Key to Umbria: Perugia

Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) 

In May 1300, the Ghibelline forces of Uguccione della Faggiuola, Galasso and Federico da Montefeltro and Uberto Malatesta occupied Gubbio.  Pope Boniface VIII sent Cardinal Naploeone Orsini (who was papal legate to the March of Ancona in 1300-1) to Perugia to organise the response.  The Perugians drove the Ghibellines from the city and installed the prominent Guelf, Cante de’ Gabrielli as the effective ruler of Gubbio under Perugian protection.

The brief rebellion against Perugia that took place in Nocera Umbra in 1303 was the start of a period of instability there (see below). 

The three years from 1300 were years of famine in Perugia.  The popolo grasso” (now known as the Raspanti (graspers) made a sustained attempt to take over the government of the city.  In response, representatives of the “popolo minuto” met at San Francesco al Prato in 1302 and decided to summon a “defender” of their rights from Rome.  The man chosen was Riccardo Frangipani.  The upshot was the abolition of the Consulate of the Arts in 1302 and its replacement in 1303 by the Priori delle Arti.  

Pope Benedict XI(1303-4)

Pope Benedict XI found it expedient to leave Rome for Perugia in April 1304, some six months after his election.  He was the first Dominican to be elected to the papacy, and chose to reside at the Convento di San Domenico Vecchio.  When he died in July 1304, he was buried in the friars’ church.

Just before his death, Benedict XI granted an indulgence for the Altare di Santo Stefano in the new church that ranked alongside the Portiuncula Indulgence and which was celebrated at almost the same time.  This allowed Perugia to benefit from the pilgrims converging on Assisi each August.  (It was probably the lobbying of the friars that St Constantius, whose relics were venerated at San Costanzo, further along the pilgrimage route, was adopted as a patron saint of the city in 1310).

Pope Clement V (1305-14)

In the papal conclave that opened in Perugia in 1304, the main factions were evenly balanced.   Robert d’ Anjou (King Robert of Naples from 1309), who had been appointed as Captain of the Guelf League in 1304, visited Perugia to attend the conclave in March 1305.  The impasse however continued until June, when the “defection” of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini resulted in the election, in absentia, of the French Pope Clement V.  He resisted pleas to come to Rome, insisting first that Italy be pacified.  Thus began the period that became known as the Babylonian Captivity, during which the popes resided in Avignon.

The physical absence of the papacy underlined the fact that Perugia had become the most important power in the region.  Almost as soon as the conclave ended, Perugian forces were dispatched, ostensibly to address another Ghibelline uprising in Nocera Umbra.  In fact, they stopped at Foligno and laid siege to that city for a month before it fell.  They then installed the Rinaldo (Nallo) Trinci  as Capitano del Popolo, on 1st July 1305.  (This marked the start of the period of Trinci rule of Foligno that was to last until 1439.) 

It seems that the Perugians did not go on to Nocera Umbra: they probably hoped that the ousting of the Ghibellines from Foligno would deny the rebels of Nocera Umbra an essential source of support.  However, a  further dispute arose later in 1305, revolving around a fortress that the Perugians were building at Gaifana, outside Nocera Umbra: this culminated in a humiliating submission by Nocera, which rendered the city liable to Perugian taxation.  

At almost the same time, the Ghibellines of Spoleto under Abrunamonte da Chiavano expelled the Guelfs from the city.  The exiles, who reassembled at Trevi, managed to re-enter the city in 1306, reinforced by troops from Perugia and Gubbio. 

Todi, which had traditionally been a strong Perugian ally, seems to have been taken by a Ghibelline faction in ca. 1300.  Tension became evident in 1303, when an army from Todi laid siege to Massa Martana, a town on the border of the spheres of influence between Todi and Perugia.  The Perugians duly broke this and a series of subsequent sieges in 1304-5.  The Ghibelline Corrado di Anastasio degli Anastasi, whom the Perugians had driven from Foligno, established a base in Todi.  Somewhat surprisingly, he enjoyed the support of the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto, Pietro Oliva.

Soon after his election, Clement V sent his chaplain Guillaume Durand (Guglielmo Duranti) and Pilfort de Rabastens, Abbot of Lombez, to Italy to “reform and pacify” Tuscany and the Papal States.   They convened a parliament at Foligno in December 1305 that was attended by some 30 delegates from centres large and small throughout the Duchy of Spoleto.  However, this failed in its objectives, not least because the Perugians were antagonistic towards the initiative and declined to take part. 

The Perugians also informed the legates that they intended to declare war on Todi, in the face of papal disapproval.  With the help of allies from Spoleto and Foligno, the Perugians took the fortress of Collepepe after a siege in 1306 but were subsequently obliged to defend Marsciano from a counter-attack by Todi.  The factions of Todi were reconciled at the end of 1306, and Todi and Perugia agreed a somewhat tenuous peace.

Clement V granted the Studium of Perugia the right to award Doctoral degrees in Civil and Canon law in 1308.

Henry VII in Italy (1308-13)

The Priori delle Arti had achieved a workable consensus between the popolo grassoand the popolo minuto” after 1303.  However, the period 1308-9 witnessed an overt schism between the factions, which invited the ambitions of the city’s enemies and reluctant dependents.  The fact that these internal problems were kept in check was largely due to the efforts of Filippo Bigazzini, whom the “popolo minuto” appointed as “gonfaloniere del popolo” in 1305.   He was to hold this shadowy but powerful role until 1319, apparently without opposition, which says a great deal for his tact and extraordinary ability.  In other cities, this might have led tyranny, but Perugia was fortunate that Filippo Bigazzini seems to have lacked any personal ambition in this direction. 

Dissent continued in particular at Nocera Umbra.  Perugia sent “reformers” (backed by armed forces) to the city in October 1308 to rewrite its statutes.  The effect seems to have been to polarise the Ghibelline opposition, which looked for support to Fabriano, as well as to the Ghibelline centres of Umbria. 

The hopes of the Ghibellines of Italy rose when:

  1. Henry of Luxembourg (the future Emperor Henry VII) became emperor-elect in 1308;

  2. King Charles II of Naples, the leader of the Guelf cause, died in 1309;  and

  3. Henry of Luxembourg arrived in Italy in 1310, intent upon his coronation. 

These events polarised the politics of Umbria:

  1. The exiled Corrado di Anastasio of Foligno helped the Ghibellines of Spoleto to expel the Guelfs there in 1310, and from this base he threatened the Guelfs of Foligno.  The Ghibelline factions of Todi, Narni, Terni and Amelia also secured their cities. 

  2. The Perugians led the Guelf resistance in the region, forming an alliance with Orvieto, Gubbio, Lucca and Siena.  They were also able to call on levies from Città di Castello, Assisi, Foligno, Spello and Trevi, the last of which was the base of the exiled Spoletans.  The Perugians conferred extraordinary powers were conferred on Filippo Bigazzini.  They also appointed Gentile Orsini as their Captain General, and he acted first to secure the Spoletan Guelfs at Trevi.  However, he was not strong enough to enforce their re-entry into Spoleto.

