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PISA

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 646 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PISA, a town, archiepiscopal see and capital of a province of the same name, Tuscany, Italy, on the Arno, 7 M. from the sea' PISA tions of the cathedral were laid in 1063, and its consecration took place in 1118; the baptistery was begun in 1152, and the campanile (the famous leaning tower) in 1174. And all three magnificent structures were mainly the work of Pisan artists, who gave new life to Italian architecture, as they afterwards renewed the art of sculpture. It is asserted by some writers, especially by Tronci, that in the 12th century Pisa adopted a more democratic form of government. But in fact the chief authority was still vested in the nobles, who, both in Pisa and in Sardinia, exercised almost sovereign power. They formed the real strength of the republic, and kept it faithful to the empire and the Ghibelline party. The Guelph and popular element which constituted the force and prosperity of Florence was hostile to Pisa, and led to its downfall. The independence of the former city was of much later origin, only dating from the death of Countess Matilda (1115), but it rapidly rose to an ever-increasing power, and to inevitable rivalry with Pisa. Owing to the political and commercial interests binding Florence to the Roman court, the Guelph element naturally prevailed there, while the growth of its trade and commerce necessarily compelled that state to encroach on waters subject to Pisan rule. And, although Pisa had hitherto been able to oppose a glorious resistance to Genoa and Lucca, it was not so easy to continue the struggle when its enemies were backed by the arms and political wisdom of the Florentines, who were skilled in obtaining powerful allies. The chroniclers ascribe the first war with Florence, which broke out in 1222, to a most ridiculous motive. The ambassadors of the rival states in Rome are said to have quarrelled about a lapdog. This merely shows that there were already so many general and permanent reasons for war that no special cause was needed to provoke it. In 1228 the Pisans met and defeated the united forces of Florence and Lucca near Barga in the Garfagnana, and at the same time they despatched fifty-two galleys to assist Frederick II. in his expedition to the East. Shortly after this they renewed hostilities with the Genoese on account of Sardinia. The judges who governed the island were always at strife, and, as some of them applied to Pisa and some to Genoa for assistance against one another, the Italian seas were once more stained with blood, and the war burst out again and again, down to 1259, when it terminated in the decisive victory of the Pisans and the consolidation of their supremacy in Sardinia. But meanwhile Florence had made alliance with Genoa, Lucca and all the Guelph cities of Tuscany against its Ghibelline rival. The pope had excommunicated Frederick II. and all his adherents. And, as a crowning disaster, the death of Frederick in 1250 proved a mortal blow to the Italian Ghibelline cause. Nevertheless, the Pisans were undaunted. Summoning Siena, Pistoia and the Florentine exiles to their aid, they boldly faced their foe, but were defeated in 1254. Soon after this date we find the old aristocratic government of Pisa replaced by a more popular form. Instead of the consuls there were now twelve elders (anziani) ; besides the podesta, there was a captain of the people; and there was a general council as well as a senate of forty members. The rout of the Tuscan Guelphs on the field of Montaperto (1260) restored the fortunes of Pisa. But the battle of Benevento (1266), where Manfred fell, and the rout of Tagliacozzo (1268), sealing the ruin of the house of Hohenstaufen in Italy and the triumph of that of Anjou, were fatal to Pisa. For the republic had always sided with the empire and favoured Conradin, whose cruel end struck terror into the Ghibelline faction. The pope hurled an edict against the Pisans and tried to deprive them of Sardinia, while their merchants were driven from Sicily by the Angevins. The internal condition of the city was affected by these events. Owing to the increasing influence of the Guelph and popular side, to which the more ambitious nobles began to adhere for the furtherance of personal aims, the aristocratic Ghibelline party was rapidly losing ground. The first man to step to the front at this moment was Count Ugolino della Gherardesca of the powerful house of that name. He had become the virtual head of the republic, and, in order to preserve its independence and his own sway, inclined to the brother and son, or, as some authorities aver, a wife and son, prisoners in their hands. Sardinia continued to be governed by native " judges " who were like petty sovereigns, but were now subject to the sway of Pisa. This was the primary cause of the jealousy of the Genoese, and of the wars afterwards made by them upon Pisa and carried on until its power was crushed. Meanwhile the Pisans flourished more and more, and continued hostilities against the Saracens. In 1062 