Republic of Siena
|Republic of Siena
Repubblica di Siena
Coat of arms
Italy, and the Republic of Siena , at the close of the 15th century
|Languages||Tuscan, Latin, Italian|
It existed for over four hundred years, from the late 11th century until the year 1555. At the Italian War, the republic was defeated by the rival Duchy of Florence in alliance with the Spanish crown. After 18 months of resistance, Republic of Siena surrendered to Spain on 17 April 1555, marking the end of the republic.
The oldest aristocratic families in Siena date their line to the Lombards' surrender in 774 to Charlemagne. At this point, the city was inundated with a swarm of Frankish overseers who married into the existing Sienese nobility and left a legacy that can be seen in the abbeys they founded throughout Sienese territory. Feudal power waned however, and by the death of Countess Matilda in 1115 the border territory of the Mark of Tuscia which had been under the control of her family, the Canossa, broke up into several autonomous regions.
Siena prospered as a city-state, becoming a major centre of money lending and an important player in the wool trade. It was governed at first directly by its bishop, but episcopal power declined during the 12th century. The bishop was forced to concede a greater say in the running of the city to the nobility in exchange for their help during a territorial dispute with Arezzo, and this started a process which culminated in 1167 when the commune of Siena declared its independence from episcopal control. By 1179, it had a written constitution.
During the early 13th century that the majority of the construction of the Siena Cathedral (Duomo) was completed. During the same period the Piazza del Campo grew in importance as the centre of secular life. New streets were constructed leading to it, and it served as the site of the market and the location of various sporting events (perhaps better thought of as riots, in the fashion of the Florentine football matches that are still practised to this day). A wall was constructed in 1194 at the current site of the Palazzo Pubblico to stop soil erosion, an indication of how important the area was becoming as a civic space.
In the early 12th century a self-governing commune replaced the earlier aristocratic government. The consuls who governed the republic slowly became more inclusive of the poblani, or common people, and the commune increased its territory as the surrounding feudal nobles in their fortified castles submitted to the urban power. Siena's republic, struggling internally between nobles and the popular party, usually worked in political opposition to its great rival, Florence, and was in the 13th century predominantly Ghibelline in opposition to Florence's Guelph position (this conflict formed the backdrop for some of Dante's Commedia).
On 4 September 1260 the Sienese Ghibellines, supported by the forces of King Manfred of Sicily, defeated the Florentine Guelphs in the Battle of Montaperti. Before the battle, the Sienese army of around 20,000 faced a much larger Florentine army of around 33,000. Prior to the battle, the entire city was dedicated to the Virgin Mary (this was done several times in the city's history, most recently in 1944 to guard the city from Allied bombs). The man given command of Siena for the duration of the war, Bonaguida Lucari, walked barefoot and bareheaded, a halter around his neck, to the Duomo. Leading a procession composed of all the city's residents, he was met by all the clergy. Lucari and the bishop embraced to show the unity of church and state, then Lucari formally gave the city and contrade to the Virgin. Legend has it that a thick white cloud descended on the battlefield, giving the Sienese cover and aiding their attack. The reality was that the Florentine army launched several fruitless attacks against the Sienese army during the day, then when the Sienese army countered with their own offensive, traitors within the Florentine army killed the standard bearer and in the resulting chaos, the Florentine army broke up and fled the battlefield. Almost half the Florentine army (some 15,000 men) were killed as a result. So crushing was the defeat that even today if the two cities meet in any sporting event, the Sienese supporters are likely to exhort their Florentine counterparts to “Remember Montaperti!”.
The limits on the Roman town were the earliest known walls to the city. During the 10th and 11th centuries, the town grew to the east and later to the north, in what is now the Camollia district. Walls were built to totally surround the city, and a second set was finished by the end of the 13th century. Much of these walls still exist today.
