Thursday, 16 July 2009


The period I'm covering in this blog is characterised by the conflict between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. These were essentially two political parties with, broadly speaking, the Ghibellines favouring Imperial control of Italy with the Guelphs opposing it. Many Guelphs saw the leadership of the Papacy as the best way of removing Imperial interference although once the Angevins took control of the Regno* they were increasingly seen as being more vital in opposing the Emperor than the Pope was.

In many cases, a city or families within a city chose the allegience of one party because their political opponents had opted to support another. When Henry VII made his journey to Rome, he found that the old rivalries having survived the previous 4 decades of minimal Imperial interference. He began by trying to treat each party equally but the Guelphs resisted him more and more, leading to open conflict.

*"the Kingdom" - Southern Italy and, at first, Sicily. More on this another time.

These are some of my Ghibelline cavalry - again 15mm Mirliton figures.

The majority are Sienese, with coats of arms taken from this book:
Montaperti . Where information on heraldry is available, I try to use it as much as possible, rather than relying on my imagination! This has led to spending too much on books just for a couple of nice pictures, plus many hours scouring the web. I like handpainting the shields although many are available as cut out and glue paper versions from Mirliton. Most of my flags are homemade although some nice ready made ones are available from various sources to download or buy. One method I have used is to paint a much larger version and scan it in to a computer, printing at a smaller size. This takes a bit of playing around until you are happy with the detail, but it can help with some of the fiddly details as well as making sure that the reverse is a correct reversed copy of the other side.

The red flag with white cross is that of one of the terzi of Siena - these are the three main areas into which Siena was divided at the time. The white and black flag is the banner of Siena. The flag with the leopard is that of the Ghibelline cavalry at Montaperti.

The leading knights are Florentine exiles, carrying the original colours of the flag which became associated with the Ghibellines. The centre one is Farinata degli Uberti, placed by Dante in the Sixth circle of the Inferno. He was excommunicated, after his death, for heresy - supposedly having denied the doctrine of life after death. He had been a leading Ghibelline in Florence and was one of the leaders at Montaperti "The rout and massacre
Which stained the stream of the Arbia red"
(Inferno, Canto X).
After Florence's defeat, the neighbouring Ghibelline states wanted to raze Florence but Farinata opposed them, putting loyalty to his city above his party allegience.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Oh those are nice looking minis! Great paint job. And a good post overall.