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Cloister of S. John Lateran, Rome, 12th century.
(From a photograph by Alinari.)

See page 66.





Honorary Member of the 'Accademia delle Belle Arti,' Florence

Author of 'The Renaissance of Art in Italy,' 'Handbook of Sculpture,' 'Echoes of Old Florence,' etc.

With Eighty-three Illustrations

153-157 Fifth Avenue


Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
London & Bungay.


In most histories of Italian art we are conscious of a vast hiatus of several centuries, between the ancient classic art of Rome—which was in its decadence when the Western Empire ceased in the fifth century after Christ—and that early rise of art in the twelfth century which led to the Renaissance.

This hiatus is generally supposed to be a time when Art was utterly dead and buried, its corpse in Byzantine dress lying embalmed in its tomb at Ravenna. But all death is nothing but the germ of new life. Art was not a corpse, it was only a seed, laid in Italian soil to germinate, and it bore several plants before the great reflowering period of the Renaissance.

The seed sown by the Classic schools formed the link between them and the Renaissance, just as the Romance Languages of Provence and Languedoc form the link between the dying out of the classic Latin and the rise of modern languages.

Now where are we to look for this link?

In language we find it just between the Roman and Gallic Empires.

In Art it seems also to be on that borderland—Lombardy—where the Magistri Comacini, a mediæval Guild of Liberi Muratori (Freemasons), kept alive in their traditions the seed of classic art, slowly training it through Romanesque forms up to the Gothic, and hence to the full vi Renaissance. It is a significant coincidence that this obscure link in Art, like the link-languages, is styled by many writers Provençal or Romance style, for the Gothic influence spread in France even before it expanded so gloriously in Germany.

I think if we study these obscure Comacine Masters we shall find that they form a firm, perfect, and consistent link between the old and the new, filling completely that ugly gap in the History of Art. So fully that all the different Italian styles, whose names are legion—being Lombard-Byzantine at Ravenna and Venice, Romanesque at Pisa and Lucca, Lombard-Gothic at Milan, Norman-Saracen in Sicily and the south,—are nothing more than the different developments in differing climates and ages, of the art of one powerful guild of sculptor-builders, who nursed the seed of Roman art on the border-land of the falling Roman Empire, and spread the growth in far-off countries.

We shall see that all that was architecturally good in Italy during the dark centuries between 500 and 1200 A.D. was due to the Comacine Masters, or to their influence. To them can be traced the building of those fine Lombard Basilicas of S. Ambrogio at Milan, Theodolinda's church at Monza, S. Fedele at Como, San Michele at Pavia, and San Vitale at Ravenna; as well as the florid cathedrals of Pisa, Lucca, Milan, Arezzo, Brescia, etc. Their hand was in the grand Basilicas of S. Agnese, S. Lorenzo, S. Clemente, and others in Rome, and in the wondrous cloisters and aisles of Monreale and Palermo.

Through them architecture and sculpture were carried into foreign lands, France, Spain, Germany, and England, and there developed into new and varied styles according to the exigencies of the climate, and the tone of the people. The flat roofs, horizontal architraves, and low arches of the Romanesque, which suited a warm climate, gradually changed as they went northward into the pointed arches vii and sharp gables of the Gothic; the steep sloping lines being a necessity in a land where snow and rain were frequent.

But however the architecture developed in after times, it was the Comacine Masters who carried the classic germs and planted them in foreign soils; it was the brethren of the Liberi Muratori who, from their head-quarters at Como, were sent by Gregory the Great to England with Saint Augustine, to build churches for his converts; by Gregory II. to Germany with Boniface on a similar mission; and were by Charlemagne taken to France to build his church at Aix-la-Chapelle, the prototype of French Gothic.

How and why such a powerful and influential guild seemed to spring from a little island in Lake Como, and how their world-wide reputation grew, the following scraps of history, borrowed from many an ancient source, will, I hope, explain.

It is strange that Art historians hitherto have made so little of the Comacine Masters. I do not think that Cattaneo mentions them at all. Hope, although divining a universal Masonic Guild, enlarges on all their work as Lombard; Fergusson disposes of them in a single unimportant sentence; and Symonds is not much more diffuse; while Marchese Ricci gives them the credit of the early Lombard work and no more. I was led at length to a closer study of them by the two ponderous tomes on the Maestri Comacini[1] by Professor Merzario, who has got together a huge amount of material from old writers, old deeds, and old stones. But valuable as the material is, Merzario is bewildering in his redundancy, confusing in his arrangement, and not sufficiently clear in his deductions, his viii chief aim being to show how many famous artists came from Lombardy.

I wrote to ask Signor Merzario if I might associate his name with mine in preparing a work for the English public, in which his research would furnish me with so much that is valuable to the history of art, but to my regret I found he had died since the book was written, so I never received his permission; though his publisher was very kind in permitting me to use the book as a chief work of reference. With Merzario I have collated many other recognized authorities on architecture and archæology, besides archivial documents, and old chronicles. I have tried to make some slight chronological arrangement, and some intelligible lists of the names of the Masters at different eras. The researches of the great archivist Milanesi in his Documenti per la Storia dell' Arte Senese, and Cesare Guasti in his lately published collection of documents relating to the building of the Duomo of Florence, have been of immense service in throwing a light on the organization of the Lodges and their government. All that Signor Merzario dimly guessed from the more fragmentary earlier records of Parma, Modena, and Verona, shines out clear and well-defined under the fuller light of these later records, and helps us to read many a dark saying of the older times.

My thanks for much kind assistance in supplying me with facts or authorities, are due to the Rev. Canonico Pietro Tonarelli of Parma cathedral; the Rev. Vincenzo Rossi, Priore of Settignano; Commendatore John Temple Leader of Florence; and to my brother, the Rev. William Miles Barnes, Rector of Monkton, who has written the "English link" for me. Acknowledgments are also due to Signor Alinari and Signor Brogi of Florence, and to Signor Ongania of Venice, for permitting the use of their photographs as illustrations. ix


  1. PISA 206
  INDEX 429



Cloister of S. John Lateran, Rome   Frontispiece
Comacine Panel from the Church of San Clemente, Rome To face page 9
Frescoes in the Subterranean Church of San Clemente, Rome " 10
Church of Sta. Costanza, Rome " 12
Door of the Church of S. Marcello at Capua " 13
Ancient Sculpture in Monza Cathedral " 38
Comacine Capital in San Zeno, Verona " 44
Basilica of S. Frediano at Lucca " 50
Façade of San Michele at Pavia " 52
Tracing of an old print of the Tosinghi Palace, a mediæval building once in Florence, with Laubia on the front " 60
Tower of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Rome " 64
Byzantine Altar in the Church of S. Ambrogio, Milan " 74
Fresco in the Spanish Chapel, S. Maria Novella, Florence " 78
Door of the Church of San Michele, Pavia " 80
Comacine Knot on a panel at S. Ambrogio, Milan " 82
Sculpture from Sant' Abbondio, Como " 82
Pulpit in the Church of S. Ambrogio, Milan " 88
Door of a Chapel in S. Prassede, Rome " 90
Pluteus from S. Marco dei Precipazi, now in S. Giacomo, Venice. " 90
Comacine Capitals " 96
Exterior of San Piero a Grado, Pisa " 102
Comacine Capital in San Zeno, Verona, emblematizing Man clinging to Christ (the Palm) " 110
Capital in the Atrium of S. Ambrogio, Milan " 112
The West Door, St. Bartholomew, Smithfield " 122
South Side of the Choir, St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield " 124
Palazzo del Popolo and Palazzo Comunale, Todi " 136
Fiesole Cathedral. Interior " 145 xii
S. Clemente, Rome. Interior showing ancient screen " 146
Tower of S. Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna " 153
Tower of S. Satyrus. Milan " 154
S. Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna " 157
Door of the Church of S. Zeno at Verona " 166
Baptistery at Parma, designed by Benedetto da Antelamo " 186
Façade of Ferrara Cathedral " 198
Church of S. Antonio, Padua " 200
Tomb of Can Signorio degli Scaligeri at Verona " 204
Interior of Pisa Cathedral " 212
Pulpit in the Church of S. Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoja " 222
Church of S. Michele, Lucca " 226
Cathedral of Lucca (San Martino) " 228
Pulpit in Church of S. Bartolommeo, Pistoja " 230
Church of S. Andrea, Pistoja " 234
Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoja " 236
Church of S. Maria, Ancona " 242
Door of S. Giusto at Lucca " 244
Pilaster of the Door of the Cathedral of Beneventum " 246
Baptismal Font in Church of S. Frediano, Lucca " 248
Pulpit in the Church of Groppoli near Pistoja " 249
Pulpit in Siena Cathedral " 250
The Riccardi Palace, built for Lorenzo dei Medici " 252
Tomb of Mastino II. degli Scaligeri, at Verona " 254
Capital of a Column in the Ducal Palace, Venice " 256
Doorway of the Municipal Palace at Perugia " 258
Palazzo Pubblico at Perugia " 260
Court of the Bargello, Florence " 262
Tower of Palazzo Vecchio at Florence " 263
Eighth-century Wall Decoration in Subterranean Church of S. Clemente, Rome " 266
Frescoes of the eighth century in the Subterranean Church of S. Clemente, Rome, with portraits of the Patron Beno di Rapizo and his Family " 268
Interior of Church of San Piero a Grado near Pisa, with Frescoes of the ninth century " 270
Figures from paintings in Assisi by Magister Giunta of Pisa " 272
Fresco at S. Gimignano " 278
Front of Siena Cathedral " 296
Door in Orvieto Cathedral " 300
Monument to Cardinal de Braye " 314
Palazzo Vecchio, Florence " 316
Shrine in Or San Michele, Florence " 332
Small Cloister of the Certosa of Pavia " 358 xiii
Marble Work on the Roof of Milan Cathedral " 364
Capital in Milan Cathedral " 366
North Door of Como Cathedral, sculptured by Tommaso Rodari " 368
Renaissance Front of the Church of the Certosa at Pavia " 378
Façade of Monza Cathedral " 380
The Cathedral and Broletta at Como " 382
The Ca d'Oro, Venice " 388
Ducal Palace at Venice. The side built by the Buoni Family " 390
Court of the Ducal Palace at Venice " 392
Apse of the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo on the Cœlian Hill, Rome " 404
Basilica of S. Paolo fuori le mura, Rome " 406
Pulpit in Church of S. Cesareo in Palatio, Rome. Mediæval Sculpture inlaid in Mosaic " 408
Candelabrum in S. Paolo at Rome " 412




In looking back to the great church-building era, i.e. to the centuries between 1100 and 1500, do not the questions arise in one's mind, "How did all these great and noble buildings spring up simultaneously in all countries and all climates?" and "How comes it that in all cases they were similar to each other at similar times?"

In the twelfth century, when the Italian buildings, such as the churches at Verona, Bergamo, Como, etc., were built with round arches, the German Domkirchen at Bonn, Mayence, Treves, Lubeck, Freiburg, etc.; the French churches at Aix, Tournus, Caen, Dijon, etc.; and the English cathedrals at Canterbury, Bristol, Chichester, St. Bartholomew's in London—in fact, all those built at the same time—were not only round-arched, but had an almost identical style, and that style was Lombard.

In the thirteenth century, when pointed arches mingled with the round in Italy, the same mixture is found contemporaneously in all the other countries.

Again in the fourteenth century, when Cologne, Strasburg, and Magdeburg cathedrals were built in pure Gothic; then those of Westminster, York, Salisbury, etc., arose in England; the Domes of Milan, Assisi, and 4 Florence in Italy; and the churches of Beauvais, Laon, and Rouen in France. These all came, almost simultaneously, like sister buildings with one impronto on them all.

Is it likely that many single architects in different countries would have had the same ideas at the same time? Could any single architect, indeed, have designed every detail of even one of those marvellous complex buildings? or have executed or modelled one-tenth of the wealth of sculpture lavished on one of those glorious cathedrals? I think not.

The existence of one of these churches argues a plurality of workers under one governing influence; the existence of them all argues a huge universal brotherhood of architects and sculptors with different branches in each country, and the same aims, technique, knowledge and principles permeating through all, while each conforms in detail to local influences and national taste.

If we once realize that such a Guild must have existed, and that under the united hands of the grand brotherhood, the great age of church-building was endowed with monuments which have been the glory of all ages, then much that has been obscure in Art History becomes clear; and what was before a marvel is now shown to be a natural result.

There is another point also to be considered. The great age of church-building flourished at a time when other arts and commerce were but just beginning. Whence, out of the dark ages, sprang the skill and knowledge to build such fine and sculpturesque edifices, when other trades were in their infancy, and civic and communal life scarcely organized?

It is indeed a subject of wonder how the artists of the early period of the rise of Art were trained. Here we find men almost in the dark ages, who were the most splendid 5 architects, and at the same time sculptors, painters, and even poets. How, for instance, did Giotto, a boy taken from the sheep-folds, learn to be a painter, sculptor, and architect of such rank that the city of Florence chose him to be the builder of the Campanile? Did he learn it all from old Cimabue's frescoes, and half Byzantine tavole? and how did he prove to the city that he was a qualified architect? We find him written in the archives as Magister Giotto, consequently he must have passed through the school and laborerium of some guild where every branch of the arts was taught, and have graduated in it as a master.

All these things will become more and more clear as we follow up the traces of the Comacine Guild from the chrysalis state, in which Roman art hybernated during the dark winter of the Middle Ages, through the grub state of the Lombard period, to the glorious winged flights of the full Gothic of the Renaissance.

And first as to the chrysalis, at little Como. The origin of the name Comacine Masters has caused a great deal of argument amongst Italian writers new and old. Some think it merely a place-name referring to the island of Comacina, in Lake Lario or Como; others take a wider significance, and say it means not only the city of Como, but all the province, which was once a Roman colony of great extension. Others again, among whom is Grotius, suggest that it is not a place-name at all, but comes from the Teutonic word Gemachin or house-builders. As the Longobards afterwards called them in Italian Maestri Casarii, which means the same thing, there is perhaps something to be said for this hypothesis.

The first to draw attention to the name Magistri Comacini, was the erudite Muratori, that searcher out of ancient MSS., who unearthed from the archives an edict, dated November 22, 643, signed by King Rotharis, in which 6 are included two clauses treating of the Magistri Comacini and their colleagues. The two clauses, Nos. 143 and 144, out of the 388 inscribed in crabbed Latin, are, when anglicized, to the following intent—

"Art. 143. Of the Magister Comacinus. If the Comacine Master with his colliganti (colleagues) shall have contracted to restore or build the house of any person whatsoever, the contract for payment being made, and it chances that some one shall die by the fall of the said house, or any material or stones from it, the owner of the said house shall not be cited by the Magister Comacinus or his brethren to compensate them for homicide or injury; because having for their own gain contracted for the payment of the building, they must sustain the risks and injuries thereof."[2]

"Art. 144. Of the engaging or hiring of Magistri. If any person has engaged or hired one or more of the Comacine Masters to design a work (conduxerit ad operam dictandum), or to daily assist his workmen in building a palace or a house, and it should happen that by reason of the house some Comacine should be killed, the owner of the house is not considered responsible; but if a pole or a stone shall kill or injure any extraneous person, the Master builder shall not bear the blame, but the person who hired him shall make compensation."[3]


These laws prove that in the seventh century the Magistri Comacini were a compact and powerful guild, capable of asserting their rights, and that the guild was properly organized, having degrees of different ranks; that the higher orders were entitled Magistri, and could "design" or "undertake" a work;—i.e. act as architects; and that the colligantes worked under, or with, them. In fact, a powerful organization altogether;—so powerful and so solid, that it speaks of a very ancient foundation.

But when and how did it originate?

Was it a surviving branch of the Roman Collegium? a decadent group of Byzantine artists stranded in Italy? or was it of older Eastern origin? A clever logician could prove it to be all three.

For the Roman theory, he could base his arguments on the Latin nomenclature of officials, and the Latin form of the churches.

For the Byzantine theory, he would have the style of certain ornamentations, and the assertions of German writers, such as Müller, and Stieglitz.

For the ancient Eastern theory, he might plead their Hebrew and Oriental symbolism.

We will take the Byzantine theory first. Müller (Archaeologie der Kunst, p. 224) says that: "From Constantinople as the centre of mechanical skill, a knowledge of art radiated to distant countries, corporations of builders of Grecian birth were permitted to exercise a judicial government among themselves according to the laws of the country to which they owed allegiance;" and Stieglitz, in his History of Architecture, records a tradition that at the time the Lombards were in possession of Northern Italy, i.e. from the sixth to the eighth century, the Byzantine builders 8 formed themselves into guilds and associations, and that on account of having received from the Popes the privilege of living according to their own laws and ordinances, they were called Freemasons.[4] Italian and Latin writers, however, place the advent of these Greek artists at a later period; they are supposed to have been sculptors, who, rebelling against the strict Iconoclasm of Leo, the Isaurian—718 A.D. to 741—came over to Italy where art was more free, and joined the Collegia there.

But at this time most of the chief Longobardic churches were already built by the Comacine Masters, and were Roman in form, mediæval in ornamentation, and full of ancient symbolism. Herr Stieglitz must have pre-dated his tradition. Besides this I can find no sign in Italian buildings, or writers about them, of any lasting Byzantine influence. Indeed pure Byzantine architecture in Italy seems sporadic and isolated, not only in regard to site, but in regard to time. The Ravenna mosaics, a few in Rome, a little work in Venice, is all one can call absolutely Byzantine; and the influence never spread far. The Comacine ornamentation indeed has qualities utterly distinct in spirit, though in some of its forms allied to Byzantine. It is possible that some of these Eastern exiles joined the Comacine Guild, but there is quite enough in the communications of Como with the Greeks, to account for their having imbibed as much as they did of Byzantine style. Some of the Bishops who were rulers of Como before and after Lombard times were Greeks; notably Amantius the fourth, who was translated there from Thessalonica, and his successor, S. Abbondio. Also through the Patriarch of Aquileja, under whose jurisdiction they were brought later, the guild was put into contact with the Greek sculptors then at Venice, Grado, and Ravenna.


Comacine Panel from the Church of San Clemente, Rome. The Lattice-work is made of a single strand interlaced. Date, 6th century.

We will leave the Oriental theory aside as too vague and traditional for proof, depending as it does on a few Oriental symbols, and certain forms of decoration, and will look nearer home—even to Rome, with which a connection may certainly be found, and that in a form visible to our modern eyes.

Rome is almost as full of remains of what is now styled Comacine architecture, as it is of classic and pagan ruins, and they are nearly as deeply buried. Go where you will, and in the vestibules or crypts of churches, now of gaudy Renaissance style, you will find the sign and seal of the ancient guild. Investigate any church which has a Lombard tower—and they are many—and you will discover that the hands which built that many-windowed tower have left their mark on the church. In that wonderful third-century basilica, which was discovered beneath the thirteenth-century one of S. Clemente; in the almost subterranean basilica of S. Agnese fuori le mura; in the vestibule of the florid modern SS. Apostoli; in Santa Maria in Cosmedin; and various other buildings, are wonderful old slabs of marble with complicated Comacine knots on them. Our illustration is from a slab in San Clemente, which was evidently from the buried church, though used as a panel in the parapet of the existing choir. A marvellous piece of basket-work in marble, which, if studied, will be found composed of a single cord, twined and intertwined. An almost identical panel is preserved in the wall of the staircase to S. Agnese, another has just been found reversed, and the back of it used for the thirteenth-century mosaic decoration of the pulpit in S. Maria in Cosmedin.

Then in the later Lombard churches of S. Lorenzo in Lucina, SS. Giovanni e Paolo, S. John Lateran, etc., one may see the crouching Comacine lions, now mostly minus their pillars, and shoved under square door-lintels, or built into walls, where they remain to tell of the ancient builders whose sign and seal they were. 10

And here and there we get a name.

In the vestibule of the SS. Apostoli is a red marble lion, on the base of which in Gothic letters is the name BASSALECTI. Beneath it is an old inscription, "Opus magister Bassalecti Marmorari Romano sec, XIII." This same Magister's name, spelt Vassalecti, has lately been discovered inscribed on the capitals of some columns in the nave of S. John Lateran.

In the under church of S. Clemente, an ancient fresco of the eighth century takes us further back than this. Here we see a veritable Roman Magister directing his men. He stands in magisterial toga (and surely one may descry a masonic apron beneath it!), directing his men in the moving of a marble column, and with the naïve simplicity of the primitive artist each man's name is written beside him. Albertel and Cosmaris are dragging up the column with a rope, the sons of Pute, who are possibly novices, are helping them, while Carvoncelle is lifting it from behind with a lever. These men are all in short jerkins, but the master, Sisinius, is standing in his toga, directing them with outstretched hand.

Here is the Magister of a Roman Collegium embalmed and preserved for us, that we may see him and his men at work as they were in the early centuries after Christ. We know that Masonic Collegia were still existing in Rome in the time of Constantine and Theodosius; we know that Constantine built the basilica of S. Agnese, afterwards restored by Pope Symmachus; also those of S. Lorenzo—at least the round-arched part of it—enlarged by Galla Placidia in the fifth century; S. Paolo fuori le Mura, and other ancient churches. We see from remains recently brought to light, that these were originally of the exact plan of the churches built "in the Roman manner" at Hexham and York in England, and of the Ravenna churches, and S. Pietro in Grado at Pisa, also nearly contemporary. We 11 further realize that all of these were identical in style with the finer specimens of Lombard building some centuries later. There is only the natural decline of art which would have taken place in the century or two of barbarian invasion, between the two epochs, but the traditionary forms, methods, etc., are all reproduced in the Lombard-Comacine churches. Compare the fourth-century door of the church of S. Marcello at Capua with the eighth-century one of S. Michele at Pavia, and you will find precisely the same style of art. Compare the Roman capitals of the church of Santa Costanza, built by Constantine, with the capitals in any Comacine church up to 1200, and you will see the same mixture of Ionic and a species of Corinthian with upstanding volutes. Some of the Comacine buildings have these upright volutes plain instead of foliaged. The effect is rude, but I think these plainer capitals were not a sign of incapacity in the architects of the guild, for one sees richly ornate ones on the same building. It was only the stock design of the inferior masters, when funds did not allow of payment for richer work.

Frescoes in the Subterranean Church of San Clemente, Rome. Upper line, Byzantine, 4th century; under ones, Comacine, 8th century.

Therefore it may be inferred: (1) That architects of the same guild worked in Rome and in Ravenna in the early centuries after Christ; (2) that though the architects were Roman, the decorators up to the fourth century were chiefly Byzantine, or had imbibed that style as their paintings show; (3) that in the time when Rome lay a heap of ruins under the barbarians, the Collegium, or a Collegium, I know not which, fled to independent Como; and there in after centuries they were employed by the Longobards, and ended in again becoming a powerful guild.

Hope, the author of an historical Essay on Architecture, had a keen prevision of this guild, although he had no documents or archives, but only the testimony of old stones and buildings to prove it. After sketching the formation of the Roman Collegia, and the employment of 12 their members as Christian architects under the early Popes, he says "that a number of these, finding their work in Rome gone in the times of invasion, banded together to do such work in other parts of the world." He seems to think that the nucleus of this union was Lombardy, where the superiority of the architecture, under the Lombard kings, was such that the term Magistri Comacini became almost a generic name for architects. He says that builders and sculptors formed a single grand fraternity, whose scope was to find work outside Italy. Indeed distance and obstacles were nothing to them; they travelled to England under Augustine, to Germany with St. Boniface, to France with Charlemagne, and again to Germany with their brother magister, Albertus Magnus; they went to the east under the Eastern Emperors, to the south under the Lombard Dukes, and in fact are found everywhere through many centuries. The Popes, one after another, gave them privileges. Indeed the builders may be considered an army of artisans working in the interest of the Popes, in all places where the missionaries who preceded them had prepared the ground for them.

Church of Sta. Costanza, Rome. Built in the 4th century.
(From a photograph by Alinari.)

See page 11.

Diplomas and papal bulls confirmed to the guild the privileges they had obtained under their national sovereigns, and besides guaranteed their safety in every Catholic country which they visited for the scope of their association. They assumed the right to depend wholly and solely on the Pope, which absolved them from the observance of all local laws and statutes, royal edicts, and municipal regulations, and released them from servitude, as well as all other obligations imposed on the people of the country. They had not only the power of fixing their own honorarium, but the exclusive right of regulating in their own lodges everything that appertained to their own internal government. Those diplomas and bulls prohibited any other artist, extraneous to the guild, from establishing any kind of competition with them.... Encouraged by such a special protection, the 13 Romans in great numbers entered the Masonic Guild, particularly when they were destined to accompany the missionaries sent by the Pope to countries hitherto unvisited by them. The Greeks also did not delay to take part. The Exarchate of Ravenna, first detached from the Greek Empire by the power of the Lombard princes, had by King Pepin been given to the Popes.... The commercial relations and communications of all kinds maintained with Constantinople by the many cities of Northern Italy, daily attracted many Greeks to this city; finally, the political turbulence of Constantinople, and chiefly the fanaticism of the Iconoclasts, continued to associate Greek artists with Italy, and many of these were received in the lodges, whose number constantly increased.

Door of the Church of S. Marcello at Capua, 4th century.
(From a photograph by Alinari.)

As civilization became more diffused, the inhabitants of northern countries, French, Germans, Belgians, and English, were admitted to form part of these guilds. Without this concession they would probably have had to fear a perilous competition, encouraged by the sovereigns of other countries.... These corporations were always in league with the Church, which in those times of war and constant struggle, of military service and feudal slavery, was the only asylum for those who wished to cultivate the arts of peace. Therefore we see ecclesiastics of high rank, abbots, prelates, bishops, exalting the respect in which the Freemasons were held, by joining the guild as members. They gave designs for their own churches, overlooked the building, and employed their own monks in the manual labour.

Such is broadly the substance of Hope's account of the great Lombard Guild. It shows remarkable insight, for when he wrote, the documentary evidences which have lately been collected were wanting.[5] It also explains precisely the close connection with monks and the Church, 14 which appears in all the story of the guild, and it accounts for the Greek influence in the ornamentation.

In all the course of the history of building we see that each country or province had to obtain its architects from this Collegium at Rome, as Villani says all the cities of Italy did, and were obliged to apply to the Grand Master of the whole guild. Thus the early Popes had to beg architects for Rome from the Lombard kings; Pope Adrian had to apply to Charlemagne for builders; and so on up to the time when all the church-building Communes had to seek architects from some existing lodge.

Giovanni Villani shows us the intimate connection of the Roman Collegium with Florence. He says that after Cæsar had destroyed Fiesole he wished to build another city to be called Cesaria, but the Senate would not permit this. The Senate, however, gave his Generals Macrinus, Albinus, Cneus Pompey, and Martius equal power to build, and between them they founded Florence, bringing the water from Monte Morello by an aqueduct. Villani says the Magistri came from Rome for all these works. That was in the days when the great masonic company had their Grand Lodge in Rome, before the martyrdom of the Santi Quattro, afterwards their patron saints.

In Chapter XLII. Villani relates how when the citizens of Florence wished to build a temple to Mars, they sent to the Senate of Rome to beg that they would supply the most capable and clever Magistri that Rome could furnish. This was done,[6] and the Baptistery was erected in its first form.

Again whilst Charlemagne and Pope Adrian were employing the Comacines to rebuild the ruins of Rome, we find from Villani (lib. iii. chap. 1) that Charlemagne 15 sent some Romans with "all the masters there were in Rome" (e vennero con quanti maestri n'avea in Roma per più tosto murarla) to fortify Florence, which had appealed to him for succour against the Fiesolans. In this manner, says Villani, "the Magistri who came with the Romans began to rebuild our noble city of Florence."

As early as the fifth century Cassiodorus seems to refer to the work of the Comacines when writing about the "public architects"—the very expression implies a public company—and admiring the grand Italian edifices with their "airy columns, slight as canes," he adds, "to be called Magister is an honour to be coveted, for the word always stands for great skill."[7]

This brings us to the question of the Latin nomenclature. No really qualified Comacine architect is ever mentioned either in sculptured inscription, parchment deed, or in the registers of the lodges, without the prefix Magister, a title which Cassiodorus, for one, respected. It was not a term applied indiscriminately to all builders, like murarius; and we find that the subordinate ranks of stone-cutters or masons were called by the generic name of operarius. I take it that the word, as applied to the higher rank of the Comacine Guild, has the same value as the title of Master in the old trade guilds of London, i.e. one who has passed through the lower rank of the schools and laborerium, and has by his completed education risen to the stage of perfection, when he may teach others.

Morrona[8] gives the same definition. Judging from ancient inscriptions and documents, he says that "operator" (Latin operarius) is used for one who works materially; while Magister signifies the architect who designs and commands. When a Magister carries out his own designs, 16 he is said to be operator ipse magister, as in the case of Magister Rainaldus, who designed and sculptured the façade of the Duomo at Pisa.

In warlike times such as the Middle Ages, the only means by which artisans could protect their interests was by mutual protection, and hence the necessity and origin of Trade Guilds in general. The Masonic one appears to have been a universal fraternity with an earlier origin; indeed many of their symbols point to a very ancient Eastern derivation, and it is probable it was the prototype of all other guilds.

Since I began writing this chapter a curious chance has brought into my hands an old Italian book on the institutions, rites, and ceremonies of the order of Freemasons.[9] Of course the anonymous writer begins with Adoniram, the architect of Solomon's Temple, who had so very many workmen to pay, that not being able to distinguish them by name, he divided them into three different classes, novices, operatori, and magistri, and to each class gave a secret set of signs and passwords, so that from these their fees could be easily fixed, and imposture avoided. It is interesting to know that precisely the same divisions and classes existed in the Roman Collegium and the Comacine Guild—and that, as in Solomon's time, the great symbols of the order were the endless knot, or Solomon's knot, and the "Lion of Judah."

Our author goes on to tell of the second revival of Freemasonry, in its present entirely spiritual significance, and he gives Oliver Cromwell, of all people, the credit of this revival! The rites and ceremonies he describes are the greatest tissue of mediæval superstition, child's play, blood-curdling oaths, and mysterious secrecy with nothing to 17 conceal, that can be imagined. All the signs of masonry without a figment of reality; every moral thing masquerades under an architectural aspect, in that "Temple made without hands" which is figured by a Freemasons' lodge in these days. But the significant point is that all these names and masonic emblems point to something real which existed at some long-past time, and, as far as regards the organization and nomenclature, we find the whole thing in its vital and actual working form in the Comacine Guild. Our nameless Italian who reveals all the Masonic secrets, tells us that every lodge has three divisions, one for the novices, one for the operatori or working brethren, and one for the masters, besides a meeting or recreation room; and that no lodge can be established without a minimum of two masters. Now wherever we find the Comacines at work, we find the threefold organization of schola or school for the novices, laborerium for the operatori, and the Opera or Fabbrica for the Masters of Administration.

The anonymous one tells us that there is a Gran Maestro or Arch-magister at the head of the whole order, a Capo Maestro or chief Master at the head of each lodge. Every lodge must besides be provided with two or four Soprastanti, a treasurer, and a secretary-general, besides accountants. This is precisely what we find in the organization of the Comacine Lodges. As we follow them through the centuries we shall see it appearing in city after city, at first dimly shadowed where documents are wanting, but at last fully revealed by the books of the treasurers and Soprastanti themselves, in Siena, Florence, and Milan.

Thus, though there is no certain proof that the Comacines were the veritable stock from which the pseudo-Freemasonry of the present day sprang, we may at least admit that they were a link between the classic Collegia and all other art and trade guilds of the Middle Ages. They were called Freemasons because they were builders of a 18 privileged class, absolved from taxes and servitude, and free to travel about in times of feudal bondage. The term was applied to them both in England and Germany. Findel quotes two old English MSS., one of 1212, where the words "sculptores lapidum liberorum" are in close conjunction with cœmentari, which is the oldest Latin form for builder; and another dated 1396, where occurs the phrase "latomos vocatos fremaceons." In the rolls of the building of Exeter and Canterbury cathedrals the word Freimur is frequent, and no better proof can be given of the way the early Masonic guild came into England. The Italian term liberi muratori went into Germany with the Comacine Masters, who built Lombard buildings in many a German city, before Gothic ones were known; thence it passed Teutonized as Freimur into England.[10]


Cesare Cantù (Storia di Como, vol. i. p. 440) thus describes the Guild—

"Our Como architects certainly gave the name to the Masonic companies, which, I believe, had their origin at this time, though some claim to derive them from Solomon. These were called together in the Loggie (hence Lodge) by a grand-master to treat of affairs common to the order, to accept novices, and confer superior degrees on others. The chief Lodge had other dependencies, and all members were instructed in their duties to the Society, and taught to direct every action to the glory of the Lord and His worship; to live faithful to God and the Government; to lend themselves to the public good and fraternal charity. In the dark times which were slowly becoming enlightened, they communicated to each other ideas on architecture, buildings, stone-cutting, the choice of materials and good taste in design. Strength, force, and beauty were their symbols. Bishops, princes, men of high rank who studied architecture fraternized with them, but the mixture of so many different classes changed in time the spirit of the Freemasons. The original forms of building were lost when the science fell into the hands and caprice of venal artisans."[11]

We shall see the way in which the Comacines spread fraternity wherever they went. When they began building in any new place, they generally founded a lodge there, which comprised a laborerium and school. Thus we find one under the Antellami family in Parma before 1200, and not long after one in Modena under the same masters from Campione. The lodge is clearly defined at Orvieto 20 and Siena. In Lucca there was a laborerium before the year 1000. In 1332 it had obtained privileges. At Milan there was evidently another, for on February 3, 1383, the archbishop invites the architects Fratelli (brethren), and others who understand the work, to inspect the models for the cathedral; now these words evidently refer to a Masonic brotherhood, as does the term Opera Magiestatem so often met with in old documents.

In the Marches of Ancona is a sepulchre inscribed to the fratres Comacini, and in the Abruzzi are chapels dedicated by them. In Rome it is recorded that they met in the church of SS. Quattro Coronati. These patron saints of the guild, the four holy crowned ones (Santi Quattro Coronati), strike me as having a peculiar significance in regard to their origin. We are told that during the persecutions under Diocletian, four brethren, named Nicostratus, Claudius, Castorio, and Superian[12] (either brothers, or more likely members of the same Collegium), who were famous for their skill in building and sculpture, refused to exercise their art for the pagan Emperor. "We cannot," they said, "build a temple for false gods, nor shape images in wood or stone to ensnare the souls of others." They were all martyred in different ways: one scourged, one shut up and tortured in an iron case, one thrown into the sea; the other was decapitated. Their relics were in the time of St. Leo placed in four urns, and deposited in the crypt of the church, which was built to their honour, in the time of Honorius, by the Comacines then in Rome. It has always been the especial church of the guild, and their meeting-place. They had an altar dedicated to the same saints at Siena, and another at 21 Venice. We find from the statutes of the Sienese guild as late as the fourteenth century, that the fête of the "Quattro" was kept in a special manner by the Masonic guild. All the Church fêtes are classed together as days when no work is to be done, but the day of the SS. Quattro has two laws all to itself, and is kept with peculiar ceremonies.[13]

On the altar of this church on Mount Aventine are silver busts of the four Magister martyrs; and on the wall is an ancient inscription, as follows—






























If I interpret the abbreviations M͞R. F͞RM and FA͞ML aright, this inscription would imply that members of each of the three grades of the Roman Masonic guild, Magister, Fratres, and Famuli (apprentices), were martyred together, and their remains placed in this church with the relics of some proto-martyrs. The Magistri were afterwards canonized, and the four I have named became the patron saints of the guild. S. Carpophorus was held in special veneration in Como, of which place he was probably a native, or else a Greek member of the Comacine Lodge there.

The other side of the inscription chronicles the restoration of the altar which was ruined and broken down, in the time of Pope Paschalis Secundus, A.D. 1111, in the fourth Indiction.

The church of the SS. Quattro has remains of a fine atrium or portico. In the wall of the atrium is a fragment of intreccio. The original form of the church is well preserved, and is identical with that of S. Agnese, fuori le mura. The gallery for the women is well preserved.

The especial veneration for the four crowned martyrs seems to point to their Roman origin, and to specify the reason why the remnant of the particular Collegium to which they belonged fled from Rome, and took refuge in the safe little republic of Como, so that it was not only the Goths and Vandals from whom they fled. It explains also the intense religion in their work, and rules; 23 the very first principles of which were to respect God's name, and do all to His glory.

It need not excite wonder that any guild should have fled from Rome in these centuries. This was the time that Gregory the Great, painted so graphically in his passionate Homily of Ezechiel, preached at Rome. "Everywhere see we mourning, hear we laments; cities, strongholds, villages are devastated; the earth is a desert. No busy peasants are in the fields, few people in the cities, and these last relics of human kind daily suffer new wounds. There is no end to the scourging of God's judgment.... We see some carried into slavery, others cruelly mutilated, and yet more killed. What joy, oh my brethren, is left to us in life? If it is still dear to us we must look for wounds, and not for pleasures. Behold Rome, once Queen of the world, to what is she reduced?—prostrated by the sorrows and desolation of her citizens, by the fierceness of her enemies and frequent ruin, the prophecy against Samaria has been fulfilled in her. Here no longer have we a senate; the people are perished, save the few who still suffer daily. Rome is empty, and has barely escaped the flames; her buildings are thrown down. The fate of Nineveh is already upon her...."[14]

The Longobard invaders were more merciful than the Goths, for not long after their rule was over, another Pope wrote to Pepin—"Erat sanæ hoc mirabile in regno Longobardorum, nulla erat violenta nulla struebantur insidiæ. Nemo aliquem iniuste angariabat, nemo spoliabat. Non erat furta, non latrocinia, unusquisque quodlibebat securus sine timore pergebat."—Histor. Franc. Scrip. Tom. III. cap. xvi.

Whatever the moving cause, the fact remains that in the Middle Ages the Comacine Masters had a nucleus on that strong little fortified island of Comacina, which, together 24 with Como itself, stood against the Lombards in the sixth century for twenty years before being subjugated; and in the twelfth, held its own independence for a quarter of a century against Milan and the Lombard League, which it refused to join.

When at length the Longobards became their rulers, they respected their art and privileges. The guild remained free as it had been before, and in this freedom its power must have increased fast.

The Masters worked liberally for their new lords, but it was as paid architects, not as serfs. As a proof we may cite an edict signed by King Luitprand on February 28, 713. It is entitled Memoratorio, and is published by Troya in his Codex Diplomaticus Longobardus.

It fixes the prices of every kind of building. Here are the titles of the seven clauses, referring to the payments of the Magistri Comacini: De Mercede Comacinorum

CLVII. Capit. i. De Sala. "Si sala fecerit, etc."

CLVIII. Capit. ii. De Muro. "Si vero murum fecerit qui usque ad pedem unum sit grossus ... cum axes clauserit et opera gallica fecerit ... si arcum volserit, etc."

Capit. iii. De annonam Comacinorum.

CLIX. Capit. iv. De opera.

CLX. Similiter romanense si fecerit, sic repotet sicut gallica opera.

Capit. v. De Caminata.

CLXI. Capit. vi. De marmorariis.

CLXII. Si quis axes marmoreas fecerit ... et si columnas fecerit de pedes quaternos aut quinos ...

Capit. vii. De furnum.

CLXIII. Capit. viii. De Puteum. Si quis puteum fecerit ad pedes centum.[15]


The Longobard rule explains why the Comacine Masters of the thirteenth century were known as Lombards, and the architecture of that time as the "Lombard style." In the same way they were called Franchi when Charlemagne was their king; and Tedeschi when the German dynasty conquered North Italy; if indeed the words artefici Franchi do not merely signify Freemasons, which I strongly suspect is the true meaning.

To understand the connection of this guild of architects with little Como we must glance backwards at the state of that province under the Romans, when it was a colony ruled by a prefect. Junius Brutus himself was one of these rulers, and Pliny the Younger a later one. At this time Como was a large and flourishing city. It had in Cæsar's time a theatre whose ruins were found near S. Fedele; a gymnasium for the games, which was near the present church of Santa Chiara. A document dated 1500 speaks of the Arena of Como as then still existing. The campus martius was at S. Carpoforo, where several Roman inscriptions, urns, and medals were found. This valuable collection of Latin inscriptions, found in and about Como, proves the successive rule of emperors, prefects, military tribunes, naval prefects, Decurions, etc. We have records also of Senators, Decemviri, and other municipal magistrates. The inscriptions also show that there were temples to Jove, Neptune, the Dea Bona, the Manes, the Dea Mater, Silvanus, Æsculapius, Mars, Diana, Hygeia, and even Isis.

Some Cippi are dedicated to Mercury and Hercules; and one found near S. Maria di Nullate was inscribed by order of the Comacines to Fortuna Obsequente, "for the health of the citizens." To this day a Prato Pagano 26 (pagan field) exists near Como. All these proofs, together with Pliny's testimony, go to show that Como was in Roman times an important centre, and as such was likely to have its own Collegia or trade guilds, to one of which probably Pliny's builder, Mustio, belonged, and to which the Roman refugees naturally fled as brethren.

Pliny the Younger at that time lived at Como, in his delightful villa, Comedia. In his grounds, on a high hill, were the ruins of the temple of the Eleusinian Ceres, and he determined to restore this temple, as devotees flocked there during the Ides of September, and had no refuge from sun or rain.[16] His letter to "Mustio," a Comacine architect, gives the commission for this restoration, and after explaining the form he wished the design to take, he concludes—"At least unless you think of something better, you, whose art can always overcome difficulties of position." For Pliny, fresh from Rome, to give such praise to an architect at Como, shows that even at that time good masters existed there.

Another letter of Pliny's (Lib. X. Epist. xlii.) speaks of the villa of his friend Caninus Rufus, on the same lake, with its beautiful porticoes and baths, etc., and of the many other villas, palaces, temples, forums, etc., which embellished Como and its neighbourhood.

Catullus lived here when the poet Cæcilius, whose works have now perished, invited him to leave the hills of Como, and the shores of Lario, to join him in Verona.

Pliny seems to confirm the existence of guilds,[17] as he speaks of the institution of a Collegium of iron-workers, who wished to be patented by the Emperor, but Trajan refused to form new guilds, for fear of the Hetæriæ or factions which might infiltrate into them.

Mommsen, in his work De Collegiis et Sodalitiis 27 Romanorum, says that under the emperors no guild was allowed to hold meetings, except by special laws, yet though new companies were not to be formed, the existing ones of architects and artisans were permitted to continue after public liberty was lost. Several documents prove that the chief scope of these unions was to promote the interests of their art, to provide mutual assistance in the time of need, to succour the sick and poor, and to bury the dead.

The trade guilds in London, the Arti in Florence, and the town clubs kept up in England till lately, seem to be all survivals of these ancient classical societies.

Besides the Builders' Society, Como had, in Roman times, a nautical guild. An inscription is extant, dedicated to C. Messius Fortunatus by the Collegium nautarum Comensium. This guild sent twenty ships of war to Venice in Barbarossa's time.

But besides having privileged societies, Como and its Comacine islands were a privileged territory, and might almost have been called a republic. We have, it is true, no documentary evidence of this dating back to pre-Longobardic times, but as Otho in 962[18] confirmed the islands in all former privileges granted by his predecessors on the Imperial throne, we may fairly suppose the privileges dated from times far anterior to himself.

This is an anglicized version of his decree, which was granted on the petition of the Empress Adelaide—

"In the name of the Holy and indivisible Trinity, Otho, by the will of God, august Emperor. If we incline to the demands of our faithful people, much more should we lend our ear to the prayers of our beloved consort. Know then, all ye faithful subjects of the Holy Church of God, present and future, that the august Empress Adelaide, 28 our wife, invokes our clemency, that for her sake we receive under our protection the inhabitants of the Comacine islands, and surrounding places known as Menasie (sic), and we confirm all the privileges which they have enjoyed under our predecessors, and under ourselves before we were anointed Emperor, viz. they shall not be called on for military service, nor have arbergario (taxes on roads and bridges), nor pay curatura (tax on beasts), terratico (tax on land), ripatico (on ships), or the decimazione (tax on householders) of our kingdom, neither shall they be obliged to serve in our councils, except the general assembly at Milan, which they shall attend three times a year. All this we concede, etc. Given on the 8th before the calends of September, in the year of the Incarnation 962, first year of the reign of the most pious Otho."—Indiction V. in Como.

The hypothesis that this decree refers to a long-existing liberty is confirmed by the history of Como in the time of Justinian I. Up to the middle of the sixth century a certain Imperial Governor of Insubria, named Francione, who had seen Rome sacked and his own state taken, fled to Comacina as a free place of refuge when Alboin invaded Italy. He helped the Comacines to hold out against the barbarians for more than twenty years, and so secure was the place considered that the island was by Narses and others made the depositary of infinite treasures. With him multitudes of Romans had taken refuge there, but finally even this fell into the hands of the Longobards. We are told that Autharis subjugated Istria, and after a six months' siege, possessed himself of the very strongly fortified island of Comacina on the lake of Como, where he found immense treasures, doubtless part of the traditional wealth amassed by Narses, and which as well as much private property had been deposited here for security by the neighbouring peoples.[19]


Here then, four centuries before Otho's decree, we have Comacina as a place of refuge in troublous times, chosen because, being a free city, it was considered more safe than other towns. We need not then consider it improbable, if in the dark centuries when the Roman Empire was dying out, and its glorious temples and streets falling into ruin under the successive inroads of half-savage despoilers; when the arts and sciences were falling into disuse or being enslaved; and when no place was safe from persecution and warfare, the guild of the Architects should fly for safety to almost the only free spot in Italy; and here, though they could no longer practise their craft, they preserved the legendary knowledge and precepts which, as history implies, came down to them through Vitruvius from older sources, some say from Solomon's builders themselves.

Among the treasures must have been works of Greek and Roman art, that kept alive the old spirit among the guild of builders gathered there; but alas! after the long generations when art was decaying, and uncalled for, their hands lost their skill, they could no longer reproduce the perfect works.

It was here the Longobards found them, and in their new Christian zeal soon furnished them with work enough. 30


568. Alboin conquers Italy; he was poisoned by his wife Rosamund for compelling her to drink out of her father's skull.
573. Cleoph (assassinated).
575. Autharis (poisoned).
591. Agilulf.
615. Adaloald. He was poisoned.
625. Ariold.
636. Rotharis. He married Ariold's widow, and published a code of laws.
652. Rodoald (son), assassinated.
653. Aribert (uncle).
661. Bertharis and Godebert (sons); dethroned by—
662. Grimoald, Duke of Beneventum.
671. Bertharis (re-established).
686. Cunibert (son).
700. Luitbert; dethroned by—
701. Ragimbert.
701. Aribert II. (son).
712. Ansprand elected.
712. Luitprand (son); a great prince, favourite of the Church.
744. Hildebrand (nephew), deposed.
744. Ratchis, Duke of Friuli, elected, but afterwards became a monk.
749. Astolfo (brother).
756. Desiderius, quarrelled with Pope Adrian, who invited Charlemagne to Italy. He defeated and dethroned Desiderius, and put an end to the Lombard kingdom.




1. 712 Magister Ursus Sculptured the altar at Ferentilla, and a ciborium at S. Giorgio di Valpolicella, for King Luitprand.
2&3. 712 M. Ivvintino and Ivviano. (Joventino and Joviano) Disciples of Ursus.
4. " Magister Giovanni Made the tomb of S. Cumianus.
5. 739 M. Rodpert Worked at Toscanella, and bought land there.
6. 742 M. Piccone Architect employed by Gunduald at Lucca: he received a gift of lands in Sabine in 742.
7.   M. Auripert A painter patronized by King Astolph.

It was on April 2, 568, that the Longobards under Alboin, with their wives and children and with all their belongings, "colle loro mogli e figli, e con tutte le sostanze loro," first came down and took Friuli. Alboin gave the government there to Gisulph, his nephew, leaving with him many of the chief and bravest families, and a high-bred race of horses (generosa razza di cavalli).

Next he took Vicenza and Verona, and in September 569 passed into Liguria—which then extended from the 32 Adda to the Ligurian Sea,—and conquered Milan. To this add Emilia, and later, Ravenna and Tuscany, and the first Lombard kingdom was complete.

From this kingdom depended the three dukedoms of Friuli, Spoleto, and Beneventum. The last was added in the time of Autharis (575-591) when, like Canute, he rode into the sea at Reggio in Calabria, and touching the waves with his lance, cried—"These alone shall be the boundary of the Longobards."[20]

This Autharis married Theodolinda, a Christian. He was an Arian, but by her means he became Catholic. After his death, in 590, she chose Agilulf, who reigned with her twenty-five years.[21]

Paulus Diaconus gives the following very pretty account of Theodolinda's two betrothals—

"It was expedient for Autharis, the young King of the Lombards, to take a wife, and an ambassador was sent to Garibald, King of Bavaria, to propose an alliance with his daughter Theodolinda. Autharis disguised himself as one of the suite, with the object of seeing beforehand what his bride was like. She was sent for by her father and bidden to hand some wine to the guests. Having served the ambassador first, she handed the cup to Autharis, and in giving him the serviette after drinking, he managed to press her hand. The princess blushed, and told the incident to her nurse, who in a prophetic manner assured her that he must be the king himself, or he would not have dared to touch her.

"Soon after, on the Franks invading Bavaria, Theodolinda with her brother fled to Italy, where Autharis met her near Verona, and the marriage was solemnized on the Ides of May, A.D. 589.


"Amongst the guests were Agilulf, Duke of Turin, and with him a youth of his suite, son of an augur; in a sudden storm a tree near them was struck by lightning, on which the young augur said to Agilulf—'The bride who has arrived to-day will shortly wed you.' Agilulf was so angry at what seemed a disrespect to the king and queen, that he threatened to cut off his page's head, who replied—'I may die, but I cannot change destiny.' And truly, when a few years after Autharis was poisoned at Pavia, Theodolinda's people were so attached to her, that they offered her the kingdom if she would elect a Longobard as husband.

"Destiny had decreed that she should choose Agilulf. The same ceremony of offering him a cup of wine was gone through, and he kissed her hand as she gave it. The queen blushing said—'He who has a right to the mouth need not kiss the hand.' So Agilulf knew that he was her chosen king.

"She was a Christian, and a favourite disciple of Gregory the Great. Her good life and prayers were able to convert Agilulf to orthodox Christianity, for like many Longobards of the time he had fallen into the Arian heresy. In gratitude for this she vowed a church to St. John Baptist, and a miraculous voice inspired her as to the site at Modœcia, or 'oppidum moguntiaci.'"

It was under these Christianized invaders that the Comacine Masters became active and influential builders again, and it is here that the actual history of the guild begins.

It is apparent that what are called Lombard buildings could not have been the work of the Longobards themselves. Symonds realized this difficulty, but had not solved the question as to who built the Lombard churches, when he wrote[22]—"The question of the genesis of the Lombard style, is one of the most difficult in Italian art history. I would 34 not willingly be understood to speak of Lombard architecture in any sense different from that in which it is usual to speak of Norman. To suppose that either the Lombards or the Normans had a style of their own, prior to their occupation of districts from the monuments of which they learned rudely to use the decayed Roman manner, would be incorrect. Yet it seems impossible to deny that both Normans and Lombards, in adapting antecedent models, added something of their own, specific to themselves as northerners. The Lombard, like the Norman, or the Rhenish Romanesque, is the first stage in the progressive mediæval architecture of its own district."

It appears possible, however, that the Longobards had very little to do with the architecture of their era except as patrons. Was there ever a stone Lombard building known out of Italy before Alboin and his hordes crossed the Alps? or even in Italy during the reigns of Alboin and Cleoph, their first kings?

But there were older buildings of precisely the same style, in Italy and in Como itself, dating from the time when the Bishops ruled, long before the Longobards came. There were the churches of S. Abbondio and S. Fedele. The latter was built in Abbondio's own time, about 440-489, and first dedicated to S. Euphemia. It was rebuilt later by the Comacines under the Longobards, but its form was not changed. The former, said to have been built by the Bishop Amantius, was first dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, whose relics he placed here. These two are certainly the oldest churches existing in Como.

Amantius the Byzantine ordained S. Abbondio, who was a Macedonian, as his successor, and he too became eminent in his time, and is still venerated as a patron Saint in all the Milanese district. Pope Leo sent him to Constantinople as his Legate, to interview the Patriarch Anastasius, and also deputed him to form the Council with 35 Eusebius, at Milan. The Greek touch in the Lombard ornamentation may be accounted for by Greek sculptors assisting the Italian builders in the time of these Eastern bishops.

But, to return to the Longobards:—it was only when the civilization of Italy began to tell on them, and Christianity refined their minds, that they commenced to patronize the Arts, and revived the fading traditions of the builders' guild into practice, for the glorification of their religious zeal. "Little by little," says Muratori, "the barbarous Longobards became more polished (andavano disrugginendo) by taking the customs and rites of the Italians. Many of them were converted from Arianism to Catholicism, and they vied with the Italians in piety and liberality towards the Church of God, building both Hospices and Monasteries."[23]

The Comacine Masters were undoubtedly the only architects employed by them, so we are sure that in the Lombard churches of this era, we see the Comacine work of the first or Roman-Lombard style.

Autharis and Theodolinda were the first orthodox Christians: indeed Theodolinda, who was baptized by Gregory the Great, and formed a special friendship with him, became a shining light in the Church. To them is probably due the honour of inaugurating the Renaissance of Comacine art. Autharis, though an Arian, first employed the Masters of the guild to build a church and monastery at Farfa on the banks of the Adda, not far from Monza. They have long been ruined, but ancient writers quote them as fine and rich works of architecture. Next, Theodolinda and her second husband, Agilulf, the succeeding king, built the cathedral at Monza, which they resolved should be worthy of the new creed. This cathedral was the prototype of all the Lombard churches.


Before proceeding further it may be well to define precisely the difference between Eastern and Western forms in these centuries, while they were as yet distinct.

As we have said, the Basilica was the type of Roman or Western architecture, a type which passed afterwards to the East, where the cupola was added to it.

The Comacine Guild, being a survival of the Roman Collegium, had of course Roman traditions, and took naturally this Roman type of the Basilica,[24] which form they adapted to the uses of the Christian Church, while its ornamentation was suited to the taste of the Longobards.

The Basilica, as Vitruvius explains it, was a room where the ruler and his delegates administered justice. But when, after the persecutions, Christians were allowed their churches, the Basilicæ so well supplied the needs of Christian worship, that either the ancient ones were used as churches, or new buildings were erected in the same form; so that by the fourth century the word Basilica was understood to mean a church remarkable for its size, and of a set form and grandeur, with a raised tribune. The Basilicæ of Constantine were all dedicated to Saints—St. Peter, St. Paul, Beato Marcellino. The Sessorian Basilica was begun in 330, to hold the relics of the Cross, discovered by the Empress Helena. From the time of the edict of Theodosius, however, Christian architecture took a new and independent character; and this was when the Basilica became amplified and beautified.

The Oriental churches, on the other hand, were derived from the antique synagogue, in which concentric forms, 37 either circular or polygonal, predominated. In their later development four equal arms were added, and here we get the Greek Cross, in the centre of which arose the dome.

In the Romanesque, or Comacine style of the ninth to the fourteenth centuries, the form becomes more complicated. We have, 1. the sanctuary or presbytery; 2. the apse for the choir; 3. the transepts; 4. the normal square or centre; 5. the elongated nave; 6. the aisles; 7. the atrium or portico.

In Theodolinda's time, however, church architecture in Lombardy was wholly and purely Roman, with the influences of mediæval Christianity. Ricci tells us that the construction of the first churches followed a symbolical expression. "Hermeneutic symbolism required that the apse or choir should face the east, so that the faithful while praying had that part before them."

A very usual form was the tri-apsidal church, of which many specimens still exist. S. Pietro a Grado, near Pisa, is a beautiful specimen of this.

Around the apse of a Lombard church was a portico where the penitents and catechumens might stand, who were not yet admitted to the altar. On high were loggie (galleries) "for the virgins and women." The tribune was elevated and often ornamented with a railing, the crypt or confessional being beneath it. The crypt signified a memory of the early Christians, when subterranean catacombs formed the church of the faithful. The altar was generally the tomb of a martyr, in fulfilment of the text—"I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held" (Rev. vi. 9).

Where the original form of the Lombard church has not been altered, as in the first Monza church, all these parts may be still seen. 38

We are expressly told by Ricci,[25] that for the building of her church at Monza, Queen Theodolinda availed herself of those Magistri Comacini, who, as Rotharis describes them in his laws 143 and 144, were qualified architects and builders.

It seems that even though all Italy was subjugated by the Longobards, the Magistri Comacini retained their freedom and privileges. They became Longobard citizens, but were not serfs; they retained their power of making free contracts, and receiving a fair price for their work, and were even entitled to hold and dispose of landed property.[26]

Therefore it was by a free contract, and not in any spirit of servitude, that the Comacines undertook the building of Theodolinda's church.

It is difficult to imagine what the church was in Theodolinda's time, as its form was altered in the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Ricci says that the antique Monza Basilica terminated at what is now the first octagon column, on which rest the remains of the primitive façade. Four columns supported the arched tribune, and the high altar was raised above the level of the church. In front was the atrium, supported by porticoes, and he thinks that the sculptures in the present façade are the old ones.

Ancient Sculpture in Monza Cathedral.

See page 39.

Cattaneo, the Italian authority on Lombard architecture, does not believe in the present existence of even this much of Theodolinda's church, and in disclaiming the façade, disclaims also the sculpture on it, especially the one over the door, where Agilulf and Theodolinda offer the diadem of the cross to St. John the Baptist, and are shown as 39 wearing crowns, which the early Lombard kings did not do.[27] The figures have, it is true, the entire style of the twelfth century, when later Comacines restored the church. Cattaneo thinks that the only sculpture which can safely be dated from Theodolinda's own time, is a stone which might have been an altar frontal, on which is a rude relief of a wheel circle, emblem of Eternity, flanked by two crosses with the letters alpha and omega hanging to the arms of them. It is a significant fact that the Alpha is in the precise form of the Freemason symbol of the compasses, and in the wheel-like circle one sees the beginning of that symbol of Eternity, the unbroken line with neither end nor beginning, which the Comacines in after centuries developed into such wonderful intrecci (interlaced work). The sculpture is extremely rude; by way of enriching the relief, the artist has covered the crosses and circles with drill-holes. Now this is a most interesting link, connecting the debased Roman art with this beginning of the Christian art in the West (the early Ravenna sculptors do not count, being imported from the East). On examining any of the late Roman cameos, or intagli, or even their stone sculpture, after the fall of classical art in Hadrian's time, one may perceive the way in which the drill is constantly made use of instead of the chisel.

So these Comacine artists began with the only style of art they had been educated up to, and though retaining old traditions they had fallen out of practice, during a century or two, while invaders ravaged their country, and had to begin again with low art, little skill, and unused imagination. But with the new impulse given to art, their skill increased, they gained a wider range of imagination, greater breadth of design, going on century by century, as we shall trace, from the first solid, heavy, little structures, to 40 the airy lightness of the florid Romanesque—the marriage of East and West.

Another chiesa graziosissima, said to have been founded by Theodolinda, was that of Santa Maria del Tiglio, near Gravedona, on the left bank of Lake Como, which Muratori says was already ancient in 823, when the old chronicler Aimoninus describes it (Aimoninus de Gestis Francorum, iv. 3). It has been much altered since that time, but as Prof. Merzario writes—"When one reflects that it was the work of a thousand years ago, and when one considers the lightness of design, the elegance of the arches, windows, columns, and colonnettes, one must perforce confess that even at that epoch Art was blossoming in the territory of Como, under the hands of the Maestri Comacini."

Theodolinda also founded the monastery of Monte Barro, near Galbiate; the church of S. Salvatore in Barzano, a little mountain church at Besano above Viggiu; that of S. Martino at Varenna; and the church, baptistery, and castle of Perleda above it; in which latter it is said she died. Queen Theodolinda was accustomed to spend the hot months of summer on the banks of the lake, and a part of the road near Perleda Castle is still called Via Regina (the Queen's road), in memory of her. King Cunibert, too, loved the banks of Como.

There is always some pretty, graceful reason in Theodolinda's church-building, very different to the reasons of many of the kings. Theirs were too often sin-offerings, built in remorse, but hers were generally thank-offerings, built in love. For instance, the church at Lomella, which she erected in memory of having first met her second husband Agilulf there.

Theodolinda also built a church to S. Julia at Bonate, near Val San Martino, in the diocese of Bergamo; but in these days not much sign is left of it. The author of the Antichità Long. Mil. (Dissertation I., p. 120) says that 41 Mario Lupo has published the plan and section of the church in his Codice diplomatico (T. I., p. 204), together with another, still more magnificent, of almost the same date. It is dedicated to S. Tommaso, and stands near the river Brembo, at Lemine in the same diocese. "This church," says the monk who wrote the Antichità, etc., "still exists (in 1792), and is of circular form, with inferior and superior porticati in the interior, recalling the design of the ancient church of S. Vitale at Ravenna." Lupo describes it even in its ruin as an "admirable temple, whose equal, whether for size, solidity, or elegance, can scarcely be found in Lombardy. Its perimeter," he says, "may be traced among the thorns and briars of the surrounding woods, and its form and size may thus be perceived. The ruins confirm the assertion of the splendour of buildings in Queen Theodolinda's time, and show that in the beginning of the seventh century architecture was not so rude as has been supposed, and that besides solidity of structure, it preserved a just proportion and harmony of parts, excepting perhaps in the extreme lightness and inequality of the columns."

We read much in ancient authors of Queen Theodolinda's palace, with its paintings on the walls, representing Alboin and his wild hordes of Longobards, with their many-coloured garments, loose hosen, and long beards. We can believe that these paintings were as rude and mediæval as their sculpture, whether they were done by savage Longobards or decayed Romano-Comacine artists. They prove, however, that painting was one of the branches of art in the guild.

King Agilulf also employed the architects; but it was in a more military style of architecture—to build castles and bridges. The castle of Branigola dates from his reign, as does the fine bridge over the Brembo, and another over the Breggia, between Cernobbio and Borgovico, near 42 Como. He is also accredited with the building of the Palazzo della Torre at Turin, with its two octangular towers, and mixed brick and stone solid architecture. In all these works the builders, as in modern times, seem to have sometimes lost their lives. So much so that King Rotharis, A.D. 636, made, as we have seen, special laws on the subject.

Gundeberg, the daughter of Theodolinda, had a similar fate to her mother in being the wife of two successive kings (Ariold and Rotharis). She also imitated her in church-building. The church of S. Giovanni in Borgo at Pavia, was erected by her.[28] It is said that after S. Michele this was the finest building of the age. It had a nave and two aisles, with a gallery over the arches. The apse had the external colonnade, and practicable gallery, and the octagonal dome. The façade, as usual, was divided into three parts, and was rich in symbolical friezes. Half-way up the façade was an ambulatory, on six double arches and small columns, which communicated with the internal galleries for the women. This was reached by two spiral stairways cut in the pilasters of the façade. (In reading this we seem to be reading over again the description of Hexham in England.) The lower half of the façade was of sandstone, the upper half of brick adorned "a cacabus," i.e. inlaid with various convex plates in different-coloured smalto.[29] It is a great pity that this interesting church was destroyed in 1811, and its symbolic reliefs and carved stones ruthlessly used in the foundation of modern buildings. Some were, however, saved by a nobleman of Pavia, Don Galeazzo Vitali, and are preserved in his villa between Lodi and Pavia. Here, 43 on May 13, 1828, the Signori Sacchi[30] went to see them, and found many valuable specimens of Comacine symbolical art. Here are square slabs which may have been parts of friezes or plutei (panels of marble), covered with interlaced work, formed of entwining vines, or even serpents; sometimes a simple cord in mystic and continuous knots, precisely similar to the ones recently discovered in S. Agnese and S. Clemente at Rome. There were several capitals of columns and pilasters with significant grotesques, such as a man between two lions; a maze of vines with a satyr in them, possibly an emblem of Christianity which constrains and civilizes even the wildest natures; two armed warriors on horseback meeting in battle, figuring the Church militant. (There is a similar capital in S. Stefano at Pavia.) In one, two hippogriffs meet at the angles; in another, two dragons with tails intertwined are biting a man between them placed at the angle. (The same emblem of the strife with sin is represented in S. Pietro of the "golden roof.") One is a curious symbol which would seem to be a remnant of paganism, and represents the fish goddess of Eastern religions. A woman, with only a fig-leaf for dress, has a double tail instead of legs. She holds the two ends of this dual tail, while serpents coiling into it suck her breasts—a very mystic conception of Eve. There is a very remarkable round mass of stone, with a toothed circle carved on each side, and in the circles a cross. It is said by Muratori that this stone was placed high up over the altar so that all worshippers should behold the cross.

A singular ancient Pavian custom was connected with this church. Once a year a kind of fair was held there, at which nothing was sold but rings, and no one was allowed to buy them except children and unmarried women. It is thought that the custom was begun by Gundeberg herself 44 in commemoration of the gift of three rings, one with a pearl, and two with jacinth stones, from Gregory the Great.[31] His letter of congratulation to Theodolinda on the baptism of her little son Adaloald is still existing. He says "he sends some gifts for her boy, and three rings for her young daughter Gundeberg." Possibly the gift of the Pope was placed in the treasury of the church, and commemorated at first by the sale of blessed amulets in the form of rings, but which afterwards degenerated into a fair. The custom lasted till 1669.

Industries of all kinds seem to have flourished under the Longobards; and the Popes of Rome and other sovereigns made frequent use of Lombard artificers. A letter from Gregory to Arichi, Duke of Lombardy, dated 596, asks him to send workmen and oxen to Brescia, to cut down and cart to Rome some trees for beams in the church of SS. Peter and Paul, promising him in return a dono che non sarà indegno di voi (a gift not unworthy of you).[32]

In A.D. 600, Cacanus, King of the Avari (Huns), sent to Agilulf for marine architects and workmen to build the boats with which Cacanus took a certain island in Thrace.[33]

As for the Comacine Masters at home, they had plenty of church-building.

The seventh and eighth centuries were times of great devotion to the Church, and consequently a great church-building era. King Luitprand realized this so strongly that he added to the laws of Rotharis, a clause permitting his subjects to make legacies to the Church pro remedio animæ suæ; a law, by the way, which was not always healthy in its action; for it permitted the evil-disposed to indulge in crimes during their lifetime, and then, by 45 defrauding their natural heirs of their inheritance, to secure, as they believed, their souls against eternal punishment, by leaving funds for building a church or a monastery.

Comacine Capital in San Zeno, Verona. Dragons, interlaced.

See page 43.

The will of Eriprand, Duke of Cremona, dated 685, is still extant, with a legacy to the churches of S. Maria Maggiore, and S. Michele in Borgo, of that city. Pope Sergius I. restored the Basilica of Ostia, and founded S. Maria in Via Lata, giving them rich gifts, and Pope John II. repaired and endowed S. Maria in Trastevere.[34]

Bertharis and Godebert, sons of Aribert, were in 661 dethroned by Grimoald, Duke of Beneventum; but Bertharis being re-established in 671, recalled his wife Rodelinda and son Cunibert from Beneventum, where they had been taken as hostages, and in sign of gratitude for their release, founded the church of S. Agatha al Monte at Pavia,[35] while his wife Rodelinda founded that of S. Maria fuori le mura in the same city. Bertharis dedicated his church to S. Agatha because on the eve of S. Agatha's day he was miraculously saved from being assassinated by Grimoald, his deposer. On the façade of the church is inscribed, "Pertharitus Longobardorum Rex Templum hoc S. Agathæ Virg. et Mart. dicavit anno Christi DCXXVII."

