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Umbria in the 14th Century: from 1350

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Ghibelline Revolt

A new phase in the politics of the Papal States began in 1350, when the Pepoli rulers of Bologna sold their city to Archbishop Giovanni Visconti of Milan.   Pope 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.  Ghibelline factions across Italy used this as the cue for open rebellion. 

Giovanni di Vico

Giovanni di Vico, who had succeeded his father as Prefect of Rome in 1337, took control of Viterbo in 1338, having murdered his own brother, Faziolo.  Despite his strong Ghibelline stance, Clement VI confirmed his vicariate at Viterbo in 1342, in recognition of his powerful position in the Patrimony of St Peter.  However, he soon rebelled against the papacy, and also gave active assistance to the Ghibellines of Orvieto.  He achieved an important victory over the forces of the papal legate, Bernard du Lac in 1346. 

In 1347, Cola di Rienzo, the self-proclaimed Tribune of Rome, declared war against Giovanni di Vico.  His position was in jeopardy until Cola di Rienzo was driven from Rome (December 1347), after which he resumed his effective hegemony in the Patrimony. 

In 1351, Giovanni di Vico helped the Ghibellines of Narni and Terni to expel the Guelfs in 1351, thus bringing both cities into his orbit, alongside Ghibelline Amelia.

Papal forces under Nicolò della Serra and soldiers in the Roman militia under Giordano Orsini unsuccessfully laid siege to Viterbo in June and July 1352, following which Giovanni di Vico was excommunicated.   When Nicolò della Serra was killed in this engagement, Giordano Orsini became the captain of the papal army.

Thereafter, Giovanni di Vico made spectacular gains throughout the papal territories, taking Orvieto in 1352 and even threatening Montefiascone, the seat of papal government (such as it was) in Italy. 

Threat to Perugia

The resurgence of Ghibelline power in central Italy threatened the position of Perugia. 

  1. 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.

  2. Later in 1350, while Giacomo Gabrielli was away from Gubbio, his Ghibelline cousin, Giovanni di Cantuccio Gabrielli seized power.  He expelled the Perugian garrison and placed Gubbio under the protection of Giovanni Visconti.  Giacomo Gabrielli, with the aid of Perugia and Florence, laid siege to the city for a month in 1351, but withdrew when Giovanni Visconti sent reinforcements under Nolfo da Montefeltro and Giselo degli Ubaldini.

Perugia 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 the city to Giovanni Visconti. 

In February 1352, as the Perugians struggled to contain Nolfo da Montefeltro at Borgo Sansepolcro, another Visconti captain, Tanuccio degli Ubaldini della Carda approached Orvieto. 

In June 1352, Nolfo da Montefeltro and Giselo degli Ubaldini regrouped at Cortona, the city ruled by their ally, Bartolomeo Casali.  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.  When further Visconti reinforcements arrived, they marched into the Perugian contado and took Bettona with the connivance of its Perugian podestà, Crispolito de' Crispolti.  From there, they threatened the disenchanted Perugian ally Assisi. 

Tanuccio degli Ubaldini took Orvieto and ceded it to Giovanni di Vico in 1352.

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.  This show of strength persuaded 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”. 

The triumphant Perugians beheaded Crispolito de’ Crispolti in front of the Duomo of San Lorenzo.   (Bartolomeo Casali subsequently made an abject apology before the Priors of  Perugia for his “error” in occupying Bettona - see below).  The Perugians also despoiled Bettona of marble for the  Palazzo Comunale, and appropriated the relics of St Crispoltus and housed them in their Duomo. 

Giovanni Visconti attacked Città di Castello in 1353, but by that time the tide had turned against him. 

Duchy of Spoleto

Spoleto acclaimed Giovanni di Vico as her Signore after expelling its Guelfs in 1352.

Clement VI appointed Bishop Filippo dell’ Antella of Ferrara as Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto in 1352.

Treaty of Sarzana (1353)

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. 

Giovanni di Cantuccio of Gubbio submitted to Perugia and Bartolomeo Casali of Cortona (see above) also sued for peace.  The Guelfs were able to return to Spoleto, where Perugia regained its dominant position.

