THe Buondelmonte murder of 1216: origin of Guelf and Ghibelline factions IN fLORENCE

13th C. Florence: noble family tensions: Chronicle account from: Pseudo Brunetto Latini, Cronica (late 13th C)

In the year 1216, when Messer Currado Orlandi was podestà, Messer Mazzingo Tegrimi of the family Mazzinghi had himself knighted at a place called Campi, some six miles from Florence, and invited there all the best people [tutta la buona gente] of the town.  When all the knights had sat down to meat, a buffoon snatcheaway the full plate set before Messer Uberto dell’Infangati, who was paired at table with Messer Buondelmonte de’ Buondelmonti.  This angered Messer Uberto greatly, and Messer Oddo Arrighi de’ Fifanti, a man of valor, roughly reproved him on this account.  In reply Messer Uberto told him he lied in his throat, at which Messer Arrighi tossed a full plate in his face.  The whole assembly was in an uproar.  When the tables had been removed, Messer Buondelmonte struck Messer Oddo Arrighi with a knife and wounded him severely.

As soon as all the company had returned to their homes, Messer Oddo Arrighi took counsel with his friends and relatives, among whom were the counts of Gangalandi, the Uberti, the Lamberti and the Amidei.  Their advice was that peace should be concluded over the matter, as a sign of which Messer Buondelmonte should take for wife the daughter of Messer Lambertuccio de’ Amidei, who lived at the head of the bridge.  The bride-to-be was the niece of Messer Oddo Arrighi.  Accordingly the marriage contract was drawn up and the peace arranged; on the following day the wedding was to be celebrated.

Then Madonna Gualdrada, wife of Messer Forese Donati, sent secretly for Messer Buondelmonte and when he came spoke to him as follows: “Knight, you are forever disgraced by taking a wife out of fear of the Uberti and the Fifanti; leave her you have taken and take this other [i.e. her own daughter] and your honor as knight will be restored.”  As soon as he had heard, he resolved to do as he was told without taking counsel with any of his kin.  And when on the following day, the morning of Thursday February 11, the guests of both parties had assembled, Messer Buondelmonte passed through the gate of Santa Maria and went to pledge his troth with the girl of the Donati family, and left the Amidei girl waiting at the church door.

This insult enraged Messer Oddo Arrighi greatly and he held a meeting with all his friends and relatives in the church of Santa Maria sopra Porta. When all were assembled he complained in strong terms of the disgrace put upon him by Messer Buondelmonte.  Some counseled that Buondelmonte be given a beating, others that he be wounded in the face. At this spoke up Messer Moscade’ Lamberti: “Whoever beats or wounds him, let him first see that his own grave has been dug;  a thing done has its own head [cosa fatta capo ha ].” They then decided that the vendetta was to be carried out at the very place where the injury had been done, when the parties had gathered for the exchange of the marriage vows.

And so it came about that on Easter morning, with his bride at his side, Messer Buondelmonte came riding over the bridge in a doublet of silk and mantle, with a wreath around his brow.  No sooner had he arrived at the statue of Mars [at Ponte Vecchio], than Messer Schiatta degli Uberti rushed upon him and, striking him on the crown with his mace, brought him to earth.  At once Messer Oddo Arrighi was on top of him and opened his veins with a knife. And having killed him, they fled.  The ambush had occurred at the houses of Amidei, who lived at the head of the bridge.  Immediately there was a tremendous tumult.  The body of the murdered man was placed on a bier, and the bride took her seat next to him, holding his head in her lap and weeping aloud.  In this manner the procession moved through all Florence.  And on this day, for the first time, new names were heard, those of the Guelf party and the Ghibelline party.

From: Ferdinand Schevill, Medieval and Renaissance Florence (1961), pp. 106-107

Later chronicle version (shortened): From: Giovanni Villani, Chronicle of Florence  (early 14th C)

In the year 1215, when Gherardo Orlandi was podestà of Florence, Bondelmonte dei Buondelmonti promised to marry a young woman from the house of Amidei, honorable and noble citizens. Later, as Buondelmonte, a graceful and skillful horseman, was riding through the city, a woman from the house of Donati called to him and criticized the marriage agreement he had made, saying his betrothed was neither beautiful nor fine enough for him. "I've been saving my own daughter for you," she said, and showed the daughter to him. The daughter was very beautiful and immediately with the devil's connivance, Buondelmonte was so smitten that he married her.

The first girl's family met together, smarting from the shame Buondelmonte had placed upon them,and they were filled with a terrible indignation that would destroy and divide the city of Florence. Many noblehouses plotted together to bring shame on Buondelmonte in reprisal for these injuries. As they were discussing whether they should beat or wound him, Mosca dei Lamberti spoke the evil words, "A thing done is done" [ Cosa fatta capo ha], that is, they should kill him. And thus it happened, for on Easter morning the Amidei of Santo Stefano assembled in their house, and as Buondelmonte came from the other side of the Arno nobly attired in new, white clothes, riding a white palfrey, when he arrived on this side of the old bridge, precisely at the foot of the pillar where the statue of Mars stood, he was pulled from his horse by Schiatta degli Uberti, assaulted and wounded by Mosca Lamberti and Lambertuccio degli Amidei, and finished off by Oderigo Fifanti. With them was one of the Counts of Gangalandi.

As a result, the city was thrown into strife and disorder, for Buondelmonte's death was the cause and beginning of the cursed Guelf and Ghibelline parties in Florence. To be sure, there were already divisions among the noble citizens, and these parties already existed because of the quarrels and disputes between church and empire; yet it was because of Buondelmonte's death that all the noble families and other Florentine citizens were divided into factions, some siding with the Buondelmonti, leaders of the Guelf party, and others with the Uberti, leaders of the Ghibellines

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