A plaque on the bridge over the Tiber at Montemolino, in the contado of Todi recounts the terrible battle that occurred there in September 1310, when Gentile Orsini smashed a Ghibelline force led by Bindo dei Baschi.  Pietro Oliva, the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto (who, as noted above, supported the Ghibellines) was killed in this engagement.   The Commune celebrated by commissioning the construction next to the campanile of the Duomo of a chapel dedicated to St John the Baptist.  This chapel, which was completed in ca. 1326, is probably the structure faced in red and whicte stone to the right of the old campanile in this detail of a panel (ca. 1330) by the Maestro dei Dossali di Montelabate that is now in the Galleria Nazionale.

[The newly-crowned King Robert of Naples apparently sent reinforcements to the Battle of Montemolino, following which the Perugians adopted his brother, St Louis of Toulouse, as their patron saint.  In 1317, the Cappella dei Priori was dedicated to him.  Foligno formally appointed him as Podestà and Capitano del Popolo in 1313.]

The Perugians then ravaged the contado of Spoleto  They  routed the Spoletans in 1312, killing Abrunamonte da Chiavano.  The theatre of war then moved back to the contado of Todi, although neither side gained further obvious advantage.  In July 1312, in an unprecedented act, the Priors delegated all their authority to Filippo Bigazzini.

Henry of Luxembourg arrived outside Rome in April 1312. 

  1. John of Gravina, the brother of King Robert of Naples, and the Roman Guelfs held the city against him, aided by troops from the Guelf League (including 150 cavalry from Perugia). 

  2. Todi, Amelia, Narni and Spoleto sent levies to reinforce the imperial army.

Henry of Luxembourg smashed his way into the city but was unable to reach St Peter’s because the Guelfs held the Castello di Sant’ Angelo.  His troops suffered a disastrous defeat in the streets of the city, and many, including the Umbrian levies, subsequently deserted.  However, the Guelfs were unable to press home their advantage, and the Ghibelline mob forced the reluctant cardinals to carry out the coronation in the ruins of San Giovanni Laterano. 

Henry VII then marched from Rome to Todi (August 1312).  He raised troops from Todi and Spoleto with which to devastate the contado of Perugia.   After six days, he marched into Tuscany to besiege Florence, leaving Ghibelline troops from Spoleto and Todi to continue the work.

At Orvieto, the Ghibelline Filippeschi reached an understanding with Henry VII that they would raise a rebellion against the Guelf Monaldeschi that would be timed to coincide with his march south in 1313: 

  1. A pre-emptive attack by the Guelfs nearly succeeded, but it was reversed when Imperial troops under Bindo da Baschi arrived in the nick of time. 

  2. However, just as the Guelfs were about to flee, they were reinforced in their turn by a force from Perugia.  Bindo da Baschi was killed in the subsequent fighting, and the Guelfs emerged victorious after 5 days of vicious warfare within the city.  The Filippeschi were exiled and never again constituted a political force in Orvieto.

Henry VII died just days later in a town some 40 miles to the north.  This had a dramatic effect on the morale of the Ghibellines of Spoleto and Todi.  The opposing factions from Spoleto were reconciled in a ceremony at the foot of the campanile of San Lorenzo in Perugia in April 1314, while the factions of Todi were reconciled in August, again under the auspices of Perugia.  Filippo Bigazzini, who was no longer needed in Perugia, accepted the role of Podestà of Todi at that point.

Clement V followed Henry VII to the grave in 1314, and there followed a two-year papal interregnum.  This led to a resurgence in the Ghibelline cause: 

  1. The Ghibelline Matteo Visconti became Lord of Milan in 1313, while the Ghibelline Can Grande della Scala remained secure at nearby Verona. 

  2. Florence and the Tuscan Guelfs (including Perugia) suffered a military disaster at the hands of the Ghibelline Uguccione della Faggiola at the Battle of Montecatini (August 1315). 

Ghibelline Revolt in Umbria

Perugia’s response to the defeat at Montecatini was to look to the defence of its own region, which was threatened by Ghibelline leaders on two fronts:

  1. by Federico I da Montefeltro, in the March of Ancona; and

  2. by Bishop Guido de' Tarlati di Pietramala  and his brother Pier Saccone at Arezzo, close to the Perugian contado and in particular to the city’s most important source of food. 

The Perugians tried to form a Guelf league with Orvieto, Assisi, Spoleto, Gubbio, Foligno and other smaller Umbrian towns and cities, but the loyalty of a number of the cities was being undermined by internal dissent and by the overtures of the powerful Ghibelline centres.  

Nocera Umbra

In 1318, Ghibelline forces under Federico da Montefeltro drove the Perugian-appointed Podestà, Bernardino da Marsciano from Nocera Umbra.  The Perugians sent Nuccio da Varano to retake the city, and then installed him as its Podestà.


A more serious Ghibelline revolt began in September 1319, when the Ghibelline Muzio di Francesco expelled the Guelfs from Assisi with the help of Federico da Montefeltro.  He had himself elected as Capitano del Popolo, and Bishop Guido Tarlati sent Vanne da Poppi from Arezzo to act as Podestà. 

In October 1319, Muzio di Francesco forced Bishop Teobaldo Pontano and the custodian of San Francesco to hand over papal tithes that had been collected in Assisi and Nocera Umbra.  In November 1319, he went to the aid of the Ghibellines of Spoleto (see below).  The Perugians successfully attacked him as he marched his army back towards Assisi in January 1320, but he managed to reach safety. 

In March 1320, Muzio di Francesco extorted not only the papal treasure deposited at San Francesco, but also the money deposited there by a number of cardinals, including Cardinal Napoleone Orsini.  He warned the reluctant friars that, were the treasure not released, the Perugians would take Assisi and steal the relics of St Francis.  Most of the stolen goods were sent to Arezzo to pay for military support. 

In June 1320, Pope John XXII wrote to the rector of the Duchy of Spoleto, Rinaldo di Sant’ Artemia, and to Perugia, Orvieto, Foligno, Gubbio and other Guelf cities, pressing them to form a league against the Ghibellines of Assisi and Spoleto. 

In July 1320, Muzio di Francesco incited the Ghibellines of Nocera Umbra to rebel; their Perugian Podestà, Cucco di Gualfreduccio, was imprisoned at Assisi.  Perugian forces under Cante de’ Gabrielli of Gubbio besieged the town of Isola Romanesca (later called Bastia), in the contado of Assisi, for seven months, taking it in October 1320.  They stole the relics of the Blessed Conrad of Offida from the Franciscan church of Santa Croce there.  This army then regained control of Nocera Umbra in November 1320.