The church had the usual "three naves," and the façade faced the west. It has since been turned round. As in the Middle Ages it menaced ruin, the central nave had to be supported by large external buttresses and internal arches, one of which may be seen above the present doorway; it once formed the entrance to the choir. When the nave was restored some of the old Lombard capitals were discovered under the brickwork. They show the same style as those at S. Michele, and S. Pietro in Ciel d'oro at Pavia, and have all the marks of Comacine work. One has two lions very 46 well carved. They meet at the corner, where one head serves for both. On another is a human figure, his hands holding two dragons which he has conquered, but whose tails still coil round him. A fine mediæval allegory of man's struggle with sin.

Rodelinda's round church, S. Maria foris portam (now no more), became better known as S. Maria delle pertiche (of the poles), because a royal cemetery was there in which many Lombard kings and nobles were buried, and according to the usage of the nation the graves were marked by wooden poles, on the top of each of which was perched a wooden dove (emblem of the soul), looking towards the place where the person had died or been killed.[36]

We may account for its circular shape by the fact that it was more a ceremonial church, than one for ordinary worship. In it Hildebrand was crowned, or rather received the regal wand of office. It had an interior ambulatory, an arched colonnade all round it under the roof in true Lombard style. This colonnade was much used in circular churches to assist the want of space on great occasions.[37] Some of the columns were fluted, and appear to have been adapted from an earlier Roman edifice. Two of them, shortened and with the fluting planed down, now adorn the gate of Pavia towards Milan. The foundation of this church has been attributed by Cattaneo to Ratchis. This cannot be, for in 736, ten years before Ratchis was king, Luitprand became very ill, and the Longobards met in the church of S. Maria delle pertiche, and proclaimed Hildebrand as his successor.

To Aribert II. (701-712) is attributed the foundation of the church of S. Salvatore, outside Porta Marengo at Pavia, where, says Malaspina, may be noted a great improvement 47 in style in the acute arches, and more regular and elegant proportions.

The Basilica of S. Pietro de Dom in Brescia dated from about this time, though it was built independently of Longobardic royal patronage, being a thank-offering by Bishop Anastasius for the triumph of the Church over Arianism. This was destroyed when the new Duomo was built in the seventeenth century, but ancient writers tell us it had all the true Lombard symbolism of form. The choir was on the west, facing east; it had the triple nave and triple apse, and the usual inequality of the columns, some of which are large, others small; some long, others short, these last being lengthened, some by white marble, others by dark. I do not understand the significance of this diversity of column which may be seen in all the Comacine churches of this era.

If we cannot see S. Pietro de Dom, we may see in Brescia a church equally old, the Rotonda of Santa Maria Maggiore, which the chroniclers say was begun by the Brescian Duke Marqward, and finished by his son Frodward, with the assistance of King Grimoald, about 665. The plan of the church is very interesting; there are two concentric circles, the inner one formed by eight pilasters, whose arches sustain the dome, and form the front of the usual ambulatory above. This is all that can be judged as belonging to the seventh-century church. The tribune and the upper parts are later, and the crypt is earlier, being, it is believed, the remains of an early Christian church of S. Filastrio, though some claim it as Roman.

Cunibert is next on the list of Longobardic church-builders. He built a church to St. George as a votive offering after his escape from the attempt which was made to dethrone him in 691 by Alachi, Duke of Brescia, and two citizens named Aldone and Gransone. To the church of St. George was attached a cloister for monks, the first 48 Longobardic monastery founded in the diocese of Milan. Documents and diplomas, dated 784 and 901, prove the existence of both buildings till the latter date, but a deed of sale in 998 only speaks of the church, which still existed in 1792.

On the king's triumphal return to Pavia, he erected at the door of S. Giovanni, a grand tomb to the priest Zeno, who had lost his life for him, by dressing in the royal armour and rushing from the king's tent into the battle.

In A.D. 700 Cunibert descended to Lucca, which had then become a Longobardic town, and interested himself in the building of a church to the three saints, Stephen, Laurence, and Vincent; it afterwards became S. Fredianus. The actual patron may not have been Cunibert himself, but his majordomo Faulus, who probably was his vice-gerent there. Two ancient deeds in the adjoining monastery of St. Vincent and S. Fredianus, dated respectively 685 and 686, prove that Faulus restored and richly endowed the monastery, and that Bishop Felix afterwards conceded to the Abbot Babbinus and his monks, a diploma confirming the munificence of Faulus. The monastery was, so say the chroniclers, originally built by S. Frediano, Bishop of Lucca, in the sixth century, and that, when the first unconverted Longobards came down and drove him out and destroyed his cathedral, he fled for some years, but on his return he built another church outside the town with a monastery attached. In this he availed himself of the sculptured stones and columns of the ancient Roman amphitheatre, erected in Lucca by Vibius in the time of Trajan. This was the monastery which was restored by Faulus. When the bones of S. Fredianus were removed to it, in the time of the Bishop Giovanni II., the church became known as S. Fredianus. The church built in Cunibert's time was not by any means the fine building we see now, though, as in Monza, the form of the old 49 building may be perceived. The ancient apse which has been traced in the course of some excavations, is a fifth smaller than the present one, and it is conjectured that the old church, if turned the same way, would have ended near where the present pulpit stands; and there was a portico in front of it which is mentioned in some ancient MSS.

The church was certainly differently orientalized, following the symbolic formula that the choir should face the east; for the excavations disclosed part of the columns of the nave, buried under the present presbytery at the back. The circular walls of the choir were retraced in front of the present altar, and it was proved that the wall was not continued where the semi-circle of the apse opens; whereas if the church had been in the same direction it now takes, the walls would have been continued to the length of the nave.

Cav. Cordero di S. Quintino, in his Disamine su di alcuni monumenti Lucchesi, 1815, was the first to draw attention to the reversed plan of the old church, which the recent excavations have proved. He states that it was in the form of a Latin cross, had a nave, and four aisles and transepts; that its choir was at the west end, facing east, its façade on the east. It is a misfortune that its origin cannot be precisely proved, as the archives of S. Fredianus must have been burned in 1596, when the convent, with other houses, was set on fire, even if they had survived the former sacking and burning of the Ghibellines, under Uguccione della Faggiola in 1314.

Next comes Hic gloriosissimus Rex, Luitprand, who, we are told, built many Basilicæ in honour of Christ, in the places where he had his residences. He was to Lombard art what Lorenzo de' Medici was to that of the Renaissance. Luitprand was a great employer of our Comacine Masters, and very probably found them expensive 50 luxuries, for, as we shall see in the next chapter, he was obliged to legislate to fix their prices. He even gave the length of his royal foot, as a guide to measurement.

Luitprand's foot was said to have been an extra long one, and yet, after great discussions among writers, it has at length been agreed that Luitprand's foot, and the Roman one used before it, were of the same length!

Very little, which is at all authentic, remains to us of Luitprand's churches. S. Pietro[38] in Ciel d'oro (of the golden roof), at Pavia, which was consecrated by Pope Zacharias in 743, is now a mere modern church, containing nothing but the round form of its apse to speak of its antiquity. This golden roof must refer to some mosaics originally in the tribune, and is, I believe, the first instance of mosaics being used in a Lombard church. It was built by the Christian king, "for the better reverence of the sacred remains of that great light of the church, St. Augustine, which were placed here by him." The corpse of the saint was redeemed from the Saracens in Sardinia in 743, and the relics remained in S. Pietro for ten centuries.[39] Luitprand's church, we are told, was symmetrical and graceful (grazioso). The façade was of the usual Lombard form, with a rather flat gable, and galleries beneath the eaves; it had narrow, round-arched windows, and a cross over the central one, cut deep in the stone, as we see in S. Michele in Pavia.

Basilica of S. Frediano at Lucca, 7th century.
(From a photograph by Brogi.)

See page 49.

The finest existing church of the Longobardic times is 51 the Basilica of S. Michele at Pavia, which is still intact, and may be taken as the culminating point of the first Lombard style. It has all the distinctive marks of Comacine work at the period. There is the Roman form of the Latin cross with nave and two aisles divided by clustered columns supporting round arches. The walls above the central nave terminate in a sculptured string course, and over that a clerestory, the double Lombard arches of which are divided by marble colonnettes with sculptured capitals. The central nave terminates in a semi-circular apse, surrounded with pilasters and arches; beneath it is a crypt supported on two rows of columns whose capitals are covered with bizarre sculptures. The crypt is now entered by steps beneath the ones leading to the tribune, but originally it had two entrances at the sides of the tribune as in the crypt at Torcello, and that of San Zeno at Verona, which are also of the seventh century. Another particularity is in the inequality of the aisles, the left wall tending to the right, the right transept being longer and larger than the left. This is not, we are told, an accident, but one of the many symbolical forms used by the Comacines. Cordero and Vitet both refer to it. The latter says—"Souvent le plan de l'église penché de gauche à droite. Cette inclination est attribuée, comme on sait, au pieux désirs d'imiter la position du Sauveur expirant sur la croix."[40] As a whole the interior is grand and imposing, and as it stands now, retains the general plan of the original church. Some parts have been restored in the fifteenth century, especially the four principal piers which sustain the central arch, but by the difference in the work and in the sculptures we may easily distinguish the added parts. A Latin inscription in the apse, without date, proves that the great central arch of the roof and that of the choir were renewed by Bartolommeo Negri. There was 52 a Bartolommeo Negri who was canon in 1496, but the antique style of the epitaph would point to an earlier restorer of the same name (we all know how families keep the same set of Christian names for centuries in Italy), especially as the painting in the apse is attributed to Andrino d'Edesia, who lived about 1330. Some interesting relics in the church are the circular slabs of black and green marble, now in the floor of the nave. Tradition, confirmed by Padre Romualdo, says that these were the stones on which the daïs was placed for the coronation of the Lombard kings.

Just as the interior of S. Michele at Pavia is the most perfect existing example of the classical form reduced by the Comacines to Christian use and symbolism, so is the façade as perfect a specimen of their mediæval-oriental decoration at this time as can be found. We give an illustration of it.

The Comacines at this era were perfectly sincere and their façade was always a true face to the church. The eaves with the airy gallery of colonnettes beneath them followed the exact line of the low-pitched roof. It was only when they became eclectic, and their style got mixed and over-florid, that the false fronts such as we see at Lucca came in. The inward division of nave and aisle is faithfully marked on the outside by piers or pilasters. S. Michele has four pilasters dividing it into the three portions, each one supplied with its round-arched door. In the fifteenth century the central windows were altered and a large ugly round orifice was placed above the three Lombard ones. But in 1861 they had the good taste to open the original windows, indications of whose masonry were visible in the wall, and to add the cross, deep cut in the stone, which was a distinctive feature in façades of this era. Indeed the church may be taken as a type, in all its aspects, of the Romano-Lombard building. The 53 most remarkable part is perhaps its ornamentation, which is unique and fanciful to the highest degree. Besides the carvings on door and window, the whole façade is striped with lines of sculptured stones, a queer mixture of angels, demons, saints, and monsters, that seems a nightmare dream of mediæval superstitions, but are really a mystic Bible in stone. I shall speak more fully of this in the chapter on Lombard ornamentation.

Façade of San Michele at Pavia. Upper part restored to its original form; lower part antique. 7th century.

See page 52.

We must now turn for a few moments to its history, on which great uncertainty rests. Some authors say that S. Michele at Pavia was built by Constantine the Great as a thank-offering for the aid given him by that Saint in his victory over the Franks in 325; but it is possible they may have confused this church with the one which Sozomenus asserts that Constantine erected to St. Michael on the banks of the Hellespont. Other writers, of whom Malaspina is one, claim it as an Ostrogoth foundation; others again, finding a suspicion of Arianism in the sculpture of the Annunciation on the south side of the church, assign it to Agilulf before his conversion from Arianism; while Gabriel Rosa, author of Storia dei feudi e dei comuni in Lombardia, attributes it to King Grimoald.

This last, however, is disproved by one of Paulus Diaconus' curious stories. He says "that in A.D. 661, King Bertharis being in peril of his life by the usurper Grimoald, was saved by his faithful servant Unulphus, who, throwing over his royal master's shoulders a blanket and a bearskin, drove him with ill words out of the palace, making believe he was a drunken slave. Having thus eluded the guards, who were in Grimoald's pay, and put the king in safety, Unulphus fled for refuge to the Basilica of St. Michael, till the new king pardoned him."[41] The church is again 54 mentioned by Paulus Diaconus when he relates how in 737, when Luitprand judged Pemmonis, Duke of Friuli, and other noble Longobards accused of sacrilege against Callistus, Patriarch of Aquileja, one of them named Ersemar fled for refuge to the Basilica of St. Michael. Again in 774 a certain Trinidius, agent of King Desiderius, left a house near the Pò at Gravenate, as a legacy to the "Basilica beatissimi Archangeli Michaelis intra civitatem Ticinensum pro anima sua." All these things go to prove that the church existed before Luitprand's time, and that it was especially venerated.

St. Michael, being a warlike saint, was the Longobards' favourite object of reverence. When Alachi tried to depose King Cunibert, he suddenly and mysteriously refused to fight the king, because he saw a vision of St. Michael standing beside him; then Alachi knew the battle would go against himself if he hazarded it.

When the Longobards went forth to war, they carried the effigy of St. Michael before them on their standard. It was also impressed on their coins with the inscription S. C. S. Màhel, or sometimes Mihail, spelling in those days not being at all a fixed quantity.

But to return to our church-building king, Luitprand.

He erected the monastery of S. Abbondio at Bercela in the mountains, and one dedicated to S. Anastasia, near his suburban villa called Cortelona (Corte di Alona). In this villa he had a private chapel, he being the first prince who had daily mass said by priests in his own house.[42] He had a favourite doctor named Gunduald, who, assisted by Luitprand's royal munificence, founded the monasteries of Palazzolo and Pitiliano near Lucca. At his intercession Luitprand, by a diploma dated 742, gave Magister Piccone, Gunduald's architect, lands in Sabine, which shows the value Luitprand set on the arts, and this Magister especially.


Astolfo, a later king, was an equally liberal patron of the arts; he gave the revenues of the church of S. Pietro at Pavia to Auripert, a painter whom he greatly esteemed. Astolfo built the monastery of Nonantola, of which some parts still remain, proving its fine architecture. He seems to have been very unscrupulous in his avidity for relics; an anonymous MS. at Salerno, speaking of his fierceness and audacity, says that, "having taken many bodies of saints from the neighbourhood of Rome, he had them removed to Pavia."[43] The same old chronicler does him the justice to say that "he built both churches and monasteries which he very largely endowed."

Next followed Ratchis, who on his brother Astolfo's death came out of the convent to which he had retired on abdicating in 749. His reign was of the shortest; he soon went back to his convent, for Pope Stephen III. wrote commanding him not to oppose the election of Desiderius, who had been Duke of Friuli and was high in favour with the Pope.

Desiderius was a liberal patron to the Comacine Guild, and built monasteries, churches, and palaces. Of the first we may record the convent for nuns near Milan, known as La Maggiore, or the Greater. Its foundation by Desiderius is mentioned in a diploma dated A.D. 1002 in favour of the Abbot of S. Ambrogio, who was in that year appointed spiritual guardian to the nuns. At Brescia, of which town Desiderius was a native, he built the monastery near Leno, known as the Monasterio Leonense, and the still more famous one of Santa Giulia for nuns, which he founded in 766. Desiderius and his wife Ansa endowed this convent with landed property which spread over all the Lombard kingdom. It was first called S. Salvatore, but when the remains of Santa Giulia were brought from Corsica and placed here, 56 it was re-dedicated to her. Its first Abbess was Desiderius' own daughter, Anselberga, who took the vows here. Says the old chronicler—"its opulence and the number of holy virgins who have lived within its walls render it one of the most illustrious convents in Italy."

Signor Odorici has exemplified the church in its Lombard form to have been quadrilateral, divided by two peristyles of eight columns each, into a nave and two aisles (or three naves, as Italian architects say). The arches are a tutto sesto (semi-circular), and support walls bordered with a simple string course. There was originally a semi-circular apse or tribune, which was probably flanked by two smaller ones. The white marble columns are, or were, of different proportions, the capitals being sculptured, some in marble and some in arenaria.[44]

The mixture of Roman and Byzantine types in these is taken by Ricci[45] to be a proof of its really dating from the time of Desiderius, when the two styles got confused. Some capitals are entirely of Byzantine design, others imitate the Corinthian. On one is a mediæval sculpture of the martyrdom of Santa Giulia, on another is the effigy of Queen Ansa. These two are doubtless Comacine work of the eighth century.

Up on the slope of Monte Civate near Lake Annone, an hour's climb from the village of Civate, is an ancient Lombard church dedicated to St. Peter, which is almost intact. It is said to have been built as a thank-offering by King Desiderius. His son Adelgiso was chasing a wild boar on this mountain, and suddenly became blind. The father vowed that if he recovered, a church to St. Peter should be built on the spot. Adelgiso soon after recovered 57 his eyesight, and Desiderius was faithful to his oath. An ancient MS. said to be contemporary,[46] minutely describes the ceremonies, when the king with all his royal pageantry came up the mountain to lay the first stone. The plan is similar to most other Lombard churches of its era. A great flight of twenty-seven steps leads up to the portico, beneath which is the principal door. This, however, does not lead immediately to the church, but to a covered atrium, on the lateral walls of which are sculptured in relief, hippogriffs with triple tails, i.e. threefold mysteries. The entrance into the nave has two spiral columns,[47] an unusual form for the Comacines of that era. There is a great peculiarity in the position of the altar, which is a low table without a reredos, standing on the tribune, to which five steps give access. The palio faces the choir, so that the priest when celebrating would confront the people, and face the east.[48] It would be a question for archæologists whether, considering the reverse orientalizing of Lombard churches, in comparison to later ones, the front of the raised tribune was not the usual position of their altars. This is the only church which seems enough intact, to judge by. The altar was placed beneath a canopy supported on four slight 58 columns, whose sculptured capitals show the symbolic animals of the four Evangelists. The canopy has rude bas-reliefs of the Saviour and apostles, the crucifixion and resurrection. There are remains of similar altars at Corneto Tarquinii in the south, and at S. Piero in Grado near Pisa. The rest of the building is entirely unadorned, excepting by some carved capitals of columns in the crypt.

The church-building days of King Desiderius were now drawing to a close. He thought he had strengthened his seat on the throne by alliances with the all-powerful Charlemagne of France, whose brother Carloman married Desiderius' daughter Gilberga; and some historians assert that his son Adelchi espoused Gisla, the sister of Charlemagne. Here we have the link connecting the Comacine Masters under the Lombard rule, with Charlemagne, through whose patronage they spread northward, developing the Gothic architecture. Politically the link was not a strong one. In 770, Charlemagne having been menaced by Pope Stephen III., the protector of Desiderius, revenged himself by causing Carloman to repudiate Gilberga and send her back to her father with her two sons. Carloman died in 771, and Pope Stephen III. did not live long after him, for in 772 Charlemagne entered into a league with the new Pope Adrian I. to dispossess Desiderius of his kingdom. This unkind scheme was by Pope Adrian dignified by the name of a "restitution to the Holy See."

The famous unequal fight at Pavia, between Desiderius and the multitudinous hosts of France, is well known. Desiderius was vanquished, and the Longobardic supremacy of two centuries was over.

Charlemagne vaunted himself in having released Italy from the Longobardic yoke, but whether his own yoke were lighter is an open question. In any case there was no "restitution to the Holy See." The Lombard cities were 59 no more given to the Pope by Charlemagne, than they had been by Desiderius. On the contrary, he crowned himself Rex Francorum et Longobardorum, and his son Pepin inherited the same title.

With him begins the next era in the development of Comacine art. 60


Ecclesiastical as was the work of the guild, the Comacine of Lombard times was nevertheless a fine civil architect. He worked as willingly for the prince in palace-building and for the country in fortification, as for the Church in building monasteries and cathedrals. Indeed war of all sorts bore such a large proportion in the life of the Middle Ages that the fortress was of more importance than the home.

In civil architecture the Magistri Comacini of the seventh and eighth centuries followed much the same style as in their ecclesiastical buildings, of course adapting it to its different uses. In the Lombard palace we find on the upper floor the usual double-light windows, with the two round arches and dividing column enclosed in a larger arch of masonry.

We also find the inevitable Lombard cornice beneath the roof. In civil buildings, instead of a complete gallery with colonnettes, this becomes a row of brackets with carvings in the corbel heads. The windows of the lower floor are square orifices barred with iron, for defence in warlike times. The walls are either of the solid brickwork opus romanum, or the great smoothly hewn stones of the opus gallicum. In Lombardy there are more of the former, as clay for bricks is easily attainable. In Tuscany and southward the buildings are more frequently of stone. 61 The Florentine Bargello, though later, offers a very fine specimen of this work, in the older portions of wall, where the smooth-cut stones fit solidly together. If the building required an inner courtyard it was of the same Lombard style as their churches—showing the round arch, and the convex capital, often sculptured.

Tosinghorum Palatium Florentiae celeberrimum in Foro Veteri situm lapide dolato comlumnisque marmoreis extructum cui Turris adjacens ulnar. 130 proceritate erigebatur.

Tracing of an old print of the Tosinghi Palace, a mediæval building once in Florence, with Laubia on the front.

See page 61.

The municipal palace only came in with the Communes after 1100. In Longobardic times, the only buildings that had any pretensions to architecture were the palaces of the dukes or kings. Luitprand's palace in Milan, which fell into disuse after the tenth century, is as graphically described by old chroniclers and in legal documents in the archives of St. Ambrose, as Theodolinda's at Monza had been by Paulus Diaconus.

Before the days of the Communes, when the Brolio or Broletta, and the Palazzo Pubblico were as yet unknown, the palace of the ruling prince was the hall of justice, the nearest Basilica being the public meeting-place. King Luitprand's palace was styled in his time Curtis ducati. In Charlemagne's reign it was Curti domum Imperatoris; in other parchments Curtis Mediolanensis. Across the front ran an open gallery, called Laubia,[49] formed, as were the galleries of the Comacine churches, of a row of arches on colonnettes. Here the placiti were held, and sentences pronounced, as in the regal and imperial public buildings, the populace being assembled in the street below. The ringhiera of the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence served the same purpose in Communal times.

The Loggia, which is such a feature in all old Italian houses, is the natural descendant of the Laubia. In its private aspect, as part of a citizen's house, the Loggia was the place where the master of the house received his friends.

An ancient MS. by Landolfo tells us that the space 62 occupied by Luitprand's palace was not very wide. It extended from the monastery of St. Ambrose to the church of St. Protasius ad Monacos (now no more), and the road leading to it was known as Strada de Civite Duce.

That King Desiderius also employed the Masonic guild in civil as well as ecclesiastical architecture seems implied by the tradition of his palace at S. Gemignano. Certain it is that a solid mediæval building with decidedly Lombard windows and Lombard arches under the machicolations, exists at S. Gemignano, but whether it was really built by and for Desiderius, I leave wiser antiquaries to judge. The style is that of the times.

As a rule, Lombard houses had small rooms. This seems to have applied even to royal and public buildings, for, as mentioned above, all public meetings had to be held in a church, or in its ante-portal. When Desiderius convoked a Diet at Pavia, each prince or bishop was assigned a house which had a church or oratory near, in which he could meet his committee.

The different methods and processes of house-building are very plainly enumerated in the laws of Luitprand, of which we have given the headings on a previous page. It would seem that since the reign of Agilulf, the Masters of the Guild had become overbearing, and by Luitprand's time required to have special legislation to limit their prices. Luitprand's code of laws regulated the strength of the external walls of a building, in regard to the different height, construction, and material.

Art. 160 speaks of two different constructions, the Roman mode, and the Gallic style. It begins—"Similiter romanense si fecerit, sic repotet sicut gallica opera." (Roman work shall be accounted of equal value to Gallic work.) This distinction of terms has caused great argumentation among commentators. Prof. Merzario[50] says 63 that "two national terms cannot apply to any small distinction of masonry," and he takes them to mean the Roman style with the round arch, in which most Lombard churches are built, and the Gothic with the pointed arches. As, however, Charlemagne's church, the father of the Gothic, was not yet built in Luitprand's time, we should be more inclined to take the opinion of Marchese Ricci and Troya, who interpret the phrase opus gallicum to mean the style which they say was introduced into Ravenna by Theodoric and his Goths, and which they brought from Gaul. It was the most solid style imaginable, seemingly a remnant of Cyclopean building; if so it was not Gallic at all, but came from the Pelasgi through the Etruscans, and so was a natural sequence of Italian architecture; the Etruscans having taught the Romans. It consisted of hewn stones of large size and perfect fitness, still further strengthened with cement. "Mirum opus manu gothica, et quadris lapidibus," it was said of the builders of S. Oveno at Rouen. If this definition be admitted, then the other term opus romanum would mean building with flat bricks, which was equally practised by the Comacines, especially in Lombardy.

Luitprand's laws speak of the asse, tavolati,[51] scindule (Longobardic term) by which the houses were internally divided, and of a cheap species of house-building called by the Gauls pisè, probably from the same root as pigiato (pressed together). According to that method, the walls were composed of masses of earth pressed, and then bound together so as to form a solid mass. The same method is still used in Africa and Spain, and in Italy by the peasants in the subalpine regions near Alessandria (Piedmont).

In Clause II., De Muro, where they use the term si arcum volserit, it cannot refer to vaulted roofs, which were then unknown, but to the slight arch of the window 64 or door in the thickness of the wall, often only a sloping off of stones. The roofs were supported on wooden beams, and the laws determine the size and value of these, according to whether they are scapitozzati or capitozzati, i.e. hewn or carved. They also decide the quality of the wood for beams or planking, and the cost of roofing in regard to the number of wooden slabs or tiles required in a raised roof.

Thus any Longobard who wished to build himself a house, might consult the laws of Luitprand, and count the cost beforehand.

These laws also decide the strength of the defensive walls of a city. Law IV. gives the trade price of this sort of work; for those built in massa, or per maxa, the builder shall for every sixty feet be paid in solidum unum (one soldo, a gold coin). Ricci adds—"This per maxa is the same construction which the Greeks and Romans styled implectans, i.e. conglomerate."

They had several kinds of walls, some of brick, others with a base of stone (nella base a sassi), like the walls of Milan, which have lasted till now.

Luitprand assigns different money for different kinds of work. Thus at times the Magistri Comacini were paid solidum unum for every foot of wall, sometimes solidum vestitum, a distinction of soldi which has puzzled commentators very much; some opining that vestitum refers to a coin on which the emperor is represented as regally clad, and others that it means a copper coin plated (vestito) with gold.

We find also that terra-cotta vases were much used as ornamentation in building. This style was, as we have said, called "a cacabus." Broken vases were adopted in the foundation of large buildings and houses; others, which probably were not perfect enough for household use, were built into the walls and put as ornaments between the 65 arches. The tower of S. Giovanni e Paolo at Rome and the church of S. Eustorgio at Milan are good instances of this style.

Tower of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Rome, 12th century.
(From a photograph by Alinari.)

See page 65.

Here we have another link with ancient Rome. Promis instances an amphora found in the walls of an imperial edifice in Aosta. At the fountain of Egeria, near the Porta Tiburtina in Rome, the walls are full of amphoræ and oil-jars.

On the whole these Masonic laws show that the principal scope of the Longobardic architecture was to make strong and lasting buildings.

The building of convents were frequent commissions of the Comacines, and in these, as in their churches, they had a set form. A solid framework of walls either of hewn stone, in the Gallic manner, or of brick in the Roman style, and a few beams and planks, were the simple elements of which a convent was composed.

But of course a Comacine could not make any building without his slight columns and arches, and here he disposed of them in his cloister. This, too, was a heritage from classic Rome, recalling the atrium. A Lombard or Romanesque cloister is a delight. Here you have a square court more or less spacious, containing a picturesque well in the centre, surrounded by a colonnade of small columns generally in couples, resting on a low wall and supporting a roof on a row of arches. It was usually on the sunny cloister that the Comacine poured out his imagination; here are fancifully-sculptured capitals, pillars of every variety of form and style, grotesque gargoyles between the arches, and often delicate tracery above them. Hope[52] instances as the more rude and early style of Lombard cloisters, those of San Lorenzo at Rome and Santa Sabina and San Stefano at Bologna, and as models of the more splendid style those of 66 S. John Lateran, which are resplendent with porphyry, serpentine, and gold enamel, inlaid in the marble; and those of S. Zeno of Verona of every tint of marble which the Euganean hills can afford. For the interior arrangements of a Longobardic monastery we will take Padre Ricci's account of the first plan of Monte Cassino which Petronax the Brescian engaged the Comacines to build. "It had on the ground floor a Sala anciently called caminata, because the fire-place was there. The upper floor was divided by wooden partitions into cells and other rooms requisite in a cenobitic life. Although at that time houses only had one floor, monasteries generally had two. Monte Cassino boasted of three storeys, the upper one being only used for keeping fodder and stores. As the chief aim was solidity of building, great attention was paid to the proportionate thickness of the outer walls. The laws determined the adequate value of these, which were generally of the thickness of five feet. The inner walls were of planks or assi—'si cum axe clauserit.'"

This mode of separation by wooden partitions is still usual in convents, though it has gone out of use in houses. The convents of S. Marco and S. Salvi at Florence both show this style of division for the cells. The windows were protected by abietarii or cancelli (gratings) made of wood.

A strong point in Lombard building was the fortress, which the Magistri were past masters in erecting. Their castles and forts and city walls stand to this day solid and strong, with towers standing up commandingly in all directions—all the mediæval cities bristled with them; the tower was, in fact, a weapon of war. On these, too, they set their seal—the pillared Lombard window becoming larger and more airy as the tower rises into the air, and the crowning cornice of bracketed or pillared archlets.[53]


Their towers seem to have been of two forms, ecclesiastic and civil. The ecclesiastical bell-tower, square with a straight unbroken line, with neither buttress nor projection till the summit, where the bracket-supported arches expand like a flower. Sometimes each storey had a string course, with smaller arches beneath it, as in the tower at Prato. The windows, too, as we have said, had a fixed rule; they are smaller below, and grow larger and more airy as they ascend. You go up from a mere orifice on the first floor to a one-arched window on the second, a two-arched on the third, to a three or even four-arched one near the summit.

The characteristics of civil towers at this time were their solidity as a means of defence, and their height as a means of vigilance; they appear to be chiefly circular, offering no corners, but a curved surface from which missiles could easily glance off. The windows were narrow outside, expanding wider within. If there were a double-light window, it would be on the very high storeys, out of arrow aim. Nearly all the ancient fortresses have round towers, but I know of very few church towers that are so, except the one at Classe near Ravenna.

Before the thirteenth century, neither brackets nor projecting cornices were used, and the tower rose in a single straight line from base to battlement, so that projectiles fell straight down. It was later that architects discovered the value of the projecting baluardo. As to battlements, these too came from the antique; Babylon and Nineveh show proofs of them, and Homer speaks of the battlemented towers of Asia and Greece. Muratori[54] derives the Italian term merlo, from mirare (to take aim), the battlements being made for the shelter of the archers, and their convenience in shooting. When fire-arms came in, the need of battlemented towers ceased.

The principal Longobardic military towers remaining to our day, are, the tower of the ruined fortress of Baradello, 68 which dominates the road to Camerlata, and the towers, now mutilated, in the wall of Como, one of which, erected on arches, forms the gate of the city towards Camerlata.

The ninth-century sculptures on the altar at S. Ambrogio prove that the Longobards had towers above their city gates. The author of the Ant. Longob. Milanesi (Dissert. iii. p. 193) says that the ancient gates of Milan, before the enlargement of the walls, were of this construction with towers over them. They were furnished with heavy wooden doors covered with iron, which were suspended on chains, and slid down in grooves in the wall, thus completely closing the entrance—a portcullis, in fact. Livy, in his twenty-seventh book, describes the gates of Rome as being of the same construction; some existing examples at Rome, Tivoli, and Pompeii prove the fact. A famous gate in the time of the Longobards was the one chronicled by Paulus Diaconus, which King Bertharis (671-686) caused the Magistri to erect beside his palace in Pavia. It was named the Porta Palatinense, and was, says Paulus Diaconus, an admirable work (opera mirifica). Some antique documents quoted by Passano,[55] prove that this gateway was furnished with bronze gates.[56]

Some writers think that the battlemented fortress came from the East, because ancient specimens of it are found there. In reading an Italian translation of Procopius, Degli edifici di Giustiniano Imperatore, I was struck by the many slight expressions which seem to prove that Justinian brought his fortress-builders into Byzantium from Italy. Procopius says that Justinian made a new style of fortress with towers all round the walls; with stairs in the towers, and galleries (baluards) round them with holes 69 in them to throw down stones, and that it was called Pirgo castello, because in the Latin tongue, fortresses are styled castelli. Now this description is precisely that of an Italian fortress, such as the Comacines knew how to build, and built for centuries all over Italy. If it came from the East in ancient times, why was it specified by Procopius as a new style there?—and if its origin were Eastern, why had they no name for it, but had to take the Latin one?

The Bishop of Salisbury, in a letter in the Salisbury Diocesan Gazette (May 1898), speaks of an inscription of the twelfth century, preserved in the museum at Jaffa, which is in memory of Magister Filipus, who came over with the King of England (Richard), and who had built a portion of the wall "from gate to gate": evidently Magister Filipus from the English Masonic Lodge, fraternized and worked with his brethren of the Roman and Eastern Lodges.

Again, on p. 21, Procopius speaks of a town or village now known as Eufratisia, but which was once called Comagene, because there were Romans as well as Persians living there. Romans, of course, meant subjects of the Italian Empire, but the name Comagene is certainly suggestive of those Italians being the Comacine builders who made the castles. Then Procopius's description of the rebuilding of the church of Santa Sofia is, to say the least of it, interesting to a student of Lombard architecture. The passage translated runs thus—"The church then (Sta Sofia) being thus burned, was, at that time, entirely ruined. But Justinian, a long while after, rebuilt it in such a form that if any one in older times could have foreseen it, he would have prayed God that the old church might be completely destroyed, so that it may be rebuilt as it now is. Therefore the Emperor sent to call artificers and masters, as many as there were in all the universal world. And Anthemius Trallianus, the head architect, was a great machinist, learned in all kinds of machinery, not only that 70 of his own time, but in all that the ancients knew, and he had the power to regulate and organize perfectly the working of all things necessary to building, and to the ordering and executing of his own designs and inventions. And Isidore, another Milesian, was also a master of machinery. The church then, was so marvellously made that it was a beautiful thing to see; it seems supernatural to those who behold it with their own eyes, and incredible to those who only hear of it, because it is so high that it seems to touch the sky.... The face of the church looks towards the rising sun, but where the secret offices to God are performed, it is built in this manner. It is a half-round edifice which those of this profession call Hemiciclo, which is to say half a circle ... and in this there are columns planted beneath its floor." Here we have a decided Basilica with raised tribune and semi-circular apse; both the form and nomenclature seem to have been imported as a new thing from Italy. "The golden dome appears suspended from heaven, so light are the columns supporting it that it seems to be in the air.... One can never arrive at understanding how it was built (apprendere l' arteficio), but one goes away astonished at one's inability to enough admire such a work."

Does not this seem an argument for the universality of the Masonic Brotherhood, even in Byzantine days? Here are certainly Italian artists, Italian basilican forms, and Italian nomenclature, among the Greeks working at Sta Sofia. And here too are Lombard galleries and windows with an Eastern touch added. Which way did the influence come? Was this the origin of that characteristic Eastern mark of the Lombard style in Italy?—or was it an importation from Italy to Byzantium, where Procopius at least seems duly astonished by it? It is a question for experts to solve. There is much for the archæologist to do yet in finding the true pedigree of architecture. 71


The Comacine Masters were distinctly sculptor-architects, and their ornamentation was an essential part of their buildings. Yet, to them, sculpture was by no means mere ornament. It was not a mere breaking up of a plain surface, as a beautifying effect; nor a setting of statues and niches for symmetry. It was an eloquent part of a primitive language of religion and art. The very smallest tracery had a meaning; every leaf, every rudely carved animal spoke in mystic language of some great truth in religion. But it was a language as yet artistically unformed, because the mediæval man had more articles of creed than he could express in words, and his hand like his mind was as yet unpractised.

Thus it came that, as we have said, the Comacine Masters were much given to symbolism.

The old Italian writers class this symbolism under two heads—the ermetica (hermeneutic?), which they define as symbolism of form or number; and orfica (orphic), that of figures or representations. Under the first head would fall the symbolical plan of their churches to which we have referred; the form of the windows, which were double-lighted, and emblematized the two lights of the law and the gospel; the rounded apse, emblem of the head of Christ; the threefold nave shadowing forth the Trinity; the 72 octagonal form of the baptisteries, which St. Ambrose[57] says was emblematical of the mystic number 8, etc.

Under the head of orphic would come all those mystic signs of circle and triangle; of sacred monograms, and the mysterious Solomon's knot;—that intricate and endless variety of the single unbroken line of unity,—emblem of the manifold ways of the power of the one God who has neither beginning nor end. It would also include all the curious possible and impossible animals that abound in the Comacine work of earlier Longobardic times; all the emblematic figures of angels and saints; and the figurative Bible stories of the later Masters.

It has been said by Ruskin that the queer monsters sculptured on the early Longobard churches, such as Sant' Agostino at Milan, San Fedele at Como, and San Michele at Pavia, were the savage imaginings of the lately civilized Longobards, as seen through the medium of the sculptors employed by them. This is, however, proved not to be the case; animal symbolism was in those days an outward sign of Christianity, which, in a time when there was no literature, was to the unlettered masses a mystical religion represented to their minds in signs and parables. Christ Himself used this parabolic style of teaching. And it was even more than that,—it was a sign of an older Bible lore among the Hebrews, and other ancient peoples. As in many early Christian ceremonies in the West (i.e. in Europe) we can trace the remains of the old Latin paganism, so in the East we may trace signs of the older Hebrew faith.

Speaking of the Longobardic mixtures of labyrinths, chimeræ, dragons, lions, and a hundred other things, which at first sight do not seem to be connected with Christianity, Marchese Ricci asks—"If these queer mixtures were only the effect of the architects' caprice, whence came the first 73 impulse to such caprice? Not from classic Rome certainly. Not from the Goths and Longobards, because they being barbarians had to employ Italian artists."[58] The theory propounded by Pietro Selvatico, in an article in the Rivista Europea, is suggestive of a reply to this question. He supposes that the Byzantines originally took their symbolism from the Hebrews, and from the traditions of Solomon's Temple, which are also shared by the Phœnicians;[59] and that this animal symbolism changed its character in the East, owing to the restrictions imposed by the Emperor Leo and his successors, but that in freer Italy it still flourished. It is difficult to say whether the Comacines took their ornamentation direct from the Byzantines at Ravenna in the early centuries after Christ, or whether they got it by longer tradition, from that same Eastern source from which the Byzantines took theirs. It is true that Como had more than one bishop who was a Greek,[60] and that when it fell under the government of the Patriarch of Aquileja, the Comacines were employed by him in Venice, Grado, and Torcello, etc., where they would have seen a good deal of Byzantine work; but their earliest employment at Torcello was in the seventh century, and we have seen them using their chisels for Theodolinda long before that time.

The Byzantine ornamentation became conventional after 726 A.D., when the Emperor Leo III. (the Isaurian) promulgated his iconoclastic edict in the Eastern Empire. Some Greeks had begun to feel that, under the appearance of Christianity, they were only keeping up the ancient paganism. They were taunted by the Hebrews and Mussulmen, who, inspired by the Koran, had a great hatred 74 of images. This sect found a champion in Leo III., who had lived much among the Arabs, and shared their prejudices against idols. He convoked a council, prohibited images, and proscribed all reverence and use of them either public or private. A figure of the Christ over his own palace fell the first victim to his iconoclastic destruction. Several Greeks who would not bow to this decree fled to Italy, and put themselves under the protection of Pope Gregory II. From this time the eastern Byzantine architectural ornamentation was entirely confined to linear and geometric design, and vegetable forms. In pure Byzantine work one sees no dragons or fighting monsters, only conventional doves and scrolls. The sculptors took to imitating woven stuffs, and Oriental patterns in marble, and to twining their capitals with conventional leaves, but the life had gone out of their work; it was all set and precise, but dead.

The Italian architect, not being under the power of the edict of Leo, continued to carve his mythic animals, his symbolic birds and fishes, and even tried his hand at the first rude revival of the human figure in sculpture. His figures were disproportionate and mediæval in form,—what could one expect from a man of the Middle Ages just reawakening to the conception of art?—but they were full of fire and life. Their mystic beasts were horrible as any nightmare could conceive them; they were indeed conceived in the darkness of that night of superstition, ignorance, and fierce strife. Their angels were grotesque, not from want of imagination, but from want of models of form and proportion; their men are full of all kinds of expression, with their heads too large and their limbs too short; but their attitudes are lively, their faces grotesquely keen.

As a proof of this distinctive style, compare the Byzantine altar of S. Ambrogio at Milan, here illustrated, with the Comacine pulpit of the same church. (See page 88.) 75

Byzantine Altar in the Church of S. Ambrogio, Milan.

See page 74.

So many students of architecture roughly class as Byzantine every kind of intricate decorative work of the centuries before the Renaissance; but I think that, excepting in some instances in Venice and Ravenna (and not all the work of the era there), most of the Italian ornamental sculpture is Comacine, and not Byzantine. Certainly if you see a sly-faced lamb, or a placid lion with rolling eyes, peering out from beneath the abacus of a column, or a perky bird lifting up its claw over a vase, with an extremely lively expression of eagerness, that work is not Byzantine, though it may be surrounded and mixed with the most intricate possible weaving of lines or foliage. However, I leave the question of derivation of style to wiser students than myself, and return to the Comacine Masters and their symbolism.

It seems impossible that the Comacine sculptures on S. Michele could have come through the Byzantine. It is true they show rude and unskilled technical execution, but they have intense spirit, belief, life, and spontaneity. The Magistri must have got their ornamentation as they did their architecture from an older source,—and a traditional one. It came down like their Freemasonry from ancient Eastern builders through pagan Rome, and ages of mystic religions such as Gnostic and other deistic forms, till it became incorporated in Christianity. "We might," says Sacchi,[61] "define Christian symbolism as the representation of mysteries and religious truths by means of forms, cyphers, and determinate images." (La rappresentazione di dogmi, misteri e verità religiose, per mezzo di forme, cifre ed immagini determinate.)

An older and more authoritative testimony is given by Dionysius the Areopagite, the associate of St. Paul, by whom he was consecrated. In his De angelica seu celesti Hierarchia, Epistola ad Timotheum Ephæsiæ civitatis episcopum, 76 he writes—"It is necessary to teach the mind as to the spiritual hierarchies, by means of material figures and formal compositions, so that by comparing the most sacred forms in our minds, we may raise before us the spiritual and unpictured beings and similitudes on high." As he says elsewhere, "ascendere per formas veritatim."

Again he writes to Titus—"Only by means of occult and difficult enigmas, is it given to the fathers of science to show forth mystic and divine truths."[62] In the second epistle to Timotheus, St. Dionysius writes—"We must raise ourselves from ascetic facts by means of imaginative forms, and we should not marvel as do the unknowing, if for this end are chosen many-footed beings, or creatures with many heads; if we figure bovine images, or lions, or eagles with curved beaks; flying creatures with three-fold wings, celestial irradiations, wheel-like forms, vario-tinted horses, the armed Sagittarius, and every kind of sacred and formal symbol which has come down to us by tradition." St. Nilus, too, writes to Olimpiodorus—"You ask me if I think it an honourable thing that you erect temples to the memory of martyrs as well as to that of the Redeemer—those martyrs who are certainly among the saints, and whose pains and sufferings have borne witness to the gospel. You also ask whether it would be wise to decorate the walls on the right and left with animal figures, so that we may see hares (conies) and goats, and every kind of beast flying away, while men and dogs follow them up. Whether it would be well to represent fish and fishermen throwing the line or the net; whether on the calcareous stone shall be well-carved effigies of all kinds of animals, and ornamental friezes and representations of birds, beasts, and serpents of divers generations?" St. Nilus says later 77 that he quite agrees with all these things; so if the Fathers of the Church respected them, we need not heed Mr. Ruskin's diatribes.

St. Nilus lived in the time of John XVI., 985-996, nearly 900 years after Dionysius, but this extract from his letter shows that Christian symbolism had not altered in all those centuries, and the church he describes is no more or less than a Comacine church of that era. The chase is figured forth on the façades of S. Michele and S. Stefano at Pavia, and S. Zeno at Verona. The huntsman and his dogs are generally used as emblems of the faithful Christian driving out heresies.[63] The fisherman symbolizes the priesthood, fishing for souls out of the ocean of sin. There is a beautiful example of this myth in the fresco of the ship (the ark of the Church) on the roof of the Spanish chapel at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, where the fisherman is casting his line from the bank.

Seen through the medium of these early lights, we no longer look on the façade of S. Michele as Ruskin does, as a sign of savage atrocity, but every line of the time-worn sculptured friezes stands out as full of meaning as an Egyptian hieroglyphic, to one who can interpret it. On the angle to the left we have the army of the Church militant, figured as armed soldiers, whose horses trample some quadrupeds underfoot: symbol—the vanquishing of sins. Above this a frieze of four animals—first, a lion; second, too much broken to be decipherable, but from the context it is probably a man-headed creature; third, a bull; fourth, a winged creature. Here we have the four beasts 78 of the Apocalypse,—emblems of the Evangelists. "And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle" (Rev. iv. 7). The connection between the two friezes is evident. First, the Church militant clad in the whole armour of God, and the second emblematizing the shield of the Gospel.

In the next compartment of the façade, that on the left of the door, we have the chase of a deer and other animals flying from fierce dogs, which we have explained above; over this a frieze of vine-leaves. Here, again, the connection of thought is apparent. The vine figures Christ, the only true refuge from heresy.

High up on each side of this left door is a peacock with an olive-leaf in its claw-symbol of the Church bringing peace. In the centre between these is the bishop with his robes and pastoral staff—the visible dispenser of peace in the Church. On the fourth frieze, which is above the door, we go into the mythic animals: here is a hippogriff with the three-fold tail; a woman with six breasts, carrying two pine-cones; she is in a long robe with large sleeves, and veiled as an Egyptian; two sphinxes, on each of which a man rides, and whispers in their ears; a dragon with wings and bird's feet, on its neck a child; a priest with vase of holy water and an asperge, who is blessing some people; a man (Zohak) between two winged serpents which bite his head; a sphinx to whom a man presents a little branch of a tree; two hippogriffs, seated opposite each other with a man in the centre who places their claws on his head. A marvellous frieze indeed, and one which in spite of St. Dionysius speaks as much of Eastern traditions long before Christ, as of Christianity itself. The many-breasted woman with the pine-cones is the ancient mother goddess, Isis, Cybele, or Cupra, according to the age and clime; here I take it the old image is turned to new uses, and she figures Eve, the 79 primitive mother. The two sphinxes are obscure, but they would seem to emblematize man wresting the secrets of knowledge of good and evil from the mystery of the unknown, as when Adam and Eve ate the apple; the dragon, always emblem of sin or the devil, ridden by a child, is a fine symbol of the child Christ, the seed of Eve, who should overcome sin. Then comes the purification by benediction, as shadowing Abel's accepted sacrifice, and the serpent-fanged remorse of Cain, as shown in Zohak.

"There where the narrowing chasm

Rose loftier in the hill

Stood Zohak, wretched man, condemned to keep

His cave of punishment.

His was the frequent scream

Which when far off the prowling jackal heard,

He howled in terror back.

For from his shoulders grew

Two snakes of monster size

Which ever at his head

Aimed their rapacious teeth.

He, in eternal conflict, oft would seize

Their swelling necks, and in his giant grasp

Bruise them, and rend their flesh with bloody nails

And howl for agony,

Feeling the pangs he gave, for of himself

Co-sentient and inseparable parts

The snaky torturers grew."[64]

Southey, Thalaba the Destroyer.

Next the man giving the branch to the sphinx must shadow the reconciliation of man with God, and the hippogriffs the final redemption of man. The hippogriff is a combination of horse and eagle. The horse, as St. Dionysius says, was symbol of evangelical resignation and submission; if white, it sheds divine light. The eagle, he tells us, is a high and regal bird, potent, keen, sober and agile; 80 the winged horse consequently stands for man's upward flight to heaven through submission to God. In the fifth frieze, the Christian virtues of strength, fortitude, sobriety, and obedience are symbolized by bulls and horses.

Fresco in the Spanish Chapel, S. Maria Novella, Florence.

See Page 77, note.

Around the door are sculptures of the same kind of emblems with vines entwining—which teach that all manly strength must be used for Christ.

In the central portion are more friezes, all symbolizing the struggle between good and evil; the war between angels and demons; between man's earthly nature and his heavenly soul.

Here are men fighting dragons, and struggling with serpents; winged angels riding on heavenly horses; and over the door the grand central idea, St. Michael triumphant over the dragon-serpent, the favourite hero and great example of those days.

On the other side of the church we seem to get the symbolism of the New Testament. Here, mixed still with the dragons and hippogriffs of the time, we can see the Virgin with the Divine Child at her breast.

On the capitals of the north door, round the corner, are the entirely Christian emblems of the man, the lamb, a winged eagle, and two doves pecking at a vase, in which are heavenly flowers. In the lunette, Christ is giving to St. Paul on one side a roll of parchment, and on the other hand entrusting the keys to St. Peter; under it are the words: Ordino Rex istos super omnia Regna Magistros.

The capitals in the church are carved with similar subjects; one has the emblems of the evangelists; another Adam and Eve with the tree of knowledge on one side, and a figure offering a lamb on the other. On one are griffins at the corners, and Longobards with long vests, beard, and long hair, crouching between them; on another, a virgin martyr bearing the palm. The fourth column on the left has a curious scene of a man dying, and an angel and a 81 demon fighting for his soul, which has come out of him in the form of a nude child. Two pilasters show the sacrifice of Isaac, and Daniel in the lions' den.

Door of the Church of San Michele, Pavia.

See page 80.

So we see, that mediæval as he was at that time, the Comacine Master of the seventh and eighth centuries, even though his execution were low, had a high meaning in his work. As to the rudeness of the handling, there is this to be said. We see the work after more than a thousand years' exposure to the atmosphere, and the sculptures are not in durable marble, but in sandstone, which has a habit of getting its edges decayed, so we may fairly suppose the cutting looked clearer when the ornamentations were fresh. The form of both animals and men is, however, and naturally always was, entirely mediæval, which seems synonymous with clumsy.

The use of marble ceased for some centuries with the fall of the Roman Empire. Theodosius had made a law, forbidding any one below the rank of a senator to erect a building of marble, or valuable macigna; thus the Christian buildings after the fifth century were generally of humble sandstone; and this continued till the time of St. Nilus, who tells his friend that "in arenaria he may effigy every kind of animal, which will be a delightful spectacle" (dilettoso spettacolo di veduta). It was a stone peculiarly adapted to building, as it was easily cut, and yielded to all the imaginations of the sculptor with very little labour. I have given an especially lengthy description of the façade of S. Michele, because it embodies all the special marks of the ornamentation of the Comacine under the Longobardic era. The church of S. Fedele at Como is another instance; here, too, the capitals of the columns, and the holy water vase, which is held up by a dragon, are full of orphic symbolism. The left door has an architrave with obtuse angles bearing a chimerical figure, half human, half serpent—the gnostic symbol of Wisdom. Serpents and dragons 82 entwine on the lintels, and emblematize the Church's power to overcome.

In studying the scrolls and geometrical decoration of the Comacines, one immediately perceives that the intreccio, or interlaced work, is one of their special marks. I think it would be difficult to find any church or sacred edifice, or even altar of the Comacine work under the Longobards, which is not signed, as it were, by some curious interlaced knot or meander, formed of a single tortuous line.

As far as I can find from my own observations, there is this difference between the Byzantine and Comacine mazes; the Byzantine worked for effect, to get a surface well covered. His knots and scrolls are beautifully finished and clearly cut with geometrical precision, but the line is not continuous; it is a pretty pattern repeated over and over, but has no suggestion of meaning.

The Comacine, on the contrary, believed in his mystic knot; to him it was, as I have said, a sign of the inscrutable and infinite ways of God, whose nature is unity. The traditional name of these interlacings among Italians is "Solomon's knot."

I have seen a tiny ancient Lombard church, in the mountains of the Apuan Alps, built before the tenth century, of large blocks of stone, fitted and dovetailed into each other with a precision almost Etruscan. High up in the northern wall is a single carved stone some three feet long, representing a rude interlaced knot.[65] We asked a peasant what it was.

"Oh, it's an ancient girigogolo," said he, by which I presume he meant hieroglyphic.

On going to a higher fount and asking the priest, we got the information that it was a "Solomon's knot," and 83 that such intrecci were found on nearly all the very ancient churches. He supposed it had some meaning—and thought it expressed eternity, as the knots had no end and no beginning. The Italian philologist, Sebastian Ciampi, gives these interlacings a very ancient origin. "We may observe," he writes, "in the sculpture of the so-called barbarous ages on capitals, or carved stones, that they used to engrave serpents interlaced with curious convolutions. On the wall too they sculptured that labyrinth of line which is believed to be the Gordian knot, and other similar ornaments to which Italians give the generic name of meandri. I do not think that all these representations were merely adapted for ornament, but that they had some mystic meaning. I am not prepared to say whether our forefathers received such emblems from the Northern people who so frequently peregrinated in Italy, or from the Asiatic countries. This is certain, the use of such ornamentation is extremely antique, and we find it adopted by the Persians, and see it in Turkish money, and carpets, and other works of Oriental art."[66] Ciampi goes on to find the root of these emblems, both the Runic knot and the Comacine intreccio, in the Cabirus of the ancient Orientals. It is possible that the ancient serpent worship of the Druids and other Northern nations, was in some way descended from the same root. In any case they were transmitted to the Longobardic Comacines through the early Christian Collegia of Rome, as we see by the plutei in San Clemente, S. Agnese, etc., and by the beautiful single-cord interweavings on the door of a chapel in S. Prassede.

Comacine Knot on a panel at S. Ambrogio, Milan. One strand forms the whole. From Cattaneo's "Architettura."

See page 83.

Sculpture from Sant' Abbondio, Como, 5th century. (The circle and centre a single strand.)

See page 84.

There is a marvellous knot sculptured on a marble panel of the ninth century from S. Ambrogio Milan, which Cattaneo has illustrated.[67] The whole square is filled with 84 complicated interweavings of a single strand, forming intricate loops and circles, the spaces between which are filled with the Christian emblems, the rose, the lily, and the heart. Another pluteus, originally from San Marco dei Precipazi at Venice, but now over the altar at S. Giacomo, is dated 829 A.D., and is covered with what seems at first sight a geometric pattern of circles and diamonds, but if analyzed will be found a single strand interwoven in the most mysterious and beautiful manner. It seems that the parapet of the tribune in all these early Basilicas was the place chosen especially by the Roman architect of the third and fourth centuries, and the Comacine of the eighth and ninth, to set their secret and mysterious signs upon, and to mark their belief in God as showing infinity in unity.

It is very curious to notice in the churches which the guild restored in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when their tenets had altered, and their sign changed, how they themselves removed these old stones, but yet being careful not to destroy them, they turned them and sculptured them again on the other side. In the excavations or restorations in Rome many of the intrecci have come to light at the back of panels of Comatesque pulpits, recarved into altar frontals, or used as paving-stones before the altar.

Some of the earlier and less intricate forms of knots may be seen in the church of S. Abbondio at Como, which was built in the fifth century and again rebuilt in the ninth. Some excavations in the last century revealed the foundations of the fifth-century church, and also brought to light a number of sculptured stones which had been turned face downwards to form the pavement. We give illustrations from two of these which have the Comacine signs plainly written on them, and show even in this early and simple form the reverence for the line of unity. Cattaneo thinks 85 they may have formed the front of the gallery above the nave in the eighth-century building.

In the museum of Verona is a precious fragment of Comacine work dating from Luitprand's time. It was a ciborium which Magister Ursus was commissioned to make for the church of S. Giorgio di Valpolicella. It is especially valuable as the first dated piece of sculpture of the Longobardic era, and the first signed specimen of Comacine interlaced work. The columns which remain support a round arch, covered with sculptured intrecci. As it stands now the two halves of the arch do not match, so it must be conjectured that the ciborium had four columns, and that the halves of the arch were originally on different sides of the erection. The intrecci are beautiful and varied, displaying the unbroken continuity of the curved line which marks the Comacine work of the eighth to the twelfth centuries. The capitals are curious in form and not at all classical. Beneath the capitals of the two columns are the following inscriptions in rough letters and dog Latin. One runs—"IN NOMINE DNI. IESU XRISTI DE DONIS SANCTI IUHANNES BAPTISTE. EDIFICATUS EST HANC CIVORIUM SUB TEMPORE DOMNO NOSTRO LIOPRANDO REGE, ET VB PATERNO DOMNICO EPESCOPO, ET COSTODES EIUS, VIDALIANO ET TANCOL, PRESBITERIS, ET REFOL GASTALDO, GONDELME INDIGNUS DIACONUS SCRIPSI." And the other—"URSUS MAGESTER CUM DISCEPOLIS SUIS, IVVINTINO ET IVVIANO EDIFICAVET HANC CIVORIUM, VERGONDUS TEODAL FOSCARI."[68]

The date of Bishop Dominic's death coincides with Luitprand's accession to the throne, so we may safely say Magister Ursus worked in 712. Ursus Magister fecit is also engraved in the same style on an ancient altar recently discovered in the abbey church of Ferentillo near Spoleto. It is known that Luitprand went to Spoleto in 739, and installed Hilderic in the Dukedom. In any case this 86 inscription is of priceless value to our argument that the Comacine Guild which worked for the Lombard kings was really the same guild that built the latter Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals and palaces. Here we get the exact organization which becomes so familiar to us in the later lodges whose archives are kept, Ursus or Orso proves his right to the title of Magister by having disciples under him. The work is done in the time of "Our Lord Luitprand and our Father the Bishop," who are the presidents of the lodge, just as in later lodges the more influential citizen or body of citizens are presidents of the Opera. Then there is Refol, the Gastaldo (Grand Master). The very same term is kept up in the Lombard lodges till the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the head of the Venetian laborerium is styled the Gastaldo instead of capo maestro as in Tuscany; there is even the notary to the guild, the unworthy scribe Gondelmus.

The work is so far inferior to the ciborium at Valpolicella, that it would seem to be, as Cattaneo remarks, by an earlier hand. The ornamentation is not a finished sculpture, but only rudely cut into the surface of the stone, like a first sketch. Possibly the remuneration offered by the employer was not liberal enough to encourage Orso to put any elaborate work into the altar, or he might have blocked out the work, and left it unfinished either by reason of death, or absence.

Another famous work of that time was one which Luitprand himself caused to be sculptured by Magister Giovanni, of the Comacine Guild. It was the covering for the tomb of S. Cumianus in the monastery of Bobbio. It will be remembered that Agilulf and Theodolinda gave shelter to the Irish Saint Columbanus, and assisted him to found the convent of Bobbio. One of the monks there, another Irishman, named Cumianus, was afterwards canonized, and Luitprand built his tomb. We are told it was 87 covered with precious marbles, which would seem to indicate something in the style which the Cosmati afterwards made so famous.

The tomb of Theodata at Pavia is a fine specimen of Comacine-Longobardic sculpture. It is now to be seen in the cortile of the Palazzo Malaspina with some other old sarcophagi. This has been called a Byzantine work, but the extreme vitality and expression in the hippogriffs and the Solomon's knots which sign it, mark the work as Comacine; besides, we are told by the most early authors that the Longobards never employed Greek artists. There is the usual mixture of Christianity and Mediævalism in the sculptures on the top of the tomb. Winged griffins with serpent tails prance on each side of a vine, from which serpents' heads look out. Fishes are in the corner, and an interlaced border, whose spaces are filled with grapes and mystic circles, frames, as it were, the design. The side is entirely Christian; and if the peacocks which drink out of a vase with a cross in it, were less lively, it might almost pass for a Byzantine design; but the Comacine Magister has set his mark even here, in his knots with neither end nor beginning, his concentric circles, and roses of Sharon; and has told us in his mystic language that Theodata was a Christian, and though tempted, clung to the cross. Theodata, a noble Roman dame, was one of the ladies of honour to Ermelind, King Cunibert's Anglo-Saxon wife.[69]

One day Ermelind incautiously described the exquisite beauty of this lady, whom she had seen in the bath, and greatly inflamed his imagination. He brutally ruined the lovely Theodata, and afterwards shut her up in a monastery, probably that of St. Agatha, which his father had built. This took place in A.D. 720. The beautiful 88 tomb was but a poor atonement for the coarse cruelty which had spoiled her life.

The pulpit in S. Ambrogio at Milan is a really fine specimen of sixth-century work. It is supported on ten columns. Here is the true Comacine variety of columns: they are all sizes and all shapes; some round, some hexagonal; some longer, some shorter; the difference in height being made up by the capitals and pedestals being more or less high. One, which is peculiarly short, and whose capital is carved in complicated Solomon's knots, has a lion placed as abacus. This is the earliest instance I know of, of the use of the lion of Judah, in connection with the pillar (Christ). Here the lion rests on the column and supports the arches, instead of being the root of the pillar as it became in the later Romanesque style. The arches are surrounded with intricate scrolls and interlaced work; some of them clearly copied from Byzantine designs. The spaces between the arches are enriched with allegorical subjects. In one, the emblems of the apostles; in another, a choir of angels, very mediæval and heavy-headed; in another, a winged archangel. At the corner is a man in Lombard dress, holding two animals, one in each hand. It is peculiarly suggestive of the Etruscan deity with the two leopards, which is so frequently seen on the black Chiusi vases, and confirms more than ever, the tendency in mediæval Christians to cling to ancient pagan forms, giving them a new Christian significance. The frieze above the arches which forms the base of the marble panels of the Ambone, is peculiarly Comacine. Here are all the mystic animals, representing the powers of evil;—dragons, wolves, etc., bound together in a knotted scroll of one continuous vine-branch, here and there training into foliage. Reading the ornamentation by the light of mediæval symbolism, the whole thing gives us lessons appropriate to a pulpit. It tells us that Christ the pillar of the Church, descended 89 from David the lion of Judah, is the foundation of all Gospel; that angels and saints sing the glory of God; and that Christ the vine can bind and subdue the powers of evil. The fine early Christian tomb beneath the pulpit is not necessarily connected with it. It has been called the tomb of Stilicho, with how much reason I am not prepared to say. If so it must date from the early part of the fifth century, as it was on October 8, 405, that Stilicho marched up to Fiesole from Florence to his victory over Radagaisus the Goth. The Florentines had but just been converted to Christianity at that time. The sculpture, though Christian in subject, has many signs of debased Roman style mingled with much of the mediæval.

Pulpit in the Church of S. Ambrogio, Milan, 6th century.
(From a photograph by Brogi.)

See Page 88.

There is a similar pulpit at Toscanella, in the church of S. Maria Maggiore, a three-naved Lombard church with the choir facing east. The pulpit, which is of the square form used before A.D. 1000, is supported on four columns, and has sculptured parapets and arches, on which are various interlaced designs of marvellous intricacy.[70]




1. 805 Magister Natalis A Lombard, employed at Lucca to build a church and make a canal.
2. 900? M. Johannis de Menazio (and many other Masters from Como) Built the church of S. Giacomo at Pontida.
3. " A "famous Magister" from Como (name not given) Worked at S. Zeno at Verona, and built S. Zeno at Pontida.
4. " M. Adami Sculptured the capitals in the atrium of S. Ambrogio at Milan.

We may safely say that Charlemagne, who was more a warrior than a man of æsthetic tastes, had no influence whatever on Italian architecture; neither the form nor the symbolism was changed by him. The Italians were always conservative, and clung to old traditions. The Roman basilica, and not the Eastern mosque, still continued to be the plan of the Italian church. Ricci asserts that by the end of the eighth century all imitation of Oriental architecture had disappeared from Italian churches. It was not the same, however, with the ornamentations, in which the frozen Byzantine forms became vitalized under hands less technically skilful, but more natural.

Door of a Chapel in S. Prassede, Rome.

See page 83.

Pluteus from S. Marco dei Precipazi, now in S. Giacomo, Venice.

See page 84.

Charlemagne did not even alter the Longobardic laws, 91 and he certainly did not interfere with the freedom and privileges of the Comacines or Liberi Muratori. In fact he ratified the Lombard code (the laws of Rotharis and Luitprand), only adding a few others which are known as Capitolari.

They do not, however, refer specially to our Magistri, but to jurisprudence in general. The older laws still held good for the Comacines, and they went on building their Basilican churches, which were at the same time classic in form, solid in style, and fanciful in decoration—a curious and characteristic mixture. But Charlemagne certainly patronized the Comacines, and not only employed them himself, but sent them to restore Roman churches for Pope Adrian, and to fortify Florence.

The early Carlovingian churches in Italy have so much analogy with the Longobardic ones, that it is very difficult to distinguish precisely to which era certain churches belong.

Rumhor instances the Florentine Basilica of S. Scheraggio, which was much used as a meeting-place for civil councils in the early days of the Republic. This is usually said to have been a Carlovingian church; but either it was pure Lombard, as the barbarous name Scheraggio implies, or else Charlemagne employed the Lombard architects.[71] Padre Richa, who saw the ruins of it, gives a design of the church, which was the usual Lombard form, three naves, the central one wide, and an apse to each. The columns and capitals were from some Roman building.

The architecture was entirely similar to that of S. Paolo in ripa d'Arno, close to Pisa, which has also been styled Carlovingian. The chronicle of the monk Marco, written 92 in 1287, preserved in the archives of Vallombrosa, shows that although the guide-books date S. Scheraggio as twelfth-century architecture because a papal bull of that time refers to the name, it belonged to the Vallombrosian monks long before, having been given to them by Countess Beatrice in 1073,[72] and was probably founded in the ninth century.

We must not omit to mention the most interesting of Comacine churches, that of San Donato in Polenta, where Dante worshipped, and near which Paolo and Francesca lived. It was built in the eighth century, and is mentioned in a document of 976. It is of the usual triple-apsed form. The columns have diverse capitals, some square, some diminished, ornamented with foliage and interlaced work; some have grotesque figures, and animals in low relief, with a rude technique. Here are men like monkeys, hippogriffs, sea monsters, etc. It has been graphically described in Sapphic verse by Carducci, as follows—

To that gaunt Byzantine there crucified,

Whose hollow eyes gaze from his livid face,

The faithful pray for blessings on their Lord,[73]

And glory to Rome.

From every capital dread shapes obtrude

And memories bring of ancient sculpturing hands

Whose works show visions weird, and horrors from

The dreadful North.

