Help support New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99...
Archdiocese in Tuscany (Central Italy). The city is situated on three gently swelling hills. The Public Library was donated by Archdeacon Bandini (1663). The Academy of Fine Arts, the Museum of the Cathedral, and the different churches of the city, illustrate almost completely the history of art in Siena; in no other city had art, especially painting, a more local character, and nowhere else did it remain so conservative. Gothic architecture produced here its most excellent monuments, both ecclesiastical and in civic buildings; and the Sienese architects laboured beyond the confines of their state (e.g. the cathedral of Orvieto). Sculpture received its first impulse from Nicolo and Giovanni Pisani, whose Sienese disciples carved the decorations of the façade of Orvieto cathedral. The most renowned sculptors of the fifteenth century were Jacopo della Quercia (1374-1438), one of the pioneers of the Renaissance; Lorenzo di Pietro; Antonio Federighi; Francesco di Giorgio (also an architect); Giacomo Cozzarelli; and Lorenzo Mariano. Sculpture in wood is represented by the brothers Antonio and Giovanni Barili, Bartolomeo Neroni, and others. In painting Siena possessed in Duccio an artist who greatly surpassed his contemporary Cimabue of Florence, both for grace and in accuracy of design. Nevertheless, art developed and was perfected in Florence more rapidly than in Siena. Simone Martini (1285-1344), immortalized by Petrarca, and a citizen of Siena, bears comparison with Giotto. Lippo Memmi (also a miniaturist), Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, imitated with facility the grandiose composition of the school of Giotto. But Bertolo di Fredi (1330-1410); Taddeo de Bartolo (1360-1422); and the fifteenth century painters, Domenico di Bartolo, Sano di Pietro, Vecchietta, Matteo, and Benvenuto di Giovanni, compared with the Florentines, seem almost medieval. Siena therefore turned anew to Florentine, Lombard, or Venetian painters, under whom the ancient fame of the city revived, especially in the works of Bernardino Fungai, Girolamo della Pacchia, and others. The most renowned representatives of the Renaissance in Siena are Baldassare Peruzzi, better known as the architect of the Basilica of San Pietro, Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, and Il Sodoma (1477-1549), a rival of Raphael. With Domenico Beccafumi (1486-1551) begins the decadence. In the nineteenth century Paolo Franchi founded a school of painters closely related to the "Nazarenes" (a group of German painters of the early nineteenth century, who imitated the Italians of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries); the chapel of the Istituto di Santa Teresa gives a good idea of their art.
The cathedral of Siena is said to occupy the site of a temple of Minerva. The present building was begun in the early thirteenth century; the cupola was finished in 1464. But in 1339 it was decided to so enlarge the cathedral that the area then occupied by the nave should form the transepts of the new building. In fact the construction of the longitudinal nave, now in part incorporated in the Opera del Duomo, was actually commenced. Though the pestilence of 1348 compelled the citizens to desist from this plan, they determined to complete in a worthy manner the original design. As it stands the building is about 292 ft. long and 80 ft. wide — 168 ft. in the transepts. The façade is decorated with bands of red, white, and black marble, tricuspidal, and richly adorned with sculptures (restored in 1869) and with mosaics (renewed in 1878). In the interior the pavement is of admirable marble mosaic — the work of masters of the fifteenth century, which has been for the most part renewed. The pulpit, entirely in relief, is the work of Nicolo Pisano and his pupils; the high altar is by Petruzzi, the bronze tabernacle by Vecchietta, and the carvings of the choir by the brothers Barili. The chapel of San Giovanni contains a statue of the saint by Donatello, besides statues by other sculptors, and frescoes by Pinturicchio. Scattered through the interior of the cathedral are statues of Sienese popes and the tombs of the bishops of Siena. The library of the cathedral possesses ancient choir-books and other manuscripts, and is adorned throughout with frescoes by Pinturicchio representing scenes from the life of Pius II — the gift of Pius III. In the centre of the library is the celebrated group of the Three Graces, presented by Pius II. In the Opera dei Duomo are preserved the remains of the exterior sculptures and of the pavement of the cathedral, as well as paintings and sacred tapestries. In the Hospital of Sta Maria della Scala (thirteenth century) the church and the pellegrinaro (a large sick room) with frescoes by Domenico di Bartolo are noteworthy; San Agostino possesses pictures and frescoes by Perugino, Sodoma, Matteo di Giovanni, and others. Beneath the choir of the cathedral is the ancient baptistery, now the parish