Cardinal Albornoz in Umbria (1353-67)

Gil Alvarez Carrillo de Albornoz became Archbishop of Toledo in 1338.  He played a prominent part in the campaign against the Moors in Spain, saving the life of King Alfonso XI in battle in 1340.  When Pedro “El Cruel” succeeded to the throne of Castile in 1350, Albornoz found it expedient to move to the court of Clement VI at Avignon.  

First Legation (1353-7)

In June 1353, some six months after the Treaty of Sarzana, Innocent VI entrusted Albornoz with the task of restoring papal authority in the Papal States.  Albornoz arrived in Milan in September 1353, and was cordially received by Giovanni Visconti.  He then travelled to Florence (where Ugolino da Montemarte entered his service), Siena and Perugia, where he stayed until November.  

Patrimony of St Peter 

Although Giovanni di Vico had lost the overt support of Giovanni Visconti, he remained a formidable obstacle to papal control of the Patrimony.  The first objective of Albornoz was therefore to expel him from Viterbo and Orvieto.   

Albornoz confirmed the appointment of Giordano Orsini as captain of the papal army.  His army was largely made up of military contingents supplied by Florence and other Guelf cities that included Perugia.  As noted above, the Florentines had provided him with the services of Ugolino da Montemarte.  Finally,  he employed mercenaries, including Jean Montréal du Bar, whom the Italians called fra’ Moriale.  (Fra Moriale came from Provence.  His title reflected the fact that he had been a member of the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem).

This force had some successes: it secured Montefiascone (June) and drove Pietro di Vico from Narni, aided by a rebellion there (July).  However, a siege of Orvieto failed, and in September 1353, Fra Moriale declined to sign a new contract with the papacy because he had not been paid.

In  September 1353, Giovanni di Vico attacked Todi, aided by the Chiaravalle exiles and by fra Moriale .  However, when Giordano Orsini threatened Orvieto, and when Giovanni Visconti refused to send military aid, Giovanni di Vico found it advisable to pay homage to Albornoz, who was by then at Montefiascone (November 1353).  Fra Moriale, who had had no more success in receiving payment from his new employer, left Umbria for the March of Ancona.

Once Giovanni di Vico became aware of the meagre resources available to Albornoz, he returned to the offensive, laying 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 not able to go onto the offensive until reinforcements arrived from Florence, Siena and Perugia early in 1354.  His forces under Giordano Orsini assembled at Corbara, the castle outside Orvieto that belonged to Ugolino da Montemarte.  When they seized the garrison at San Lorenzo delle Vigne, Giovanni di Vico led a company of cavalry out of Orvieto to try to retake it.  This action failed, and Giovanni di Vico was lucky to escape with his life.  He 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.  Albornoz allowed him to keep Corneto and Civitavecchia as papal vicar, despite the objections of Innocent VI.  The Commune of Orvieto, which was not technically part of the Patrimony, nevertheless named Innocent VI and Albornoz as Lords of Orvieto for their respective lifetimes.

The following cities of the Patrimony then submitted voluntarily to Albornoz:

  1. Amelia (in July 1354);

  2. Narni (in October); and

  3. Terni and Rieti (in November).

Albornoz imposed his chaplain Enrico da Sessa, Bishop of Ascoli, as his vicar in Narni and Terni in order to effect a reconciliation between these traditionally antagonistic cities. 

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 convened a parliament at Montefiascone in September 1354, at which he began the legislative reforms that would underpin papal control of the Patrimony.

Duchy of Spoleto

Fra Moriale returned to Umbria in June 1354, and ravaged the territories of Spello and Bevagna.  However, he reached an accord with Bishop Paolo Trinci to leave Foligno unharmed and to pay a fair price for supplies he purchased there.  Paolo Trinci also secured a similar arrangement on behalf of Assisi.  Fra Moriale then moved on to menace Trevi, Montefalco and Todi. 

Once Albornoz had demonstrated his capabilities in the Patrimony, he established a base at Foligno.  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.  When Albornoz duly sent an army under Carlo di Dovadola, 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 it provided him with a second  base (in addition to Foligno) from which to move on the March of Ancona.

Spello (which was reeling from the recent attentions of Fra Moriale) 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. 


