City south of Florence in Tuscany, Italy, known for its late medieval art. Originally an Etruscan colony, it became the Roman Sena Julia in 29 b.c. The archdiocese, metropolitan since 1459, had 98,000 Catholics, 119 secular and 70 religious priests, 90 men in 11 religious houses, and 324 women in 37 convents in 1963; it was 367 square miles in area. Its four suffragans, having 373,800 Catholics, 309 priests, and 527 sisters, are Chiusi-Pienza
(established in the 4th century), Grosseto (1238), Massa Marittima (first-known bishop in 501), and Sovana-Pitigliano (first-known bishop in 680).
Bishopric and the city. Christianity was introduced by St. Ansano, a young Roman noble martyred at Arbia in 303; he became chief patron of the diocese and his relics were translated to Siena in 1107. The first-known bishop, Eusebius, attended a synod in Rome in 465. Little is known of Roman Siena; but the city, a refuge easily defended, grew during the barbarian invasions. Under the Lombard King Rotharis (636–653) the see became important. Bishops Maurus and Vitalian attended councils in Rome in 649 and 680. Several parishes long in dispute with the bishop of Arezzo were awarded to that see by King Liutprand in 715, but under Louis II (844–875) they were returned to Siena. The Benedictine monastery of S. Eugenio was founded in 730, but the Abbey of S. Salvatore del Monte Amiata, founded c. 750, was more important in Siena's history. From c. 900 the cathedral chapter had a life in common with the religious school for boys, several masters of which are known. The canons, who to the end of the 14th century elected the bishop, founded a hospital for pilgrims run by laymen.
The Lombard gastaldo, who ruled Siena in the name of the king, was replaced in the city under the franks by the count, who later gave way in the city government to consuls. The political power of the bishops, already evident in the 9th century, slowly increased, as documents show, through the 11th century. Under their tutelage the commune came into being, and, with the consuls, they are mentioned as the chief magistrates of the city. During the dispute between Alexander III and Frederick I, Bishop Ranieri (1129–67), who compiled the obituary calendar of Siena c. 1140 and excommunicated the consuls for imprisoning clerics, had to flee Siena until his death in 1170. Through the 11th and 12th centuries the commune fought the powerful nobles of the country, making them build houses in the city and live there part of the year. The podesta, a higher official for military government and criminal judgments, was introduced in 1199. In 1186 Siena had obtained from Emperor Henry VI the right to elect its own consuls, to coin money, and to extend its jurisdiction over the county, reserving cases of final appeal to the judges and missi of the emperor. This official recognition of the commune by the emperor was called the Magna Carta of Siena. Thereafter the city had good relations with the empire and regularly followed a Ghibelline course (see guelfs).
Siena was Ghibelline, moreover, because of the antagonism of her commercial rival and neighbor, rich and powerful florence, which never missed a chance to obstruct Siena's trade. Siena dominated the main roads to Rome, and a large part of the Via Francigena passed through its territory. Along this road went much of the trade across the Alps; and so Florence, seeking control of the road, waged a 50-year war with Siena, until Siena, aided by Manfred's cavalry, defeated her in the battle of Montaperti in 1260. The preaching against this war by Bishops Bruno (1189–1215) and Buonfiglio (1216–52), who had to deal also with albigenses, was in vain, as was the activity of the new mendicant orders toward the same end. Siena failed to gain lasting results from the victory, however, and began to decline. When Alexander IV excommunicated all of Siena for its obstinate Ghibelline policy, many debtors of the Siena banking company defaulted in their payments, and the bankers found themselves in serious difficulty. After 1252 Florence coined the florin, a well-struck gold coin of stable value, while Siena kept a coin of silver mixed with baser metal. Siena's trade in cloth also suffered from competition with the better cloth of Florence. Finally, the death of Manfred (1266) and the tragic end of Conrad of Swabia (1268) deprived Siena of imperial protection and led to its defeat in the battle of Colle Val d'Elsa (1269) and to a suit for peace with Florence.
Consequently, Sienese Ghibellinism faded away in favor of the Guelf Monte dei Nove government (1292–1355). Important public works were built, but family feuds developed and a number of catastrophes hastened the decline of the city. In 1304 the Gran Tavola, an important banking firm of the Buonsignori, failed. The Black Death of 1348 cost Siena 65,000 of its population of 80,000. Faced with crisis, Siena replaced the government of the Nine with a new one of 12 citizens from the lesser merchants, assisted on specific occasions by a college of the nobility. But the new government, the result of party rivalries, was worse than the preceding government—arbitrary, partial, and incapable. Companies of adventurers devastated the land, taking so large a tribute in coin that the treasury was depleted. Florence resumed its expansionism, and for protection Siena turned to Gian Galeazzo Visconti, giving him lordship of the city in 1399. When Gian Galeazzo died in 1402, Siena regained its liberty. At this time Sovana and the seaports became swamps.