their ships returned from Palermo laden with spoil. Thus it is not surprising that Pisa should already have had its own code of laws (Consuetudini di mare), which in 1075 were approved by Gregory VII., and in io8i confirmed by a patent from the emperor Henry IV., a document which mentions for the first time the existence of a magistrate analogous to the consuls of the republic, although the latter, according to some writers, already existed in Pisa as early as the year ro8o; the point, however, is doubtful, and other writers place the first authentic mention of the consuls in the year 1094.1 The oldest of Pisan statutes still extant is the Breve dei consoli di mare of 1162. In 1099 the Pisans joined in the second crusade, proved their valour at the capture of Jerusalem, and derived many commercial advantages from it; for within a short time they had banks, consuls, warehouses and privileges of all kinds in every Eastern port. Thus, while the commune of Pisa was still under the rule of the marquises of Tuscany, all negotiations with it were carried on as with an independent state officially represented by the archbishop and consuls. The aristocrats were the dominant party, and filled the highest offices of the republic, which, in the 12th century, rose to great power, both on sea and land, by its wars with the Lucchese, Genoese and Moslems. In 1110 Pisa made peace with Lucca after six years of continuous hostilities. And in the years 1113 and i i i it achieved a still greater enterprise. The Pisan fleet of three hundred sail, commanded by the archbishop Pietro Moriconi, attacked the Balearic Isles, where as many as 20,000 Christians were said to be held captive by the Moslems, and returned loaded with spoil and with a multitude of Christian and Moslem prisoners. The former were set at liberty or ransomed, and among the latter was the last descendant of the reigning dynasty. The chief eunuch who had governed Majorca perished in the siege. Immediately afterwards the fourteen years' war with Genoa broke out. The two republics contested the dominion of the sea, and both claimed supreme power over the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. A papal edict awarding the supremacy of Corsica to the Pisan church proved sufficient cause for the war, which went on from 1118 to 1132. Then Innocent II. transferred the supremacy over part of Corsica to the Genoese church, and compensated Pisa by grants in Sardinia and elsewhere. Accordingly, to gratify the pope and the emperor Lothair II., the Pisans entered the Neapolitan territory to combat the Normans. They aided in the vigorous defence of the city of Naples, and twice attacked and pillaged Amalfi, in 1135 and 1137, with such effect that the town never regained its prosperity. It has been said that the copy of the Pandects then taken by the Pisans from Amalfi was the first known to them, but in fact they were already acquainted with those laws. The war with Genoa never came to a real end. Even after the retaking of Jerusalem by the Moslems (1187) the Pisans and Genoese again met in conflict in the East, and performed many deeds of valour. They were always ready to come to blows, and gave still more signal proofs of their enmity during the Sicilian War in behalf of the emperor Henry VI. From that moment it was plain that there could be no lasting peace between these rival powers until the one or the other should be crushed. The greatness and wealth of the Pisans at this period of their history is proved by the erection of the noble buildings by which their city is adorned. The founda- It must be remembered that the Pisans and Florentines dated the beginning of the year ab incarnatione, i.e. from the 25th of March. But the Florentines dated it from the 25th following and the Pisans from the 25th of March preceding the commencement of the common year. The new or common style was adopted throughout Tuscany in the year 1750. Guelphs and the popular party, in spite of the Ghibelline tradi- Pisa's freedom was for ever lost. He was succeeded by other tions of his race. He was supported by his kinsman Giovanni Visconti, judge of Gallura; but almost all the other great families vowed eternal hatred against him, and proclaimed him a traitor to his party, his country and his kin. So in 1274 he and Visconti were driven into exile. Both then joined the Florentines, took part in the war against their native city, and laid waste its surrounding territories. In 1276 the Pisans were compelled to agree to very grievous terms—to exempt Florentine merchandise from all harbour dues, to yield certain strongholds to Lucca, and to permit the return of Count Ugolino, whose houses they had burnt, and whose lands they had confiscated. Thus the count again became a powerful leader in Pisa. Visconti, however, was dead. This was the moment chosen by Genoa for a desperate and decisive struggle with her perpetual rival. For some years the hostile fleets continued to harass each other and engage in petty skirmishes, as if to measure their strength and prepare for a final effort. On the 6th of August 1284 the great battle of Meloria took place. Here seventy-two Pisan galleys engaged