John XXII excommunicated Muzio di Francesco and placed Assisi under interdict in April 1321, by which time Perugian forces were besieging the city.  When the guardian of Santa Maria della Portiuncula attempted to display a copy of the interdict against Assisi on the door of the Duomo, he was forced to eat it, complete with its lead seal, and to wash it down with his own urine (or so it was alleged in the later evidence given against Muzio di Francesco).  Despite this bravado, Muzio’s cause was lost, and he slipped away in August 1321 to take refuge in Todi. 

Assisi now sent ambassadors to Perugia, and Ugolino I  Trinci acted as mediator.   (He had probably been a military captain in the pay of the Perugians before becoming the effective ruler of Foligno on the death in 1321 of his brother, Rinaldo (Nallo) Trinci.)  Perugia initially had offered lenient terms, but when Assisi rebelled again in March 1322, Perugian forces under Cante de’ Gabrielli took the city, and this time the retribution was high.   The Perugians tore down the walls and hung the keys to its gates from the chains on their Palazzo Comunale.  The Ghibellines were exiled and the citizens of Assisi were obliged to deliver an annual tribute to Perugia on the feast of St Herculanus.  (Ugolino Trinci ruled Assisi on behalf of Perugia until 1330, when John XXII insisted that he leave.  Assisi remained under interdict for some 30 years, until 1352.)

Muzio di Francesco faced the inquisition in Todi in June 1322, but the city ignored a subsequent order from John XXII that it should surrender him to the rector of the Duchy of Spoleto.  Muzio di Francesco repaid 1,000 gold florins to Napoleone Orsini in 1323 (money that he had extorted in 1320 - see above).  He subsequently moved to Arezzo, and seems to have taken part in the war at Città di Castello in 1326 (see below).  The last documentary reference to him dates to 1339, when he was at Fabriano.


In November 1319, Abrunamonte da Chiavano expelled the Guelfs of Spoleto, aided by Muzio di Francesco (see above) and Federico da Montefeltro.  Many of the Guelfs who took refuge in the Duomo were slaughtered.   Some 400 Guelfs were imprisoned in the space under the Roman theatre, prior to their execution.  The houses of the defeated faction were looted, and many were torn down.

In the summer of 1321, Federico da Montefeltro was named as captain of the forces of Spoleto.  He left Urbino in the hands of his son, Francesco and his cousin Speranzo, and moved to Spoleto.  John XXII excommunicated him (again) in August, and in December he ordered the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto to preach a crusade against (inter alia) Spoleto, Urbino and Federico da Montefeltro. 

When Pandolfo and Ferrandino Malatesta threatened Urbino, Federico da Montefeltro was forced to return there.  He faced a rebellion in April 1322, and presented himself to the crowd with a noose around his neck, begging for mercy.  Bishop Francesco Silvestri of Rimini incited the crowd to murder him, and he was buried as a heretic in the carcass of a horse.  (John XXII sent Francesco Silvestri a congratulatory letter in October).    

Spoleto, now without its major allies, withstood a siege by Perugian forces under Poncello Orsini and Ugolino Trinci for more than two years, before surrendering in April 1324.  The city became thereafter effectively a possession of Perugia, notwithstanding the protests of the papacy: Perugia imposed the right to appoint the podestà of Spoleto, and demanded an annual financial tribute.  John XXII found it expedient to formally approve these arrangements in 1325.  He was similarly unable to protect smaller cities in the Duchy of Spoleto (including Montefalco, Bevagna and Trevi) from exactions made by Perugia.

Città di Castello

In 1323, a group of citizens of Città di Castello who were in rebellion against Brancaleone de' Guelfucci, the despotic head of the Guelf party, betrayed the city to Pier Saccone Tarlati (the brother and ally of Bishop Guido of Arezzo), Rigone II del Monte and Gerio di Tano degli Ubaldini.  The Guelfs were driven into exile. 

After the defeat of the Ghibellines of Spoleto in 1324, Città di Castello became the centre of war in Umbria between the Guelfs led by Perugia and the Ghibellines.  John XXII excommunicated Bishop Guido of Arezzo in 1324.  He died in September 1327, by which time both sides were exhausted.  In the peace that they negotiated, Città di Castello remained in the hands of Pier Saccone Tarlati and Gerio di Tano degli Ubaldini and his brothers.


John XXII granted the Studium of Perugia the right to award Doctoral degrees in Medicine and the Arts in 1321.

Louis IV in Italy (1327-30)

In 1322, John XXII refused to confirm the election of Louis of Bavaria as the future Emperor Louis IV.  John XXII excommunicated Louis of Bavaria in 1324,  prompting Louis of Bavaria to accuse John XXII of heresy and to appeal for the adjudication of the dispute by a general council. 

In 1327, Louis of Bavaria entered Italy, intent upon coronation in Rome, heightening the tension between Guelfs and Ghibellines.   At the request of Perugia, Jean d’ Amiel, the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto, held a parliament in order to organise the defence of the region.  John XXII sent letters to Perugia, Orvieto, Florence and Siena formally requesting their assistance.

In 1327, John XXII advised Jean d’ Amiel to move his base to Gualdo Tadino in order to secure communications between the Duchy and the March of Ancona.  He subsequently approved the confiscation of the Abbazia di Sant’ Eutizio, which was heavily fortified and thus provided an alternative base for this purpose.  Abbot Margarito of Sant’ Eutizio travelled to Avignon and apparently persuaded John XXII to reverse the decision, but the abbey nevertheless remained in the control of the secular authorities.   Jean d’ Amiel restored part of the walls of Montefalco, near Porta di Sant’ Agostino in 1328.

Louis of Bavaria was largely unopposed as he followed the route that Henry VII had taken to Rome.  In Umbria, Narni, Todi and Amelia openly openly declared their support for him.  The Romans invited him into the city and the Ghibelline Cardinal Sciarra Colonna duly crowned him (January 1328).  Louis IV sent an army to march on Orvieto but it was recalled to suppress a revolt in Rome (March 1328).

Louis IV raised concerns even among his own supporters when he created a Franciscan, Peter of Corbara as the anti-Pope Nicholas V (May 1328).  John XXII declared a crusade against them, and Louis IV was forced to withdraw from Rome (August 1328).  When the welcome promised by the Filippeschi family at Orvieto was not forthcoming, he availed himself of the hospitality of the Chiaravallesi at Todi.  The friars of San Fortunato joined in the welcome, and Nicholas V installed himself in their convent.  The imperial army ravaged the contadi of Bevagna and Foligno.  Louis IV finally left Todi at the end of August, leaving the city despoiled and violated.

Louis IV failed to establish a solid base in Italy, and returned to Germany in 1330, leaving only increased confusion in his wake. 

Period 1330-50

In 1331, fighting broke out between the Baglioni and the Oddi factions about the appointment of a bishop to succeed the recently-deceased Bishop Francesco da Lucca:

  1. the canons selected Ugolino de’ Vibiano, Abbot of San Pietro; which

  2. the Baglioni faction proposed Alessandro Vincioli.