The eastern gleam from pallid altar lamps

Falls on degenerate inhuman forms,

Writhing around in many-coiled embrace

Like things of Hell.

Rude monsters spew above the kneeling flock.

Behind the very font, crouching beast

Red-haired and horned, and demonlike

Doth gaze and grin.


The original runs thus—

Al bizantino crocefisso, atroce

Ne gli occhi bianchi livida magrezza,

Chieser mercè de l'alta stirpe e de la

Gloria di Roma.

Da i capitelli orride forme intruse

A le memorie di scapelli argivi,

Sogni efferati e spasimi del bieco


Imbestiati degeneratamente

Ne l'Oriente, al guizzo de le fioca

Lampade, in turpi abbracciamenti attorti,

Zolfo ed inferno.

Goffi sputavan su la prosternata

Gregge: di dietro al battistero un fulvo

Picciol cornuto diavolo guardava

E subsannava.

This church, so full of poetic and historic interest, was lately going to be destroyed, but the priest, Don Luigi Zattini, appealed to the Inspector of Monuments for the province of Forli, who had recourse to the Deputazione Storica Romagnola. Efforts were made to save it, and instead of being pulled down, it is now only to be restored, which may be as fatal. The castle of Guido da Polenta, husband of Francesca da Rimini and brother of Paolo, is now ruined, but a cypress on a plateau of the grounds is still called Francesca's cypress.

It was about this era that the Comacines began their many emigrations, and spread throughout Italy. The church-building Longobards, being subjugated themselves, had no longer the power to employ them, so this large guild had to look further afield for their work.

Hitherto they seem to have been almost exclusively employed in the Lombard kingdom and its dukedoms, except the few who went to England and Germany in the seventh century. But Charlemagne had a wider rule in Italy; and 94 good architecture was needed in other parts. Some documents quoted by Professor Merzario[74] not only prove these travelling days of the Magistri, but connect them with many of the finest and most interesting churches in Central and South Italy. One is a deed of gift for the weekly distribution of bread and wine to the poor at Lucca in 805. It begins—"Ego Natalis, homo transpadanus, magister casarius, Christo auxiliante, ædificavi Ecclesiam in honori Dei et Mariæ et B. Petri Apostoli, intra hanc civitatem"—"I, Natalis, a man from beyond the Pò, being a master builder, by Christ's help have constructed within this city, a church in honour of God, of Mary, and of the blessed apostle Peter."[75] Here we see the Comacine Master settled as leading architect in Lucca, far from his native land beyond the Pò, and so flourishing that he can dispense large charities. He seems to have done some public works too; there was a canal called the Fossa Natale, which ran through the city, and had a bridge over it. There must have been others of the guild in Lucca, before Natalis, working at the churches of S. Frediano and S. Michele.

The latter building was not long prior to the era of Magister Natalis. It was founded in 764 by the Lombard Teutprandus or Iutprand, and his wife Gumbranda. It coincides with S. Frediano in its plan of the Latin cross. Here, however, we find no Roman capitals, as in S. Frediano, but the twelve columns which sustain the arches of the nave are of rough white marble, from the neighbouring mountains of Carrara. They are of the same size upward, not narrowed at the top. The capitals are of somewhat composite order, with a leaning to Orientalism. The eight columns in the nave have simple arches a sesto intero (semi-circular) springing 95 from them; the four which support the tribune are heightened by piers of a Gothic form, flanked by pilasters, which raise the arch over the central nave. This seems to be the first instance of an attempt to render the sanctuary of the high altar more grand and majestic than the rest of the building. The façade is of quite a different epoch, and has nothing to do with the interior. It was the work of Guidectus in 1188, who also built the cathedral of Lucca.

The windows show the same divergence of style. In S. Frediano they are large and classical, in S. Michele narrow and Neo-Gothic.

The other document is less decisive, but has its significance. An ancient mediæval Memoriale, in the monastery of Pontida,[76] has the following entry—"Guglielmo de Longhi di Adraria built the church of San Giacomo di Pontida, employing Magister Johanne de Menazio et multis aliis de episcopatu comensi." This was finished in 1301, and was consequently later than the building of S. Zeno at Pontida, of which another MS. in the same monastery relates a fact, which the chronicler says happened avanti il mille (before the year 1000).

"A master very famous in the art of building, who came 'de regione juxta lacum cumanum' (from the region about Lake Como), met with robbers at Cisano, as he returned from Verona to his native place. The which Master being struck with terror, recommended himself, calling with all his heart on the blessed Zeno, and made a vow that if the saint brought him safe and sound out of that deadly peril, he would build a church in his honour. As soon as he had spoken the words, the horse on which he was mounted took fright and galloped away, so that the robbers could no more harm him. Thus he escaped safely with all his belongings ('potè scampare sano con tutte le sue cose'), and returning the following year with his 96 workmen, he began the building of the church of S. Zeno at Valle Ponzia (now Pontida), the people of the neighbourhood lending him aid, both in money and in labour."

We may be excused for jumping at conclusions if we opine that as he was returning from Verona after a long sojourn, he had been employed there. Probably it was at the church of S. Zeno; particularly as he felt he had a special claim on the help of that saint.

There is very little left of the first church of S. Zeno at Verona (which was rebuilt entirely in the twelfth century), except the curious mausoleum in the crypt, which is supposed to be King Pepin's tomb. Our Comacine who escaped the brigands may possibly have made that, as the era (before the year 1000) corresponds. Or he might have been working at the church which Bishop Lothaire, aided by Bertrada, mother of Charlemagne, built 780 A.D., and dedicated to S. Maria Matricolare, and which the Bishop Ratoldo (802-840) chose as the cathedral. Of this, too, little remains now, it having been rebuilt in the twelfth century, but some indications of the old building were found in the excavations made in 1884. At the depth of two metres, in the Lombard cloister adjoining it, a mosaic pavement was discovered with a design of foliage, animals, and inscriptions. There was also a fallen column, which they were able to stand on its own base with its capital. Cattaneo[77] thinks that these are the remains of Lothaire's church, as the capital of the column is undoubtedly of the eighth century. It has a rigid abacus, and the form is rudely Corinthian, with solid straight leaves curled back, instead of the usual acanthus. The same style is seen in S. Salvatore of Brescia, and S. Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, both Comacine works.

Comacine Capitals.

See page 96.

Another Carlovingian church in Verona is that of S. Lorenzo, said to have been founded by Pepin. Some 97 interesting bits of its primitive architecture remain, and are precious relics. There is, for instance, a little spiral stairway in the wall, which led to different divisions of the women's gallery.[78]

At this era a change in the form of windows may be observed; they were narrowed and heightened, a first step towards the Gothic form.

In Carlovingian times the Comacines worked much in Rome. Cattaneo[79] says that there exist letters from Pope Adrian I. to Charlemagne, begging him to send architects (Magistri) from the north of Italy, to execute some works in Rome. Now these Magistri could be no other than the Comacine Guild of Lombardy, who with the Longobards had lately become subjects of Charlemagne, and were without doubt the finest builders in Italy, if not monopolists of the art. The buildings which they designed and erected in Rome at that time were the churches of S. Maria in Cosmedin, S. Lorenzo in Lucina, S. Saba on Mount Aventine, and the residence of the Patriarch near S. John Lateran. The door of a chapel in S. Prassede with its Comacine intrecci is a standing proof of their work there in the ninth century.

Anastasius, the librarian, gives an account of the rebuilding of the church of S. Maria in Cosmedin.[80] He says that Adrian found it absolutely beneath a pile of ruins (sub ruinis positam) of a former temple to Ceres and Proserpine, which literally hung over it. As this mass of 98 ruin prevented the enlargement of the new church, it was entirely demolished "by fire, and by the labours of the people." The space being cleared, a new and spacious Basilica was erected "a fundamentis tres absides, in ea constituens."

The writer mentions this form with three apses as being new in Rome. We have, however, seen that in the north of Italy the Comacines had been, for the past century or two, building Basilican churches on precisely this plan. In fact the three round apses had become one of the special marks of their churches. Cattaneo argues that the form came from the East, as some of the Syrian churches of the fifth century and the great Basilica of St. Simeon Stylites at Kaiat Senian, erected in 500, have signs of the same conformation. Whether these were of absolutely Oriental origin, or the result of some early emigration of the liberi muratori, archæologists must judge. The two rows of columns which divide the nave from the aisles, have solid piers of masonry interposed between each three columns; these are elongated above the colonnade to support the roof, and strengthen the upper gallery.[81]

It is evident that the Comacines availed themselves of old material in this work; the columns are of all species and styles, some fluted, some smooth, some with antique Corinthian capitals, others of Comacine work. One is of the same form as those we have described in S. Maria Matricolare at Verona, with solid volutes, placed perpendicularly, 99 instead of the graceful acanthus. The same capital is seen in S. Agnese fuori le mura.

There is in S. Maria in Cosmedin a very interesting fragment of the Comacine decoration of the time when Adrian I. was the patron of the guild. It is a bit of cornice, formed of a little colonnade of round arches; beneath it an inscription in a curious early style, the letters all sizes and shapes. It runs—


I have seen another fragment during the recent restorations. A fine intreccio on a marble slab in one of the pulpits, which had been reversed and inlaid on the other side in thirteenth-century mosaic.

The church of S. Saba on Mount Aventine, which was also built under Adrian I., has every mark of Comacine work, especially in the mediæval and unclassic form of capitals. Probably the supply of ancient capitals fell short after the building of the other churches, and the builders had to supply them with their own chisels. They made a rude imitation of the Ionic form, as far from the classic grace of the original, as their plain hard volutes were from the elegance of the Corinthian.

A better artist seems to have been placed by the Comacine Guild in S. Lorenzo in Lucina, which was contemporary to this. The capitals of the same form are much more clearly and firmly cut, and in a better style of ornamentation. Here too are the Comacine lions, now built into the wall under the square lintels of the door. Of the Comacine work in the house of the Patriarch near S. John Lateran, i.e. the papal residence of those times, not much remains to show the hand of the Comacines, except the sculptures on the well in the cloister, the parapet of which is adorned with two zones of reliefs, divided by an 100 interlaced band. The under one consists of alternate crosses and rude palms, the upper is a row of round arches, adorned with upstanding volutes, like vine-tendrils; under one arch is a dove with grapes in his beak, and in the other a cross. There are also two sculptured stones in the same cloister, one showing various interlaced patterns, the other a cross formed by weavings of the continued line, enriched in the groundwork of foliage.

One of the most interesting churches of the Carlovingian era is that of San Pietro in Grado near Pisa. In the Middle Ages this was a great shrine for pilgrimages, being, it is said, built on the spot on which St. Peter first set foot in Italy. (Gradus—a step.) Legend (supported by the assertion of a certain Archbishop Visconti, who preached in Pisa in the thirteenth century) says that the Apostle Peter was driven ashore at that spot, and having made an altar he began to baptize—giving his disciples commands to build a church there. What the first church was like is not known; the present one was built between 600 and 800 A.D., and was decorated with frescoes before A.D. 1000. There is a great similarity in structure between this building and that of S. Apollinare in Ravenna; they are both of similar brick masonry, and three-apsed, and the aisles are in about the same proportion to the greater height of the nave. The proportions of the short round arches on the tall classic columns of the interior are extremely similar, as is the scheme of ornamentation, with the difference that at Ravenna the medium is mosaic, and at S. Pietro a Grado it is fresco. The line of Bishops in the spring of the arches in Ravenna is reproduced at Grado by a line of Popes in medallions, ending with Leo III., 795, which would probably mark the era of the foundation of the church.[82]


San Pietro, however, has one very great peculiarity. It has no façade, but is built with the usual Lombard three apses at one end, and a single semi-circular tribune at the other. The only door is at the side. The priest, who is naturally proud of his church, and learned in its history, told us that by this peculiar form the builders wished to represent a ship, and pointing out the great square pilasters that break the line of columns at the fourth arch from the west, he showed how the raised poop of a vessel was expressed by the greater height and width of the four arches at the west end. Certainly the narrowing effect being towards the chancel instead of the reverse, is most remarkable.

I was not, however, convinced by his symbolism, and realizing the greater proportions of the west end, where three arches with fluted columns stretched across a tribune, now turned into an organ-loft, I felt convinced that the present form was not the original. Either the ancient altar once stood at the west end, and the church, like so many Lombard ones, had formerly faced the opposite way; or else the semi-circular tribune, which seems to be of later work, has been added by restorers, to cover in the three arches of the ancient façade. That, in fact, the large solid pilasters in the nave marked the ancient wall of the interior, and the four arches on the other side of them formed the narthex. To support the first theory, is the fact that the altar called St. Peter's altar stands now isolated in that west end, and the canopy in the form of an ancient Lombard ciborium stands on four columns above it, carved in stone in very early style. The opposite theory of the narthex having been at that end, may on its side be confirmed by one of the frescoes, the last but two on the south wall, which represents the church itself as it was prior to A.D. 1000. Here the artist has, with a curious mediæval disregard of perspective and 102 possibility, represented both ends of the church in one view, and here we see plainly the three apses with their marble perpendicular ribs on one side, and the façade of large arches with a row of smaller ones across the building above them on the other. I leave the question of this puzzling west tribune to wiser judges than myself, and trust that some new Fergusson, Hope, or Street may some day discover the truth.

The columns of the nave are all of antique marble, the ruins of a Roman temple to Ceres at Pisa; some are of cipollino, others Oriental granite, one is of fluted white Greek marble. The capitals are mostly antique and classical, though a few show the hand of the early Comacine in their straight upstanding volutes. The ingenuity of the Magistri in making use of old material is shown in the various devices by which these columns are adapted. Where they are too short the base is raised on two pedestals; where too small for the massive pillar, a wide abacus is placed on the top to support the arch. One of the columns which support the altar is made long enough by a base made of an antique carved capital reversed beneath it. We have a distinct sign of the Comacines in a stone let into the wall near the door, and which evidently formed part of the ancient architrave. It is carved in an intricate interlaced knot. I shall speak in the chapter on Comacine painting, of the frescoes in the nave, which are unique of their kind, and of deep interest to the Art historian.

Exterior of San Piero a Grado, Pisa, 8th century.

See page 101.

These churches of the Carlovingian era in Italy cannot be documentally proved to have been at all connected with Charlemagne himself, except that he sent the Magistri Comacini to Rome, at Pope Adrian's request. The same cannot be said of the great church of Aix-la-Chapelle, with which his name must be for ever united, but which is certainly not entirely unconnected with this Lombard Guild. 103 Where history gives no precise information, and where authors, ancient and modern, fail to fix the precise era of this important work, it is of course impossible to say who was the architect. We can only judge by the style, and by inferences drawn from previous works of the same style. First, as to the few facts we are able to gain: Eginbertus, a Lombard, the biographer of Charlemagne, in his De vita et gestis Caroli Magni, Capit. 26, tells us that Charlemagne "built the Basilica of Aquisgrana of wonderful beauty, and adorned it with much gold, silver lamps, and with gates and doors of bronze. For this construction, not being able elsewhere to find columns and marble, he provided that they should be brought from Rome and Ravenna." This fact, of a want of proper material in France, would seem to imply that skilled workmen to build in stone must have been imported with the material. It is difficult, or indeed impossible, to prove that French workmen were equal to the occasion, by showing other contemporary works in France. Any churches they may have then had, have long since perished, for at that date they were usually built of wood; another argument that France could not have supplied accomplished architects in stone.

Some say the church was designed by Ansige, Abbot of Fontanelles, others give the credit to Eginhard, or Eginbertus, as his Lombard name is spelt; but as he does not claim it for himself in his writing,—indeed, we see from the above extract that he speaks quite impersonally of it,—there is certainly no documentary evidence to prove this assertion. Speaking dispassionately, it would be strange for a man of letters, private secretary to a great king, to suddenly develop into a full-fledged architect. It is much more likely that as he was a Lombard, he was interested in employing the builders whom all his countrymen had employed for centuries. D'Agincourt, who had a good deal of amour propre, and would, if he 104 could, always give glory to France, says (vol. i. p. 27, 139)—"It is natural to believe that the Italian architects whom Charlemagne had brought with him, designed the buildings they made for him in France, on the lines of those of their own country." Dartein, in his Lombard Architecture, writes of it—"If we inspect the octagonal half-domes which terminate the centre of the cross in S. Fedele at Como, we see that they reproduce the rotunda of Aix-la-Chapelle. The form of the shafts, the outline of the wall, and the disposition of the collateral vaults are alike in both edifices. The similarity is so great as to prove imitation, especially as other churches in the Rhone district remind one of churches in the territory of Como." The fact of similitude is significant, but is it not more likely that the imitation was the other way? S. Fedele, or S. Eufemia as it was first called, was built in S. Abbondio's time, A.D. 440, before the era of the Longobards, and we are told is the only church of that time which retains its original architecture, especially in the rounded apse. The similarity would then go to prove what has been an hypothesis, that Charlemagne really brought builders as well as marble from Italy, and that the Magistri Comacini were those builders.

The church has also been compared to S. Vitale at Ravenna, but the Comacines were accustomed to build circular churches, such as the Rotunda at Brescia, and others. They were generally used as baptisteries or mausoleums; in fact were ceremonial churches.

Aix-la-Chapelle was designed as the tomb of Charlemagne, and here the builders mingled the rotunda of the ceremonial church with the basilica for worship. The workmanship is much more rude than that of S. Vitale, where Greek artists were employed. It is easy to distinguish the parts added by the Comacines, from the classical and Byzantine imported adornments furnished by the spoils of 105 Rome and Ravenna. The Italians were not left entirely free in their designs, but had to conform to a more northern climate and different national taste; the windows were narrowed and elongated, and the pitch of the roof raised to a sharper angle. As Pliny had said to Mustio, his Comacine architect, seven centuries before—"You Magistri always know how to overcome difficulties of position," and Charlemagne's architects, in an equal degree, studied both climate and position. The further we go south or east the roofs have a tendency to flatten, the further we go north they have a tendency to rise into sharper gables. The cause is this, I take it—a climatic one. Where there is much rain or snow, the sloping roof is a necessity; therefore this first indication of pointed architecture, as adaptable to the northern climate, makes Charlemagne's church an interesting link between the Romano-Lombard and Gothic in the north: just as Romano-Lombard stands between the classic and Romanesque in the south. If Ansige suggested these modifications to the Italian builders, he had a wider office in the history of art than he knew; for Aix-la-Chapelle became the root from which the French and German so-called Gothic sprang; improved in the first instance under the hands of the Franchi-Muratori, who in the succeeding generations were called to work on churches in both countries. After all, the first step was but a slight one, being more a raising and narrowing of the round arch than the innovation of the pointed one. It might stand better as a first indication of the stilted Norman arch.

Of the civil architecture of the Carlovingian era we have very few instances remaining. The Emperor Charlemagne built no especial palace for himself, but used that of Luitprand at Milan, which in Charlemagne's time was known as Curtis domum imperatoris. An old chronicler tells us that he fortified Verona. He says—"In the time 106 when King Pepin was still young, the Huns or Avars invaded Italy. When Charlemagne heard of their approach he caused Verona to be fortified, and walls erected all round, with towers and moats; and with pali fissi fortified the city to its very foundations, leaving there his son Pepin." Forty-eight towers rise from these walls, of which eight are very high, the others well raised above the walls. These must have been what the old writer quaintly called pali fissi.

A diploma of Ludovic II., dated 814, proves that the walls of Piacenza also date from this era. It is in favour of his wife Analberg, giving her permission to incorporate a part of the walls into a monastery. It runs—"Of our own authority, we add to the monastery and give in perpetuity, all the steccato, internal and external, of the said wall of the city, from the foundations to the battlements, as much as extends from Porta Milano to the next postern gate; and not only this, but also the macie (rubble) which is found round the walls and ante-walls, and the same of the towers, gates, and posterns."

The use of hospices is much connected with Carlovingian times; they came in when the Church ruled, and pilgrimages became the fashion. The first hospices were in monasteries. In 752 S. Anselmo founded one for pilgrims at Nonantola, in Agro Mutinense. The council of Aquisgrana (Aix-la-Chapelle) made decrees as to the establishment of hospices, and Charlemagne made laws on the subject, "ut in omni regno nostro, neque pauper perigrinus hospitia denegare audeant." To the ordinary fine for homicide, Pepin II. added sixty soldi more if the person killed were a pilgrim. One who denied food and shelter to a pilgrim was fined three soldi. These humane provisions, like all such, soon became abused; so many non-religious people travelled on pilgrims' privileges, that at the end of Charlemagne's reign it was found necessary 107 to provide real pilgrims with a Tessera trattoria to prove their authenticity.

Among the earliest hospices might be mentioned the leper hospital founded in Classis near Ravenna in S. Apollinare's time, and one in Rome, founded by the Roman lady Fabiola for destitute or abandoned sick and poor. In 785 a certain Datheus, arch-priest at Milan, founded an exonodochio (home for destitute children), and Queen Amalasunta built a foundling hospital at Ravenna, in the sixth century. Charlemagne commanded that there should be a place in the peristyle of the churches for the reception of foundlings. The Loggia del Bigallo, though a later building, is a beautiful specimen of such a peristyle. 108


After the Carlovingian dynasty had withdrawn from Italy, the country had two or three centuries of troublous times, in which very few people thought of church-building, and if the Comacine Masters found work in their own land, it was more the building of castles and strongholds in their most solid opera gallica, than the sculpturing of saints or the rearing of gorgeous basilicæ.

After the Carlovingians came the House of Berengarius, which held the Italian throne from 888 to the intervention of Otho I. of Germany in 951. During this time there was always a military fermentation going on; Duke Guido of Spoleto fighting Berengarius; Arnolph and his son Sventebald fighting Guido; the Hungarians overrunning and sacking Italy on the north, where there were battles at Brenta, Garigliano, Firenzuola, and bloodshed generally till the murder of Berengarius.

Nor were things more peaceful in the south. Between A.D. 924 and 950 the Saracens invaded Sicily, and having established themselves there, assaulted Rome, and marched on towards the Alps.

In Central Italy the Dukes of Burgundy, Provence, and Bavaria were found contesting with Lothaire for the succession. At length, in 951, Otho came down from Germany and scattered them all, restoring comparative 109 peace for a time, though an arbitrary one; but it did not last long.

Next came superstitious fears; the poor battered Italians, demoralized by fierce human foes, succumbed entirely to the moral subjugator, superstition. They were firmly persuaded that the year 1000 should be the end of the world, and every activity, public and private, was paralyzed. It was only after that era had passed, and found Italy still existing, that new life began to stir in its inhabitants. Of course, fighting still continued, but these were holy wars—the Crusades, of which Urban II. preached the first in 1096. Then the art of sculpturesque architecture, which is the handmaid of religious enthusiasm, began to revive, and the Comacine Masters again had palmy days.

But they had not been entirely idle during these warlike times. Prof. Merzario says[83]

"In this darkness which extended over all Italy, only one small lamp remained alight, making a bright spark in the vast Italian necropolis. It was from the Magistri Comacini. Their respective names are unknown, their individual works unspecialized, but the breath of their spirit might be felt all through those centuries, and their name collectively is legion. We may safely say that of all the works of art between A.D. 800 and 1000, the greater and better part are due to that brotherhood—always faithful and often secret—of the Magistri Comacini. The authority and judgment of learned men justify the assertion."

Here Prof. Merzario quotes several of these uomini dottissimi. First, Quatremal de Quincy, in his Dictionary of Architecture, who, under the heading "Comacine," remarks that "to these men, who were both designers and executors, architects, sculptors, and mosaicists, may be attributed the renaissance of art, and its propagation in the 110 southern countries, where it marched with Christianity. Certain it is that we owe it to them, that the heritage of antique ages was not entirely lost, and it is only by their tradition and imitation that the art of building was kept alive, producing works which we still admire, and which become surprising when we think of the utter ignorance of all science in those dark ages." Our English writer, Hope, taking their later appellative of Lombards, credits Lombardy with being the cradle of the associations of Freemasons, "who were," he says, "the first after Roman times to enrich architecture with a complete and well-ordinated system, which dominated wherever the Latin Church extended its influence from the shores of the Baltic to those of the Mediterranean."[84] We will omit the witnesses, Kugler of Germany and Ramée of France, and take the Italian great authority, Pietro Selvatico.[85] He notes that art in Europe, from the seventh to the thirteenth century, consisted of a combination of Byzantine and Roman elements, but in the ninth century a third element mingled, which had in itself so much that was original, as to constitute an independent style. "This," he goes on to say, "was the Lombard or Comacine architecture, as it is called, which is distinguished by its low-pitched roofs, its circular arches, rounded on columns, which assimilate to the Greek and Roman styles. This gained a certain systematic unity after the first half of the ninth century." Prof. Selvatico seems to have ignored all the Comacine architecture under the Longobards, who were certainly the nurses of the guild, and takes it up just when it was freeing itself from the bonds of superstitious tradition, i.e. the transition between Roman-Lombard and Romanesque.


Comacine Capital in San Zeno, Verona, emblematizing Man clinging to Christ (the Palm).

See page 111.

No doubt the genealogy of the style was this. First, the Comacines continued Roman traditions as the Romans continued Etruscan ones; next, they orientalized their style by their connection with the East through Aquileia, and the influx of Greek exiles into the guild. Later came a different influence through the Saracens into the South, and the Italian-Gothic was born.

The Comacine art of the interregnum after Charlemagne may be judged by the church of S. Zeno at Verona. This had been rebuilt in 810 by King Pepin, whose palace was in Verona. His church fell a prey to the devastation dealt by the Huns in 924, and Bishop Rothair restored it in the tenth century, the Emperor Otho the First furnishing the funds. There was a third restoration in 1139, when the present front and portico were added. The general form of Otho's church still remains, and shows the usual "three naves" (emblematical of the Trinity), and the circular arches supported by alternate columns and pilasters. The roof, as in all the older Lombard churches, was of wood, and not vaulted. It is not recorded whence Otho obtained his architects, but though no names are written, the Comacine mark is there. Later restorations have wiped out most of the old signs, but they have left us some capitals on the columns and the reliefs on the arches leading into the crypt under the tribune. Two of the columns are here illustrated. In one may be seen human figures clinging to palm-branches, by which the Magister who carved it symbolized man clinging to Christ. The other is a veritable Comacine knot, formed of mystic winged creatures, with their serpent tails entwined. On the arches of the crypt are a wealth of mediæval imaginings, mystic beasts, Christian symbols, scriptural characters and ancient myths, all mingled together as only a Freemason of the Middle Ages could mingle them. Otho's architects were certainly Magistri of our guild, and probably our friend 112 from Pontida, who called on S. Zeno to save him from the brigands, was one of them.

It is undeniable that later Comacines put the elegant façade to the church in 1139, when Magistri Nicolaus and Guglielmus carved the wonderful porch with its columns resting on lions, and its very mediæval reliefs, in which we see Theodoric, King of the Goths, going straight to the devil in the guise of a wild huntsman. On the architraves are allegorical reliefs of the twelve months. But this front is not of the era we are now discussing, and we shall mention it again.

A work which is indubitably of the ninth century, and has all the marks of the time, is the atrium of S. Ambrogio at Milan, which was a commission to Magister Adam of the Comacines, by Anspert of Bissone, who was Archbishop of Milan from 868 to 881. The atrium of a church was anciently used for the catechumens, as they were not admitted into the body of the church till they were baptized. The atrium of S. Ambrogio is a square space surrounded by a portico composed of columns supporting round arches. The proportions are so fine and majestic that it is looked on as the best mediæval edifice existing in Lombard style. The capitals are composed of foliage, strange ornaments, and groups of grotesque animals and monsters rudely sculptured; and yet with the imperfect chiselling there is such a freedom of design and wealth of imagination as you find in no Byzantine work, however precise its execution. We give an illustration of one of its capitals. The Comacine intreccio is there, but floriated and luxurious. The significance of these sculptures, though unintelligible to us, is believed to be the occult and conventional art language of the Comacines or Freemasons. On the doorway, among the foliage and symbolic animals, one may still read the name of "Adam Magister."

Capital in the Atrium of S. Ambrogio, Milan. By Magister Adam.

See page 112.

Another very important church of the ninth century is 113 the cathedral of Grado, near Venice, which had been first built between 571-586, seemingly by Byzantine artists, though they also used old classical capitals from former buildings. The plan of this Basilica in its older form shows very clearly the leaning to one side which we have said was a symbol of Christ's head being turned in pain on the Cross. Here not only the left aisle reaches higher up than the right, but the wall of the façade slopes considerably. In the ninth century Fortunato, Patriarch of Grado, who lived about 828, sent for artefici Franchi[86] to restore the Baptistery of S. Giovanni on the island which was the metropolis of maritime Venice. Now what were these artefici Franchi? It is clear they could not have been French, for Charlemagne himself had to get builders from Lombardy, his own country not having as yet enough skill in masonry. It is natural to suppose they were the guild from Cisalpine Gaul, which though composed of Italians had been styled "Lombards" while under the Lombard kings, and may have been "Franchi" while the Carlovingian kings ruled. They were known as "Tedeschi" when later they were under the protection of the German emperors, a term which puzzled old Vasari greatly. It is still a question whether the real interpretation would not be the literal one, Free-masons, who may well have been recalled from France where they were at work.

The wording of a phrase in the will of the Patriarch Fortunato, where he says "feci venire magistros de Francia," shows plainly that he referred to architects belonging to a guild in which the higher orders were called Magistri.

Having begun to work at Grado, the Lombards were evidently employed in other Venetian churches. Their style is said to be very evident in the Duomo of Murano, 114 but how much they did, and whether they worked with Eastern or other architects, will, I suppose, never be precisely known.

A curious little church of this epoch is existing in almost its original form at a village called Abadia, near Sesto Calende on Lake Maggiore. It has a crypt and a portico, three naves and three apses.[87] The crypt is supported on round arches and small thin columns, the roof is of wood. The portico has three arcades resting on columns and pilasters with capitals of Lombard-Byzantine style.

We find the guild at work not only in the north, but in the south of Italy at this epoch. One of the famous buildings in South Italy with which the Comacine Masters were connected, is the celebrated monastery of Monte Cassino with its church. This monastery had been built in the first instance by a Brescian named Petronax, who made a pilgrimage to Rome to see Pope Gregory II. The Pope urged Petronax to go to Monte Cassino where St. Benedict was buried. He went and there was inspired to found a monastery.

By the beginning of the eleventh century this had been much ruined by the Saracens and others, and Desiderius its abbot, in 1066, decided to restore it. He was of the race of the Lombard Dukes of Beneventum, was a friend of Pope Gregory VII., and became his successor on the papal throne under the name of Victor III. Desiring that his church should be a very "majestic temple," he sent to call artificers from Amalfi and from Lombardy.[88] Among the Italians was a certain Andrea, from Serra di Falco, near Como, a fine worker in metal, who, with his disciples, made the bronze doors.


Some interesting baptisteries were erected in the tenth century by the Comacines. The baptistery at this time seems to have had a set form—the octagon; and a mystical significance, that figure being highly symbolical of the Trinity, being formed by a conjunction of three triangles. In the earlier days of the Romano-Lombard style, the baptistery generally had only a small arcade, or row of brackets supporting arches round the outer wall beneath the roof, and a practicable gallery round the interior. Of this shape was the Florentine Baptistery, that of Como and many others.

When the later Comacines worked in more florid Romanesque style, the Baptisteries were often covered with little galleries or rows of colonnettes like those of Pisa, Parma, Lucca, etc.

A fine specimen of Lombard work of about 1000 A.D., or a little later, which shows the approach towards a more Gothic style, may be seen in the cloister of Voltorre, a little walled town on Lake Varese. The cloister of Voltorre is thus described—"The beauty of this eleventh-century Lombard building is singular. The four sides are formed of porticoes which sustain the upper storey. The porticoes facing the open court are formed on one side of small graceful arches in brick, with friezes and reliefs sustained by elegant colonnettes, some round and some octangular, with capitals of various forms. On two other sides the colonnettes are smaller and shorter, but still graceful; they terminate in varied and bizarre capitals surmounted by a kind of bracket on which the large stones of the upper building rest. Among the sculptures of the little columns on the left as one enters the court, is incised in mediæval characters and abbreviations the following—'Lanfrancus magister filius Dom. Ersatii de Livurno.'" Livurno most probably stands for Ligurno, a place a few miles from Voltorre. So our master Lanfranco Ersatti, having graduated in the Comacine 116 Guild, set himself to embellish his native place. In 1099 Magister Lanfranco designed the Duomo of Modena, which, as will be seen hereafter, was the work of centuries, he being followed by a long series of architects.

Then came more troublous times for the Comacines in their own country. From 1118 to 1127 A.D. the republic of Como was at fierce war with the Milanese. A long poem by a Comacine poet, quoted by Muratori, describes the workmen and artisans fighting in the streets in their working dress, and wielding any tool or weapon they could find. The masons and builders worked as sappers and miners, dug the trenches, built up barricades, and destroyed the enemy's houses and castles. One of these brave citizens, named Giovanni Buono, is especially mentioned by the ancient poet, and he is peculiarly connected with the Comacine Masters as the first of a long line of Magisters of the Buono family. He forms a tangible link between the half-traditional Comacines of Lombard times, and the more clearly defined guild of the Romanesque epoch. From that to the Italian Gothic period their identity is traceable by documents. A warlike bishop, Guidone, was the leader of the Comacines, but after three years' war he fell ill, and on his death-bed prophesied the fall of his fatherland.

The Comacines were indeed at the end of their resources, they were exhausted of means, of food, and of warriors; and after several victories at length fell under the power of the Milanese, becoming a tributary state. But it was not till Milan had called in the aid of several other cities that brave little Como succumbed to her on August 27, 1127. She was not enslaved even then, and must have retained her political freedom, for we find her siding with Frederic Barbarossa in 1167, against the whole Lombard League, to her cost, for she was a great sufferer in the battle of Legnano on May 29, 1176.

Barbarossa tried to make some compensation, by ceding 117 to Como the castles of Baradello and Olona. A coin exists, of the Como mint of that time, with an eagle and Imp. Federicus on one side, and Cumanus populus on the other. Frederic had reason to cultivate the Comaschi, for they sent 200 ships to the Venetian war for him. An edict of Barbarossa's in 1159, and another dated 1175, shows that he allowed the Comacines to rebuild their walls and city at that date, civitatem in cineres collapsam funditos re ædificavimus nos. This occupied them a long time. The tower towards Milan bears the date of 1192. The round tower that of 1250. There were eight gates in these new walls. 119




The great building guild of the Middle Ages had another connection with France, independently of Charlemagne, and one which perhaps left a more lasting impression on the nation than the church of Aix-la-Chapelle. It was through the Normans, who held a prominent place in the history of Romanesque art, some authors giving them the credit of its introduction into Italy.

This may be, but between the tenth and twelfth centuries architecture and sculpture underwent so many transformations and became mingled with so many different elements that its history is most difficult to disentangle. There was a maze of different influences brought together in Sicily, such as Norman, solid and heavy, from the north; Byzantine, set and precise, from the east; Saracenic, warm and fanciful, from the south—all mingling together in the temples of Monreale and Palermo, where I think we may add a fourth and Italian element, in the Comacines or Lombards.

The first consideration is: How did the Norman architecture first arise? Was it indigenous? Did the Normans about the tenth and eleventh centuries suddenly begin building round-arched and pillared churches from their own inner consciousness?—for all histories assure us there were no stone Norman-arched buildings before the tenth century, and that by 1150 the pointed style had already begun to supersede it. All the great and typical examples are 122 crowded into the last fifty years of the eleventh century, at which time the Norman dukes were very powerful. It was a time of enterprise and excitement of all kinds, not the least of them being the rage for church-building, awakened by the early missionaries.

The West Door of St. Bartholomew, Smithfield, showing the Comacine style of building (opus gallicum).
(From a photograph by Mr. Freeman Dovaston, Oswestry.)

See page 124.

Some light may be thrown on the way the round arch first got into Normandy, by the following bits of old Norman chronicles, which show that a very important event took place in the history of the Comacines at the end of the tenth century, connecting them in a remarkable and suggestive manner with the rise of Norman architecture. We find from old chronicles that S. Guillaume, Abbot of S. Benigne in Dijon, was a Lombard, born in 961 on the island of Santa Giulia, in Lago di Orta, part of Lago Maggiore. He was the son of a certain Roberto, Lord of Volpiano; Otho the Great himself had been his godfather at the time when he besieged the island, and took prisoner Willa, wife of King Berengarius. Guillaume (William) was, as his friend and biographer, Glabrius Rodolphus, tells us, "of a keen intellect, and well instructed in the liberal arts." In his youth he travelled much in Italy, and was often at Venice, where he formed a close friendship with Orso Orseolo, Patriarch of Aquileja. The Patriarch Orso was at that time engaged in the restoration of the church of Torcello, one of the gems of architecture of the age; while his brother, the Doge Otho Orseolo, was pressing forward the works of S. Marco at Venice. It was here probably that S. Guillaume was interested in the Masonic guild, and recognizing its power as an aid to mission work, would have joined it. He founded the famous monastery of S. Benigno di Fruttuaria in Piedmont, and towards the end of the tenth century he went to France with the venerable Abbot of Cluny; here he decided to build a monastery to S. Benigne in Dijon, which he himself designed. But to effect his design he had to send to 123 Italy, his own country, for "many people, men of letters, masters of divers arts, and others full of science."[89] The chronicler goes on to say that Guillaume displayed much wisdom in bringing these masters (magistri conducendo) to superintend the work (ipsum opus dictando). These two phrases are identical with those of Article 145 in the Edict of Rotharis, and I think might be equivalent to a proof that the Italians who built S. Benigne at Dijon were indeed of the Comacine Guild. The chroniclers further tell us that the Abbot Guillaume was invited to Normandy by Duke Richard II., to "found monasteries and erect buildings." The very phrase implies his connection with, and command of architects. He at first refused, because he had heard that the Dukes of Normandy were barbarous and truculent, and more likely to deface than to erect sacred temples; but afterwards he decided to go. He stayed there twenty years, founding forty monasteries, and restoring old ones, which were in those days chiefly built of wood. "He had many of his Italian monks trained to continue the work he had begun. These propagated such love and taste for art in those rude and bold Normans, that stone buildings multiplied there, and when William of Normandy conquered England, the style passed over with him." Hope, whose judgment is unerring on all subjects connected with the Lombard style, confirms this. He says[90] that some time before the style came into England, Normandy had given remarkable models of a tutto-sesto (round-arched) or Lombard style, and that the same precedence is noticeable in the pointed or composite style. Indeed, the English owe to the Normans the erection of many fine edifices of 124 both kinds. Thus some gave the name of Norman to the Gothic buildings and others gave it to Lombard ones, and it was imagined that the pointed arch came originally from Normandy. And yet Normandy was one of the stations of pointed architecture in its pilgrimage towards us from the south. As an illustration and convincing proof of this pedigree of Norman style from the Lombard, we may give one of our oldest so-called Norman churches, that of St. Bartholomew the Great at Smithfield, London. The original nave has vanished, but the tribune remains, divested, it is true, of the two great piers in front of the apse, which were removed in 1410. The semi-circle of the apse has, however, been replaced in the old style; and, with its pillared arches and ambulatory, harmonizes well with the ancient part, now the nave, which is perfectly Lombard. The ambulatories below, and the women's gallery, such as we find in St. Agnes at Rome, and many Comacine churches, both have a distinctly Italian origin. Even the stilted arches in the choir only seem in their outline like magnified Lombard windows. The masonry is the true Comacine style, great square-cut blocks of stone, smoothed and fitted with exact precision; while the windows of the triforium are clearly a four-light development of the two-light Lombard window, divided by its small column; the very form of the column is identical, though it lacks the sculpture. Probably the Italian artists were few, and English assistants not yet trained. The clerestory was a reflex of a later style, being added in 1410, to replace the so-called Norman one, which no doubt had the usual round-arched windows with a column in the centre. Indeed, I think it would be worth the while of archæologists to find out whether the whole church were not originally built by Italian architects, as Rahere, its founder, was in Rome on a pilgrimage, when he fell very ill of fever, and vowed to build a hospital if he recovered. He soon after had a 125 vision of St. Bartholomew, who instructed him to return to London, and build a church in the suburbs of Smithfield. He founded both the church and hospital of St. Bartholomew in about 1123. There seems to me to be such a difference between this church and other more heavy Norman contemporary buildings, that it might be suspected Rahere followed the older example of St. Wilfrid and St. Benedict Biscop, and brought over the Comacines with him.

South Side of the Choir, St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield.
(From a photograph by Mr. Freeman Dovaston, Oswestry.)

See page 124.

I cannot agree with Mr. Fergusson in his assertion that the members of the early Freemason guilds were only masons, and never designed the works entrusted to them, but always worked under the guidance of some superior person, whether he were a bishop or abbot, or an accomplished layman. Certainly the architects who worked for the Longobards must also have sometimes given the design, or what do the words opus dictando mean in the Edict of Rotharis? Surely Theodolinda could not have been architect enough to draw the plan for Monza. Nor do I think that the word Magistro in the masonic or any other art guild, applied to mere masons or underlings, but to those who were so far masters of their craft as to direct others, and make a working plan for them. The bishop or abbot, or educated layman, might have formed his own idea about the style he wished his building to take, and have made a sketch of it; but the practical working plan would have been drawn by the Magister, who directed his workmen or colligantes to put it into execution.

It is true that many ecclesiastics were, like the monks of S. Guillaume at Dijon and other Dominicans, members of the Masonic guilds, and were accordingly versed in the science of architecture. In that case the monk, when he became bishop or abbot, might furnish a plan, and very often did so. Fra Sisto and Fra Ristori built Santa Maria Novella in Florence; but they were connected with the Florentine lodge, so their doing so would certainly be no 126 proof that the Masters of the guild could not have done equally well themselves.

That the oldest churches in Normandy have a great affinity to Lombard buildings is evident on examination. See the Lombard-shaped windows in the towers of St. Stephen's at Caen; the exterior of the circular apse of St. Nicholas, Caen, which still keeps its original hexagonal form, with pilasters like slight columns running from ground to roof at each division, and a colonnade surrounding it of perfect Lombard double-arched form, with a small pillar in the centre of each. (See Fergusson's Architecture.)

The local Norman developments are equally well defined in this building; the usual little Lombard gallery beneath the roof has given way to large, deep, circular-headed windows, and the roof has taken the high pitch natural to the climate. Both of these are climatic distinctions; the northerner aiming at more light, the southerner trying to shut out the sun: the damp climate, of course, necessitated the sloping roof.

Now, before the Normans came back to Italy they had made Italian architecture their own, and impressed on it their own character, rugged and robust, and it was so different to the buildings in South Italy with which they have been accredited, that I think this theory will have to be revised. The arts were certainly not influenced in Sicily by the first Norman invasion in 1058 under Roger I., son of Tancred, he being entirely a bellicose and rough warrior. It was when the Normans had taken root there, had become more softened, and had formed a settled government; in fact, after Roger II. had been crowned King of Apulia and Sicily in 1130, that they began to give their minds to artistic architecture. This was a century and a half after Abbot Guillaume took his countrymen over to build at Dijon. The first stone of the Duomo of Cefalù was laid in 1131, and the royal palace 127 of Palermo begun during the next year. Under Roger's successors the fine churches of Martorana, and the cathedral of Monreale in 1172, the cathedral of Palermo (1185), and the palace of Cuba arose. An Italian writer, La Lumia, is very enthusiastic over the Duomo of Monreale—"that visigoth (sic) art which had in Normandy erected the cathedrals of Rouen, Bayeux, etc., multiplied in Monreale the ogival forms which had been known and practised in Sicily since the sixth century,[91] and took its upward flight in towers and bold spires. In the mosaics and decorations the majestic Arabic art espoused Byzantine and Christian types. The varied and multiplex association has impressed on these works an impront both singular and stupendous. The columns show the ruins of pagan classicism, the incredible profusion of marbles, verd-antique, and porphyry speak of a rich and florid political state; while the solemn mystery of those sublime arcades, profound lines and symbolic forms; the dim religious light, the ecstatic figures of prophets and saints with the gigantic Christ over the altar offering benediction to men, all shadow forth the mediæval idea of Christianity—full and ingenuous faith, vivified by conquest."

Then he goes on grandiloquently to say—"The names of the builders are unknown to us, and we need not trouble to seek them: a generation and era is here with all its soul made visible, with all its vigorous and fruitful activity."

But if we cannot find the names it would at least be interesting to know whether the Norman-Siculo architecture were entirely the work of the Normans or not. Gravina, Boitò, and other Italian writers think that the Normans took a similar position in Sicily to that of the earlier Longobards in the north, i.e. that they were the 128 patrons, and employed the artists whom they found in Sicily.

Merzario,[92] giving as his authority Michele Amari,[93] brings forward as a suggestive fact, that precisely at the time of the Norman occupation, there was a large emigration into Sicily of members of the Lombard or Comacine Guild. Amari thinks that the feudal government of the Normans at that time did not allow their subjects to emigrate from land to land (excepting of course their armies for purposes of conquest), while in North Italy feudalism was going out, and with the establishment of republics the movement of the inhabitants was freer. "This," he says, "accounts for the so-called colonies of Lombards, which came to Sicily at that time, but of which, unfortunately, we have no reliable historical evidence."

These Lombardo-Siculan colonies, however, have been clearly traced by an Italian writer, Lionardo Vigo, in his Monografia critica delle colonie Lombardo sicule.[94] He has proved that there were four Lombard colonies in Sicily. That the first went down with Ardoin and Mania, between 1002, when, on Otho's death, Ardoin was elected King of Italy, and his retirement to S. Benigno in 1013 after his long struggle with Henry II. The second was during the Norman conquest of Sicily in 1061; the third later in the century, at the time of the union of the Norman and Swabian dynasties; and the fourth about 1188 under the Emperor Frederic,—this colony was led by Addo di Camerana.

The first two colonies left no lasting traces in the island, but the third founded the town of Maniace, and the last planted a settled colony which has left its mark, not only in the language, but in the many Lombard place-names. 129 Thus there are in Sicily villages named Carona, Gagliano, Novara, Palazzolo, Padernò, Piazza, Sala, and Scopello, all of which are names of older places in the Comacine territory. Another name, "Sanfratelli" (the holy brethren), is very suggestive of the patron saints of the Lombard Guild, the "Quattro Incoronati." It is in this district precisely that Signor Vigo finds a special language, which has no affinity with Sicilian, or central Italian, and which he describes as a "hybrid, bastard language; a decayed Longobardic, only intelligible to those who use it; a frightful jargon and perfectly satanic tongue."

In the same volume of the Archivio Storico Siciliano is another collection of documents, regarding an episode of the war between the Latin and Catalonian factions at Palermo in the time of Ludovico of Aragon, about 1349. It shows in a list of volunteers, several names of Magistri which seem to be familiar to us. Here is Magister Nicolao Mancusio, Magister Guillelmo, Magister Nicolao de Meraviglia, Magister Chicco, Magister Juliano Guzù, Magister Roberto de Juncta (Giunta), Magister Vitalis, both from the Pisan lodge, Julianus Cuccio, Salvo di Pietro, etc. We find that Benedictus de Siri, a Lombard, was paid for twenty soldiers for ten days. Again on July 31, 1349, among the payments made to those who fought to defend Vicari during the siege, we find Magister Vanni di Bologna, Paulo de Boni, Magister Gaddi, Magister Benedicto de Lencio (Lenzo near Como), and Johanni de Gentile, and various others, all mixed up with ordinary folks who have no magic Master before their names. This seems to imply that the Lombard colony at that time had been long enough in Sicily to be nationalized, and that they furnished men for the war like any other citizens.

In some cases the payments are made to the heirs of Magister Johanne or Vitale, thus proving them to have become possessed of property. This was a privilege 130 accorded to the Comacine Masters even in feudal times, when other classes were bound and enslaved. From the example of Magister Rodpert, the Longobard who sold his land at Toscanella many centuries before, we judge that when the Comacine remained long in a place, he made use of his earnings to buy land. Indeed in those days when no banks existed, landed property was the only secure disposition for wealth. And having bought his house and vineyards, it was but natural that he should name the estate after his own native place in Lombardy.

It is gratifying to find these direct proofs of the constant presence of the Lombard Masters in Sicily during the whole Norman and Swabian dynasties. It accounts for so much. It accounts for the so-called Norman architecture in Sicily having so much more affinity to Italian forms than to French-Norman; and it accounts for the Saracenic cast which Lombard architecture took after that era. The influence was a lasting one, and showed itself in all the subsequent work of the guild, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Was this influence imbibed by the Normans who are said to have caused it? Evidently not.

Was Norman architecture proper, in the north of Europe, immediately changed? Not at all. It remained the same through all the Norman rule from Robert Guiscard to the fall of the line. It was not till the thirteenth century that the elegant pointed Gothic found its way into England—but not through Normandy—and took the place of the solid round-arched, short-pillared buildings introduced by William the Conqueror. We have seen that this round-arched style was first taught the Normans by the Italian builders whom the Abbot Guillaume brought northward with him.

But the Lombard influence in France was not confined to Normandy nor to Aix-la-Chapelle. Hope, the English 131 authority on Lombard architecture, who spent eight years studying European churches, finds many a sign of Lombard handiwork on French soil. At Tournus is an abbey church of extremely interesting Lombard form. Fergusson[95] thus describes it—"Its antiquity is manifested by the rudeness both of its design and execution. The nave is separated from the aisles by plain cylindrical columns without bases, the capitals of which are joined by circular arches at the height of the vaults of the aisle. From the capitals rise dwarf columns supporting arches thrown across the nave. From one of these arches to another is thrown a tunnel vault which runs the cross way of the building, being in fact a series of arches like those of a bridge extending the whole length of the nave." Here we have, I believe, the first step towards the vaulted roof of the later Gothic buildings. The church of Ainay at Lyons, is said by Fergusson to be very similar to this.

Then there is the cathedral of Avignon in Provence, with its octagonal cupola, and its porch of Charlemagne's era in Romano-Lombard style. It is not unlikely that the earliest Provençal churches were built by Italian architects, for Avignon was closely connected with the Papacy at that time, and the Popes as we know were the especial patrons of the Masonic guild.

In the church of S. Trophime at Arles we have distinct signs of the Comacines, in the lion-supported columns of the central porch, and the frieze of sculpture above. There are three richly-sculptured porches; the central door is divided in two like a Lombard window, by a slight column which rests on kneeling figures, and has angels carved in the capital. The richly ornate architrave has lions on each side of it.

The church at Cruas in Provence has three apses with Lombard archlets round them all. Its dome is surrounded by a colonnade, and a superimposed round turret with 132 Lombard windows. The tower has the usual double-arched windows.

Provence shows some beautiful specimens of Italian cloisters, at Aix, at Arles, and at Fontifroide. The latter has a row of arches supported by double columns of elegant slightness, and with foliaged capitals of varied form and great freedom of design. Fergusson says that the freedom and boldness are unrivalled. The cloister at Elne is still more varied and unique; the capitals mix up Egyptian, classic, and mediæval art in a manner truly unique.

As for towers, those left in Provence show a distinctly Lombard style. The tower at Puissalicon near Beziers is perfect in every particular, with its pillared Lombard windows increasing in width and lightness as they ascend.

From Provence, the land of the Popes, the Comacines penetrated further into France. The church of S. Croix at Bordeaux, attributed to William the Good, Duke of Aquitaine, who died in 877, has its round-arched porch, decorated with a profusion of Comacine intrecci of intertwined vines; and spiral pilasters grouped at the angles. Hope quotes the façade of the cathedral of San Pietro at Angoulême, as the finest Lombard one existing. There are numerous files of round arches, on elegant little columns, statues in niches, rich bas-reliefs, friezes, and arabesques. The nave is divided into three portions, each with a cupola. In this we see another step forward towards the vaulted roof. At Tournus the arches are simply thrown across the three divisions of the nave; here they are arched into the shape of a dome. The tower is entirely Lombard in form. There are Lombard churches at Poictiers, Puy, Auxerre, Caen, Poissy, Compiègne, etc., in all of which the style is perfectly distinct from the Norman, as it was then developed; and also from the later Gothic. 133


The heading of this chapter implies nothing that can impugn the claims of the Teutons to the perfecting of the Gothic style, which claims are undoubtedly fair. It only implies that the pointed Gothic architecture was not an invention of the Germans, so much as a national development of some earlier form; and, like all developments, must have had some link connecting it with that earlier source. Was the Comacine Guild that link? Legends and traditions pointing to it are many, but, as usual, absolute proofs are few. Some proofs might be found if, with a clue in one's hand, search could be made among the archives of the German cities in which round-arched Lombard-style churches were built before the pointed Gothic and composite style came in. Some German savant should sift out certain traditions, which, from want of authorities and unfamiliarity with the language, I am not able to do. These are—

Firstly: That St. Boniface came to Italy before proceeding on his mission to Germany in A.D. 715, and that Pope Gregory II. gave him his credentials, instructions, etc., and sent with him a large following of monks, versed in the art of building, and of lay brethren who were also architects, to assist them.[96] This is the precise method in which St. Augustine and St. Benedict Biscop were equipped and sent 134 to their missions in England, and S. Guillaume to his bishopric in Normandy. What resulted in England from the missions of St. Augustine, St. Wilfrid, and St. Benedict? The cathedral of Canterbury, the abbeys of Hexham, Lindisfarne and others—all distinctly Lombard buildings. What did S. Guillaume do in Normandy? He built the churches of Caen, Dijon, etc., also in pure Lombard style, not in the heavier Norman by which the natives followed it. So in Germany we hear that among the bishoprics founded by St. Boniface were Cologne, Worms, and Spires,[97] precisely the cities which have remains of the earliest churches in Lombard style. There are many other German churches, now fine Gothic buildings, whose crypts and portals show remains of older round-arched buildings.

Secondly: It is necessary to discover the precise connection of the Emperors Charlemagne, Otho, and the German monarchs who successively ruled in Lombardy, with the Masonic guild there. Whether, as they employed them in the Italian part of their kingdom, they did not also employ them across the Alps.

Thirdly: To find out whether, when Albertus Magnus went back to Cologne from Padua, he had not become a Magister in the Masonic guild, as many monks were, and whether he propagated the tenets of the brotherhood in Germany.

Certain proof exists that he designed the choir of the cathedral there, if nothing more. He also wrote a book entitled Liber Constructionum Alberti, which afterwards became the handbook for Gothic work. It is probable that this was in great part borrowed from an earlier Italian work on the construction of churches, named L' Arcano Magistero. This, however, was a secret book of the guild, and was kept most strictly in the hands of the 135 Magistri themselves. Kügler relates that in 1090 a citizen of Utrecht killed a bishop, who had taken L' Arcano Magistero away from his son who was an architect. I am strongly of opinion that Albertus Magnus was much connected with the importation of Freemasons into Germany.

Fourthly: To discover whether in the cities where great buildings went on for many years, there remains any trace of the same threefold Masonic organization, which we find in the Italian cathedral-building towns; and whether the administration thereof was jointly managed by the Magistri or head architects, and the patrons or civic authorities of the city in which the buildings were carried on.

All these things can only be verified, in case the works of contemporary chroniclers still exist, or if there remain any traces of archives of so early a date.

As far as style in building goes to prove anything, the Lombards certainly preceded the native Gothic architects in Germany. Hope enumerates several churches, such as those at Spires, Worms, Zurich, and several old ones at Cologne, built before or about the Carlovingian era, which have every sign of Lombard influence.

The Gross Münster of Zurich was begun in 966 as a thank-offering of the Emperor Otho for his victories in Italy, and its plan, arches, windows, towers (excepting only the climatic addition of the pointed roofs) are all in Lombard style. The cloister adjoining it is very Italian, with its double columns and its sculptured capitals. Now, as Otho granted a special charter to the Masonic guild of Lombardy, it is natural to suppose that when he wanted a church built, he would employ this valuable class of his new subjects. At Basle we have a distinct sign of the Comacine Masters in the intrecci and other symbols sculptured round the Gallus-pforte of the cathedral, while 136 in the crypt are two carved lions which were once beneath the columns of the door. They were removed in the restoration of the cathedral, after the earthquake of 1356. These lions are precisely the counterparts of those in the doorways of Modena and Verona. But it is at Cologne, the city of Albertus Magnus, that the Lombard style is unmistakable. Can one look at the three apses of the churches of the Apostles and of St. Martin, with the round arches encircling them, and little pillared galleries above, or at the double-arched windows in the towers, without at once recalling the Romanesque churches of Lucca, Arezzo, and Pisa, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries?[98]

Santa Maria del Campidoglio at Cologne, which was founded by Plectrude, wife of Pepin, has the same Lombard galleries running round the apses, and Cunibert's church in its western door shows not only pure Comacine sculpture, but the characteristic lion of Judah between the column and the arch. S. Andrea and S. Pantaleone, both founded in 954 by Bishop Bruno, brother of Otho the Great, were in the same style. This group of buildings all in one city, and all founded under the Emperors who ruled in Italy, surely suggest that when Charlemagne took over the builders for Aix-la-Chapelle, they as usual left their school and laborerium there, and that Otho and his successors in their turn had not far to go for architects.

Palazzo del Popolo and Palazzo Comunale, Todi.

See pages 137 and 257.

If their churches are not enough, the civil architecture of that epoch also affords proof of Lombard influence in Germany. Compare the windows and style of the ancient dwelling-house at Cologne which Fergusson illustrates, p. 590, with those of any Lombard building whatsoever, from the Palace of King Desiderius in the eighth century to the Bargello of Florence in the thirteenth, and you will find them identical. The only German innovation is in the high gabled roof. Again, compare St. Elizabeth's home, 137 the Castle on the Wartburg, with the ancient Communal Palace at Todi, or at Perugia, or other Lombard building of the twelfth century, and its genesis will at once be seen.[99]

Ferd. Pitou, author of the fine monograph on the Cathedral of Strasburg, confirms the presence of Italian builders in Germany, not only in the time of the Carlovingians and the line of Otho, but also in the later times of the Swabian dynasty. He says, when speaking of the works at Strasburg, that "colonies of artisans, chiefly sent from Lombardy and other parts, where church-building was prevalent, accompanied the monks and ecclesiastics who directed the work. These spiritual leaders, however, had all the glory of the buildings up to about the end of the twelfth century, when ogival architecture arose. These Lombard colonies pushed on beyond the Rhine, to the Elbe, the Oder, and the Vistula, and even penetrated to the forests and lands of Sarmatia and Scythia."

There seems little doubt that the German lodges founded by the Comacine emigrations took root, and became in time entirely national. Traditions are many, and most of them point back to Italy. For instance, legend says a brotherhood of stone-carvers existed in Spires and Bamberg from the time when those cathedrals were begun. Others say that Albertus Magnus on his return from Padua formed the first Masonic association in Germany, making special laws and obtaining especial privileges for the immense number of builders he collected to put into execution his cathedral at Cologne.[100] Again, L' Abbé de Grandidier, writing to a lady in November 1778, tells her that he has discovered an ancient document three centuries old, which shows that the much-boasted society of the Freemasons is nothing but a servile imitation of an ancient and humble confraternity of real builders whose seat was anciently in 138 Strasburg. Hope, however, says that the Strasburg lodge, which was the earliest acknowledged German one, was first recognized by a legal act executed at Ratisbon in 1458, and that the Emperor Maximilian ratified and confirmed the act by a diploma given at Strasburg in 1498.

My theory is this, that in their early emigrations the Comacine Masters founded the usual lodges; that the Germans entered their schools and became masters in their turn; that in the end the German interest outweighed the foreign element in the brotherhood, and the Germans, wishing to nationalize an art which they had so greatly developed, split off from the universal Masonic Association, as the Sienese builders did in Siena in the fourteenth century, and formed a distinct national branch: that this decisive break probably took place at Strasburg, and that other lodges followed suit and nationalized themselves in their turn. No doubt some German searcher into archives may arise, who will do for Cologne and Strasburg what Milanesi has done for Siena, and Cesare Guasti for Florence, and so throw light on the complicated organization of patrons, architects, builders, and sculptors which banded together under one rule, to build the multiplex and grand old cathedrals. 139


Wherever the Romans planted colonies, there they established Collegia; without its colleges Roman society was incomplete; the Collegium was an element essential to Roman life.

The Collegium was a corporation or guild of persons associated in support of a common object; there were colleges of artists, of architects, builders, and artisans, as well as colleges associated with the administration and government, with religion and law.

The Collegium consisted of Collegæ or sodales (fellows, as we should term them), with a president who was styled "Magister"; the Collegium was recognized by the State, which confirmed the regulations made by the members for the government of their body, provided they were in conformity with the laws of the land. There is evidence that Roman Collegia were established in Britain shortly after its conquest by the Romans, and there was certainly a Collegium fabrorum in Britain in the reign of Claudius, the first Roman emperor to whom the island 140 was subject. Under the direction of the Roman college, the Britons as builders reached a high degree of excellence in their craft, "so that when the cities of the empire of Gaul and the fortresses on the Rhine were destroyed, Constantius Chlorus, A.D. 298, sent to Britain for and employed British architects in repairing and re-edifying them" (Archæologia, vol. ix. p. 100).

Mr. Coote affirms that Collegia existed here after the final departure of the Romans from the island, and that the Saxons found them here, and did not interfere with them. Now if Collegia fabrorum, which certainly existed in Britain throughout the Roman occupation, were still in existence during the Saxon occupation, it needs explanation why the earliest missionaries to the Saxons had to bring or to send abroad for workmen to build churches.

On the Continent the barbarians who overran Italy dreaded the influence of the Collegia, and vigorously suppressed them, prohibiting them everywhere under the hardest penalties; under such circumstances we can understand that the societies in Rome could scarcely escape observation, and we shall be prepared to hear that the college of architects and builders in that city removed from thence and took refuge elsewhere. According to tradition they settled at or near Comum, where in mediæval times, under the title of Comacine Masters, they gained fame as architects, and their services were in much request throughout the Continent and beyond it. Had the barbarians, however, treated the Roman colleges with the same indifference as the Saxons are reputed to have shown towards them in England, all guilds of artists and artisans must, for a time at least, have ceased to exist, or have removed from Rome, where there was no longer any appreciation of art, or demand for their services.

It is true there is no documentary evidence to prove the continuous existence of the Collegia from Roman to 141 mediæval times, or to show that the Roman college, which removed to Comum, was identical with the Comacine Guild which emerged from the darkness which shrouds the history of those early times;—there is, however, such evidence as can be derived from the similarity of the institutions, in their aims and constitutions. In the latter institution even the title of Magister was retained, though the use of the term was no longer limited to the president of the body, every competent and fully instructed member of the society was admitted to the order of Magistri,[102]—possibly because these members formed the governing body—and the president became a Grand Master. The members generally were called Liberi muratori—Freemasons—because they were not subject to the sumptuary and other laws which regulated the work and pay of ordinary workmen.[103]

Comum, which possessed all the privileges of a Roman municipium, stood at the head of Lacus Larii—the Lake of Como—on the northern shores of which, from Como to the island of Comacina, P. Strabo and C. Scipio settled Greek colonies, which Julius Cæsar added to and consolidated. The names of villages on these shores of the lake are still some guide to its extent and limits. Comum was made the chief seat of the colony.

After the fall of the Empire, this Romano-Greek colony seems to have withstood the attacks of the barbarians, and preserved its independence for a long time. At the time of the invasion of Italy by the Longobards, the whole of the northern end of the lake was in the hands of the imperial (Byzantine) party, and it was not until the year 586 that the island of Comacina fell into the hands of the Longobard King Autharis, though the lake and country northwards of the island seem to have still continued under imperial rule. The country around Comum, therefore, remained in comparative 142 quiet, and if much progress in art was not possible, there at least it did not become altogether degenerate.

The Greek influence was evidently strong in the colony. Even the bishop in the latter end of the fifth century was a Greek, for S. Abbondio, who died Bishop of Comum in 489, had previously held the bishopric of Thessalonica; possibly other bishops of that diocese were of the same nationality: it would be surprising if the Roman architectural college, which took refuge there, had been altogether unaffected by it, particularly as the Romans derived their knowledge of architecture as well as of art from the Greeks, and Greek architecture was at all times treated by the great Roman architects with respect, as we learn from Vitruvius; besides, with the fall of the Empire, all progress in Roman art had ceased, and Byzantium was the quarter to which men looked for instruction in Christian and secular art.[104] It could only be that the work of a Roman society of architects in the midst of a Greek colony would show marked traces of Byzantine influence, and none the less because in all probability there were Byzantine societies of a similar kind beside it.

Müller says, after the fall of Rome, Constantinople was regarded as the centre of mechanical and artistic skill, and a knowledge of art radiated from it to distant countries.[105]

Let us turn our attention now to Britain. The Italian 143 chroniclists relate that Pope Gregory in A.D. 598 sent over the monk Augustine to convert the British, and with him several of the fraternity of Liberi muratori (Freemasons), so that the converts might speedily be provided with churches, oratories, and monasteries; also that Augustine, in 604, despatched the priest Lorenzo and the monk Pietro back to Rome with a letter to Pope Gregory, begging him to send more architects and workmen, which he did.[106] We shall presently see, that although Bede does not say in so many words that Augustine was accompanied by architects and builders, yet that is the only inference which can be drawn from his words, and from Pope Gregory's instructions to Mellitus.

It was a common practice in mediæval times for missionaries, whether bishops or monks, to have in their train builders and stone-cutters, and they themselves were often skilful architects. St. Hugh of Lincoln was not the only bishop who could plan a church, instruct the workmen, and handle a hod.[107]

Even female saints appear to have included in their retinue, persons who were capable of building churches, though the followers of St. Modwen,[108] who, on landing in England from Ireland about A.D. 500, left her attendants to erect a church at Streneshalen, near the Arderne forest, while she went to visit the king, may have been only capable of building in wattle-work or in wood, "of hewn oak covered with reed," "after the manner of the Scots." Bede (iii. 25) describes the church of Lindisfarne as "a church of stone," that material not being usual amongst the Britons (iii. 4); still it is one instance among 144 many, of the prevalence of the custom for missionaries, whether priests, monks, or nuns, to take in their train on their missionary journeys workmen experienced in building, and to employ them where necessary to build churches for their converts.

Professor Merzario states, on the authority of ancient MSS., that the architects and builders sent were Liberi muratori. Now, the members of the Comacine Society were known and are described in ancient MSS. under that title; besides, what other guild would Gregory be likely to invite to send members to join the mission?—were there indeed any other building guilds existing at the time, except the Byzantine societies. It is certainly not probable that Gregory would have invited Greek etairia to send members with the Roman mission, to build churches "after the Roman manner," which is what the first builders in Saxon England did, and in preference to builders belonging to a society which was of Roman origin, and held all the traditions of the Roman school of architecture.

But without the record of the Italian chroniclists it would have been clear to any careful reader that architects accompanied Augustine, and other early as well as the late missionaries to England. The first evidence will be found in Bede (i. 26), where it is stated that after King Ethelbert had been converted to the faith, the missioners built churches and repaired old Romano-British churches in places whither they came, for their converts to worship in.

And again (i. 30), Gregory instructs Mellitus not to destroy the idol temples, but if well built to cleanse them and put altars in them, and convert them into churches. Gregory states that he decided on this course after mature deliberation; which shows that Gregory knew that many of the old Roman temples were still in use, and that Mellitus had with him architects who were qualified to carry out the necessary repairs to them. 145

Fiesole Cathedral Interior.