In 1319 Bl. Bernard Tolomei (1272–1348) founded the Congregation of the Olivetani. In 1321 students from Bologna migrated to the University of Siena, begun before 1200 from the 10th-century cathedral school and made a studium generale by Charles IV in 1357. Bishop Donusdeo (1313–50), known for his charity and his firmness with the fraticelli, in 1339 blessed work done at the order of the commune on the present Gothic cathedral (begun c. 1200, façade by Giovanni Pisano 1284–99). The jesuati were founded in Siena c. 1360. St. cather ine (1347–80) sought to make peace in Siena's internal discord and to promote reform in the Church, causing the popes to return to Rome from Avignon. St. Bernardine (1380–1444) preached penance and the reform of morality against a prevailing material comfort. The Church council that moved to Siena from Pavia in 1423 was without result.
In 1459 Siena was made a metropolitan see by Pius II, previously Bp. Enea Silvio Piccolomini of Siena
(1450–58). Other piccolomini prelates of Siena were Antonio (1458–59), Francesco (1460–1501, Pius III), Giovanni (1503–29), Francesco Bandini (1529–88), Ascanius I (1588–97), Ascanius II (1628–71), and Celio (1671–82). Pandolfo Petrucci seized power in Siena in 1487, ruling wisely and favoring arts and letters until his death in 1512. His heirs were expelled in 1524 for incapacity. Protestantism did not affect religious life, except for the isolated case of Bernardino ochino, fourth general of the Capuchins, who became a Protestant in 1542. In 1533 Charles V took Siena under imperial protection, putting a Spanish garrison there. Siena rebelled and expelled the Spanish in 1552, but an imperial army besieged the city (1553–55), and after its capitulation Siena passed from an independent state to a small part of a large dominion. Philip II gave it to Cosimo I de' medici in 1557 and it was incorporated in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, whose fate it shared until in the plebescite of 1860 it joined the kingdom of italy. The diocese was hardly touched by jansenism.
Illustrious sons of Siena include Pope Alexander III, the jurist Cardinal Riccardo Petroni (c. 1250–1313), Pope Paul V, Pope Alexander VII, the poet and theologian Ambrose Caterino (1487–1553), the poet philologist Claudio Tolomei (1480?–1555), the converted Jew and biblical exegete Sixtus (1520–69), and the economist Salustio Bandini (1677–1760). Cardinal M. Bichi (1612–14) founded the seminary, which now has major and minor seminarians. La Voce del Popolo is a weekly Catholic newspaper.
Bibliography: g. a. pecci, Storia del vescovado della città di Siena (Lucca 1748). e. g. gardner, The Story of Siena and San Gimignano (2d ed. London 1904). f. schevill, Siena: The History of a Medieval Commune (New York 1909; pa. 1964). r. l. douglas, History of Siena (London 1902). p. du colombiÈre, Sienne et la peinture siennoise (Paris 1956). a. garosi, Siena nella storia della medicina, 1240–1555 (Florence 1958). t. burckhardt, Siena, City of the Virgin, tr. m. m. brown (New York 1960). r. valenti, Storia di Siena (Siena 1963). Bulletino Senese di storia patria (1894–). w. brandmÜller, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg 1957–65) 9:742–744. Annuario Pontificio (Rome 1964) 418, 1413.
Art. With major buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries demonstrating a living synthesis of northern Gothic and local Romanesque of Lombard origin, Siena outwardly remains a medieval city. The typically Sienese style, manifested throughout most of Tuscany as well as in Siena, found its prototype in the 13th-century Cistercian Abbey of S. Galgano, in the Valle della Merse. The abbey, now in ruins, leaves the cathedral, with its free-standing campanile and baptistery (derived from early Christian tradition), as the best-preserved example of Sienese style. The monastic churches (St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Augustine) offer less splendid renditions of the same style. During these years some of the most important palaces were built: Palazzo Tolomei (the oldest), the Chigi-Saracini, the Buonsignori, the Salimbeni, the imposing Palazzo Pubblico with its Torre del Mangia, and some of the majestic city gates. In the 15th century, a strong Florentine influence appeared with Bernardo Rossellino (Palazzo delle Papesse) and Giuliano da Maiano (Palazzo Spannocchi). The most famous Sienese architects, Francesco di Giorgio and Peruzzi, distinguished themselves chiefly outside Siena.