Church of San Giovanni, with its remarkable font, ornamented with sculptures by Quercia, Donatello, and Ghiberti. In Santa Maria del Carmine the cloisters and the Chapel of the Sacrament are particularly interesting. The Oratory of San Bernardino contains works of the principal Sienese artists, especially of Sodoma and Beccafumi. The house of St. Catherine of Siena (Benineasa) has been transformed into a number of chapels, which centuries have vied in adorning. San Domenico (1293) possesses pictures by Sodoma, Fungai, Vanni, and others, and a tabernacle by Benedetto da Maiano. The little church of Fonteguista has frescoes by Fungai, Petruzzi, and Lorenzo di Mariano. Scattered throughout the other churches are works of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Outside of the city is the Convento dell' Osservanza, with majolicas by Andrea della Robbia and paintings by Sodoma, Sano di Pietro, Taddeo Bartolo, and others; here also are shown the cell of St Bernardino of Siena, and the tomb of Pandolfo Petrucci. More distant from Siena are the Certosa di Pontignano, the Abbey of Sant' Eugenio (730), and the monastery of San Galgano (1201).
Of the civic buildings we mention the Palazzo Pubblico (1289), with the Torre del Mangia (102 metres), at the foot of which in the form of a graceful loggia is the Capella di Piazza (1376-1460), adorned with frescoes and sculptures. In the interior of the Palazzo Pubblico, the halls of the ground and first stories (Sala della Pace, del Mappamondo, di Balia) are decorated with frescoes by painters named above and by others; the frescoes of the Sala Vittorio Emanuele are modern (Maccari and others). In front of the Palazzo Pubblico extends the great Piazza del Campo, where on the second of July and the fifteenth of August of each year are held the celebrated races — Corse del Palio — which by reason of the gay medley of the riders and their historic costumes attract a great number of strangers each year. (Heywood, "Our Lady of August and the Palio", Siena, 1889). The Fonte Gaia (Joyful Fountain) in the public square is the work of Jacopo della Quercia. Among the private palaces the following are of note: Spannochi, Casino de' Nobili, Tolomei, Buonsignori, Piccolomini (the last named contains the public archives). The Monte dei Paschi is perhaps the oldest of all non-charitable houses of credit. It was founded in 1500, and was reorganized in 1654, when the pastures (paschi) of the Maremma, from which it derives its name, were assigned it in guise of securities.
In ancient times Saena, an Etruscan city, was of no great importance, hence remains of the Etruscan and Roman epochs are rare. It became a Roman colony under Augustus. Under the Lombards it was the seat of two gastaldi (magistrates), one a judge, the other a minister of finance. Under the Carlovingians it was made a country, which in 868 became hereditary in the family of Vinigiso Ranieri, which soon in its various branches divided the territory. The power of the bishop increased in consequence, so that in the eleventh and twelfth centuries he was the sole ruler of the city and the surrounding territory, though he recognized the over-lordship of the margraves of Tuscany. At the death of Matilda (the last Countess of Tuscany, 1115) a municipal government already existed, and in 1125 consuls are first mentioned. Thenceforth the form of government changed continuously. In the beginning there were three consuls, later there were twelve, the office being restricted to members of noble families. At other times a dictator was named. Through donations, purchases, and conquests, particularly from various petty lords of the Maremma ever plotting against Siena, the territory of the republic increased. In its expansion Siena naturally conflicted with Florence. Thus in the struggle for Poggibonzi (1141) the Sienese won, but were conquered by the Florentines in 1445. The rivalry with Florence consequently determined the politics of Siena, which adhered to the imperial (Ghibelline) party. Nevertheless in 1194 the Sienese repulsed the army of Henry VI, who failed to recognize the privileges accorded the city by his father. This victory increased the prestige of the republic, which now enlarged the circuit of its walls. In 1197 it joined the League of San Genesio. In 1199 the common people, wishing to participate in the government, secured the nomination of a podestà (chief magistrate) for justice and war, although the administration remained in the hands of the consuls of the guilds. A new change occurred in 1212, in which the administration passed to the Provveditori (purveyors) della Biccherna, while the consuls were reduced in rank to simple councillors. In consequence the heads of government changed in rapid succession: the Twenty-seven, Twenty-four, Seventy, Thirty-seven. Meanwhile at the battle of Montaperto (1260) Siena, at the head of the Ghibellines of Tuscany, had humiliated the hated Florence. But in Siena itself the Guelphs, aided by Charles of Anjou, acquired the sovereignty in 1277.