Again, in 601, Pope Gregory sent Paulinus and others to assist Augustine in his work, and by them he sent sacred vessels, ornaments for the church, and vestments. Now experienced architects and builders to build churches for the converts were as necessary as the ornaments wherewith to furnish them, and it is fair to conclude that this essential had not been overlooked, and that there were with those who brought the ornaments, men competent to erect the churches to place them in. Indeed it seems possible that Paulinus himself may have graduated in the Comacine school of architecture; it is a curious fact that he is spoken of under the title of Magister,[109] the title given to fully-instructed members of that order, and we know that many monks were amongst the enrolled members of the Comacine body.

The strongest evidence, of course, would be the evidence of his work as a builder; unfortunately very little of that remains—though the little we know about it is consistent with the fact that either he was of that order, or he had Comacine Masters with him. The Whalley cross which is attributed to him is ornamented with that peculiar convoluted ornament which is found in early Comacine work; and he was certainly a great builder of churches, of the precise type which the Comacines would have built at that time. Bede relates that he built in Lincoln a stone church of beautiful workmanship, in which he consecrated Honorius, Bishop of Canterbury, in the place of Justus. The "beautiful workmanship" implies an experienced architect. Bede who thus describes it was a competent witness, and in all probability he knew the church, which was in his time roofless. Again, King Edwin under the direction of Paulinus built a "large and noble church of stone" at York (ii. 14). At this time the Comacine builders had not begun to build in the style which 146 was afterwards known as the Lombard or Romanesque style, and of which indeed they were the authors, and this church seems to have been an Italian Basilican church with an atrium at the west end as was customary in churches of the period; this particular atrium being built round the little wooden oratory which Edwin had put up when under the instruction of the bishop, before his baptism, the oratory being in the midst of the open court.

The Basilican church of the period has been so often described that it will not be necessary to give a detailed description of it. It generally consisted of a nave, with two aisles separated from the nave by arcades; at one end (sometimes at both) the building terminated in an apse, of which the floor was raised; this raised floor in later times projected into the nave and was protected by a railing.[110] The altar was in the centre of the string of the arc of the apse, and round the arc were seats for the clergy, the bishop's throne being in the centre, in the place which would be occupied in a Roman heathen Basilica by the presiding magistrate. Beneath the raised floor of the apse was the confessio or crypt, in which the body or relics of the saint to whom the church was dedicated were deposited. Plans of several Saxon crypts still remaining in England will be found in Mr. Micklethwaite's valuable paper in the Archæological Journal, New Series, vol. iii. No. 4.

At a little later period a further change was made; on the floor of the nave from the chancel westward a space was divided off by a low screen, in each side of which was a bema or pulpit; from which the Gospel and Epistle were read, and the services sung by the Canonical singers.[111] A very complete screen of a little earlier date than St. Augustine may still be seen in the church of San Clemente, Rome; the ancient church from which it 147 was removed is underneath the present church; westward of the church was the atrium, an open court surrounded by a colonnade; the atrium seems to have been used in some British churches for the canons, who had cells round it.

S. Clemente, Rome. Interior showing ancient screen.

St. Cadoc early in the sixth century built a church in Lancarvan monastery, which monastery he rebuilt; each of the thirty-six canons had a residence in atrio,[112] the residence being probably a cell with a door opening into the atrium, such as may still be observed in some old monastic cloisters on the Continent. There is evidence of an atrium at the west end of Brixworth church, and the construction of the basements of the towers at St. Mary, Deerhurst, at Monkswearmouth, and Barton-on-Humber, seems to show that there was a similar construction at the west end of those churches.

The church of S. Ambrogio, Milan, possesses an atrium built by the Comacines, but it is of much later date, and would therefore afford a general idea of an early Saxon church atrium only in plan.

Though we have little ornament of the early Saxon period, and that little is mainly limited to the ornamentation on early Christian crosses and fonts, it is clearly of the same character as Comacine work. The convoluted ornament on Paulinus' cross at Whalley has been noticed; similar work may be seen on the Kirkdale cross, Bewcastle and Ruthwell crosses, Crowle and Yarm crosses, and others in England and Ireland. On the Bewcastle and Ruthwell crosses there are stiff flower convolutions with birds and beasts on the branches. Collingham cross has interlacing monsters, and on others are panels sculptured in representation of Scripture subjects and characters. Some of these crosses are decorated with another and very mark-worthy ornament, consisting of bands of interlaced work. These bands are sometimes of a single strand, but more 148 frequently of three strands. An interlaced ornament of this kind was found on the Corinthian base of a column in the church of S. Prassede in Rome. On comparing these interlaced patterns and convolutions with the carving on the ambo in the Basilica of S. Ambrogio, Milan, which is Comacine work, it will be seen how nearly they correspond; whilst the ornaments and sculptured figures in the façade and round the portals of the doors of S. Michele, Pavia, an early Lombard church of the eighth century, show treatment similar to Saxon work. It appears to me possible that this façade has been rebuilt presumably about the twelfth century, but there can be little doubt that the carvings as well as a considerable portion of the church itself are of the earlier date.[113]

All the crosses above-mentioned bear Runic inscriptions upon them, but on examination it will be seen that these inscriptions are generally by another hand, and of ruder workmanship than the carving of the crosses. Sometimes they are little more than scratches, and in one, namely, the Yarm cross, a panel was evidently left by the carver for the inscription, which was afterwards cut upon it, but being too small, the last two lines had to be compressed to be got into the space. In the Kirkdale and Lancaster crosses, the runes are certainly inferior in workmanship, and they seem to have been an afterthought. The borders on which they are cut do not appear as if they were originally intended to bear them.

The date of the fragment of the Yarm cross is fixed by the inscription, if it has been correctly read, being dedicated to Bishop Trumberht, Bishop of Hexham, who lived towards the close of the seventh century.

The ornament on Saxon fonts, not being so well known, would require illustrations beyond the scope of this article, 149 to render remarks upon them intelligible. One instance may, however, be given of the similarity of ornament in early Italian and Saxon carving. Both the Saxon font in Toller Fratrum church, Dorset, and the well-head (of the eighth century) at the office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rome, are decorated with precisely similar patterns. Interlacing bands in three strands, bordered by a cable moulding, encircle the top of each. Similar ornament will be found in Saxon MSS. of the eighth century in the British Museum Library, as in Evangelia Sacra Nero, d. 4.

Besides the ornament on the ancient crosses and fonts, which clearly belongs to the Saxon period, there are in our churches fragments of ornament which in all probability are of that era.

The angel carved in stone, built into the north wall of Steepleton church, near Dorchester, may have formed part of the tympanum of the doorway of the Saxon church. Floating angels with their robes and legs bent upward from the knee, precisely similar in treatment to the Steepleton angel, may be seen in illuminations in Saxon MSS. in the British Museum. I have examined them, but have mislaid my references to the press-marks. And in the Museum of the Bargello at Florence is a small antique carving of Christ in Glory (a vesica piscis enclosing the whole figure), and angels of this form and attitude surrounding it with curiously drawn symbols of the four evangelists. The angels in the east wall of Bradford-on-Avon church are of a similar character.

This seems to be an instance of Byzantine ornament adopted by the Italian builders. The convoluted and basket-work ornament may also have been derived from the same source.

The stiff foliage and intrecciatura on Barnack church tower are rude imitations of Comacine work.

Wherever the Comacines established themselves they 150 founded lodges; to each lodge a schola and a laborerium were attached, where the members received instruction and training in the several branches of their craft. The Comacines who settled with Augustine in the royal city of Canterbury, must have established according to their custom a lodge and a schola in that city, for there Wilfrid some seventy years later sent for architects and builders (cœmentarii) to renew the Cathedral Church of York which had been built by Paulinus, but possibly through increase of population was now inadequate. The plan of the ancient church has been traced; it was Basilican in form, with aisles and an apse.[114]

Wilfrid, Bishop of York for forty-three years, was, while still a young man, sent to Rome as a companion to Biscop, a Saxon thane who was afterwards Abbot of Wearmouth and Jarrow. There, says Bede, he spent some months in the study of ecclesiastical matters. On his way home he remained in Gaul for three years. When he returned to Britain at the expiration of that time, King Alfred gave him land and the monastery of Ripon where he built a spacious church, which excited universal astonishment and admiration; though not so large as the church he afterwards built at Hexham, it was a noble building. The apse with its altar was at the west end, and underneath the apse was a confessio, which with its passages still exists. The round-headed arches within the church were supported by lofty columns of polished stone.

But beautiful as this church was, that at Hexham exceeded it. Eddius Stephanus, precentor of York, the biographer of Wilfrid, and Richard of Hexham, give 151 enthusiastic descriptions of it which accord exactly with what we know the Comacine church of the period to have been.[115]

From them we learn that St. Andrews, Hexham, built by Wilfrid, was a Basilican church, and in one respect at least it was similar to Ripon; the apse was at the west end, and beneath it was a crypt with passages around it; the crypt with its passages is still to be seen. The proportions of the church were however nobler and the details richer. The walls were covered with square stones of divers colours and polished; the columns were also of polished stone; the capitals of the columns, arches, and vault of apse, and space 152 over the apse-arch were decorated with sculptures and histories (i.e. with paintings representing sacred scenes) all very splendid and very beautiful, according to Eddius.

As regards the sculptures, the examples we have of Saxon sculptures show them to have been generally vigorous, and often grotesque. A writer in Archæologia, vol. viii. p. 174, states that in the vaults of Hexham there were at the time he wrote many Roman inscriptions and grotesque carvings. The capitals of columns in Saxon as well as in later times not infrequently bore grotesque ornament for decoration, and it was commonly used for other purposes; not even coffins were exempt from decorations of this nature. Reginaldus de Coldingham (de virtutibus S. Cuthberti) describes the double coffin of St. Cuthbert, the inner one being of black oak elaborately carved, the subject of one of the carvings being a monk turned into a fox for stealing new cheese.

As regards their paintings, the Comacines were rather given to colour—it was in one of their churches, that of S. Maria del Tiglio, built by Theodolinda, wife of King Autharis, that the Emperor Lothaire beheld a brilliantly painted picture which adorned the vault of the apse and represented "The three kings presenting gifts to the Child Jesus." The picture moved the king to undertake the restoration of the church.

The Comacines also used frescoes in Theodolinda's palace at Monza in the fifth and sixth centuries.

From the foregoing description of Hexham church by Eddius Stephanus, it would appear that there were galleries over the aisles to which access was gained by spiral stairways in the wall. Similar galleries and spiral stairway still exist in the church of S. Agnese in Rome. In this church between the nave and the aisles there is a double arcade of open arches one above the other; the higher arcade on each side forms the front of the galleries—above 153 these is a clerestory. The church of S. Lorenzo at Verona, also a Comacine church, contains a spiral stairway in the wall which led to the different divisions in the women's gallery for the widows, matrons, and girls. So far I have not heard of any ancient spiral stairways as still existing in any other than in these Comacine churches.[116]

Tower of S. Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna.

These galleries and arcades may be regarded as the original of the triforium.

Eddius relates that there were also bell-towers at Hexham of surprising height, and this suggests reflections. Hexham was built about A.D. 674, early in the Saxon period, and these tall towers were built wholly at that time. What were they like? The early Comacine towers were built in several stages; the lowest generally had either no windows or slits; the next stage above had single-light windows, plain round-headed and straight-sided, as if cut out of the wall; in the stages above the windows were of two or three lights divided by colonnettes, the larger number of lights being in the windows of the upper stages; in each stage there were commonly four windows, one opening to each quarter of the compass. Wolstan's description of the tower of Winchester answers very nearly to this. He says it consisted of five storeys; in each were four windows looking towards the four cardinal points, which were illuminated every night.

As examples of early Latin towers, the round towers of S. Apollinare nuovo, and S. Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, and perhaps the square tower of S. Giovanni Evangelista, may be given. Take any one of them, that of S. Apollinare nuovo, for instance. Cut off the upper stages by holding the hand above the eyes, and regard only the lower stages with the single-light windows, and you have a structure which might be Roman. It 154 looks very much older than the complete tower; and it is the same with well-known Saxon towers in England, so that some persons have been misled into thinking that the lowest stages with straight-cut single-light windows are much older than the upper portion with double or treble-light windows—which does not at all follow, at least not from that fact, for they might be of the same date;—and they have argued that these lower stages both in Italy and England are older than the upper ones, notwithstanding the improbability that the old builders would place a heavy tower on walls originally intended to carry only a light roof.

The Saxon towers have clearly a Latin or Comacine origin. The walls are usually of stone grouted in the old Roman manner; and when Lombard windows, of two or more lights, with a column dividing them, are used, they are, as a rule, in the upper and not in the lower stages. Unfortunately we have no towers of the earliest Saxon period still standing; but the resemblance between the later Saxon and the early Italian towers is apparent. The same may be said of the later Comacine towers, S. Satyrus, Milan, for instance (see plate), which Cattaneo assigns to the ninth century, and regards as the prototype of Lombard towers; take away the little pensile arch ornament, which was characteristic of the Comacine style known as Lombard, and you have a tower which might be Saxon.

Whilst Wilfrid was engaged in building Hexham, his friend and companion in travel, Biscop, was building the monastery and monastic church of Wearmouth. Biscop was a Saxon thane of Northumberland; he became a monk of the monastery of S. Lerino, and, according to Henry of Huntingdon, on his return from Rome, King Egfrid gave him sixty hides of land, on which he built the monastery of Wearmouth. Eight years later, the king granted him more land at Jarrow, upon which he built a monastery and church. The former was dedicated to St. Peter, the latter to St. Paul. 155

Tower of S. Satyrus, Milan.

On obtaining possession of the lands at Wearmouth, Biscop, according to Bede,[117] set out for Gaul, to find builders to build the monastic church, "juxta Romanorum quem semper amabat morem."

It might be asked, If there was at Canterbury a Comacine school of architecture whose special function it was to build on the Roman model, why did not Bishop Benedict send there for architects and masons? The simple answer is, that Wilfrid had already engaged them for his work at Hexham. Wilfrid was building both a church and monastery there, and evidently had employment for every hand he could obtain.

The building of Hexham was commenced in 674, and it was not till that date that Biscop was in a position to engage workmen for Wearmouth, so that Wilfrid was just beforehand with Biscop, who in consequence had to look elsewhere for his architects, and he set out for Gaul to engage them there.

Now it does not at all follow that because Biscop brought his masons from Gaul, therefore they were not Comacines. It was as easy to find Comacines in Gaul as in England. We find them settled there at a later date, when they were called artefici Franchi. There is nothing to show definitely, but there is presumptive evidence of a settlement of a guild in Gaul at this time, and it was probably some of the French Comacines that Biscop employed, for Biscop insisted on a church built after the Roman manner, a Basilica; he would have nothing else, and no builders could build a Basilica better than the successors to the Roman college of architecture.[118]

It seems further probable that these Gallican architects 156 were Comacines, from the fact that they followed the practice of the Comacines in establishing a schola at Wearmouth, possibly amongst the monks, for Naitan, King of the Picts, sent to Cedfrid, who succeeded Benedict as abbot, and begged him to send architects to him to build a church in his nation "after the Roman manner," and the abbot complied with his request.

Mr. Micklethwaite states that "the doorway under the tower of the church at Monkswearmouth in Durham was doubtless a part of the church which Benedict Biscop erected there in the seventh century in imitation of the Basilicas in Rome. The twined serpents with birds' beaks on the right doorpost are, as we know from MSS. of that age, singularly characteristic of the style."[119] There is a similar design on the architrave of an ancient door in San Clemente, Rome.

The decoration of the church seems to have been in the highest style of ecclesiastical art of the age. Even glass-makers, who might have been Comacines, were brought from France to make glass for glazing the windows of the church and of the cells of the monks—no glass had ever before in Saxon times been used in England for windows—and even paintings were brought from abroad for the decoration of the walls. Bede, in his sermon on the anniversary of the death of Benedict, states that he imported paintings of holy histories, which should serve not only for the beautification of the church, but for the instruction of those who looked upon them; vases, vestments, and other 157 things necessary for the service of the church, were also brought from Gaul, and those things which could not be obtained there, were brought "from the country of the Romans."

S. Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna.

The church was pronounced by monkish writers to be for two centuries the grandest and most beautiful church on this side of the Alps; even Roman architects admitted that they who saw Hexham church might imagine themselves amidst Roman surroundings.[120]

There is one point in connection with Saxon architecture not touched. In much of the Saxon building now standing there are projecting ribs of stone in the masonry which are commonly known under the name of pilaster strips. The masonry in which it occurs is perhaps always late Saxon work. The strips seem to be similar to the pilasters in the front of Lombard churches; in the latter they are more ornamental in detail, and are often in the form of shafts occasionally decorated.[121]

The external arcading, as in Bradford-on-Avon, seems to be a modification of late Roman work, followed in various forms in Comacine, Lombard, Saxon, and Norman work. In its original form it may be seen on the exterior of the Basilica of S. Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, where external arcadings in the masonry of the walls will be noticed both in the walls of the aisles and in the walls of the nave above the aisles, the arcading being carried on pilasters built into, and forming part of, the walls; the pilasters with the arcading serving to give rigidity to the 158 walls, enabling them to resist the outward thrust of the roof as buttresses were intended to do in later times. This church was built about A.D. 300.

In Comacine or early Lombard churches there was an arcading on steps in the gable of the west front, the steps giving access to the roof on the outside. In later Lombard churches this arcading became simply an ornamental detail to the front. To this type belongs the arcading on Bradford-on-Avon church. In Norman churches it degenerated into a corbel table, in which the shafting was omitted, the heads of the arches being supported on corbels.

The Byzantine character of some of the ornaments in Comacine and Saxon work is accounted for by the fact that the Comacine order found refuge in a Romano-Greek colony in which the Greek influence was strong, and in all probability there were Byzantine guilds working alongside of it. That there is a trace of Oriental form in it is not surprising, when it is remembered how much communication there was between all parts of the Christian world notwithstanding the difficulties of travelling. Teliau, David, and Paternus journeyed to Jerusalem. On arriving at the Temple they were placed in three ancient stalls in the Temple, and after expounding the Scriptures were elected by the people and consecrated bishops (Vita S. Teliaui Episcopi). Columbanus, an Irish saint, established a monastery amidst the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Bobbio in Italy. St. Cumean, born in 592, obtained possession of a deserted church in the same city, restored it and served it.

According to the chronicles of Fontenelle, bishops and clergy, abbots and monks came from all parts, even from Greece and Armenia, to visit Richard Duke of Normandy, brother-in-law of our Saxon King Ethelred and a great church-builder; the Oriental character of some of the ornaments in Oxford cathedral, which Ethelred rebuilt, is 159 attributed to the influence of Richard and his Oriental visitors, for Ethelred took refuge in Normandy for a time to avoid the Danes.

Some Saxons left England at the Norman Conquest and settled in Constantinople, where they built a church for themselves and other members of the Saxon colony there.

St. Germanus when he left Britain went to Ravenna, then the royal city.

Asser relates that Alfred received embassies daily from foreign parts, from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the farthest limits of Spain, and that he had seen letters and presents which had been sent to the king by Abel, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Many British monks, some of whose lives and legends may still be found in early MSS., travelled to the south and east, and all over the known world, and being skilled in architecture, might readily have made copies of ornaments which took their fancy when travelling in Eastern countries, and introduced them on their return.

Let us restate the argument briefly—

1. When Italy was overrun by the barbarians, Roman Collegia were everywhere suppressed.

2. The architectural college of Rome is said to have removed from that city to the republic of Comum.

3. In early mediæval times, one of the most important Masonic guilds in Europe was the Society of Comacine Masters, which in its constitution, methods, and work was essentially Roman, and seems to have been the survival of this Roman college.

4. Italian chroniclists assert that architects and masons accompanied Augustine to England, and later Italian and continental writers of repute adopt that view.

5. Whether this is proved or not, it was customary for missionaries to take in their train persons experienced in 160 building, and if Augustine did not do so, his practice was an exception to what seems to have been a general rule. Besides, a band of forty monks would have been useless to him unless some of them could follow a secular calling useful to the mission, for they were unacquainted with the British language, and could not act independently.

6. Masonic monks were not uncommon, and there were such monks associated with the Comacine body; so that qualified architects were easily found in the ranks of the religious orders.

7. From Bede's account of the settlement of Augustine's mission in Britain, it seems clear that he must have brought Masonic architects with him.

8. Gregory would be likely to choose architects for the mission from the Comacine Order, which held the old Roman traditions of building, rather than those of a Byzantine guild, and the record of their work in Britain proves that he did.

9. In Saxon as in the earlier Comacine carvings, there are frequent representations of fabulous monsters, symbolical birds and beasts, the subjects of some of these carvings being suggested, apparently, by the "Physiologus," which had a Latin origin.

10. In the writings of the Venerable Bede, and Richard, Prior of Hagustald, we meet with phrases and words which are in the Edict of King Rotharis of 643, and in the Memoratorio of 713 of King Luitprand, which show that these writers were familiar with certain terms of art used by the Comacine Masters.[122]



The saints or early missionaries seem to be as closely connected with the first church-building in Ireland as they were in Gaul, Normandy, and England; only by some curious circumstance, Ireland became christianized and built her churches some centuries earlier than England and Normandy. It is my conviction that in casting off the legends connected with saints, we have also cast off much real history belonging to the early missions. Now, the preceding chapter shows that it is precisely to these first missionaries that we are indebted for the imported architecture of the pre-Norman date in England, and presumably also in Ireland. This architecture has been an enigma and a stumbling-block to archæologists for ages; because while rejecting everything connected with the saints as legend, they also reject the only reasonable hypothesis of the genesis of these first stone buildings, which sprang up in a country as yet only accustomed to build in wood or earth.

The Round Towers of Ireland, for instance, have formed a greater puzzle to antiquaries than the churches of Hexham or Lindisfarne—partly because of their antiquity, and partly from their unlikeness to any local buildings of the time. The theories in regard to them are wild beyond all probability. They have been attributed: (1) By Henry O'Brien to the Tuatha De Danaan, a Persian colony which is supposed to have built them for phallic worship. (2) By 162 Vellaney to the Phœnicians, the buildings being afterwards used by the Druids as fire-towers. (3) By Dr. Lynch, Peter Walsh, Molyneux, etc., to the Danes, as war-towers.

Petrie, with clearer arguments, claims them as Christian. In his Prize Essay on the origin and uses of the Round Towers (A.D. 1820) he proves that no buildings except these towers were known to have cement in pre-Christian Ireland. For the Pagans and Druids have left us the great fortresses of Dun Ængus, and Dun Connor on Aran Mor, and the great sepulchres of Dowth and New Grange, all built without cement and of unhewn stones. Now the Round Towers are of hewn stones closely fitted and cemented, till they are solid as a rock, standing firm as ever, after their fifteen centuries of existence. They are called in Ireland by the generic name of "cloic-theack," or bell-house, and are invariably found close to the ruins of a monastery or a church. In some cases, like the one at Clonmacnoise, the church has entirely disappeared, leaving only the graveyard to mark its site, and in the graveyard a veritable Comacine cross!

It cannot be proved that the towers belong to an earlier age than the churches attached, for we have a witness in the ruins themselves. The masonry of the tower and the remaining walls of the church at Kilmacduagh is identical, as are the later tower and church-porch at Roscrea—i.e. good, solid opus gallicum.

Miss Stokes and the Rev. John Healy uphold the theory[123] of their being towers of refuge in warlike times. They may well have been used as such, on account of their strength, and also their proximity to the churches, which were always, in the Middle Ages, inviolable cities of refuge. This, however, does not affect our question as to how the towers came into Ireland, and whence came their builders. In the first 163 place, where can similar towers be found dating from times contemporary? The answer is decided: in Italy. In Ravenna and Lombardy, from the date A.D. 300 to the fifth and sixth centuries; and they show just that Eastern touch which distinguishes the Byzantine-Roman architecture at Ravenna, and has caused authors to seek the origin of the Round Towers further east than Italy.

The next question that arises is: What was the point of contact between Ireland and Italy? As in England and Normandy we shall, I believe, find it in the first missions. The first Irish missionary was doubtless St. Patrick, A.D. 373-464, who has been taken as the sign and symbol of Celticism. Yet he was not an Irishman by birth. His father was a Christian named Calphurnius, his mother was niece to St. Martin of Tours; he was consequently of continental origin. His birthplace was Nempthur near Dumbarton, and while yet a boy he was carried a prisoner to Ireland, and the heathendom there appealed so strongly to his feelings, that after his release he was haunted by visions foretelling his future mission to convert Ireland. Pope Celestin I. gave him his mission in about A.D. 430, and he settled in Armagh, where he laboured more than thirty years converting and baptizing both kings and people. He founded schools and built churches. Probably the first worship was conducted in the open air, where a cross was set up, as by the English missionaries. The cross was of the Byzantine form used at that time in Italy; but on its adoption by the northern saint-missionaries it became known in Britain as the Irish cross. The ancient Italian one, once in the Forum at Rome, is of identical style, though of earlier date. St. Patrick's influence remained and spread. Many of his followers in the ministry made the pilgrimage to Rome which he had made, and so great was the fame of sanctity of these Irish preaching brethren, that they were reverenced in Italy even more than in their native land. 164

S. Fredianus became Bishop of Lucca, and Columban was Abbot of Bobbio. It is to these later missionaries rather than to St. Patrick himself that we must look, as having introduced Italian or Comacine architecture into Ireland. That they were addicted to church-building is evident from their at once setting to work wherever they went; S. Fredianus building a church and monastery at Lucca; St. Columban doing the same at Bobbio.

And what architects did they employ? Surely some members of the Comacine Guild, or their monk colleagues. They had seen them at the court of the Longobardic kings where they tarried and were entertained during their journey to Rome. And seeing the beautiful churches and towers in Italy, all made by the magic hands of this guild, is it not most likely that the Pope, who patronized the guild as one of the most practical instruments in christianization, should have counselled them to take back some Magistri with them to Ireland? There is, I presume, no documentary proof of this, but there are more imperishable witnesses in the works themselves. The only difference between the Round Towers of Ireland and those of Italy in the first five centuries after Christ is the conical roof, which is due entirely to exigencies of climate. The hewing of the square stones, the close-fitting masonry, the Roman cement, the simple arches of the windows with their solidly cut supports, are all pure Lombard-Roman of the time when S. Fredianus and Columban were in Italy. It is true that with this similarity there is also a certain clumsiness of workmanship in the Irish towers, which suggests that either the Italian architects imported by the Irish missionaries were the less skilful men of the guild, or, what is more probable, they were few, and had to train native and unskilled workmen to assist them; but the style they aimed at, and the forms they used, are the early Italian ones of from A.D. 300 to 500. 165

In Cormac's chapel at the Rock of Cashel we get the square tower such as later Comacines used from the sixth to the tenth centuries, with the double-arched window of the period; and the church beside it has the same signs. Here are the string courses supported by the row of little arches, the projecting apse, and the double-light windows, with only that same northern desideratum—the high gable and sloping roof. Cormac was an early Bishop of Cashel, who was killed in 907 A.D.

Look at the shrine of the Bell of St. Patrick, which I presume dates from about the eighth century, i.e. the time of Fredianus, and you will see a fine collection of Comacine intrecci or interlaced work in sculpture. As for the crosses of Ireland, one may trace in them the development of Comacine work, from the early Christian Roman style to the mediæval Lombard.

The beautifully illustrated article in the Studio for Aug. 15, 1898, by J. Romilly Allen, F.S.A., shows the whole line. In the earliest form of Irish cross, i.e. that where the cross and Christian symbols are merely cut into the face of a slab of stone, such as in the cross at Reask, Co. Kerry, we see precisely the primitive style of art shown in the Catacombs. The "Gurmarc" stones have their prototype in the earliest Longobardic carving, such as the pluteus of Theodolinda's first church at Monza. The smaller of the three inscribed circles has an even more advanced Comacine intreccio enclosed within the circle, while the cross of Honelt at Llantwit Major (Fig. 5) has a splendid Comacine knot such as one sees on every Longobardic church, placed beneath a very Byzantine geometrical design in which circles, crosses, triangles, and three-fold knots are marvellously intermingled. These are all stones merely incised, and foreshadow the predilection of the Irish converts for the symbolism of the time, the cross of Christ within the unending circle of eternity. The next development shown by Mr. Romilly 166 Allen is the upright cross slab at St. Madoes in Perthshire, where the cross and the circle are in distinct relief and not merely incised. Here, instead of the circle enclosing the Greek cross, it has become subordinate, and is placed behind the arms of a Latin cross. In fact a complete Irish cross in relief. But how is it adorned?—with splendid Comacine intrecci, and all the symbolism so familiar to us in early Italian art. Here are the coiled serpent and the dove above, with the four mystic beasts of the Apocalypse below, two on each side of the stem of the cross; and the workmanship and designs are literally identical with those of the sculptures on the façades of the first church of S. Michele at Pavia, and S. Zeno at Verona, and that of S. Pietro at Spoleto, all of the fifth and sixth centuries. (Spoleto church was rebuilt in 1329, but the ancient Lombard sculptures around the doorway were preserved.)

Door of the Church of S. Zeno at Verona. A.D. 1139.

See page 166.

By the ninth and tenth centuries the Irish cross had reached its full development. It was no longer a sign on a slab, but a beautiful upright sculptured cross, with a circle crowning it like a halo, and suggesting the eternity of the human cross of our Saviour. And here again the art is precisely that of the Italian sculptors. There was a cross of earlier date than either the cross of King Flami at Clonmacnoise, King's County, A.D. 904, or the cross of Mucreadach at Monasterboice, Co. Louth, A.D. 924, in the Roman Forum, of which the shape and ornaments are similar to both of them. The cross of SS. Patrick and Columban at Kells has, too, all the marks of the Comacine work in the eighth and ninth centuries, as one sees it in the oldest churches at Como and Verona, at Toscanella and Spoleto. All these things being considered, I think Irish archæologists would do well to work up the undoubted connection of the early Irish missionaries with Italy, and the influence their travels there had, not only on the religion, but the art of Ireland. They might discover whether St. Columban, when King 167 Agilulf sheltered him at Pavia, took from the artists then at work at the wondrous front of S. Michele, any ideas which he caused to be reproduced in the crosses placed by him to sanctify the open-air worship of his Irish converts; or whether he took a few monkish Magistri skilled in sculpture from his monastery at Bobbio to carve those very crosses, and to build the first stone churches, that now lie in ruins at the feet of the rugged old towers.





1. 1137 Magister Fredus or Gufredus Built S. Maria Maggiore, Bergamo.
2. 1212 M. Adam of Arogno Chief architect of Trent cathedral.
3. 1274 M. Jacobus Porrata of Como Made the wheel window at Cremona.
4. 1289 M. Bonino with Guglielmo da Campione Made the stairway on the north of Cremona cathedral.
5. 1329 M. Ugo or Ugone of Campione Sculptured the tomb of Longhi degli Alessandri at Bergamo.
6. 1340 M. Giovanni, son of Ugone Built the Baptistery and façade of S. Maria Maggiore at Bergamo.
7.   M. Antonio, son of Jacopo da Castellazzo in Val d'Intelvi   Worked under Giovanni di Ugo in building Bellano church.
8.   M. Comolo, son of M. Gufredo da Asteno  
9.   M. Nicolino, son of Giovanni   Helped Giovanni di Ugone in the façade at Bergamo.
10 1351 M. Antonio   sons of Cattaneo of Campione  
11   M. Giovanni  
12   M. Niccola, son of Giovanni   Worked at the church of St. Anthony of Padua in 1263.
13   M. Pergandi, another son of Ugone  
14 1360 M. Giovanni, son of Giovanni da Campione Finished his father's work at Bergamo.



1. 1178 Magister Benedetto da Antelamo Pulpit of Parma cathedral (1178). Baptistery of Parma (1196).
2 & 3. 1181 M. Martino and M. Otto Bono  
4. 1256 M. Giorgio da Iesi Fermo cathedral (1227). Iesi (1237). Parma (1256).
5. 1280 M. Giovanni Bono da Bissone   Chief architect at Padua (1246), at Parma (1280).
6.   M. Guido Worked with Giovanni Bono at Padua and Pistoja.
7.   M. Niccolao, son of Giovanni This group forms the link with Pistoja and the Tuscan schools.
8.   M. Bernardino
9.   M. Johannes Benvenuti


1.   Magister Graci Employed.
2. 1263 M. Egidio, son of M. Graci   All worked together at the church of St. Anthony.
3.   M. Ubertino, son of Lanfranco
4.   M. Nicola, son of Giovanni
5.   M. Pergandi, son of Ugone of Mantua
6. 1264 M. Zambono, or Giovanni   Father of M. Nicola. These two form the link with Parma.
  1264 Bono da Bissone, near Como
7. 1264 M. Benedetto da Verona Worked at Padua with Zambono. At Verona he is styled Benedetto da Antelamo. Probably a descendant of the one at Parma.

The rise of the Romanesque is the stepping-stone to the Renaissance of Art in Italy. We need not enter at length into all the vexed questions of how this Renaissance began, and which school was the link between that and classic art, but a slight glance must be given to the subject. 173 Some make everything begin from Niccolò Pisano, as though he suddenly sprang ancestorless out of the darkness, a full-fledged artist. Some date the rise of art from the Byzantines in Aquileja and Venice; others again from the union of the Normans with the Saracens in Sicily.

First, as to Pisa. There are no records or signs of a school of art indigenous to Pisa, before the building of the Duomo there. Both Morrona[124] and Ridolfi, the historians of the respective cities, have well searched the archives in both Pisa and Lucca, but can find no single reference to any native artist before the Duomo of Pisa was begun, or even of any Pisan who worked at that building as early as the eleventh century. All the first architects seem to have been imported. Morrona asserts that when the cathedral was begun "the most famous Masters (mark the word) from foreign (stranieri) parts, assembled together to give their work to the building." The word stranieri is used by all old Italians not only as meaning foreigners, but Italians from other provinces. Ridolfi, on his part, affirms that at the beginning, the Maestri di Como were the only ones employed in building the chief churches at Lucca; adding that—"Many of the works show certain symbols, monsters and foliage, which were always a special characteristic of the Comacines, and a sign of the Freemasonry founded and propagated by them."[125]

From this it may be deduced that during the eleventh and twelfth centuries no indigenous Pisan school existed, and that the mediæval buildings were of the Lombard type. Certainly the old church of S. Pietro a Grado, three miles out of Pisa on the Leghorn road, which we have described, is a standing witness to the presence of the Comacines before this era. It still exists, the most perfect specimen 174 extant of a Lombard tri-apsidal church. Not a shaft, not an archlet is wanting.

As to Aquileja and Venice, Selvatico's[126] theory is that the Friuli people, and those of Aquileja, being driven out in 450 by Attila, fled to Grado (another Grado near Venice), thence spread to Torcello and Murano, and then founded Venice. That they built the cathedrals on those islands, and founded the Veneto-Oriental school. Did this native school ever exist? asks Merzario, seeing that the church of Grado was built by artefici Franchi, which might mean Freemasons, or French builders, i.e. the Comacines under Charlemagne; and that those of Santa Fosca and Murano were, judging by their style, of the same origin?

The church of Torcello was rebuilt in the eleventh century by the Bishop Orso Orseolo, and if it comes into the question at all, would prove that the Lombard school had something to do with it then. In spite of these two opposing opinions, it is certain that architecture took a certain distinctive form in Venice; but it was a later development which occurred after the twelfth century, and with which the Greeks and Byzantines had little or nothing to do.

Selvatico, although the champion of the Veneto-Friuli theory, is constrained almost in spite of his own arguments to own that the Lombard architects had their part in early Venetian architecture, saying—"Although the prevalent architecture of Venice from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries consists of Byzantine and Roman elements, yet after A.D. 1000 another element mingled with it, which though partly the product of the two, nevertheless had in itself elements so original as to be truly national. This is the art which modern writers style Lombard, which, born first in Lombardy, diffused itself over the greater part of 175 Italy, and then crossing the Alps expanded greatly in Northern Europe."[127]

The learned Domenico Salazari is at the head of the Siculo-Norman theory, but the influence of the mingling of Oriental and Saracenic architecture with the Norman and Lombard elements in Sicily are so well known, and so fully acknowledged, that it is useless to go over his prolix arguments.

It seems to me that each party is right as far as it goes. Venetian architecture has Oriental elements in it; the Tuscan Renaissance truly dates from Niccolò Pisano, and the Romanesque style was formed by the marriage of north and south in Sicily; but none of their advocates have got hold of the missing link in the development of each special school from the old classical styles. And that missing link, if anywhere, is to be looked for in the Comacines.

In the ninth century they went northward, and laid the seeds of the round-arched Norman architecture at Dijon, under S. Guglielmo; a seed which took root and developed. In the next century they appear to have planted the seed of French Gothic at Aix-la-Chapelle, and of German Gothic at Cologne and Spires, and these grew to be goodly trees. In the eleventh century they again met their brethren of the north in Sicily; and all worked together, adding to their own beauties those of the rich and varied Saracenic style—and the Romanesque style was thus formed.

The Venetian link dates about the same era. Fortunato, the Patriarch of Aquileja, called in the Comacines about A.D. 828, and their churches there show a groundwork of form and masonry quite Romano-Lombard, with an ornamentation of which it is difficult to say whether it be more Byzantine than Comacine, the two being so similar 176 in conception, and the distinctive difference in technical work being at this distance of time not always distinguishable. Where the Byzantines worked in sandstone, the sharp edges of their precise cutting would have worn off during many centuries; and where the Comacines worked in marble, their marvellous knots and interlacings may look as clean-cut now as any time-worn Byzantine sculptures. In any case the union of Lombard and Byzantine in Venice was the forging of the link connecting Venetian art to the classic Roman.

The part the Comacines had in forging the connecting chain between the Tuscan Renaissance and the classic Roman, and the artistic pedigree of Niccolò Pisano, who is the first link in that branch of the threefold chain, will be traced in a future chapter. We must now inquire how the first Romano-Lombard style of the Comacines, from the sixth to the tenth centuries, became changed into the florid Romanesque, in which the same guild was building in all parts of Italy from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. This development was possibly derived from both Northern and Southern sources.

The close connection of the Comacine or Lombard architects with the Patriarch of Aquileja in the seventh and eighth centuries brought them in touch with the Greek artists of the earlier period, from whom they learned much, especially in varying the plan of their circular churches, and in richness of ornamentation. Their later emigrations to the southern Lombard dukedoms, and their work in Sicily had a still greater effect on them. It seemed to break up their fixed traditions as a thaw breaks up ice. Before this time, every church must be of a fixed plan; every apse round; every space of wall headed by a gallery or arched brackets; every arch a pure half-circle on colonnettes. But the varied arches of the Oriental-Saracenic style influenced their fancy; they saw that art lay in variety, and learned that the 177 pointed arch was as strong as the round one, the ogival arch more graceful. The Moorish arch never entirely took their fancy, though they sometimes gave a slight Moorish curve to their stilted arches.

It must be remembered that the Magistri of the Comacine Guild were no longer of the same calibre as those mediæval men who built for the Longobards. Those were the products of an age of slavery and degeneration, who, lacking literature, clung to tradition, and could only act according to the small portion of intellectual light vouchsafed to the Dark Ages. They put stone and stone together, precisely as their forefathers had taught them. In form they clung to their ancient teacher, Vitruvius, and for their ornamentation to their ancient pagan superstitions, grafted on a mystical Christianity. Yet, as we have seen, they so far improved on these, as to build several Basilican churches which might be called grand for the time, though still holding close to traditional forms.

The Comacine after A.D. 1000 was a man beginning to feel his intellect; the feudal system was breaking up, republics beginning to be established, schools were opened, and man began to feel himself no longer a vassal bound hand and foot, but a human being who might use his own intellect for his own pleasure and good.

What wonder then, that the arts began to flourish, commerce to increase, and riches to accrue in this joyous freedom?

And what wonder that man's thankfulness for freedom first took the form of building churches for the glory of the God of the free?

The architects of the Masonic loggie (lodges) who had held together through the troublous times, became alive with new enthusiasms. They compared their own buildings with others, and instead of varying the principles of Vitruvius, to suit early Christian demands as heretofore, 178 they passed on to new and freer lines. Instead of solid and rude strength, elegance of form and aspiring lines gave lightness and beauty.

The starting-point of the change was, of course, the adoption of the pointed arch, which at this time began to be substituted for the circular one as giving greater strength with greater lightness. "Curvetur arcus ut fortior," says an old chronicler of Subiaco. According to their method of gradual development the Comacine Masters did not blindly throw themselves into new forms. They went cautiously, and first tried their acute arches in clerestories, and triforia, over naves supported by the old Lombard arches of sesto intiero, as we see in several churches of the Transition period. A little later they mixed the two inextricably, as in Florence cathedral, where the windows are pointed with Gothic tracery, the interior arches round and Roman in form.

"The early Lombard architecture," said Cesare Cantù,[128] "was not an order, nor a system, so much as a delirium. Balance and symmetry utterly disregarded, no harmony of composition or taste, shameful neglect in form proportion; to the perfect classic design which satisfies the eye, they substituted incoherent and useless parts, with frequently the weak placed to support the strong, in defiance of all laws of statics. Columns—which used to be composed of a base, shaft, and capital, in just proportions, supporting a well-adapted architrave or frieze more or less fitly adorned, and a cornice which only added beauty and strength—were exchanged for certain colonnettes, either too short or too slight, knotted, spiral, and grouped so as to torture the eye, and above the disproportioned and inharmonious abacus of the capitals were placed the arches, which in a good style should rest on the architrave. In fine, there was an endless modanature, 179 ribs, reliefs, and windows of elongated form and walls of extraordinary height." In spite of Cantù's leanings to the classic, this tirade shows the first indication of the change towards the Gothic, and it only proves that the Comacine Masters did not take up new forms borrowed entire from other nations, but assimilated what they saw in other places, gradually developing their style.

To find the origin of the pointed arch would be difficult. Was it evolved from the arching trees in the German forest? or was it from the rich Arabian mosque or ancient Indian temple? or did the Comacines find it, just as they acquired their Basilican forms, on Italian soil?

Germany, it is pretty well proved, got the seed of her glorious Gothic from France or Italy, and nourished it right royally. But the pointed arch is much more ancient than German Gothic. It is to be seen in the tomb of Atreus at Mycenæ, in an Etruscan tomb at Tarquinii, and even in the subterranean gallery at Antequere in Mexico.[129] The pointed arches in the Mosque El Haram on Monte Morea date from Caliph Omar's time, between 637 and 640. The Mosque of Amrou, with its curious combination of pointed and horse-shoe arches, dates from 640.

The church of St. Francis at Assisi (1226) has generally been accepted as the first instance in Italy, and it was soon followed in the design for the church of S. Antonio at Padua five years later; but there are two little churches annexed to the monastery of Subiaco on Monte Telaso, which were built, so say the chroniclers, one in A.D. 981, 180 the other in 1053, in which some arches are round and others acute.[130] Hope[131] quotes examples of this mixture of round and acute arches in the ninth and tenth centuries at Cluny, 1093-1134; the Abbey of Malmesbury in England, which is in Lombard style; St. Mark's at Venice, 976-1071; Subiaco, 847, and others.

"But," as Selvatico remarks,[132] "these are isolated instances determined by static reasons, and do not point to a system." The Arab used the pointed arch as a decorative principle, as well as for stability. As the style spread in Europe it got modified, some countries keeping to the ancient type, and others changing its proportions. So the Arab arch became in the eleventh century the germ of the ogival arch, and in the twelfth expanded in the North into the most glorious forms of ecclesiastical Gothic architecture.

The Comacines made their first steps towards a more florid style, about the end of the eleventh century. The change, as in all such growths of circumstance, was a gradual one. First, a little more ornamentation, then a slight change in the forms of arches; next, a less fixed ground-plan of the churches, a mingling of the Greek cross with the square-walled Basilica. After these slight trials of their wings, came flights of imagination, and endless variety of form and ornamentation; that variety which could only spring from the ideas of many minds, united in one work.

To see the earliest signs of a wider scheme of design we must go to the region of Parma. Here in a little town called Borgo S. Donnino—the ancient "Fidentia Julia"—about fifteen miles north of Parma, is one of the finest 181 early Romanesque churches in Italy. It was a great place for pilgrimages in the Middle Ages, as it contained the tomb of S. Domninus, who was martyred in the persecutions of Maximian. Great miracles were worked at his shrine, and religious fervour rose to such a height in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, that the devotees collected money enough to build a church, which they desired should be the finest and most majestic of those times.

The work was finished before 1195. An ancient document shows that the Rettori (civil governors) of Milan, Verona, Mantua, Modena, Brescia, Faenza, Bologna, Reggio, Gravedone, Piacenza, and Padua, with their suites, all met there in that year to form a league against Henry VI., son of Frederic Barbarossa, who seemed likely to carry on the hostility of his father.[133] We have no documents to show who was the architect of the fine Basilica of S. Donnino, but as the Comacines had their laborerium at Parma, and as the work is clearly and distinctly Romanesque, we may believe the old authors who say that it arose per lo scarpello dei Comacini.[134] If internal evidence is wanting, the three lion portals of the ornate façade bear witness to the hand of the Comacines of the Romanesque epoch.

Another of their buildings which shows a marked advance, was the cathedral of Trent—the gate of Italy leading into Germany. This had been built in the first Lombard style between 1124 and 1149, when it was consecrated by the Patriarch of Aquileja. In 1207 the Bishop Federigo Manga, Chancellor of the Emperor Otho IV., formed a design to enlarge and almost rebuild it. He commissioned a Magistro Comacino to superintend the works, as appears from an inscription in Gothic letters 182 on the tomb of that very Magister. Anglicized it would run—"In the year of our Lord 1212, the last day of February, Master Adam of Arogno, of the diocese and district of Como (Magister Adam de Arognio cumanæ diocesis et circuito), began the work of this church and constructed it. He with his sons and his abbiatici (underlings) built the interior and exterior of this church with its adjoining parts. He and his sons lie below in this sepulchre. Pray for them."

Prof. Cipolla, in an article in Arte e Storia di Firenze, quotes a poem written in 1309, in honour of the Duomo of Trent and of the Comacine Master who had achieved so much with his potent and clever hands (Cumani Magistri qui potenti manu non inani complevit).

The church has since then undergone several restorations, but in none of them has its plan been materially altered. There is still the octagonal dome, the circular apse at one end of the building, and the narthex at the other. The façade still honestly follows the lines of the roof, and has its little rows of pillared galleries across. The outside of the apse shows the new tendency to Romanesque more than the façade does; here arches and friezes in horizontal circles around it, take the place of the perpendicular shafts, and the single row of archlets on the top. It is more in the style of the thirteenth and fourteenth-century Lucca churches. The arch of the north door rests on lions, which we may take as the secret sign of Romanesque Comacine work between the tenth and twelfth centuries, as the intreccio or Solomon's knot had been their mark in the Lombard period.

The church of S. Maria Maggiore at Bergamo is a valuable specimen not only of this transition in its early stage, but of the culmination of the Romanesque, two centuries later. An inscription on the arch of the portico records that it was founded in the time of Pope Innocent 183 II. and King Lothair II., i.e. about 1135, Rogerius being then the Bishop of Bergamo.[135] The builder's name is also recorded as Magister Fredus, probably short for Godfredus. Magister Fredus is not expressly said here to be of the Guild of Comacines, but as his work was entirely in Lombard style, with a few slight indications of a freer school, and as the architects who succeeded him were, as may be proved by documents, Comacine Masters chiefly from Campione, we may fairly make the hypothesis that he too was one of the guild. The little that remains of his work is to be seen in the interior, where the round arch still predominates, and in the exterior walls of the apse, with its crown of arches and colonnettes.

The parts due to the later brethren of the guild are the rich ornamentation of the two façades with their grand and characteristic Comacine porches, and also the Baptistery. It was in 1340 that Giovanni, son of Ugone (Big Hugh) of Campione, a celebre scultore ed architetto, was commissioned to build this Baptistery. According to the fixed laws of the Comacines he made it octagonal—the mystic sign of the Trinity, being formed of a threefold triangle. Around it entwine circles of arches and colonnettes, some lines having double columns; these reach to the cornice of the roof, which cornice is composed of reliefs allusive to the Sacrament of Baptism.

This work finished, Magister Giovanni went to Bellano on the east bank of Lake Como, together with two of his brotherhood, the Magister Antonio, son of the late Jacopo of Castellazzo da Peglio in the valley of Intelvi, and Magister Comolo, son of the late Magister Gufredo—probably a descendant of the Magister Fredus mentioned 184 above—of Asteno, near Porlezza, to rebuild the church there, which had been ruined by age and repeated floods.[136] This church is in pure Lombard style, and has a façade in black and white marble, with a fine rose window, encircled with terra-cotta foliaged decorations. After this Magister Giovanni of Campione was recalled to Bergamo to adorn the façades of the church which Fredus had left in a rough state 200 years before. These two façades faced north and south. Strange to say, the part opposite the altar has no door. In this new emprise Giovanni brought as his assistants his son Nicolino, a relative named Antonio (probably the one who had worked with him at Bellano), and a certain Giovanni Cattaneo, also from Campione. Giovanni, who was head architect, decided not to renovate the whole south façade facing the Piazza on which he began first, but to concentrate his ornamentation on a fine vestibule and doorway, to form a species of frontal. The vestibule was finished in 1351, having taken only two years. On the architrave he has himself chronicled it—"1351, m. Johannes de Campillione C. B. (civis Bergomensis) fecit hoc opus." The whole front seems to have taken three years more, as on the base of the horse on which St. Alexander, patron saint of Bergamo, sits, may be read—"Filius Ughi de Campillione fecit hoc opus 1355."

Good Master John of Campione did not long survive the execution of this masterpiece, for on the north porch is inscribed—"1360. Magister Johannes f. q. (filius quondam) Dom. Johannes de Campilio ... (abrasion) fecit hoc opus in Christi nomine. Amen."


This north porch, though so nearly coeval, shows a much greater advance in style. It is an eloquent proof of how architecture was progressing at this time by the grafting on of different influences. John the father, being older, kept more closely to his Lombard traditions. John the son, being youthful and more open to conviction, took up new ideas. He has kept the Lombard arch in his porch, the moulding of which is extremely rich, and the lions of Judah duly support his pillars, but he has filled in his arch with very Gothic tracery, in trefoil arches, and over the Lombard columns of the upper storey of the porch are arches and decorations decidedly Oriental in appearance. It is about as good a specimen of the rich chaos of ideas that marks a transition stage as one can get, and shows that John the younger had been influenced by the Saracen-Norman influence in Sicily.

Fergusson, in his Handbook of Architecture, p. 790, gives an illustration of this porch. The Campione family evidently came from a race of sculptor-architects, for the church of S. Maria at Bergamo contains a sculptural work of much merit for the time, by Ugo da Campione, the father of Giovanni senior. It is the tomb of Cardinal Longhi degli Alessandri, who died at Avignon in 1329. The almost mediæval artist compares not unfavourably with a very modern master from Como, Vincenzo Velada Ligurnetto, who in 1855 sculptured the neighbouring tomb of Donizetti placed near it.

Coming down the valley of the Pò to Cremona, we find ourselves on a scene of great Comacine industry. There is the Baptistery, dating before A.D. 1000, and the Cathedral begun in 1100. These were both works of the Lombard Masters; their style is identical, and over the architrave of the great cathedral door may be read in the Gothic characters used by them— 186


Magister Jacobus Porrata.

da Cumis, fecit hanc Rotam.

Rotam refers to the wheel window, which is a remarkably fine one, and is not, as some writers think, an illiterate mis-spelling of portam (door). The rose window is prior to the one which Jacopo or Lapo, the so-called father of Arnolfo, placed in the façade of the Duomo of Arezzo, and is even superior to it in richness of design. To Jacobus Porrata is also attributed the principal entrance of Cremona cathedral, with the statues of the four prophets beside it. Over the architrave rises a species of porch, formed of little Lombard galleries, fringing as it were the arch. Below are the usual lion-supported pillars, the lions being carved in fine red marble. The vestibule above is formed of pointed arches, on each of which a lion crouches to sustain the finishing loggia. The Comacine Masters seem to have formed a school and laborerium at Cremona, for among the archives of the Duomo a deed has been found entitled laborerio, of the year 1289. It was drawn up by the notary Degoldo Malatesta on December 12 of that year, and on the part of the Revdo. P. Cozzaconte, Bishop of Cremona, and the monk Ubertini, director and treasurer to the works of the Duomo, making a contract with Bonino and Guglielmo da Campione to build a stone stairway on the north of the cathedral towards S. Nicolò, etc. etc. The stairs still exist, with remains of some little turrets which formed part of the design.

Baptistery at Parma. Designed by Benedetto da Antelamo, A.D. 1178.

See page 187.

At Parma we have also precise data, and a name carven in stone. The cathedral was begun in 1059, four years before that of Pisa. It was finished by 1106, when Pope Pasquale II. consecrated it, the great Countess Matilda being present. In 1117 a part of it fell in an earthquake, and the Bishop Bernardo apportioned the 187 receipts of several taxes to the rebuilding. Frederic Barbarossa in 1162 confirmed this disposition of the taxes and the work was continued. The laborerium of the Comacines at Parma was at different times under two of their chief sculptor-architects, Benedetto da Antelamo being master of the lodge in 1178, and Giovanni Bono of Bissone in 1281. Benedetto sculptured the now ancient pulpit of the cathedral, which was supported on four columns, and to which the relief of the Crucifixion, signed by him, belonged. It is now in the third chapel on the right. He also designed and erected the Baptistery, which, more than any building of the time, shows an originality of idea quite remarkable. It is built entirely of white marble, is of course octagonal, that is de règle, and is surrounded by rows of little pillared galleries, but in these he has made his colonnettes classical, and has left out the arches entirely, except in the upper one, substituting a solid flat marble entablature for them. The lower part only has a circular arch in each of the eight sides. The arches of the doorways are very deep, and richly sculptured. One has four dark marble pillars on each side of the door, of which the lintels and architrave are richly carved in reliefs. The north door has a Nativity of Christ in the lunette, and a story of John the Baptist beneath it. The west portal shows a realistic Last Judgment above, and on the sides the seven ages of man, and Christ performing the seven works of mercy. On the south door is the allegory of Death from the mediæval religious romance of Barlaam and Josaphat. The arches between the doors are filled in with niches containing statues supported on black marble Corinthian columns.

All round the building above the base is a frieze of the real old animal myths and symbols, such as the Comacines of two or three centuries earlier delighted in. The march of the times had now substituted actual representations of 188 scriptural subjects, instead of mere symbols of dark mysteries, but the Magister could not all at once leave behind him the old emblems which had served his guild for centuries in the way of ornamentation. The building is unique, and shows daring independent thought at a time when independence was most difficult.

Fergusson, however, blames the false principles of design. He says the four upper storeys are only built to conceal a dome, which is covered by a flat wooden roof. The roof seen from above seems to be a flat tiled roof, and it has a pretty solid bell-turret in the centre. The little arches forming the upper range are slightly pointed. This Baptistery, as well as the pulpit in the Duomo, bears the signature of the builder and sculptor, and the date 1196.

"Bis binis demptis annis de mille ducentis.

Incepit dictus opus hoc sculptor Benedictus."[137]

Val d'Antelamo, the native place of Benedictus, is a valley near Lago Maggiore towards Laveno. It seems probable that a branch school or lodge of the Comacines existed here, of which Benedetto was at this epoch at the head,[138] and gave the name to his pupils. They must have emigrated like other branches of the guild, for in the ancient statutes of Genoa we find several mentions of experts in architecture, called Magistri da Antelamo, who were called in by the city magistrates, when any building work had to be valued or judged.[139]

As early as 1181 in the archives of S. Giorgio, one finds the names Martino and Ottoboni, Magistri Antelami, and as late as Nov. 27, 1855, a sentence was given at the Collegio dei Giudici at Genoa by a Maestro Anteramo. The substitution 189 of r for l is to this day a very common error among Italians.

In 1161 a squadron of Masters from Lombardy was called to renovate the cathedral of Faenza, which was much ruined. These Masters accepted, and showed themselves most proficient. So says an old writer quoted by Merzario, but whether these very clever architects were the same Antelami branch who worked at Parma cannot be decided.[140] A later Comacine Master at Parma, whose name has come down to us, is Giovanni Bono of Bissone, a little village between Como and Lugano. The grand vestibule of the principal door of Parma cathedral, with its lion-supported columns, its bands of colonnettes and its rich sculpture, was designed by him. In a Gothic inscription over the door deciphered by Sig. Pezzana, we learn that the lions were made by Giovanni Bono da Bissone in 1280, at the time when Guido, Niccolao, Bernardino, and Benvenuti worked in the laborerium.[141]

This inscription, for which I am indebted to Canonico Pietro Tonarelli, is especially valuable, not only in fixing the epoch of Giovanni Buono da Bissoni's work, but as proof of the organization of the lodge and the brotherhood of its members. The word fratrum certainly implies that the laborerium was in the hands of a guild. The Canonico Tonarelli writes in a letter from Parma, that in an estimate in the archives of the Chapter, dated 1354, the Fabbriceria was denominated Domus laborerii seu fabricæ ... majoris Ecclesiæ, and that the administrators were called fratres de Laborerio. In Tuscany they were called Operai, and the office of administrator was the Opera del Duomo. The four names of the fratres, too, have a significance when read 190 in the light I have since found thrown on the organization by the archives of the Opere in Siena and Florence. In those lodges one perceives plainly that the administration of the lodge was placed under four persons, of whom two were Masters of the guild, and two were influential persons of the city, i.e. half the council of administration gave the votes of the architects employed, and the other half those of the patrons who employed them. That the same rule held in this earlier lodge at Parma is confirmed by the fact that Niccolao and Benvenuti are found working together with Giovanni Buono at Pistoja in 1270.[142]

Sometimes a single name stands out among the file of Comacines, and one finds several well-known buildings that have emanated from one mind. Such a Master was Magister Giorgio of Jesi, near Como. His name is graven in the stones of many a church. At Fermo on the Adriatic, a "sumptuous" cathedral was built in 1227; a certain Bartolommeo Mansionarius being the patron. On the left south door was a slab with the inscription—"A.D. MCCXXVII Bartolomeus Mansionarius Hoc opus fieri fecit Per Manus Magistri Georgii de Episcopatu Com".... That the mutilated word is Como we prove by a similar inscription on the cathedral at Jesi (the ancient Æsis where the Emperor Frederick II., grandson of Barbarossa, was born). The ancient cathedral of S. Septimus, a truly Lombard building, still exists in part. Here the inscription runs—"A.D. MCCXXXVII tempore D. Gregorii Papae domini Federici Imperatoris, et domini Severini. episcope. æsini. Magister Georgius de Cumo civis æsinus fecit hoc opus."

Here we get the city as well as the bishopric to which Magister Giorgius belonged. He was a citizen of Jesi in 191 the diocese of Como, and a qualified member of the higher rank of the Comacine Guild. In the little town of Penna in the same province, where the church was ruined in an earthquake, an ancient stone was found with the following inscription in old Latin—"In the name of God. Amen. This work was commenced in the time of the Priest Gualtieri, and completed in that of the Priest Grazia, by Master George of Jesi in the year 1256." By these stones we find that Master George worked in the province of Piceno for thirty years, between Fermo, Jesi, and Penna. To him is attributed the ancient communal palace of Jesi which was rebuilt in the fifteenth century by other Comacine Masters. 192



1. 1050 Magister Ersati di Ligorno  
2. 1099 M. Lanfranco, son of Ersati Chief architect at Modena in 1099. His son Ubertino forms a link with Padua, where he worked at the church of S. Antonio in 1263.
3. 1130 M. Guglielmo or Vigilelmo   Sculptors on the façades of Modena and Ferrara cathedrals
4.   M. Ambroxius, his son
5.   M. Nicolaus
6. 12th century M. Meo di Cecco, and Assist in the façade of Ferrara cathedral. There was a Marco di Frixone da Campione at Milan a century later in 1300, probably a descendant of this one.
7. M. Antonio di Frix of Como
8. 1209 M. Anselmo da Campione Sculptured the porch of Modena cathedral; was chief architect in 1181.
9. 1244 M. Ottaccio Sons of Anselmo da Campione, who was also called Anselmo Tedesco. The office of head architect was made hereditary in the family.
Jacopo is supposed to be the Jacopo Tedesco, reputed father of Arnolfo.
10.   M. Alberto
11.   M. Jacopo
12. " M. Arrigo, son of M. Ottaccio Arrigo was head architect in 1244.
13. 1322 M. Enrico, grandson of M. Arrigo Built the tower and sculptured the pulpit at Modena.


At Modena, which was once a prosperous Roman colony, and then an independent commune, we find a most interesting family of Comacines, who for more than two centuries worked at the cathedral there, son succeeding father, and nephews following their uncles as architects. The building of a worthy church was the first thought of the newly-made commune in 1099. In Muratori's copy of the Acts of the translation of the body of S. Gemignano to Modena, we read—"So then, in the year 1099, the inhabitants of the said city began to demand where they could find an architect for such a work, a builder for such a church; and at length, by the grace of God, a certain man named Lanfranco, a marvellous architect, was found, under the counsels of whom the foundations of the Basilica were laid."[143]

Lanfranco is a name very frequent in Lombardy, but this man, probably from his already acquired fame, was the same Magister Lanfrancus filius Dom. Ersatii de Livurno (Ligurno), who built the cloister of Voltorre, near Lake Varese, in the neighbourhood of the Antelami.[144] The fact remains that all his successors were Comacines, and from places near Ligurno. There is also a similarity of style between the cloister at Voltorre, and the older parts of S. Gemignano at Modena, both showing a grafting of Gothic on the Romano-Lombard style. A curious document exists, a kind of contract, quoted by Tiraboschi in his Codice Diplomatico in the Appendix to the historical memorials of the building of the cathedral, long after Lanfranco's part was done. It runs, when Anglicized—"In the name 194 of Christ, in the year of His nativity, 1244, in the second indiction, on the day of Mercury (Wednesday), the last of the month of November. It has been recorded that between Ser Alberto, once treasurer to the Opera et Fabbrica, and the late Master Anselmo da Campione in the episcopate of Como (Magistrum Anselmum de Campilione, Episcopatus Cumani), a contract was made, by which the said Magister and his heirs in perpetuo should work at the said church of Modena, and either the said Master, or any other Master, his descendant, should receive every day, six imperials in the days of May, June, July, and August, but five imperials only in those of the other months, for their recompense and their work. Ser Ubaldino, now Administrator of the said Fabbriceria, seeing and considering that the said stipend or remuneration does not seem sufficient according to the course of these and succeeding times, has deliberated and taken counsel with the venerable Bishop Signor Alberto, and with Ser Giovanni, Archpriest of Modena, at the instance and petition of Magister Arrigo (Henry), son of Magister Ottaccio, who was the son of Anselmo aforesaid; and in the presence of the aforementioned Signori, Bishop, and Archpriest, and of the subscribing witnesses, promises and agrees that to the said Magister Arrigo, for himself and his sons and heirs, and for Magister Alberto and Magister Jacopo, his paternal uncles (patruis suis), and the sons and heirs of the same, shall be given over and above to them, and to their said sons, or successors, who shall be masters in that art (qui magistri fuerint hujus artis), eight imperials for each day they work, from the calends of April to the calends of October. In the days of the remaining months in which they shall have worked at the will of the Administrator of the building, they should, and shall have, only six imperials, receiving nevertheless their food from the said lodge, not only on festal days, but on all others, as they have from the beginning been 195 accustomed to have. And if at the will of the said Administrator they shall bring other competent Masters necessary to the said works, these shall receive seven imperials for each day, from the said calends of April to those of October, but in other months only five imperials per diem."

This deed was drawn up in the Canonica of Modena, and duly signed by witnesses.

Tracing the predecessors of Arrigo of Campione, father and grandfather, back from 1244, we come very near the time of the first Lanfranco; and following his descendants from Arrigo, head architect in 1244, to his grandson, who finished the tower of the Dome,[145] and made the marble pulpit in the cathedral in 1322, we get a family line of builders lasting unbroken for nearly two hundred years. There still exists an inscription in bad Latin on the cornice of the pulpit, which says that Tomasino di Giovanni, treasurer of the Fabbriceria, S. Gemignano, had the pulpit carved, and the tower built by Arrigo or Enrico, the Campionese sculptor (actibus Henrici sculptoris campionensis). It would be difficult now to assign his due share to each of this long line of master-builders; but the Italian critic, Marchese Ricci, gives Lanfranco the credit of the interior, which is in pure Romano-Lombard style, with two aisles and a nave. The nave is much higher than the aisles, and is supported on columns with high Corinthian capitals from some ancient Roman temple. Lanfranco has given a clumsier Lombard air to them by a very large abacus. The crypt is supported on sixty columns, the capitals of which are all Lombard, and of endless variety of form and sculpture. In the centre is the ark (tomb) of S. Gemignano. The wall 196 of the façade, with its little pillared gallery, is also of Lanfranco's time.

The porch, with its knotted pillars supported on lions, is adjudged by Ricci to be the work of Anselmo of Campione in 1209. The sculpture on the façade by Nicolaus and Guglielmo is said to date from early in the twelfth century, and probably belonged to Lanfranco's design before Anselmo put this doorway. They are to our eyes most naïve Bible stories told in rude sculpture—the one side representing the Creation, the other the first men as far as Noah. To contemporary eyes, however, they were great works, for an old grandiloquent low Latin inscription on the façade says—"Inter scultores quanto sis dignus honore Claret scultura nunc Viligelme tua." "Worthy of honour art thou among sculptors. So shines, O William, this thy sculpture." Marchese Ricci, from the peculiar spelling of Guglielmo, thinks that he might have been a German, but as in the Ferrara inscription he is spelt in the Italian way, I think the Viligelme may be only one of those queer reversals of consonants so common in illiterate Italians. If a poor Florentine has a son named Arturo, he will surely call him Alturo, or if Alfredo, he will always be Arfledo. In any way we can descry in this artist, as in many others of his age, the forerunner of Niccolò Pisano, and see in the art of Niccolò only a link in development, not a new art entirely. To Nicolaus and Guglielmo are also attributed the sculptures in the choir, representing the Passion. We shall find them again at Ferrara.

We see, then, that the family of Anselmo, hereditary sculptors and architects of Modena, were certainly the founders of the great school of the Campionese, which lasted some centuries, and to whose hands may be attributed nearly all the great churches in North Italy. The schools, laborerium, and fabbricerie of Modena furnish another prototype of the threefold organization, which 197 becomes so distinct in the Opera of Florence and the Lodges of Venice, Siena, and Orvieto. Tiraboschi publishes a notarial Act, dated January 7, 1261, which speaks of the laborerium near the Duomo, where the stones for the fabric were carved; and that there was a covered way between the church and this building which must not be removed or changed.