The cathedral pulpit, by Niccolò pisano (c. 1205–78), in a lofty epic style derived from antiquity, and the passionately expressive Gothic-like statues by his son Giovanni (c. 1250–1320) on the cathedral façade (also by Giovanni) are the first great monuments of Sienese and Italian sculpture. Almost a century later, Jacopo della Quercia (1374–1438) vigorously revived the Pisanesque tradition, as in his Fonte Gaia in the Piazza del Campo. Jacopo's later style was influenced by the Florentines Ghiberti and Donatello, with whom he had worked on the baptismal font of S. Giovanni. His powerfully plastic basreliefs in Bologna certainly influenced michelangelo. Antonio Federighi followed Jacopo, and Francesco di Giorgio emulated Donatello. In the 16th century, the aestheticizing classicism of Lorenzo Mariano, called Marina, was anything but Sienese; similarly, the well-known 19th-century sculptor Giovanni Dupré recollects little of his native Sienese tradition.
Siena's glory is its painting, which best embodies the noble and refined soul of this profoundly mystical city. The traditions of Byzantium and of early Sienese illuminations formed the lofty style of the 13th-century croce dipinta and the panels by the oldest known Sienese painter, Guido da Siena (fl. c. 1250–75). Characterized by rhythmic line and glowing color upon a gold ground, this style reached its perfection in Duccio, whose iconic Maestà (1308–11) and scenes from the life of Christ express an intensely contemplated inner vision. Duccio's follower, Simone Martini (1284–1344), influenced by his friend Petrarch, developed a lyrical linear style, disdainful of prosaic feelings. The brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti assimilated the Giottesque influence and created a narrative style best seen in Ambrogio's frescoes showing "Good and Bad Government." But the Sienese school reached a crisis during the 15th century: Sassetta (fl. 1423–50), who tried to fuse Sienese abstractionism with Florentine naturalism; Domenico di Bartolo (1400–49); Vecchietta (1412–80); and Matteo di Giovanni (1435–95), in whom Florentine influence is felt still more decisively. However, at the end of the 15th century the elegant, spiritualized, traditional style enjoyed a final revival in the work of Neroccio de' Landi (1447–1500). The last major Sienese painter is the mannerist Beccafumi (1485–1551), whose ambiguous space, morbid sfumato, and capricious subject matter could not be further from the once great Sienese tradition. Since the 16th century, except for Francesco Vanni and the Caravaggiesque Rutilio Manetti in the 17th century, Siena has produced no painters who could be considered great.
Bibliography: e. carli, Sculttura lignea Senese (Florence 1951). g. h. and e. r. crichton, Nicola Pisano and the Revival of Sculpture in Italy (New York 1938). g. h. edgell, A History of Sienese Painting (New York 1932). m. meiss, Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death (Princeton, N.J. 1951). w. heywood and l. olcott, Guide to Siena: History and Art (2d ed. Siena 1924). j. pope-hennessy, Introduction to Italian Sculpture, 3 v. (London 1955–62); Sienese Quattrocento Painting (New York 1947). a. venturi, Storia dell'arte italiana, 11 v. in 25 (Milan 1901–40). c. h. weigelt, Sienese Painting of the Trecento (New York 1930).
A city of Tuscany in northern Italy that became an important rival of Florence during the Renaissance. Founded by the ancient Etruscans, Siena came under the control of the Lombards after the fall of the Roman Empire in the middle of the fifth century. The city won its independence in the twelfth century, and gradually expanded the surrounding territory that came under its control. Early in its history as a self-governing commune Siena was an important center of support for the Ghibelline faction that supported the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor in Italy. In 1260 the city defeated a force of Florentines at the Battle of Montaperti, which remains a rallying cry for modern Sienese in their sporting rivalries with the larger city of Florence. In 1270 the city was conquered by the king of Naples, Charles I. Siena joined an alliance of Guelph cities that supported the Papacy against the emperor, while growing wealthy as a center of banking and trade. The aristocratic Petrucci family ruled the city late in the fifteenth century; after this dynasty was overthrown in 1523 the wealthy city was fought over by the Spanish, French, and the Habsburg dynasty. In 1554 Cosimo de' Medici rallied an army and laid siege to the city, which was then under the control of a branch of the Strozzi dynasty. The Florentines defeated the Sienese at the Battle of Marciano in 1554. In 1555, it was invaded by Emperor Charles V, who passed control of the city to Cosimo de' Medici as Duke of Tuscany two years later.
Siena was an important center of painting, sculpture, and architecture, and has several notable works dating from the early Italian Renaissance. The Sienese School of painting flourished through the fourteenth century, with its leading artists Simone Martini, Guido of Siena, and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. On its oval main square, the Piazza del Campo, was built the Palazzo Pubblico, an imposing public building that contains a famous Lorenzetti fresco, Allegory of Good Government. The main square also became the site of several medieval palaces and mansions and the tall Torre del Mangia. The Fonte Gaia, an elaborate fountain, was designed for the square by Jacopo della Quercia. The cathedral of Siena was raised over a period of three centuries, and remains one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Italy. The neighboring Biblioteca Piccolomini was decorated with fresco paintings by Pinturicchio. The Campo remains the scene of a famous horse race, known as the Palio, that echoes festive contests of skill and strength that were common in the medieval era (although the Palio itself originated in the middleseventeenth century).
