First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Count of Poitiers (Pictaviensis); and Charles (Carolum) the Count of the March. All three became kings of France in a short time, and were very handsome men, but unfortunate because of their wives; for Louis ordered his wife strangled. Philip divorced his wife, but took her back again. Charles imprisoned his wife, and it is conjectured that this misfortune was due to the fact that she married in the prohibited degrees, or because of her father’s wickedness in causing Pope Boniface to be imprisoned.[See Philip IV, the Fair, Folio CCXVIII recto and Note.]

The Island of Rhodes, lying opposite the coast of Lycia, came under Christian dominion in the year 1308, and was given to the Order of the Blessed John under papal authority. For after the city of Jerusalem was completely lost, and the Templars were totally extinguished by the pope for their great errors, the soldiers of the Order of the Blessed John went to this island and drove out the Turks. With the aid and protection of the Christians they rebuilt the city which had been completely destroyed, and renewed its fleet so that it not only protected this island, but also gave aid and support to the island of Cyprus and to other Christian peoples nearby. In reward for their protection of the Christian faith, these knights, through the pope and other Christian princes, were given all the estates of the Templars in the East. Moved by devout considerations, they wished to adopt the rule of the Blessed Augustine; and the pope favored them with ecclesiastical privileges and benefits. For five years the Sultan of Egypt fought against them with his fleet; but he suffered more damage than he meted out. The Turks also attacked the territory of these knights on four occasions, and thus sustained great slaughter and defeat. At last the Turkish Sultan ravaged the island, as stated below. They say the Rhodians have a very well fortified castle, called Saint Peter, which they protect at great cost, and to which the Christians very often fly from the Turks. There they raise and keep dogs, which they let out by night. It is said that these dogs know the footsteps of the Christians and are friendly to them, but they discover the Turks and attack and bite them.[The Island of Rhodes is the most easterly one in the Aegean Sea and lies off the coast of Asia Minor. It has a considerable history (see Rhodes, Folio XXVI verso and notes, above). During the later Roman Empire it was the capital of the “Province of the Islands.” Its history under Byzantine rule is uneventful, but for some temporary occupation by the Arabs (653-658, 717-8) and the gradual encroachment of Venetian traders since 1082. In 1309, it was conquered by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem at the instigation of the pope and the Genoese, and converted into a fortress to protect the southern seas against the Turks. Under their mild and just rule, the native Greeks and Italian residents carried on a brisk trade. But the piratical acts of these traders, sometimes joined by the knights themselves, and the strategic position of the island between Constantinople and the Levant, necessitated its reduction by the Ottoman sultans, and the knights evacuated the island after honorable capitulation to Sultan Suleiman I in 1522. The population henceforth dwindled in consequence of pestilence and emigration. The castle of Saint Peter occupies the site of the ancient Acropolis, of which considerable remains are visible. (See also Order of the Knights of St. John, Folio CXCVII verso).]

John (Iohannes), son of Emperor Henry (Heinrici), was espoused to Elizabeth, the sister of Wenceslaus (Wentzeslai) the Second. He took possession of the kingdom of Bohemia after his marriage and ruled with a strong hand for 35 years. While his father was absent in Italy he governed the German portion of the Roman Empire as his vicar. By the time of the emperor’s death many Italian cities had surrendered and John marched over the mountains with a large army and protected them for a number of years. After he had taken over the cities of Brescia, Bergamo, Lucca, Parma, Reggio, Modena, and others, he provided them with castles and fortifications. The citadel he built at Bergamo may still be seen there. Later he also recovered the cities of Eger and Breslau as well as other cities in Silesia. He made war on the Austrians and carried off so much plunder that he was able to richly reward the troops in his expedition. Finally the king of France asked for his aid against the English, and John was slain in battle with many of his men. He left a son named Charles (Carolo), then 31 years of age.

John (1296-1346), king of Bohemia, was a son of the emperor Henry VII by his wife, Margaret, daughter of John I, duke of Brabant, and was a member of the family of Luxemburg. Born in 1296, he became count of Luxemburg in 1309, and, at about the same time, was offered the crown of Bohemia, which, after the death of Wenceslaus III, the last of the Premyslide kings, in 1306, had passed to Henry, the duke of Carinthia. The emperor accepted this order on behalf of his son, who married Elizabeth, a sister of Wenceslaus, and after Henry’s departure for Italy, John was crowned king of Bohemia at Prague, in 1311. Henry of Carinthia was driven out of the land, order restored, and Moravia again united with Bohemia.

As imperial vicar, John represented his father at the imperial diet of Nuremberg (1313), and was leading an army to his assistance in Italy when he heard of the emperor’s death. His claim to the imperial throne was disregarded on account of his youth, and he became a partisan of Louis, duke of Upper Bavaria, afterwards the emperor Louis the Bavarian, whom he helped in his struggle against the rival claimant, Philip the Fair of Austria. While Bohemia, where John and his German followers were unpopular, relapsed into revolt and anarchy, John fought campaigns all over Europe. He fought against the citizens of Metz and against his kinsman, John III, duke of Brabant; he lead the knights of the Teutonic Order against the non-Christians in Lithuania and Pomerania, and promised Pope John XXII to head a crusade; and, claiming to be king of Poland, he attacked the Poles and brought Silesia under his rule. He obtained Tyrol by marrying his son, John Henry, to Margaret Maultasch, the heiress of the country, assisted the emperor to defeat and capture Frederick the Fair at the battle of Mühldorf (1322), and was alternately at peace and war with the dukes of Austria, and with his former foe, Henry of Carinthia. Soon after the battle of Mühldorf, the relations between John and the emperor became strained, partly owing to the king’s friendship with the Papacy and with France, and partly owing to territorial disputes. An agreement, however, was concluded, and John invaded Italy with a small following, and made himself ruler of much of the peninsula (1331).