Gerolamo Calvi, in his Matteo de Campione, architetto e scultore, says that nearly all the architecture and sculpture executed in and around Milan in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries may be attributed to the Campionesi. He instances the Sala della Ragione at Padua, with its enormous span of roof, its characteristic arcades and galleries, and the Loggia degli Assi, or Loggia del Consiglio, once the Podestà's palace; the church of S. Agostino at Bergamo, built by Ugo da Campione and his son Giovanni, the castle of the Visconti at Pavia, and many others. Campione, though a place of importance in Roman times, and cited in Carlovingian documents, is now only a village on the side of a mountain, near Val d'Intelvi, containing 500 inhabitants. Calvi writes of it that from the earliest times before the renaissance of art,[146] the men of Campione dedicated themselves to building and sculpture, and diffused themselves throughout the north of Italy, working rudely at first, but gaining in style and experience till they produced great works worthy of eternal fame.

It seems probable that in this school we have a link with Florence. The Jacopo de Campione, who was mentioned in 1244 as uncle of the petitioner Arrigo, is named in other documents as a Campionese, is thought by Merzario and other authors to be that famous architect, Jacopo il 198 Tedesco—or the Lombard, who was for centuries taken with certainty to be the father of Arnolfo. We shall speak of his pedigree in another chapter.

The builders of the Duomo of Ferrara were decidedly connected with the laborerium at Modena, both lodges originating from the Campione school. The façade has the usual three perpendicular divisions formed by means of chiselled shafts, but each division is divided horizontally into three levels, each one enriched with Lombard galleries. Besides these is a wealth of ornamentation, figures, reliefs, trafori (open work), and foliage of the most fantastic kind. This and the framework of the church are all that remain of the Comacine work, excepting the vestibule, which has all their signs on it. Four columns resting on four red marble lions support it; one of them guards a lamb, and another has a serpent beneath its paw. Here we have still the Comacine mysticism: the lion of Judah guarding the Paschal Lamb, and one of the House of Judah crushing the serpent. Over the porch are more sculptures, and an arched vestibule; over that a kind of Gothic gable, and above the gable a rose window. The whole speaks eloquently of its kinship with the churches of Verona, Parma, and Bergamo. Tradition says the interior and façade were built not much later than 1103. The inscription over the door runs—

"Il mille cento trempta nato. Fo questo templo a Zorzi (Giorgio) consacrato. Fo Nicolao scultore, e Ghelmo fo lo auctore." These are evidently the same Guglielmo and Nicolao who sculptured Lanfranco's front at Modena. Guglielmo was the leading man, and made the design (auctore); Nicolaus chiefly executed it.

But these two were not the only Comacines employed at Ferrara; a MS. copy of an ancient inscription on some old reliefs in the front of the church of St. George, records the 199 names of Meo and Antonio of Como. "Da Meo di Checco, e da Antonio di Frix. da Como."[147]

Façade of Ferrara Cathedral, 12th century.

See page 198.

Before the middle of the thirteenth century, Padua had become the shrine of a miraculous saint. St. Anthony had come over from Lisbon in 1220, and founded at Padua a new order of monks, called Minori Conventuali, under similar rules to the Franciscans. St. Anthony attracted great crowds of people by his preaching and miracles, and at his death in 1231 he was canonized, and his devotees desired to build a beautiful church over his tomb. The first attempt failed from not having means to pay a good architect, or competent builders, and in 1265 the commune set to work to remedy their mistake. They assigned four thousand lire a year to the re-edification, until such time as the church should be completed. By 1307 all was complete except the cupola, which was added a century later. Vasari attributes the design to Niccolò Pisano; but his able commentator, Milanesi, who lived all his life studying archives, asserts that neither document, inscription, nor tradition remain to prove Niccolò's connection with Padua, while the style of the building is utterly unlike the edifices known to be his.

Some documents in the archives of Padua, unearthed by Padre Gonzali, prove that in 1263, on May 11, there were working in the church as builders, Egidio, son of Magister Gracii; Ubertino, son of Lanfranco; Niccola, son of Giovanni; and Pergandi, son of Ugone of Mantua; and that, in 1264, a Zambono of Como and a Benedetto of Verona, who lived in the district of Rovina, are recorded as builders. There is no record of the architect who designed the church; but judging from the Moorish innovations of style it was very probably either planned by the monks, or designed by 200 them. St. Anthony was a Portuguese. On his way here he would have passed through Spain, and may have been attracted by the Moorish architecture. He may have even brought a drawing or two of some many-domed building, and have given them to the Lombard architects to work from. Probably some of his monks were—like many Franciscans and Dominicans—members of the Guild of Freemasons, and so trained in the science of architecture.

In any case, the buildings at Padua are neither true Lombard nor true Gothic, and not even Oriental, but a mixture of all three. The Lombard has partly had his way in the façade, where the upper part is full of galleries and archlets; the lover of the new Gothic arches has put his mark on the lower part of the façade; and the monks, who remembered the native land of their saint, have put the seven domes and minarets; the domes, however, were beyond the Comacines of that time, and were not placed till the fifteenth century, when it is to be imagined that the Renaissance doorway and various pilasters and adjuncts were added. Altogether, for a church where Como Masters undoubtedly worked, St. Anthony of Padua is the most unlike their style. They seem to have taken so little interest in the outlandish plan, that they did not sanctify it by a bit of their biblical sculpture.

That monks at that era really did occupy themselves in architecture, we have consistent proofs in the monkish builders of fine churches; and that when they followed this branch, they were probably trained in, and became members of, the great Masonic Guild, is also indicated by the close connection between the Magistri-frati and the secular Magistri. In the transactions of the guild, monks were frequently called into council by the Opera or Fabbriceria; and they often worked at their churches in conjunction with the secular members.[148] In the church of S. Francesco at 201 Lodi is an interesting old painting, representing S. Bernardino directing a group of monks engaged in building a convent. Beneath it is written—"Qualiter in ædificatione monasterii Bernardinus fratres hortatus fuerit."[149]

Church of S. Antonio, Padua, 13th century.

See page 199.

It is through this order at Padua that the link with Germany became strengthened. Albertus Magnus was a Dominican, born in Bavaria. He came to Padua for his studies in theology and the exact sciences, which evidently included the science of building. Merzario says that up to 1223 he taught publicly in Padua, and wrote a work on Perspective.[150]

Don Vincenzo Rossi, Prior of Settignano, however, writes to me, I believe on the authority of Montalembert, that Albertus Magnus attended the university at Padua, and some think also that at Pavia, but only as a student. He held a cattedra at Cologne, where St. Thomas of Aquinas was his pupil.[151]

The name of Albertus Magnus is much connected with the Freemasonry of Germany; and soon after his stay in Padua we find Comacine Masters working in Germany. Some German savant might work out this clue, and see if he did not start, or aid in establishing, a lodge at Cologne, for all authors agree that the architectural Maestranze (as the Italians called the mixed clerical and lay Masonic Guilds) passed over the Alps from Italy, and flourished greatly in northern cities, such as Strasburg, Zurich, Cologne, etc., etc.

In the twelfth century the beautiful church and monastery of Chiaravalle, near Milan, were erected by the Campionese 202 Masters, on the commission of the noble family of Archinto of Milan. It is a fine specimen of Italian Gothic, with the dome peculiar to that style.

The Visconti of Milan were large patrons of the Campionese school. The fine castle at Pavia, built in the time of Galeazzo II., shows by its style the Comacine hand. It has been assigned to Niccola Sella from Arezzo and Bernardo of Venice, but, as Merzario shows, these men only came to Pavia thirty years after it was finished.

The first stone was laid on March 27, 1360. The archives have been searched in vain to find the architect's name: it is, however, proved that Bonino da Campione was in Pavia in 1362, working at the Area di S. Agostino, so it is probable that some of his brethren of the Campionese school were also employed by Galeazzo. Unluckily, these are so individually sunk in the company, that one rarely gets a prominent name.

Merzario, quoting other writers, attributes to the Campionesi that sepulchral monument of Beatrice della Scala, now in the church of S. Maria at Milan; the mausoleum of Stefano Visconti in S. Eustorgio, and that of Azzo, son of Galeazzo I.; but beyond a tradition that Bonino da Campione sculptured the last, there is no positive proof.[152]

Great conjectures have been made as to the real author of the Arca di Agostino at Pavia. Vasari says—"La quale è di mano secondo che a me pare di Agnolo e Agostino, scultori senesi." His expression, "As it seems to me," is not very decisive proof, truly. Cicognara is not more exact. He "wonders that this most grand and magnificent work is not more famous than it is—and thinks it shows the style of the Sienese brothers, but opines it is more likely to be by some pupil of theirs, if it is not by Pietro Paolo and Jacobello the Venetians." This is vague with a vengeance. Merzario, however, proves that there are no 203 documents to show that the Sienese brother sculptors ever came to Pavia, and asserts that the style of the Arca is not at all Venetian.

The learned Difendente Sacchi[153] brings more logic and less imagination to bear on the point. The inscription on the monument proves that it was begun in 1362, placed in 1365, and that the accessory ornamentation was finished in 1370. The books of the administration show that the sums paid for its construction amounted in all to seventy-two thousand lire italiane.

As no artist in especial is named as having received this sum, I should myself imagine that as usual several Masters of the guild worked at it, but that one was capo maestro, and drew the design. Comparing it with the monument of Can della Scala at Verona, which is a certified work of Bonino da Campione, Sacchi argues that he was the designer and sculptor of this Arca. The style in both is semi-Gothic, the arches following the same curve and resting on columns; the friezes and ornaments are so much alike as to be in some parts identical in design; the crown of pyramids and cupolini which finishes the monument on the top, the form of the pinnacles, and their floriations are more than similar.

The Arca di S. Agostino is, however, the more elaborate. It has ninety-five statues in its niches, not counting statuettes. One may count nearly three hundred distinct works of sculpture in the composition. (Would not this redundancy prove it the work of a school rather than one hand?) Sacchi justly observes that if Can Scaliger confided to Bonino the commission for his monument, it must have been because he had seen proofs of his skill; and where could this have been more probable than in the Arca at Milan?

A suggestive proof of the Arca di S. Agostino being the joint work of the Comacine Guild, is suggested by 204 Merzario.[154] Over the colonnade of the Arca are twelve statues, but in front of these stand the Quattro Santi Coronati, the four artist martyrs. One of these is represented stooping to examine the base of a pillar; another trying the diminution of a column with the T square, and a third measures a reversed capital, and holds a scroll on which is written in Gothic letters, Quatuor Coronatorum; the fourth is working with hammer and chisel.

Now these four saints, being the special patrons of the Comacine Guild, would have little significance to any other artists.

The sepulchre of Can Signorio de Scaliger in Verona was begun in his lifetime, and on his own commission, and cost 10,000 gold florins. He died in 1375, so it must date slightly prior to that. Bonino de Campiglione Mediolanensis has signed his name in marble on the frieze. It is a fine specimen of Gothic ornamentation, at the culmination of the Campionese school.

There were also earlier works of Bonino's at Cremona; one a sepulchre to Folchino de Schicci, a jurisconsult, in the chapel of St. Catherine in the Duomo, beautifully worked with friezes, etc., in bas-reliefs. It is signed in Gothic characters—

"Hoc sepulcrum est nobilis et

Egregii militis et juris periti

D Folchini de Schiciis qui

obiit anno D,MCCCLVII

Die Julii et heredum ejus

Justitia, Temperantia Fortitudo Prudentia

Magis. Bonino de Campilione me fec."[155]

Tomb of Can Signorio degli Scaligeri at Verona. By Magister Bonino da Campione, 1374.

See page 204.

The other one is the urn for the relics of S. Omobono, protector of Cremona. Unfortunately the urn, which is said to have been very rich and beautifully worked, has 205 been ruined and dispersed. One slab only remains, bearing the inscription, Magister Boninus de Campilione me fecit, with the date, June 25, 1357. So Can Scaliger would have had also other famous monumental works to recommend his choice of Bonino. 206



The very mention of Pisa brings to our minds Niccolò Pisano, whose name stands in all art histories as the fountain-head of that Tuscan development of art which led to the Renaissance. But where was Niccolò Pisano trained and qualified for this high post of honour? A great architect and sculptor does not suddenly become famous and obtain important commissions without having some undeniable credentials.

In those mediæval days, when the arts protected themselves by forming into constituted guilds, no one could call himself a Master unless he were trained and qualified in one of these guilds and had reached the higher grades. To trace Niccolò's place in the great chain of the Masonic Guild, we must go back a little, and gather together the threads of information we have been able to glean, as to the expansion of the guild itself, and here the valuable collections of archivial documents made by Sig. Milanesi from the books and archives of the Opera del Duomo at Siena, and by Sig. Cesare Guasti from those of the cathedral at Florence, will materially assist us. By studying these and putting facts and statements together the whole organization becomes clear, and our former glimpses into the threefold aspect of the lodges at Modena, Parma, and other northern cities become confirmed. 207

Here in Tuscany we again find the three branches. First: There is the school where novices were trained in the three sister arts—painting, sculpture, and architecture. When pupils were received from outside the guild, they had to pass a very severe novitiate before being admitted as members; but the sons and nephews of Magistri were, we learn, entitled to be members by heritage without the novitiate.[156] The hereditary aspect of the lists of Masters certainly displays this right of heritage very strongly. The qualified Masters were entitled to take pupils and apprentices in their own studios. The large number of pupils who studied under Niccolò Pisano suggests his eminent position in the guild.

Second: There was the laborerium, or great workshop, where all the hewing of stone, carving of columns, cutting up of wood-work was done—in fact, the head-quarters of the brethren who had passed the schools, but were not yet Masters.[157] A graphic sketch from a Masonic laborerium is given by Nanni di Banco, in the relief under the shrine of the Quattro Coronati on Or San Michele at Florence, where the four brethren are all at work. In looking at it, one is reminded of the old story of the block of marble from which Michael Angelo's David was made, which had laid for many years in the stores of the Opera del Duomo at Florence, it having been once assigned to Agostino di Ducci, who was commissioned in 1464 to make a statue for the front of the Duomo, which was blocked out so badly that the marble was taken away from him, and he was expelled from the laborerium.[158]

Third: There was the Opera or Office of Administration, 208 which formed the link between the guild and its patrons. The Freemasons evidently adapted their nomenclature to the dialect of the part they were in. In Tuscany the word for this office was Opera (or Works). There was the Opera di S. Jacopo at Pistoja as early as 1100; and the Opera del Duomo at Pisa, Siena, and Florence. In cities of the Lombard district, such as Modena, Parma, Padua, Milan, etc., the name is Fabbriceria. The members of this Ruling Council are generally four in number, and are called Operai in Tuscany, and Fabbricieri in Lombardy. These were elected periodically, two of them being influential citizens, who acted on the part of the patrons, and two from the Masters themselves. Where the lodge was very small there was only one operaio, as in Pistoja, when in 1250 Turrisianus was overseer (superstans) for a year. Later, when the Pistoja lodge was larger, there were two. At Milan there were more than four. Above these was the Superiore, a sort of president. If there were a reigning Prince, he was usually elected president. In the Opera, all commissions were given, and contracts signed between the city and the Masters, every contract being duly drawn up in legal manner by the notary of the Opera. Here orders were given for the purchase of materials, and estimates considered for the payment of either work or goods. The Opera had to provide the funds for the whole expenses. Usually this was done in the first instance by appropriating to the work the receipts of one or more taxes. In course of time people left legacies, and the Opera had a knack of growing very rich.

Between the Opera and the laborerium was a responsible officer called the Provveditore. Judging from the entries in his private memorandum-book, his responsibilities must have been endless, and his occupations multitudinous. 209

There was also a treasurer, a secretary, and two Probiviri, sometimes called Buon uomini, who acted as arbiters, for purposes of appeal and verification of accounts.

The identical form of the lodges in the different cities is a strong argument that the same ruling body governed them all. An argument equally strong is the ubiquity of the members. We find the same man employed in one lodge after another, as work required. Unfortunately no documents exist of the early Lombard times, but the archives of the Opere, which in most cities have been faithfully kept since the thirteenth century, would, if thoroughly examined, prove to be valuable stores from which to draw a history of the Masonic Guild.

We will now return to Pisa.

Sig. Merzario asserts that no school of art indigenous to Pisa existed there before the building of the Duomo. He might almost have said before the time of Niccolò, for so far was the half-mythical Buschetto from being a Pisan, that the world has for eight centuries been arguing where he came from! To arrive at Niccolò it is necessary to start from Buschetto. Who was Buschetto? Whence came he? Vasari, in his ignorance of monumental Latin, says, "From Dulichium," and thus the idea was promulgated that he was a Greek. But the inscription (given on next page) on Pisa cathedral says nothing of the kind. It is a flowery eloquence which Cavalier Del Borgo reads as comparing him for genius to Ulysses, Duke of Dulichium, and for skill to Dædalus.

Cicognara judges from his name that he was Italian. Most probably Buschetto was a nickname, "little bush," given him either from a shock head of hair, or derived from Buscare, to thrash or flog. It is quite possible, though the proofs are not very strong, that he may have been of Greek extraction, descended from some of the Byzantine members of the guild of whom we have spoken before. 210

















The partisans of the Grecian theory hold much to a MS. said to be now in the archives of the Vatican,—but which Milanesi asserts cannot be found,—which says that the Pisans "Buschetum ex Grecia favore Constantinopolitani Imperatoris obtinuerunt." Morrona also suspects this to be apocryphal; but even if it be genuine, the Pisans may only have asked for one of the Italian architects who were working in large numbers in the East under the Emperors, and building Lombard churches on Oriental ground. It was only in 1170 that Desiderius, Abbot of Monte Cassino, begged Comnenus to send him back some architects, and the Italian sculptor Olinto was among them.

It may well be true, as Sig. Merzario says, that no school existed at Pisa before the Duomo was begun. But soon 211 after that, we certainly find the usual organization of laborerium and Opera.

Old authors tell us that "the most famous Masters from foreign parts vied in lending their help to the building of such an important edifice, under the direction of Buschetto."[162] Another old MS.[163] records that the "Opera of the Duomo was instituted in 1080, some years after Buschetto was engaged, and that the first operai of the Council were Hildebrand, son of the Judge Uberto, son of Leo, Signoretto Alliata, and Buschetto of Dulichium who was architect. The head of these was Hildebrand, and the others were ministers and officers of the Opera, as may be found in the archives of the said Opera."[164] Here we have the full organization of the Comacine House of Works. The dignitaries of the city as President, Treasurer, and Ministers, the head architect also a member of the Council of the Opera. Another old writer calls Buschetto capo della scuola Pisana.

Niccolò, Giovanni, and Andrea da Pisa are fine proofs that the school at Pisa flourished and brought forth brave artists. Even as late as the sixteenth century, when Sansovino was sculpturing the casing of the Holy House at Loreto, we are told that thirty of the best carvers in stone were sent from Pisa to work under the Capo Maestro, Andrea Contucci of Monte Sansovino.[165]

Among the Magistri from other parts in Buschetto's time, one of the chief was doubtless Rainaldo, who, judging from 212 the inscription near the principal door of the façade, was not only a working sculptor in the guild, but also a full-fledged Master—




It is much to be deplored that this inscription bears no date, so that we cannot tell whether Rainaldo were chief architect after Buschetto, or whether he were only sculptor and executed the front; Buschetto being architect, and designing the whole. Here we have several things to suggest both these artists as Italians, (1) Their names. (2) The Comacine form of their institutions, with the Opera at the head. (3) The concourse of Italian Magistri which followed them; but as usual, absolute proof is wanting.

Let us see if their work can throw more light on the question. Is the Pisan church Byzantine? Decidedly not. There are no domes except the central one, which is seen in most Lombard churches; no Oriental arches resting on bulging capitals; but round arches supported on the identical Romano-Lombard composite capitals one sees in every Italian church of the time. The façade too is a very wilderness of Lombard galleries in every direction. Instead of following the line of roof, they cover the whole front, one below another. If Buschetto had brought back from Byzantium an idea of more richness of ornamentation, he certainly worked it out in Italian forms, by merely multiplying his little pillared galleries till a network was formed over the whole building. This was not confined to him; it became a mark of Comacine work for the next two or three centuries, as we may see at Lucca, Ancona, Arezzo, and other places. The style is called Romanesque, and it stands between the heavier Lombard style of the earlier Comacines, and the more finished Italian Gothic of the 213 later ones, as shown in Florence and Milan. They are all, however, only different developments of the same guild.

Interior of Pisa Cathedral, 11th century.

See page 212.

The richness of ornamentation suited the temper of the Pisans at that time. They were proud of many victories, and had brought back from Majorca, Palermo, and other places, various spoils, such as porphyry colonnettes, rare marble, etc. etc.[166] They desired a particularly grand and gorgeous church, and that it should be in a style hitherto unknown. The many antique capitals and columns among the spoils placed at his disposal suggested, of course, arches, so by way of being very original, Buschetto or Rainaldo, whichever of the two designed it, made his façade with four arcades, instead of one, or two, as his brethren in the north were accustomed to do. The colonnettes in these four galleries are fifty-eight in number, some of rosso antico, others of the black and gold-streaked Luna marble. The two large columns at the central door are also of antique Greek work; they are beautifully carved in foliage intertwined; the other four columns are fluted and wreathed with foliage. The capitals also are chiefly ancient classic work; there are Corinthian and composite ones. The remaining capitals are Comacine work, and have their usual mixture of animals and hieroglyphic figures. Here, too, are the lions of Judah in juxtaposition with the pillars, but as yet they appear above the pillar and not beneath it, as was the invariable custom a century later.

The rude figures of saints at the extremities of the roof, both of the aisles and nave, mark the beginning of that revival of the human figure in sculpture, which was the forerunner of the work of Niccolò Pisano. The tower and 214 Baptistery are the natural results of the Duomo, the style being identical; the same round arches in the foundation, and the same circles of Lombard galleries covering the super-structures.

The Baptistery was built by Magister Diotisalvi, somewhere about 1152. We have no proofs of his origin, but his work and title prove him to have graduated in the same guild as Buschetto and Rainaldo,[167] and we find his son and grandsons in Siena and other lodges.

In the Baptistery, the old mystic octagonal form was abandoned, and the circle takes its place. Diotisalvi has here made a perfect bell in tone as well as in form. It is the most acoustic building possible, as any one may prove by singing in rotation the notes of a chord. The whole chord echoes on for several moments with exquisite effect. The Baptistery was begun in August 1152, the first stone being laid in the presence of the Consul Cocco di Tacco Grifi; and two of the Operai (members of the administrative council or Opera) named Cinetto Cinetti, and Arrigo Cancellieri, were appointed soprastanti (overseers). Here again we have a distinct connection between the Opera del Duomo and the laborerium.

Some of the classic spoils of war were given to Diotisalvi for this building. Several of the capitals on the twenty columns supporting the foundation circle of round arches, are Corinthian; and the two pillars at the chief portal are beautiful specimens of ancient work, similar to those in the 215 façade of the Duomo. Between the classic remains incorporated into the building, and the statues and sculptures which belong to a later century, it is difficult to distinguish which were the absolute work of Diotisalvi himself. The sculptures on the door-jambs—rather mediæval scenes relating to Christ and David—and the hieroglyphics of the months were probably his own work. The Baptism of Christ on the architrave, which has the mediæval expression of baptism by immersion, may be his; and if so, it seems to explain how the Greek element got into Niccolò di Pisa's work, for here is his antecedent of a century, showing in his work signs of the same leaning to classicism in the midst of a rude and early style. How could he help it when he was living among classic remains of sculpture?

The other three doors have also antique spiral columns of Greek marble. A fine piece of work, in Comacine style, is the frieze of interlaced foliage over the west entrance. The second order is a colonnade of fifty-eight arches with sculptured capitals. The third consists of eighteen pilasters and twenty windows. Here are seen the lion between the pillar and the arch, various animals and human heads at the spring of the arches, while above each order is a complicated cornice of pyramids, spires, and arabesques, which suggest a Southern or Eastern influence. The interior is less ornate, but of fine solid architecture. Twelve Corinthian columns and four large pilasters support the arches, forming a peristyle round the building; a similar gallery with slight columns runs above it. The columns are not all of antique marble. Three of them are of granite brought from the Isle of Elba, on May 4, 1155, and two from Sardinia, by Cinetti, one of the overseers we have mentioned.[168] The first pillar was placed on October 1, 1156. The capitals are ornate; some antique, Corinthian, others in Comacine style with animals and intrecci. On one of the 216 pillars is engraved—"Deo-ti-salvi, magister hujus operis." Morrona thinks the Baptistery shows a Moorish influence. This is possible, as the whole of the three buildings show the Comacines' first great change of style, after their works in the south at Palermo, and the kingdom of Naples.

Old writers call the style Arabo-Tedesco; and this brings us to the meaning of the word Tedesco in Italian architecture at this epoch.

The fallacy that the Italian Gothic came from Germany, must have got into art histories from a misconception of Vasari's term of opprobrium, "quei Tedeschi." He uses it when he speaks of any architecture which is not purely classic, even blaming buildings such as Arnolfo's Florentine dome, the churches of Assisi, Orvieto, Lucca, Pisa, etc.

But the writers who interpret this term as meaning the German nation, are reasoning on a fallacy. In the first place, was there any pointed Gothic in Germany before the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries? We will just run over the principal Gothic cathedrals. Bruges was begun in 1358; Cologne is modern of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; Lubeck was built in 1341; Attenburg in 1265-1379; Freiburg Dom Kirche in 1484. At Freiburg in Breisgau, the older parts are of the same style as Comacine, while the Gothic parts date from 1513; Strasburg, the Gothic parts between 1318-1439; Magdeburg, 1363.

Before these were built we have at Cologne, S. Gereon's Kirche, with circular arches, date 1227, and S. Pantaleon, 980, but there is not a sign of Gothic in either. Bonn cathedral, built in 1151-1270, is also round-arched. Coblenz is Carlovingian. Mayence, round-arched of the tenth and eleventh centuries (the Gothic side-chapels date from 1260 to 1500). Treves, with round arches, early Romanesque of the eleventh century; choir, later Romanesque of the twelfth century; some parts which are pointed were of 217 the thirteenth century. Hildesheim, a Romanesque Basilica, built in the eleventh century. Dom Insel at Breslau, 1170, is tripartite, on the Comacine plan, and very quaint. Worms, 996-1016, Lombard style, with round arches; the parts with pointed architecture are much more modern. This list proves that the earliest churches were built by Italian Masters, or at least in the Italian style.

Indeed Hope classes most of them as Lombard. The Germans themselves expanded the Lombard style into the pointed, which also came up through Italy, its first signs being seen at Assisi, next at Pisa, and then Florence.

Milan was a later reflex of the perfected German Gothic, though chiefly executed, as we shall see later, by the hands of Comacine Masters.

As I have before remarked, climatic influences greatly determine the style of a national architecture. To the sunny south belong the flat roof; the shady colonnade; the horizontal line and frieze; the fountained court; the smaller windows; and the solid tower. To the north the pointed roof, that snow and rain shall not decay it; the solid buttress to resist the greater outward pressure of the high and aspiring sloped roof; the perpendicular tendency in design; the larger windows for a less sunny atmosphere; and the pointed spire to carry up the general lines.

On these lines of fitness the Germans and French perfected their style, and imported it into England. The differences are great, between this northern Gothic and the Italian Gothic, which is always more or less Romanesque. Now if in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries[169] the Germans had not begun to build their glorious pointed minsters, what did Vasari mean by quei Tedeschi? I will show from his own description. In his chapter called "dell' Architettura," forming the introduction to his Lives, after discussing the three classical orders, he says (I will translate literally)—"There 218 is another kind of work which they call Tedesco (German), in which the ornamentation and proportions are very different from the ancient or the modern. (Modern in Vasari's time would be the Renaissance style of Michael Angelo.) This is not used by good architects of these days, but is shunned by them as monstrous and barbarous. Every sign of order is forgotten, it ought rather to be called confusion and disorder. In the buildings, which are so many that they have infected the whole world, you see the portals adorned with thin columns twisted like a vine, and so slight that they could not be supposed to support the weight. And then on their façades and other places they made a cursed mass of little tabernacles (archlets) one on the other, with many pyramids and points, and such foliage (here Vasari evidently has his eye on Pisa Baptistery), that it seems impossible how they clung together; they seem made of paper, rather than of stone or marble. In these works there are many protuberances, broken lines, brackets, and intrecci, quite disproportionate to the building; and frequently, by piling one thing on another, they run up so high that the top of a door touches the roof. (Here Vasari is certainly thinking of the porches of San Zeno at Verona, and the cathedral of Bergamo.) This style was invented by the Goths (does he mean Longobards perhaps?), who having ruined the buildings, and murdered the architects, made the ones who remained build in this way. They arched their roofs with acute quarti (vaulted roofs) and filled all Italy with this cursed style of building.... God save any country from coming to such ideas and orders of architecture, which, being utterly deformed and unlike the beauty of our buildings, do not deserve that we should speak any more of them."

Again, in the Proemio delle Vite, when praising the solid buildings of the Goths in Ravenna, especially the tomb of Theodoric, with its huge monolithic roof, he goes on to 219 speak of the Dark Ages—"After which," he says, "there arose new architects, who from their barbarous nation derived the kind of buildings which we of to-day call tedeschi, the which seem ridiculous to us, although to them they may have appeared to be praiseworthy."

Here are tirades from the old chronicler of art, who swore by the three classic orders, and worshipped Michael Angelo and the Renaissance style! Certainly the flat pilaster, triangular pediments, and straight unadorned lines of that art were as far removed as the poles from the florid but meaningful sculpture-architecture of the Comacines in Romanesque times, or its rich Norman and Gothic developments.

However, we gather plainly from this, that when Vasari calls a master Tedesco, he means merely Lombard. The reason is easy to see. Lombardy and North Italy, down to Lucca, were from about 1170 under the rule of the German Emperors, consequently the Comacines were no longer Lombards, nor French as in the Carlovingian times, but Germans.

This is curiously emphasized by an episode in the building of the cathedral at Pisa. When the Pisans wanted to endow the building fund of the church, they wished to buy some land on the Serchio, near Lucca, to help to form a revenue. They had, however, to send Gualando Orlandi and Aldebrando de' Visconti as ambassadors to Germany to obtain permission from the Emperor Henry IV., that the lands close by Lucca might be ceded to Pisa.[170]

The tower of Pisa is too well known to need any description here. The joint masters were Bonanno of Pisa, and a very confusing Tedesco. In some authors he is called Giovanni d'Innspruck, in others Guglielmo from Germany. On inquiry as to how Innspruck comes into the question, we find the following perplexing passage in 220 Morrona. After quoting the inscription on the tower, "A.D. MCLXXIV campanile hoc fuit fundatum mense Agusti," he continues—"We find from ancient documents belonging to the Opera, that the building was begun on the vigil of San Lorenzo, and the two above-mentioned architects (Bonanno and Guglielmo) are precisely indicated, excepting only that instead of Guglielmo Tedesco, it is written Giovanni Onnipotente of Germany—a misinterpretation of the word Œnipons or Œnipontanus, which signifies native of Innspruck."[171] The italics are my own, and emphasize what Sig. Morrona styles a precise indication! The passage is an astounding bit of unreason, but as neither Giovanni nor Guglielmo is a German form of name, I do not think this theory need trouble us. Whether the builder were German or Italian, whether named John or William, he only carried out the general design of the two buildings, and made a veil of Lombard archlets all over his leaning tower.

We shall find both Bonanno and Guglielmo working at Orvieto some time later. The tower was finished much later, when Andrea di Pisa was Grand Master of the Pisan Lodge; the upper circle of arches belongs to his part of the work.

At Pisa then we have an artistic sphere which might well have produced Niccolò di Pisa, even without the influences of the south. We will, as far as the few inscriptions and documents allow, see who were the members of this Masonic lodge, which had painters before even the rise of the Siena school, and whose building was the earliest model for the Romanesque style.


Bonanno, who assisted in the building of the tower, was more famous in the guild for his metal working than for architecture and marble sculpture. The fame of the bronze doors of the Duomo which he cast is now only traditionary, as they were destroyed by the fire on October 25, 1596. The antique inscription has been preserved, and proves that in 1180 Bonanno cast the doors, which had taken him a year to model, and that a certain "Benedict" was operarius at the time.[172]

Bonanno's successor as a master in bronze was a certain Bartolommeo di Pisa, who was, like Bonanno, sculptor, architect, and metal-worker. He was much patronized by the Emperor Frederic, for whom he built the palace at Foggia, and made a tomb. He seems to have been a famous bell-caster; there are inscriptions quoted by Morrona,[173] which have been found on bells in the leaning tower of Pisa, the bells of the churches of St. Francis at Assisi, S. Francesco at Siena, S. Paolo a Ripa d'Arno, and S. Cosimo at Pisa, S. Michele at Lucca, etc. Sometimes his name stands alone; sometimes one of his sons, Lotteringo or Andreotti, is associated with him. Later we find the sons' names alone in independent works, and then with the distinctive title of Magister.

Through this group of Pisan Masters a special connection was established with the south, a link which might account for Pietro, the father of Niccolò, being called Pietro da Apulia, for there certainly was an offshoot of the Pisan lodge in that part. Bonanno of Pisa cast the famous bronze doors of Monreale; Bartolommeo was at Foggia; and his son, Magister Lotoringus, passed most of his life at Cefalù, where his name appears on a bell dated A.D. 1263. The Emperor Frederic, his father's patron, nationalized him in Cefalù, and after ten years of residence, in 1242 he 222 gave him permission to take a wife from Castro-Vetere in Calabria.

Other metal-workers and bell-casters at Pisa were a Nanni, a Pardo Nardi, and others whose names appear inscribed in the twelfth century. I do not know whether the Angelo Rossi, whose name with the date 1173 is on a sculptured bell once in the church of S. Giovanni in Pisa (now at Villa di Pugnano), was a fellow-pupil or scholar of Bonanno's. His work is less artistic and masterly.

And now for the sculptors of the lodge. A famous master of the twelfth century was Biduinus, who sculptured the façade of the ancient church of S. Cassiano, near Pisa, the building of which was undoubtedly the work of the Pisan Lodge. It is a round-arched church of the usual large smooth square-cut blocks of stone, and is externally adorned by pilasters with capitals of varied form and sculpture. Biduinus' façade has five round arches with a simple double-light window above. The capitals and architraves are all carved with the mystic beasts and hippogriffs belonging to the religion of the day. The architraves show the resurrection of Lazarus, and Christ's entry into Jerusalem. On one of the doors is the inscription in Gothic letters—"Hoc opus quod cernis. Biduinus docte peregit"; the other bears the date 1180. The whole style of the church is similar to the Pistoja buildings of that epoch, and recalls the school of Gruamonte. It is certain that Biduinus as well as Gruamont worked in Lucca, for the relief of the architrave of S. Salvatore at Lucca is signed "BIDUVINO ME FECIT HOC OPUS."

Pulpit in the Church of S. Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoja. By Magister Guglielmo d'Agnello, 13th century.

See page 223.

The next great names are Niccolò and Giovanni Pisani, the glory not only of their own lodge, but of the universal Guild. Until the time when his famous pulpit was sculptured, Niccolò seems to have worked little in Pisa, though he endowed it with one of his most original designs—the bell-tower 223 of S. Niccolò. From the evidence of southern influence in his style, it is probable that his father Pietro was one of the artists whom Frederic called to South Italy, and that Niccolò passed his novitiate with him there. In any case, by the time he wrote Magister before his name he had already attained a high rank as sculptor and architect, and was chosen for most important works out of Pisa, such as the Arca di S. Domenico at Bologna, and the building of the church and convent near it. Niccolò Pisano's work in Florence was almost exclusively architectural; he also designed the cathedral churches of Arezzo and Cortona. His pupil, Fra Guglielmo, a relative of the Doge dell' Agnello of Pisa who was Niccolò's assistant in the Arca di S. Domenico at Bologna in 1272, worked in 1293 at the reliefs in the façade of Orvieto, and in 1304 put the Romanesque front to S. Michele in Borgo, in Pisa. The Virgin and Child over the door of the latter is a copy of Niccolò's famous statue. Some authors give him the credit of being the Tedesco who Vasari says sculptured the fine pulpit in S. Gio. Fuorcivitas at Pistoja, and who assisted Bonanno in the tower of Pisa.

A sculptor named Bonaiuto must, I think, have belonged to Niccolò's school. Two interesting sculptured doorways by him still exist in what was once the Palazzo Sclafani at Palermo (now the barracks of S. Trinità). The doorway is carved in tufo, and above it is a kind of gable supported by two small pilasters, enclosing the arms of the family, a pair of cranes; surmounting the gable is a carved eagle, with a hare in its claws, standing on a kind of capital, which is unmistakably Comacine; beneath this is a bracket inscribed, "Bonaiuto me fe-cit de Pisa." Sig. Centofanti, in a private letter to Professor Clemente Lupi, who wrote to ask for information about Bonaiuto, says that a register of expenses of the Opera del Duomo of Pisa contains several mentions of the name. In one dated 1315 224 Bonaiutus magister lapidum is noted as working at the Duomo, and receiving two soldi a day, his companions receiving four or five, and the capo maestro eight. Here it would seem he is still in the lower ranks of the brotherhood. In 1318 he is noted as Boniautus Michaelis, and receives four soldi a day. In 1344 he has become full capo maestro of the Duomo, and is paid nine soldi a day.[174]

From his school also sprang Arnolfo, the first of a long line of sculptor-builders of the Florentine Lodge. From it, too, through his son Giovanni, came the best builders of the Siena cathedral, and their followers who worked at Orvieto.

Thus Niccolò and Giovanni are proved to be links in the old chain that came from classic Rome through the Lombard Comacines to the Renaissance. All the famous names that ever were, may be traced in this universal Guild from father to son, from master to pupil. After Giovanni Pisano went to Siena, Andrea di Pisa, his scholar, carried on his school in Pisa. In 1299 we first hear of Andrea, the son of a notary at Pontedera, as famulus magistri Johannes.[175] His first authentic works were the bronze doors of the Florentine Baptistery, proving that he had been trained in the many-branched fraternity at Pisa, where metal-working ranked so high. As instances of his sculptures in marble, we may take many of the statues which were on the Duomo at Florence, and the second line of reliefs on Giotto's campanile. But like all the Magistri, he was, above all, an architect, and in that branch we find him as Grand Master at Orvieto in 1347. His son Nino succeeded him in the onerous office. His other son Tommaso was also in the guild, but did not rise to eminence in it. He designed a 225 palace, and painted two caskets for the Doge dell' Agnello of Pisa.

Nino's sculptures show a greater fidelity to nature than those of his artistic ancestors. A Madonna and two angels over the door of the canonry of the Duomo at Florence are very charming, as are his statues in the church of the "Spina" at Pisa. We next find Nino's son Andrea receiving payment for a sepulchre for the Doge dell' Agnello, which Nino did not live long enough to finish.

One among Andrea's pupils who were not his relatives rose to special and wide-spread eminence in the guild, i.e. Magister Giovanni Balducci di Pisa, whose artistic career was mostly in Milan, where the Visconti patronized him. He sculptured several tombs, among them the beautiful Arca of St. Peter Martyr in S. Eustorgio in 1336. The figures of the Christian Virtues are very sweet and naturalistic. On a sculptured pulpit at S. Casciano near Florence, of the same shape and style as that by Guido di Como at Pistoja, but infinitely more advanced in art, he has signed, "Hoc opus fecit Johs Balducci Magister de Pisis." The only architectural work that is mentioned as signed by him is the door of S. Maria in Brera at Milan.

II.—Lucca and Pistoja


1. 1152 Magister Buono Employed at Ravenna and at Naples, where he built Castel dell' Uovo and Castel Capuano. At Arezzo the palace of the Signory.
2 & 3. 1168 "M. Johannes and Guitto" (Guido) Made the Ciborium at Corneto.
4. 1196 Magister Buono, called Gruamont Built the churches of S. Andrea and S. Gio. Evangelista at Pistoja. This man is said by Vasari to be identical with the first Buono.
5.   M. Adeodatus, his brother Worked with him at Pistoja.
6. 1206 "Magister Bonus," or Buono Designed Fiesole cathedral.
7. 1264 M. Giovanni Buono (Zambono) Worked at St. Anthony, Padua; in 1265 built the cathedral of S. Jacopo, in Pistoja.
8.   M. Andrea Buono, his brother These brothers worked together at the pulpit at Corneto Tarquinia, and probably built the church. Niccolao di Rannuccio sculptured the door, inlaid in Cosmati style.
9. 1285 M. Alberto di Guido Buono   Sculptured at S. Pietro, Bologna.
10. " M. Albertino di Enrico Buono


The family were leading members of the guild up to the fifteenth century, when Bartolommeo Buono and his sons won fame in Venice.

We have seen the long connection of the Comacines with Lucca, during Lombard times, when they helped to build S. Frediano and other churches there. Sig. Ridolfi, author of L' Arte in Lucca, proves that not only the chief churches, but the cathedral itself, were the work of the Lombard "Maestri Casari" who had established their schools there, since they restored S. Frediano for the Lombard Faulone in 686, and built the Basilica of S. Martino for Bishop Frediano in 588.

By the tenth century the church of S. Martino was very dilapidated, which much grieved the mind of Bishop Anselmo, who sought to gather together funds for its restoration. Two wealthy Lucchesi, Lambertus and Blancarius, both dignitaries of the cathedral, gave large donations towards it. Not long after this, Bishop Anselmo was elevated to the Papal See as Pope Alexander II., and immediately began the long-desired work of rebuilding his ex-cathedral.

Church of S. Michele, Lucca.

See page 228.

He being a Milanese, and the Comacines his countrymen, besides their having a long connection with Lucca, 227 it is natural to suppose he chose them as his architects. Every sign of the work confirms this, although no names have come down to us. As was frequently the case, the church was left without a façade for over a century, and at the end of the twelfth century the Lucchesi wished to put this finishing touch.

There was in Lucca at the time a certain Magister Guido da Como, who had in 1187 built the church of S. Maria Corteorlandini. It was built for the feudal Lords Rolandinga, whose palace was called Corte Rolandinga, on the occasion of one of their family joining in the crusades.[176] There is mention of a Comacine sculptor named Guido before this date, at Corneto-Tarquinia, where in the church of S. Maria di Castello is a fine Ciborium, signed "Johannes et Guitto hoc opus fecerunt, MCLXVIII." This, being only nineteen years previous, may have been an earlier work of this same Guido. This Magister evidently had a son who followed his father's art, and was named after himself Guido, though called Guidetto, or young Guido, to distinguish him from his father. To these two men were confided the commission for the front of the Duomo. Probably the elder did not live to complete it, for although the commission was given to Maestro Guido Marmolario (sic), the inscription on the 228 façade runs—"Mille C.C.|IIII.|condi|dit|ele|cti tam pul| chras. dextra|Guidecti."[177] Among the sculptures is one figure with a very young face, supposed to be a portrait of Guidetto. This façade is a perfect specimen of pure Comacine-Romanesque, and shows that the Saracen influence under which the Masters had been placed in the south, when employed by the Lombard Dukes of Beneventum, had not led them to change entirely their old style, but only to develop it into a species of Oriental richness which (so far we may agree with old Vasari) sometimes errs against truth and good taste. It shows also the close connection between the Pisan and Lucchese Lodges.

The row of archlets which used to form a cornice under the roof now, as at Pisa, run wild over the whole façade. The outlines which used to follow honestly the shape of nave and aisles, now, for the sake of heaping on more ornament, stretch up far beyond the roof-line, forming a mask.

A still more glaring instance of the same fault is seen in Guidetto's other church, S. Michele, at Lucca, where the two upper galleries are the frontage of a mere useless wall in the air.

As an architect, young Guido left something to be desired; as a sculptor he was marvellous. Variety seems to have been his aim. In both S. Martino and S. Michele, among all the hundreds of colonnettes, you can scarcely find a duplicate. They are plain, fluted, foliaged, clustered, inlaid; black, white, red, green, yellow or parti-coloured, in endless variety. As for capitals, you get every imaginable shape and style, symbol and ornamentation. He outdoes his prototype Rainaldus of Pisa, and no clearer proof of a guild, rather than a single mind, can be furnished, than by this infinite variety of detail, which plainly speaks of the imaginings of many minds.


Cathedral of Lucca (San Martino), erected 11th century; Façade 1204. By Guidectus.

See page 228.

The Comacines here are still in the transition stage, though near its end, for the sign of the lion of Judah holds its place above the pillar, under the spring of the arch. In the Italian Gothic, their next development, it is always beneath the column.

One of the lion-capped columns is entirely covered with sculptures representing the genealogical tree of the Virgin. The statue above the door, of St. Martin dividing his cloak with the beggar, is sufficiently well modelled as to suggest its belonging to a later century.

Signor Ridolfi, who has studied much in the archives of Lucca for his learned work L' Arte in Lucca, thinks that, in 1204, Guidetto the younger was only just beginning his career. His father must have died about this time, for the son loses his diminutive, and becomes in his turn Guido Magistro. In 1211 he was called to Prato to work at the Duomo there (then known as S. Stefano). The contract, which still exists, does not specify what part of the church he was to build. It is drawn up by the Notary Hildebrand, and binds "Guido, Maestro marmoraio" of S. Martino of Lucca, to go to Prato on fair terms, and there to remain working, and commanding others to work, at the church of S. Stefano. After this he was recalled to Lucca, to put the above-mentioned façade to S. Michele, which Teutprand had built in the eighth century, and which had been rebuilt, when in 1027 Beraldo de' Rolandinghi had left a large legacy for the purpose. This façade, which, as I have said, is precisely similar in style to that of the Duomo, was finished in 1246.[178] Guido was then called to Pisa, to sculpture the altar and font in the Baptistery there. Not much remains of the altar—which appears to have been the usual edifice on four columns—except some very ancient sculpture, and two small columns with extremely rude statues on them. The inscription, however, is 230 preserved, and runs—"A.D. MCCXLVI, sub Jacobi Rectore loci—Guido Bigarelli da Como fecit hoc opus."[179] This valuable discovery was made by the German Schmarzow. Here we have the family name of this busy sculptor, and of his father Guido of Como. It is one of the first instances, for surnames only became fixed about this time.

Guido or Guidetto's last work appears to have been the pulpit in San Bartolommeo in Pantano, at Pistoja, executed in 1250. This is particularly interesting, as being the immediate precursor of Niccolò Pisano's pulpit at Pisa in 1260. It has been thought that Guido, either from death or other cause, left the work imperfect, and his pupil Turrisianus finished it. The inscription as quoted by Cav. Tolomei is—"Sculptor laudator qui doctus in arte probatur|Guido de Como quem cunctis carmine promo| Anno domini 1250|Est operi sanus superestans Turrisianus |Namque fide prova vigil K Deus indi corona."[180]

Tolomei is puzzled by the cypher K, and Ciampi, the collector of inscriptions, has, in reporting this one, left out the last line altogether. He interprets it as implying that Guido having left the work unfinished, Turrisianus finished it. Whilst I was studying lately some old documents in the archives of S. Jacopo at Pistoja, Signor Guido Macciò of that city, who kindly assisted me to read the crabbed old characters, threw a new light on that inscription. He says Tolomei has misread it; that the cypher is not a K but H C, which was plainly legible in a rubbing he took of it, and that superstans merely means overseer; in fact, the Latin form of operaio. The same term superstans was used for the head of the laborerium in Rome up to the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, and survived in the 231 later lodges as soprastante. Signor Macciò interprets the inscription thus—"The famous sculptor Guido of Como has proved himself learned in art, and his name should be sung in verse, A.D. 1250. Turrisianus (Torrigiani) acted as overseer to this fine work, and may God crown him for superintending the work so well." I leave more learned classics to say which interpretation is the true one. But as in most of the inscriptions, documents, etc. of the guild, the name of the head of the lodge, and often those of the councillors are put in, I incline to think Signor Macciò may be right, and the inscription is another proof of a Masonic lodge in which Torrigiani was, at the time, the head of the administration.

Pulpit in Church of S. Bartolommeo, Pistoja. By Guido da Como.

See page 230.

Guido's pulpit is of white marble, and in the ancient square form, with eight panels in bas-relief. It rests on three columns; the first stands on a lion with a dragon at its feet, the second on a lioness suckling a cub, the third on a human figure. In this pulpit, and the older one at Groppoli, we have a perceptible link, connecting Niccolò Pisano with the Comacine Guild, which we shall trace more closely when speaking of Romanesque sculpture.

There were at that epoch three lodges in the immediate neighbourhood. One in connection with the Opera del Duomo at Pisa, one at Pistoja in the Opera di S. Jacopo, and a third one at Lucca, where Guido and Guidetto were chief sculptors. Besides this there was another in Apulia, where it is thought Niccolò's father Pietro worked. Niccolò's work, and that of Guido the younger, are so very much alike as to warrant the suspicion that they were both pupils of one master, but that Niccolò had in him these greater qualities which go to form an epoch-making artist.

Little has hitherto come to light respecting the Masonic lodges of Lucca and Pisa. The laborerium at Pistoja is rather more clearly defined, and furnishes some definite names. It existed from the twelfth century, but I do not 232 think the archives were kept quite so early as that. There is the name Rodolfin's op, anni 1167, carved on the architrave of the principal entrance of the Lombard church of S. Bartolommeo in Pantano; but as critics cannot tell whether it means "Rodolfinus opus" or "Rodolfinus operaius" or head of the Opera, it is not a very decisive bit of history. The reading "Rodolfinus Operaius for the year 1167" would, like "Turrisianus, overseer in 1250," be quite intelligible in its connection with the guild.

The façade of S. Bartolommeo is a masterpiece of Lombard work. It has the usual three round-arched doors, whose pilasters and architraves are rich with interlaced scrolls and foliage, and whose richly-carved arches rest on lions more or less fiercely dominating other animals, as emblems that divine strength is able to overcome sin. Whether all the animal sculptures on this church are due to the twelfth-century builder, or whether some are remains of Gundoaldo's[181] first edifice in 767, I cannot say. The architraves are certainly of the later date.

The head, or capo-maestro of the laborerium of Pistoja in the twelfth century, was evidently one of the Buono family, whose race and school became as famous as the Antelami and Campionesi, all three being branches of the original Lombard Guild. Like the Antelami and the Campionesi, the school founded by the Buoni furnished several shining lights among the Lombard Magistri. The name is first met with in the poem of which we have spoken,[182] on the Ten Years' War between Milan and the 233 people of Como. Among the brave citizens who threw down their tools to take arms, and distinguished themselves in wielding them, was a certain Giovanni Buono from Vesonzo (now Bissone) in Vall' Intelvi, who took part in the siege of the fortress of S. Martino on Lake Lugano. The war took place in the tenth century; the poem was written a little later than 1100. Sig. Merzario[183] opines that the Maestro Buono of whom Vasari speaks as the "first architect who showed a more elevated spirit, and aimed after better things, but of whose country and family he knows nothing,"[184] was one of this line of sculptor-architects originally from Vesonzo (Bissone) in Inteluum (Val d'Intelvi). The name Giovanni occurs constantly in the lists.

Certainly the head of the line, as far as regards art, was the Magister Giovanni Buoni here mentioned by Vasari, who goes on to say that this Buono in 1152 had been employed on buildings in Ravenna, after which he was called to Naples, where he built the Castel dell' Uovo and Castel Capuano; and that in the time of Doge Domenico Morosini, i.e. 1154, he founded the Campanile of S. Marco at Venice, which Vasari asserts was so well built that up to his time it had never moved a hair (non ha mai mosso un pelo).

Vasari says that Giovanni Buono was in 1166 at Pistoja, where he built the church of S. Andrea. Both Milanesi, Vasari's annotator, and Merzario[185] complain that Vasari was very confused in these statements. The tower of S. Marco was, Cicognara says, by a later Bartolommeo Buono from Bergamo, who also built the Procuratie Vecchie in the sixteenth century. It is curious how Vasari, living in the same century, could have made such a statement; he must 234 have known whether the tower were being built then, or had been standing for several centuries. The fact was that one Buono built the older tower in Venice to which Vasari refers, and the sixteenth-century Bartolommeo Buono was its restorer. The style is certainly antique.

Vasari's annotators agree that this Buono worked at Arezzo, where he built the bell-tower, and the ancient palace of the Signoria of Arezzo (cio è un palazzo della maniera de' Goti), i.e. with large hewn stones; after which he came to Pistoja, where he built S. Andrea and other churches.

But even here some confusion exists. It is difficult to decide whether the builder of S. Andrea at Pistoja, and the cathedral of Lucca was indeed named Buono or Gruamonte. There is an inscription on the sculpture of the architrave of the façade which has been a great bone of contention. It proves, however, beyond a doubt that the usual organization, with the Opera as the administrative branch, existed in Pistoja in 1196. It runs—"Fecit hoc opus Gruamons magister bon(us) et Adot ... (Adeodatus) frater ejus. Tunc erāt operarii Villanus et Pathus filius Tignosi A.D. MCIXVI."[186] This work was done by Gruamons, Master Buono, and Adeodatus his brother; Villanus and Pathus, son of Tignosi, being then operai (i.e. on the administrative council).

In that word bonus lies the difficulty. Some say it is merely placed in encomium: Gruamons the good master; but it does not seem to me probable that a man would habitually sign his name with a boastful adjective; and habitual it was, because on the white stripes of the architrave of the church of S. Giovanni Evangelista Fuorcivitas he has again signed himself "Gruamons magister bonus fêc hoc opus." Knowing the Italian love of nicknames 235 from the earliest ages, I take it that the architect was really, as Vasari says, Master Bonus or Buono, and that either from a long neck and a stoop, or from his clever use of a crane, he was nicknamed Gruamons, "the crane man,"[187] grue being Italian for both bird and machine. That the Gruamons who carved the Magi on the architrave of S. Andrea was one of the very early Masters, is evident from the mediæval grossness of his work in carving the human figure; that he may very likely be Comacine is suggested by the style and mastery of his ornamento and the life in the figures of his animals. The capitals supporting this architrave are evidently by one of his subordinates; they are very rough, but full of meaning, explaining the mystery of the Annunciation and Conception; below them the signature Magister enricus mi fecit. These early sculptures are especially interesting, for they are the first efforts of the Comacines to show Bible events and truths by actual representation instead of by symbols, and so form the link with the development under Niccolò Pisano. Hence the greater want of practice in the human figures, compared to the animals and scrolls, with which the guild had been familiar for ages.

Church of S. Andrea, Pistoja. Designed by Gruamons.

See page 235.

It is interesting to compare Gruamons' work with that of the later sculptor of the façade of S. Bartolommeo, and note the rapid progress that art was making towards more perfect and natural form in sculpture. There are only 236 twenty-two years between them, but the sculptor of S. Bartolommeo is far in advance of Gruamons in his representation of the human figure. It is said that Gruamons has left his sign in a portrait of himself on the doorway of S. Andrea, where a curiously negro-like head stands out from the middle of a column. It seems, however, to have acquired its blackness by being used through several centuries as a torch extinguisher at funerals.

Another of Gruamons' churches in Pistoja is that of S. Giovanni Evangelista Fuorcivitas, which is extremely interesting as showing a perfect specimen of the practicable Lombard gallery or outer ambulatory, which in two orders here surrounds the church. The building is entirely encrusted with black and white marble, mostly in alternate lines, but in some places inlaid in chequers. This fashion, which began in this very city of Pistoja, has an historical significance, and was introduced as a symbol of the peace between the factions of Bianchi and Neri, which so long harassed Pistoja. It was taken up afterwards by Siena and Orvieto, and in Florence and Prato, when their respective civic feuds were healed.

Gruamons, or Magister Buono, may have been the chief master of the laborerium at Pistoja with its accompanying Opera di S. Jacopo, which began to keep its registers in 1145. At any rate his family name was kept up in that lodge for more than a century. The Buoni followed the usual custom, and sought commissions in other towns. In 1206 we find one of them restoring and almost rebuilding the cathedral at Fiesole, which had been built in 1028, in the time of Bishop Jacopo Bavaro, but was menacing ruin two centuries later. On the sixth column of the nave, on the right, is inscribed—

"MCCVI. Indict VIII Bonus Magister Restaurus.

Operarius Ecclesiæ Fesulanæ Fecit Ædificare

IIII columnas I. Allex P.P."


Here even at this early date we have the Opera or administration under the direction of the dignitaries of the cathedral. The tower was built by a Maestro Michele in 1213. An inscription on the left of the apse tells us that the building of the tower cost seventy mancussi, a gold coin in use in the Middle Ages.[188] It is supposed that Maestro Buono copied his church from S. Miniato near Florence. The plan is nearly identical, and both have the same peculiarity of the omission of the narthex, or portico, which till this time had been an indispensable part of the ecclesiastic Basilica. It is true the Fiesole church is built of stone, and is simple in ornament, while S. Miniato is of marble and rich in decorations, but in plan and form the two are identical. In each case the same use has been made of the older buildings on the site by leaving them as crypts.

Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoja. Designed by Gruamons.

See page 236.

The first San Miniato church was built under Charlemagne, by Bishop Hildebrand in 774; the second was endowed by the Emperor Henry the Saint, and Saint Cunegonda his wife; both times the patrons were accustomed to employ the Comacine Masters. In San Miniato we see one of their masterpieces.

In the thirteenth century another distinguished scion of the Buono race came down to join the lodge at Pistoja. We have seen Giovanni Buono, or Zambono as he writes himself, at work at S. Antonio at Padua in 1264, together with Egidio, son of Magister Graci; Nicola, son of Giovanni; Ubertino, son of Lanfranco, etc. In 1265 Magister Bonus or Buono was capo-maestro and architect of the Duomo at Pistoja, and in 1266 he erected the tribune of S. Maria Nuova there, on the cornice of which he has carved—"A.D. MCCLXVI tempore Parisii Pagni[189] et 238 Simones, Magister Bonus fecit hoc opus," i.e. A.D. 1266, in the time when Paris Pagni and Simones were operai, Magister Bonus executed this work.

In 1270 Buono was commissioned to make the façade of the church of S. Salvatore in the same energetic little town. The inscription on the pretty little façade is—

"Anno milleno bis centum septuageno

Hoc perfecit opus qui fertur nomine Bonus

Præstabant operi Jacobus, Scorcione vocatus

Et Benvenuti Joannes, quos Deus omnes

Salvator lenis millis velit augere penis. Amen."

Here we get the names of two operai instead of one. It is evident that the lodge has increased since Gruamons was head of the laborerium, and Turrisianus head of the Opera. According to custom, one was an eminent Pistojese, and the other a Magister. We find Johannes Benvenuti working with Giovanni in several other cities.

The question we have now to answer is whether this Giovanni Buono, who was in Pistoja from 1265 to 1270, was the same man who worked at Padua in 1264, and was afterwards head of the lodge at Parma in 1280? An indication, if not a lateral proof, is found in studying who were his companions. At Pistoja in 1264, Nicola, son of Giovanni, was his assistant, and in 1270 Johannes Benvenuti was with him. At Parma in 1280 we find that Guido, Nicola, Bernardino, and Benvenuto were in the laborerium when he was chief architect. Here we have at least two of his companions, not including Guido, with him in the works of all three cities, which would go far to prove his identity.

The Buono family form a curious connection between Corneto Tarquinia and Pistoja. We have already spoken of the Ciborium at Corneto, sculptured by Johannes and Guitto (Guido) in 1168. The pulpit in the same church, and another at Alba Fucense, are both signed by Giovanni Buono and Andrea his brother, but date a century later 239 than the Ciborium, i.e. precisely the time of our Giovanni Buono of Pistoja. The façade of the same church at Corneto Tarquinia is full of Comacine sculptures; and on the double-arched windows with the tesselated columns is an epigraph saying that the "inlaid work in porphyry, serpentine, and giallo antico" was done by Nicolao, son of Ranuccio. Now this must have been the Nicolao who worked under this same Giovanni Buono in 1280 at Parma, with a certain Guido and Johannes Benvenuti. Guido was evidently a kinsman of Giovanni Buono, for we find that in 1285 Albertus, son of Guido Buono, and Albertinus, son of Enrico Buono, were employed together in the sculptures at S. Pietro at Bologna.

In any case we have a long connection of the Buono family with the Opera di S. Jacopo at Pistoja, and shall find them still engaged in other important works at Pisa and Lucca, besides being chief architects at Parma and Padua, etc. Two centuries later their descendants were building fine Gothic works in Venice.

The Baptistery of Pistoja has been attributed to Andrea Pisano, but a document in the archives of the Opera di S. Jacopo not only shows who was the real architect, or rather head-master, but proves that it was done by a Magister Cellini of the Masonic Guild from the lodge at Siena, who became Grand Master of the lodge at Pistoja. It runs—"Et per Magistrum Cellinum qui est caput magistrorum edificantium Ecclesiam rotundam S. Joannis Baptistæ."[190] There also exists in the archives the contract made between the Opera (administrative council) and Magister Cellini on July 22, 1339, for the completion and ornamentation of the building which he had so far constructed. There is no mention of Andrea Pisano in either deed.


The Pistojan Baptistery is not a very pleasing building. There is something inharmonious in its proportions. It is of the usual octagonal form, but too high for its width; the horizontal lines of white and black marble still further detract from its beauty, and cut up the ornamentation.

On the whole the architect who wants to study Comacine churches cannot do so better than at Pistoja, where there is so much of the old work left. Besides the edifices we have already mentioned, are other two very interesting churches, S. Piero Maggiore and S. Paolo, although nothing but the outer shell of either is now remaining.[191] The architrave of S. Piero Maggiore has a very mediæval relief on it, representing Christ giving a huge key to St. Peter, while the Apostles and the Virgin stand in a row beside them. The capital of one pilaster has a man-faced lion, whose tail forms an interlaced knot. The other has upstanding volutes of a heavy kind of foliage. Lions lie beneath the spring of the arch, and winged griffins and other mystic animals are on brackets along the façade. I think the capitals and mystic beasts must have belonged to the first Longobardic church built by Ratpert, son of Guinichisius, in 748, as well as the lower part of the façade, which is certainly of the most ancient opus gallicum, of large smooth stones closely fitted. The architrave and the upper part, which consists of an arcade patched on in white and black marble, belong to Giovanni Buono's restoration in 1263. In old times a curious ceremony used to take place in this church, which belonged to the Convent of Benedictine nuns. When a new bishop took possession of the see, he was espoused (spiritually of course) to the abbess of this Order, with solemn rites and ceremonies.

S. Paolo was a priory church. This, too, had been built in 748 by the first Comacines under the Longobards, and 241 evidences still remain that it was originally turned from east to west, the façade being then where the choir is now. It was rebuilt when S. Atto was bishop of the city in 1133, and besides a very pretty frontal, has a good specimen of the upper external gallery surrounding the church.

I will end my chapter on Pistoja with a mention of an interesting old MS. from the archives of the Opera di S. Jacopo, which, with Signor Macciò's aid, we found to be the marriage contract of a certain Maestro Jacopo Lapi. The bridegroom is named as Jacobus Dominus Lapus, fili Turdi, di Inghilberti, who wishes to contract marriage with Marchesana filia Sannutini, and to "live with her according to Longobardic law." The deed then goes on to specify the lands and possessions he bestows on his bride as a morgincap. This might be interesting in art history, if it could be proved whether the Jacopo Lapi were that pupil of Niccolò Pisano's who worked with him and Arnolfo at Siena in 1266.

In that case it gives the Jacopo Lapi's family an added interest as of Longobardic origin through his grandfather, Inghilbert. We further learn by the document that his great-grandmother's name was Molto-cara (very dear). This, taken together with the name Tordo (thrush) given to her son, proves how the nickname outweighed the family or baptismal name in mediæval times. 242


When the romantic style of building, which the Comacine Masters had imbibed in Sicily, came in, their serious set-by-rule building went out. The first use they made of their new ideas was to increase the richness of decoration, and this they did by the almost childish expedient of multiplying their old ornaments. Instead of one little pillared gallery on the top of a façade, they now put whole rows of galleries, or covered the fronts all over with them, as in Lucca, Pisa, and Arezzo. There is a very early instance of this in the church of Santa Maria at Ancona, of which we give an illustration. Here the network of arches are not real galleries, but only sculpturesque simulations; each arch is simply placed on the top of the other, without architrave or frieze. The doorway has the usual Comacine interlaced knots and no lions, so the façade may stand as an early sample of the transition into Romanesque, dating about the eleventh century.

The style shows a much further advance in Magister Marchionni's façade to the church of Santa Maria della Pieve at Arezzo, which is a fine sample of Romanesque. It was done in 1216. The façade has four rows of arches, one on the other, "growing small by degrees and beautifully less" as they ascend. Of all the hundred columns which support them, no two are alike. They are round, square, octagonal, sexagonal, pentagonal, multi-angular, 243 fluted, twisted, grotesque, crooked, Byzantine, Corinthian, Ionic, Doric, Gothic, Egyptian, Babylonian, caryatid, black, green, white, striped, or inlaid. Some have single bases, a round on a square, or vice versâ, and so on ad infinitum. Yet with all this variety there is a certain unity of design, which bespeaks a multitude of Masters, each one using his own fancy in his particular part of the work, but one chief to whose general design the masters of the parts are subservient. Ruskin realized the beauty of this variety of idea, though he had not perceived that it came from a multitude of minds working together, when he said—"The more conspicuous the irregularities are, the greater the chance of its being a good style." And again—"The traceries, capitals, and other ornaments must be of perpetually varied designs."

Church of S. Maria, Ancona.

See page 242.

The very same style and variety, showing a multiplex manufacture, is displayed by the cathedral, and the church of San Michele at Lucca, and the old church of San Michele in Borgo at Pisa. The two Lucca ones are extremely enriched by friezes of the symbolic animals above each row of arches. The cathedral and tower of Pisa show greater unity of conception.

The next great change was, that after the eleventh century, the interlaced work, or Solomon's knot, was no longer the secret sign of the Comacine work. They probably found that there was a limit even to the combinations of the interlaced line, or that it did not give enough relief. Certain it is, that on the rise of Romanesque architecture, the intreccio faded away into mere mouldings, or got changed into foliaged scrolls for architraves; but the mystic knot with neither beginning nor end was no more used with special significance. The rounded sculpture of figures was everywhere replacing low relief, and the Comacine sign and seal of this epoch, was the Lion of Judah. From this time forward for the 400 years that Romanesque and Gothic architecture lasted, there is, I believe, scarcely a 244 church built by the great Masonic Guild in which the Lion of Judah was not prominent.

My own observations have led me to the opinion that in Romanesque or Transition architecture, i.e. between A.D. 1000 and 1200, the lion is to be found between the columns and the arch—the arch resting upon it. In Italian Gothic, i.e. from A.D. 1200 to 1500, it is placed beneath the column. In either position its significance is evident. In the first, it points to Christ as the door of the Church. In the second, to Christ the pillar of faith springing from the tribe of Judah. Thus at Lucca, Pisa, and Arezzo, where the guild worked in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the lion is always above the column. In Verona, Como, Modena, and where Italian Gothic porches were added in the thirteenth century, and in Florence, Siena, Orvieto, where the cathedrals date from the fourteenth century, you find the lion beneath the column. And in minor works of sculpture there is the same difference. In the pulpit of Sant' Ambrogio at Milan, the lions are beneath the spring of the arches; in the pulpits of Niccolò Pisano at Siena and Guido di Como (thirteenth century) at Pistoja, they are beneath the column.

A most beautiful instance of the transition between Lombard and Romanesque is in the door of the church of San Giusto at Lucca, dating from the twelfth century. The architrave is a grand intreccio of oak branches while the pilasters, which form the door-jambs, have richly-carved capitals of mixed acanthus leaves and Ionic volutes, with a mystic beast clinging to each. The arch superimposed on the architrave has a rich scroll of cherubs and foliage, and it rests on two huge lions. It is altogether a perfect Comacine design.

