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The History of the Church 110 Guelphs and Ghibelins The struggle between partisans of the papacy and those of the Germanic emperor was a common affair for Italians in the Middle Ages. However, this ongoing conflict took an unexpected turn in Florence, starting in the early thirteenth century, with the rivalry between two local patrician families. The Buondelmonti supported the Hohenstaufen emperor, lord of Waiblingen, whence the Italianized name “ghibellini”; the Arrighi family aligned itself with the Bavarian Welfen, papal supporters, whence the name “guelfi. These feudal rivalries were rooted in ancient quarrels between the empire and the papacy, so that the Holy See saw itself swept into a whirlwind of civil wars from which it emerged all the better. To complicate things further, the partisans of the pope further divided themselves into Black Guelphs and White Guelphs. The Divine Comedy of Dante comments on this civil war. The poet, at first a Guelph—and a white Guelph at that—become a Ghibelin in the course of writing his politico-religious epic poem. The Ghibelins supported Frederic II of Hohenstaufen (known as Barbarossa), emperor of Germany and Sicily, whom Pope Honorius II excommunicated in 1227 for failing to honor his pledge to participate in a crusade. Despite this, he later embarked on the Sixth Crusade, but in his own way, signing a diplomatic agreement with the sultan of Egypt, which secured the religious neutrality of Jerusalem. The church had no qualms about excommunicating Barbarossa a second time, in 1245, styling him an antichrist because of his religious eclecticism—he spoke Arabic and had a harem. Giuseppe Sabatelli (1813–1843) Farinata degli Uberti in the Battle of Serchio Galleria Pitti, Florence ...


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