In the resulting tumult, Filippuccio and Carluccio Baglioni murdered Oddo degli Oddi.  The Baglione and their faction were driven into exile, and were not allowed to return until 1352.  This began the long-lasting feud between the Oddi and the Baglioni families.

In 1333, the Raspanti took advantage of the splits among the nobles.  They compiled the “Libro Rosso” (Red Book), which listed the members of this class, who were subjected to increasingly onerous legal and political restrictions.

Disagreements between the bishop and the canons of San Lorenzo came to a head in 1337, and Perugia was without a bishop for the next two years. 

In 1339, Pope Benedict XII wrote to the Commune to complain that Baglione Baglioni had installed himself as podestà of Spello, and to seek help in persuading him to withdraw.

Soon after his election in 1342, Pope Clement VI wrote to the Commune of Perugia to protest about the presence of their fortress in Spoleto, and to urge them to help in the reconciliation of the factions in that city.

Bishop Francesco Graziani, who took office in 1339, immediately set about restoring episcopal prestige in the city.  He endeared himself to Clement VI in 1345 by his effective preaching of a crusade against the Turks.  In return, Clement VI granted a plenary indulgence to those contributing to the cost of rebuilding the Duomo.

Clement VI sought the help of Perugia in 1345 against Todi, whose forces had seized Sangemini.

Città di Castello

War between Pier Saccone Tarlati and Perugia erupted again when he attacked Cagli in 1335.  Perugia negotiated a secret alliance with Ranieri Casali, Lord of Cortona and other enemies of  Pier Saccone Tarlati (some of whom were Ghibellines), and made a successful surprise attack on Borgo Sansepolcro (April 1335).  When the Perugians attempted to take Arezzo, they were driven back to Cortona, and the army of Pier Saccone Tarlati ravaged the Perugian contado.  However, when reinforcements from Florence and other Guelf cities arrived, Perugia returned the compliment in the contado of Arezzo, and finally took Città di Castello (September 1335). 

In 1339, Città di Castello submitted formally to Perugia, granting that city the right to elect the Podestà and Capitano di Popolo and giving it custody of the citadel and the keys of the city for twenty years.  The wisdom of this move became evident in 1343, when the Perugians protected Città di Castello from the army of German mercenaries under Werner of Urslingen that ravaged central Italy at that time.


The Perugians used the instability of Orvieto in 1327 to seize Chiusi, although they were forced to disgorge it a year later.  In 1332 they struck again, using the excuse that Ghibelline exiles from Orvieto had established a base in the city.

In early 1346, Perugia summoned representatives of all the cities she controlled (including Spoleto, Foligno, Assisi, Gubbio and Città di Castello) to a Parliament, in order to agree a plan of action against a Ghibelline faction that had recently seized control of Orvieto. 

In February, Perugia and its allies reinstated the Guelf Benedetto di Bonconte I Monaldeschi della Vipera and forced the Ghibelline Corrado Monaldeschi della Cervara and Ugolino I da Montemarte into exile.  When the Ghibellines managed to retake Orvieto in May with the aid of Giovanni di Vico, Clement VI urged Perugia to intervene, but since he had recently denied her ancient privileges, she declined to lead the offensive.  However, Perugia did send forces to reinforce the army of Cola di Rienzo, the self-styled and short-lived Tribune of Rome (1347-8), and for a time the ambitions of Giovanni di Vico were contained. 

Guelf War against Giovanni Visconti (1350-3)

A new phase in the politics of the Papal States began in 1350, when the Pepoli family of Bologna sold their city to Archbishop Giovanni Visconti of Milan.  Clement VI excommunicated Giovanni Visconti in 1351, but was forced to absolve him in the following year and to appoint him as papal vicar of Bologna, albeit only for a period of 12 years.  Only Florence seems to have been immediately alarmed, and she was too weak to respond.  However, her prescience was proved to be correct when the Ghibellines used this as the cue for open rebellion. 

An attempted coup at Città di Castello in 1350 resulted in the expulsion of the Ubaldini and the resubmission of the city to Perugia. 

In early 1350, when the exiled Guelf Pietro Panciani tried to return to Spoleto with help from Perugia and from the papal legate, Bishop Filippo dell’ Antella of Ferrara, Spoleto sought help from Giovanni Visconti, who dispatched Giovanni di Vico to their aid.   The latter, who became the effective ruler of the city, delegated day-to-day control to his captain, Giannotto d’ Alviano.

The Perugians came under particular pressure Gubbio in 1350, when Giovanni di Cantuccio de' Gabrielli took the city, expelled the Perugian garrison and welcomed Giovanni Visconti as his feudal lord.  The Ubaldini (who, as noted above, had just been exiled from Città di Castello) went to his aid, and Giovanni Visconti sent reinforcements so that he could sack the Perugian contado (November 1351).

The Perugians also faced trouble nearer to home: in 1351, the nobles Cecchino and Lodovico de' Vincioli and their cousin, the Abbot of San Pietro, Gubbio were executed for their part in a plot to hand Perugia to Giovanni Visconti. 

In January 1352, Bartolomeo Casali, who had succeeded his father Ranieri as Lord of Cortona, made peace with his neighbour, Pier Saccone Tarlati.  The two men agreed that any future disputes between them would be referred to Giovanni Visconti for arbitration.  They sacked Chiusi and then approached the walls of Perugia itself with a reported force of some 2,000 men at arms before returning to Cortona with their spoils (May 1352). 

When further Visconti reinforcements arrived, Bartolomeo Casali  and Gisello degli Ubaldini marched into the Perugian contado and took Bettona with the connivance of its Perugian podestà, Crispolito de' Crispolti.  From there, they threatened the disenchanted Assisi.  The Perugians (with the Baglioni and Oddi newly reconciled for the purpose) withdrew from Cortona and, with reinforcements from Siena and Florence, laid siege to Bettona, which frightened Assisi and other wavering allies to come to their aid.  The citizens of Bettona defended bravely but finally succumbed to hunger.  The Perugians, “by sack and fire, taking captive 500 of the leading citizens, destroyed and overthrew walls and houses, sparing only the churches” (August 1352).  The Perugians beheaded Crispolito de’ Crispolti in front of the Duomo of San Lorenzo, Perugia.  They appropriated the relics of St Crispoltus and housed them in their Duomo.  Perugia despoiled Bettona of marble for the  Palazzo Comunale.

Within four months of his election Pope Innocent VI contrived, by the Treaty of Sarzana (March 31, 1353), to effect peace between Milan, Florence and the papacy, to which the Perugians, as allies of Florence, were a party.  Their influence in Umbria is demonstrated by the fact that the Perugians also represented the interests of Spoleto, Foligno, Assisi, Nocera,Gualdo, Spello, Città di Castello and Todi (among others) in these negotiations.

  1. Bartolomeo Casali made an abject apology before the Priors of  Perugia for his “error” in occupying Bettona (April 1353);

  2. Giovanni di Cantuccio of Gubbio also submitted to Perugia; and

  3. the Guelfs were able to return to Spoleto, where Perugia regained its dominant position. 