See Also: Florence
Siena, an independent republic* in northern Italy, was an important center of commerce and learning during the Middle Ages. The city-state gained its wealth from banking, commerce, and wool manufacturing. Before the Black Death*, Siena ranked as one of the largest cities in Italy with about 65,000 people. The plague reduced the population to about 15,000, a decline from which the city recovered very slowly.
Like other republics of the region, Siena had a complicated political structure. From 1285 to 1355 its Government of the Nine, dominated by merchants, brought relative stability to the city. However, during the late 1300s and the 1400s, sharp divisions between ancient noble families, nobles from the countryside, and wealthy merchants characterized political life in Siena. Governments favoring tradesmen and shopkeepers alternated with those serving the interests of the nobles. After a period of economic decline and political unrest, noble families gained the upper hand in the city in the mid-1400s. Pandolfo Petrucci, a prominent Sienese nobleman, took personal control of Siena in 1487, and he and his heirs ruled the city until 1523.
Siena lost its independence during the Wars of Italy (1494–1559). Florence had long wanted to gain control over Siena. In 1530 the Holy Roman Emperor* Charles V (Charles I of Spain) forced Siena to accept his protection and a Spanish garrison. The Sienese threw the Spanish troops out in 1552, which led to a three-year siege* of the city. After Siena finally surrendered in 1555, the Spanish gave the city to its ally, Cosimo I de' Medici, the ruler of Florence.
Culturally, Siena was renowned for its university, which emphasized law and attracted students from many countries during the Renaissance. Pope Pius II, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Bernardino of Siena are among the best-known people of this time from the city. Various Sienese artists made significant contributions to Renaissance painting and sculpture.
- * republic
form of Renaissance government dominated by leading merchants with limited participation by others
- * Black Death
epidemic of the plague, a highly contagious and often fatal disease, which spread throughout Europe from 1348 to 1350
- * Holy Roman Emperor
ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, a political body in central Europe composed of several states that existed until 1806
- * siege
prolonged effort to force a surrender by surrounding a fortress or town with armed troops, cutting the area off from aid
SIENA, city in Tuscany, central Italy. There is documentary evidence that a well-established Jewish settlement existed in Siena in 1229. It consisted mainly of moneylenders, who found conditions there favorable for their business. Although attacked in sermons by the most implacable Franciscan friars – Bernardino da *Siena at the beginning of the 15th century and Bernardino da *Feltre at its close – the Jews maintained their position. Between 1543 and the end of the 16th century at least 11 Jews graduated as physicians from the University of Siena. In 1571 Duke Cosimo i, anxious to receive the title of grand duke, gave in to the pressure of the Church and introduced ghettos in *Tuscany; Siena was one of the two places selected for the purpose. Conditions in the Siena ghetto in the 17th century, its quarrels and personalities, are strikingly illustrated in the diary of an uneducated Jewish peddler of low social and moral standing. In 1786 a new synagogue was built: the elaborate music sung on the occasion has been rediscovered and published. In March 1799, French troops occupied the town and the Jews were given full emancipation, but in the following June gangs of reactionaries from nearby *Arezzo descended on Siena, stormed the ghetto, and massacred 13 Jews, some of them inside the synagogue where the ark still bears the traces of the violence. According to Mussolini's special census of Jews in 1938, there were 219 Jews in Siena and the surrounding area. When the Germans occupied the area, most of these people disappeared into the Tuscan countryside to avoid roundups, but 17 Jews were deported from Siena and died at Auschwitz. In the years after World War ii, the community had great difficulties in rebuilding itself. In the early 2000s the Jewish Community of Siena was composed of no more than 50 Jews. The synagogue, one of the most beautiful in Italy, is situated in via delle Scotte.
N. Pavoncello, in: Nova Historia, 7, pt. 5–6 (1955), 31–51; idem, in: Israel (Rome, July 22, 1954; Aug. 11, 1955); Milano, Italia, index; Zolekauer, in: Archivio giuridico, 5 (1900), 259–70; Bollettino senese di storia patria, 14 (1907), 174–83; C. Roth, Personalities and Events (1953), 305–13; idem, in: huca, 5 (1928), 353–402; Cianetti, in: Il nuovo giornale (April 19, 1919); Zoller, in: ri, 10 (1913/15), 60–66; 100–10; L. Schwarz, Memoirs of my People (1943), 95–102; Adler, Prat Mus, 1 (1966), 132–54. add bibliography: R. Salvadori, Breve storia degli ebrei toscani, ix–xx secolo (1995).
[Ariel Toaff /
Massimo Longo Adorno (2nd ed.)]