Della Gherardesca family
The Gherardeschi or della Gherardesca were a family of Longobard origin, dating back as early as the 11th century. They were a important one of the most prominent initially in Pistoia and Mugello, then of Volterra and eventually of Pisa and Firenze. They were of Ghibelline sympathies and held the county of Donoratico.
The Gherardeschi had a rivalry with the House of Visconti, another Ghibelline family of Pisa. In 1237, the Archbishop and the Emperor Frederick II intervened in Pisa to reconcile the two rivals, but failed. In 1254, the citizenry rebelled and imposed twelve Anziani del Popolo ("Elders of the People") as their political representatives.
Early on in the century, the Gherardeschi took an interest in the affairs of Pisa in Sardinia. In 1230, Ubaldo of Gallura, a Visconti, invaded the Giudicato of Cagliari, but the Gherardeschi repulsed him in the name of Benedetta and the young William II. In 1258, they received a third of Cagliari after its dismemberment. Their third was the south-western third; in the 1272 circa the count Ugolino della Gherardesca founded in the Cixerri the important mining town of Villa di Chiesa, today Iglesias. A Gherardesca woman also married John Visconti, the Judge of Gallura, who had received the northeastern third of Cagliari. This marriage brought final reconciliation between the Visconti and Gherardeschi.
The Gherardeschi reached their height in Pisa in the person of Ugolino della Gherardesca in the 1270s and 1280s. He was forced to share power with his nephew Nino Visconti, but they soon quarrelled. The fed-up Pisans arrested Ugolino and deposed Nino from Gallura.
There is a Gherardesca Chapel in the church of Saint Francis in Pisa.