First Legation of Cardinal Albornoz (1353-7)

In 1353, some six months after the Treaty of Sarzana, Innocent VI entrusted to Cardinal Gil Álvarez Carrillo de Albornoz the task of restoring papal authority in the Papal States.  He arrived in Milan in September 1353, and was cordially received by Giovanni Visconti.  He then travelled via Florence and Siena to Perugia, where he arrived in October 1353.  He was accorded every honour and stayed in the Abbazia di San Pietro.

Patrimony of St Peter

The first objective of Albornoz was to expel Giovanni di Vico from Viterbo and Orvieto and to re-establish papal authority in the Patrimony.  Although Giovanni di Vico had lost the overt support of Giovanni Visconti, he remained a formidable adversary.  Perugia retained the German mercenary Konrad von Landau in order to assist Albornoz, and contributed a force of about 200 knights in November 1353, when he moved from Perugia to Montefiascone, the centre of the theatre of war.  Leggieri d’ Andreotto, the leader of the Raspanti and probably the most important man in Perugia at that time, accompanied him. 

Giovanni di Vico initially paid homage to Albornoz at Montefiascone, but when he became aware of the meagre resources available to Albornoz, he returned to the offensive and laid siege to Montefiascone.  He also relieved the papal siege of Orvieto and established a garrison of some 250 soldiers at San Lorenzo delle Vigne to protect the city. 

Albornoz was able to go onto the offensive early in 1354, when reinforcements arrived from Florence, Siena and Perugia.  Giovanni di Vico finally abandoned Orvieto in May 1354 and took refuge in Viterbo.  Threatened there by insurrection and by the advance of papal forces from Rome, he finally conceded defeat.  Albornoz entered Orvieto in June 1354, and Giovanni di Vico was forced to beg for absolution. The other main cities in the Patrimony, including Amelia, Narni and Terni soon followed suite.

Albornoz laid the foundation stone of the Rocca at Viterbo in July 1354, in order to provide a secure residence for the papal rectors of the Patrimony.  He appointed Leggieri d’ Andreotto as Governor of the city.

Duchy of Spoleto

Once Albornoz had demonstrated his capabilities in the Patrimony, he established a base at Foligno (January 1355).  There is no surviving documentation to indicate that Trincia Trinci (effectively the ruler of the city) made a formal submission, but it seems that the two men formed a close working relationship.  

Guelfs from Gubbio, who had been exiled after a coup in 1350 by Giovanni Gabrielli, rushed to Orvieto in June 1354 to congratulate Albornoz and to beg him to take their city.  Albornoz sent an army under Carlo di Dovadola, and Giovanni Gabrielli judged it expedient to offer no resistance (July 1354).  This was the first major success for Albornoz in the Duchy of Spoleto, and provided him with a second  base (in addition to Foligno) from which to move on the March of Ancona.

Jean Montréal du Bar, the condottiere whom the Italians called fra’ Moriale, returned to Umbria in June 1354, and ravaged the territories of Spello and Bevagna.  Spello therefore readily submitted to Albornoz in July 1354.  It is also likely that Spoleto submitted for a similar reason.  According to local sources, in early 1355:

  1. Blasco Fernández de Belvis, a cousin of Albornoz was welcomed as the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto;

  2. the priors of Spoleto began to describe themselves as “Priores Populi pro S. Romana Ecclesia”; and

  3. ambassadors from Spoleto went to Avignon in order to place their city formally under the protection of the papal nephew, Cardinal Andouin Aubert.

In February 1355, Albornoz formally reconciled representatives of Spoleto and its exiles at a ceremony in Foligno.  However, Perugia was allowed to retain the right to appoint the Podestà of Spoleto.

Albornoz made no attempt at this stage to remove either Assisi or Città di Castello from Perugian control. He did, however, assert direct papal control of Bettona and Gualdo Tadino.

When Albornoz now turned his attention to the March of Ancona, some of his achievements in the Duchy began to unravel.  A pro-Perugian faction in Spoleto rebelled in 1355, and invited the Perugians to complete the fortress near Porta Fuga that they had begun during the Ghibelline rebellion of 1325.  The Perugians also retook Gualdo Tadino, and restored Rocca Flea.  In November 1355, Innocent VI wrote to the Perugians, complaining about the illegal building of these fortresses, and also about the fact that the papal official appointed to govern Bettona could not take up residence there because of the ravages of Perugia in the area.  He nevertheless advised Albornoz to treat the Perugians cautiously.  This paid dividends, because the Perugians subsequently reconciled the rebels of Spoleto with the papacy.   Albornoz ordered Filippo dell’ Antella, the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto, to go to Spoleto and formally absolve the rebels (February 1356).

Emperor Charles IV

The emperor-elect, Charles of Luxembourg entered Italy with papal approval in 1354.  He was crowned in Milan with the iron crown of Lombardy (January 1355) and then in Rome as the Emperor Charles IV (April 1355). 

In May, Perugia (like many other cities of Central Italy) sent ambassadors to the imperial court at Pisa.  The delegation included the renowned jurist Bartolo da Sassoferrato, who taught at the Studium of Perugia from 1343 to his death in 1357.  This was the occasion on which he made the famous pronouncement: “quod civitas Perusina non subsit Ecclesiae nee Imperio” (that the city of Perugia is subject to neither the Church nor the Empire). 

Charles IV was soon driven from Pisa by rebellion, and left Italy for ever.  Before his departure, the Perugian delegation received eight privileges, which (inter alia) recognised her Tuscan conquests (see below) and gave imperial recognition to the Studium.  These and other documents of fundamental importance to city were housed in a small cypress chest set into the front of Palazzo dei Priori.  A surviving memorial plaque contains the inscription:


Carolus imperator, Perusini status amator,

has gratias dono egit, quas lapis iste tegit

(This stone covers the gift of the Emperor Charles, lover of the state of Perugia)

This outcome is unlikely to have endeared Perugia to Cardinal Albornoz.

End of the Legation of Albornoz

Foligno and Gubbio now provided the bases from which Albornoz successfully reimposed papal authority in the March of Ancona.  However, when he moved on to the Romagna, his progress was halted by the tenacious hold of Francesco II Ordelaffi on Forlì and Cesena.   He also faced a diplomatic problem at Bologna, where power had been usurped by Giovanni da Oleggio, to the disadvantage of Bernabò Visconti.  Albornoz supported the former, and Bernabò Visconti’s diplomatic activity in Avignon successfully undermined him:  Innocent VI wrote to him in March 1357 to announce the imminent arrival of a new papal legate, Androin de la Roche

Although it was clear that he was being replaced, Albornoz did not immediately return to Avignon.  In August 1357, he paid a large amount to Konrad von Landau, in order to secure his agreement to leave the territory of the papacy and its Tuscan allies unmolested for three years.  Florence and Pisa duly paid their contributions, but Perugia and Siena refused. 

Albornoz left Italy for Avignon in September 1357.

