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The Amidei were a prominent family in Florence and Tuscany. They owned lands and a castle in Mugnana. The family business began as production of olive oil and wine, and had developed into banking. In fact there was one or more wills in which the father stated he was leaving some credits that had to be withdrawn. In 1182, Bongianni of the Amidei was a Florentine councillor. In the early thirteenth century, the Amidei were allied with the Ghibelline faction, led by the Uberti and Lamberti families. Their stronghold was on via Por San Maria, which connected the Ponte Vecchio to the Mercato Nuovo and Mercato Vecchio. The remains of their tower, Torre degli Amidei, can still be seen.
The Amidei are best remembered for a particular event during the Guelf and Ghibelline conflicts. In 1215, during a banquet celebrating the ennoblement of a young Florentine, one of the guests, Buondelmonte de' Buondelmonti, stabbed a rival in the arm. In restitution for the injury and dishonor, the elders decided that young Buondelmonte should wed a girl from the Amidei. That arranged, the Amidei and Buondelmonti families arranged an engagement ceremony, where Buondelmonte was to publicly pledge troth to the Amidei girl. With the Amidei assembled in the piazza, the young Buondelmonte man rode past the Amidei, and instead asked for the hand of a girl from the Donati family, members of the Guelf faction.
Furious, the Amidei and allies plotted revenge. They debated whether they should scar Buondelmonte's face, beat him up, or kill him. Mosca di Lamberti took the floor and argued that they should kill him at the place where he had dishonoured them. His famous words, 'cosa fatta capo ha', were recorded in Dante's Inferno and an earlier chronicle known as Pseudo-Latini. On Easter morning on his way to marry the Donati girl, as Buondelmonte crossed the Ponte Vecchio, he was waylaid by the Amidei and their allies, and murdered. The Buondelmonte murder and its associated clan rivalry became the legendary origin of the Guelf and Ghibelline conflict in Florence, but early 14th century chroniclers, including Dino Compagni and Giovanni Villani, manipulated the story to lay blame for the conflict on one group or another.
On 20 April 1749, Maddalena Amidei married Carlo Barbiellini and they agreed to keep her name, since she was one of the last descendants of the Amidei.
The family descended from the family of Cotius or Cozzi, who, always according to a legend, descended from the Gens Julia family, of which Julius Caesar was part. Marcus Julius Cottius was a king in the Cottian Alps, whose alliance with the Emperor Augustus is recorded on a stone arch in Susa, Piedmont. The Amidei were related to the Piccolomini for a certain Giulius Piccolominis Amideis, and as soon as they knew that their relatives descended from the Gens Julia, they decided to call one of them Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who became Pope Pius II, and his nephew became Pope Pius III.
One of the Amidei was called Bartholomeus Amadeus of the Amidei and was one of the seven saint founders of a religious congregation, that spread worldwide, especially in Germany. He moved from Florence to Mount Senarius (18 km away from the city), with his six friends, in order to be left alone and to concentrate on his devotion to God. He died on 12 February 1266, and according to the legend, the other Father Founders saw a flame rising to the sky as a symbol of his love for God. In 1888 he, along with the six saints, was sanctified by Pope Leo XIII.
Coat of arms
Their coat of arms consists in a gold shield with three red stripes on it. The stripes started with the red one and then alternated with the gold shield. After some years there was a slight modification; the shield started with the gold stripe and then always alternated with the red stripes.
- Giovanni Villani, Nuova Cronica, ed. G. Porta. 6.38.
- Dante, Inferno, XXVIII.
- Pseudo-Latini, "Cronica", ed. O. von Hartwig in Altesten (Halle, 1880).
- Dino Compagni, Cronica, ed. I. del Lungo (Citta di Castello, 1913).
- Gordon, N.P.J. (2006). "The murder of Buondelmonte". Renaissance Studies. 20 (4).
- *The Chronicle of Dino Compagni: Translated by Else C. M. Benecke and A. G. Ferrers Howell, Publisher JM Dent and Co., Aldine House , London, 1906, pages 5-6.