Albornoz was beginning to encroach on Perugian power in the Duchy, particularly when Spoleto submitted to him in 1355.  However, he needed to tread carefully, so 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 turned his attention to the March of Ancona, a pro-Perugian faction in Spoleto rebelled, 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 them, 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 Perugian actions.  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 the rector Filippo dell’ Antella to go to Spoleto and formally absolve the rebels (February 1356).


Innocent VI had sent Cola di Rienzo (the erstwhile disgraced Senator of Rome) back to Italy in 1353, but Albornoz (who distrusted him) initially kept him out of harm’s way in Perugia.  However, when Albornoz appointed Cola di Rienzo to his old position in August 1354, the latter tricked the brothers of fra Moriale into financing his return to Rome.  When Fra Moriale tried to recoup his expenses, Cola di Rienzo had him murdered.   Rienzo’s rule was otherwise disastrous, and culminated in his own murder in October, after which Albornoz restored order in Rome.

March of Ancona

Foligno and Gubbio now provided the bases from which Albornoz moved against Malatesta and  Galeotto de’ Malatesta of Rimini, his most powerful adversaries in the March of Ancona.  Blasco Fernández de Belvis, the leader of the papal forces in the region, was based at Gubbio in 1355, when the attack on the Malatesta began. 

When Galeotto Malatesta was defeated and captured (in April 1355), he was imprisoned at Gubbio.  The threat of his execution and defections and rebellion within the towns and cities controlled by Rimini prompted Galeotto’s older brother, Malatesta Malatesta to concede defeat.  His formal submission took place in Gubbio in June and negotiations were completed there in July.  Malatesta was allowed to keep Rimini, Fano, Pesaro and Fossombrone, as papal vicar, and Galeotto entered papal military service. 

Albornoz then secured the submission of the Montefeltro, thereby effecting the pacification of the March of Ancona.  He held a parliament at  Fermo in August, and installed Blasco Fernández de Belvis as rector (1355).  He began work on the Rocca di San Cataldo at Ancona, which became his base of operations.

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.


The most difficult obstacle facing Albornoz in the Romagna was the key strategic locations of Forlì and Cesena were firmly in the hands of the formidable Francesco II Ordelaffi.  Albornoz concentrated his military resources in this theatre, but he also had to keep in mind the difficult situation at Bologna.  As noted above, Clement VI had found it expedient in 1352 to appoint Giovanni Visconti as papal vicar of this city forSarzana a period of 12 years.  Giovanni Visconti had died in 1354, and the vicariate should have passed to his heirs, Matteo, Galeazzo and Bernabò Visconti.  However, Giovanni da Oleggio, a member of another branch of the family had seized the city. 

Bernabò Visconti, who was not yet militarily strong enough to take Bologna, offered to assist Innocent VI against Francesco Ordelaffi in return for papal aid.  Albornoz strongly opposed this suggestion: he was intent on securing first Forlì and Cesena and then Bologna for the papacy.   Bernabò Visconti therefore began a diplomatic offensive in Avignon.

End of the First Legation

Bernabò Visconti’s diplomatic activity in Avignon paid dividends: Innocent VI wrote to Albornoz in March 1357 to alert him to the imminent arrival of a new papal legate, Androin de la Roche.  It was clear that the task of the new legate was to secure an accommodation with Bernabò Visconti.

Albornoz did not immediately leave the Romagna:

  1. He held a parliament at Fano in April, at which he promulgated the justly famous “Constitutiones Aegidianae”: these constitutions provided the legal basis for papal temporal rule in central Italy for centuries. 

  2. His army under Galeotto Malatesta took Cesena in June, despite the strong resistance of Cia degli Ubaldini, the wife of Francesco Ordelaffi.  

  3. In August, he paid a large amount to the mercenary 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.

When he finally left for Avignon in September 1357, Francesco Ordelaffi still held Forlì, and Bernabò Visconti could look forward to papal support in retaking Bologna.

War between Perugia and 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 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) von 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). 

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 Apennines at Le Scalelle (July 1358).  Nevertheless, Siena continued to harass the contado of Perugia.  German mercenaries left the Perugian army and joined in the mayhem on their own account until Perugia paid a large bribe to secure their departure.  Both sides were now exhausted, and finally agreed peace in July 1359.  This left Montepulciano in Sienese hands, and Cortona also formally submitted to Siena a year later.

