Pisa City in Tuscany, Italy, Europe


July 23


Muzio Sforza captures Pisa and is subsequently hired by Niccolò III d'Este of Ferrara, who is being menaced by Ottobono Terzi of Parma.


February 19

Masaccio is commissioned by Giuliano di Colino degli Scarsi da San Giusto, for the sum of 80 florins, to paint a major altarpiece, the Pisa Altarpiece, for his chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Pisa.


August 24

On 24 August, an hour before daybreak, a whirlwind of dense black vapour spreading for about two miles in all directions issued from the upper sea near Ancona, and traversing Italy passed into the lower sea near Pisa. This vapour driven by resistless forces, whether natural or supernatural I know not, and rent and driven in struggles with itself, split off into clouds which, now rising to heaven now descending to earth, dashed one against another, or whirling round with inconceivable velocity before them a wind of measureless violence, and sent forth as they strove together frequent lightnings and dazzling flames. From these clouds thus broken and embroiled, from this furious wind, and these quick-succeeding sheets of flame, came a sound louder than the roar of thunder or earthquake, and so terrible that whosoever heard it thought the end of the world had come, and that land and sea, and all that was left of earth and sky, were returning mingled together to ancient Chaos. Wherever this dreadful whirlwind passed it wrought the most astonishing and unheard-of effects, but more notably than elsewhere near the walled village of San Casciano, situated about eight miles from Florence, on the hill separating the Val di Pesa from the Val di Grieve. Between this town and the village of Sant'Andrea, standing on the same hill, the hurricane swept, not touching Sant'Andrea, and merely grazing the outskirts of San Casciano so as to strike some of the battlements of the walls, and the chimneys of a few houses. But outside, in the space between the two places named, many buildings were levelled with the ground; the roofs of the churches of San Martino at Bagnuolo, and of Santa Maria della Pace, were borne bodily to a distance of more than a mile; and a carrier and his mules were found dead, some way from the road, in the neighbouring valley. The strongest oaks and the sturdier trees which would not stoop before the fury of the blast, were not merely uprooted but carried far away from the places where they grew. When the tempest had passed and morning broke, men remained stunned and stupfied. They saw their fields devastated and destroyed, their houses and churches laid in ruins, and heard the lamentations of those who looked on shattered homesteads under which their kinsmen or their cattle lay dead. Which sights and sounds filled all who say or heard of them with the profoundest pity and fear. But doubtless it was God's will rather to threaten than to chastise Tuscany; for had a hurricane like this, instead of coming among oaks, and alders, and thinly scattered dwellings, burst upon the close-packed houses and crowded population of a great city, it would assuredly have wrought the most terrible ruin and destruction that the mind of man can conceive.


May 1

The new Signoria entered into office. That evening Andrea de' Pazzi and Brigliaino(1) were captured. And also, the same evening, returning from Pisa, Messer Piero Vespucci was captured and taken to the Palagio, as it was said that he had aided the escape of a man concerned in the plot. > (1) Giovanni di Domenico, called Brigliaino, a hanger-on of the house of Pazzi, and a worthless man.

May 17

At about 20 in the evening (4 p.m.), some boys disinterred it (the body of Messer Jacopo) a second time, and dragged it through Florence by the piece of rope that was still round its neck; and when they came to the door of his house, they tied the rope to the door-bell, saying: "Knock at the door!" and they made great sport all through the town. And when they grew tired and did not know what more to do with it, they went to the Ponte al Rubiconte and threw it into the river.(1) And they sang a song with certain rhymes, amongst others this line: "Messer Jacopo is floating away down the Arno." And it was considered an extraordinary thing, first because children are usually afraid of dead bodies, and secondly because the stench was so bad that it was impossible to go near it; one may imagine what it was like, from the 27th April till the 17th May! And they must have had to touch with with their hands to throw it into the Arno. And as it floated down the river, always keeping above the surface, the bridges were crowded with people to watch it pass. And another day, down towards Brozzi, the boys pulled it out of the water again, and hung it on a willow, and then the beat it, and threw it back into the Arno. And it is said that it was seen to pass under the bridges of Pisa, always above the surface. > (1) History says that the magistrates had the body thrown into the Arno, to put a stop to the boys' treatment of it. (Trans.)

