The town was independent in the 13th century, but in 1353, owing to the dissensions of the Salvucci (Ghibellines) and Ardinghelli (Guelphs), it fell into the hands of Florence.
Frederick landed in Calabria, where he seized several towns, encouraged revolt in Naples, negotiated with the Ghibellines of Tuscany and Lombardy, and assisted the house of Colonna against Pope Bonif ace.
A truce was concluded in 1317, but as the Sicilians helped the north Italian Ghibellines in the attack on Genoa, and Frederick seized some Church revenues for military purposes, the pope (John XXII.) excommunicated him and placed the island under an interdict (1321) which lasted until 1 335.
Already in 1218, the Guelphs of Lombardy had resuscitated their old league, and had been defeated by the Ghibellines in a battle near Ghibello.
The only gleam of success which shone on his ill fortune was the revolution which placed Florence in the hands of the Ghibellines in 1248.
Manfred, now called king of Sicily, headed the Ghibellines, and there was no strong counterpoise against him.
Here in the year 1300 new factions, subdividing the old Guelphs and Ghibellines under the names of Neri and Bianchi, had acquired such force that Boniface VIII., a violently Guelph pope, called in Charles of Valois to pacify the republic and undertake the charge of Italian affairs.
The captain of the people, acting as head of the ascendant Guelphs or Ghibellines, undertakes the responsibility of proscriptions, decides on questions of policy, forms alliances, declares war.
Can Grande della Scalas death in the next year inflicted on, the Lombard Ghibellines a loss hardly inferior to that of Castruccios on their Tuscan allies.
Equally contemptible in its political results and void of historical interest was the brief visit of John of Bohemia, son of Henry VII., whom the Ghibellines next invited to assume their leadership. He sold a few privileges, conferred a few titles, and recrossed the Alps in 1333.
In spite of repeated efforts on the part of the Ghibellines, in spite of King Roberts supine incapacity, the imperialists gained no permanent advantage.
To the Holy See (1277), diminished Charles's power, for the new pope set himself to compose the difference between Guelphs and Ghibellines in the Italian cities, but at his death Charles secured the election of his henchman Martin IV.
(1281), who recommenced persecuting the Ghibellines, excommunicated the Greek emperor, Michael Palaeologus, proclaimed a crusade against the Greeks, filled every appointment in the papal states with Charles's vassals, and reappointed the Angevin king senator of Rome.
But the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines in Bologna itself soon followed, and the commune was so weakened that in 1337 Taddeo de' Pepoli made himself master of the town, and in 1350 his son sold it to Giovanni Visconti of Milan.
But this treaty, in spite of its apparent stability, led in a few years to a fiercer struggle; for in 1258 the Florentines complained that Siena had infringed its terms by giving refuge to the Ghibellines they had expelled, and on the refusal of the Sienese to yield to these just remonstrances both states made extensive preparations for war.
The Ghibellines were on several occasions expelled from the city, and, even when a temporary reconciliation of the two parties allowed them to return, they failed to regain their former influence.
Exasperated by the tyranny of the Salimbeni and other patrician families allied to the Ghibellines, it decreed in 127 7 the exclusion of all nobles from the supreme magistracy (consisting since 1270 of thirty-six instead of twenty-four members), and insisted that this council should be formed solely of Guelf traders and men of the middle class.
Discord among the great families broke out again, and the attempt to put an end to it by a marriage between Buondelmonte de' Buondelmonti and a daughter of the Amidei, only led to further strife (1215), although the causes of these broils were deeper and wider, being derived from the general division between Guelphs and Ghibellines all over Italy.
In 1222 Florence waged war successfully on Pisa, Lucca and Pistoia, and during the next few years against the Sienese with varying results; although the emperor supported the latter as Ghibellines, on his departure for Germany in 1235 they were forced to accept peace on onerous terms. During the interregnum (1241-1243) following on the death of Pope Gregory IX.
The Ghibellines now triumphed completely, and in 1249 the Guelph leaders were driven into exile - the first of many instances in Florentine history of exile en masse of a defeated party.
The Ghibellines being unable to maintain their supremacy, the city came to be divided into two almost autonomous republics, the comune headed by the podestd, and the popolo headed by the capitano and militarily organized into twenty companies; the central power was represented by twelve anziani or elders.