The next change in the sculpture of the Comacine Masters was the humanization of their sculpture. The rude old carvings of symbolical beasts no longer satisfied them. Christianity had now endured a thousand years and was 245 understood, so that it was no longer needful to use parables and mystic signs. They still made the fronts of their churches Bibles in stone, as they had done before; only the Bible was in a language all could read, i.e. the sculptured story. From Adam and Eve to Christ and the Virgin, and even the least of the Saints, the Comacine put all Scripture upon his church. His Bible lay open that all might read.

Door of S. Giusto at Lucca, 12th century.

See page 244.

The representation of the human figure was at first heavy and disproportionate, but as the centuries passed on, it grew in grace; and sculptors were able to express their conceptions more completely. The animal symbolism did not, however, entirely disappear. It is seen in every quaint fancy of the Gothic artist of the north, in every naïve bit of church ornamentation in the south; but it is no longer the object and end of design. It had become subservient; the human figure now took the first place.

In the earlier transition stage, even this actual representation was more or less allegorical. As an interesting instance of the allegorical nature of Comacine sculpture, we may take the relief of the Crucifixion in the cathedral at Parma (third chapel on the right), carved by Benedetto da Antelamo in 1178. In this almost mediæval relief, the artist has managed to put a symbolical history of the greatest events of his own times—the defeat of Barbarossa, the fall of Victor Antipope, the triumph of Pope Alexander III., the cessation of schism, and the gleams of coming peace on Italy. Around the cross where Christ hangs, he represents the Church as a symbolic personage waving the flag of victory; and the schismatic enemy with his banner broken. Every figure in the composition has its meaning, and the whole displays a thinking mind, even though the hand be still a little heavy and mediæval. That this is a veritable Comacine work the sculptor himself has chronicled. On the top of the relief is written in the Lombard Gothic characters— 246

"Anno milleno centeno septuageno

Octavo scultor patravit M͠se secundo

Antelami dictus scultor fuit, hic Benedictus."

An old chronicler of the sixteenth century tells us that this relief once ornamented an ambone or pulpit supported on four columns, which was destroyed in 1566.

Another very interesting work is the font for immersion in S. Frediano at Lucca, sculptured by Maestro Roberto in the twelfth century. The figures which surround it are as usual full of meaning but grotesque in proportion; though one can see in the draperies a foreshadowing of that return to classicality which Niccolò Pisano afterwards advanced towards perfection. We have here a queer representation of Adam and Eve, both clad in classical garments and standing by a conventional fig tree, out of which looks the head of the Eternal Father in a cloud like a medallion. Eve is clutching the tail of a monstrous serpent. In the next compartment the four Evangelists carry their emblems on their shoulders. St. Mark, with his lion, sits in a curule chair, and looks like a Roman Prefect, mediævalized. St. John has his eagle standing on a Roman altar beside him, while St. Matthew carries the child on his shoulder like a St. Christopher. As the work of a forerunner of Niccolò Pisano in the same brotherhood, the font is intensely interesting.

The cathedral at Beneventum (one of the Lombard dukedoms) has some beautiful Comacine arabesques on the pilasters of the great door. We give an illustration from one of them. The interlaced maze is formed by a conventional vine, in the branches of which are symbolical animals. Here is the Lamb of God, signed as divine and eternal by numberless circles all over it. The eagle, symbol of faith, is strangling sin in the form of a serpent; above, is a calf, emblem of the Christian, overcoming evil in the form of a bird of prey. In meaning, the intention is the same as the old sculptures on San Michele, executed six centuries 247 previously; but speaking technically, sculpture as an art has advanced greatly. There is rich and clear relief, and intelligibility of design in this work.

Pilaster of the door of the Cathedral of Beneventum, 12th century.

See page 246.

Symonds,[192] speaking of this stage of art, says—"The so-called Romanesque and Byzantine styles were but the dotage of second childhood (it was a childhood which grew and developed into virility, however), fumbling with the methods and materials of an irrevocable past. It is true indeed that unknown mediæval carvers had shown an instinct for the beautiful, as well as great fertility of grotesque invention. The façades of Lombard churches are covered with fanciful and sometimes forcibly dramatic groups of animals and men in contest; and contemporaneously with Niccolò Pisano, many Gothic sculptors of the north were adorning the façades and porches of cathedrals with statuary unrivalled in one style of loveliness. Yet the founder of a line of progressive artists had not arisen, and except in Italy the conditions were still wanting under which alone the plastic arts could attain independence." Here Symonds goes on to speak of Niccolò Pisano, as the fountain-head of sculpture.

And now we can no longer evade the knotty question of who and what Niccolò was, where did he arise from, and where was he trained in art?

There are always those conflicting documents which Milanesi found to be reconciled. The first, in the archives of the Opera di S. Jacopo at Pistoja, dated July 11, 1272, which runs—Magister Nichola pisanus, filius Petri de—(here is an illegible word which Ciampi reads as Senis[193]). He chose this reading because another document dated November 13, 1272, styles "Niccolò" Magister Nichola, quondam Petri de (Senis) Ser Blasii pisa ... (hiatus).

Milanesi, however, who found at Siena the contract for 248 Niccolò's pulpit there, dated October 5, 1266, says the word Senis should be read Sancti, for in the Sienese contract the words are plainly—Magister Niccolus de parroccia ecclesie sancti Blasii de ponte de Pisis, etc. etc. In another document also at Siena, in which Niccolò is commanded to send for his pupil Arnolfo to work with him, we get Magistrum Nicholam de Apulia. In two others of the next year, Magister Niccholus olim Petri lapidum de Pisis. Now all this is very puzzling, and yet being documentary it must all be true. We will put Siena entirely out of the question, the word proving to be a misreading of Sancti, so that instead of the second document meaning Niccolò son of the late Peter son of Ser Blasius or Biagio of Siena, it must read Niccolò son of Peter of the parish of St. Blasius at Pisa. We have then the two different nationalities of his father Pietro—Pisa and Apulia—to account for. Milanesi suggests that Apulia means a little place near Lucca called Puglia.

The further light we have found thrown on the peregrinations of Magistri of the guild may assist us to reconcile the conflicting statements. It is certain, as we said before, that Niccolò Pisano was a Magister of the guild, and being a man of genius he became one of its most important members. His membership was moreover hereditary; his father had been also a Magister lapidum. Now the Comacines had a lodge in Apulia, from the time of the Longobards, and traces of it still remained after 1100, in a small colony in the valley of Æterno, which preserved as a kind of monopoly the art of building.[194]

Baptismal Font in Church of S. Frediano, Lucca. By Magister Roberto, 12th century.

See page 246.

The church of S. Sofia at Beneventum, A.D. 788, and the monastery of S. Pietro were built by them, as well as the later cathedrals of Trani, Bari, and Ruvo. The latter still retains its ancient Lombard façade covered with figures of animals, the portal being flanked by columns surmounted by a fine rose window. When the Normans succeeded the Longobards 249 and Saracens in Apulia, the Masonic Guild was still more busy there, and it was very probable that Pietro the sculptor worked in Apulia under the Norman dynasty, with many of his brethren. I am told that there is in Bari cathedral a pulpit of the same form as that by Niccolò, but of an earlier date. This is a significant proof of Niccolò's early training in Apulia, probably under his own father, as was the custom of the guild. It would also account for the Saracenic touch in his arches and ornamentation. The lions under the columns were used by the Masonic Guild a century before Niccolò's time, so it is evident they were not, as Ruskin and others suppose, borrowed from the Saracens by Niccolò. There is a most interesting pulpit of the older square form at Groppoli near Pistoja, dated 1194, with lions beneath the pillars. It offers one of the very early specimens of the sculptured scriptural story. The panels represent the "Nativity of Christ" and the "Flight into Egypt," both most naïvely designed. The square pulpit of Guido da Como in S. Bartolommeo at Pistoja is dated A.D. 1250, and shows the immense improvement art had made in those sixty years. In some ways Guido da Como quite equals Niccolò. He does not strain after the classic, but there is great and simple dignity, and even grace in his figures, some of which are almost worthy of Fra Angelico. It was ten years after Guido's lion-pillared pulpit was finished, that we find Niccolò—who had for some years been working at Pisa, where he was then domiciled—sculpturing his famous pulpit there, and though altering the form from square to octagon, using the same symbolism, and in many ways the same treatment of his subject, as Guido had done before him. It would be a suggestive proof of the same influence in training, to compare the panels representing the Nativity, in the three pulpits. The Lombard one at Groppoli, Guido da Como's at Pistoja, and Niccolò's at Pisa, and one might add a fourth, i.e. Giovanni Pisano's pulpit in S. Andrea at Pistoja, which 250 is in some respects an advance on his father's design, although it is evidently not only inspired, but almost copied from it. There are in all four, the same kind of lectis for bed, the same cows, out of perspective, high up in the background, and in the two last the same treatment of drapery. In some ways, however, Niccolò has passed far beyond Guido. While Guido followed his forefathers' traditions, Niccolò had been first revelling in the richness of Saracenic types in Apulia, and then living among the classic spoils of Pisa, where Diotisalvi had worked before him.

Pulpit in the Church of Groppoli near Pistoja. A.D. 1194.

See page 249.

His school at Pisa inaugurated a revival which was to change art for all the world. Yet it was only a step and not a sudden leap. He was no ancestorless genius springing from darkness and chaos, but a link in the chain of art from which in him a new strand departed, leading towards Donatello and Ghiberti. He took the forms of his sect, but improved and freed them; he held to the traditional symbolism of his guild, but classicized and enriched it. His greatest advance was in the modelling of the human figure, and here his classic models helped him. One suspects that he depended much on those models, for where he had no antique to copy from, he degenerated into the mediævalism of his fraternity. The mixture of the two styles is very apparent in the different panels of his pulpit, some of which look as if they had come from Antonine's column, while others are heavier and less graceful by far than Guido da Como's simple natural figures. The fact was, that in his time the whole guild was developing under the freer conditions of art, and Niccolò was one of its leading masters, and endowed with especial talent.

With him the Romanesque period closes, and the Italian Gothic begins. Led by him the Comacines in Tuscany left the rude, distorted images and meaningless monsters behind, and marched on towards the perfection of sculpture 251 of the human form as shown by Donatello and Michael Angelo.

Pulpit in Siena Cathedral. By Niccolò Pisano. a.d. 1266.

See page 250.

Among the Comacines in Lombardy the same change was in progress. Jacopo Porrata, working at nearly the same time, carved the life-like prophets and bas-relief on the façade of the cathedral of Cremona, which bears the legend, "Magister Jacobus Porrata de Cumis fecit hanc rotam MCCLXXIIII."

Antonio de Frix of Como, working in concert with Meo di Checco, carved the beautiful roof of the Duomo at Ferrara, while other Masters were sculpturing sacred stories on pulpits and doorways, vestibules and decorations in many a church which their forerunners had built.

With the development of the Gothic, the guild again changed the style of their ornamentation.

The pointed gable over the circular arch was one of the first signs of this change. You see it in Siena, Orvieto, Florence, and the fourteenth-century porches in Lombardy.

The gable gave an opening for statuary, floriated crockets, and ornate pinnacles; the pointed arch opened a way to beautiful tracery; the upward shaft and pilaster afforded space for the ornate tabernacle or saint-filled niche; for the sculptor-architect never let an inch go plain which could be effectively sculptured.

Between the solid Lombard round arch and the pointed traceried one stands the cusping of the circular arch. Ruskin credits Niccolò Pisano also with this; saying grandiloquently that "in the five cusped arches of Niccolò's pulpit you see the first Gothic Christian architecture ... the change, in a word, for all Europe, from the Parthenon to Amiens cathedral. For Italy it means the rise of her Gothic dynasty—it means the Duomo of Milan instead of the Temple of Paestum."[195] This is very poetic, but it will not 252 bear analysis. The cusps of Niccolò's arches were by no means the first to be seen in Italy; we find them in several churches of the twelfth century; and as for Amiens cathedral, that was nearly completed when Niccolò's pulpit was carved.

The cusping of the round arch came up from the south; it was suggested to the Comacines by the Saracenic architecture, as a variety on their usual twin archlets under a round arch, and was used some time before they adopted the pointed arch.

The first real Italian step to the pointed Gothic began at Assisi, in the hands of Jacopo il Tedesco, and his fellow-countryman, Fra Filippo di Campello, or Campiglione. Jacopo stands to Italian Gothic architecture in the same place as Niccolò Pisano stands to Renaissance sculpture. In Italy, the land of classic Rome, true Gothic never developed in the form in which we see it further north. Her finest buildings retained in parts the older forms, and with the humanism of the classic revival of literature, a classic revival of architecture also took place. The Gothic style in Italy was strangled in its infancy by Bramante and Michael Angelo. Even Milan, though a glorious Gothic building, was masked and disfigured by a Renaissance front, with its straight lines and geometric pediments.

The Germans and French, taking the germ from Italy, developed it magnificently; and it is fortunate that they had broken the bonds of the old Masonic brotherhood, and nationalized themselves and their art in time to keep their Gothic forms pure.

If we should attempt to particularize examples of Italian Gothic ornamentation, volumes would not be enough. We will be content with a few instances of sculpture by the Lombard guild at this epoch.

The Riccardi Palace, built for Lorenzo dei Medici.
(From a photograph by Giannini, Florence.)

See page 258.

Some beautiful illustrations of their allegorical style are 253 to be seen in studying the capitals of the colonnade of the Ducal Palace at Venice, some of which were by Bartolommeo Buono, son of the fifteenth-century Zambono or Giovanni Buono. We give an illustration of one with allegorical representations of the classical goddesses, Venus, Minerva, and Juno, throned in acanthus leaves. Minerva looks like a mediæval school-mistress as she teaches Hebe and the Loves, from a ponderous tome. The famous Adam and Eve capital, of which Ruskin writes so eloquently, was probably by the same hand. Bartolommeo's best carving was in his "Porta della Carta," the door of the Grand Ducal Palace, next San Marco, which is rich in the extreme, and is signed on the architrave "Opus Bartolommei."

Bartolommeo's father, Giovanni Buono, was the head architect of the beautiful "Ca' d'oro," and here the richness of decorative sculpture under florid Gothic forms reaches its height.

The family Buono came from Campione, and I think it probable that this was the same Bartolommeo da Campione whose name is on several of the Gothic capitals of Milan cathedral. We give an illustration of one of them, which is extremely rich in statues and pinnacles.

The rapid march from the early pointed towards florid Gothic sculpture, is evidenced in a remarkable manner by the tombs of the Scaligers in Verona. The monument to Mastino II., who died in 1351, by Magister Porino or Perino, is only a quarter of a century previous to that of Can Grande, who died in 1375, which was by Bonino da Campione.[196] Yet between the two there lies an immense development of style. In Perino's work there are the seeds of all the forms in Bonino's, but in one the Gothic style is undeveloped, in the other it is in full flower.


Perino has his columns; his cusped pointed arches with high gables above them; his tabernacles, pinnacles, and pyramidal roof, with an equestrian statue on the summit; but his lines are simple, direct, and unbroken, though enriched here and there with reliefs and figures. In Bonino's the columns are richly carved, the arches lavishly cusped, the tympanum filled with sculptured medallions. The tabernacles are richer and more emphatically Gothic in their lengthened lines and multiplied pinnacles. The figures even have grown into more true proportions, and are elongated into gracefulness. Every inch of the whole design is foliated and rich to a degree—as beautiful a bit of Gothic sculpture as any German or English cathedral can show, but yet the work of pure Italians, and men of the Comacine Guild.

The sepulchral monument of Gian Galeazzo Visconti in the Certosa of Pavia is of an entirely different style to those of the Scaligers. It is principally the work of Gio. Antonio Amedeo, and has the same ornate Renaissance style as the façade of the Certosa in which he assisted. An arched base contains the sarcophagus, on which rests the beautiful and dignified figure of the Duke, guarded at head and foot by classic angels. Above this is a statue of the Virgin and Child in a central niche, flanked by reliefs of scenes from the life of the Duke. The whole surface of the marble is covered with sculpture, but of a style removed as far as the poles from the work of the Comacine Guild, 800 years back. There all was life and naïveté, here all is classical decorum and convention. Pilasters covered with armour and coats of mail like a Roman trophy, friezes of set garlands and shields like a Roman pediment, vases with conventional plants rising stiffly out of them. The severe architectural lines are straight and unbroken; here are no Gothic pinnacles and graceful shrines, no ornamental gables or pyramids, only the plain arch and pediment classically 255 set and correct. The Italians had revived the Roman; and the Renaissance style was the result. Comacine art began with true Roman, and ended with a return to a false classicism, that with rule and line crushed out the life of the rich Gothic floriation. 256

Tomb of Mastino II. degli Scaligeri, at Verona. Sculptured by Magister Perino, of the Milan Lodge.

See page 253.


The Comacines were always fine fortress builders from the early times, when they fortified not only their own island and city against the Goths, and against their civil foes at Milan, etc., but also other cities which had foes to keep off. Their towers and forts were so solid and strong that their builders were taken by Justinian to the East to build castles there, with the strong battlemented walls which aroused Procopius's admiration, and which he confesses were called Castelli, because that was the Italian name for them.

After the eleventh century, when the Communes were formed, the building of the fortress was less frequent, and the Communal Palace took its place. The guild was always gradual in its adoption of new styles, and the palace of the Podestà or the "Signoria" differed only in form, and not in style, from the older castle. There is the same solid masonry—either opus Gallicum of smoothly-hewn stones fitted with nicety, or opus Romanum of flat wide bricks welded together with cement till they are strong as a Roman wall. There are the same battlements and cornice of arches supported on brackets; and wherever a window is needed, high enough to be safe without an iron grating, it is invariably of the old Lombard form, with its two round arches enclosed in a larger one. There was the same pillared courtyard with its flight of steps to the upper floor. 257 Jacopo Tedesco's Bargello at Florence, his Castle at Poppi, and his Palazzo Pubblico at Arezzo are the most beautiful examples of this style.

Capital of a Column in the Ducal Palace, Venice.

See page 253.

Arnolfo's Palazzo Vecchio, the Palazzo of the Commune at Siena, and the Palazzo Pubblico at Pistoja show the next step towards a less military style. There still remains much of the fortress, in the solidity and rigidity of the masonry below, and the battlemented lines above, but the tower is no longer a solid weapon of war; it becomes an airy ornamental shrine for a peaceful civic bell, that rings for the joys and sorrows of the people.

These buildings may stand as the fair examples of the work of the Masonic Guild for the thirteenth century; in the fourteenth and fifteenth the style changed gradually towards less rigid lines. The windows were widened and cusped, and the arches over the archlets of the windows became pointed; a gable with crockets placed above the windows still further lightened the effect, and emphasized the new Gothic influence. The ancient Palace of the Priors and Palazzo del Popolo, which stand close together at Todi, of which we give an illustration, show this progress in a very marked degree. There is just the difference between the two buildings that there lies between the palace of King Desiderius at S. Gemignano, and the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence. The Palazzo Pubblico, at Perugia, with its noble Ringhiera and Loggia, might be taken as the culminating point of Romanesque civil building. Its principal doorway is a masterpiece of Comacine work. The Masters have set their sign of the lion beneath the column, but both lion and pillar are secularized; instead of the ecclesiastic column, here is a square pilaster with niches containing graceful figures of the civic virtues—justice, mercy, fortitude, charity, etc. In the tympanum of the arch stand three bishops, and over the architrave two other lions on brackets mark the spring of the arch. The door is surrounded with 258 course upon course of beautiful mouldings, arabesques, and spirals rich in the extreme. Though exceptionally beautiful, yet if one compares this Palazzo Pubblico of Perugia with other public edifices of its time in Italy, the similarities are such that one cannot deny that a single influence must have dominated them all.

In the Palazzo Pubblico at Udine, which was later, being built in the fifteenth century by Giovanni Fontana of Melide (Master of Palladio) and Matteo his son, we get the link between these Romanesque civil buildings and the Venetian Gothic. The upper windows have still the Lombard columns, but the little arches are more ornately cusped and gothicized. The colonnade forming the Ringhiera is formed of decidedly pointed arches. There is in this a marked affinity to the Venetian architecture, and its origin accounts for it. The Fontanas were much employed at Venice, and worked with the Lombardi, to whom Venice is indebted for so much of her beautiful Gothic civil architecture. In cinquecento times there was a great call on the Masonic Guild for palaces. The republics had begun to fade into principalities, wealth and aristocracy again got the upper hand. The great churches were already built, and so to employ the many great Masters of architecture and sculpture whose families had for generations beautified Italian cities, the dominant families in them vied with each other in palace building.

Doorway of the Municipal Palace at Perugia (1340).

See page 257.

In Florence the Medici led the way, the Strozzi following them close. Then all the other old families, Guicciardini, Rinuccini, Antinori, Borghini, etc., also called in the masters of the Florentine Guild to make them palaces. Cronaca, Sangallo, Baccio d'Agnolo, all names whose ancestors were well known at either Siena, Orvieto, or in Lombardy, made the plans and directed the works. And one who compares these palaces one with another, cannot but confess that different as were the hands that fashioned 259 them, one type and one style shows through them all, which is to say that the architects were all brethren of the same guild, and had received the same training. The Florentine palace bore on its face the imprint of its race; you can trace it gradually from the Brolio of Lombard times, through the mediæval fortress, and the republican public palace. Here in the Riccardi and Strozzi, the Pitti and Guadagni Palaces, is the same solidity of architecture; but instead of the smooth hewn blocks, the huge stones are left rough, alla rustica.[197] Here are the same shaped windows, enlarged and beautified with tracery and mullion in place of the ancient column, but directly derived from the older form. Here is the ancient crown of Lombard archlets diminished into a rich cornice; it is only in the older buildings that the battlements are seen above, as in the Palazzo Ferroni.

In the interior the cortile, with its arched and pillared loggie around it, holds its own in the centre of the building. There is little change of form between the Court of the Palazzo Vecchio in 1299 and the Riccardi, Strozzi, and a score of other private palaces of the fifteenth century. The loggia, which was such an important feature in the private house of the Republic, is now either relegated to the garden front or the upper storey, where it is a delight to the family itself, and is no longer the public meeting-place. This is a difference entirely depending on a changed state of society.

As in Florence, so it was in Milan, Venice, and other cities where Masonic lodges were established in the 260 great church-building era. The nobles employed the builders whose hands were craving for work. And what palaces they built, and what a wealth of rich Gothic decoration they lavished on them! We are indebted for most of the Venetian Gothic palaces to the Buoni and Lombardi families, whose course we have traced in the chapter on Venice. The Renaissance buildings belong chiefly to the members of the Florentine Lodge, such as Sansovino and San Michele, who went to Venice in the sixteenth century.

At Rome, where the Pope's rule was absolute, there was less palace-building, but the Lombard Guild was employed greatly in their old branch of fortress and bridge building. The Masters Bartolommeo and Bertrando of Como were engaged by Pope Pius II. to strengthen the fortifications of S. Angelo. Maestro Antonio of Como built the Ponte Lucano, Maestro Antonio da Castiglione the Ponte Mammolo and Ponte Molle. Maestro Manfredo da Como was commissioned by Pius II. to build a new fortress on the heights of Tivoli to defend the valley of the Anio from incursions on the Abruzzi side. The following entries from the registers prove Maestro Manfredo's employment there—

"1461. August 12. Twenty-five ducats given to the treasurer by command of his Holiness, to be paid to Maestro Manfred the Lombard, to begin the castle of Tivoli (roccha di Tiboli)."

"1462. May 14. To Maestro Manfredino, builder, 200 gold florins on account of the works at the fortress of Tivoli."

"1462. October 6. 400 ducats di camera to Master Manfredino the Lombard, who works at the castle of Tivoli."[198]

Palazzo Pubblico at Perugia.

See page 257.

Master Manfred with Paolo da Campagnano, both 261 Comacines, built the Ponte Sisto, which has been erroneously attributed to Baccio Pontelli.

Pope Sixtus IV. employed Giovanni di Dolci to build the citadel of Civita Vecchia, which Baccio Pontelli finished after Giovanni's death. Antonio di Giovanni da Canobbio built the fort at Zolfanella in the same reign, while Francesco di Pietro da Triviago, Francesco da Como, and Giorgio Lombardo were joint architects of the castle at Santa Marmella. So we see that nearly all the papal forts were the work of Lombards connected with the Roman Lodge. In their own native hills the Lombards were doing similar works.

Court of the Bargello, Florence. Built by Jacopo "Tedesco."

See page 257.

Tower of Palazzo Vecchio at Florence. Designed by Magister Arnolfo.

See page 257.

In A.D. 1500 Maestro Jacopo Dagurro da Bissone, who was a most able engineer, constructed a splendid viaduct, forty-eight metres long, over the Natisone, among the rocks and beetling cliffs of Civitale in Friuli.




Painting is not generally supposed to be connected in any great degree with architecture: indeed it has now become a distinctly independent art. In the Middle Ages I believe the case was different. The great primitive Comacine Guild seems to have embraced all the decorative arts, though especially sculpture, as integral branches of architecture. There are indisputable proofs of the many-sided nature of the training in a Comacine laborerium. There were Magistri insigneriorum, or Master architects; Magistri lapidum, or sculptors, and Magistri lignorum, or master carpenters. These latter seem in old times to have been the designers of scaffoldings and makers of beams for roofing; wood-carvers and inlayers were called Maestri d'intaglio. Then there were certainly ironworkers and masters in metal, and fresco-painters, who also attained to the rank of Master. But no one branch was entirely separate from the others, until the fourteenth century, when the painters' companies were founded. We find the same man building, designing, sculpturing, painting, and even working in gold or iron, and seeming equally good in all styles, so that the training of the laborerium must have been especially comprehensive.

The reason appears to be that all the fine arts—painting, sculpture and metal-working—were considered by the Comacines as indispensable handmaids to architecture, and no 266 builder was in their eyes fit to be a Master till he could not only erect his edifice, but adorn it. Their symbolic church was to them a kind of Bible, figuring all the points of creeds, but the building itself was but the paper and binding of the Bible; the sculptor put the frontispiece which explained its inner meaning, and the mosaicist and fresco-painter added as it were the letter-press and illustrations. The churches of Ravenna show how full and rich was this inner illustration, how Christ and the Apostles, angels and prophets, saints and martyrs, have shone on those walls, a beautiful Bible picture-book for ages. That this was the light in which the early Christians regarded their churches is plain from many passages in the early Fathers. St. Basil (A.D. 379) in preaching, says—"Rise up, now, I pray you, ye celebrated painters of the good deeds of this army. Make glorious by your art the mutilated images of their leader. With colours laid on by your cunning, make illustrious the crowned martyr, by me too feebly pictured. I retire vanquished before you in your painting of the excellences of the martyr, etc. etc."[199]

Eighth-century wall decoration in subterranean Church of S. Clemente, Rome.

See pages 10 and 268.

Here is the description of a Christian shrine by St. Gregory of Nyssa (fourth century)—"Whoso cometh unto some spot like this, where there is a monument of the just and a holy relic, his soul is gladdened by the magnificence of what he beholds, seeing a house as God's temple elaborated most gloriously, both in the magnitude of the structure, and the beauty of the surrounding ornament. There the artificer has fashioned wood into the shape of animals; and the stone-cutter has polished the slabs to the smoothness of silver; and the painter has introduced the flowers of his art, depicting and imaging the constancy of 267 the martyrs, their resistance, their torments, the savage forms of their tyrants, their outrages, the blazing furnace and the most blessed end of the champion; the representation of Christ in human form presiding over the contest—all these things as it were in a book gifted with speech; shaping for us by means of colours, has he cunningly discoursed to us of the martyr's struggles, has made this temple glorious as some brilliant fertile mead. For the silent tracery on the walls has the art to discourse, and to aid most powerfully. And he who has arranged the mosaics has made this pavement on which we tread equal to a history." (From Father Mulroody's translation, in San Clemente, pp. 34, 35. St. Gregory wrote before A.D. 395.[200])

No doubt the richness of colour in these Byzantine mosaics inspired the taste for pictorial embellishment in the interiors of buildings, and the Comacines, not having Greek mosaicists at command, found an easier and quicker method of writing their scriptures on their walls—i.e. fresco. The first mention of frescoes is of those in the palace of Theodolinda, where her Lombards were portrayed on the walls. Several Lombard churches also retain signs of having been frescoed.

But if one desires to see what the early Christian Comacine could do in fresco, let him go to that interesting 268 Roman church of San Clemente, where some excavations made in 1857 revealed the ancient fourth-century Basilica, almost complete under the present one, which dates from about the twelfth century. This ancient church was built by St. Clement, the third bishop of Rome, and in it Gregory the Great read his thirty-second and thirty-eighth homilies. From the subterranean remains, with their grand ancient marble pillars and the huge semi-circle of the tribune, masked and built in though they are by the foundations of the upper church, we judge that it was a far finer building than the one above. Its walls were moreover covered with frescoes, some of which are precisely similar in style to the ones at S. Piero a Grado, also said to date before the tenth century. The frescoes, which have been discovered on the subterranean walls, are, as will be seen by our illustrations of them, in three rows, which appear to be of three different eras—two certainly. The upper band of saints and martyrs are distinctly Byzantine in style, drawing, and colouring. They show the usual rows of immobile saints and martyrs in set robes with jewelled borders, which are seen in the mosaics of the Ravenna churches. These would, I believe, date from the fourth-century church, when the Roman builders were employing Byzantine decoration. The second row beneath this is of the more naturalistic Comacine school, and would probably date from Pope Hadrian's restoration in the eighth century. In these and the frescoes of S. Piero a Grado one gets the veritable link between the conventional Byzantine school and the naturalistic Renaissance in Tuscany. Here are no longer icons or abstract images of saints; the people are no longer rigid and set, but are full of action and expression, though both are imperfectly expressed. They are, in fact, real persons and their stories. The life of St. Clement is all told in scenes. There are even portraits of living people, such as Beno di Rapizo and his wife Maria, who "for love of the 269 blessed Clement" caused the frescoes to be painted. Nor are their children, the boy Clement (puerulus Clemens) and little Atilia his sister, forgotten. They are veritable portraits, for the face of Beno in two different scenes is identical. The colouring, too, is unlike the Byzantine saints above. Those are rich with solid heavy tints; these are lighter, and more in the style of the early Sienese or Tuscan ones. Beneath this row of scenes are ornamental friezes, in which one recognizes Roman classical forms naturalized into floriated scrolls, and under these a line of panelling in fresco. One panel appears to be copied from the mosaic of the ceiling at the circular church of Sta. Costanza; another is suggestive of the emblematic circles and signs of the Catacombs. A third, the most interesting of all, is the one commemorating the building of the church to which we have before referred. Here stands Sisinius, and whether he be the hero of St. Clement's miracle, as Father Mulroody asserts, or not, he is certainly a Master architect standing in his toga, and wearing a Freemason's apron under it, directing his men, Albertus, Cosma, and Carvoncelle, in the moving of a column. The figures in this are so much more rude and out of drawing than the ones above, that they scarcely would seem to be by the same hands. I account for it by the fact that in representing a natural sketch from real life, the artist had no traditionary models to guide him, as he had for his saints and virgins, and consequently he found it difficult to depict his fellow-workmen in complicated attitudes. The art of the Catacombs has no affinity with these frescoes, which are of a more free and natural style, and the true ancestors of the Tuscan school of fresco-painting.

Frescoes of the 8th Century in the subterranean Church of S. Clemente, Rome, with portraits of the Patron Beno di Rapizo and his Family.

See pages 10 and 268.

We might place these as the earliest revival of nature after the Byzantine conventional influence was withdrawn; the next link is to be seen in the church of S. Piero a Grado, three miles from Pisa, where are extant by far the finest 270 specimens of Comacine fresco-painting. The church, which I have described in the chapter on the Carlovingian era, was built soon after the time of Pope Leo III. (795-816). The frescoes are said to date before A.D. 1000. Like those of St. Clement they are not Byzantine, and yet, though full of life and action, they have an Eastern air; they are not like the later Tuscan art, the colouring being lighter and the drawing of the figures different. The prevailing tint is a beautiful ethereal pale green, which is like nothing in Tuscan art, though Peruzzi produced a tint something like it in the sixteenth century. Standing at one end of the church and looking down the nave, one could imagine a Ravenna church, with its mosaics softened and toned down into frescoes. They are a valuable proof that among the Comacine Masters pictorial decoration was considered an integral part of a building. They told the articles of their creed in their sculptures outside, but they wrote the history of the church on the walls inside. The story of the church in the abstract is told in the line of popes above the arches, ending at Leo III.; the story of this church in particular is told in large scenes above them. Here is the church as it looked when built, and here is the ship of St. Peter cast ashore at Grado, and his preaching and baptizing, imprisonment, etc. In fact all his life still glows, though fading out on the south wall. The north wall is given to his death and miracles. Here is his crucifixion, near an obelisk on the Janicular Hill, and the beheading of his fellow-martyr St. Paul at the Tre Fontane, with the mysterious blood-red bird that drank his blood. Another scene shows the Pope Symmachus (A.D. 498) disinterring the bodies of the two Saints, and his vow of building S. John Lateran, and the last scene shows his consecration of that church. It is interesting to mark the Comacine influence in the drawing. The towers are Lombard towers, and the buildings all have round apses. The people who are not ecclesiastic or saints 271 seem to be Longobardic, with reddish tunics, leather-thonged sandals, and long hair. As for the lions, which lie waiting before the cross of St. Peter, they are in the precise form of the crouching lions beneath a Comacine arch. The drawing of other beasts shows that the artists were less accustomed to them than to their traditional lions.

Interior of Church of San Piero a Grado near Pisa, with Frescoes of the 9th century.

See page 270.

If it be true that these frescoes, like the ones beneath San Clemente, were really of the ninth or tenth centuries, and if they were by native artists, this would place Pisa far before Siena in the history of art, and Merzario would be wrong when he asserts that there was no school of art in Pisa before the cathedral was begun. The state of art in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries strongly inclines me to place these Byzantino-naturalistic paintings, according to legend, in the ninth century—that is, before the fall of art, which took place during the times of German invasion and feudal oppression after Charlemagne.

Certainly Cimabue, who is called the "Father of Tuscan Art," could not have painted them, though in the revival of his time he may have studied them, as earlier works of his guild, for we have documental evidence of his connection as a Magister with the Pisan Lodge. The first great painter of that lodge was Giunta di Pisa, sometimes written Magister Juncte. He was the son of a still older painter, Guidotto dal Colle, who was a Master in A.D. 1202, and lived till 1255.[201] We give a facsimile of an old print showing two of his paintings, one a figure from the fall of Simon Magus, in the church of St. Francis at Assisi; another a St. John from an ancient crucifix in S. M. degli Angeli at Assisi. The Byzantine style in Cimabue's painting may be traced to the influence of Giunta, of whom 272 an ancient writer, Padre Angeli, when speaking of his paintings at Assisi, says—"that though his teachers were Greeks, yet he learned his art in Italy, about A.D. 1210."[202] This is a proof of the connection of Eastern artists with the Western architects.

Giunta, who became a Magister in 1210, preceded Giotto by a century, in the frescoes of St. Francis of Assisi, where among other things he painted a crucifix with Frate Elias kneeling at the foot. Brother Elias was a scholar of St. Francis, and contemporary with Giunta himself, who has inscribed on his crucifix—





Morrona has reproduced, by a copper engraving, a veritable work of Giunta's—a crucifix with the Holy Father above, and the Madonna and St. John at the sides, which was for many years left in the smoke of the kitchen of the Monastery of St. Anna at Pisa. There is a decided effort to overcome the stiffness of his first Byzantine teachers, and a good deal of lifelike expression in the smaller figures. The same leaning toward nature is visible in the figures of his Fall of Simon Magus at Assisi. Del Valle and Morrona, judging by evidences of style, assert that Giunta di Pisa was the master of Cimabue. But as Giunta graduated as Magister in 1210, and Cimabue was not born till 1240, this does not seem possible. It is more likely, in regard to time, that Guido of Siena, painter of the famous Madonna in San Domenico, may have learned something of Giunta; but as all three of these primary Masters, each 273 of whom became the head of the painting school in his own lodge, were members of the great guild, the source of instruction might have been common to all, and moreover that source must have been originally or partly Byzantine.

From paintings in Assisi by Magister Giunta of Pisa.

See page 271.

While mentioning that Giunta learned of Greek masters in Italy, we may note that Vasari, à propos of Cimabue, tells a story of the Florentines calling in Greek masters to teach painting there. The assertion has been much derided by modern authors, but it might contain a grain of truth after all. Taking it with the fact (which becomes impressed on us the more we study early Comacine churches) that the architecture is Roman, and the ornamentation shows a Greek influence naturalized, we get at what may be the truth; that the Byzantine brethren who joined the guild after the edict of Leo the Isaurian, still had their descendants in it, among the ranks of the painters, as the Campionese and Buoni families had for centuries theirs among the architects. This would account for Andrea Tafi working, together with Apollonius the Greek, at the mosaics in the tribune of the Florentine Baptistery.[203]

Del Migliore, in his Aggiunte to Vasari's Lives, says that in a contract dated 1297 he read "Magister Apollonius pictor Florentinus." Here we get one of the very Greek masters Vasari has been derided for mentioning, and he is certainly connected with the Masonic lodge.

With a common origin, each lodge nevertheless developed its own distinct style, yet so much was general to the whole guild, that in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries one spirit seemed to permeate them all, and only experts can tell a Lorenzetti from a Memmi, or a Giotto from a Spinello Aretino. We find them working now in one 274 lodge, now in another. Cimabue, though his principal work was in Florence where his school was, is found working in the Pisan Lodge in 1301.

The archives of the Duomo there have three documents of that year referring to him. One proves the payment of X solidi II libr. a day to "Magister Cimabue" and his famulus (apprentice) for their work there. Who knows whether the famulus may not have been young Giotto, or Joctus, as he is written in old deeds!

The second paper is Cimabue's receipt for the payment by the Lord operaio (Dominus operarius) for a figure of St. John, painted for that guild (Magiestatem).

The third seems to be the payment for a coloured glass window which had been painted on glass by Baccio, son of Jovenchi of Milan, from Magister Cimabue's design.[204]

Cimabue's school in Florence must have prospered greatly. A long list of names of painters between 1294 and 1296, who are qualified and who agree to teach their art in Florence, may be made from an ancient law register kept at that date by the notary Ser Matteo Biliotti, which is preserved in the general archives of Contracts in Florence.[205] Here we find several of the Masters trained 275 at Pisa, such as Lapo de Cambio, Lapo di Beliotto, Lapo di Taldo, Corso di Buono, Andrea di Cante, Grifo di Tancredi, Tura di Ricovero, Vanni di Rinuccio, Michele di Pino, Ranuccio di Bogolo, Guiduccio di Maso, Cresta di Piero, Bindaccio di Bruno, Guccio di Lippo, Bertino della Marra, Rossello e Scalore di Lettieri, Dino and Lippo Benivieni, Asinello d'Alberto, Lapo di Compagno, called Scartapecchia, Vanuccio di Duccio, and Bruno di Giovanni, the companion of Buffalmacco and Calandrino, of whom Vasari tells such funny stories.

Another act, dated 1282, is a contract by which Azzo, son of the late Mazzetto painter, of the parish of S. Tommaso, engaged to teach his art for six years to Vanni di Bruno; probably Giovanni the father of Bruno mentioned above.

Rossello di Lottieri was the great-grandfather of Cosimo Rosselli. Vanuccio was the son of the famous Duccio of the Sienese Lodge. Indeed I think we could find, by close investigation, that most of these Magistri pittori were connected with one or other of the Tuscan Lodges.

Painters abounded in the guild at this era. There was Tommaso de Mutina (Modena) whose Madonna painted in 1297 is in the Gallery at Vienna. There was Margaritone of Arezzo (1216-1293), a great tre-cento painter of Madonnas and crucifixes, whose works are yet preserved in Florence, London, Siena, etc. He generally signed them "Margarit . . . de Aretio pingebat." A portrait of St. Francis, however, in the Capuchin Convent at Sinigaglia, is inscribed "Margaritonis devotio me fec. . ." A Madonna enthroned in the church at Monte San Savino is not only signed but dated 1284. Guido of Siena and Margaritone were the leaders of that flourishing school at Siena which culminated in Spinello Aretino and the Lorenzetti, one of whom, Lorenzo Monaco, rivalled our Fra Angelico. 276

Various painters are found in Pisa up to the fourteenth century, artistic descendants from the school of Giunta. Signor Morrona (Pisa Illustrata nelle Arti del Disegno, vol. ii. p. 154) gives a list of Giunta's scholars. There are Bonaventura and Apparecchiato da Lucca, Dato Pisano, Vincino da Pistoja, a list which proves the affinity between all the Tuscan schools. A little later in 1321 we find a certain Vicino of Pisa as Gaddo Gaddi's scholar in Florence, where he finished his master's mosaics in the Baptistery. Ciampi has written a long dissertation to prove that Vicino of Pisa ought to be Vincino of Pistoja, because he has found the latter name in some documents. But as his documents refer to paintings done by Vincino of Pistoja in 1290, and the mosaics of Vicino and Gaddi date 1321, it seems more probable they were really two different men—one, the Pistojan, being the scholar of Giunta at Pisa mentioned above; the other, the Pisan, a scholar of Gaddi in Florence somewhat later. In 1302 we find painters from all the lodges assembled in Pisa. Here are Magister Franciscus, painter from S. Simone, named as a Magister of the highest rank. He works with his son Victorius, and his apprentice Sandruccio. Here are Lapo of Florence, Benozzo Gozzoli,[206] and "Michaelis the painter"; Duccio and Tura of Siena, painters; and Datus Pictor, who might be that Dato Pisano mentioned as a scholar of Giunta.[207]


The books of the Duomo of Pisa contain among other things an entry which indicates the use of oil-painting long before the time of Antonello de Messina. It is nothing less than the payment by the Provveditore of the Opera for 29 lbs. of turpentine, 104 lbs. of linseed oil at 28 denari per lb., and 43 lbs. of varnish, all of which were for the use of the painters of the operam Magiestatis. The entry is dated 1301, and is No. 26 in the books of the Provveditore of the Opera at Pisa in the year MCCCI. "Johannes Orlandi sua sponte dixit se habuisse ad Operario libras duas den. pis. pro pretio libre viginti novem trementine operate adoreram Magiestatis.

"Libras quinquaginta quatuor, et solidos decem et octo den. pisanorum minutorum pro pretio centinarum quatuor olei linseminis ad operaio Magiestatis, et aliarum figurarium que fiunt in majori Ecclesia, ad rationem denariorum XXVIII pro qualibet libra."

Upechinus Pictor[208] pro libris quadraginta tribus vernicis emptis Comunis an. 1303, is named as a painter of Pisa.

These entries clearly prove what a large part the painters took in the work of the Masonic brotherhood, and how the frescoing of the wall was a component part of a Comacine church, and carried on, like their building, by the joint labour of many Masters. If proof of this is wanting, go where you will in Italy, and if you can find any church that has a wall of its original early Christian or mediæval building remaining, of any age between the fourth and the fourteenth century, scratch that wall, and you will find frescoes have been there. For instance, in Santa Croce, and San Miniato at Florence, and at Fiesole, wherever the restorer's plaster has been taken off, precious works of the 278 old Masters have come to light. But in all these we have to imagine what a mediæval church was like from the fragments that remain: to see the real Comacine church of the twelfth or thirteenth century, one must go to the ancient city of San Gimignano with its many towers, where they remain untouched by the restorer, and unwhitewashed by the seventeenth-century destroyer. There the whole churches, every inch of them, are covered with scripture or saintly story in glowing colours. Our illustration shows one by Barna of Siena before the painters seceded.

The Spanish chapel at S. Maria Novella is another unspoiled and entire specimen of the profuse use of fresco by the guild. Most of these churches were decorated by fresco artists who belonged to the Masonic Guild before the secession of the painters, and being so, it is probable that they worked together, as the architectural Masters were accustomed to do, and this would account for the difficulty of distinguishing in the Spanish chapel between the work of the Memmi and that of the Lorenzetti, who certainly worked together at Siena, and probably also in Florence. Cimabue and Giotto were undoubtedly Magistri of the Masonic Guild, for both of them were builders as well as painters, and were employed together with other Masters.

When Cimabue discovered Giotto drawing his sheep, he took him into his school in the lodge, he being then a qualified Master. But the boy must have passed his novitiate, not only in Magister Cimabue's own atelier, but also in the wider teaching of the school and laborerium, or he would never have got the commission to build the tower, nor the power to sculpture his "Hymn of Labour" around it.

This was the era when pictorial art was freeing its wings from the shackles of tradition and set conventionalism, and from the bondage of working under the rule of another art like architecture. The painters, especially when the oil process was invented, saw a new and independent career 279 open before them, and struck for freedom. The Sienese led the way. In 1355 they seceded from the Masonic Guild, and even forsook their four crowned Saints; inaugurating their own company under the banner and protection of St. Luke. They called it L' Arte de' Pittori Senesi. In reading their laws[209] one cannot but recognize that they were framed on the same lines as those of the Masonic Guild, the chief changes being the difference of patron saint, and the omission of some technical rules relating especially to architecture.

Fresco at S. Gimignano. By Magister Barna of Siena.

See page 278.

The names of the artists forming this first school of painting are sufficient proof of their former connection with the Comacine Guild. Here is Francesco di Vannuccio, who was called in a council of the Opera in 1356, and Lando di Stefano di Meo, whose name appears first in the Masonic Guild, and then among the painters; Andrea di Vanni, whose father and ancestors had been in it, and who in 1318 was himself working in the Duomo of Siena with his father, where he is entered in the books as Andreuccio (poor little Andrea) di Vanni. There are sundry other members of the Vanni family, some of whom were on the lists of the Masonic Guild before they are found as painters. Then there was Bartolo, son of Magister Fredi, with his son Andrea and grandson Giorgio. Bartolo must have been an old man at this time, so that his frescoes at S. Gimignano would have been done before the painters seceded. We find also Andrea and Benedetto di Bindo in 1363 inscribed in the roll of "Magistri lapidum," and in 1389 in that of the painters; several of their family have also enrolled themselves there. This Magister Bindo was a Lombard from Val D'Orcia; other Comacine names are there also, such as Domenico di Valtellino, and Cristofano di Chosona (Cossogna, near Pallanza).


I believe that after this secession the churches were no longer so entirely decorated with frescoes. Altar-pieces, introduced by Giotto and Lorenzo Monaco, partially took their place.

In 1386 the painters of the Florentine Lodge followed the example of their confrères at Siena, and put themselves also under the protection of St. Luke. They called themselves the Confraternità dei Pittori. The meeting-place of this Confraternity was in the old church of S. Matteo, now no more. Their first company lasted till the time of Cosimo I., who patronized it, and superintended its reorganization in 1562.

In Medicean times great fêtes were held on St. Luke's Day, by the Academy, and all the best pictures in Florence were hung in the cloisters of the Servite monks.

By the time of the Grand Dukes the Masonic Guild seems to have decayed. Owing to the new painting, sculpture, and gold-working companies, which had freed themselves from the old organization; and the secularizing of art which followed from these causes, and from the diminished zeal for church-building, the Freemasons must have dwindled away, and the guild died a natural death. Cosimo again revived and united the three sister branches of Art—Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting—in his Accademia delle Belle Arti, where they remain to this day. The ensign of the Academy was a group of three wreaths, bay, olive, and oak, with the motto—"Levan di terra al ciel nostro intelletto."

Lorenzo il Magnifico had paved the way to the revival of sculpture by the school he started in his gardens. The Academy has now a fine building for itself, and a very interesting collection of paintings, chiefly of the early schools.

Here we will leave the painters, who no longer have any connection with the great Masonic Guild. That fraternity, nevertheless, forms the link of connection between the old classic art and the Renaissance in painting, as in all the 281 other branches. Without it we should have had no grand frescoes by Giotto, the Lorenzetti, the Memmi, and the Gaddi, for the lodges at Siena and Florence trained their art; and it is a certain fact that after the secession of the painters, the glorious days of fresco-painting were over. The painters no longer worked together to beautify every inch of the churches built by the brotherhood, but they painted for themselves, for personal fame and money. Madonnas, votive pictures, and portraits multiplied: the commission and the patron ruled the art. Imagination and inspiration rarely dominated, except in rare cases like Fra Angelico, Fra Bartolommeo, Raphael, and Michael Angelo, and other of the greatest Masters who stand forth from the crowd of artists, endowed with true genius. 282



1. 1259 Magister Luglio Benintendi   Architects employed on Siena cathedral.
2.   M. Rubeo q. Bartolomei
3.   M. Stephanus Jordanus
4. 1260 M. Bruno Bruscholi   Engaged on May 31, 1260, for work in the cathedral.
5.   M. Buonasera Brunacci
6. 1266 M. Niccolò Pisano Sculptured the pulpit in the Duomo of Siena.
7.   M. Donato di Ricevuti   His pupils and assistants. Donato and Lapo were naturalized in 1271 at Siena. Arnolfo went to Florence, and was there made a citizen.
8.   M. Arnolfo
9.   M. Lapo
10.   M. Johannes filius Niccoli (Giovanni Pisano) Son of Niccolò Pisano, who was made a citizen of Siena. He was chief architect of the Duomo in 1290.
11. 1267 M. Johannes Stephani (son of No. 3)   Three Magistri employed at the Duomo, who witnessed the payment to Niccolò Pisano for his pulpit.
12.   M. Orlando Orlandi
13.   M. Ventura Diotisalvi of Rapolano Ventura was probably descended from Diotisalvi, the builder of the Tower of Pisa.
14. 1281 M. Ramo di Paganello Signed a contract as builder on Nov. 20, 1281.
15. 1308 M. Andrea olim Ventura Son of No. 13.
16. 1310 M. Lorenzo olim M. Vitalis de Senis (called Lorenzo Maitani) Worked under Gio. Pisano at Siena during his apprenticeship. Was chief architect at Orvieto in 1310. His son Vitale was "Capo-Maestro" after him.
17. 283 1310 M. Ciolo di Neri   Worked together at Siena.
18. " M. Muto di Neri
19. " M. Teri Ciolo takes Teri as his pupil on Sept. 10, 1310.
20. 1318 *M. Camaino di Crescentini di Diotisalvi[210] Grandson of Ventura Diotisalvi
21.   *M. Tino His son.
22.   *M. Corsino Guidi  
23.   *M. Ghino di Ventura   Relatives of the Diotisalvi family.
24.   *M. Ceffo di Ventura
25.   *M. Vanni Bentivegno
26.   *M. Andreuccio Vanni His son.
27.   *M. Ceccho Ricevuti A descendant of No. 7.
28.   *M. Gese Benecti  
29.   M. Vanni di Cione of Florence   These four with Lorenzo Maitani (No. 16) voted against going on with the too large church at Siena, and advised its present dimension.
30.   M. Tone Giovanni
31.   M. Cino Franceschi
32.   M. Niccola Nuti
33. 1330 M. Vitale di Lorenzo Son of Lorenzo Maitani (No. 16). C.M. (Capo-Maestro) at Orvieto for six months after his father's death, with Niccola Nuti (No. 32.)
34. " M. Agostino da Siena   These five sculptors were engaged to make the tomb of Bishop Tarlato at Arezzo; Agostino being head sculptor and designer.
35.   M. Giovanni, his son
36.   M. Angelo di Ventura
37.   M. Simone di Ghino
38.   M. Jacopo, his brother
39. 1333 †M. Paolo di Giovanni[211]  
40.   †M. Toro di Mino  
41.   †M. Cino Compagni Worked at the Sienese Duomo from 1326.
42.   †M. Frate Viva di Compagni A monk of the guild, brother of the preceding.
43.   †M. Guido or Guidone di Pace Built the castle of Grosseto with Angelo Ventura.
44.   †M. Andrea Ristori  
45.   †M. Ambrosio Ture  
46. 1339 M. Cellino di Nese of Siena Built the church of St. John Baptist at Pistoja; the contract was signed July 22, 1339.
47. 1339-40 M. Lando di Pietro C.M. in 1339. A great artist in metal, and eminent architect.
48. 1348 M. Stefano di Meo Son of Magister Meo di Piero. Built the chapel of St. Peter at Massa.
49.284 1349 M. Giovanni di M. Jacopo di Vanni   These brothers were employed at the Fonte Branda.
50. " M. Niccolo di M. Jacopo
51. 1356 M. Gherardo di Bindo   Paid for advice about the new Duomo when Francesco Talenti and Benci Cione came from Florence as experts.
52. " M. Francesco di Vannuccio
53. 1358 M. Paolo di Matteo   Elected on Nov. 3, 1358, C.M. of Orvieto with Moricus as his assistant. He resigned, and died in 1360.
54.   M. Moricus Petrucciani
55. 1360 M. Andrea di Cecco Ranaldi C.M. of Orvieto, Dec. 1360.
56. " M. Luca di Cecco His brother and assistant; designed the steps of the Duomo in 1386.
57. 1364 M. Paolo d'Antonio C.M. of Orvieto from April 8, 1364.
58. " M. Antonio di Brunaccio A descendant of No. 5; he returned his salary because he broke his contract, March 17, 1364.
59. 1369 M. Johannes Stephani A descendant of Stefano Jordanus (No. 3). He worked at S. John Lateran for Pope Urban V. in 1369. Elected C.M. at Orvieto, March 11, 1375.
60. 1377 M. Giacomo di Buonfredi (detto Corbella) Sculptured the façade of the Duomo of Siena, opposite the hospital.
61. " M. Francesco del Tonghio (called Francesco del Coro) Sculptured the choir stalls in Siena cathedral in 1377, also the choir in the Duomo of Florence.
62. 1379 M. Giacomo del Tonghio His son and assistant. He sculptured the tabernacle of S. Pietro in the Duomo of Siena.
63. 1384 Magister Giacomo di Castello Contracted on Feb. 24, 1384-85, to make three coloured glass windows for the Duomo; he made also those in S. Francesco at Pisa in 1391.
64. 1386 M. Giovanni Peruzzi Did some stone building in the tower at Siena cathedral.
65. 1388 M. Mariano d'Agnolo Romanelli Carved several figures in the choir of Siena cathedral. 285
66. 1390 M. Luca di Giovanni C.M. at Orvieto for the second time; the first was in 1387. He was in the Florentine Lodge in 1386.
67. 1423 M. Bastiano di Corso (of Florence) Engaged to make 59 braccia of inlaid frieze in the pavement of the steps of the high altar.

At first sight it would not appear that the Italian-Gothic cathedrals at Siena and Orvieto could have much to do with the ancient Comacine church of S. Michele at Pavia, but they are undoubtedly its hereditary descendants, and in great part the work of Comacine architects.

Documents prove that a Lombard Guild, with schola, laborerium, and Opera, existed in Siena long before A.D. 1400. Legend, or rather tradition, says that this lodge began in Longobardic days, when the first Sienese Duomo was built by a certain Ava, descendant of Iselfred, a Longobardic prince. This Ava had, before going to Siena, caused a church (Aula Santa) to be erected "on an island near Borgonuovo by the lake" (Insula prope Borgonuovo juxta lacus). This must be the Comacine island on the lake near Como-nuovo, which was also called Borgonuovo.[212] It is also said that in 1180 Pope Alexander III. went to Siena, of which city he was a native, to consecrate the new Basilica.[213]

Here we have the first link of the Comacine Guild with Siena, and I think it offers an explanation of the early existence of the Sienese school of painting.

The Longobardic Masonic lodge seems to have been the only one of the kind then in Siena, and it held on for almost a century after the secession of the painters in A.D. 1355.


By that time so many native architects and sculptors had been trained that there were two distinct parties in the guild, and the Sienese clique began to feel the need of independent power. In 1441 a schism was made, the Sienese sculptors forming a branch of their own, called L'arte dei maestri di pietra, Senese, which had its laws and regulations in due form. The same schism had taken place in Venice in 1307, when the Arte de taglia pietre was formed, and a similar one took place later in Florence. The Sienese split was not very satisfactory, for on December 5, 1473, we find they called a meeting of the two guilds, to further the means of working in better accord with each other. The following compact was made—

(1) That all Masters, Lombard or Sienese, should pay ten soldi for right of entry on employment.

(2) That all, equally, should pay five soldi a year for the festa of the Santi Quattro; and that a Lombard camarlengo should be chosen to work together with the Sienese one, to collect these and other moneys; that the camarlengo should hold no more in hand than twenty-five soldi; all money above that to be immediately invested.

(3) That the Lombard camarlengo shall be subject to the same laws and rules and fines as the Sienese one.

(4) That the garzoni (novices or pupils) shall have no claims to receive pay, but manual labourers shall be paid three soldi a year each by the Masters employing them, as says the statute.

(5) That when it is necessary to "make a collection," the Lombard Masters shall be obliged to attend, equally with the citizens, and under the same penalties, as by the statute. Here follow the names of the contracting parties, as inscribed in the original report of the meeting.[214]


Et primo, nomina Magistrorum Senensium.

  • Magister Laurentius Petri
  • M. Urbanus Petri
  • M. Franciscus Ducci
  • M. Dominicus Andreae
  • M. Petrus Zantebuoni
  • M. Joannes
  • M. Vitus Marci
  • M. Marianus Sani
  • M. Tullius magistri Marci
  • M. Mannus Antonii
  • M. Galganus Ioannis
  • M. Iulianus Iacobi
  • M. Iacobus Ioannis
  • M. Antonius Ghini
  • M. Dominicus Cambii
  • M. Aloysius Ruggieri
  • M. Franciscus Andreae
  • M. Petrus Antonii

Sequntur nomina Magistrorum Lombardorum.

  • Magister Guglielmus Joannis de Sanvito
  • M. Franciscus Christophori de Cumo (Como)
  • M. Joannes Guglielmi de Sanvito (son of No. 1)
  • M. Stephanus Fidelis de Voltolina (Valtellina)
  • M. Adamus Ioannis de Thori
  • M. Ioannes Iacobi de Sanvito
  • M. Alexus Ioannis de Sanvito (his son)
  • M. Martinus Martii de Sanvito
  • M. Ioannes Talentine de Sanvito
  • M. Iacobus Dominici de Lamone
  • M. Ioannes Iacobi de Lamone (his son)
  • M. Guglielmus Antonii de Sanvito
  • M. Paulus Thomae de Charazza
  • M. Antonius Ioannis de Ponte
  • M. Iacobus Petri de Condupino
  • M. Antonius magistri Alberti de Lamone
  • M. Ioannes Francisci de Lamone
  • M. Ioannes de Ponte
  • M. Guglielmus Andreae de Sanvito

Acta fuerunt, etc.

But even this did not succeed. On January 6, 1512, we find the Sienese Lodge making a petition to the Signoria to the effect that whereas in ancient times the brethren of the Masonic Guild were always accustomed to hold their meetings and unite for worship in their own chapel of the Santi Quattro in the cathedral, the "foreign" builders being now separated from that chapter (lodge), all the money which used to be collected to endow that chapel, is now collected among themselves, and sent to Lombardy, without consulting the said chapter (capitudine), "to the grave injury and shame of our city, and of the said chapel," "thus we pray of your Signoria that you will command that the said lodge shall 288 meet according to the ancient rules of the order, under pain of penalties named in the ancient Breve ... the which shall be useful and honourable to our city and to the said chapel."[215] By this we realize that the Lombard Masters were not only the earliest guild of architects at Siena, but also the most powerful, as the Sienese branch could not even keep up the chapel of their patron saint without their aid.

It may be interesting to glance over the headings of the statutes of the Sienese Masonic Guild, which no doubt were similar to, if not identical with the original one; at any rate they will throw light on the organization.

Cap. I. On he who curses God or the Saints (a fine of twenty-five lire).

Cap. II. On he who opposes the Signoria of the city (a fine of twenty-five lire).

Cap. III. On the election of rettore and camarlengo. (In the Florentine Lodge which kept up the older Latin, these are called caput magister and provveditore.)

Cap. IV. On the forming of councils and their duration.

Cap. V. How to treat underlings (sottoposti).

Cap. VI. On those who disobey the rector or camarlengo.

Cap. VII. On he who refuses a citation (fine of twenty soldi).

Cap. VIII. Of one who swears by the blood or body of God.

Cap. IX. Of he who takes work on a risk.

Cap. X. All names of sottoposti to be written in the Breve.

Cap. XI. That no one may take work away from another Master.

Cap. XII. Contracts with pupils must be made before the camarlengo.


Cap. XIII. How the feast of the Four Holy Martyrs is to be kept.[216]

Cap. XIV. On the entry of a foreign Master into the guild.

Cap. XV. Di chi vietasse il pegno al messo. (I can get no clear translation of this; I think it means a pledge on receiving a commission.)

Cap. XVI. The camarlengo shall hand over all receipts to the Grand Master.

Cap. XVII. On the salaries of officials of the guild.

Cap. XVIII. How fêtes must be kept (fines of five soldi to all who work on feste. Forty-nine fête days are named).

Cap. XIX. One who is sworn to another guild cannot be either the Grand Master or camarlengo.

Cap. XX. That the camarlengo keeps for the guild all moneys received from sottoposti (brethren of lower rank).

Cap. XXI. On good faith in receiving a commission.

Cap. XXII. How members are to be buried.

Cap. XXIII. How to insure against risks.

Cap. XXIV. No arguments or business discussions to be held in the public streets.

Cap. XXV. How the fête of the guild is to be kept, the rectors to have full power to command.


Cap. XXVI. How wax candles shall be sent to the monks of the Mantellini for the festa.

Cap. XXVII. How tithes are to be paid.

Cap. XXVIII. That all orders come from the Grand Master.

Cap. XXIX. How the outgoing officials shall instruct the new ones. (i.e. The council of administration which was changed periodically.)

Cap. XXX. That no Master may undertake a second work till the first has been paid.

Cap. XXXI. Brick-makers and quarry-men must abide by the rules of the guild.

Cap. XXXIV. On those who lie against others.

Cap. XXXV. Those who demand a meeting or consultation shall pay fifteen soldi to the guild.

Cap. XXXVI. That the Grand Master on retiring from office shall call three riveditori[217] to examine his accounts.

Cap. XXXIX. That no master of woodwork shall work in stone.

Cap. XL. The Breve (statutes) shall be revised every year.

Cap. XLI. On the entry into the lodge, of Masters from the city or neighbourhood.

The statutes are very fair and well composed, and must certainly have been made from long experience in the guild.

In 1447 we find a further split. The Masters of wood-carving secede from the sculptors in stone, and form their own statutes. Little by little, as art becomes more perfect and requires more freedom, the Masonic monopoly of centuries is dissolving.

We must now return to the building of the Duomo by this multitude of brethren.


It was in 1259 that the civic Council decided to continue the work of restoration in the Duomo of Siena, and formed a council of nine influential citizens, together with the Magistri of the Masonic Guild, to superintend the work. By February 1321 their ideas and ambitions had so enlarged that they proposed to make the present church the transept, and to add a great nave, "to make a beautiful and magnificent church, with all rich and suitable ornamentation." The new nave was really begun, and a high bare wall with a fine window in it remains to this day to puzzle the tourist. This vast design was, however, abandoned, and the building continued on a less ambitious scale.

Now for details of all these changes. Before Giovanni Pisano's time we only get a few quaint names such as Magister Manuellus, son of the late Rinieri, who made the stalls in the choir in 1259; Luglio Benintendi, Ventura Diotisalvi, Magister Gratia or Gracii, Ristorus, Stefano Jordano, Orlando Bovacti, nearly all of whom were Masters from other lodges either in Lombardy or Pisa. There are besides two other Venture—one Ventura di Gracii, and one Ventura called Trexsa. All these are named as being called in a council of the guild of June 9, 1260, to consider the stability of some vaulting lately made, but I can find no capo magistro at this date. Several of these are names known in other cities where the guild had lodges. Ventura's father, Diotisalvi, built the Baptistery at Pisa; Magister Gracii came from Padua, Stefano Jordanus had a son, Johannes Stephani, who was witness to Niccolò di Pisa's receipt for payment by Fra Melano of 78 gold lire and IV denarii for his pulpit in the Duomo on July 26, together with Orlando, son of Orlando Bovacti, and Ventura di Rapolano. Niccolò himself had with him his son Giovanni, who also graduated in the guild from the school of his father. Here, too, were Arnolfo, Lapo (the younger), with Donato and Goro, who were students in Niccolò's 292 school of sculpture, and who worked so well at the sculpture at Siena that when they became Magistri in 1271, the three last were given the freedom of the city.[218] They were not exclusively sculptors, however, any more than Arnolfo was. Lapo was employed in 1281 as architect at Colle, where Arnolfo's reputed father, the elder Lapo or Jacopo il Tedesco, had been engaged by King Manfred long before him. Goro di Ciucci Ciuti had three sons, Neri, Ambrogio, and Goro, all in the guild. In 1306 we find them all engaged together in the fountain of Follonica at Siena. In 1310 Neri's sons Ciolo and Nuto are mentioned; one of them, having graduated, is old enough to have a pupil, named Teri. Here is the deed of apprenticeship—

   No. 26."1310, 16 Settembre.   

"Ciolo, maestro di pietra del fu Neri da Siena, prende per suo discepolo Teri fratello di Baldino da Castelfiorentino (Archivio del Duomo di Siena. Pergamena, 616).

"In nomini Domini amen. Ex hoc publico instrumento sit omnibus manifestum; quod Ciolus magister lapidum de cappella sancti Salvatoris in Ponte, quondam Nerii de Senis, fecit—Ugolinum, dictum Geriolum, de populo Sancti Joannis de Senis—suum procuratorem—ad recipiendum pro eo et ejus vice et nomine, Terium, germanum Baldini de Castro Florentino, nunc commorantem Senis, in discipulum et pro discipulo suprascripti Cioli. Et ad promictendum ipsi Terio, vel ali persone pro eo, quod ipse Ciolus magister tenebit eundem Terium in suum et pro suo discipulo, ad terminum et terminos statuendum et statuendos a dicto Ciolo; et quod eum dictam suam artem de lapidibus docebit.

"Actum Pisis, in via publica ante domum habitationis Duccii Nerii Bonaveris, positam in via sancte Marie, in cappella sancte Eufraxie.—Dominice incarnationis anno Domini Millesimo trecentesimo decimo, Indictione septima, sextodecimo Kal: Octobris, secundum cursum pisanorum.

"Ego Bonaccursus filius quondam Provincialis de Vecchiano—not:—scripsi."—(Reproduced from Milanesi, Documenti per la Storia dell' Arte Senese, vol. i. pp. 174, 175.)

