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COLA DI RIENZI (c. 1313–1354)

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Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 324 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COLA DI RIENZI (c. 1313–1354), tribune of the Roman ridicule. His government was costly, and to meet its many people, was born in Rome, being the son of a tavern-keeper expenses he was obliged to lay heavy taxes upon the people. named Lorenzo Gabrini. His father's Christian name was He offended the pope by his arrogance and pride, and both pope shortened to Rienzo, and his own, Nicholas, to Cola; hence the and emperor by his proposal to set up a new Roman empire, Cola di Rienzi, or Rienzo, by which he is generally known. His the sovereignty of which would rest directly upon the will of early years were passed at Anagini. Having devoted much the people. In October Clement gave power to a legate to time to the study of the Latin writers, historians, orators and depose him and bring him to trial, and the end was obviously poets, and filled his mind with stories of the glories and the in sight. Taking heart, the exiled barons gathered together power of ancient Rome, he turned his thoughts to the task of some troops, and war began in the neighbourhood of Rome. restoring his native city to its pristine greatness, his zeal for Rienzi obtained aid from Louis of Hungary and others, and this work being quickened by the desire to avenge his brother, on the loth of November his forces defeated the nobles in a who had been killed by a noble, a member of the ruling class. battle just outside the gates of Rome, a battle in which the He became a notary and a person of some importance in the tribune himself took no part, but in which his most distinguished city, and was sent in 1343 on a public errant to Pope Clement foe, Stephen Colonna, was killed. But this victory did not VI. at Avignon. He discharged his duties with ability and save him. He passed his time in feasts and pageants, while success, and although the boldness with which he denounced in a bull the pope denounced him as a criminal, a pagan and the aristocratic rulers of Rome drew down upon him the enmity a heretic, until, terrified by a slight disturbance on the 15th of of powerful men, he won the favour and esteem of the pope, who December, he abdicated and fled from Rome. He sought refuge gave him an official position at his court. Returning to Rome in Naples, but soon he left that city and spent over two years about April 1344 he worked for three years at the great object in an Italian mountain monastery. of his life, the restoration of the city to its former position of Emerging from his solitude Rienzi journeyed to Prague, power. He gathered together a band of supporters, plans which he reached in July 1350, and threw himself upon the were drawn up, and at length all was ready for the rising. On protection of the emperor Charles IV. Denouncing the temporal the 19th of May 1347 heralds invited the people to a parliament power of .the pope he implored the emperor to deliver Italy, on the Capitol, and on the loth, the day being Whit-Sunday, and especially Rome,. from their oppressors; but, heedless of the meeting took place. Dressed in full armour and attended his invitations, Charles kept him in prison for more than a year by the papal vicar, Cola headed a procession to the Capitol; in the fortress of Raudnitz, and then handed him over to here he addressed the assembled crowd, speaking " with Clement, who had been clamouring for his surrender. At fascinating eloquence of the servitude and redemption of Avignon, where he appeared in August 1352, Rienzi was tried Rome." A new series of laws was published and accepted by three cardinals, and was sentenced to death, but this judgment with acclaim, and unlimited authority was given to the author was not carried out, and he remained in prison in spite of of the revolution. Without striking a blow the nobles left appeals from Petrarch for his release. Freedom, however, was the city or went into hiding, and a few days later Rienzi took at hand. In December 1352 Clement died, and his successor, the title of tribune (Nicholaus, severus et clemens, libertatis, Innocent VI., anxious to strike a blow at the baronial rulers pacis justiciaeque tribunus, et sacre Romane Reipublice liberator). of Rome, and seeing in the former tribune an excellent tool His authority quickly and quietly accepted by all classes, for this purpose, pardoned and released his prisoner. Giving him the new ruler governed the city with a stern justice which was the title of senator, he sent him to Italy with the legate, Cardinal in marked contrast to the recent reign of licence and disorder. Albornoz, and having collected a few mercenary troops on the In great state the tribune moved through the streets of Rome, way, Rienzi entered Rome in August 1354. He was