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CHAP. pain of death. When Frederick entered Verona, he again sent letters to Vicenza. The Marquess would not look at these, and forbade any one to speak to the Emperor's envoys, one of whom was the famous Judge Roffrid.
'I was forbidden,' thus says our old friend Gerard Maurisius the Notary, under penalty of 1000 pounds, to go to the Bishop's Palace, where the envoys were. However I called one of them down to me and gave him my advice. I was banished by the Marquess to Padua, where I fell sick, and I was threatened with a longer exile.' Azzo drew many men into the League against the Imperial authority; he is the type of the thorough-going Guelf partizan. Vicenza, Padua, and Treviso were active on the same side. These three towns, together with Biaquin the Lord of Camino, sent their forces to besiege Eccelin in Verona, to which city they did great damage. The Ghibelline chief, being sore pressed, wrote to his master at Cremona for speedy suc
The march made by Frederick, on hearing these tidings, was the wonder of the age. 'He, a most benignant Lord, feeling for his loyal subjects who were being tormented, in wrath flew through the Another chronicler remarks; He was like a swallow flying through the air to rescue Verona.'† Rolandini says; In one day and night Frederick came from Cremona to San Bonifazio; there he halted, so that his men might take a hurried mouthful of bread, and then he marched on.' It was certainly a wonderful forced march, if we consider the bad
* Gerard Maurisius. † Antonio Godi.
ness of the roads and the distance, which is about sixty miles as the crow flies.
The Paduans were the first to run, on hearing that the Emperor was at San Bonifazio and could thus cut off their retreat to their city; the men of Vicenza and Treviso soon followed, leaving all their spoils and tents. They had been for some time detained before the Castle of Rivalta, seventeen miles to the North of Verona; this Eccelin had promised to relieve by a given day. Frederick did not slacken his speed, after his march from the Po to the Adige, but appeared before Vicenza, ere her own citizens or the Marquess could arrive; indeed the first news of the disaster that had befallen their city was announced to them by its conflagration.* The Emperor had no wish to damage the town, knowing that Azzo was the only guilty rebel; he first tried a parley, promising the townsmen their lives and their goods. Nothing could be gained; Eccelin, therefore, advised the Emperor to storm the place, which was done on the first of November; the walls were scaled, and then a gate was burst open; Frederick entered ' like a most stern Draco.' The Germans and Veronese showed no mercy; the whole city was soon the scene of murder, rape, and robbery. No age or sex was spared; the bell-tower was fired, and one of its guards was killed by a fall from its top. The chronicler mourns that the glory and honour of the city was quenched.† Eccelin saw a German noble bent on outraging some of the ladies of Vicenza finding the foreigner deaf to the word of command to quit the prey, the Italian smote off the brute's head.
CHAP. Frederick, who was standing by, thought the punishment rather out of bounds; but Eccelin answered; 'I should have done the same to you, Emperor, had you been guilty of so great a scandal.'* He probably thought that his master needed a hint on this subject.
It may easily be believed that the rough Transalpine warriors, little versed in Italian politics, made no distinction between Guelf and Ghibelline. Gerard Maurisius gives us the result of his experience of this awful night at Vicenza. I, though a most faithful subject, was seized by the Germans and bound, whereas I ought to have been most honourably rewarded by Frederick; for I alone, when no one else dared to do it, openly withstood the Lombard League, siding against the Marquess. I did this out of love to the Emperor and the Lords of Romano, not like others, out of hatred to the Milanese. I was a most faithful trumpet in preaching loyalty; others were rewarded; I am not. I have not ceased to preach like any Dominican, for I have seen Frederick's justice towards his subjects, his glory, and his most righteous customs. Now, since I have been robbed, neither Frederick nor the Lords of Romano recognize me; none do, save a few friends; may the Lord help me! For three days I walked through the city in a most mean garment; some gave me money to buy back my books, and to get food and raiment. I excuse our Lord the Emperor, because I was unknown to him; and also the Lords of Romano, because of the dangers that threatened
them; I was ever true to them, and so I remain, sure
* Chron. Patavinum. Also the Imago Mundi.
of reward. I saw many noble ladies and people of both sexes stripped naked; one man could hardly recognize another; all were punished, the just with the unjust.'
Here Gerard quotes some texts from the Bible and the Decretals, on the duty of obeying the powers that be. He goes on; We at Vicenza suffered for the fault of a few; although our merciful Lord Frederick might have ruined all the citizens, he pitied them, gave them back their real property, and ordered Eccelin to set free the prisoners, but to detain the rebels. Many Guelfs were released, but I was thrust out at midnight by the Germans, naked and stripped of all.' This narrative, the experience of one man, gives us some idea of the cruel woes undergone by the Italians for more than thirty years after this date.
Frederick found that he must now hurry back into Germany, to crush the Duke of Austria, who was not easily overcome by the loyalists. The German Gebhard was left behind to command in the Trevisan March, with strict orders to do nothing without the advice of Eccelin. It is said that the Emperor took the Lord of Romano into the Bishop's garden, and gave him a lesson on the art of government by cutting off the longest blades of grass with a knife. It is added, that Frederick had not the least idea of the progress already made by his pupil, who humbly answered, 'I will keep in mind the orders of the Lord Emperor.' The story, as every one knows, is told of other Sovereigns who reigned long before Frederick; if true, it shows his acquaintance with Ovid. He now
* Antonio Godi.
CHAP. wished to make trial of the skill of one of his astrologers, and accordingly bade him name the gate by which his Lord would leave the town. The Emperor received a paper, and was requested not to open it until he had quitted Vicenza. He went forth through a breach made in the walls, and then found in the paper the following words, "Through a new gate the King shall go out.' The lucky astrologer was of course after this held in higher esteem than ever. Frederick on the 15th of November, after burning some villages of the enemy, went Eastward to Cartura and Cittadella; at the latter place he admired the strength of the Castle and the fruitfulness of the neighbouring country. He next journeyed by Castel Franco to Fontanella, where he halted for some time, hoping that Treviso would yield to him; but he was once more thwarted by its Podesta, Tiepolo of Venice, who held it with a garrison. Frederick was therefore fain to proceed on his march across the rapid Piave; and passing not far from Aquileia with the greater part of his army, he crossed the Alps on his German expedition. + He was followed by Acerra and Morra, who had come up from the Kingdom too late to find him still in Lombardy.
His first warlike assault upon the Lombards had not been of a very brilliant character; his chief feats had been a wonderful march and the sack of a town. But he left behind him able lieutenants to carry on his work. They underwent a disaster soon after his departure; the Mantuans on Christmas eve recovered