In 1281 a Grand Council was called to revoke the banishment of one of the Lombard Masters, Ramo di Paganello.[219] 293 It seems that Ramo's father was from Lombardy, "de partibus ultramontanis;" but the son had been made a citizen of Siena, whence he was exiled for contumacy. However, he was such a good sculptor that the edict was revoked. The report begins—

"1281, 20 Novembre.—Item cum Magister Ramus filius Paganelli de partibus ultramontanis, qui olim fuit civis senensis, venerit nunc ad civitatem Sen: pro serviendo operi beate Marie de Senis; ex eo quod est de bonis intalliatoribus et sculptoribus, et subtilioribus de mundo qui inveniri possit: et ad dictum servitium morari non potest, eo quod invenitur exbannitus et condenpnatus per contumaciam, occasione quod debuit jacere cum quadam muliere; eo existente extra civitatem Senensem: si videtur vobis conveniens quod debeat rebanniri et absolvi de banno et condenpnationibus suis, ad hoc ut possit libere et secure servire dicto operi ad laudem et honorem Dei, et beate Marie Virginis, in Dei nomine consulate."

The first head architect, who is definitely styled Capo maestro dell' Opera, is Giovanni Pisano, who, when he came to work with his father at the pulpit in 1266, seems to have taken root in Siena, as did his fellow-pupils Lapo, Donato, and Goro. Arnolfo, the fourth of the group, found his mission in Florence.

Signor Milanesi has not succeeded in finding the document referring to Giovanni da Pisa's election, but he finds that, in 1284, the Sienese, in gratitude for the services he has rendered in the building of the Duomo, and especially the façade, gave him the freedom of the city, and immunity from taxes.[220]


Like most artists, Giovanni must have been Bohemian in his ways, or careless in his political expressions, for in October 1290 he was fined the large sum of 600 lire, and had not the wherewithal to pay. He got off by paying a third, but even this Fra Jacopo, one of the Operai of the Duomo, had to advance. It was probably repaid from his salary by instalments.[221] From these documents we gather that the façade was not designed by Lorenzo Maitani, as has generally been supposed. If the Commune of Siena in 1284 acknowledged Giovanni's talent in building the Duomo and the façade, Lorenzo Maitani, who only began to be chief architect of Orvieto from 1310, certainly could not have been old enough to design the front of Siena cathedral. Moreover Milanesi expressly says that, with all his research in the archives, he can find no mention whatever of Maitani's being connected in any prominent manner with Siena cathedral.[222] He most likely worked at it as Giovanni's pupil, and this, with the general tenets of the guild, would sufficiently account for the similarity between the two churches.

The tenets of the guild were certainly veering towards the Gothic, and each generation of its members made a new step. Jacopo Tedesco at Assisi, and Niccolò Pisano in his pulpit, showed the first sign of transition; their sons and pupils, Arnolfo at Florence, and Giovanni at Siena, developed the style still further, and their successors fully expanded it at Milan.

Giovanni was a lover of the Gothic, but was not yet entirely converted. His windows, like Arnolfo's, were pointed, the points emphasized by ornate Gothic gables 295 over them; but the three arches of the doorways are of a Lombard roundness, the pointed effect being only conveyed by the superimposed gables. Yet the turrets and saint-filled niches of the upper part of the façade are as rich, and pointed, and pinnacled as any Gothic cathedral could be. He had not discovered, as the Germans afterwards did, the beauty of the upward line. The old classic leaning to the horizontal line still cuts up the design; and the little Lombard pillared gallery still stretches across the front, though beautified and gothicized. He did not forget the sign of the guild in this transition period; for there on the columns, and beneath the arches, are the lions of Judah.

It is not positively certain whether the present façade was the one originally designed by Giovanni or not. We find that in November 1310, a commission of ten Master builders was formed, to superintend the work of the mosaic, already commenced, and to guard against useless expenses. Milanesi supposes this to refer to some mosaics destined for the façade, especially as in 1358 a Maestro Michele di Ser Memmo was paid six gold florins for his work, "per la sua fadigha (fatica) e magistero di Santo Michele agnolo, a musaica (sic) che fecie a la facciata di duomo nel canto."[223] The front, as it is at present, has no mosaics; probably Giovanni Pisano's plan was modified in later days. It is certain that after Giovanni's death in 1299 great changes of design were made.

The interior has the same mixture as the façade; there are round arches below in the nave, and pointed windows above in the clerestory. The black and white marble, significant of the times though it be, detracts much from the effect of the really fine architecture by cutting it up in slices. Fergusson recognized the purely Italian 296 pedigree of Siena cathedral.[224] "That at Siena," he says, "illustrates forcibly the tendency exhibited by the Italian architects to adhere to the domical forms of the old Etruscans, which the Byzantines made peculiarly their own. It is much to be regretted that the Italians only, of all the Western mediæval builders, showed any predilection for this form of roof. On this side of the Alps it would have been made the most beautiful of architectural forms."

We cannot, however, endorse Mr. Fergusson's next assertion—"in Italy there is no instance of more than moderate success—nothing, indeed, to encourage imitation." In the face of the domes of St. Peter's at Rome, S. Marco at Venice, the cathedrals of Florence, Parma, Padua, Siena, and Monreale, this is rather a hard saying.

The Sienese had, as we have said, proposed to so enlarge the church by adding a huge nave, that the present church would only form the transept. This was begun, but when the works had already advanced the plan was abandoned. Provisional Magistri were called to form a committee, which met in council on February 17, 1321, and here, for the first time in Siena, we find Lorenzo Maitani giving his vote. He was called to attend the meeting from Orvieto, where he had been capo maestro of the works from 1310. He, with Niccola Nuti, Gino di Francesco, Tone di Giovanni, and Vanni di Cione (one of Orcagna's relatives from Florence), formed the council. After due deliberation they pronounced on the inconvenience of proceeding with the addition to the Duomo, and decided to build a new church of more moderate dimensions, which should still be large and magnificent. The work now continued without interruption; and on November 20, 1333, we find another Council of Masters was called, in which twelve of the guild severally swear "testis juratis die supra scripta et sancta Dei evangelia, corporaliter tactis scripturis 297 dicere veritatem, suo juramento testificando dixit," etc., that the walls and foundations were strong and firm.

Front of Siena Cathedral. Designed by Magister Giovanni Pisano.

See page 295.

The next capo maestro was Master Lando or Orlando di Pieri, son of Piero, a metal-worker of the guild, who was recalled from Naples in 1339. He was a Lombard, though a naturalized citizen of Siena. They say Lando is "a most legal man (omo legalissimus), not only in his own special branch (gold-working), but in many others; is a man of the greatest ingenuity and invention, both with regard to the building of churches and the erection of palaces and private houses; a good engineer for roads, bridges, or fountains, and, above all, a citizen of Siena."[225] Here we see signs of the jealousy of the Lombard Guild, which caused the schism of which we have spoken. Lando was truly an acknowledged genius. He made the coronet with which the Emperor Henry VII. was crowned at Milan in 1311. Muratori (cap. xiii.), quoting an old Latin dissertation on the "corona ferrea," says the maker of the crown was present, "presente magistro Lando de Senis, aurifabro predicti domini Regis, qui predictam coronam propriis manibus fabricavit." We hear no more of his gold work; but in 1322 he was employed in Florence to hang the great bell of the palace of the Signoria, and make it ring (Ita quod de facili pulsatur et pulsari potest), for which he was paid 300 gold florins. In his architectural capacity he was employed at Naples by King Robert of Anjou, but was recalled from there to Siena in 1339, and made caput magister of the builders of the Duomo. The contract, signed on December 3, 1339, binds him for three years at a salary of 200 lire a year.

The accounts of the Opera have some interesting articles connected with the laying of the foundations of the revised plan. In August 1339 the Masters were called 298 into council on the enlargement of the Duomo, as the nave was considered too short, and Ser Bindo, the notary of the guild, had to supply them with five sheets of parchment at one lire a sheet to make designs. Also two lire ten soldi were spent in bread, meat, and wine, which were sent by the guild to the priests who officiated when the first stone was laid. In March, Maestro Lando again applied to Ser Bindo for parchment to make designs, which cost him twenty-three soldi six denari.

Whether these plans were accepted or not, I cannot tell—probably not—for in the following March, Lando fell ill and died. He left a son, Pietro di Lando, also in the guild, and who was naturalized Florentine when he joined that lodge. A document cited by Gaye (Carteggio, etc. vol. i. p. 73) shows Pietro to have worked with Giovanni di Lazzero de Como and a Buono Martini at the fortifications of Castel S. Angelo in Val di Sieve; the three architects solicited the Signoria for the pay due to them. This Pietro was the father of Vecchietta, who inherited more than his great-grandsire's talent for working metal.

The next capo maestro after Lando was Giovanni, son of the famous sculptor Agostino of Siena, who was, on March 23, 1340, elected for five years. He had been head of the works at Orvieto in 1337, but did not long remain there, for in 1338 we find him again in the pay of the lodge of Siena, where a document in the archives of the Hospital notes a payment for some work on April 26, to Maestro Giovanni, son of Maestro Agostino of the Opera, and of the parish of S. Quirico.[226]

After Giovanni I can find no mention of a capo maestro till February 16, 1435, when Jacopo della Quercia, otherwise "Magister Jacobus, Magistri Petri," was elected operajo (president of the Council), i.e. Grand Master. His salary was fixed at one hundred gold florins as long as he lived, and 299 his wife was to have a pension at his death. There were several conditions specified to which he had to agree. But he had so many other engagements, at S. Petronio in Bologna, at Parma, and Lucca, that he absented himself too much from Siena to please the Opera there. As early as March 1434-35, a month after his election, we find him leaving two of the Council of Administration to rule in his absence. The absence must have been a lengthy one, for on October 22, 1435, the Signoria of the Commune write to him as follows—"Magister Jacobo Pieri electus Operaio, etc. etc.... As you have been fully informed, you ought before the past month to have taken action, and performed the duties undertaken by you in regard to the office of Operaio of our Church, to which our Councils elected you. We and our councillors have waited all the past month, expecting that, for the honour of the Commune, and its needs at the hands of the said Opera, you would return. Now we are at October 22, and you do not appear to think of it. God knows how the citizens are complaining and murmuring against you. Therefore we have decided to write to you, that without fail, and with no delay, you must immediately present yourself to perform your duties, and let nothing hinder you. If you do not do this, it will cause us great astonishment and inconvenience."[227]

The Council of the Opera wrote a long Latin letter at the same time, exhorting their chief to return and satisfy the claims of the Commune. Whether he came or not I cannot say, but it appears not for any length of time, as on March 26, 1436, we find him at Parma, writing a defiant kind of letter to the Operai of San Petronio at Bologna, who had appealed to him to finish his engagements there. By 1439 we find Jacopo della Quercia had died, and his brother Priam was writing repeated petitions to the Opera at Siena about his inheritance from Jacopo, which it seems a certain 300 pupil of Jacopo's called Cino Bartoli was withholding from him.

So the work went on for centuries. There are contracts with different Masters for sculptures, for windows, for towers, for chapels, each Master designing the part assigned to him. Francesco del Tonghio obtained great fame for his carvings of the stalls in the choir in 1377, where his son Giacomo assisted him. We find him in Florence some time later, and his fame must have preceded him, for he is known there as "Francesco of the Choir" (Francesco del Coro).

It is impossible to name a single architect for any of these great buildings; they were all the united work of a self-governed guild.

During the centuries when the Duomo of Siena rose into beauty, her sister of Orvieto also grew under the hands of the same brotherhood.

Lorenzo Maitani, having been trained by his master, Giovanni di Pisa, at Siena, was called to Orvieto in 1310. His family lasted long in the guild, and won much fame. His father Vitale was a master sculptor who had worked under Niccolò and Giovanni. His sons Vitale and Antonio both graduated in the Siena or Orvieto Lodge, and Vitale became chief architect at Orvieto for six months only, on Lorenzo's death, when Master Meo di Nuti di Neri succeeded him.

It is not probable that beyond the design, Maitani had much to do with the façade, which was incomplete till about 1500. The beautiful Bible in stone which adorns the pilasters of the three fine doors may have been designed by Maitani, but the work was done by his sons, with the help of many sculptors of the guild from Siena, Florence, and Lombardy. The upper part was not added till the time of Michele Sanmichele of Verona, who in 1509 was nominated chief architect of the façade at a salary of one hundred florins a year. He is described as "Magistrum 301 Michaelem, Magistri Johannis de Verona, principalem magistrum fabrice faciate de Urbe vetere."[228]

Door in Orvieto Cathedral.

See page 305.

The enthusiastic work of the numberless artists all vying with each other in beautifying this marvellous church bore rather heavily on the funds of the Opera, for in August 1521 the camarlengo had to stop the expenses of the façade and finish some more needful parts of the church first. So "Mag. Michael Johannes Michaelis, Caput Magister dicte Fabrice," was given permission to absent himself for three days a week, for other work (no doubt the church at Spello), and the Opera continued his salary on half-pay.[229] About this time a competition was offered among the Magistri for the best design for the chapel of the Three Kings at Orvieto. Antonio Sangallo and Michele were the two best, and when Pope Clement VII. fled to Orvieto from the sack of Rome in 1527, the choice was made with his concurrence, Michele's being chosen. Both San Michele and San Gallo rose to extreme eminence in the guild; many of the finest palaces in Florence and Venice were by them. It is interesting to find that they were both Lombard brethren of the guild by hereditary descent.

The preponderance of Lombards in all these later lodges is sufficient proof of the connection of these lodges with the older Comacines, from whom their ancestry can be traced direct.

In April 1422 we find Maestro Piero di Beltrami da Biscione and his Lombard companions arranging with the Opera for the purchase and cutting of marbles and travertine. In September 1444 Guglielmo di Como and his brother Pietro da Como were commissioned to make a mausoleum in the Duomo for the Bishop of Siena. A contemporary of theirs was Giuliano da Como, who was of such repute in 302 the guild, that the Council of the Opera, "considering the virtù of Maestro Giuliano and the desirability of keeping him in Siena, deliberated to accord to him a loan he requested, of seventy florins to buy a house."[230]

Again, on May 25, 1421, the Republic of Siena wrote to Filippo Visconti Duke of Milan that a Maestro Giovanni, son of Maestro Leone da Piazza near Como, was anxious to return to his native country, to see his family and to arrange a law-suit; and they recommended him to the Lords of Milan because he had greatly won the affection and esteem of the Sienese republic by his good life and his eminence in his art of sculpture.

A certain "Maestro Alberto di Martino de Cumo in provincie Lombardie" was engaged by the Opera on March 2, 1448, as a builder, in company with Giovan Francesco of Valmaggia and Lanzilotto di Niccola of Como.

When the Piccolomini wanted to build a splendid palace in Siena, they did not choose their architects from the faction of their townspeople, but from the original Lombard branch. Martino di Giorgio da Varenna (near Bidagio on Lake Como) was chief architect, and Lorenzo from Mariano in the Lugano valley assisted him as sculptor. He carved the beautiful capitals and friezes in the palace, and his work so pleased the Piccolomini, that they employed him to erect an altar and decorate their chapel in the church of S. Francesco. Milanesi says that Lorenzo da Mariano was one of the best artists of his time for foliaged scrolls and grotesques.[231] In 1506 he was capo maestro of the Duomo of Siena. Maestro Lorenzo was no doubt one of the precursors of the sculptors of the beautiful cathedral of Como, and the richly ornate Certosa of Pavia, who were trained in the Sienese laborerium.


A fellow-countryman, named Maestro Matteo di Jacopo, came from Lugano with Lorenzo, and together with Maestro Adamo da Sanvito (also in Val di Lugano) undertook the great engineering work of making an artificial lake, to drain the then malarious country round Massa in Maremma.

Martino di Giorgio had a relative who became more famous than himself. This was Francesco di Giorgio di Martino—three names in rotation are generally enough to supply an Italian family for centuries,—who continued the work at Palazzo Piccolomini (Vasari gives him the credit for the whole), and was one of the architects of the palace at Urbino.

Milanesi, the commentator of Vasari, asserts that Francesco was the son of a seller of fowls in Siena, because he found the name of a "Giorgio di Martino, pollajuolo," in the registers, but seeing that he was bred in the guild, it is much more likely that he was related to the Giorgio di Martino already eminent there. His family had certainly become citizens of Siena by that date.

Maestro Francesco di Giorgio Martini holds a large share in the correspondence of the Sienese government and of the Opera in the latter part of the fifteenth century.

On December 26, 1486, we find him first entering the pay of the Sienese Commune as public architect. He has a salary of 800 florins, and is bound to fix his home at Siena. He was recalled from Urbino for the purpose, having orders to arrive within six months, but the Duke Guidobaldo was not at all willing for him to leave. On May 10, 1489, the Duke writes to say that the absence of his architect (mio architector) would be a serious injury to him.

During the time Francesco remained in Umbria he seems to have done the Commune good political service by keeping them informed of the dangers that threatened Florence from the offensive alliance between Lorenzo de Medici and the Pope Innocent VIII., who designed to take 304 Città di Castello for Francesco Cibo. This would have endangered the peace of Siena, so the architect warned them to be prepared.

After this, Magister Francesco became the bone of contention among several princes and republics. The Duke of Milan wrote, on April 19, 1490, to the Signoria of Siena, begging them to send the "intellexerimus magistrum Franciscum Giorgium Urbinatem" (see how the place he last worked at is named as his residence!) to Milan to give his opinion on the mode of placing the cupola. The Commune gave the permission, and on June 27, 1490, we find Magistro Francisco di Georgi di Siena (here again at Milan he is styled of Siena), with Magistro Johantonio Amadeo (Omodeo) and Johanjacobo Dolzebono (Gian Giacomo Dolcebono), elected as a supreme council of three, and giving their advice on the erection of the cupola at Milan, with the exact plan and measurements which would harmonize with the building as it then stood. He did not remain to see the plans carried out, but was on his recall to Siena remunerated with one hundred florins by the Fabbrica (Opera) of Milan.

On October 24 of the same year, Giovanni della Rovere, the Prefect of Rome, wrote to the Signoria of Siena praying for the service of their architect, and on November 4, 1490, Virginio Orsino, Duke of Bracciano, begged him to go and build a fortress at Campagnano.

Next Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, wanted him at the Castle of Capua, where he went between February and May 1491, and in August of the same year the Anziani, Lords of Lucca, petitioned for him. And so he is called from end to end of Italy, and wherever he goes he is received with honour as a grand architect.[232]

At Orvieto we find the same preponderance of Lombards 305 as in Siena. The register of the Opera there for August 30, 1293, gives the salaries of the Magistri in the Loggia (lodge) of the Fabbrica. Here we find many of our Sienese friends; Magistro Orlando and Guido da Como receive six soldi a day; Magistro Martino da Como seven. We find also Pietro Lombardo, Giacomo and Benedetto da Como, sculptors; Martino, Guido, and Aroldo as successive chief architects in the Fabbrica or Opera.

In 1305 the camarlengo had to write to Lombardy for more builders and sculptors, for, says Della Valle, "la fama di volo ne spargesse il grido fin oltre ai confini d'Italia," and in December four Magistri arrived—"Mag. Franciscus Lombardus, Mag. Marchettus Lombardus, Mag. Benedictus Lombardus, and Johannes de Mediolano (Milan)." I do not know which of these sculptured the door of which we give an illustration, but the artist has set the sign of his fraternity on it in the lions beneath the pillars. (One is now missing.)

The Lodge of Orvieto, sometimes spelt Loya or Loja, is described as a large, spacious, and airy building, in which the sculpturing of stones and marbles was done, and where the stores and the schools were.[233]

The use of the word "Lodge" for this complicated organization seems a sign of Freemasonry, and suggests that the Comacines followed the ancient rules of Vitruvius, and kept up the organization of the Roman Collegium.

We have, I think, proved this to be true, and shown that the same organization held good up to the fifteenth century, if not longer. Signor Milanesi's interesting collection of Sienese documents, if studied closely, contains endless indications of the existence of the guild. We find several cases of arbitration, such as when Doctor Filippo Francesconi, and Maestro Lorenzo di Pietro, called 306 Vecchietta, were chosen on September 20, 1471, as arbiters between Maestro Urbano di Pietro of Cortona, sculptor, and Bastiano di Francesco, stone-cutter, his workman, who lodged a complaint against his master on account of unpaid wages and loss of tools. This same Urbano appears to have been frequently in need of arbiters, for on Jan. 27, 1471-72, Bertino di Gherardo was called on to settle a cause between Madonna Caterina, wife of Silvio Piccolomini, and the sculptor Urbano, and decided that the lady must pay the artist 100 lire within the term of four years, the payments to be made quarterly. It was at the lady's option to pay in kind, such as corn or wine, if it suited her better.[234] Then there are frequent meetings of councils for appraising the work of other Masters, and we find the Operaio, or Head of Administration, fixing the salaries of underlings. Precisely the same meetings, arbitrations, appraisings, went on in Florence. Indeed, in the fifteenth century the two lodges of Siena and Florence were so closely intermingled, the Masters appearing now in one city and then in the other, that there can be no doubt a fraternity existed between them. We even find Donatello, who came from Florence to make the bronze doors, sleeping in a feather bed supplied by the camarlengo of the Opera at Siena.[235]

Donatello was more or less in Siena between 1457 and 1461. He was engaged to sculpture the altar of the Madonna of the Duomo there on October 17, 1457. His accounts are much mixed up with those of Urbano di Pietro of Cortona, of whom we have spoken. It seems 307 Urbano bought the metal to cast a half figure of Judith, and one of St. John, both modelled by Donatello. The money, however, was advanced to Urbano by the banker Dalgano di Giacomo Bichi. The books of the camarlengo of the Opera have several entries for expenses of modelling wax, and metal for casting, etc., used by Donatello in the figures on the altar of the Madonna delle Grazie; his assistants and pupils on this occasion were Francesco di Andrea di Ambrogio, of Lombard origin, and Bartolommeo di Giovanni di Ser Vincenzo. 308



1. 1258 Magister Jacopo Tedesco da Campione Built castles at Arezzo and Poppi; and the Bargello at Florence.
2. 1298 to 1310 M. Arnolfo (his son?) C.M. of the Duomo. Built the Palazzo Vecchio.
3. 1340-48 M. Giotto Designed the campanile, and sculptured the first row of reliefs.
4.   M. Andrea Pisano Made door of Baptistery.
5. 1349-59 M. Francesco Talenti C.M. of the Duomo.
6. 1350 Neri Fieravanti   Four Masters who went to Carrara to buy marbles for the Campanile, of which they were joint architects.
7.   Niccolaus Beltrami
8.   Benozzus Niccolaus, his son
9.   Albertus Arnoldi
10. 1355 M. Frate Jacopo Brother of Francesco Talenti; sent to Rome for marbles.
11. " M. Francesco da Siena (called Francesco del Coro) Carved stalls in Siena cathedral: sent for to carve the stalls of the choir of S. Croce.
12. " M. Benci Cione   Father of Orcagna. They were called in the Council of the Opera to consider Francesco Talenti's design for the chapels, July 1355.
13. " M. Ristoro Cione (a relative)
14. " M. Lapo Ghino Descended from Ghini Ventura di Diotisalvi of Siena.
15. " M. Giovanni di Lapo Ghino. C.M. with F. Talenti, 1360 to 1368 [236] 309
16.   M. Bartolo da S. Ghallo A Lombard from S. Gall, grandfather of the famous Giuliano and Antonio San Gallo.
17. 1356 M. Ambrogio Lenzi (Ambroxios da Campione) Son of Guglielmo da Campione; was C.M. of the Baptistery in 1356; C.M. of the Duomo in 1362.
18.   M. Stefano Metti  
19. 1357 M. Domenico di Noffo Sent to Siena to buy marbles.
20. " M. Giovanni Belchari   These three were joint C. Maestri for the upper part of the Campanile. In 1362 Gio. Belchari was poor and infirm, and the guild gave him a pension.
21.   M. Vigi Grilli
22.   M. Bancho Falchi
23.   Agostino Falchi (brother of the preceding) Joint Masters for the walls and columns of the Duomo.
24.   Niccolò Megli
25.   M. Andrea di Cione (Orcagna) In council with Frati and Magistri about the space between the columns. Later he became famous as painter and sculptor, and made the shrine in Or San Michele.
26.   M. Jacopo di Lapo Chavacciani Makes a model of the shaft.
27.   Mato di Cenni   These were engaged for the bases of the columns.
28.   Jacopo di Polo
29. 1362 M. Barna Batis Provveditore after Filippo Marsili.
30.   M. Davinus Corsi  
31. 1363 M. Simone Johannes dal Pino Engaged to carve the twisted columns of red marble in the windows of the Duomo.
32. " M. Ambrosius Ghini A relative of Lapo Ghino.
33. 1364 M. Sandro Macci In council on the domes, with many others named before and after.
34.   M. Francesco Neri Sellari Sculptured pila and relief in S. Croce.
35. 1366 M. Simone di Francesco Talenti C.M. of Or S. Michele in 1376. With Taddeo Ristori in 1366 he made a design for a chapel.
36. " M. Jacopo Pauli Engaged Aug. 31, 1366, to make capitals for columns in the sacristy.
37. " Mato Jacobi   His three sons who assisted him.
38. " Aldobrando Jacobi
39. " Corso Jacobi
40. 310 1367 Bernabè Pieri   Made a contract on Aug. 31, 1366, to carve some capitals.
41. " M. Manetti Pieri
42. 1368 M. Francesco Michaeli Advises about Or San Michele with Gio. di Lapo Ghino.
43.   M. Mattheo olim Cionis One of the Masters employed in Or San Michele, brother of Orcagna.
44. 1375 M. Giovanni Giuntini  
45.   M. Francesco Salvetti C.M. in 1375, but resigned later in favour of Giovanni Fetti.
46. 1376 M. Taddeo Ristori One of the Cione family; architect at Or San Michele, and the Loggia de' Lanzi after his uncle Benci Cione.
47.   Ambrogio di Vanni   Masters in stone-carving.
48.   Leonardo olim Masis
49. 1377 M. Johannes Michaeli, brother of Francesco (No. 42) Went to Prato on Oct. 2, 1377, with Tommaso Mattei to buy marble.
50.   M. Tommaso Mattei Son of Matteo di Cione.
51.   M. Zenobio Bartholi Was paid 18 florins on Dec. 15, 1377, for a figure of the Angel Michael. He also carved two other figures at 20 florins.
52. " M. Simone Francesci Talenti Elected C.M. in 1377. Son of the C.M. Francesco. He sculptured a figure in 1377, and was paid 13 florins.
53. 1380 M. Jacopo da Scopeto Worked in the choir.
54.   M. Pietro Landi of Siena Son of the famous Lando, C.M. of Siena Lodge.
55. 1381 M. Johannes Fetti Elected C.M. with Guazetta on March 14, 1381. window under the vault on the north side.
56.   M. Johannes Stefani, called Guazetta, son of No. 18. Was a famous Master in woodwork; he was noted for foundations and scaffolding.
57. 1383 M. Laurentius Filippi C.M. of the Loggia dei Lanzi with Benci Cione, who was master builder.
58. 1384 M. Giovanni di Ambrogio da Lenzo (son of No. 17). Gave his vote at a meeting on April 4, 1384, about the pilasters of the tribune. Was chosen C.M. on Feb. 28, 1400.
  1386 M. Luca di Giovanni da Siena Carved some angels.
59. 311 1388 M. Michael Johannis Lapi Ghini Succeeded Lorenzo Filippi as C.M. on July 15, 1388.
60. 1389 M. Antonio Francisci Elected Arch Magistrum, but deposed in 1420 by the council; and Giovanni di Ambrogio of Campione was elected.
61. 1404 M. Niccolao called Pela Sculptured the door of the chapel of the Crucifix from Giovanni d'Ambrogio's design.
62. 1418 M. Baptista Antoni (son of Antonio, No. 60) Elected C.M. when Giovanni d'Ambrogio resigned by reason of old age.
63.   M. Piero d'Antonio (another son of Antonio, No. 60) Nicknamed Fannulla (Do nothing).
64. " *M. Matteo di Leonarda All the masters marked * sent in plans for the Cupola. The design of Brunellesco, who I believe not to have been of the guild, was chosen.
65.   *M. Vito da Pisa
66.   *M. Piero di Santa Maria
67.   *M. Donatello
68.   *M. Nanni di Banco
69.   *M. Lorenzo Ghiberti Provisore of the Cupola with Baptista Antoni when Brunellesco's plan was chosen.
70. " M. Andrea Berti Martignoni   All these Masters were employed to erect a large model of the design of Brunellesco for the Cupola, on the Piazza del Duomo.
71. " Bonaiuti Pauli
72. " Papi di Andrea
73. " Aliosso
74. " Cristoforo di Simone
75. " Giovanni di Tuccio
76. " Jacobo Rosso
77. " M. Giovanni dell Abbaco Worked at the Cupola under Brunellesco.
78.   M. Antonio di Vercelli  
    M. Gherardo (tedesco)   Three Germans who were paid for models of a cupola.
    M. Ghabriella (tedesco)
    M. Averardo ("magistro teutonico")

Art is like a flower. If the seeds are sown in favourable soil the plant grows, develops, and bears beautiful blossoms, which in their turn leave seed for future generations. If the soil be not favourable, the plant may perhaps reach its flowering season, but it is weak, and the seeds lack the power of reproduction. 312

Thus in small cities like Modena, Parma, Orvieto, etc., the artistic atmosphere and soil were wanting. The lodges of those cities never became firmly rooted. The Lombard Masters placed there did their work, and then moved to other cities, but the natives remained uninfluenced. In Pisa, art first took root. The Pisans, whose artistic faculties had been awakened by the classic spoils they had gathered together in their conquests, found a practical outlet for them in the teaching of the laborerium set up in their midst by Buschetto and his assistants and followers. Pisans joined the lodge, and from it great teachers arose. Siena was the next lodge that took root, and drew native artists into it; then followed Venice and Florence; and through them all, distinct as they became in later times, the seed was always sown by the Comacines or Lombard Masters. The Campionese and Buoni families are at the bottom of all the Tuscan schools, and every one of these cradles of art was of the self-same form, i.e. composed of the school, the laborerium, and the Opera of the Comacine Masters.

And what connection had Arnolfo, the first designing architect of the Florentine cathedral and Palazzo Vecchio, with this Masonic company? He had much to do with it, inasmuch as he was an hereditary member, in fact one of the aristocracy of the guild, and he had a most complete training in it. The first trace we get of Arnolfo is his instruction in the school of Magister Niccolò Pisano. The proof of this is a deed drawn up in Siena on May 11, 1266, in which these words occur—"requisivit Magistrum Nicholam Petri de Apulia quod ipse faceret et curaret ita; quod Arnolfus discipulus suus statim veniret Senas ad laborandum in dicto opere, cum ipso magistro Nichola." Here we have Niccolò di Pisa as Master in the guild, and his disciple Arnolfo not yet having graduated.

Another paper relating to Niccolò's work on the pulpit 313 at Siena says—"Secum ducat Senas Arnolphum et Lapum, suos discipulos."

By 1277 Arnolfo seems to have graduated, for when Niccolò and Giovanni di Pisa were at work on the beautiful fountain at Perugia in that year, Fra Bevignate, the soprastante of the work, sent to call Magister Arnolfo from Florence to assist in the sculpture of the fountain. Arnolfo, however, declared in a letter dated Aug. 27, 1277, that he could not go to Perugia, or undertake any work there without the consent of King Charles of Anjou (King of Naples and Sicily) or of Hugo, his vicar in Rome. King Charles was applied to, and on Sept. 10 of that year he wrote conceding permission to Arnolfo to go and assist his old master—then 74 years of age—and also to take the marbles necessary.[237]

These documents are very valuable apart from the fact they chronicle. They show how the guild was not only privileged by the reigning monarch, but that he was the active president of it. It explains all those queer words on Longobardic inscriptions, beginning—"In tempore Dominus Honorius Episcopus," "In tempore præsule Paschalis, etc.," showing that they point out the reigning king, pope, or patron bishop who was at the time president of the Great Guild. The name of this highest magnate is usually followed in these inscriptions by the Grand Master, soprastante or operaio of the special lodge. The universality of the guild is also shown; its president, the king, being at Naples, his "vice" at Rome.

The next place in which we see Arnolfo is in Rome, where he worked with his socio (fellow Freemason), Pietro, at the tabernacle of San Paolo fuori le mura. Here, with this ancestor of the Cosmati, Arnolfo learned his love of polychrome sculpture, which he afterwards adapted to the larger uses of architecture; for his grand Florentine Dome 314 seems only a magnified inlaid casket. There is a beautiful piece of inlaid work in the Opera del Duomo which I believe to have been the pluteus or parapet of the tribune in Arnolfo's time. It is in the Cosmatesque work which Arnolfo often executed. That he was as apt a pupil of the Cosmatesque revival of the opus Alexandrinum as he had been of Niccolò's figure sculpture, and his father Jacopo's architecture, is evident by his tomb of Cardinal de Braye at Orvieto, where we next find him working in 1285.[238] The tomb is a beautiful mixture of Cosmatesque ornamentation with the legitimate sculpture which he had learned from Niccolò. The capitals of the spiral inlaid columns of the sarcophagus are of the true old Romano-Lombard form. In the simple grace of the recumbent figure we descry a forerunner of Donatello and Desiderio.

We have now traced Arnolfo's training through three or four of the chief lodges, and always under the best Masters. It is then no marvel that by 1294 his fame had risen so high that he was chosen as architect of the Duomo of Florence. He was well known to the Florentines, his master, Jacopo Tedesco, otherwise Lapo, having left Colle to settle in Florence, where he was engaged to build the Palace of the Podestà (Bargello). And this brings us to the vexed question of the parentage of Arnolfo.

Vasari says that Jacopo or Lapo, whom he calls "il Tedesco" (meaning Lombard architect), was the father of Arnolfo, and he gives this as a certain fact, understood to be the case by the world in general for two or three centuries past.

Milanesi, on the strength of the document quoted above, "Secum ducat Senas Arnolphum et Lapum suos discipulos," says that Lapo was only Arnolfo's contemporary and fellow-pupil.

Monument to Cardinal de Braye. By Magister Arnolfo.

See page 314.


But neither Vasari nor Milanesi seem to reflect that there might have been two Lapi. Certainly, if two youths are fellow-disciples of one Master, it is not probable that the senior should be the son of the other. On the other hand, if "Jacopo il Tedesco," said to be Arnolfo's father, was elected head architect at Assisi in 1228, how could he have been a young pupil of Niccolò di Pisa in 1266?

Recognizing these difficulties, Milanesi sets out in search of a father for Arnolfo, in place of Lapo, his fellow-pupil. He comes across a document in the archives of the "Riformazione" of Florence, dated MCCC. Aprile 1, where the privileges of citizenship are accorded to "Magistrum Arnolphum de Colle, filium olim Cambij."[239] In quoting this, Gaye[240] says that in spite of it the Florentines will persist in calling Arnolfo the son of Lapo. Now cannot these conflicting facts be reconciled? It is a strange fact that in no other Florentine deed except this one privilege is any sign of parentage given to Arnolfo. He is so enveloped in the greatness of being caput magister, and the greatest architect of his day, that his parentage seems to be lost sight of, though the universal custom of the day was to cite the father's name as well as the son's in a document. Therefore, though we have never before heard the surname of Jacopo il Tedesco, there is no reason in the world why it should not be Cambi. By the time Arnolfo was grown up, Jacopo Tedesco had lived many years in Florence; he therefore, having become a Florentine citizen, may have taken office and might have been connected with the Cambio, or Exchange there, taking his name from that office, as a large family of Cambi during the Republic seems to have done.

I incline, however, to another theory—that Cambij is a 316 corruption of Campij, or Campione—for the following reason—As early as 1228 Jacopo Tedesco was already a Magister, and of such fame that he was chosen as master architect of the grand church of S. Francesco at Assisi, in conjunction with Fra Philippus de Campello. In spite of Fergusson's opinion that the architect of these large buildings was generally a mere builder, working under some ecclesiastic who drew the plan, the evidence goes to prove, in this case, that Jacopo the layman was capo maestro, and Fra Philippus the ecclesiastic only aiutante (assistant). Campello was a corruption of Campiglione or Campione, which name, first taken from a place near Como, became afterwards the distinctive title of the Parma school of Comacine Masters. We find it spelt in different documents: Campillio, Campellio, Campilionum, Campione, often shortened into Campi͠o or Camp͠i. All the older writers say that Jacopo Tedesco was a Comacine or Lombard, and if so, he was one of the Campionesi. His name occurs in a stipulation made at Modena on Nov. 30, 1240, where he and Alberto are qualified as uncles of Magister Enrico, one of the contracting parties.[241] This may well have been the father of Arnolfo, especially as Baldinucci[242] asserts that Jacopo Tedesco lived at Colle in Val d'Elsa, where Arnolfo was born, while his father was building the castle there. With these lights Milanesi's documental "Arnolphus de Cambii" may be accounted for. If the members of the Campione school in the north took that as their name, why should not Jacopo also have signed himself Campione? It is more than probable he shortened it according to custom into Campi͠o, and may not have been very particular to distinguish between the kins-letters p and b, a very common fault in the sketchy spelling of old MSS., and especially 317 likely to occur if, while Lombardy was a German province, he should have imbibed a German accent. This would reconcile all the dispute. Arnolfo was evidently closely connected with the elder Lapo, his style being so similar. Compare the Palazzo Vecchio and Bargello with Lapo's castle of Poppi, and the relation is evident. His connection with the younger Lapo is equally clear. In the list of qualified masters in painting at Florence, quoted by Migliore in Firenze illustrata, p. 414, is Niccolò Pisano's pupil, who is called Lapo di Cambio. This would suggest that Arnolfo and his fellow-pupil Lapo were brothers as well as fellow-pupils, so that when Lapo the younger finished Jacopo Tedesco's (Lapo the elder's) work at Colle, he was only following out the usual rules of the guild, in which the son succeeded the father.

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Designed by Arnolfo.

See pages 257 and 317.

The thirteenth century was a time of immense development in art; what Niccolò and Giovanni di Pisa did for sculpture, Jacopo Tedesco and Arnolfo did for architecture. Jacopo was the first to introduce the pointed arch into Central Italy, at Assisi; Arnolfo further developed it in his cathedral at Florence, where the arches of the nave are round, and the windows pointed. After this era we have no more Romanesque—the reign of Italian Gothic has begun.

The Basilican form, too, has vanished; we have now the nave and transepts of the Latin cross. No longer the small double-arched window, but long pointed arches filled with beautiful tracery. The old symbolic animals linger on, but in the subordinate form of grotesques in ornamentation.

That distinctive mark of the guild, the lion of Judah, takes a new position in the Italian Gothic. It is no longer between the pillar and the arch, but beneath the column, as Niccolò and Guido da Como first placed it in their pulpits. You see it under the pillars of the north door of 318 the Florentine Duomo, where the transition into Renaissance is indicated by a particularly classic figure of a child standing by the lion; and under the central column of the windows of the Spanish chapel in the cloister of S. Maria Novella, where it serves to mark the fact that the architects Fra Sisto and Fra Ristoro (who in the documents of the time are styled Magister Fra Sisto and Magister Fra Ristoro) were members of the Masonic Guild.

Jacopo, the inaugurator of Italian Gothic, spent all his later years in Florence, having left Colle many years before, when he had finished the castle there. Jacopo's work in Florence consisted of the building of the Bargello, which is a perfect specimen of the late Comacine style, built in modo gallico with large smoothly-hewn stones. The connection of the Masters of the guild with the south of Italy is shown here as well as at Pisa, for it is said that King Manfred commissioned Jacopo Tedesco to design the sepulchre of the Emperor Frederic in the abbey church of Monreale in Sicily. (Manfred died in 1266.)

Jacopo also introduced a reform into Florence. In the time when Messer Rubaconte of Como was Podestà of Florence (1236, 1237), his compatriot, Jacopo Tedesco of Campione, near Como, proposed to him that the streets should be paved with stones instead of bricks, to which Messer Rubaconte agreed, and the same method of paving still continues in Florence.

The second Lapo, Arnolfo's fellow-pupil, and perhaps brother, was the author of several buildings in the end of the thirteenth century, which Vasari falsely attributes to Jacopo the elder. He also continued Jacopo Tedesco's fortifications at Colle.[243]

Whether we look on Arnolfo as the son of Jacopo Tedesco, or only as the pupil of Niccolò Pisano, he was, either way, one of the guild; and more, a follower of 319 Jacopo rather than of Niccolò, his bent being rather architectural than sculptural. We can, then, place Arnolfo as the first head of the laborerium of Florence; and in tracing the formation of this branch of the guild, we shall throw a light on all the former branches, which, from want of systematic documents, have remained as formless organizations of schola, laborerium, and Opera. After trying in vain to find something more explicit about these organizations at the National Library and State Archives, I consulted the director of the Opera del Duomo, who kindly saved me the work of long puzzling over old MSS., by lending me a copy of Cesare Guasti's valuable collection of abstracts from the books of the Opera, from the earliest days of Arnolfo to the completion of the cathedral.

Here the whole organization stands revealed. Here are the meetings of the lodge, and the subjects discussed; the names of the Magistri and Council of Administration from year to year; the payments to architects, artists, and men; the legal contracts and business reports.

It is clearly seen how the Opera is connected with the laborerium, and how the meetings are always composed of some civic members from the Council of Administration, and some from the working Masters of the lodge.

One, dated October 15, 1436, reports a meeting in the Opera del Duomo, at which the attendant Operai or councillors were Ugo Alessandri, Donato Velluti, Nicolo Caroli de Macignis, and Benedict Cicciaporci (pig's flesh); here's a nickname! They deliberated on the advisability of sending for a certain Francesco Livii de Gambasso, Comitatus Florentiæ, who was at Lubeck in Germany, to make the painted windows and mosaics. Francesco, when he came back to the city which he had known in his boyhood, and where he had learnt his art, bound himself to work in the laborerium of the Opera, "et in dicta civitate Florentiæ in Laboreriis dictæ Operæ toto tempore suæ vitæ 320 eidem continuum, ac firmum inviamentum exhiberent, ita, et taliter, quod ipse una cum sua familia victum, et vestitum in præfata Civitate erogare posset."[244] This one document gives valuable proof on several points.

It proves that whether or not Italy got her architects from Germany, Italian Masters were employed in Germany.

It proves that there was a guild in Florence, "Comitatus Florentiæ," to which Francesco Livii belonged, and that there was a laborerium in Florence, in which Francesco, when a boy, had learned his art, and risen to the rank of Master. It proves, moreover, that the laborerium was connected with the Opera.

Another meeting of the same Opera on November 26, 1435, held to consider all the designs for the choir of the Duomo, marks this connection still more plainly.

"Nobiles viri Johannes Sylvestri de Popoleschis, Johannes Tedicis de Albizzis, Johannes ser Falconis Falconi, Jacobus Johannis de Giugnis, et Hieronymus Francisci dello Scarfa, Operarii dictæ Operæ, existentes collegialiter congregati in loco eorum residentiæ pro factis dictæ Opera utiliter peragendis, absque aliis eorum Collegis, et servatis servandis:

"Attendentes ad quandam Commissionem factam per eorum Offitium de ordinatione Altaris majoris dictæ Ecclesiæ, et Chori ipsius Ecclesiæ infrascriptis Civibus, et Religiosis Sacræ Theologiæ, Magistro Jacobo Grægorii del Badia Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, Magistro Sandro de Covonibus Converso Hospitalis Sanctæ Mariæ Novæ de Florentia, Francisco alterius Francisci Pierotii della Luna Nerio Gini de Capponibus egregio Medicinæ Doctori, Magistro Paulo M. Dominici, et Juliano Thomasii Gucci, omnibus Civibus Civitatis Florentiæ, et ad quemdam rapportum 321 per eos factum coram eorum Offitio infrascriptæ continentiæ."[245]

Here follow the criticisms of this council on three designs for the choir: one by Filippo Brunelleschi; one by Nencio di Bartoluccio; a third by Magister Agnolo da Arezzo.

Observe that we have as master architects of the guild, a monk and a hospital warden, called on the Commission with the Operai, who were influential citizens, but not qualified Masters. This seems to throw a light on the word colligantes, "Magister comacinus cum colligantes suos," in the old laws of Rotharis. Would not the colligantes mean the Consuls and Operai, members of the Opera or administrative body in these great works of church-building, whom the Magistri of the guild elected from the influential men of the city in which they were?

Here are a few translations of his quaint statements of the orders the Provveditore received from the Operai

"June 1353.—Operai: Lotto, Lapo, Piero di Cienni, Simone di Michele Ristori. They tell me to make haste and obtain the payments from the 'Camera' (council), and the 'Gabelle' (octroi). I must manage that by St. John's Day; the 'covelle' of the Campanile must be finished. And to do that, I must get two of the Magistri from Or San Michele. And the scaffolding must be taken down from S. Giovanni (the Baptistery), so that the work may be seen."

This entry shows how many buildings the guild were engaged on, and how the architects of them all were under the command of the Opera, or centre of administration for all.

"August 14, 1353.—Piero, Lotto, and Simone." (Every entry begins by naming the Operai in council.) "To order designs for a tabernacle.... Get it made. To order the design for the campanile, and in what kind. Have it done in wood. To order marble, for the work at the summit. 322 To tell Francesco[246] there is work for a year. About the rations of Neri Fieravanti. Give him the money to pay all the master's claims, and you, Filippo, shall be the pay-master, and we will provide the means." ("Dalle danari per pagare tutti i maestri loro, e tu Filippo sia loro camarlingo, e noi ti faremo provedere.")[247]

The way in which the Provveditore, Filippo Marsili, talks of himself, and puts down his orders from the Operai just in their own words, is naïve in the extreme. His memoranda are certainly delightful.

Here is another very busy day—

"September 26, 1353.—Operai: Simone, Migliorozzo, Francescho, Piero." (This time the head architect, Francesco Talenti, was in council.) "To elect a salaried lawyer. About a notary for citations. About the nine hundred and fifty lire which the Commune has of ours. To pay by the piece, rather than by the day. To send to Carrara (for marble). Put it off till All Saints' Day. Of the many documents we need.... To reason with the Regolatori.[248] To speak with the captains of the Misericordia about our many legacies.... Tell them to let us know when they meet. About the Wills. To discuss it with Ser Francescho Federigi (a notary). To find means to get ready money. Try and get a discount on the tax on assignments. About the wine for the Masters. Take it away entirely. About Francesco and the window ... to pay the Master who had the commission ... and when the work is done, have it valued, and the surplus, or the deficit, will be entered to Francesco" (head architect).

Truly it was no sinecure to be Provveditore for the 323 guild of architects in those days. He must have had his hands full indeed! When the Masters were not satisfied with their pay, and a work had to be appraised, like this window, a special council was called, consisting of the Consuls of the Arte della Lana, who were the Presidents of the Opera, the members of the Opera, and all the Magistri of the laborerium. The Masters were then called on one by one to give an estimate of the work, and discuss its merits; a ratio was taken, and the medium price fixed.

The same kind of council was called to consider any designs. Generally, several of the Magistri sent in their designs, or models made of wood. These were discussed in council, and votes taken before the final commission was given. The report of one of these meetings, where each Master naïvely voted for his own design, is very amusing.

The Masters were strictly bound by contract to the laborerium. In some cases they were paid by the day. We find, on May 29, 1355, that the salaries of Masters were lessened by two soldi a day, and workmen by one soldo. Sometimes the Commune found them wine and rations; at others they were paid by the piece, by contract. On June 7, 1456, the Provveditore writes—"It is desired that on no account shall any Master go to work outside the Opera, without the deliberation and consent of all four Operai. If any absent himself without this permission, he shall be considered as discharged."

The schools attached to the laborerium must have been very complete. They trained pupils in the three sister arts—architecture, sculpture, and painting. One sees the remains of them in the Belle Arti at Florence, Siena, and other towns, and the Academy of St. Luke at Rome. Not all the Magistri were teachers, but there were certain of them who held office as Professors. Niccolò di Pisa was certainly one of these, and so were Cimabue and Magister Giotto. 324

This full art-education accounts for the artist of the Renaissance being such an all-round man. One finds a painter like Giotto, or a sculptor like Niccolò Pisano, building grand architectural works. Sometimes they graduated in all three arts, as did Landi, Giotto, and Leon Battista Alberti.

When they graduated in the schools, they became Magistri of the guild, and could then undertake commissions. Besides the Magistri fratelli, there were the undergraduates as it were; in old Latin documents they are written as fratres; below these were the novices or pupils. The workmen employed by them were quite unconnected with the guild, and were paid daily wages as manual labourers.

The light thus thrown on the organization of the Masonic Guild by the valuable collection of documents made by Cesare Guasti, seems to me to explain much that was puzzling in the Florentine city guilds. For instance, why, among all the Arti, is there none which includes architects, sculptors, or painters? It would have been supposed that in the early days of the republic, when the Commune spent its wealth and enthusiasm on erecting great and noble buildings, architecture would certainly have ranked among the greater Arti, even in competition with the wool-combers and silk-weavers. But there was no such civic guild. There was a minor one for masons and stone-cutters, but it was established later for workmen and mere house-builders, and had nothing to do with great architects or master sculptors; while painters who wished to be members of the Commune and have any hand in the government, had to enroll themselves in the Goldsmith Guild, or the "Arte degli speziali" (doctors and apothecaries). The existence of this Freemasonic Guild would explain this hiatus in the greater arts. While such a powerful and self-governing body existed, which had 325 evidently the monopoly for Italy in the art of church-building, a mere city guild would never have been able to compete with it, and would have been superfluous.

That it really held the monopoly is more than probable. We have traced the Comacines through each gradation, have seen the successive schools and branches started by them in each place where they had great works in hand. The Buoni family at Modena going on to the south of Italy and then to Pistoja, founded that school. The Campione branch at Verona and Parma hence passed to Assisi and Florence. The Lucca school of Lombard Masters spread to Pisa and gathered into it native talent.

The later gathering of Lombards and Pisans at Siena thence moved to Orvieto, and sent a branch to Florence in the persons of Jacopo Tedesco and Arnolfo. There taking root it grew into the goodly flower of the Renaissance. And after efflorescence,—decay; the old organization, by degrees, dissolved in the greater freedom of art. Each Master aimed to stand alone on his own merits, and was no longer necessarily enrolled as one in a guild.

A great many things besides are revealed to us by Guasti's collection of documents. We find that Arnolfo died in 1310; Vasari read it wrongly as 1300, so that Arnolfo would only have worked a year or two at his Duomo. The correct entry in the archives is—"IIII idus (martii) Quiescit magister Arnolfus de l'opera di Santa Reparata MCCCX."[249]

It is a strange coincidence that the death registered before Arnolfo in the Necrology should be a man named Cambio, a locksmith, but he seems to have no connection with Arnolfo, whose parentage as usual is not indicated. 326

Thus we see that Arnolfo at the most only worked eleven or twelve years at a building which took more than a century to finish. How much did he accomplish? Probably not more than the foundations and the design which he left, and which may be seen to this day; for it is usually understood that the church in the fresco of the Spanish chapel represents the Duomo as Arnolfo designed it. After his death Florence fell upon warlike times, and was unable to continue the work till 1331, when the "city being in a happy and tranquil state, recommenced the building of the church of Santa Reparata, which had for a long time been in abeyance, and had made no progress, owing to the many wars and expenses which the city had undergone." The deed goes on to relate that the Arte della Lana was placed at the head of the administration, and that a tax of two denari per libbra on all moneys paid to the Commune should be appropriated for the expense, as had been decreed before. They further added another tax on the customs, so that the two amounted to 12,000 libbre picciole a year. Besides this, every shop in Florence was to have a money-box where they were to place il denaro di Dio (tithes) on all they sold.[250] I quote this to show how cities in the good old church-building days paid their architects. It is probable that the schools of the guild had continued in this interval, though the Magistri may have had to seek work elsewhere, for by July 18, 1334, we find Giotto as a Magister, selected as architect of the Campanile, though he seems to have had very little to do with the Duomo. His marvellous tower, in its varied colouring and artistic effect, shows the hand of a painter rather than an architect. He did not live to see his work completed, for on January 8, 1336, he died, soon after his return from Milan, where he had been sent in the services of the Visconti, and had a public funeral at the 327 expense of the Commune in Santa Reparata. The fact that the work of his tower went on in his absence, proves that he must have had brethren in the guild capable of carrying out his plans. As the foundations were only laid in July 1334, and Giotto died in January 1336, after a long absence at Milan, one wonders how he found time to sculpture the reliefs in his Hymn of Labour. However, we must take Ghiberti's testimony for it. In his second Commentary, Ghiberti says[251]—"The first line of reliefs which are in the Campanile which he erected were sculptured and designed by his own hand. In my time I have seen his own sketches beautifully drawn." A contemporary anonymous commentator on Dante writes[252]—"Giotto designed and superintended the marble bell-tower of Santa Reparata in Florence, a notable tower and costly. He committed two errors—one that it had no base, and the other that it was too narrow. This caused him such grief that, they say, he fell ill and died of it." I think indeed that if Giotto had found any error he would have rectified it in the plans which he left for his successors. That it had no foothold is not true, for the solid foundation was placed so far beneath the surface that it stood firm on the solid macigno (kind of granite rock) twenty braccia below.

His successor was of another branch of the guild, but a Masonic Magister all the same. On April 26, 1340, Andrea 328 di Pisa was elected by vote by the Council of the Opera to succeed Giotto as head architect.[253]

There must have been other Magistri proposed as candidates, if the Council had to resort to black and white beans for the voting. Andrea only lived a few years; he died, or retired from office, in 1348, the year of the great plague; and Francesco Talenti became caput Magister in 1350. Francesco was a brother of Fra Jacopo Talenti, Magister lapidum et edificorum, who was joint architect with Fra Ristoro of the convent and church of Santa Maria Novella from 1339 to 1362. Francesco, like his brother, must have been in the guild; he worked at Orvieto cathedral among numbers of Como and Lombard Masters in 1329. In April 1336 we find him called to Siena as an expert.[254] There had been discovered some defect in the columns. Francesco's companion from Florence was Benci di Cione. His office as capo maestro of the Duomo of Florence continued some years, though he did not reign alone, but was associated with Giovanni di Lapo Ghino, who after 1360 is called joint capo maestro. The principal documents of their administration prove that there were endless councils and arguments about the size, height, and placing of the columns, and discussions on Talenti's plan for the chapels at the east end. This seems to have been a crucial question.... Councils of four Magistri in each were held for three consecutive days—July 15, 16, and 17, 1355; and their opinions given in writing. On August 5 the grand united council of twelve Masters and the whole lodge was held, when the proportions 329 for the columns were decided, and Francesco's design for the chapel approved.

Another Council was held on June 8, 1357, with the Operai and Consuls of Arts, and their ecclesiastical colleagues, when the undermentioned Masters and monks gave their counsel on the church—a proof of the close affinity of ecclesiastics with the Masonic Guild.

  • Frate Francischo of Carmignano
  • Frate Jacopo Talenti. S. M. Novella
  • Frate Franciescho Salvini. S. Croce
  • Frate Tommasino. Ogni Santiv
  • Frate Jachopo da S. Marcho
  • Frate Piero Fuci, e
  • Frate Filippo sacrestano di S. Spirito
  • Frate Benedetto dalle Champora
  • Magister Neri di Fieravanti
  • Magister Stefano Messi
  • Magister Franciescho Salviati
  • Magister Giovanni Gherardini
  • Magister Giovanni di Lapo Ghini
  • Magister Franciesco dal Choro
  • Magister Ristori Cione
  • Magister Ambrogio Lenzi, or Renzi

The report was written by Sig. Mino, notary of the guild; the spelling of the names is his own.

Several of the same monks met at the Opera on July 12, 1357, to consult about the placing of the columns in the second foundation.

Also, on July 17, 1357, to choose between two designs of columns and a chapel made by Francesco Talenti and Orcagna, when each candidate elected two Masters as arbiters. Francesco Talenti chose Ambrogio Lenzi, a Lombard, and Frate Filippo Riniero of S. Croce. Andrea Orcagna chose Niccolò di Beltramo, also a Lombard, and Francesco di Neri. These could not decide, and Piero di Migliore the goldsmith was taken as umpire, the parties binding themselves to abide by his decision. Giovanni di 330 Lapo Ghino and Francesco Talenti were ordered to make new designs. At length, on July 28, Orcagna's plan was chosen.

Talenti's office was no sinecure; we often find him disputing with other Masters. Indeed, the lodge greatly lacked unity. Disintegration was beginning. On August 5, 1353, the Provveditore, Filippo Marsili, writes—"I must get Neri di Fioravanti and Francesco Talenti to settle that dispute within fifteen days. They must choose an arbiter each, and may elect the third arbiter by joint consent." They chose Benozzi as mutual third. Again on October 4, 1353—"The Master who executes Francesco Talenti's design for the window must be paid his demands. When the work is done, have it valued, and the balance more or less to go to Francesco's account."

He seems also to have been an improvident sort of man. Here are two tell-tale entries in Filippo Marsili's memorandum book—"July 12, 1353. Advance him as soon as convenient the pay for four months. Take it out, by deducting half his salary weekly." Again in November the entry is—"Lend him what he wants."

In 1376 Francesco's son Simone became joint capo maestro with Benci Cione, Orcagna's father, at a salary of eight gold florins a month. Simone graduated also in the sculpture school, and executed a figure for the façade, for which he was paid thirteen florins on September 4, 1377. Zanobi Bartoli, also a Magister lapidum (sculptor), was at the same time paid twenty gold florins each for two marble figures, though he received only eighteen florins for his statue of the Archangel Michael in December of the same year.

Francesco's colleague, Giovanni di Lapo Ghino, is a good instance—one of many—of the hereditary nature of the guild. We first hear of Ghino at Siena in the thirteenth century. On February 7, 1332, his sons Simone and 331 Jacopo, or Lapo di Ghino, sign a contract with Agostino and his son Giovanni of Siena, to build a chapel in the Pieve S. Maria at Arezzo—that of Bishop Tarlati, Bindo de' Vanni and his son Francesco, with two other Magistri, being witnesses.[255]

In 1362 a certain Ambrosius Ghino is named in a list of the lodge. He may have been a brother or nephew of Lapo. Then comes the third generation, and we find Giovanni, son of Lapo di Ghino, at Orvieto. He afterwards came to Florence, where he was elected capo maestro, at first in unison with Jacopo Talenti, and later by himself. In 1388 old Ghino's great-grandson, whose whole pedigree is given in the books as "Michele, Johannis, Lapi, Ghini," became in his turn capo maestro of the Duomo of Florence. His descendant, Antonio Ghino, also graduated in the Florentine Lodge, but he went back to Siena, where he appears as one of the Magistri employed there in 1472.

This family is only one of many hereditary Masonic brethren. The Cione family is another instance. The first Masters of the name appear in Florence on July 1355, as Ristoro and Benci Cione, two members attending the Council on Francesco Talenti's design for the chapels, but whether they were brothers or father and son I cannot tell; I presume brothers, or Benci would have been written down as Benci Ristori di Cione.[256] We have seen Benci Cione called to Siena as an arbiter. He was much occupied in Florence, where he worked at the building, or rather adaptation, of Or San Michele. He and Laurentius Filippi (Lorenzo, son of Filippo Talenti) were joint architects of the Loggia dei Lanzi, Lorenzo superintending the sculpture, and Cione the architecture. Lorenzo has set the sign of the guild on the base of his columns by surrounding them with small pillars 332 on which lions are crouching; the proportions and ornamentation of the building are beautiful. Orcagna has always been credited as the architect of this Loggia, but he is here proved not to be the original designer, though he probably worked with his father.

Orcagna's name, Andrea di Cione, first appears in the great Council with monks and Magistri, held on June 18, 1357, to decide on the space which should be left between the columns of the Duomo.[257]

Andrea's nickname of Orcagna, a corruption of Arcangelo (Archangel), has clung to him through centuries, and over-shadowed his real patronymic of Cione. The relation between him and Benci di Cione remains rather obscure. Orcagna has also had the credit of building the church of Or San Michele. Probably writers confuse Orcagna, or Andrea di Cione, the sculptor of the beautiful shrine in that church, which is his masterpiece, with the Benci di Cione who was architect of the building. From the close connection of the two in the guild, and from Orcagna having worked so much with Benci, I think it probable they were father and son. Milanesi is rather uncertain about the father of Orcagna, and in the genealogical table at the end of his life he writes him as Cione with a note of interrogation, and no Christian name, which may well have been Benci.

Shrine in Or San Michele, Florence. Designed by "Orcagna" (Andrea Cione).

See page 333.

Orcagna first studied painting under his elder brother Nardo (short for Bernardo), who was enrolled in the "company of St. Luke." But this was only one branch of Andrea's art-education. He matriculated in the Masonic Guild (Arte dei maestri di pietra e legname), in the books of which it is written—"Andrea Cioni, called Archangel, a painter of the parish of S. Michele Visdomini, took his oath and promises in the said guild, Magister Neri 333 Fioravanti being his sponsor, in 1352, sixth indication, October 29."[258]

It was Orcagna's way to emphasize his varied qualifications by signing his paintings, "Andrea di Cione, scultore," and his sculptures, "Andrea di Cione, pittore." On his masterpiece, the shrine in Or San Michele, he has inscribed, "Andreas Cionis, pictor Florentinus, oratorii arch magister extitit hujus MCCCLIX." The expression "Archmagister of the Oratory" (or shrine) explains many things. It tells us that the whole of that complicated piece of sculpture, though it may have been designed entirely by Orcagna, was not entirely executed by him, but that, like other Magistri, he had a band of brethren working under him; for how could he have been chief Master where there were no lesser ones under his command?

It is interesting in studying the working of the Masonic Guild, of which Orcagna signs himself Archmagister, to see how they are occupied in building several grand edifices at once. The immense number of Masters congregated in the Florentine Lodge rendered this possible, and wealth was not lacking in the city to employ them.

The books at the Opera reveal how the Council of Administration dominates the laborerium. We shall see how the busy Provveditore has to change the Magistri about from Santa Croce to Or San Michele; or from the Duomo to San Michele Visdomini, just as need presses. He has to order marbles for all and any of these edifices; to call councils to consider designs for all kinds of different buildings and parts of buildings, such as windows, chapels, doors, etc. Sometimes we find him commissioning a certain architect to make a plan for a chapel, or a door, or a 334 window. When Talenti and Giovanni Ghino had both made designs for the tribune in October 1367, the usual councils were not enough to decide the momentous question which to choose. The whole city had to be called into council, together with the monks (frati colleganti), the Magistri of the guild, etc. Hundreds and thousands of people came to the Opera, looked at the designs, signed their names on the list of approval, for one or the other.

After the joint reign as capi maestri of Giovanni di Lapo Ghino and Francesco Talenti, came a varied line of master builders lasting for a hundred years, so that it is impossible to say that any one man was the architect of the Duomo. Between Arnolfo's first plan and the final Italian Gothic development of the fifteenth century lies the whole history of the development of art.

The next great capo maestro after Talenti was Ambrogio of Lenzo or Lanzo, near Como, one of the Campione school. His name is given in a deed of February 3, 1363, as "Ambroxius filius magistri Guglielmi de Champiglione." It is remarkable that an ancestor and namesake of this "Ambroxius" was also written down as "filius Magistri Guglielmi" in 1130, two centuries earlier, when they were leading members of the Campione school at Modena, and sculptured the façades of Modena and Ferrara cathedrals; so our Ambrogio of Florence was one of the distinguished aristocracy of the lodge, his family dating from its cradle in Lombardy. From the deed which we quote we find that Ambrogio graduated under his father, and made his first contract with Barna Batis, then Provveditore of the Opera of the Duomo, to provide and prepare the black marble necessary to the work, for every braccio of which he was to be paid six soldi eight denari. This is the original—

"Archivio dell' Opera dell Duomo, February 3, 1362.—Ambroxius filius magistri Guglielmi de Champiglione, comitatus Mediolani, emancipatus a Domino magistro Guillielmo patre suo, ut continere dixit publice manu 335 ser Joannis Arriglionis notarii de Champiglione, conduxit a Barna olim Batis provisore Operis Sancte Reparate de Florentia, locante vice et nomine operariorum ... ad faciendum et digrossandum totum marmum nigrum quod erit necessarium dicto operi, hinc ad unum annum proxime venturum, illarum mensurarum prout dicetur eidem per capomagistros dicti operis. Et dictus Barna locavit eidem die dictum marmum ad fovendum et digrossandum, et promisit pro dicto opere eidem Ambroxio de quolibet brachio dicti marmi dare eidem Ambroxio soldos sex et denarios octo f. p., etc. Que omnia, etc."

Ambrogio or Ambrose remained many years in Florence. His name often appears in council. In 1356 he was elected head architect of the Duomo, and also of the restorations at the Baptistery. On April 4, 1384, when as an old man he attended a meeting to decide whether the pilasters of the tribune were strong enough to support the dome, his name is given as Ambrogio de Renzo. A marked instance of the effect of twenty years among Florentine dialect, which has an inveterate habit of mixing up l's and r's. His son, Giovanni d'Ambrogio di Lenzo, who afterwards became capo maestro, was also in council, and Orcagna was chosen umpire.

But between the reign of Ambrogio and that of his son we have various changes in the directorship. In 1381, Giovanni, son of Stefano, called Guazetta, became capo maestro together with Giovanni Fetti, who was also of the guild, and preparing first in Siena, and next at Florence, for his future work in Lucca and Bologna. Giovanni Fetti designed and made the fine "window towards the houses of the Cornacchini, under the third arch of the nave."

Guazetta's peculiar line was laying foundations and devising complicated scaffolding. He also made the presses of the sacristy. He was perhaps not enough of a builder to hold the office of chief, for in 1375 this pair resigned in favour of Francesco Salvetti and Taddeo Ristori. Salvetti, however, very soon renounced office, preferring to 336 remain in the guild on a simple salary, rather than incur responsibilities.[259]

Then Francesco Talenti's son Simone, who had by this time become a Magister, was put in his place with Taddeo Ristori. Their reign lasted till 1388, when Michele, son of Giovanni, son of Lapo, son of Ghino, was elected. In his time the pilasters of the tribune were begun.

In 1404 Ambrogio's son Giovanni was elected capo maestro. Here is the part of the entry of the Deliberation, November 17, 1404—"Operaris ... elegerunt et nominaverunt et deputaverunt in caput magister dicte opere Sancte Reparata providum virum Johannem Ambroxii, etc. etc., cum salario florenum otto, pro quolibet mense cum auctoritate, balia et potestate usitate et consueta."—Delib. xlix. 28.

Another deliberation, dated June 17, 1415, states that "Johannem Ambroxii caput magister" shall give the order for the species and form of the bricks for some special part.

Giovanni, the last of the Campione school whom we can register, was deposed for old age, and Baptista Antoni elected in his stead. He was probably the son of Antonio, the Grand Master mentioned above.

Giovanni had not always time to carry out his own designs. In 1408 we find that Magister Niccolao, surnamed Pela, took the contract to carve in marble the doorway near the chapel of the crucifix, which was designed by "Johannem Ambroxii, caput magistrum." It is rich with vines and other ornaments. Niccolao did not push the work, however, and in May 1408 the Opera decided that he owed the guild the sum of twenty-five florins for breaking his contract.


The number of different minds each leading the works in his own department is bewildering. The beautiful door called the Mandorla, so rich and elegant in sculpture, which is often said to have been executed by Jacopo della Quercia, was in reality the work of Nanni di Antonio di Banco. The books of the Opera register, on June 28, 1418, a payment of twenty florins on account to Nanni for this doorway, and in 1421 the last payment was made on the completion of the work. Nanni was a favourite scholar of Donatello; he was a person of good birth, who matriculated in the Arte dei Maestri di Pietra on February 2, 1405, and proved his membership by sculpturing the four patron saints of the Masonic Guild on Or San Michele.

