel giorno dedicato a Sant’Anna e, secondo quanto ritenuto al tempo, per sua diretta intercessione. Questo episodio investì la figura della santa di un’importanza, oltre che religiosa, anche di alto valore civico, ponendola come protettrice della città. Nei tempi passati, nel giorno della ricorrenza della festività di Sant’Anna, il popolo offriva ceri e denaro davanti alla sua immagine  in Orsanmichele, che veniva decorata con le bandiere delle Arti.” COMUNE.FI.IT

-Sul muro esterno del palazzo del podestà a Firenze gli sono dedicati i seguenti versi “Avaro, traditore e poi crudele,/ Lussurioso ingiusto e spergiuro,/ Giammai non tenne suo stato sicuro.”

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Roberto Damiani
Roberto Damiani
Roberto Damiani è l'autore del sito Condottieri di ventura.