eighty-eight Genoese, and half the Pisan fleet was destroyed. The chroniclers speak of 5000 killed and 11,000 prisoners; and, although these figures must be exaggerated, so great was the number of captives taken by the Genoese as to give rise to the saying—" To see Pisa, you must now go to Genoa." This defeat crushed the power of Pisa. She had lost her dominion over the sea, and the Tuscan Guelphs again joined in attacking her by land. Count Ugolino had taken part in the battle of Meloria and was accused of treachery. At the height of his country's disasters he sought to confirm his own power by making terms with the Florentines, by yielding certain castles to Lucca, and by neglecting to conclude negotiations with the Genoese for the release of the prisoners, lest these should all prove more or less hostile to himself. This excited a storm of opposition against him. The archbishop Ruggieri, having put himself at the head of the nobles, was elected podesta by the Lanfranchi, Sismondi and Gualandi, and a section of the popular party. The city was plunged into civil war. The great bell of the commune called together the adherents of the archbishop; the bell of the people summoned the partisans of the count. After a day's fighting (July 1, 1288) the count, his two sons and his two grandsons were captured in the palazzo del popolo (or town hall), and cast into a tower belonging to the Gualandi and known as the " Tower of the Seven Streets." Here they were all left to die of hunger. Their tragic end was afterwards immortalized in the Divine comnzedia. The sympathies of Dante Alighieri, the Florentine patriot and foe of Rome, were naturally in favour of the victims of an aristocratic prelate, opposed to all reconciliation with Florence. The Florentines were now allied with Lucca and Genoa, and a few of their vessels succeeded in forcing an entry into the Pisan port, blocked it with sunken boats, and seized its towers. Their own internal dissensions of 1293 put a stop to the campaign, but not before they had concluded an advantageous peace. They and all the members of the Guelph league were freed from all imposts in Pisa and its port. In addition to these privileges the Genoese also held Corsica and part of Sardinia; and through-out the island of Elba they were exempted from every tax. They likewise received a ransom of 160,000 lire for their Pisan prisoners. These were no longer numerous, many having succumbed to the hardships and sufferings of all kinds to which they had been exposed. In 1312 the arrival of the emperor Henry VII. gladdened the hearts of the Pisans, but his sudden death in 1313 again over-threw their hopes. He was interred at Pisa, and Uguccione della Faggiuola remained as imperial lieutenant, was elected podesta and captain of the people, and thus became virtual lord of the city. As a Ghibelline chief of valour and renown he was able to restore the military prestige of the Pisans, who under his command captured Lucca and defeated the Florentines at Montecatini on the 29th of August 1315. So tyrannical, however, was his rule that in 1316 he was expelled by the popular fury. But lords or tyrants, of whom the most renowned was Castruccio Castracane, a political and military adventurer of much the same stamp as Uguccione himself. With the help of Louis the Bavarian, Castruccio became lord of Lucca and Pisa, and was victorious over the Florentines; but his premature death in 1328 again left the city a prey to the conflicts of opposing factions. New lords, or petty tyrants, rose to power in turn during this period of civil discord, but the military valour of the Pisans was not yet extinguished. By sea they were almost impotent—Corsica and Sardinia were lost to them for ever; but they were still formidable by land. In 1341 they besieged Lucca in order to prevent the entry of the Florentines, to whom the city had been sold for 250,000 florins by the powerful Mastino della Scala. Aided by their Milanese, Mantuan and Paduan allies, they gave battle to their rivals, put them to rout at Altopascio (Oct. 2), and then again excluded them from their port. Thereupon the Florentines obtained Porto Talamone from Siena and established a navy of their own. By this means they were enabled to capture the island of Giglio, and, attacking the Pisan harbour, carried off its chains, bore them in triumph to Florence, and suspended them in front of the baptistery, where they remained until 1848. Then, in pledge of the brotherhood of all Italian cities, they were given back to Pisa, and placed in the Campo Santo. The war was now carried on by the free companies with varying fortune, but always more or less to the hurt of the Pisans. In 1369 Lucca was taken from them by the emperor Charles IV.; and afterwards Giovan Galeazzo Visconti, known as the count of Virtu, determined to forward his ambitious designs upon the whole of Italy by wresting Pisa from the Gambacorti. For at this time the conflicts of the Raspanti faction, headed by the Gherardesca, with the Bergolini led by the Gambacorti, had left the latter family masters of the city. At Visconti's instigation Piero Gambacorti, the ruler of the moment, was treacherously