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Giovanni Villani, in his chronicle, reports that, in 1117, Pisa and Florence formed a military alliance. Pisa asked for protection against Lucca, while their troops were busy in Mallorca besieging a Saracen stronghold (Figure 4.1).1 The safeguard from Lucca meant a Florentine military presence right at the doorstep of their neighbors, the problematic nature of which did not escape the attention of the author. Villani explains at length the measures taken by the Florentine army to avoid any potential attack on women in Pisa while their men were away.
[They] encamped two miles outside the city, and in respect for their women they would not enter Pisa and made a proclamation that whosoever should enter the city should answer for it with his person; and the one who did enter was accordingly condemned to be hung. And when the old men who had been left in Pisa prayed the Florentines for love of them to pardon him, they would not. But the Pisans still opposed and begged that at least they would not put him to death in their territory; whereupon the Florentine army secretly purchased a field from a peasant in the name of the commonwealth of Florence, and thereon they raised the gallows and did the execution to maintain their decree.2
In this passage, Villani implicitly acknowledges the threat posed to the women of the city even by allied forces. He underscores in a benign military context that armed men around unprotected women can trigger violent scenarios. In this sense he regards the possibility of wartime rape a customary consequence of military exploits. We do not know whether the disobedient soldier did commit something beyond entering the city, but he is judged for violating the “respect for Pisan women” against the backdrop of a permanent possibility of rape. In addition, the passage also highlights the importance of perception. The long negotiation between the Pisan elders and the Florentines involving the request for pardon and the purchase of land underscores the determination of the latter to prevent any potential accusation of sexual violence or adultery. Two hundred years after the event, Villani is still interested in maintaining the gallant and rape-free image of Florence, and through this attempt he adopts a condemnatory approach toward sexual violence.
Italian instances of adjudication rarely exceeded annual totals in the single digits. The few plaintiffs who did approach ecclesiastical officials were usually well-prepared from a legal standpoint. They encountered decent prospects of winning by avoiding the launch of suits without written and witness testimony. Regular supervision of the English kind was completely unknown. Although episcopal visitations brought domestic partnerships to the attention of prelates, they were undertaken too intermittently to sustain regular inquiries. Disinterest may have been tied to the fact that judgement did not imply secondary judicial benefits. Damage claims on account of sex out of wedlock were normally reserved to secular justice. As a result, public notaries assumed overriding importance when the conclusion of marital contracts was celebrated. The exact value and delivery of bridal dowries and counter-gifts had to be authenticated for future reference in endowment disputes reserved to civil and not ecclesiastical judges. Also attesting to the principal concern of elders and relatives with asset control was the recourse to papal authority for dispensation from impediments to the union. The process could skip church verification altogether in favor of automatic settlement and registration at the hands of laymen.
This chapter presents the overall shape of the phenomenon, situating urban food cultivation against the backdrop of rural agriculture for urban provisioning which characterised the majority, though not the totality, of Italian agronomics. Examples from Lucca point to key issues in urban food cultivation: urban topography, relations between neighbours, and relations between landholders and larger institutions such as churches. In small, densely populated cities such as Lucca, as well as in larger cities, we can see tightly controlled cultivated spaces within the walls. Archaeobotanical evidence is providing new information about what was grown, where, and how much. Here I use it to demonstrate the radically changed cerealiculture in Italy for the fifth to seventh centuries, and then analyse in detail the floral remains of two urban gardens, one from ninth-century Rome and one from tenth- to eleventh-century Ferrara. These case studies reveal the wide range of foodstuffs cultivated in cities and the prevalence of polyculture, when growers planted many different food crops with varying harvest cycles for household consumption rather than single crops for market production.
The interest of the two months from late April to late June 1490 lies in the light they throw on Piero’s active involvement in politics, as well as on his more hidden role as Lorenzo’s stand-in, collaborating with the friends in the Otto di Pratica (the all-important foreign affairs magistracy) to ensure that Lorenzo got his way. He already enjoyed a close relationship with Niccolò Michelozzi, the principal secretary who remained in Florence, and neither Michelozzi nor Piero Dovizi (with Lorenzo at the baths) found much to add – they said – to Piero’s letters at this time. Michelozzi only once added a paragraph in his own hand to one of them, and on 9 May he told Lorenzo he was letting Piero communicate with him, since he ‘writes and behaves most diligently, as you have seen’. And Dovizi told Michelozzi that he rarely wrote to him any longer: ‘writing to Piero, as one is doing, there’s very little or nothing to say to you’.1
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