But John’s soldiers were few and his enemies were many, and a second invasion of Italy in 1333 was followed by the dissipation of his dreams of making himself king of Lombardy and Tuscany, and even of supplanting Louis on the imperial throne. The fresh trouble between king and emperor caused by this enterprise was intensified by a quarrel over the lands left by Henry of Carinthia, and still after by the interference of Louis in Tyrol; and, with bewildering rapidity, John was allying himself with the kings of Hungary and Poland, fighting against the emperor and his Austrian allies, defending Bohemia, governing Luxemburg, visiting France and negotiating with the pope.

About 1340 the king was overtaken by blindness, but he continued to lead an active life, successfully resisting the attacks of Louis and his allies, and campaigning in Lithuania. In 1346, acting in union with Pope Clement VI, he secured the formal deposition of Louis and the election of his own son, Charles, margrave of Moravia, as German king (1346). Then, journeying to help Philip of France against the English, he fought at the battle of Crecy, where his heroic death, on August 26th, 1346, was a fitting conclusion to his adventurous life.

John was a chivalrous and romantic personage; but, as a ruler, he was careless and extravagant, interested only in his kingdom when seeking relief from his constant pecuniary embarrassments.

Dante Alighieri of Florence, a renowned bard and poet, and a famous teacher of the Holy Scriptures at this time, was driven from Florence by those who envied him, and went to the university of Paris. After he became a subtle and ingenious poet he wrote a beautiful and praiseworthy poem entitled the Comedy, by which he gave consideration to celestial, earthly, and internal things; and he also wrote upon many other subjects. After he left France he attached himself to Frederick, the king of Aragon, and Can Grande of the Della Scala at Verona. After the death of the same lord at Verona, Dante died at Ravenna in the Year of the Lord 1321 at the age of fifty-six.

Dante Alighieri, a lawyer’s son, was born at Florence in May, 1265. He was baptized Durante, afterward contracted into Dante. His Vita Nuova is the story of his early love for Beatrice. There is no evidence that any similar feeling was aroused in her heart. She was married early to another, but neither this nor the poet’s own subsequent marriage interfered with his pure and Platonic devotion to her, which became even more intensified after death, in 1290. Shortly afterwards, Dante married Gemma Donati, daughter of a powerful Guelph family. That his marriage was unhappy is a mere conjecture, but it appears that, after his exile, Dante never saw his wife again. In 1289 he fought at Campaldino, where Florence defeated the Ghibellines, and was at the capitulation of Caprona. He held a number of minor public offices. His sympathies were with the ‘White Guelphs,’ or more moderate section, and as prior he procured the banishment of the heads and leaders of the rival factions, showing characteristic sternness and impartiality to Guelph and Ghibelline, White and Black, alike. Shortly afterward, the leaders of the Whites were permitted somehow to return. The partiality thus shown was a prominent feature in the accusation against Dante; but he had a complete answer in the fact that then he was no longer in office.

In 1301, in alarm at the threatened interference of Charles of Valois, Dante was sent on an embassy to Pope Boniface VII at Rome. From that embassy he never returned, nor did he ever set foot in his native city again. Charles espoused the side of the Neri or Blacks, and their victory was complete. In 1302, sentence of banishment went forth against Dante and others, nominally on the baseless charge of malversation in office. This was followed by a severer sentence, condemning them to be burned alive if caught. The sentence was repeated in 1311 and 1315. During this period, he is said to have visited Paris, and those who, like Boccacio, take him to France during his exile, suppose him to have been recalled to Italy and politics by the election of Henry of Luxemburg as emperor and his visit to Italy, where no emperor had set foot for more than fifty years. The exile’s hopes though now roused to the highest pitch were crushed by Henry’s unexpected death in 1313, after which Dante took refuge in Romagna, and finally in Ravenna, where, for the most part, he remained until his death on September 14th, 1321. He was buried with much pomp at Ravenna, and there he still lies, restored in 1865 to the original sarcophagus. Dante had seven children, but his family became extinct in the sixteenth century.

His most celebrated work is the Commedia (later called Divina Commedia), a vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. It gives an encyclopedic view of the highest culture and knowledge of the age with respect to philosophy, history, classical literature, physical science, morals, theology, all expressed in the sublimest and most exquisite poetry, and with consummate power and beauty of language. His next most important work is the fragment called the Convito, or Banquet. The De Monarchia (in Latin) expounds Dante’s theory of the divinely-intended government of the world by a universal emperor acting in harmony with the universal pope.

Something remains to be said of the Scaliger or Della Scala family, under whose members, as rulers, the city of Verona during the Middle Ages rose to a foremost position politically and artistically in spite of the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines. Can Grande (Francesco della Scala) was the best and most illustrious of his line, and is especially famous as the hospitable patron of Dante. When a fresh sentence of death had been pronounced by Florence upon the poet in 1315, he took refuge with his illustrious protector, Can Grande, then a young man of twenty-five, rich, liberal, and the favored head of the Ghibelline party, whose name has been immortalized by an eloquent panegyric in the 17th canto of the Paradiso.