On December 26, 1240, Ildebrandino Cacciaconti, the then podestà of Siena, signed a decree imposing a tax on citizens of Siena who rented rooms to students of the local "Studium Senese". The money from this tax went to pay for the salaries of the maestri (teachers) of the new University of Siena,. The studium was further supported when, in 1252, Pope Innocent IV declared both its teachers and students immune from taxes and forced labour levied on their person or property by the city of Siena. Moreover, the commune exempted teachers of law and Latin from their public duties. By the early 14th century, there were five teachers of Latin, logic and law and two doctors of natural sciences (medicine). Nowadays, the university is still among the most important Italian universities.
Siena rivaled Florence in the arts throughout the 13th and 14th centuries: the important late medieval painter Duccio (1253–1319) was a Sienese, but worked across the peninsula, and the mural of "Good Government" by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Palazzo Pubblico, or town hall, is a magnificent example of late-Medieval/early Renaissance art as well as a representation of the utopia of urban society as conceived during that period. Siena was devastated by the Black Death of 1348, and also suffered from ill-fated financial enterprises. In 1355, with the arrival of Charles IV of Luxembourg in the city, the population rose and suppressed the government of the Nove (Nine), establishing that Dodici (Twelve) nobles assisted by a council with a popular majority. This was also short-lived, being replaced by the Quindici (Fifteen) reformers in 1385, the Dieci (Ten, 1386–1387), Undici (Eleven, 1388–1398) and Twelve Priors (1398–1399) who, in the end, gave the city's seigniory to Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan in order to defend it from the Florentine expansionism.
In 1404 the Visconti were expelled and a government of Ten Priors established, in alliance with Florence against King Ladislaus of Naples. With the election of the Sienese Pius II as Pope, the Piccolomini and other noble families were allowed to return to the government, but after his death the control returned into popular hands.
End of the Republic
The noble factions returned in the city under Pandolfo Petrucci in 1487, with the support of Florence and of Alfonso of Calabria; Petrucci exerted an effective rule on the city until his death in 1512, favouring arts and sciences, and defending it from Cesare Borgia. Pandolfo was succeeded by his son Borghese, who was ousted by his cousin Raffaello, helped by Pope Leo X. The last ruler in the Petrucci Dynasty was Fabio Petrucci, who was exiled in 1523 by the Sienese people. Internal strife resumed, with the popular faction ousting the Noveschi party supported by Clement VII: the latter sent an army, but was defeated at Camollia in 1526. Emperor Charles V took advantage of the chaotic situation to put a Spanish garrison in Siena. The citizens expelled it in 1552, allying with France: this was unacceptable for Charles, who sent his general Gian Giacomo Medici to lay siege to it with a Florentine-Imperial army.
The Sienese government entrusted its defence to Piero Strozzi. When the latter was defeated at the Battle of Marciano (August 1554), any hope of relief was lost. After 18 months of resistance, it surrendered to Spain on 17 April 1555, marking the end of the Republic of Siena. The new Spanish King Philip, owing huge sums to the Medici, ceded it (apart a series of coastal fortress annexed to the State of Presidi) to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, to which it belonged until the Italian unification in the 19th century. A Republican government of 700 Sienese families in Montalcino resisted until 1559.
- Consular government (1125-1199)
- Podestà government (1199-1234)
- Governo dei Ventiquattro (1234-1270)
- Trentasei government (1270-1280)
- Quindici government (1280-1286)
- Nove government (1287-1355)
- Dodici government (1355-1360)
- Tredici government (1368)
- Quindici government (1369-1385)
- Governo dei Priori (1385-1399)
- Visconti lordship (1399-1404)
- Priori government (1405-1487)
- Petrucci lordship (1487-1525)
- Priori government (1525-1548)
- Spanish lordship (1548-1552)
- Capitano del Popolo and Reggimento (1552-1554)
- Republic of Siena at Montalcino (1555-1559)
In 1472 the Republic founded the Monte dei Paschi, a bank that is still active today and is the oldest surviving bank in the world.
- Mcintyre[page needed]
- "Short Story of University of Siena: 760 years of history". Università degli Studi di Siena. Archived from the original on 2008-03-09. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
- de Ridder-Symoens, Universities in the Middle Ages. p93
- Waley, Siena and the Sienese in the thirteenth century. p159