December 3

The traitor from Pistoia, called Piero Baldinotti,(1) was taken in the executioner's cart and hung, and the son was imprisoned for life in the Stinche. And at this time our soldiers went into quarters in the Pisan territory and elsewhere, and also the Capitano. > (1) He had wished to deliver Pistoia from the yoke of the Florentines, and give it to the King of Naples.


January 17

A certain hermit came here to preach and threatened many ills. He had been at Volterra, serving at a leper hospital. He was a lad of twenty-four, barefoot, with a wallet on his back; and he declared that St. John and the Angel Raphael had appeared to him. And one morning he went up on to the _ringhierra_ of the Signori to preach, but the "Eight" sent him away. And each day some incident happened. And at this time, a son of the Duke of Milan,(1) who was confined within certain boundaries in the territory of Pisa, fled from there, and went to Genoa to the Signor Roberto,(2) and joined him. > (1) This was Ludovico Sforza, called _Il Moro_, uncle to the reigning duke, and at that moment exiled. > > (2) Roberto da Sanseverino.

February 8

Four galleys reached the Port of Pisa, two from the West and two from Barbary, which had joined forces. They came in great terror, for fear of the fleet of the king and the Genoese. It was considered a great piece of news.

March 9

A man who was said to be a Venetian was hung in the _Mercato Nuovo_, for having stolen some florns off a money-changer's table the evening before, in broad daylight; and he had been caught and taken to the rector,(1) and was condemned to be hung. At this time Signor Roberto made an incursion into the Pisan district with many men, and came as far as the Port of Pisa and set it on fire, but did not do it much harm; and then he advanced into the Val di Calci, and burnt the mills and took much booty, after which he retired beyond the Serchio. And in this direction the Duke of Calabria(2) penetrated as far as the Poggio Imperiale, with the design of capturing it, but he did not succeed. And meanwhile our troops advanced as far as Siena, and pillaged the country, and took a certain fort called Selvoli and held it for some time, that is to say, till the 4th April. And the plague was making now great ravages, having increased again. And we were continually raising fresh bands of infantry; and the Venetians sent us a number of soldiers, that were all despatched to the Pisan territory. And the Capitano now went into the Pisan territory, awaiting Count Carlo(3) and a large body of cavalry. > (1) The rector of the Arte del Cambio (Money-chamber's Guild). > > (2) Alfonso d'Aragona, son of Ferdinando, King of Naples. > > (3) Count Carlo da Montone, son of the famous Braccio, sent by the Venetians to aid the Florentines.

April 12

There was a skirmish outside Pisa between our Capitano and Signor Roberto, and a good number were slain. And it was said that our Capitano had no wish to vanquish the enemy, and therefore did not do his duty; this was the unanimous opinion of the people.


March 14

A chancellor of Count Girolamo was hung at the windows of the Bargello. He had been captured by one of the Altoviti,(1) who was a proscribed rebel, and in order to be pardoned, found out this man, and caught him between Piombino and Pisa; and he won his pardon. > (1) This must have been the famous Cola Montano, a Bolognese; not a chancellor, but maintained by Count Girolamo Riario, and the Pope, and the King of Naples, and all the enemies of Florence, during the war following the Conspiracy of the Pazzi. That he was taken by one of the Altoviti is not mentioned elsewhere. Brought to Florence, he was put in the prison of the Bargello or Captain of the Piazza dei Signori; where he wrote with his own hand a _Confessione_, which is preserved in the State Archives of Florence, amongst the _Carte Strozziane_, still unedited, but well worth publishing, as important contributions to the history of that time. The order of the Signori e Collegi to the Otto di Custodia e Balia, of the 12th March, for the execution of Montano, still exist in the said archives amongst the papers of these magistrates. (Trans.)