received being received at St Peter's with the hymn Veni Creator spirilus, with great rejoicings and quickly regained his former position while in a letter the poet Petrarch urged him to continue his of power. But this latter term of office was destined to be great and noble work, and congratulated him on his past even shorter than his former one had been. Having vainly achievements, calling him the new Camillus, Brutus and besieged the fortress of Palestrina, he returned to Rome, where Romulus. In July in a sonorous decree he proclaimed the he treacherously seized the soldier of fortune, Fra Monreale, sovereignty of the Roman people over the empire, but before who was put to death, and where, by other cruel and arbitrary this he had set to work upon his task of restoring the authority deeds, he soon lost the favour of the people. Their passions of Rome over the cities and provinces of Italy, of making the were quickly aroused and a tumult broke out on the 8th of city again caput mundi. He wrote letters to the cities of Italy, October. Rienzi attempted to address them, but the building asking them to send representatives to an assembly which in which he stood was fired, and while trying to escape in would meet on the 1st of August, when the formation of a great disguise he was murdered by the mob. Rienzi was the hero federation under the headship of Rome would be considered. of one of the finest of Petrarch's odes, Spirito gentil, and also On the appointed day a number of representatives appeared, of some beautiful verses by Lord Byron. He was a man of and after some elaborate and fantastic ceremonials Rienzi, as vivid, but disordered, imagination, without possessing any dictator, issued an edict citing the emperor Louis the Bavarian conception of. statesmanship. In 1887 a statue of the tribune and his rival Charles, afterwards the emperor Charles IV., and was erected at the foot of the Capitoline Hill in Rome. also the imperial electors and all others concerned in the dispute, Rienzi's Inc fand fate have formed the subject of a famous novel to appear before him in order that he might pronounce judgment by Bulwer Lytton, of an opera by Wagner and of a tragedy by in the case. On the following day the festival of the unity of Julius Mosen. His letters, edited by A. Gabrielli, are published in Italy was celebrated, but neither this nor the previous meet- vol. vi. of the Fonti per la storia d'Italia (Rome, 189o). See also ing had any practical result. Rienzi's power, however, was Papencordt, Cola di Rienzo and seine Zeit (Hamburg, 1841) ; Auriac, recognized in Naples, whence both and her Etude historique sur N. Rienzi (Amiens, 1885) ; E. Rodocanachi, rQueen Joanna aCola di Rienzi (Paris, 1888) ; Kuhn, Die Entwickelung der Biindnis- bitter foe, King Louis of Hungary, appealed to him for pro- plane Cola di Rienzos im Jahre 1347 (Berlin, 1905) ; A. von Reumont, tection and aid, and on the 15th of August he was crowned Geschichte der Stadt Rom (1867–7o) ; and F. Gregorovius, Geschichte tribune with great pomp, wreaths of flowers being placed on der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter, vol. vi. (Eng. trans., by* A. his head. Gregorovius says this ceremony " was the fantastic Hamilton, 1898). (A. W. H. ) caricature in which ended the imperium of Charles the Great. RIESA, a town of Germany, in the kingdom of Saxony, A world where political action was represented in such guise pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Elbe, 30 M. N.W. of was ripe for overthrow, or could only be saved by a great Dresden, on the main line of railway to Leipzig, and at the mental reformation." He then seized, but soon released, junction of lines to Chemnitz, Elsterwerda and Nossen. Pop. Stephen Colonna and some other barons who had spoken (1905) 14,073. The river is here crossed by a fine bridge, a sandstone and iron- structure, carrying both railway and road, and replacing the one carried away by floods in 1875. The town contains two Evangelical churches, a castle, formerly a convent and now used as a town hall, and several schools. There is a harbour with quays and a dockyard, also rolling-mills and saw-mills, ironworks and sandstone quarries. Other industries are the manufacture of furniture, beer, soap, carriages and bricks. The most important shipping station on the Elbe in Saxony, Riesa is the lading-place for goods to and from Bavaria, and a mart for herrings, petroleum, wood, coal and grain. A constant passenger steamboat communication is maintained with Meissen and Dresden; and, owing to the artillery practice ranges at Zeithain, on the right bank of the Elbe, Riesa has become of recent years one of the chief depots of the Saxon army. Riesa •received municipal rights in 1632, and after a period of decay was again raised to the rank of a town in 1859.
End of Article: COLA DI RIENZI (c. 1313–1354)
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