assassinated by Jacopo d'Appiano, who succeeded him as tyrant of Pisa, and bequeathed the state to his son Gherardo. The latter, a man of inferior ability and daring, sold Pisa to the count of Virtu, receiving in exchange 200,000 florins, Piombino, and the islands of Elba, Pianosa and Monte Cristo. Thus in 1399 Visconti took possession of Pisa, and left it to his natural son Gabriele Maria Visconti, who was afterwards expelled from its gates. But even during this century of disaster the Pisans continued to cherish not only commerce, but also the fine arts. In the year 1278 they had entrusted the erection of their fine Campo Santo to Niccola and Giovanni Pisano, by whom the architectural part of it was completed towards the end of the century. In the following year the first artists of Italy were engaged in its decoration, and the celebrated frescoes attributed to Orcagna (q.v.) were painted on its walls. Others were after-wards supplied by Benozzo Gozzoli and men of lesser note, and the labour of ornamentation was only discontinued in 1464. Meanwhile, in 1406, the Florentines made another attack upon Pisa, besieging it simultaneously by sea and land. Owing to the starving condition of its defenders, and aided by the treachery of Giovanni Gambacorti, they entered the city in triumph on the 9th of October, and sought to " crush every germ of rebellion and drive out its citizens by measures of the utmost harshness and cruelty." Such were the orders sent by the Ten of War to the representatives of the Florentine government in Pisa, and such was then the established policy of every Italian state. Consequently for a long time there was a continual stream of emigration from Pisa. The Medici pursued a humaner course. In 1472 Lorenzo the Magnificent tried to restore the ancient renown of the Pisan university. To that end he filled it with celebrated scholars, and, leaving only a few chairs of letters and philosophy in Florence, compelled the Florentines to resort to Pisa for the prosecution of their studies. But nothing could now allay the inextinguishable hatred of the conquered people. When Charles VIII. made his descent into Italy in 1494, and came to Sarzana on his way to Tuscany, he was welcomed by the Pisans with the greatest demonstrations of joy. And, although that monarch was ostensibly the friend of Florence, they did `not hesitate, even in his presence, to assert their own independence, summoned a council, the former to Cividale (in Friuli), the and, casting the Florentine ensign, the Marzocco, into the Arno, made instant preparations for war. Between 1499 and 15o5 they heroically withstood three sieges and repulsed three attacking armies. But their adversaries always returned to the assault, and, what was worse, yearly laid waste their territories and destroyed all their crops. Soderini, who was perpetual gonfalonier of Florence, and Machiavelli, the secretary of the Ten, urged on the war. In 1509 Florence encamped her forces on three sides of the distressed city, which at last, reduced to extremity by famine, was compelled to surrender on the 8th of June 1509. Thenceforth the Florentines remained lords of Pisa. But now, mainly owing to the efforts of Soderini and Machiavelli, the conquerors showed great magnanimity. They brought with them large stores of provisions, which were freely distributed to all; they tried to succour the suffering populace in every way, and gave other assistance to the wealthier classes. Nevertheless, emigration continued even on a larger scale than in 1406, and the real history of Pisa may be said to have ended. In Naples, in Palermo, in all parts of Italy, Switzerland and the south of France, we still find the names of Pisan families who quitted their beloved home at that time. The Florentines immediately built a new citadel, and this was a great bitterness to the Pisans. The Medici, however, remained well disposed towards the city. Leo X. was an active patron of the university, but it again declined after his death. The grand duke Cosmo I., a genuine statesman, not only restored the university, but instituted the " uffizio dei fossi," or drainage office for the reclamation of marsh lands, and founded the knighthood of St Stephen. This order played a noble part in the protection of Tuscan commerce, by fighting the Barbary pirates and establishing the prestige of the grand-ducal navy (see MEDICI). Under the succeeding Medici, Pisa's fortunes steadily declined. Ferdinand I. initiated a few public works there, and above all restored the cathedral, which had been partly destroyed by fire in 1595. These dreary times, however, are brightened by one glorious name—that of Galileo Galilei. The population of Pisa within the wails had been reduced in 1551 to 8J74 souls, and by 1745 it had only risen to the number of 12,406. Under the house of Lorraine, or more correctly during the reign of that enlightened reformer the grand duke Peter Leopold (176 1790), Pisa shared in the general prosperity of Tuscany, and its population constantly increased. By 184o it contained 21,670 souls, exclusive of the suburbs and outlying districts. (P. V.)
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