185 of] the Ridol?i and Corsini families, Lord Coppo, Andrea di Segnino, Moscone and Simone di Rinieri Peruzzi, Ser Piero, the government's notary, Domenico di Berto and Ser Nuto (...) with the banner, they stormed the Palace of the Podestà; the ?ighting lasted for more than an hour. The podestà gave himself up with oral agreements made to the priors. Except for these ones and the government functionaries who had slipped out, all the guildsmen entered the palace with the banner and burnt all the furniture, books, and charters.5 There is remarkable restraint here. The podestà, the ruler of Florence, is captured, but allowed to walk free, as are the civil servants. In raiding the palace, the target of the Ciompi's wrath becomes not people, but inanimate objects. Some of this violence was instrumental. Burning books and charters was a common strategy in uprisings of the lower orders. It held the allure of obliterating of?icial proof of feudal privileges, or at least causing a considerable administrative headache for the authorities after the rebellion.6 Some of the violence was resentment at the superior material conditions of the elite, particularly the attacks on the furniture: Why should the rich sit on fancy chairs? Should they not be brought low, like us? Our diarist conveys the impression that during the invasion of the palace, objects were always the intended victims. Any persons injured during the scuf?le were collateral damage. Alas, before we get carried away praising the Ciompi for their restraint, let us remember one of the men (italicised for emphasis above) whose houses were burnt down by the rebels: Ser Nuto. Like the others listed, he had gone to ground. Ser Nuto had particular reason to be afraid. He was the public executioner. The pro-Ciompi diarist records that “the wool shearers ran him [Ser Nuto] down, seized and killed him, dragged him into the Piazza of the priors and hanged him by his feet. Blessed were the ones who could have a little piece of him; no more than a foot and half a leg remained of him”.7 An anti-Ciompi diarist elaborates that Ser Nuto was struck: “with an axe across the head, chopping him in two; then they tore him apart at the armpit with his brains spurting out and blood spewing all across the street”.8 The optimistic message of the Ciompi revolt is that it constitutes an uprising that was largely successful in its goals (the Ciompi were incorporated as guildsmen, until a counter-revolution in 1381).9 It was also well organised, and disciplined in its use of violence. On the other hand, the Ciompi revolt of 1378 was violent exclusively against objects only in one, pivotal phase. Presumably the Ciompi 5 Cohn, Jr. (ed.): Popular Protest, 254. 6 The locus classicus is the English Peasant's Revolt of 1381, Justice: Writing and Rebellion. Elsewhere in Europe, Mauntel: “Charters”. 7 Cohn, Jr. (ed.): Popular Protest, 255. 8 Cohn, Jr. (ed.): Popular Protest, 219. 9 Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.: Lust for Liberty, 58-62.
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