March 19

A horseman of Signor Roberto was arrested on the _Ponte a Valiano_, who was carrying letters to Signor Roberto's son; which letters shed some light upon an intended conspiracy; and in consequence of this, Antonio Pucci and other citizens left for the Pisan territory, and in a few days got a number of soldiers together.


April 6

Seven shiploads of grain arrived at Pisa, comprising 7 thousand moggia(1); 3 thousand moggia were brought here, and 4 thousand went to Ferrara and Lombardy, where there was great scarcity. > (1) A Tuscan _moggio_ was generally 8 staia (bushels). (Trans.)

October 23

The State arrested a son of Filippo Tornabuoni, called Alessandro, and he was confined within certain boundaries in Sicily. It was said to be because he had designs against Lorenzo de' Medici, who was his relative; this may not have been the case, but I only repeat what was said.(1) At this time Pietrasanta was besieged very closely. There were many of our commissaries there, with a fine troop of men. The wax tapers and the _palii_ were now removed from San Giovanni, and the order was given that they should no longer be placed there.(2) The church was thoroughly cleaned, and remained perfectly simple without these decorations; up till this time all the offerings of tapers and _palii_ used to be placed here, so that nothing of the church itself could be seen. > (1) On the day of san Giovanni (24th June) the magistrates stood on the _ringhiera_ of the Palagio, to receive the deputations sent by tributary towns, the palii being hung round the ringhiera in order: from Pisa, Arezzo, Pistoia, Volterra, Cortona, Lusignano, Castiglione, Aretino, etc. The tapers were brought on splendid painted cars. The _Marzocco_ was crowned four days before and four days after, and during this time there was an indemnity for debtors, etc. The tapers and _palii_ were all put in San Giovanni, the _palii_ being hung on iron rings, and remaining there for one year, when they were removed to place for the fresh ones. The old ones were used for decoration on public fetes, or for altar-cloths, or were sold by auction. (Trans.)


July 10

The French ambassadors returned from Rome; one of them remaining in Florence. In these days the fleet of the King of Naples came to the Port of Pisa, and besieged Spezia and Porto Venere.

October 26

Piero de' Medici left here to go on the way to Pisa, to meet the King of France; and when he reached the king, he caused the keys of Serezzano and of Pietrasanta to be given him, and also made him promises of money. The king wishing to know whether in truth he had been given this commission, sent Lorenzo, son of Giovanni Tornabuoni, who had gone with Piero de' Medici, back to Florence, to get it confirmed by the Signoria; but they refused to confirm it. Lorenzo, in some consternation, did not return to the French camp, and Piero was rather at fault. He acted like a young fellow, and perhaps with good results, since we remained friends with the king, thank God!

November 5

Certain messengers of the King of France arrived and went about Florence marking the houses which they preferred. They came indoors and entered all the rooms, marking one for such and such a lord, and another for such and such a baron. And observe that there were not hundreds but thousands of the French, so that the whole city was occupied in every corner; for those houses that were not marked were occupied in a moment when the men-at-arms and the infantry arrived, going into every street, and saying: _Apri qua_! (Open there!) and not caring whether the owners were rich or poor. They gave it to be understood that they meant to pay: but there were not many who paid. And when they did pay a certain amount, _they paid for the horns and ate the ox_ (Italian proverb): "They didn't pay anything like what they cost." Few of us had sent away our womenkind, except the young girls, who were sent to convents and to relatives where no soldiers were quartered; but the French were really very well-behaved, for there was not a single one who said an unsuitable word to a woman. In their hearts they felt a secret dread, and kept asking how many men Florence could dispose of; and they were told that at the sound of a bell the city would have 100 thousand men from within and without at her command. The truth was this: that they had come with the idea of sacking Florence, as their king had promised them but they could not see the game begun, much less won. And all this was the doing of the Almighty. On this same day, five ambassadors were chosen to go to the King of France, who was at Pisa. They were as follows: First, Fra Girolamo, a preacher of the Order of San Domenico, dwelling at San Marco, a native of Ferrara; whom we believe to be a prophet, and he does not deny it in his sermons, but always says _da parte del Signore_ (I have it from the Lord . . .), and he preaches on important subjects. The second, Tanai de' Nerli; the third, Pandolfo Rucellai; the fourth, Giovanni Cavalcanti; and the fifth, Piero Soderini; all Florentine citizens. And they left the next day. On the same day a number of French arrived, who were the vanguard of the king, and lodged in the houses assigned to them, which were marked with chalk. This evening at about 2 o'clock (10 p.m.) a few strokes of the bell were heard from the Palagio; and immediately the Piazza was full of men, it being thought that a _portamento_ was going to be summoned, for everyone was excited and distrustful, continually expecting great events.