But, although greatly strengthened, the Guelphs, who now may be called the democrats as opposed to the Ghibelline aristocrats, were by no means wholly victorious, and in 1251 they had to defend themselves against a league of Ghibelline cities (Siena, Pisa and Pistoia) assisted by Florentine Ghibellines; the Florentine Uberti, who had been driven into exile after their plot of 1258, took refuge in Siena and encouraged that city in its hostility to Florence.
A Florentine army assisted by Guelphs of other towns was cunningly induced to believe that Siena would surrender at the first summons; but it was met by a Sienese army reinforced by Florentine exiles, including Farinata degli Uberti and other Ghibellines, and by the cavalry of Manfred of Sicily, led by Count Giordano and the count of Arras, with the result that the Florentines were - totally routed at Montaperti on the 4th of September 1260.
The Ghibellines even proposed to raze the walls of the city, but Farinata degli Uberti strongly opposed the idea, saying that "he had fought to regain and not to ruin his fatherland."
After some disturbances Guido Novello and the Ghibellines were expelled, but it was not the popolo who triumphed; the pope and Charles were the real masters of the situation, and the Florentines found they had exchanged a foreign and Ghibelline protector for one who was foreign and Guelph.
The property of the Ghibellines was confiscated, and a commission of six capitani di parte Guelfa appointed to administer it and in general to expend it for the persecution of the Ghibellines.
As Charles perpetually interfered in their affairs, always favouring the grandi or Guelph nobles, some of the Ghibellines were recalled as a counterpoise, which, however, only led to further civil strife.
Cardinal Latino to some extent succeeded, and was granted a kind of temporary dictatorship. He raised the 12 buoni uomini to 14 (8 Guelphs and 6 Ghibellines), to be changed every two months; and they were assisted by a council of loo.
In this same year Henry of Luxemburg was elected king of the Romans and with the pope's favour he came to Italy in 1310; the Florentine exiles and all the Ghibellines of Italy regarded him as a saviour and regenerator of the country, while the Guelphs of Florence on the contrary opposed New both him and the pope as dangerous to their own liberties and accepted the protection of King Robert of Naples, disregarding Henry's summons to submission.
A new danger Castracani degli Antelminelli, who made himself lord of Lucca and secured help from Matteo Visconti, lord of Milan, and other Ghibellines of northern Italy.
In 1358 the parte Guelfa made these enactments still more stringent, punishing with death or heavy fines all who being Ghibellines held office, and provided that if trustworthy witnesses were forthcoming condemnations might be passed for this offence without hearing the accused; even a non-proved charge or an ammonizione (warning not to accept office) might entail disfranchisement.
During the absence of the papal court in Avignon it was a prey to the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, until in 1354 Cardinal Albornoz brought it once more under the authority of the Church.
At first in Sicily and afterwards throughout Italy the Ghibellines gave them a warm welcome; the rigorists and the malcontents who had either left the church or were on the point of leaving it, were attracted by these communities of needy rebels; and the tribune Rienzi was at one time disposed to join them.
In the wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines the Carraresi at first took the latter side, but they subsequently went over to the Guelphs.
Having reconciled himself with Frederick of Austria, Louis penetrated into Italy and seized Rome on the 7th of January 1328, with the help of the Roman Ghibellines led by Sciarra Colonna.
There were Florentines and Lombards, Guelfs and Ghibellines; but even Dante had scarcely conceived of Italy as a nation, independent of the empire, inclusive of her several component commonwealths.
It became involved, however, in the disputes of Guelphs and Ghibellines, and was frequently at war with Perugia.
He now became head of the Ghibellines or Imperialists of Italy, and his position was strengthened by the marriage of his daughter Costanza to Peter, son of King James of Aragon.
The pope bestowed this title upon the emperor, the emperor upon the pope, the Guelphs on the Ghibellines and the Ghibellines on the Guelphs.
His purpose to cross the Alps at the head of a great force was hailed with delight by the Ghibellines, whose aspirations found utterance in Dantes noble prose, but his life was too short for him to fulfil the hopes of his friends.
A story, mentioned by the chronicler Echard as unworthy of credit, makes Boniface VIII., on the first day of Lent, cast the ashes in the archbishop's eyes instead of on his head, with the words, "Remember that thou art a Ghibelline, and with thy fellow Ghibellines wilt return to naught."
He is well known to Dante students by his Dante; Life and Works (1891), and to the study of Italian history he has contributed Guelphs and Ghibellines (1903).