Second Legation (1358-64)

Androin de la Roche, the new papal legate, proved to be incompetent, and was unable to remove either Francesco Ordelaffi or Giovanni da Oleggio.  Albornoz was duly sent back to Italy in October 1358. 

Duchy of Spoleto

There seems to have been an uprising against Perugian domination of Spoleto in the summer of 1359, 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.  Even at this stage, the Perugian Podestà was retained.  However, the Perugian fortress near Porta Fuga was demolished

Albornoz appointed Ugolino da Montemarte as rector of the Duchy of Spoleto in 1360.  He was documented in Spoleto in April 1360.  He was present, together with Albornoz and Blasco Fernández de Belvis, at the provincial parliament held in Spoleto on April 22, 1361, at which (inter alia) a tax was imposed on the citizens of the city in order to finance the construction of the papal fortress that became known as the Rocca di Albornoz.  Blasco Fernández de Belvis, who was appointed vicar of Gubbio and rector of the Duchy of Spoleto at about this time, subsequently usually resided at Spoleto. 

Work began on the construction of the Rocca di Albornoz in April 1362.


Political life in Perugia was turbulent in this period, as the disaster of the war with Siena and the reduction of Perugia control over Spoleto caused anger against the Raspanti faction.

Leggieri d’ Andreotto suppressed an attempted coup by the nobles in August 1361, after which the leaders 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.


Forlì fell on July 1359, after which Francesco Ordelaffi became vicar of Forlimpopoli and Castrocaro, and most of the Romagna was now under papal control. 

During his stay in Avignon, Albornoz seems to have persuaded Innocent VI to recognise the position of Giovanni da Oleggio at Bologna in return for a large annual payment.  When Bernabò Visconti  threatened to take the city by force in 1360, Giovanni d' Ollegio exchanged his position there for that of papal vicar of Fermo and rector of the Duchy of Spoleto.  Thus, the plan of Albornoz had worked.  Blasco Fernández de Belvis was named as papal vicar of Bologna in March 1360, and Albornoz formally entered the city in October.

Gómez Albornoz, a nephew of Albornoz, became papal vicar of Bologna in April 1361.  Bernabò Visconti remained a threat in the area around Bologna, despite the fact that Galeotto Malatesta defeated him at the Battle of San Ruffillo  in June 1361.

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. 

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.  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.

Mercenary Companies

Mercenary companies were increasingly active in the Papal States from the middle of the 14th century.  Some of the most prominent have already been mentioned:

  1. Fra Moriale was active in the region in 1353-4, successively in papal service, in the service of the rebels and on his own account.  Perugia paid an enormous bribe to him in 1354 in order to escape his attentions, and agreed to leave the league of Tuscan cities that had been formed against him.  He was able to establish a base in the city, was given citizenship and installed two of his brothers there to look after his affairs.   However, he was murdered in Rome soon after.

  2. Konrad von Landau, who fought for Perugia in the Ghibelline revolt of 1351-3, subsequently served under Fra Moriale and took over command of his company when he died.  He would have fought for Siena against Perugia in 1358-9, alongside his compatriot, Hanneken von Baumgarten, had he not met with military disaster on his way to the theatre of war.

A new wave of mercenaries descended on Italy after they made peace with Urban V at Avignon in 1362.  Their leader was Albert Sterz, whose mostly English corporals included John Hawkwood and Andrew Belmont.  This company fought alongside that of Hanneken von Baumgarten for Pisa against Florence (1363-4).  Most of the mercenaries fighting for Pisa (with the notable exception of John Hawkwood) changed sides in 1364.  When the war staggered to a halt a few months later, they split into two companies, one largely German and the other largely English, and there was much bad blood between them.  Both companies travelled south to plunder on their own account.


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.  He and his English associates passed into papal service in early 1365 at Vetralla, a city south of Viterbo, on the road to Rome, which Hanneken von Baumgarten had taken with the support of the newly-rebellious Giovanni di Vico.  The English, who reinforced the papal army led by Gómez Albornoz, became reluctant to fight (perhaps because their pay was in arrears) and  Gómez Albornoz found it easier to take Vetralla by negotiation and bribery.