November 8

Piero de' Medici returned to Florence, coming from the King of France, who was at Pisa; and when he reached his house, he threw out _confetti_ (sweetmeats), and gave a lot of wine to the people, to make himself popular; declaring that he had settled everything satisfactorily with the king, and appearing to be in the best of humours. This same day, the Signori published a proclamation that as long as the king should stay in Florence there would be no tax on firewood or on any kind of food; and only the half of the usual tax on wine; also that anyone might sell and provide meals.(1) > (1) This proclamation is really of the 6th November, and the exemptions and diminutions of the tax conceded by it are a little different from those quoted here: the duration of these was from the 9th to the 20th, and on the latter date they were prorogued for the whole month. This was done "in order that there should be an abundance of victuals in the city both for its inhabitants and the foreigners, and to help the poor people."

November 13

We heard that the Pisans had risen and taken possession of the city; and pulling down a certain marble _marzocco_, had dragged it all over Pisa, and then thrown it into the Arno, crying, "_Liberta_!" We also heard that Piero and his brothers were at Bologna; and such a crowd of French and Swiss were coming into Florence, that there was great confusion and alarm and suspicion amongst all classes. You may think what it was to have all this crowd in our houses, and everything left as usual, with the women about, and to have to serve them with whatever they needed, at the greatest inconvenience.

November 17

The King of France entered Florence at 22 in the evening (6 p.m.) by the Porta a San Friano, and passed through the Piazza (de' Signori), proceeding so slowly that it was already 24 (8 p.m.) before he reached Santa Maria del Fiore. He dismounted at the steps, and walked up to the High Altar, there being so many torches that they made a double row from the door to the altar, leaving a way clear in the middle, along which he went with his barons and all his suite, amidst such tumultuous shouting of _Viva Francia_ as was never heard. Only think that all Florence was there, either in the church or outside. Everyone shouted, great and small, old and young, and all from their hearts, without flattery. When he was seen on foot he seemed to the people somewhat less imposing, for he was infact a very small man. Nevertheless there was no one who did not feel favourably disposed towards him. Therefore it should have been eas tomake him understand that our hearts are innocent of guile, and that we are truly devoted to him; so that he ought to feel moved towards us in uncommon measure, and to trust us absolutely. This is really the case, and he will see in the future what the faith of the Florentines signifies. Upon coming out of church, he remounted his horse and rode on to the palace of Piero de' Medici, amidst continued cries of _Viva Francia_. Never was such joy seen before, or so much honour done to anyone, with heartfelt sincerity, as we were in hopes that he would bring us peace and rest. In the end it proved not to be so, as he took Pisa from us and gave it to the Pisans, which he had no right to do, seeing that he could not give what was not his.(1) > (1) On the same day the Signoria itself decreed that as long as the king remained in Florence each householder should keep a light burning every night in a window looking on to the street, from eight o'clock in the evening till one o'clock in the morning. And there was also a debate whether the keys of the Porte a San Frediano, San Gallo, and San Piero Gattolini (now Porta Romana) should be given to him.