War with Siena(1358-9) 

The resumption of papal control of the Patrimony and of the Duchy of Spoleto caused Perugia to look towards Tuscany for expansion.  An opportunity here arose in 1355, when Montepulciano, an erstwhile client of Siena, sought protection from Perugia.  In response, Bartolomeo Casali of Cortona (who, as noted above, had made peace with Perugia in 1353) now allied himself with Siena. 

At the instigation of Leggieri d’ Andreotto, Perugia laid siege to Cortona (December 1357).  Nevertheless, a military unit from Siena managed to enter Cortona.  In March 1358, another Sienese army under the mercenary Hanneken (Johannes, Anichino) Baumgarten raised the siege. 

Leggieri d’ Andreotto managed to persuade the Perugians to continue the war, which involved the engagement of a large mercenary army.  This army took Cortona and then wiped out the Sienese camp at Torrita (April 1358).  It then pressed on to the walls of Siena, before returning to Perugia with trophies that included the chains from the gallows of that city.  These can still be seen on the facade of Palazzo dei Priori.

Siena now increased the stakes by hiring an additional mercenary army under Konrad von Landau, but this was destroyed by an unprecedented attack by local forces as it crossed the Appenines at Le Scalelle (July 1358).  Nevertheless, Siena continued to harass the contado of Perugia.  German mercenaries left the Perugian and Sienese armies and joined in the mayhem on their own account until Perugia paid a large bribe to Konrad von Landau in order to secure their departure. 

Both sides were now exhausted and, following mediation by Florence and by the newly-returned Albornoz, finally agreed peace in July 1359.  This left Montepulciano in Sienese hands, and Cortona also formally submitted to Siena a year later.  The settlement was very unfavourable for Perugia, and the position of Leggieri d’ Andreotto in the political life of Perugia was consequently undermined.  Indeed, he was lucky to escape retribution from the angry citizens.

Second Legation of Cardinal Albornoz (1358-63)

When Androin de la Roche, the new papal legate, proved to be ineffective, Albornoz was sent back to Italy.  He arrived in  in October 1358 and Forlì, the last city of the Romagna to return to papal control, fell in July 1359.  Giovanni d' Ollegio subsequently ceded Bologna to the papacy, and Albornoz formally entered that city in October 1360.

Political life in Perugia was turbulent in this period, as the Raspanti faction continued to lose its grip.  Leggieri d’ Andreotto suppressed an attempted coup in August 1361 by the nobles who sought to impose Alessandro Vincioli as Lord of Perugia. The leaders of the plot were executed and many others were exiled.  The Perugians were concerned that Albornoz would support the exiles, but in 1362 Leggieri d’ Andreotto secured an agreement with Albornoz that the latter would do nothing (overtly or covertly) to undermine the government of Perugia.  However, Leggieri d’ Andreotto was murdered soon after by the son of one of the executed nobles, and this deprived Perugia of an invaluable conduit to Albornoz.

Spoleto and Gualdo Tadino

There seems to have been an uprising against Perugian domination of Spoleto during the later stages of the war with Siena, and the Spoletans once more submitted formally to Albornoz, this time at Ancona (October 1359).  Albornoz appointed his chaplain Enrico da Sessa, Bishop of Ascoli, to reform the statutes of the city.    [The Perugian fortress near Porta Fuga was demolished.]  Ambassadors sent by the Perugians to protest apparently returned to the city “with little honour”.  However, Albornoz conceded that the Perugians should retain the right to appoint the podestà of Spoleto.

In November 1360, Perugia sent a representative to Gualdo Tadino to publicly confirm the submission of that city to Perugia in 1356.  Albornoz chose not to react immediately to what he must have seen to be a deliberate provocation.

Albornoz held a parliament in Spoleto in April 1361, at which time plans were announced for the construction of what became known as the Rocca di Albornoz.  Work began on the project a year later.

Pope Urban V

In 1362, the newly-elected Pope Urban V confirmed the legation of Albornoz.  However, in order to protect Avignon from the depredations of mercenaries under Albert Sterz, he took them into papal service and sent them to Italy, thereby greatly complicating the situation there.  In addition, Bernabò Visconti declined to help Urban V with his plans for a crusade, and intensified his attempts to regain Bologna. 

Urban V suddenly undermined Albornoz in November 1363 by appointing Androin de la Roche as legate for Lombardy and the Romagna and Vicar of Bologna.   The diplomacy of Bernabò Visconti had succeeded once more: he had offered acceptable peace terms, but only on the condition that Albornoz should be replaced.  Urban V was so intent upon mounting a crusade against the Turks that he accepted: he finally concluded peace with in March 1364 by paying 500,000 gold florins to Bernabò Visconti in return for his withdrawal from the contado of Bologna. 

Albornoz sent Trincia Trinci to Avignon to request his recall.  This was denied, and Albornoz was instead given additional responsibility as papal legate to Naples (April 1364).  He remained in the March of Ancona until August 1365, when he left for his new legation in Naples.  Before doing so, he named Ugolino da Montemarte as Lieutenant General for those parts of the original legation not transferred to Androin de la Roche, which included the Patrimony and the Duchy of Spoleto.

Third Legation (1364-7)

Albornoz was called back to the Papal States less than a year after his departure, in order to confront the depredations of mercenary armies in the region.

The mercenary army of Albert Sterz ravaged the contado of Perugia in October 1364, and the city retained Hanneken von Baumgarten to oppose him.  This action, together with the payment of a large bribe, persuaded Sterz to leave Perugia in peace, and his forces dispersed across the contadi of Assisi, Spello, Foligno, Bevagna and Gubbio.  The English mercenary Andrew Belmont appeared outside the gates of Perugia at the head of an army of mostly English mercenaries in November 1364.  However, Perugia had retained the services of Albert Sterz and Hanneken von Baumgarten, so Andrew Belmont agreed to withdraw. 

In January 1365, Hanneken von Baumgarten took Vetralla from the papacy, with the support of the newly-rebellious Giovanni di Vico.  This earned him the enmity of Albornoz, who sent an army under Gómez Albornoz to retake the city.  Andrew Belmont and his English associates were retained to reinforce this army.  However, they became reluctant to fight (perhaps because their pay was in arrears) and  Gómez Albornoz found it easier to take Vetralla by negotiation and bribery.

Perugia’s continuing association with Hanneken von Baumgarten added to the souring of the city’s relations with Albornoz.

Battle of San Mariano (1365)

The English now returned to menace Perugia, which again retained Hanneken von Baumgarten to lead its defence.  He routed them at San Mariano on 25th July 1365.  A memorial there to the Perugian militia that fought alongside the German mercenaries repeats the claims of Perugian chroniclers that some 1600 mostly English prisoners, including Andrew Belmonte, were taken to Perugia.  