The offices were all bestowed upon Guelphs, who for the most part were required to be merchants. Meanwhile the petty Ghibelline lords of the Maremma laid waste the territory of the republic, despite the mediation of Pope Nicholas III. The Guelph Government of the "Fifteen", instituted in 1282, lasted for seventy years. During this period occurred the war against the Bishop of Arezzo, head of the Ghibellines, who was conquered at Pieve al Toppo. Internal discords among the principal families, the recurrence in Siena of the conflicts between the Bianchi (whites) and Neri (blacks), for which the city was excommunicated by Clement V, the seditions of the butchers, doctors, and notaries, fomented by the nobles excluded from the government, failed to displace the Guelph merchants. It required the Great Pestilence of 1348, with its 30,000 victims in the city, and the advent of Emperor Charles IV to effect a change in the government. In 1355 the nobles and the common people rose in revolt, and instituted a mixed government of twelve plebeians and twelve nobles with four hundred councillors. But this lasted only a short time; in 1368 three changes were effected, and the whole year of 1369 was saddened by revolts and slaughter. The arbitration of Florence was of little avail. To these tumults and constitutional conspiracies within the city was added (1387) the rebellion of Montepulciano, fomented by Florence. A war with Florence arose in consequence, in which the Sienese had as an ally Gian Galeazzo Visconti, proclaimed in 1399 lord of Siena. But in 1404 they deserted Visconti, made peace with Florence, to whom Montepulciano was abandoned, and constituted a new government. From 1407-13 Siena was repeatedly assaulted by King Ladislaus of Naples, on account of its adhesion to the "Conciliabulum" of Pisa. In 1480, on the accession of new tumults over the right to participate in the government, Pandolfo Petrucci acquired the upper hand, and in 1487 instituted a new and absolute government. Caesar Borgia secured the expulsion of Petrucci from Siena; but in 1503 the latter returned, assumed the title of Magnifico (Maecenas of the Arts), and was more powerful than ever. His son Borghese Petrucci, who succeeded him in the signoria, was in 1516 expelled by order of Leo X, who intended to subject Siena to the Medici, hence the enmity that Cardinal Alfonso Petrucci bore him. Clement VII was on the point of proclaiming the Medici as rulers when the victory of Pavia (1525) and succeeding events destroyed his hopes. The Spanish protectorate proved even more severe. Charles V wished to compel the Sienese (1550) to construct a fortress for the Spanish garrison, whereupon they sought the aid of France, which sent a garrison of its own, so that the Spanish and Florentine troops abandoned the city. But Cosimo de' Medici was unwilling to relinquish his prey. Indignant because the command of the garrison had been given to Pietro Strozzi, a Florentine rebel, he invaded the territory of the Republic in 1554, and after several successful encounters, laid siege to the city, which surrendered, 17 April, 1555. Montacino, Chiusi, and Grosseto maintained themselves for a few years longer, but in 1559, under the terms of the Peace of Cambrai, the French troops departed. Thus the Medici acquired finally the large territory now divided between the Provinces of Siena and Grosseto. Orbetello alone was given to Spain. The Sienese soon accommodated themselves to the new regime, which left them much autonomy.