November 26

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci: > The king went together with the Signoria to hear mass at Santa Maria del Fiore and here he swore to observe the articles which had been drawn up, and which were as follows: that we should lend him 120 thousand florins, giving him 50 thousand florins now, and the rest before the end of July 1495; and that he should leave and give back to us the forts of Pisa and all the others; and leave our territory free and unmolested; and that Piero de' Medici should be confined to boundaries 100 miles away from Florence; and that the price of 2000 florins placed upon his head should be taken off, and also off his brothers'. All this he swore to observe, on the altar of Santa Maria del Fiore, before Christ Jesus, on the word of a king.(1) (1) These articles had been signed the preceding day in the palace of the Medici, where the king was quartered. The Marquis Gino Capponi published them in the _Archivio Storico Italiano_, I Serie, vol. I., pp. 348-75. There are twenty-seven articles, and the last twelve regard entirely the persons and interests of the Medici.

December 15

15th December (Monday). Nothing new here. From Pisa we heard that they were holding out, and making raids on all sides, pillaging and doing as much damage as they could.

December 22

22nd December (Monday). It was said that the king was still at Viterbo; everyone went on talking of the French, of Rome, and Pisa, and how Rome would not give a safe-conduct. The Duke of Calabria had arrived there, to resist the French. This day many things were voted in the Palagio: Anyone who slew a man could not return to Florence; and a law as follows against the unmentionable vice: the first time the offender to be punished with _gogna_,(1) the second time, to be fastened to a pillar, and the third time, to be burnt; and many other laws, all recommended by the Frate. (1) _Alia gogna_ was when a prisoner was exposed on the outer wall of the prison of the Bargello, with his hands bound behind him to one of the iron rings, bare-headed, with his hat at his feet to receive _soldi_, and a placard on his breast upon which his crime was written. He had to remain there an hour, during which time the old bell of the prison was rung. (Trans.)

December 30

30th December (Tuesday). Ambassadors were chosen to go to Pisa: Piero Capponi and Francesco Valori, together with the French one; and they were to take letters from the king with them, saying that Pisa should be given back to us.(1) They were, in fact, playing us such tricks that the people thought that the king was making fools of us, which was considered a bad prospect, as indeed it was. (1) On the 13th November the Signoria had elected Capponi, together with two other citizens, as Proveditori for the guardianship and care of the city of Pisa. On the 24th December the _Dieci di Liberia e Balia_ deputed Capponi and Valori "General Commissioners with full authority in every place outside Florence"; and the same day they ordered that forty gold florins should be paid to them, as "elected commissaries to go with the ambassador of the Most Christian King, to Pisa." According to Portoveneri, they were not allowed to enter the city.


January 3

3rd January (Saturday). The ambassadors returned from Pisa, without having concluded anything; and we were in much fear about the place. It was said also that Piero de' Medici had gone to the King of France to complain of having been banished, because he had kept his word; and that the king had been gracious to him; and that the said Piero made threats, especially against a certain Girolamo Martegli, who was deputed to find Piero's hidden property.(1) On the same day the sentence was passed that Ser Giovanni son of Ser Bartolomeo should be sent to Volterra into the vault of a fortress; and Ser Zanobi, who had been notary to the "Eight," was fined 500 florins, and confined in Florence; and Ser Ceccone was confined in the Stinche, together with others who had been captured. > (1) Martelli was one of the three citizens deputed by the Republic, on the 10th December, _pro computo Comunis bonorum heredum Laurentii, qui una cum tribus ex creditoribus doctorum heredum, propterea deputandorum, habeant auctoritatum cognoscendi et judicandi etc_.

January 13

13th January (Tuesday). The mortars were fetched from Arezzo and sent to Pisa, and many _spingarde_,(1) and a quantity of powder. All this time it was endeavoured to keep peace, amongst the discords of the citizens. > (1) _Spingarda_; a small old-fashioned piece of ordnance.

January 21

21st January. Our commissioners left for Pisa, and took with them many courageous young men fully determined to punish the Pisans. We hired many soldiers also, and large bodies of infantry went from the neighbourhood of Pistoia and all the country round, without pay. Everyone was ready to go there, thinking that the whole district would be sacked. No one thought much of their power of resistance; but we were mistaken, as will be seen later, for they were very persistent and united in their defence.

January 23

23rd January. We continued sending men to Pisa.

January 28

28th January. We heard that our troops had captured many forts from the Pisans and were making raids all over the country.(1) (1) See Ammirato and Portoveneri.