There are a number of uncertainties about the details of these events:

  1. Some accounts assert that John Hawkwood led the English forces at San Mariano, but this seems to be incorrect.  He was still in the service of Pisa, where the tyrant Giovanni dell' Agnello had seized power, and this brought him indirectly into the service of Bernabò Visconti.  He was nevertheless in touch with the English who fought at San Mariano, and was probably on his way to help them when the defeat occurred.  If he did arrive in time to take part in the fighting, he certainly avoided capture, and he subsequently became the rallying point for what remained of the English mercenary company.

  2. The reasons for the English attack of Perugia are also unclear:

  3. -It is entirely possible that the English were acting on their own account, and that the engagement with the Germans was motivated at least partly by the bad blood between them.

  4. -Some accounts suggest that Albornoz had encouraged and perhaps even financed the threatened attack.  However, there is no direct evidence, and the poor relations between the English and the papal authorities that had emerged at Vetralla make it seem unlikely. 

  5. -It is possible that Bernabò Visconti had used his influence with John Hawkwood to prompt the English mercenaries into action, and that Albornoz and Perugia were in alliance against them.  If this is correct, it could also account for the earlier behaviour of the English at Vetralla.

  6. Some accounts have Albert Sterz fighting for Perugia while others have him reconciled with the English and fighting alongside them.

These uncertainties well illustrate the complexity of the political situation at this time.

The Perugians soon decided to free most of their prisoners, and awarded citizenship to both Albert Sterz and Andrew Belmonte (August 1366).  For reasons that will soon become clear, the council chamber in which this decision was taken soon became known as the “Sala del Malconsiglio” (room of bad counsel).

Battle of Brufa (1367)

In October 1366, a small papal contingent under Ugolino da  Montemarte defeated the ravaging army of John Hawkwood outside Orvieto.  In order to obtain the release of the English prisoners, Hawkwood undertook to leave papal territory and to desist from attacking papal forces for a year. 

The Perugians openly questioned the ease of this victory.  They suspected that Albornoz had secretly retained Hawkwood to attack their city, and that Albert Sterz, whom they had retained to defend it, was involved in the plot.  He was arrested and executed in November 1366.  Andrew Belmonte, who was also still in Perugian service, immediately defected to Hawkwood, taking the advance he had received on his salary with him.   The English mercenaries marched on Perugia and defeated its army at the Battle of Brufa, near Ponte San Giovanni, in March 1367.   The Perugians lost more than 1,000 soldiers and had to pay an enormous sum in “reparations”.

Even if he had not been party to the English attack, Albornoz (who was in Foligno) did nothing to help the Perugians against them.

Patrimony and Duchy of Spoleto (1367)

It seems that, in the aftermath of this defeat, the Perugians expected Albornoz to attack their city.  He did not go so far, but he did travel to to Assisi, which had taken advantage of the defeat of the situation to throw off Perugian control, and was rapturously received there (April 1367).  Gualdo Tadino and Nocera Umbra quickly followed this example.

Albornoz now ordered the rebuilding of the walls of Bettona.  He installed the Frenchman, André de la Roche (known in Italian as Andrea della Rocca), as papal vicar “within the boundaries, excluding the surrounding villages”.  (Further papal pressure finally induced the Perugians to return of the relics of St Crispoltus to Bettona in 1371).

Perugia complained to Urban V, but his answer was uncompromising: “De morte hominum dolemus, sed de recuperatione Terrae nostrae gaudemus”  (We regret the loss of life, but rejoice at the recovery of our land).

After Albornoz

Urban V now felt safe to return(temporarily as it turned out) to Italy.  He landed at Corneto on 4th June, 1367 and established his base at Viterbo. He refused to see the ambassadors sent there by Perugia to request the return of the cities they had lost.  Albornoz died at Viterbo on 23rd August, 1367. 

Urban V, whose sympathies lay with the exiled nobles, increased the pressure on Perugia after the death of Albornoz. 

Cardinal Anglic de Grimoard, the younger brother of Urban V, was papal vicar in temporalibus in Italy from March 1368 until July 1371.  Assisi, Nocera Umbra and Gualdo Tadino were under his direct control.  He completed the subjugation of Todi, and punished the rebellious city by abrogating the privileges that had been granted by Pope Boniface VIII and reducing its contado.

In 1368, Anglic de Grimoard incited Città di Castello to rebel against Perugia. The Perugian garrison was expelled and Brancaleone Guelfucci was installed as Lord of Città di Castello, under the direct authority of the papacy.  This prompted an open rebellion on the part of Perugia.  In 1369, Urban V plotted with Oddo and Pandolfo Baglioni and other exiles, and also with the Abbot of San Pietro, in a bid to take Perugia and execute the leading Raspanti.  The plot was discovered and four of the leading conspirators were executed.  

The legate, Cardinal Pierre d' Estaing led the papal army, while Bernabò Visconti aided Perugia by (among other things) providing the services of John Hawkwood.  Francesco di di Vico and Simonetto Orsini also fought alongside the Perugians, who besieged Urban V at Montefiascone in the summer of 1369. 

However, the tide of war turned against Perugia.   Urban V placed Perugia under interdict and excommunicated its citizens.  Dissent grew within the city as food was in short supply, and the exiled nobles dominated the contado.  The Emperor Charles IV deprived Perugia of imperial recognition of its remaining holdings in Tuscany, most of which immediately rebelled.  Charles IV also threatened to remove the vicariate of the Visconti in Milan unless they ended their support of the city.  The other Perugian ally, Francesco di Vico submitted to the papacy after the siege of Vetralla (April 1370).   

Perugia appointed the jurist Baldo degli Ubaldi as one of the “Tre della Guerra” (a magistracy of three appointed for the duration of the war).  He was among the ambassadors that the city sent to Corneto in September 1370, as Urban V prepared to return to Avignon.  This mission yielded nothing, and when Bernabò Visconti made peace with Urban V in November 1370, the position of Perugia was untenable.  Baldo degli Ubaldi was among the ambassadors sent to Bologna in November 1370 in order to sue for peace with Cardinal Anglic de Grimoard.  As a pre-condition, the Perugians were forced to accept that Perugia had always been subject to the papacy, and that it had usurped power in Spoleto, Assisi, Gubbio and elsewhere.  The keys of the city were duly delivered to Cardinal Anglic de Grimoard.  In return, he lifted the interdict against Perugia and appointed the Priors as papal vicars for the lifetime of Urban V. 

Unfortunately, this measure of independence was short-lived: Urban V died a month later and the new Pope Gregory XI sent Cardinal Pierre d' Estaing, who was then at Todi, to take control of Perugia (February 1371).   The Raspanti were exiled in May 1371, and the Pierre d' Estaing appointed Ugolino da Montemarte as Vicar and Lieutenant General of Perugia.  When Pierre d' Estaing was transferred to Bologna in December 1371, Ugolino da Montemarte remained in Perugia in the service of his successor, Cardinal Philippe de Cabassole (Filippo di Calassol) until the latter died there (August 27, 1372).

