Siege Diaries 7/9/2020

And now, for the second bunch of entries from the SMASH scavenger hunt.

#28: Film a short (<10 mins) lecture on a period subject (examples: “The Hundred Years War” or “Linen Production in the 15th century”, or “The Moorish Occupation of Southern Europe”.

So here’s “Dr. Nick” on the Icelandic Althing.

#34:  Dress up and pose as your favourite heraldic animal.  Here’s the cat herissony. Note the toilet brush tail.

#40:  In case of invaders, design a period defence system for your home. Post a photo of defence design. Bonus points if you actually build it.


It was noted that there were three more of these upstairs in the bedroom…..

#43:  Declaim a period poem or ode from your front step or balcony. Post a video. Bonus points for production value and performance. This is Horace Odes Liber II. XV, in Latin.

#49:  A short dissertation (a page or less) on a favourite revolt of an oppressed class or people. Upload it here, with links and photos if you have them.

The Revolt of the Ciompi

There were a number of major revolts in Europe in the second half of the 14th century, in the wake of the Black Death. The revolt of the Ciompi in Florence in 1378 is not as well known as the Peasants’ Revolt in England of a few years later, but actually resulted in an overthrow of the governing oligarchy for a short time.

Florence in the late 14th century was ruled by an oligarchy that was unstable in the afteraffects of the plague. The seven major guilds of the city were associated with the ruling classes, while the minor guilds felt their voices were not being heard. Rising taxes were also an issue. These guilds allied with newcomers (or gente nuova) who had moved to Florence after the plague and had become prosperous through trade, and began to challenge the oligarchy. They also allied with the 22% of Florentines who were itinerant labourers, not members of any guild, and thus barred from participating in city politics. The term Ciompi originally applied to the wool carders who led the revolt, but is actually a term which evolved from a French word that would translate as “companion” or “comrade.”

The revolt had three phases. The first phase was an attempt at reform, when the minor guilds demanded more representation in government from the ruling oligarchy. They also sought to keep a wealthy group called the sotto posti who were not in guilds (and thus shut out of political representation) from forming guilds. The sotto posti then made their own demands, and when they were turned down, they allied with the lower class Ciompi.

Violence broke out with an attack by the Ciompi on government buildings. The oligarchy attempted to talk them down, but would not permit the Ciompi to form guilds or gain representation in government. In July, the Ciompi seized control of the government, placing Michele di Lando at its head and forcing the oligarchy to establish three more guilds to allow them access to political office. This essentially enfranchised every man in Florence. Unfortunately, the alliance between the Ciompi and the minor guilds broke down in August. Michele di Lando turned against the Ciompi as their demands become more radical. The result was armed conflict, where the Ciompi and their allies, the sotto posti, where defeated in one of the bloodiest days in Florentine history. The Ciompi guild was dissolved, but a number of the reforms, including tax reform, were retained. Di Lando retained control until 1392, when the oligarchy was able to reassert control. The guild reforms enacted during the revolt were rolled back, and the unguilded were disenfranchised and branded as criminals. The Florentine government began to become more authoritarian, leading to the rise of the Medici family.


#52:  Imagine a terrible, short phrase that you think a famous person might say (like, “NEXT!” – Henry VIII), and then embroider it on a cushion or sampler. Upload a photo here. Keep it clean…

While this is not an original phrase, it does come from my favourite movie of all time, “The Lion in Winter” (the 1968 version) and I have always wanted to embroider it. Silk, hand-dyed with cochineal (from stash), silk split stitch embroidery.