Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/66

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51
SIENA

In spite of its wide basis and great energy, the monte dei riformatori, the heart of the new government, could not satisfactorily cope with the attacks of adverse factions and treacherous allies. So, the better to repress them, it created in 1369 a chief of the police, with the title of esecutore, and a numerous association of popolani—the company or casata grande of the people—as bulwarks against the nobles, who had been recalled from banishment, and who, though fettered by strict regulations, were now eligible for offices of the state. But the appetite for power of the " less people " and the dregs of the populace was whetted rather than satisfied by the installation of the riformatori in the principal posts of authority. Among the wool-carders—men of the lowest class, dwelling in the precipitous lanes about the Porto Ovile—there was an association styling itself the " company of the worm." During the famine of 1371 this company rose in revolt, sacked the houses of the rich, invaded the public palace, drove from the council of fifteen the four members of the twelve and the three of the nine, and replaced them by seven tatterdemalions. Then, having withdrawn to its own quarter, it was suddenly attacked by the infuriated citizens (noveschi and dodicini), who broke into houses and workshops and put numbers of the inhabitants to the sword without regard for age or sex. Thereupon the popular rulers avenged these misdeeds by many summary executions in the piazza. These disorders were only checked by fresh changes in the council of fifteen. It was now formed of twelve of the greater people and three noveschi, to the total exclusion of the dodicini, who, on account of their growing turbulence, were likewise banished from the city.

Meanwhile the government had also to contend with difficulties outside the walls. The neighbouring lords attacked and ravaged the municipal territories; grave injuries were inflicted by the mercenary bands, especially by the Bretons and Gascons. The rival claims to the Neapolitan kingdom of Carlo di Durazzo and Louis of Anjou caused fresh disturbances in Tuscany. The Sienese government conceived hopes of gaining possession of the city of Arezzo, which was first occupied by Durazzo's men, and then by Enguerrand de Coucy for Louis of Anjou; but while the Sienese were nourishing dreams of conquest the French general unexpectedly sold the city to the Florentines, whose negotiations had been conducted with marvellous ability and despatch (1384). The gathering exasperation of the Sienese, and notably of the middle class, against their rulers was brought to a climax by this cruel disappointment. Their discontent had been gradually swelled by various acts of home and foreign policy during the sixteen years' rule of the riformatori, nor had the concessions granted to the partisans of the twelve and the latter 's recall and renewed eligibility to office availed to conciliate them. At last the revolt broke out and gained the upper hand, in March 1385. The riformatori were ousted from power and expelled the city, and the trade of Siena suffered no little injury by the exile of so many artisan families. The fifteen were replaced by a new supreme magistracy of ten priors, chosen in the following proportions—four of the twelve, four of the nine, and two of the people proper, or people of the greater number, but to the exclusion of all who had shared in the government or sat in council under the riformatori. Thus began a new order or monte del popolo, composed of families of the same class as the riformatori, but having had no part in the government during the latter's rule. But, though now admitted to power through the burgher reaction, as a concession to democratic ideas, and to cause a split among the greater people, they enjoyed very limited privileges.[1]

In 1387 fresh quarrels with Florence on the subject of Montepulciano led fo an open war, that was further aggravated by the interference in Tuscan affairs of the ambitious duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti. With him the Sienese concluded an alliance in 1389 and ten years later accepted his suzerainty and resigned the liberties of their state. But in 1402 the death of Gian Galeazzo lightened their yoke. In that year the first plot against the Viscontian rule, hatched by the twelve and the Salimbeni and fomented by the Florentines, was violently repressed, and caused the twelve to be again driven from office; but in the following year a special balia, created in consequence of that riot, annulled the ducal suzerainty and restored the liberties of Siena. During the interval the supreme magistracy had assumed a more popular form. By the partial readmission of the riformatori and exclusion of the twelve, the permanent balia was now composed of nine priors (three of the nine, three of the people, and three of the riformatori) and of a captain of the people to be chosen from each of the three monti in turn. On 11th April peace was made with the Florentines and Siena enjoyed several years of tranquil prosperity.

But the great Western schism then agitating the Christian world again brought disturbance to Siena. In consequence of the decisions of the council of Pisa, Florence and Siena had declared against Gregory XII. (1409); Ladislaus of Naples, therefore, as a supporter of the pope, seized the opportunity to make incursions on Sienese territory, laying it waste and threatening the city. The Sienese maintained a vigorous resistance till the death of this monarch in 1414 freed them from his attacks. In 1431 a fresh war with Florence broke out, caused by the latter's attempt upon Lucca, and continued in consequence of the Florentines' alliance with Venice and Pope Eugenius IV., and that of the Sienese with the duke of Milan and Sigismund, king of the Romans. This monarch halted at Siena on his way to Rome to be crowned, and received a most princely welcome. In 1433 the opposing leagues signed a treaty of peace, and, although it was disadvantageous to the Sienese and temptations to break it were frequently urged upon them, they faithfully adhered to its terms. During this period of comparative tranquillity Siena was honoured by the visit of Pope Eugenius IV. (1443) and by that of the emperor Frederick III., who came there to receive his bride, Eleanor of Portugal, from the hands of Bishop Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, his secretary and historian (1452). This meeting is recorded by the memorial column still to be seen outside the Camollia gate. In 1453 hostilities against Florence were again resumed, on account of the invasions and ravages of Sienese territory committed by Florentine troops in their conflicts with Alphonso of Naples, who since 1447 had made Tuscany his battle-ground. Peace was once more patched up with Florence in 1454. Siena was next at war for several years with Aldobrandino Orsini, count of Pitigliano, and with Jacopo Piccinini, and suffered many disasters from the treachery of its generals. About the same time the republic was exposed to still graver danger by the conspiracy of some of its leading citizens to seize the reins of power and place the city under the suzerainty of Alphonso, as it had once been under that of the duke of Milan. But the plot came to light; its chief ringleaders were beheaded, and many others sent into exile (1456); and the death of Alphonso at last ended all danger from that source. During those critical times the government of the state was strengthened by a new executive magistracy called the balia, which from 1455 began to act independently of the priors or consistory. Until then it had been merely a provisional committee annexed to the latter. But henceforward the balia had supreme jurisdiction in all affairs of the state, although always, down to the fall of the republic, nominally preserving the character of a magistracy extraordinary. The election of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini to the papal chair in 1458 caused the utmost joy to the Sienese; and in compliment to their illustrious fellow-citizen they granted the request of the nobles and readmitted them to a share in the government. But this concession, grudgingly made, only remained in force for a few years, and on the death of the pope (1464) was revoked altogether, save in the case of members of the Piccolomini house, who were decreed to be popolani and were allowed to retain all their privileges. Meanwhile fresh discords were brewing among the plebeians at the head of affairs.

The conspiracy of the Pazzi in 1478 led to a war in which Florence and Milan were opposed to the pope and the king of

Naples, and which was put an end to by the peace of 13th

  1. The following are the ordini or monti that held power in Siena for any considerable time—gentiluomini, from the origin of the republic; nove, from about 1285; dodici, from 1355; riformatori, from 1368; popolo, from 1385.