War of the Eight Saints (1375-8)

Gérald du Puy, Abbot of Marmoutier and nephew of Gregory XI (known to the Italians as “Monmaggiore”) was installed in Governor of Perugian 1372.  He commissioned the Fortezza di Porta Sole (1372-5) in what is now Piazza Michelotti to secure papal control of Perugia.

In 1375, encouraged by Florence, which also feared papal power, the Papal States rebelled. Francesco di Vico seized Viterbo and demolished the papal fortress there.   This provoked Ghibelline rebellions at Orte, Narni, Terni and Amelia.  The people of Città di Castello massacred the papal garrison.  The uprising became known as the War of the Eight Saints (after the eight burghers who led the Florentine war effort).

Perugia laid siege to Gérald du Puy in his new fortress in 1376, although when threatened with the English company, the Perugians allowed him to depart with his troops.   The hated fortress was torn down.

Bologna expelled its papal garrison in 1376, and the dominance of the Church in Italy was effectively at an end.

In 1376, as the anti-papal alliance disintegrated, Gregory XI excommunicated Florence and sent Cardinal Robert of Geneva at the head of a troop of Breton mercenaries to restore the position.  He laid siege to Bologna and devastated the surrounding countryside.

Gregory XI returned to Rome in 1377.  He then marched on Florence.  Hawkwood held the Tuscan borders for Florence, and the fighting was largely concentrated in Umbria.  Spello fell to papal forces in 1377, and the subsequent collapse of Francesco di Vico brought other Umbrian cities back to the papal fold.  Fighting was now concentrated around Perugia, Assisi and Foligno.  Both sides were exhausted and the Florentines, whose commerce was crippled by the effects of her excommunication, finally sought peace.  In the middle of these negotiations, Gregory XI died. 

Schism (1378-1415)

Pope Urban VI (1378-89) was elected on the insistence of the Roman mob, but his mental instability made him unpopular with the cardinals.  Cardinal Robert of Geneva led the attempts to depose him and duly emerged as the anti-Pope Clement VII.  Urban VI remained at Rome, where he appointed 26 new cardinals.  He excommunicated Clement VII, who was soon forced to flee to Avignon.  The Papal States descended into anarchy.

Urban VI appointed Rinaldo Orsini of Aquila and Tagliacozzo as Rector of the Patrimony and Governor of Orvieto in 1378.  However, in 1380, he declared for the anti-Pope Clement VII who appointed him as Chancellor of the Patrimony of St Peter.

Rinaldo Orsini took Spoleto for Clement VII in 1383.  Together with Cardinal Pietro Pileo di Prato, another supporter of Clement VII, he then laid siege to Assisi, which Guglielmino di Assisi held with the support of the Raspanti of Perugia.  He returned to Spoleto to lay siege to the Rocca, which was surrendered after four months (January 1384). 

Urban VI, who had been imprisoned in Naples by his erstwhile ally, King Charles of Durazzo, escaped in 1384 and took refuge in Genoa.  Tommaso Orsini, Count of Manupello, who had acted as vicar in Rome for Urban VI in 1384, was appointed Papal Legate of the Patrimony and the Duchy of Spoleto in 1386 and soon occupied Narni, Terni and Amelia.  On the death of Charles of Durazzo in 1386, Urban VI left Genoa with an army, apparently intent upon taking Naples.   However, his financial weakness was exacerbated by the high price that the Genoese demanded for naval support.  He spent 9 months at Lucca, from which city he proclaimed a crusade agains the Kingdom of Naples (August 1387).

Perugia extended a warm welcome to Urban VI, who arrived there in October 1387.  He excommunicated Spoleto and Orvieto, who resolutely refused to receive his envoys.  His troops sacked the contado of Orvieto in 1387, but were unable to retake the city.  Viterbo was similarly recalcitrant until Cardinal Orsini orchestrated the murder of Francesco di Vico.  Rinaldo Orsini was besieged at Spoleto, and his allies, the Muffati faction, were besieged in Orvieto by the opposing faction known as the Malcorini.  Much of central Italy descended into war, and Perugia found itself at the eye of the storm.  However, as the fortunes of war moved in favour of Rinaldo Orsini, Perugia decided to negotiate a truce with him.  In August 1388, as his allies melted away, Urban VI left Perugia, full of entirely unrealistic plans to conquer Naples.

To raise funds and to gain favour with the Romans, Urban VI declared that a Jubilee would be celebrated in 1390.  However, he fell from his mule during the journey and was forced to rest at Todi.  He then proceeded to Narni, but was unable to pay some of his mercenaries and duly lost their services.  He staggered on to Rome, where he died (October 1389).  The only cardinals of the "Roman Obedience" in office at this time were those whom Urban VI had created and not yet killed or deposed.  They included the loyal Tommaso Orsini, together with Cardinal Bishop Andrea Bontempi of Perugia.

Pope Boniface IX (1389-1404) expelled Pietro Pileo di Prato from Spoleto.  He was however unable to live in Rome in the period 1392-8, so he moved to Perugia and then to Assisi.

Rinaldo Orsini remained in possession of the Rocca di Spoleto until 1390, when a popular insurrection ejected him.  His subsequent murder led to Orvieto’s return to the Roman obedience after a terrible siege. 

Urban VI visited Perugia to make peace in 1387.

Exile of the Nobles

Sometime thereafter, the noble Pandolfo Baglioni seized power in Perugia.  He was hated by the populace, and murdered in 1393 along with many of his relations.  The surviving Baglioni and other nobles were exiled, but continued to cause trouble from their bases in the surrounding countryside.

Biordo Michelotti, Lord of Perugia (1393-8)

Biordo Michelotti was born into the popolo grosso or Raspanti (men who claw) of Perugia, who were locked in endemic conflict with the popolo minuto and the old nobility led by the Baglioni family in unlikely alliance.    He was exiled from Perugia in his youth and found work with the English condottiere John Hawkwood.  He was extremely successful, and went on to become the first of the new generation of condottieri who used their military strength to win political power.  Pope Clement VII (Avignon) appointed him as Signore of Orvieto in 1391, a post he held until his death.

In 1392, the exhausted citizens of Perugia invited Boniface IX to the city to mediate peace.   He insisted that the exiles should be allowed to return and, in 1393, Michelotti entered the city at the head of a large body of his compatriots.  A compromise government was elected but violence soon erupted in which many leading nobles were massacred.  Boniface IX fled from San Pietro to Assisi, and Michelotti seized his chance to demonstrate his unique capabilities.   He took power in Perugia, established peace and became a genuinely respected prince, marrying Bertolda Orsini. 

Boniface had no choice but to accept the effective loss of Perugia and to watch events through the eyes of his prime contact in the city, the Abbot of San Pietro.  The abbot came from the noble Guidalotti family, and therefore had his own reasons to be unhappy with Michelotti's rule.  In 1398, he visited Michelotti at home with a gang of assassins, who duly stabbed him to death.  Civil war erupted.  The Abbot escaped but his old father was among those murdered. 


History of Perugia: 14th century

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