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).

In a bull issued in September 1366, Urban V called for an alliance to be formed against the mercenary armies.  A number of cities, including Florence, Pisa and Siena in Tuscany and Perugia and Todi in the Papal States joined the alliance.  However, it explicitly excluded action against the mercenary bands that were actually causing the problem (including those led by John Hawkwood and Hannekin von Baumgarten), and perhaps unsurprisingly achieved nothing.

In October 1366, papal forces 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 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 Perugia 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”.

Patrimony and Duchy of Spoleto (1367)

Albornoz, who was in Foligno, did nothing to help the Perugians against Hawkwood, and he released the last of the English prisoners taken at Orvieto shortly afterwards.  He immediately moved to Assisi, which had taken advantage of the defeat of the situation to throw off Perugian control.  He was rapturously received there in April 1367

Albornoz now ordered the rebuilding of the walls of Bettona, and 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).

Urban V in Italy

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.

In July 1367, Albornoz asked Blasco Fernández de Belvis to move the curia of the Duchy of Spoleto to Assisi, in order to underpin papal control of the city.  His son, García Belvis was honourably received there in August.  

[Nocera Umbra; Gualdo Tadino; Città di Castello]. 

Albornoz then began the subjugation of Todi.  However, this process of consolidation was interrupted when he died at Viterbo on 23rd August, 1367.

Enrico da Sessa subsequently acted as the papal representative in the March of Ancona.

In 1368, Urban V and Charles IV were in Rome for the coronation of the Empress. 

Blasco Fernández de Belvis 

Urban V appointed Blasco Fernández de Belvis as Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto.  He and his son Garcia were murdered in 1368 at Piediluco, near Terni by Ghibellines from Spoleto.  Ugolino da Montemarte, who was camped at Bettona during the papal was with Perugia, led an army from Spoleto to exact fierce reprisals.   In 1373, Sancia de Cortinis, the widow of Blasco Fernández de Belvis, gave 300 florins to the friars of San Francesco, Assisi for the restoration of the Cappella di Sant’ Antonio Abate and 100 florins for the tombs of her husband and son. 

Cardinal Anglic de Grimoard

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, he 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.

In 1368, during the war between Milan and Mantua, he personally directed the defence of the latter. [Peace of Modena (August 1368) confirmed by Peace of Bologna (February 1369)].

Cardinal Pierre d'Estaing

Urban V nominated Cardinal Pierre d'Estaing vicar general "in nonnullis provinciis et terris" (in some provinces and territories) in July 1370, so that Anglic de Grimoard could concentrate on the Visconti threat to Bologna.  After the death of Urban V (December 1370), Anglic de Grimoard handed over his remaining responsibilities as papal legate in Italy to Pierre d'Estaing (June 1371).  He held this post until March 1374, at which point he returned to Avignon.  (See below for his re-entry into Italy in 1376).

War with Perugia

In 1369, Urban V plotted with the 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.  Perugia was placed under interdict, leading to outright war.  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.  However, the tide of war subsequently turned against Perugia. 

In March 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, who appointed the Priors as papal vicars for the lifetime of Urban V. 

Pope Gregory XI (1370-8)

Urban V returned to Avignon in September 1370 and died there a few months later (19th December). 

Pope Gregory XI was determined to pacify Italy so that he could return to Rome.  To this end he sent new legates to Italy to curb Bernabò Visconti.  


Gregory XI was determined to end the autonomy of Perugia.  The exiled nobles began to return to Perugia in February 1371, and mounted a coup with the aid of Cardinal Pierre d' Estaing.   The Raspanti were exiled in May 1371, after which Pierre d' Estaing made his triumphant entry into the city.  He appointed Ugolino da Montemarte as Vicar and Lieutenant General of Perugia (May 1371).  When he 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).  Ugolino da Montemarte was in Perugia when the popular Cardinal Philippe de Cabassole died there (August 27, 1372).

Gérald du Puy, Abbot of Marmoutier and nephew of Gregory XI was installed in Governor of Perugian 1372.