Among the renowned natives of Siena were Alexander III, Pius II, Pius III, Alexander VII; the hermits St. Galgano (1181) and St. Giacomo (eleventh century); St. Catarina Benincasa, St. Bernardino Albizzeschi, and St. Ambrogio Sansedoni. The heretics Socinus and Ochino were born at Siena. As first apostle of the Christian faith, Siena venerates St. Ansanus who suffered martyrdom under Diocletian. Bishop "Florianus a Sinna", present at the Council of Rome (313) is claimed by Siena as its first bishop, also by other cities of Italy. The first bishop of certain date was Eusebius (465). The Lombard invasion interrupted the episcopal succession in Siena; it was restored in 635 with Bishop Maurus, when Rotharis rebuilt the city. In 713 commenced the controversy concerning jurisdiction over certain lands between the bishops of Siena and Arezzo, which lasted for three centuries (712-1029). The bishops of Siena (Adeodatus in 713, Ausifredus (752), Cantius (853), Lupis (881), Leo (1029) claimed ecclesiastical authority over all territory within political limits of the republic. The struggle was decided in favour of Arezzo. Other Sienese bishops were Giovanni (1058), founder of the monastery of Monte Cellese, St. Rodolfo (1068), Gualfredus (1083), author and poet; Buonfiglio (1215) who opposed the heretical Patarini and reformed the clergy; Bernardo (1273) brother of B. Andrea Gallerani, founder of the hospital and brotherhood of the Misericordia (d. 1251); Ruggero di Casale, O.P. (1307), a learned theologian active against the Fraticelli, who in 1314 excommunicated the entire convent of Franciscans at Siena; Azzolino Malavolti (1357), who obtained from Charles IV privileges for the University. In 1384 the canons exercised for the last time their right to elect the bishop, the election not being confirmed. In 1407 Gregory XII residing at Rome named as bishop his nephew Gabriele Condulmer, afterwards Eugene IV. Pius II, a former Bishop of Siena (1449), made the see an archbishopric in 1459. The first archbishop was Cardinal Francesco Nanni Todeschini Piccolomini (afterwards Pius III), succeeded in 1503 by his nephew Cardinal Giovanni Todeschini. Francesco Brandini held the see from 1529 to 1588; Francesco M. Targui (1597), reformer and friend of St. Philip Neri, was bishop in 1597; Metello Bichi founded the seminary in 1613. Alessandro Petrucci (1615), emulating St. Charles Borromeo, was active in reforming the convents of women. Leonardo Marsili (1684) was much opposed by the comune and by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Cardinal Felice Zondadari (1795-1823) suffered exile in France in 1809; Enrico Bindi (1871) was a man of letters. The suffragans of Siena are Chiusi and Pienza, Grosseto, Massa Marittima, Sovana, and Pitigliano. The archdiocese has one hundred and fourteen parishes, two hundred and twenty secular and seventy regular clergy, with 85,000 souls; 9 monasteries for men; 8 convents for women; 4 houses of education for boys and 5 for girls. There are four Catholic periodicals.
It was decreed in the Council of Constance that five years later another council should be called. In fact Martin V summoned it for Pavia, where it was inaugurated on 23 April, 1423. The general session had not yet begun when the pestilence broke out at Pavia, for which reason the transfer of the Council to Siena was decreed. The procedure of the Council was almost identical with that at Constance. Certain formalities of safe conduct issued by the city for the members of the Council were the cause of friction with the pope. On the eighth of November four decrees were published: against the Hussites and the Wyclifites; against those who continued the schism of Benedict XIII; on the postponement of the negotiation with the Greek schismatics, and on greater vigilance against heresy. Gallican proposals of reform were productive of discord with the French. On 19 February, 1424, Basle was selected as the place of the next Council. On 20 February the dissolution of the Council was decreed, but the Decree was not published until 7 March. The French would have preferred to continue the Council until the "reform" of the church "in capite et in membris" (in its head and its members) had been accomplished, but whether to avoid a new schism, or on account of fear of the pope (since Siena was too near the Papal States), they departed. The magistrates of Siena took care not to let anyone depart until he had paid his debts.
CAPPELLETTI, Le chiese d'Italia; PECCI, Storia del vescovado della citta di Siena (Lucca, 1748); LUSINI, Il capitolo della metropolitana di Siena (Siena, 1893); IDEM, I confini storici del vescovado di Siena (Siena, 1895); MALAVOLTI, Historia di fatti e guerre de' sanesi dall' origine al 1555 (Venice, 1599); TOMASIUS in MURATORI, Rerum italicarum, XX; RICCI, Siena in Italia artistica (Bergamo, 1905); RICHTER, Siena: Beruhmte Kunststatten (Leipzig, 1901); MILANESI, Documenti per la storia dell arte senese, III (Siena, 1854-56); Bulletino della Societa di Storia Patria di Siena.
APA citation. (1912). Siena. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13779a.htm
MLA citation. "Siena." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13779a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Judy Levandoski.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.