February 5

5th February. The French Cardinal Sammalò,(1) who had just been made cardinal by the Pope, entered Florence. He had come here with the King of France as a bishop; and now he was returning to France. He had many horsemen with him. He was lodged in Santa Maria Novella in the papal apartments. All this time it was said that the King of France was in a bad situation, and there was cause for fear. > (1) Guillaume Briconnet, Bishop of Saint-Malo. From the 25th January, the Pisan ambassadors had written that the _Reverandissimo_ of Saint-Malo, a man, they said, "of great intellect and authority," was going to be sent to Florence by the King of France, not on his way to France, but to remain in Tuscany or the neighbourhood, in order to preserve peace during the stay of the king in the kingdom of Naples; and in case of his going to Pisa begged the Signori to receive him and his suite with honour, "going to meet him outside, and with as many men" as was possible. He had left Rome the morning of the 27th January (_Lettere_, quoted i. 38).

February 11

11th February. There were negotiations with the cardinal concerning giving Pisa over to us, and he wanted 70 thousand florins.

February 17

17th February. The Cardinal Sa' Malò left here, and went to Pisa in order to give it over to us. And some of our citizens went with him, amongst others Francesco Valori and Pagolantonio Soderini.

February 24

24th February. The Cardinal di Sa' Malo returned from Pisa without giving it over to us. And it was said that we should have to take it by assault. It was also said that the king had a hand in it, for he held both the new and the old citadels.

February 27

27th February. The Cardinal Sa' Malò left here, who had come to deliver Pisa over to us, and had not done so; but he carried away with him 22 thousand florins, and returned to the king at Naples.

March 6

6th March. There was much argument as to why the king did not give Pisa over to us, seeing that we were such friends of his country and also that he had promised it us on the capture of Naples.

March 10

10th March. Piero Capponi went to our camp at Pisa and took money to the soldiers.

March 26

1495. 26th March. Large bodies of soldiers were mustered to send to Pisa.

April 9

p85 9th April. We heard that the King of France had sent to demand that all the part of Florence beyond the Arno should be assigned him for quarters; and it was said that he would give Pisa back to us.

April 13

p85 13th April. We heard that our soldiers had made a raid into the Pisan territory as far as San Piero in Grado, taking much cattle.


In Florence, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli become involved in a scheme to divert the Arno river, cutting the water supply to Pisa to force its surrender: Colombino, the project foreman, fails to follow da Vinci’s design, and the project is a major failure.


September 1

Some of the cardinals are displeased with the pope's anti-French policy, and five of them go so far as to convoke a schismatic council at Pisa.



The statue (of Christ Triumphant by Michelangelo) seems to have been rough-hewn at the quarries, packed up, and sent to Pisa on its way to Florence as early as this date.


June 5

Michelangelo had scarcely been chosen to control the general scheme of fortifying Florence, when the Signory began to consider the advisability of strengthening the citadels of Pisa and Livorno, and erecting lines along the Arno. Their commissary at Pisa wrote urging the necessity of Buonarroti's presence on the spot. In addition to other pressing needs, the Arno, when in flood, threatened the ancient fortress of the city. Accordingly we find that Michelangelo went to Pisa on the 5th of June, and that he stayed there over the 13th, returning to Florence perhaps upon the 17th of the month.


Benvenuto Cellini travels to Pisa for the last time.


May 27

An official reports to Prince Francesco I de' Medici that the block for Giambologna's Florence Triumphant Over Pisa is on board ship and on its way down the coast to Pisa.

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Altoviti family
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Benvenuto Cellini sculptor, goldsmith, draughtstman, flautist, soldier, writer, poet
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City of Genoa body politic
City of Pisa body politic
City of Venice body politic, body politic
Giambologna sculptor
Leonardo da Vinci anatomist, painter, architect, sculptor, military engineer, scientist, inventor, writer
Lorenzo de' Medici patron, poet, ruler
Luca Landucci apothecary, diarist
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Michelangelo military engineer, sculptor, painter, architect, poet
Muzio Sforza condottiero
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