In 1373, Gregory XI ordered the demolition of the Abbazia di San Leucio at Todi and the building of a fortress on the site.

War of the Eight Saints

In 1375, encouraged by Florence, the Papal States rebelled. Francesco di Vico seized Viterbo and demolished the papal fortress there.   This provoked Ghibelline rebellions at Narni, Terni and Amelia. 

The people of Città di Castello massacred the papal garrison (December 1375).  Perugia laid siege to Gérald du Puy in his new fortress, although when threatened with the English company, the Perugians allowed him to depart with his troops. 

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.  He  sent Cardinal Robert of Geneva at the head of a troop of Breton mercenaries to restore the position and returned himself to Italy in  January 1377.

  1. Robert of Geneva laid siege to Bologna and devastated the surrounding countryside.  [Cesena]

  2. Pierre d' Estaing was sent back to Italy as Vicar General of the Patrimony and the Duchy of Spoleto.  He restored papal control at Orvieto (April 1377) and Spello (August 1377), but suffered defeat at Todi (June 1377).  His Breton mercenaries under Sylvester of Budes took Bolsena (June 1377) and sacked the city.  They then liberated Montefiascone from Francesco di Vico, before moving against the latter at Viterbo.  Francesco di Vico was rash enough to give battle outside the city, and was defeated.  He submitted to Pierre d' Estaing (October 1377).  Pierre d' Estaing died in Rome in November 1377.

The defeat 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, he declared for the anti-Pope Clement VII in 1380 and delivered Orvieto to a company of the exiled Berardo Monaldeschi della Cervara and the Breton mercenaries of Clement VII.  Some 3,000 people died in the subsequent bloodshed.  Clement VII subsequently appointed Rinaldo Orsini as Chancellor of the Patrimony of St Peter.

Urban VI deposed Queen Joanna I of Naples in 1380.  He gave her kingdom to Charles of Durazzo, who was crowned at Rome in 1381.  Their relationship broke down in 1384, and Charles imprisoned Urban VI.  After he managed to escape, Urban VI fled to Genoa, where he put several of his cardinals to death for suspected disloyalty. 

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 received more constant service from Tommaso Orsini, Count of Manupello, whom he raised to the cardinalate in 1381.  Cardinal Orsini acted as vicar in Rome for Urban VI  in 1384, and he warned him about the other cardinals who were conspiring against him (January 1385).  He was appointed Papal Legate of the Patrimony and the Duchy of Spoleto in 1386 and soon occupied Narni, Terni and Amelia.  He reached an accord with the Ghibellines of Terni that left their ascendency over the political affairs of the city in tact. 

Clement VII sent the French mercenary Enguerrand de Coucy to Italy in 1384 in an attempt to take some control in the Papal States.  He took Arezzo but, when he realised that he could achieve nothing more, he sold it to Florence.

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).

Spoleto and Orvieto resolutely refused to receive the envoys of Urban VI and were placed under interdict.  Troops of Urban VI 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.   Cardinal Orsini was incarcerated for a brief time in December 1387 [in the fortress of Amelia/ Perugia ?] for having spoken in Viterbo against Archbishop Giacomo III Fieschi of Genoa, the legate that had succeeded him.  His brother, Ugolino Orsini laid siege to the Rocca of Narni and only abandoned the siege when Urban VI freed the cardinal.

The Perugians, however, extended a warm welcome to Urban VI, who arrived there in October 1387.  Urban VI placed Spoleto and Orvieto under interdict because they refused to receive his envoys.  His troops sacked the contado of Orvieto in 1387.  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.  However, as the fortunes of war moved in favour of Rinaldo Orsini, he was able to negotiate a truce with Perugia.  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. 

The Jubilee of 1400 drew to Rome great crowds of pilgrims, particularly from France.  In spite of a disastrous plague, Boniface IX remained at his post.

In the latter part of 1399, bands of penitents known as the Bianchi or Albati (White Penitents) formed, especially in Provence and Italy.  They went in procession from city to city, clad in white garments, with faces hooded.  For a while their penitential enthusiasm had some good results.  Many of them reached Rome in time for the Jubilee, and were well-received by Boniface IX.  However, he was concerned that they were at the mercy of agitators and conspirators, and finally dissolved them.

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