We further find in this precious collection of documents that Magister Jacopo di Lapo Cavacciani made a model for a shaft; that Nato di Cenni and Jacopo di Polo were, in August 1357, engaged to make the bases of the columns, and that time after time different Masters were called on to make plans for chapels, windows, doors, etc.

Now we know the state of the building as it stood in this fourteenth century, we realize that it was not left for centuries without a dome. The old chronicler Buoninsegni, in his Storia Florentina, lib. iv. p. 642, says—"A di venti di giugno 1380 si cominciarono a riempire et murare i fondamenti della cupola di S. Maria del Fiore." Up till this time the nave only seems to have been built.

On August 7 a meeting of Magistri was called to consult on the foundation for the cupola, and on November 12, 1380, there is a long document commissioning "Bartolommeus Stefani, Johannes Mercati, and Leonardus Cecchii, Magistri Florentini," to build the pilasters to support the dome, which are to be of good stone and cement, and the builders are cautioned not to work in times of frost or snow, etc. etc. These pilasters caused much anxiety in the guild; in 1384 constant meetings were held about them. 338 The Masters were afraid the foundations of the one towards Via dei Servi were not firm; day after day in July 1384 they met in scores to examine and report on it. Then they called in the consuls of the Art of Wool, the Operai, and all the chief men of the city; and everybody, excepting a certain Messer Biagio Guasconi (who after all was not an architect), agreed that the foundation of the pilaster was perfectly safe. However, good Messer Biagio still held his own opinion and refused to sign approval.

From the steady way in which the work went on, it is certainly possible and probable that there would in the natural course of the work have been a dome to the cathedral even without Filippo Brunelleschi. It was in the original plan, and the foundations and pilasters were placed in readiness for it. There was much talk of the difficulty of placing the framework of the scaffolding for it, but there seems to have been no doubt that it would be accomplished. In fact numbers of the Masters sent in plans for it at different times.

The first time that Brunellesco appears in the records is at a meeting of consuls, Opera, and Masters, convened on November 10, 1404, to consider a certain error in measurement committed by the capo maestro, Giovanni di Ambrogio. The question turned on the placing of the (sprone) brackets on the façade which interfered with the windows.

It does not seem that Brunellesco belonged to the brotherhood. He is merely mentioned as Filippo the goldworker, son of the notary Brunelleschi (Filippus ser Brunelleschi aurifex). In no place, either here or elsewhere, is he ever called Magister, and throughout his life his every action was a protest against what he called "the Maestranze" a term of contempt like "their Master-ships," which Brunelleschi applied to the Arte dei Maestri. He had matriculated in 1398, when twenty-one years old, in the Arte della Seta, but as his tastes were strongly 339 artistic, and he refused to follow his father's profession of lawyer, he enrolled himself in 1404 in the Arte degli Orafi (goldsmiths), in which so many painters were already eminent. The goldsmiths or metal-sculptors, who seem to have seceded from the Freemasons, were still in some measure colleagues of the Masonic Guild, and their members were often called to vote or advise in the councils of the Opera.

Thus we find Brunellesco as one of the orafi called into council about the construction of the brackets. He appears to have held office as councillor in the Opera for a year till 1405, when he was paid off. He was probably one of the Operai on the part of the city.

When in the famous competition of 1402 Brunellesco lost the commission for the doors of the Baptistery, he left Florence in dudgeon, and with his friend Donatello went to Rome. His studies of the methods of the ancient Romans in making their great domes, suggested to him a way of vindicating his amour propre by defeating the whole guild of "Masters" on their own ground. He had made architecture a special study, and now thoroughly investigated the classic methods. He got to the roof of the Pantheon, and made studies of the stone-work in the ribs of the cupola, investigated the foundations, the supports, etc., and came back to Florence, where he let drop mysterious hints among the influential members of his own trade company, and in the studios of one or two artists, that even if the "maestranze were to call their Masters from France or Germany, and all parts of the world, none of them would be able to make a dome equal to the one he could make." The Masters of the laborerium at length heard of these assertions, and called on him to show his plans, which he declined to do.

Then the Opera, on August 19, 1418, announced a competition. Any artist whatsoever who had made a 340 model of the projected cupola was to produce it, before the end of September, the model accepted to have a prize of 200 gold florins. The date of decision was prolonged to October, and then to December, when a number of models were sent in, the competitors being Magister Giovanni di Ambrogio, C.M. of the laborerium, Manno di Benincasa, Matteo di Leonardo, Vito da Pisa, Lorenzo Ghiberti, all Magistri of the Masonic Guild; Piero d'Antonio, nicknamed Fannulla (do nothing), Piero di Santa Maria in Monte, masters in wood. There were several models by members of the civic company, the Arte dei Scarpellini (stone-cutters); and last, not least, a model in brick and mortar without scaffolding, made by Brunellesco, Donatello, and Nanni di Banco,[260] so he was obliged after all to show his design. This last won the prize, but the Arte dei Maestri had not evidently faith enough in one outside their ranks to commence at once with the building. In Signor Cesare Guasti's collection of archivial documents regarding the building of the Duomo, we find that from October to December 23, 1418, several of the Masters, including Magistro Aliosso, Mag. Andrea Berti Martignoni, Mag. Paolo Bonaiuti, Cristofero di Simoni, and Giovanni Tuccio, were receiving payment for building a model in masonry of Brunellesco's plan for the cupola. I do not find that Brunellesco himself was employed in this, the only payment to him being "50 lib. 15 soldi" for his work on the lantern of the model, between July 11 and August 12, 1419; proving that he put the finishing touch, but that the Masters of the guild themselves tested his design for the great dome before finally adopting it. This brick model, which was built on the Piazza del Duomo, remained there till 1430, when the Opera ordered its destruction. Guasti[261] gives in full this 341 order, which is dated January 23, 1430, and is in the usual low Latin of contemporary documents. When the model was finished, the Magistri of the guild assembled on May 14, 1421, to hold council on it. There are entries of expenses for a breakfast to the Masters, and for torch-bearers to accompany them on their internal investigations. We find the same ceremony of refreshment to the Magistri who visited the works of the real cupola in 1424, when six flasks of Trebbiano (the best Tuscan wine) with fruit and bread were provided. In 1420 Brunellesco was definitely commissioned to superintend the cupola, but even then the Magistri could not admit an outsider to full Masonic privileges. He was not named caput magister, as one of the guild would have been, but he and Ghiberti (whose model had been next best) were named provisori of the dome, while the Magister Baptista di Antonio was caput magister proper of the lodge. The terms of the contract were that "the provisori were to superintend the works, providing, ordering, building, and causing to build, the cupola from beginning to end, etc. etc."

At first both Ghiberti and Brunellesco drew three florins a month. The head Magister, Baptista, had the usual salary of the guild as head master.

The story of Brunellesco's restiveness at his old rival Ghiberti being associated with him in carrying out a design peculiarly his own, and how he tried to throw scorn on him, by locking up his plans and feigning illness, thus leaving Ghiberti to work in the dark, is too well known to need repetition here.[262] Perkins[263] is very hard on Ghiberti's ignorance, which, he asserts, was so great that he was obliged to resign because he could not do the work. But there are two sides to every question. How could a man carry out a work 342 designed and begun by another without seeing his plans? Besides, Ghiberti's resignation, or rather relinquishment of his work at the cupola just then, was, I believe, due to the fact that he had a few months before received a commission for the second bronze gates of the Baptistery, and wanted his time free for them. This commission is dated January 2, 1425. His salary as provisore of the cupola ceased for a few months from June 28, 1425. The dates speak for themselves. He still, however, held office, or returned to it with partial pay, for in 1428 we find a decree of the Opera which raises the salary of Brunellesco to 100 gold florins a year, while Ghiberti only draws his usual three florins a month. But even then not an order is ever given in Brunellesco's own name; every document and every receipt was signed by Baptista d'Antonio, caput magister, and Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, provisore.

And now let us see who were the underlings employed by Brunellesco. Finding the workmen of the Florentine Lodge were disaffected, he got ten Lombards, and shut out all the Florentines, till they humbly came back, begging to be taken on again, which he did at a lower salary than before.

The Lombard element was still strong in the guild. A certain Maestro di legno, named Magister Antonio of Vercelli, invented a convenient mode of drawing up weights into the cupola. The workmen had a kitchen and eating-house up in the dome, so that they did not need to descend in the middle of the day. In fact the Opera made strict laws about this.

In 1436 another competition of models for the lantern was proclaimed, and again Brunellesco won the palm against Ghiberti and others. It seems that when the commission was given to Brunellesco, the Masonic Guild must have felt it infra dig. to make a non-member capo maestro of the dome. Consequently they matriculated him into 343 the fraternity. But with his jealousy of the maestranze and determination to show that one need not be a Freemason to build a church, he ignored this membership and never paid his fees, on which the Masters of the laborerium sued him for debt, and he was imprisoned. This did not suit the City Patrons of the Opera, who were the all-powerful Arte della Lana, especially as Brunellesco's Arte della Seta was also on his side. A stormy meeting was held in the Opera on August 20, 1434, at which the civic party was too strong for the Maestri. It was decreed that Brunellesco should be liberated, and one of the Arte dei Maestri was imprisoned, on the plea of hindering public works![264]

After this triumph of independent architecture Brunellesco became in a manner architect in chief to the city. He built the pretty Loggie of the Foundling Hospital on Piazza della SS. Annunziata, and the Pazzi Chapel at Sta. Croce, both of which Luca della Robbia adorned with his beautiful blue and white reliefs. He erected the fine Palazzo Quaratesi on Piazza Ognissanti, and the remarkably grand church of Santo Spirito was after his death built from his designs.

Brunellesco's strike for independence appears to have given the death-blow to the great Masonic Guild which, as it became more unwieldy, had been slowly disintegrating. The local members in large cities like Siena and Florence, becoming too strong for the original Lombard element, had asserted their independence by forming other guilds of a local nature, in which even the ancient quartette of patron saints was forgotten. How long the lodge in Florence kept together after Brunellesco's defiance I do not know, though its educative influence certainly lingered on till Michael Angelo's time, he being as all-round an artist as 344 any Magister of older days who could build a church and decorate it too.

The laborerium of the Florentine Opera must, however, have been closed by the time of Michael Angelo; for Lorenzo de' Medici had to supplement it by giving up his garden in the Via Larga as a school of sculpture, there being then no place where the art was taught. His teaching, however, was a heritage from the ancient guild, for old Bertoldo, scholar of Donatello, was the Master there, and the works of the Masonic Brotherhood for two centuries, together with the classic treasures collected by the Medici, were his models. 345



1. 1387 Magister Simone da Arsenigo First capo maestro of Milan cathedral.
2. " *M. Guarnerio da Sirtori. Assisted him.
3. " *M. Marco da Frixone di Campione Engaged March 5, 1387; C.M. 1389; D. 1390.
4. " *M. Jacopo Fusina da Campione C.M. with Marco in 1389. Head of the works at Certosa, 1397. Designed the Certosa.
5. " *M. Zeno da Campione (his brother) Brought 21 sculptors on Oct. 18, 1387. By 1399 he had 250 under him.
6. " *M. Andrea degli Argani da Modena From the Campione school at Modena; was architect to the Duke of Milan. Called to Milan in 1387 as counsel.
7. " *M. Lazaro da Campione  
8. " *M. Rolando or Orlando  
9. " *M. Zambono (Giovanni Buono da Bissone) Descendant of Zambono, who was C.M. at Padua 1264, and at Parma 1280.
10. " *M. Fontana da Campione Probably an ancestor of Giov. Fontana, the master of Palladio; and of Matteo Fontana, architect of Belluno cathedral in 1517.
11. " *M. Cressino da Campione  
12. " *M. Giovanni da Azzo  
13. " *M. Giovanni da Trœnzano  
14.   *M. Martino da Arogno  
15.   *M. Ruggero da Marogia   Brothers.
16.   *M. Giorgio da Marogia
17.   *M. Alberto   All Lombards who worked under Giovanni da Bissone (No. 9); the latter was his son.
18.   *M. Airolo
19.   *M. Giovannino da Bissone
20. 346 1387 †Magister Antonio di Guido,   Brothers.
21.   M. Giovanni di Guido
22.   †M. Adamo  
23.   †M. Giovanni di Furno  
24.   †M. Adriolo da Campione  
25.   †M. Guglielmo di Marco Son of Marco da Frixone, architect at Crema; called to Milan as expert, Oct. 1387.
26.   M. Leonardo Zepo   Two Masters deputed to take note of Magister Andrea's suggestion, Oct. 1387.
27.   M. Simone da Cavagnera
28. 1388 *M. Ambrogio Pongione Gave his vote at a meeting of the lodge on March 20, 1388.
29.   *M. Bonino da Campione Voted at the same meeting. Had been sculptor of the Scaliger tomb at Verona in 1375.
30.   *M. Gasparo da Birago A famous iron-worker. Magister of the lodge.
31. " *Magister Ambrogio da Melzo All these * voted with the chief architect Simone at the same meeting, March 20, 1388.
32.   *M. Pietro da Desio
33.   *M. Filippo Orino
34.   *M. Ridolfo di Cinisello  
35.   *M. Antonio da Trœnzano (son of Giovanni da Trœnzano)  
36. 1390 M. Niccola del Bonaventura Made a design for the windows of the choir at Milan: not accepted: discharged from the lodge on July 21, 1390.
37. 1391 M. Giovanni da Campione Sometimes called John from Fernach. He brought 100 stone-carvers into the laborerium in 1391.
38. 1399 M. Antonio A. Padernò   Two rising Masters in 1399, who fought the great dispute with the French architects.
39. " M. Marco da Carona
40. " M. Lorenzo degli Spazi, di Val d'Intelvi Brought 188 stone-carvers with him to Milan. He was in 1396 C.M. at Como, and probably went to Milan with all his workmen, when the works there were suspended on Gian Galeazzo's death.
41. 1400 M. Jacopo da Tradate In 1400 he was chief sculptor.
42. " M. Samuele, his son Sculptured his father's tomb in 1402. 347
43. 1400 M. Bertollo da Campione   Magistri working under Jacopo da Tradate at the sculptures for Milan cathedral.
44.   M. Giorgio de Sollario (Solari)
45.   M. Guglielmo di Giorgio (his son)
46. 1410 to 1440 M. Giovanni de Solari
47. M. Giovanni di Reghezio
48.   M. Jacopo da Lanzo
49.   M. Michele di Benedetto da Campione
50.   M. Francesco Solari
51.   M. Giovanni da Cairate
52. 1420 to 1404 *M. Cristoforo da Chiona All these marked * were master architects, each building a certain part of the cathedral.
53. *M. Arasmino Solari da Arogna
54. *M. Franceschino da Canobbio Was C.M. in 1448.
55.   *M. Leonardo da Sirtori Son or grandson of Magister Guarnerio (No. 2).
56.   *M. Paolino da Arsenigo Son or grandson of Magister Simone (No. 1).
57.   *M. Filippino degli Argani Son of Andrea degli Argani (No. 6), whom he succeeded as architect to the Visconti. Designed the choir window at Milan. Entered the lodge as novice, 1400; graduated master, 1404; C.M. 1417.
58. 1450 M. Giorgio di Filippo His son: became C.M. in his turn in 1450.
59. 1451 M. Giovanni Solari: son of Marco da Carona. C.M. from 1451 to 1470. He forms a link with Venice.
60. 1470 M. Guiniforte or Boniforte (son of Giovanni Solari) C.M. in 1470-1481. Built the Ospedale Maggiore and church of Le Grazie at Milan.
61. 1481 Magister Pietro Antonio: his son Went to Russia in 1481.
62. 1468 to 1492 M. Martino da Mantegazza  
63. M. Dolcebono Rodari Entered the lodge in 1490; was sent to Rome for training. His relative, Tomaso Rodari, was more famous than he, and sculptured the Renaissance door at Como.
64.   M. Gerolamo della Porta Was employed later in Rome and Naples.
65.   M. Salomone, son of Giovan de Grassi One of the line descending from Magister Graci, founder of the lodge at Padua. 348
66. 1471 M. Bartolommeo de Gorgonzola C.M. for the cupola of Milan cathedral.
67. 1488 M. Leonardo da Vinci Engaged for the cupola, but resigned.
68.   M. Antonio da Padernò (descendant of the older Antonio, No. 88) Rectified the mistakes of John of Gratz.
69.   M. Giovanni Antonio   Joint architects to finish cupola and cathedral of Milan. Amedeo worked afterwards in Venice.
70.   M. Amedeo or Omodeo
71.   M. Gio. Giacome di Dolcebono Dolcebono was son of Dolcebono Rodari.
72.   M. Francesco di Giorgio of Siena   Were called to advise on the plans of the above three.
73.   M. Luca Fancelli of Florence
74. 1506 M. Andrea Fusina Descendant of Jacopo Fuxina. Andrea was elected C.M. to replace Dolcebono in 1506.
75. 1502 M. Cristoforo Gobbo Sculptured Adam and Eve on the façade of Milan cathedral, etc.
76. 1618 to 1647 M. Gian Giacomo Bono da Campione   A later offshoot of the old family of Bono or Buono, who have furnished Magistri since 1152.
77. M. Francesco Bono, his son
78. M. Carlo Antonio Bono, a relative
79. M. Giuseppe Bono, his son

All these marked * were engaged on Oct. 4, 1387, to work with Magister Simone. The second batch given below and marked † joined the Lodge on Oct. 9, five days after.


80. 1389 Anichino or Annex of Freiburg Was paid for the model of a dome which was not used.
  " Giacobino de Bruge Fell ill, and was supported by the lodge.
81. 1391 Ulrico di Ensingen Came for a few months.
  " Heinrich di Gmunden Entered, July 1391; left, June 1392.
82. 1399 Jean Mignot de Paris Came from Paris.
83.   Jean Campanias from Normandy Campanias did not stay long.
84.   Ulrich de Frissengen   Worked at Milan for a short time.
85.   Aulx di Marchestein
86. 1482 Giovanni da Gratz Engaged, 1482; discharged, 1488.


I.—The Comacines under the Visconti

History repeats itself. We began the story of the Comacines in Lombardy with their works under the invading Longobards, we end it with their works under the usurping Visconti. The first era shows their early Roman-Lombard style in its purity; the last shows the culmination of their later Italian-Gothic style in its fulness.

Like Florence, Siena, Pisa, Pistoja, and other cities, Milan, on freeing herself from Longobard and French tyrants, had become a commune, but she could not escape the usual fate of a mediæval commune, i.e. party faction, and the supremacy of a dominant family. As Florence had her Guelphs and Ghibellines, Pistoja her Bianchi and Neri, so Milan had her two warring families, the Torriani and Visconti. The conflict was long, but in the end the Visconti dominated. Matteo I. reigned over Cremona, Lodi, Bergamo, Pavia, Alexandria, and Vercelli. Azzo Visconti subjugated Piacenza and Como, etc. Luchino added Asti, Bobbio, and Parma; while his brother, the Archbishop Giovanni, acquired Brescia, Genoa, and Bologna. His nephews, Bernabò and Galeazzo II., divided the state, and lost part of it. Genoa freed herself from Galeazzo, while Bernabò's vices and cruelties caused rebellion everywhere.

Galeazzo's son, Gian Galeazzo, who was only fifteen when his father died in 1378, married Isabella of France, he being then seventeen, and she a child still. By this he gained, as his bride's portion, the estate of Vertus in Champagne, and his descendants kept up the title, which became Italianized into Conte di Virtù. His second wife was his cousin, Caterina, daughter of Bernabò. To assure himself of her heritage, he imprisoned his uncle in the castle of Trezza, where he died a few months after, some say by poison. However this be, Gian Galeazzo immediately rode 350 into Milan, where he was proclaimed Signore of Milan. Wenceslaus, Emperor of Germany, had already created him his Vicar-general in Lombardy, so that his power was great. So great was it that he was able to oust the Scaligers from Verona in 1386; the Carraresi from Vicenza and Padua in 1387. In 1395 he induced Wenceslaus to nominate him Duke of Milan, and to make the title hereditary. Then, emulating his Longobardic predecessors, he began a march of conquest southwards; took Perugia, Spoleto, and Assisi in 1400; Lucca in 1401; then he bought Pisa from the Appiani, and Siena capitulated. Florence was next in his list, but luckily for her he died at this juncture, and Florence escaped.[265]

These were the princes under whose auspices the cathedral of Milan arose, a mountain of sculpture white as snow. In olden times there were twin churches standing on the site of Milan cathedral: S. Maria Maggiore, the winter church, and S. Thecla, the estiva, or summer church. Santa Maria had two Baptisteries, one for male children, the other for female. They both had marvellous towers: that of S. Maria was two hundred and forty-five braccia (about four hundred and seventy feet) high, and of "admirable beauty." This tower was thrown down and the church destroyed in the siege of Milan, 1162. After the Peace of Costanza, Sta. Maria was restored by public offerings, and the Milanese ladies, like the ancient Roman dames, threw their jewels into the treasury. The façade of this restoration was of black and white marble in squares, and the church was so large that it could contain 7000 people.

By the fourteenth century Milan had become so wealthy and powerful that it determined to build a church more beautiful than any before it. To Gian Galeazzo is 351 generally given the whole credit of this initiative, but documents seem to prove it was a general move on the people's part. On May 12, 1386, Monsignor Antonio dei Marchesi, Archbishop of Milan, addressed a circular letter to his clergy, saying that the church of the Blessed Virgin was old and dilapidated, and "the hearts of the faithful" intended to rebuild it, which work being very costly, the Archbishop prayed all his clergy to "institute offerings in their churches, and to pray God to bless the work."

Again a year later he circulated another letter, to ask that all the offerings thus gathered should be transmitted to Milan before the fête of St. Martin, as the faithful were anxious to continue the work begun. Gian Galeazzo did his part by promulgating two edicts; one dated October 12, 1386, instituting a questua (collection) in all the Ducal State for the benefit of the funds for the Duomo; the second, dated February 7, 1387, decreed that all the money from the paratici of the city, which shall be paid as offerings during the fête of the Madonna in February of this and following years, shall be dedicated to the building fund. The results of all these appeals and decrees, and the small part the Visconti had in the giving, appears in a letter from the deputies of the Fabbrica or Opera, addressed to Gian Galeazzo, on August 3, 1387, saying—"Offerings have been made with great devotion by every kind of person, rich and poor, who have copiously and liberally aided the building. Now, O Signore, we pray that you and your lady mother, your consort, and daughter, may also transmit your devout oblations to subsidize the church."

This is the way the funds were found, and now who were the builders? We have seen in a former chapter that the Visconti patronized the Campionese school of architect-sculptors, and as the Comacines had been associated with Milan for centuries, it was not necessary to look far for architects. Indeed the very first batch of names which 352 meets our eye in the books of the laborerium are all of the Lombard Guild. Here is chief architect Simone da Arsenigo written down as ingegnere generale; or capo maestro, Guarnerio da Sirtori; Marco, Jacopo, e Zeno, da Campione; and Andrea from Modena; where we have seen the Campione Masters established a school.

On October 16, 1387, a meeting was held by the commission of the Duomo to discuss a project proposed by the administrators of the Fabbrica, for forming a regular organization, and electing the proper officials. It was decided—

1. To confirm the present deputies as superintendents of the work. (Here we have the Tuscan Operai.)

2. To elect a treasurer-general.

3. To nominate a good and efficient accountant.

4. Also a good and efficient spenditore (in Tuscany this is the Provveditore).

5. To confirm the election of Magister Simone da Arsenigo as head architect of the building, and to nominate enough capable Masters to assist him. (In Tuscany capo maestro and Maestri.)

6. To confirm (considering their eminence in their art) Dionisolo di Brugora and Ambrogio da Sala (an island in Lake Como near Comacina) in their offices, and to choose others equally good to aid in the building.

7. To elect two or more probi uomini (arbiters).

8. To elect lawyer, notary, and sindaci (consuls) of the art.

9. "We also determine and ordain that Maestro Simone da Arsenigo, as being chief architect of the said fabric, shall order and provide for all the works done in the said church, and that he shall show diligence, etc. etc...."

Here we have the exact organization we have seen at Siena, Parma, Florence, etc.; and as there the Lombard Masters are the founders of it, we find the same filing of 353 documents, the same assigning of different parts of the building to different Masters, and the same calling of councils in the guild to consider and value the work. The registers of administration are kept in precisely the same way. The spenditore keeps his books just as the Florentine Provveditore does. Here are a few translations from the bad Latin of his entries—

"1387. January 15.—For two lbs. of morsecate for Maestro Andrea degli Organi, four lire." (Andrea degli Organi of Modena was the Ducal architect, the father of Filippo da Modena, a first-rate architect.)

"January 19.—For a Master and forty-seven workmen to place the foundations of the pilasters."

"March 19.—To Simone da Arsenigo, chief architect, for eighteen days in which he was engaged in work himself." (This entry would seem to prove that when a Master did manual work with his men, he was paid as they were in addition to his salary as architect.)

"April 2.—To Maestro Marco da Frisone" (Magistro Marcho de Frixono), "who was in the service of the Fabbrica, and began to work on March 5, and finished on April 2, for his pay 12 lire 13 denari."

"April 13.—To Maestro Andrea da Modena, architect to the Duke, for his pay for the days he gave to the church in Milan, with the permission of the Vicario Sig. Giovanni de Capelli, and the XII di provisione" (one of the city councils, which acted as the president of the lodge, as the Arte della Lana did in Florence), "and also of the deputies of the Fabbrica, L. 19. 4."

"May 2.—Lent to Maestro Marco da Frisono, 22 lire."

"August 12.—For 84 workmen, 13 lire 13. 6. To 4 master builders, i.e. Giovanni da Arsenigo, 5 lire 10; to Giovannino da Arsenigo, his son, 5. 10; to Giovanni da Azzo, 5. 9; and Giovanni da Trœnzano, 5. 9;—18 lire in all."

In August we get entries of expenses for rope to draw 354 water from the well, and rope for raising scaffolding, for nails, baskets, plumb-lines, water-levels, red paint to mark the planks, and other things. On October 9, 1387, we find the spenditore paying a messenger to go to Crema with letters from the lodge to Maestro Guglielmo di Marco, to call him to Milan to give advice on business connected with the buildings.

On October 15 Guglielmo di Marco is paid 16 lire for his journey and eight days' employment in examining and judging the work of the church.

On October 18, 1387, we have payment to Maestro Simone da Arsenigo and ten companions (eleven in all), master builders. To Maestro Zeno da Campione and twenty-one companions (twenty-two including himself), master sculptors of "living stone" (pietra viva). The word which I translate companions is sotiis (Mag. Symoni de Ursanigo et sotiis, etc.), which would imply that they were all members (soci) of one society, and is thus valuable as a confirmation of the brotherhood in this guild.

In October 1387, Andrea da Modena, the Duke's architect, is again engaged, but only as adviser; for which he receives in dono fiorini venti; and Leonardo Zepo and Simone da Cavagnera are deputed to take note of his suggestions.

"1387. November 19.—For the payment of two large sheets of parchment consigned to Simone da Arsenigo." (These must have been to draw the plans.)

"1388. April 19.—Paid Maestro Marco da Frixone and soci for plaster to make models of the four piloni."

In another entry, noting the payment of 81 lire as salary, Marco da Frixone is named as Marco da Campione detto di Frisone.

Merzario is of opinion that such names as Marc the Frisian, who was one of the Campione school; Jacopo Tedesco, whom all old writers agree was Italian; Guglielmo 355 d'Innspruck, also a Campionese, have been the cause of much misunderstanding, and have sent authors off on false scents. It was the custom, in the books of the Comacines, to name people from their provenienza, i.e. the last place they came from. Thus at Siena you will find Niccolò da Pisa, while at Pisa he is Niccolò di Apulia. Lorenzo Maitani was Lorenzo da Siena to the Orvieto people, and Lorenzo d'Orvieto to the Florentines. Marco il Frisone, born at Campione, is therefore a link between the German guilds and the Italian; he must have worked at Friesland, and probably brought back ideas of a more pointed Gothic from there.

These registers are ample proof that the builders just called in for the building of Milan cathedral were of the Lombard Guild, and chiefly of the Campione branch. It is not till 1389 that we find a single German name, and then a certain "Anichino (Annex) di Germania" is paid 16 soldi for having made a model of a tiburio (cupola) in lead, and Giacobino da Bruge, who falls ill while working at the church, has a slight subsidy given by the guild per amor di Dio. They are not mentioned again, and neither of them seem to be Masters.

That Simone da Arsenigo was chief architect at this time, not a doubt can exist. It is especially emphasized in a deed executed in December 1387. In it the Administration, "in consideration of their long and continued experience of the pure and admirable goodwill, and the opera multifaria which the worthy man, Magister Simone da Arsenigo, most worthy chief architect and master, has achieved in this church, by constant diligence, and wishing to remunerate him better (pro aliquali remuneratione bene meritorem), decide that whereas his salary hitherto has been ten imperial soldi a day, it shall now be raised to ten gold florins a month."

It is plain, however, that he worked in concert with the 356 guild. Just as at Florence and Siena, great councils of the Masters, both architects and sculptors, were held to consider whether the foundations were strong before continuing the building, so in Milan a great meeting was called on Friday, March 20, 1388, in which all the Magistri were cited before their patrons, the Imperial Vicar-General, and the Council of XII. (In Florence the Arte della Lana took the post of President of the Works.) All the Magistri were charged to give their opinion on the building in its present state, and to suggest any improvements they could.

First uprose Master Marco da Campione (Surrexit primus Magister Marchus de Campilione, Inzignerius), and said there was an error in the wall on the side of Via Compedo, the wall being, in one part, "half a quarter" wider than the measure given. He suggested undoing that part to the foundation.

Then the chief architect, Simone da Arsenigo, rose, and proposed to cut the stones down to the ground, but not to remove them.

Maestri Giacomo and Zeno agreed with Maestro Marco, as did Maestro Guarnerio da Sirtori and Ambrogio Pongione.

Then uprose Maestro Bonino da Campione (whom we saw last at work on the Scaligers' tombs at Verona), and said that he not only agreed with the others, but found an error in the piloni in the body of the church, towards the door of the façade.

Gasparolo da Birago, worker in iron, Magistri Ambrogio da Melzo, Pietro da Desio, Filippo Orino, Ridolfo di Cinisello, and Antonio da Trœnzano, all voted with him.

The words "according to the measure given" (justa mensuram super hoc datam), prove that however many architects superintended special parts, there was one supreme Master who made the design.

This was first, as we have said, Simone da Arsenigo, 357 and after him Marco the Frisian of Campione, whose salary is paid on March 31, 1389, naming him as "Mag. Marcho de Campilione dicto de Frixono inzegnerio fabricæ." His name often appears as chief architect till July 10, 1390, when "he died at the Ave Maria in the morning, and was buried with honours the same evening in the church of S. Thecla."[266]

One of Marco's contemporaries in the laborerium was Jacopo da Campione, whose name appears with that of Nicola del Bonaventura, and Matteo da Campione, and others, at a general meeting held on January 6, 1390. Historical authorities say Jacopo da Campione was of the Buono family, and some assign as his father Giovanni Buono. He, too, had a cognomen of Fuxina or Fusina, but whether a family name or a place name I cannot tell. His name first appears in the books of the guild with Zambono, or Giovanni Buono, supposed to be his father, with Magistri Zeno, Andriolo, Lazaro, Rolando, Fontana, Cressino (all from Campione), and with Alberto, Airolo, and Giovanni da Bissone, and Anselmo da Como. These must have been the Masters who responded to the invitation for architects sent out by the Milanese.

On April 15, 1389, Jacopo da Campione was elected chief architect in connection with his friend Marco da Campione.

A competition for designs for the great window of the choir was announced in 1390, and Jacopo da Campione and Niccola del Bonaventura each sent a design, from which the archbishop was to choose. He preferred that of Bonaventura, but the Master fell into disgrace, and his window was never executed. We find that the Administration, on July 31, 1390, "deliberated" to discharge Master Bonaventura, 358 give him the salary due to him, and remove him entirely from the lodge. Jacopo da Campione remained in office till the end of 1395, when he and Marco da Carona retired for rest and change to Lake Lugano. They were not allowed to be away long, for they were recalled on January 9, 1396.

During that year new honours were preparing for Jacopo. Gian Galeazzo Visconti was intending to rebuild the Certosa at Pavia, and set his eyes on Jacopo da Campione as the best architect he could find for it. The Masters of the Milan Lodge dared not dispute the will of the all-powerful Duke, and held a meeting on March 4, 1397, at which it was decided "that Jacopo di Campione, chief architect of the building, qui acceptatus est super laboreria Cartuxiæ, should still retain his position in the works of the Duomo, because the entire absence of the Master who began the building (qui principiavit ipsam fabricam) would cause grave peril and injury to the work. They proposed, however, that Maestro Jacopo might, in cases of necessity, assist in the building of the Certosa, as he had done before."

This document sets the question beyond a doubt that the architect who had most to do with the building of Milan cathedral was this Jacopo of Campione, who had worked with the first architect, Simone, and shared, on his death, the post of chief, with Marco, his fellow-countryman. He died on October 30, 1398.

During the time he was head of the laborerium several Germans worked under him; Milan being so near the German frontier was always a favourite object of German travel. Moreover, I fancy there must during these centuries have been a fraternal intercourse between the Italian Masonic Guilds and those of Germany. We have so many Italians who worked in Germany, and coming back were dubbed with the name of the last place they came from, 359 that it is equally likely that some Germans crossed the border with those fellow-guildsmen on their return, and worked at Milan. This intercourse between the two nations would account for the more German style of Milan cathedral as compared with other Italian churches.

Small Cloister of the Certosa of Pavia.

See page 358.

I have before remarked that the lines of architecture gradually take a more upward tendency the further north we go. The slight point of the arch, as seen in Siena and Orvieto and Florence, is much sharpened in Milan; the rows of little round archlets which covered a Romanesque building with rich horizontal lines, have here become elongated and pointed, all the lines tending upwards, till they become almost monotonous; yet Milan is but the natural northern development of the southern Italian Gothic. It was always the tendency of the guild to seek greater richness of ornamentation in multiplying forms already customary to them. As the Romanesque façade was merely a multiplication of the Lombard single gallery, so the Gothic of Milan is but a multiplication and elongation of the turrets and pinnacles of Siena and Orvieto, and of the pointed gables over elongated arches, with almost an abuse of the perpendicular shaft. Of course I do not speak of the façade in these remarks, that being a discord by the later Renaissance architects. The changes may well have been induced by the strong German influence in the guild.

There were also French artists, such as Jean Mignot de Paris, and Jean de Campanias of Normandy.[267] We hear of a Niccolò Bonaventura from Paris, but his name is too Italian for his nationality to be mistaken. He probably had been employed in France, and brought back the French sculptor-architects with him. All these names, with the Germans mentioned below, are to be found in the report of a meeting of Magistri in 1391. They are qualified as Magistri di pietra viva (sculptors). The German names are, Ulrich 360 de Frissengen di Nein, Aulx di Marchestein, and Johannes Annex di "Friurgo" (Freiburg?). This last has been confused by writers with Giovanni de Fernach, who was a Campionese. Giovanni da Campione worked for many years in Germany, and when he returned was as usual dubbed a German, being called John from Fernach. He brought a hundred stone-cutters to the service of the Duomo of Milan in February 1391. The Administrators approved of him, and considering that he knew Germany and its language, and was a judge of good work, they sent him to Cologne to try and procure some good architects. He went, but finding no one of great talent, he returned unsuccessful, and was obliged to refund to the guild half the cost of his journey. As a compensation, the Administration commissioned him to prepare a design for the southern sacristy. He appears to have shut himself up to prepare this great plan in secret, for on November 1, 1391, the Deputies of the Administration order the Provveditore to send "Giovannolo and Beltramolo" to get the Archbishop's order to command Giovanni de Fernach to explain his intention about the work on which he was engaged; because, "if his plan was not approved, they would not wish it proceeded with."

Then Fernach began to say that Johannes di Firimburg was right, and that the proportions of the church, with which his sacristy had to harmonize, were wrong. On this the President, the Archbishop, and the Deputies sent to Piacenza for an expert, named Gabriele Stornaloco, a great geometrician, to settle the vexed question. He came, made his calculations, and decided that the German critics were in the wrong. Not satisfied with this, they next prayed the Duke to send his sculptor, Bernardo da Venezia, to give his opinion. He came to Milan in November 1391, made his computations, and also decided that the Germans had made a mistake. Then Fernach's plan for 361 the sacristy was handed over to the chief architect, Jacopo da Campione, to modify its proportions; and Fernach's name appears no more in the books of the spenditore.

Another German in the laborerium was an architect, Magister Enrico or Ulrico di Ensingen, near Ulm. He came in July 1391, but only remained a few months, and then disappeared. Another Enrico or Ulrico (the spenditore's orthography is diverse and mixed) da Gamodia or Gmunden, then appears. This is the Heinrich of Gmunden, whom the guide-books generally name as the architect of the Duomo. We will now see precisely how much was due to him. His name appears at a meeting on May 1, 1392, in which Jacopo da Campione, as usual, holds the first place. Enrico da Gamodia, as he is written in the books, was but lately returned (ritornato) from Germany, and had offered himself to design and work in the building of the Duomo. He allowed himself to raise doubts and express censure of the solidity and strength of the work already done. Public discussions were raised as to the validity of his objections. A great meeting was called, in which his name appears at the bottom of a long list of Masters, all Italian. To the questions as to the solidity and beauty of the building, and whether it should be continued on the same plan or not, all the other Masters agreed that the design could not be improved. Heinrich of Gmunden alone answered stubbornly, non assensit.

The guild soon after decided on cutting off useless expenses, and among others the salary of Magister Heinrich, who was "dismissed," and "sent about his business" (licentietur ad eundum pro factis suis). The German appealed to the Duke of Milan, who begged the Deputati to reconsider their decision. They, however, held firm, and calling Heinrich before them on the 7th of the following July, told him that he had not served the cause well (in designamentis et aliis necessariis pro Fabrica male serviverit). 362 They gave him six florins for his journey and dismissed him. "Yet," as Merzario says,[268] "to this man who came to Milan at the end of 1391, and left in the middle of 1392, is given by many people the credit of having designed the Duomo of Milan, which was begun in 1386, and also of the Certosa of Pavia begun in 1396."

Nor did Ulrich da Ulm, whom we have mentioned, achieve much more than his compatriot. He came in 1391, and only stayed a few months. In 1394, however, he again offered his services, and was reinstalled on a profitable contract. But he too had the national spirit of criticism, and vaunted his own plans of improving the church, while he detailed his opinion of the flaws in the existing plans, and doubts on the stability of the building. Of course a meeting of the lodge was called, and as before the majority went against Ulrich's new improvements. However, they sent to Pavia to ask the Duke to let his architect, Nicola de Lelli, come to Milan and arbitrate. He replied that they had better send a deputation with all the plans to Pavia, as he could not spare the architect. So the capo maestro, Jacopo da Campione, and Giovannino de' Grassi accompanied Ulrich to Pavia, to confer with the Duke and his architects, with the result that the present work was pronounced good, and Ulrich's designs and innovations rejected. The spenditore records that Ulrich's salary was paid: he too was sent off (ad eundum pro factis suis).

During the three following years no German names are met with in the books. Then came the death of Jacopo da Campione in 1398, and the laborerium seems to have had no capable Master to replace him. And now we shall see how this Masonic Guild was ramified throughout Europe.

The Deputies sent to Giovanni Alcherio, a Milanese living in Paris, to see if some architect could be spared from the works at Notre Dame. He proposed Jean 363 Campanias from Normandy and Jean Mignot of Paris, mentioned above, who were accepted, and came to Milan in 1399, with a painter named Jacopo Cova. Mignot was made architect of the two sacristies. He coveted the supreme post of chief architect of the whole building, but he met with serious rivals in Marco da Carona and Antonio da Padernò, two young Magistri who were fast rising in the guild to fill the place of Jacopo and Marco da Campione and Simone da Arsenigo.

There was schism in the guild. Mignot found fault with everything in the Duomo, the size, the proportions, the piloni, the capitals, the windows, the tracery, and all the ornamentation. Marco and Antonio declared that Mignot's sacristy was of a false rule of measurement, and the arch of his window wrong in its lines. There were meetings in the lodge, and endless disputes, till Mignot also disappeared from the scene.

The Campione school of Masters still held its own: we now find that Matteo da Campione was sent for from Monza. Zeno da Campione, brother of the late Jacopo, also came with two hundred and fifty stone-cutters under him to carve the capitals, pinnacles, etc. etc. There was Lorenzo degli Spazi di Laino in Val d'Intelvi, also of the same school, who brought one hundred and eighty-eight stone-carvers to the laborerium, and who won fame for the fine sculpture they produced. Can one wonder at the wealth of sculpture in and on the cathedral, when only two Magistri can furnish more than four hundred workmen between them? When one looks at the lavish marble work on the roof, the plurality of artists is well accounted for.

Giovannino dei Grassi, or Gracii, seems to have succeeded Jacopo as capo maestro, and his designs and Jacopo's were kept with reverence in the rooms of the Administration.

In 1400 Jacopo da Tradate is the "supreme sculptor" to the fabric. He did the statue of Martin V. in commemoration 364 of that Pope's visit to Milan in 1418, after the Council of Constance, when he consecrated the principal altar. Jacobino da Tradate also sculptured the mausoleum of Pietro, son of Guido Torello, Marquis of Guastalla, in S. Eustorgio at Milan. His son, Samuele, was a friend of Andrea Mantegna's, and once visited him on the Lago di Garda. He too was a sculptor, and made his father's tomb in the cloister of S. Agnese, which he inscribed—"Jacobino de Tradate patri suaviss:—Qui tamquam Praxiteles vivos in marmore fingebat vultus—Samuel observantis. V. F."

In 1402 Duke Gian Galeazzo died, and during the minority of his son, art, architecture, and sculpture languished. Few famous names are preserved, and all of those were from the neighbourhood of Como. Those mentioned in the books as continuing the work between 1402 and 1440, are Jacopo da Tradate, Bertollo da Campione, Giorgio de Sollario, sculptors, and Paolino da Montorfano, a painter. At a later period other Masters appeared, and we find Giovanni de Solari from Val d'Intelvi, Guglielmo di Giorgio and Giovanni di Reghezio, Jacopo da Lanzo, Michele di Benedetto da Campione, Francesco Solari, and Giovanni da Cairate, all sculptors, with Cristoforo da Chiona, Arasmino Solari da Arogna, Franceschino da Canobbio, Leonardo da Sirtori, Paolino da Arsenigo, and Giovanni Solari, all Lombard engineers and architects.

Of all this crowd, two men rose to especial eminence: Magister Filippino degli Argani da Modena, and Giovanni Solari da Campione, who had a special connection with the domestic Gothic architecture of Venice. Filippino was son of Andrea degli Argani, architect to the Visconti. He showed so much talent for his father's profession that Duke Gian Galeazzo himself nominated him as a novice in the lodge of the guild. A letter, dated January 8, 1400, was addressed by the Duke to the Administrative Council of the 365 lodge, saying—"Considering the fine genius shown even in boyhood by Filippo, son of our architect, the late Maestro of Modena, we advise that his talents shall be cultivated, and that he shall be practised in the technical arts, especially by the assistance and instruction of good masters.... Therefore we decree that the said Filippino shall enter the said laborerium (of the Duomo at Milan), and we recommend him for instruction therein."[269]

Marble Work on the Roof of Milan Cathedral.

See page 363.

Filippino so far justified this recommendation, that when, on March 6, 1412, a competition was offered for designs for the window behind the choir, he won the commission. Many authors, not heeding the authentic documents, have given the credit of that window to Buonaventura from Paris. In 1404 Filippino was made Magister of the guild, and given office under Marco da Carona. In 1406 he sculptured a beautiful sepulchre to Marco Corello, a Milanese who had left all his patrimony to the works of the Duomo. On Marco da Carona's death he became chief architect of the cathedral, with the three Magistri, Magatto, Leonardo da Sirtori, and Cristoforo da Chiona under him. An act passed by the guild on May 19, 1417, confirms him as "Superior et prior aliorum inzigneriorum de fabbrica," on a term of twelve years, at a salary of twenty florins a month. At the expiration of the twelve years he was not removed from office, but was given two colleagues with equal power to his own. These were Franceschino da Canobbio and Antonio da Gorgonzola.

In April 1448, much to his disgust, Filippo was entirely suspended. Francesco Sforza interceded on his behalf with the Administration, but they replied that Franceschino suited them better. Again in 1450, when the Duchess Bianca Visconti recommended Filippo's son Giorgio as a worthy successor to his father, the Council again asserted that they had no wish to discharge Franceschino da Canobbio. Then 366 the Duke, irritated by this repulse, wrote the following strong letter to the Council—"Our beloved (Dilecti nostri). As the illustrious Madonna Bianca our Consort has advised you, and considering the respect and devotion which the late Magister Filippino bore to the memory of our Consort's late celebrated father, also considering his valuable and praiseworthy works, in the building of the cathedral, and other edifices and fortresses, I beg that you will be pleased to elect as architect to the Duomo, Magister Giorgio, son of the said late Magister Filippino, with the usual salary, and nothing less. If you wish, you are at liberty to elect four experts, who shall inform themselves of the capabilities of the said 'Magister Zorgo,' and whether he be sufficient for the post. We shall be obliged if you will nominate him to the said office on the usual terms, by which you will also oblige our Consort. Given from Milan, November 7, 1450."

The Council had to bow to this command, but the nomination of Giorgio "degli Argani" was not decided on till the meeting of July 6, 1451, and then only a moderate salary was given him, "want of funds being assigned by them as a reason." Giorgio's death, occurring soon after, ended the difficulty, and Giovanni Solari became his successor. A convention, dated September 24, 1450, between some masters and the Council, concludes—"It is to be observed that Giovanni di Solari is the head architect deputed to this work, which must be done according to his designs and conditions."

Giovanni was the son of Marco da Carona, formerly chief architect. In the deed of his nomination is the sentence—"son of the late Marco, who through all his life exercised the office of architect in such a mode that few or none could even equal him."[270] 367

Capital in Milan Cathedral. Sculptured by Magister Bartolommeo da Campione.

See page 368.

Two months after this election, Duke Francesco Sforza wrote a very commanding letter from the camp at Trignano, saying, he recommended the nomination of Antonio da Firenze (Filarete) and Giovanni da Solari, in place of Filippino degli Argani. The latter was already at his post, but the Council again defied the Duke by saying they had no need of Filarete; on which the Duke retired from his self-imposed office of adviser, and left the lodge to manage its own business, which it always intended to do. Giovanni da Solari being left in peace, carried on the works, and so beautiful were they, that even to the Magistri themselves the building seemed "more divine than human."

He was succeeded by his son, Magister Guiniforte, whose name is sometimes misspelt Boniforte. He was "a man of clear mind, exquisite sense and strong will; educated amidst grand ideas and grand things by a wise and talented father; he became Magister at twenty-two years of age, and worked under his father." When he was thirty-seven, he took Filarete's place, as chief architect of the Ospedale Maggiore at Milan, a work almost perfect in its harmonious beauty, and yet showing in every line its derivation from the civil edifices of the older Lombards. He was also architect at the Certosa, and built, or rather designed, the churches of S. Satiro and the Madonna delle Grazie and the castle of Alliate. Calvi says that Guiniforte, "though following the older school, knew how to lighten the serious northern style, by giving it the smile of Italian skies."

When Guiniforte died in 1481, his son, Pietro Antonio, armed with a letter of recommendation from the Princess Bona, presented himself at the lodge, as a candidate for his father's position. The Freemason Council, however, seemed determined not to bow to royal commands, and again asserted its independence. Pietro was put off, and in 1489 he departed to Russia.[271]


During the years from 1468 to 1492, the books of the lodge, preserved in the archives, abound in names of Magistri from the neighbourhood of Como, both architects and sculptors.[272]

Among them are some famous names, such as Martino da Mantegazza, Dolcebono Rodari (sculptor of the beautiful north door at Como), and Gerolamo della Porta, who entered the lodge in May 1490, with a letter of recommendation from the Duke, advising his being specially trained in the art of sculpture. His talents warranting this, he was sent to Rome with four other stone-sculptors, to remain ten years, and perfect themselves in sculpture, to study the antique, and to return to the laborerium as fully qualified masters. There was also Bartolommeo da Campione, who carved some of the richly ornate capitals of the columns. I suspect he was the man who became famous in Venice.

The cathedral of Milan was now reaching completion. There only remained the crucial question of the dome, and with this the Masters now occupied themselves. Jacopo da Campione had made a model which the Council of Administration preserved in their rooms, together with a beautifully made wooden model begun by Giovannino de' Grassi, and finished on his death by his son, Salomone. These were not adopted, for on Giovanni Solari's death in 1471, we find the name of Bartolomeus de Gorgonzola, magister super Tiburium. This was on September 26, 1472. The same phrase is repeated in another entry on November 25, 1471, where a payment is registered, made to Branda da Castiglione, on account of the work he has to do at Gandolia, in making certain columns to place above the Tiburio.

North Door of Como Cathedral. Sculptured by Tommaso Rodari.

See page 368.

The difficult work was suspended on the assassination of Duke Galeazzo Maria, by reason of want of funds. On the restoration of Gian Galeazzo in 1482, the subject 369 was again under consideration, and in the absence of any very eminent Masters at the moment—Guiniforte having died in 1481—the Duke wrote to Strasburg to beg that some architects might be spared from the works there. This action is very suggestive of an affinity between the German and Italian Masonic Lodges. No one could be spared from Strasburg, but a certain Giovanni da Gratz came over with a little squadron of Germans, and signed a contract to superintend the "reparation and completion" of the Tiburio of the Duomo. The conditions of the contract further stated that when the cupola should be so far finished as to allow of inspection, a committee of qualified Masters should be elected to inspect it, and pronounce if the work were good.[273]

The words "reparation and completion" would imply that Guiniforte and Bartolommeo had already begun the dome. The contract with John of Gratz is signed May 1482, and it would appear not to have been of long duration, no payments being made to him after February 1486, and on January 26, 1488, the annals of the Duomo show the following entry—"To Maestro Antonio da Padernò in recompense for his labours during the past year in verifying the errors committed by Maestro Giovanni da Gratz, etc...." Like his forerunner Heinrich da Gmunden, John of Gratz had to retire from the Milanese Lodge; his name is no more found in the books, and the Council began to search for a capo maestro nearer home. Magister Luca Paperio Fancelli was called from Florence to examine some designs which had been sent in. The one chosen was by Leonardo of Florence (Da Vinci), who was paid in anticipation L.56, and a Maestro in legname was assigned as his assistant, named Bernardino da Abbiate. He probably was to superintend the scaffolding, and Da Vinci the building. However, the engagement fell through, and 370 the Duke of Milan wrote to the Pope, the King of Sicily, and the rulers of Venice and Florence to find an architect for that puzzling cupola. Two Germans, one named Lorenzo, and one a monk, John Mayer, were successively refused. At length, in 1490, the Council finally commissioned Maestro Giovan Antonio Amadeo and Maestro Gio. Giacomo Dolcebuono as joint architects "to finish the cupola and the church." They were to choose the model which pleased them best of those preserved in the Administration, and the one they selected was to be examined for approval by Maestro Francesco di Giorgio, then living at Siena, and by Maestro Luca of Florence (Fancelli), then residing at Mantua, two experts who were by the Council elected as judges and examiners of the perfection of the model.

A great meeting of the Magistri of the lodge, and the patron of the city, presided over by the Duke himself, met on June 27, to examine the several models, but none were chosen; and Amadeo and Dolcebuono were ordered to make a revised model, with the concurrence of Francesco Giorgio. The two former were then confirmed as joint architects, "to compose and ordinate"—as the Verbale quaintly puts it—"all the parts needful to constitute the said Tiburio, which must be beautiful, worthy, and eternal," if indeed earthly things can be eternal.

Francesco di Giorgio departed laden with presents and payments, and with the honorary title of architect of the Duomo of Milan; and on September 9, the two others began their work, which they brought to a happy conclusion on September 24, 1500.

The façade was, however, not completed. Indeed, the registers show that the insignia of the Comacine Masters, the marble lions which were destined for the great door, were in 1489 still in deposit in the laborerium.

Dolcebuono died in 1506; and Andrea Fusina was 371 elected in his place. The famous sculptor, Cristoforo Gobbo, entered the works in 1502, on the compact that he was not to be under the orders of other architects, but to make his own contracts. He executed much of the sculptural ornamentation of the cupola; such as the Doctors of the Church in medallions; while a master Andrea da Corcano, with other "brethren," did the pictures. Cristoforo also carved the famous statues of Adam and Eve on the façade, besides several other statues. He and Fusina being compatriots, fraternized, and opposed Amadeo, who had made a too daring design for the lantern on the cupola. Meetings after meetings were held, and at length Gobbo retired temporarily to pursue his sculpture in Rome and Venice, where he is entered as Cristoforo da Milano. His nephew, Michele da Merate, and Michele's son Paolo, both sculptors, worked with him at Milan, where he continued till his death, in 1527.

Another long list of names from the books, given between 1500 and 1550 by Merzario, proves that the Comacines still reigned supreme in the laborerium, the Solari family preponderating.

As if to connect the last link in the chain with the first, we find the old family of Bono da Campione still prominent. For nearly thirty years, i.e. between 1618 and 1647, Magister Gian Giacomo Bono da Campione sculptured in the laborerium of the Duomo, and there his son Francesco was trained, besides two kinsmen—Carlo Antonio Bono, painter and sculptor, and his son, Giuseppe. All this family worked together in the seventeenth century at the façade of the cathedral, designed by Pellegrini. The fine central door was the work of Gian Giacomo Bono and Andrea Castelli, both Comacines by birth.

As for the names of other Comacines who worked at the façade and on the wondrous roof, one finds them by hundreds in the annals of the Duomo, as collected by 372 Giulini in his Memorie della Città e Campagna di Milano. Here you see names repeated which have been familiar in the guild for centuries; such as the Bono and Solari families, and Luca Beltrami, who worked at the façade in the seventeenth century, and whose ancestors were architects at Modena and Parma two hundred years earlier.

II.—The Certosa of Pavia


1. 1396 Magister Bernardo da Venezia   These two were the first architects.
C.M. for the actual building.
2. " M. Jacopo da Campione   C.M. at Milan to visit and superintend.
3. " M. Giovanni da Grassi (Graci)   Two of the Duke's architects from Milan, who were also called into council on the first plans.
4. " M. Marco da Carona  
5. " M. Cristoforo da Lonigo Drew a design for the church of the convent.
6. " M. Domenico Bossi da Campione Assisted in laying the foundations.
7. " M. Giovanni da Campione (called Bosio) Sculptured slabs for three reliquaries.
8. 1397 M. Antonio di Marco Son of Marco Carona da Campione: C.M. of Milan; called from Crema to be C.M. instead of M. Bernardo.
9.   M. Giovanni Solari of Campione   Two brothers left in charge when Antonio returned to Crema. Giovanni was C.M. till 1400. Giovanni was the father of the celebrated Guiniforte, C.M. of Milan. The Lombardi of Venice were descendants of this family.
10.   M. Francesco Solari of Campione  
11. 1428 M. Rodari da Castello   Ancestor of Tommaso di Rodari, who sculptured the Renaissance door at Como.
All three were paid for sculptures in 1428 and 1429.
12. " M. Giovanni da Garvagnate  
13. " M. Giovanni da Como 373  
14. 1429 M. Antonio di Val di Lugano   Employed as builders.
15.   M. Giovanni di Val di Lugano  
16.   M. Jacopo Fusina Frequently mentioned in the books of the Fabbrica.
17. 1460 M. Guiniforte Solari C.M. in place of his father Giovanni; designed the façade.
18.   M. Gio. Antonio Amadeo Pupil of Guiniforte; carved the door between the church and cloister. He became famous afterwards in Venice, and sculptured the Colleone monument at Bergamo.
19.   M. Cristoforo Mantegazza   Came to the Certosa from their apprenticeship to Jacopo da Tradate at Milan. Sculptured in the façade of the Certosa on Guiniforte's plans.
20.   M. Antonio Mantegazza  
21. 1478 M. Giovanni, junior, da Campione   Assisted in the sculptures.
22.   M. Luchino di Cernuscolo  
23. 1495 M. Cristoforo Solario (Gobbo) C.M. at the Certosa. C.M. at Milan in 1506.

Whatever were the faults of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the world has one great and beautiful legacy to thank him for—the Certosa of Pavia.

It is said that Stefano Maconi, prior of the Certosa at Garignano, suggested to the Duke the building of the finest monastery in Italy; but the funds were certainly provided by Gian Galeazzo, who took a personal and untiring interest in the work.

The first documental proof of this is a deed of gift, dated April 15, 1396, whereby Gian Galeazzo gives to the monastery of the Certosa, landed property to the annual value of 2500 gold florins. On October 6 of the same year, he makes another endowment of property, yielding 5500 gold florins a year, besides an annual subsidy of 10,000 florins from his own private purse.

The history of this beautiful building is much connected 374 with that of Milan cathedral; the same architects—or rather brethren of the same Masonic Lodge—worked at both; and at one time Jacopo da Campione was capo maestro of both works at once, spending a certain proportion of his time at both.

Heinrich of Gmunden has had a good deal of credit for this building; so much so that a certain bust, said to be his likeness, was kept in the sacristy of the Certosa; and on the strength of that bust, the Germans erected a statue to him in Gmunden. But as he left Italy in July 1392, dismissed from Milan after a few months there, it is not probable that he could have designed the Certosa in 1396. Count Giulini was the first to draw attention to this error; and a learned archivist, Girolamo L. Calvi, had the good luck to discover in the archives of S. Fedele, the ancient register of the Administration of the building of the Certosa for the year 1396, which settles the matter completely. The master builder was Bernardo da Venezia, and Jacopo da Campione worked with him as designing architect and superintendent. On the official verification of this precious MS. on April 16, 1862, the bust of Heinrich da Gmunden disappeared from the sacristy of the Certosa.

As a proof that the Magistri mentioned were both employed, we will translate a few of the entries of the Provveditore of the Certosa.

"1396. July 26.—In the presence of Pietro Barboti, official of the Administration, Berto Cordono, cordmaker, was paid for 138 lbs. of strong cord, for use in the designing and building of the church and cloister. The cord was consigned in June, at the order of Maestro Bernardo da Venezia, architect of the said laborerium" (Inzignerium dicti laborerii).

"1396. August 14."—(This should, I think, be September 14). After registering several payments of wages 375 to workmen who excavated the foundations, it is written—"Also the above-named Jacopo da Campione, for his superintendence of the works (tantum qui perseveravit superdictis laboreriis), together with the Duke's architects during fourteen days (i.e. the last days of August and the first two of the present September), at the rate of eight imperial soldi a day, as he had to find his own food."

"1396.—The Magistri Jacopo da Campione, Giovannino de Grassi, and Marco da Carona, architects, came from Milan to inspect, order, and build in the aforenamed works" (causa videndi ordinandi et hedificandi). The two latter must have been the Duke's architects spoken of before. All through August and September Jacopo da Campione was backwards and forwards between Milan and Pavia, and Maestro Bernardo also received his salary monthly as chief architect.

Again, on November 22, 1396, we read—"To Master Jacopo da Campione, architect of Milan cathedral (inzignerio ecclesiæ majoris Mediolani), for fourteen days during October and November, in which he remained working and superintending in the said laborerium (Certosa) at his own expense, and in payment for some designs made by him at Milan, and submitted to the Duke's approval here."

On December 4, 1396, the Provveditore notes the purchase of twenty sheets of parchment, most of which were consigned to the Magistri Jacopo da Campione and Cristoforo da Lonigo for the designs of the church. From these entries, it would seem that Jacopo was the architect who drew the designs, and Bernardo da Venezia the master builder who executed them. As a farther proof, there is the deliberation of the Administration of Milan, on March 4, 1397, to which we have already referred, in which it says that Jacopo was in command of the works at Certosa (qui acceptatus est super laboreria Carthusiæ). 376

Other Campionese names also appear in the registers; such as Domenico Bossi da Campione, who was paid "for four marble slabs, with certain inscriptions, which were placed under the foundations when the Visconti laid the first stone on August 27, 1396;" and "Giovanni da Campione, called Bosio, for three sculptured marble slabs for three reliquaries."

In 1397, Gian Galeazzo, being taken up with affairs of state, ceded the presidency of the Administration of the Certosa Lodge to the Prior of the Carthusians, adding more donations and an endowment. The Prior's first actions were to dismiss Bernardo da Venezia as master builder, and to call Antonio di Marco from Crema. He was son of Marco da Campione, one of the chief architects of Milan cathedral, and brother of Guglielmo di Marco, whom we have also found at Milan in 1387, where he was called as an expert to give judgment on some moot point.

When Antonio entered office, the monastery had twenty-four cells already inhabited by as many monks, under their Abbot, Father Bartolommeo of Ravenna. As soon as the contract was signed, it appears that Antonio returned to Crema, leaving Giovanni Solari da Campione, father of Guiniforte, and Francesco Solari, in charge. In the payments made to Giovanni as chief architect, we find his name written in different ways. In one, "Magister Johanni de Campilioni Ingenerio fabrice Monasterii LXVI." In another, "Magister Johanni di Solerio Inzignero super laboreriis fabrice Monasterii die XIV Maij, pro suo salario LXVI;" sometimes he is merely written as "Johanni Inzegnero."

These payments go on for at least four years, during which time Antonio di Marco seems to have had little to do with the building. Sometimes Giovanni Solari even does the commercial business. In 1429, the register notes 4 lire, 5 soldi paid to him for his expenses in going to 377 Milan and Pavia, on business connected with the building, and in the same year he pays six Masters who come from Milan to Certosa, when there was a competition for some sculptures in marble for the monastery.[274] The sculptors working under him were mostly his compatriots. Here are Maestri Rodari da Castello, Giovanni da Garvagnate, and Giovanni da Como paid for sculptural works in 1428 and 1429; also Maestro Antonio and Maestro Giovanni di Val di Lugano, employed as builders (rattione edificiorum novorum).

There are also frequent mentions of Jacopo Fusina, and the two Solari, who form such a link between Milan and Venice. The Solari were the stock from which came the famous line of Lombardi, who may be almost called the makers of Venice.

To this little group of architects we owe the exquisite cloister of the Certosa, with its labyrinth of fairy white marble columns, and the ruddy beauty of ornamentation on terra-cotta arches. Our illustration shows the beauty of Campionese work at this era.

Giovanni Solari of Campione, who is said in this work to have inaugurated the beautiful terra-cotta architecture of Lombardy, appears to have held office as chief architect up to nearly 1460, when his son Guiniforte succeeded him. Under Guiniforte, Gio. Antonio Amadeo, or Omodeo, entered his novitiate. When, in 1466, he reached the age of nineteen, he was already engaged at the Certosa as a sculptor. A deed drawn up by the notary Gabbi, on October 10, 1469, shows that the Administration lent him certain blocks of marble, for which he was to pay their equivalent in work; the payment he made was the beautiful door leading from the church into the cloister, still known as "the door of Amadeo." It is exquisitely decorated in 378 Bramantesque style; reliefs of angels and foliage surround the door; and in the tympanum is a fine relief of the Virgin and Child. He, too, became famous in Venice, as did the two brothers Cristoforo and Antonio Mantegazza, who had just been trained under Jacopo da Tradate at Milan. Indeed, the network of this marvellous company of sculptor-builders is at this epoch interwoven in a most complicated manner between Milan, Certosa, Como, Monza, and Venice.

The façade of the Certosa forms precisely the same discord with the body of the building that the façade of Milan does, but here the Renaissance face is so rich and gorgeous that one almost forgives the discord. It has been attributed to Bramante of Urbino, whose name never appears in the books; to Bernardo of Venice, who died long before it was begun; and to Borgognone the painter, who was only invited to the Certosa by the Prior in 1490, when the façade was well begun.

Sig. Merzario, with his documental evidence,[275] proves that Guiniforte di Solario certainly designed it, and for the most part superintended its execution. On January 14, 1473, the notary Gabbi registered a contract between the Prior of the Certosa and the Administration of the Milan Lodge, for the furnishing of 200 cwts. of white marble of Gandoglia, annually, for ten years, to serve for the façade of the Certosa church. On October 7, 1473, the same notary makes the contract, by which the brothers Cristoforo and Antonio Mantegazza are commissioned to erect all the façade, according to the plans given them by the monastery.[276] 379

Renaissance Front of the Church of the Certosa at Pavia.

See pages 378, 379.

This contract very much offended Gio. Antonio Amadeo, who had gone to Bergamo to make a monument for the Colleoni family, and he appealed to the Colleoni, and also to the Duke of Milan, to enforce his claims on the work, which were so far recognized that he was engaged to do half the work, at a price to be estimated, receiving a podere (vineyard) in part payment.

Another act of notary, dated October 12, 1478, records the ceremony of valuing several works of sculpture, by Amadeo and the brothers Mantegazza, by two Masters of the guild, Giovanni, junior, da Campione, and Luchino of Cernuscolo, which took place in the presence of the Prior and the chief architect, Guiniforte Solari;—a proof that Solari was still the capo maestro. He died early in January 1481, and on the 13th of the same month, Duke Gian Galeazzo Sforza wrote to the "Dominis Priori et monacis Carthusie Papiensis," to recommend his son, "Pietro Antonio (suo figliuolo peritissimo de la medesima arte et de divino ingenio"), as a worthy successor to his father as chief architect. Antonio Mantegazza succeeded him, but he, too, died in 1495, and Cristoforo Solario, named Gobbo, who had worked with him, became architect in his turn. His election was on October 11, 1495, by the recommendation of Ludovico il Moro. Gobbo, however, did not long remain in office, for in 1497 we find him employed at the Duomo of Milan, and the sepulchre of Beatrice d'Este, at the church of the Grazie there. In 1506 he became head architect at Milan.

In 1499, a letter from B. Calco, dated May 1, declares that the works at the Certosa are nearly finished (sarà presto presso el fine).[277]

The church had already been opened for service since May 1497, when the Cardinal di S. Croce came in state to consecrate it, and a grand refection was offered him. The 380 documents cited by Sig. Merzario are certainly conclusive as to the epoch and authorship of both the convent and the church.

We must not leave the Lombard Lodge without a mention of one of its principal Masters, Matteo da Campione, who was architect for the fourteenth-century restoration of the cathedral at Monza, which his forerunners of the guild had built for Queen Theodolinda. He is spoken of in the registers at Milan, when he attended a general meeting of the guild there on January 6, 1390, as Matteo da Campione "inzignero in Monza," and again on July 10, 1390, when, on the death of Marco da Campione, it was deliberated in council to send for Maestro Matteo from Monza, and see whether he would take Marco's place in the works. He was, like almost all the Comacines, a sculptor as well as architect. The baptismal font at Monza, which was once noted for its beauty, is now ruined and mutilated. The pulpit and the sculptures on the façade of Monza cathedral are attributed to Matteo's own hand. The pulpit is a fine piece of sculpture in white marble. It was originally square, but has been altered in form during the last century. Fourteen figures, the twelve apostles with St. Paul and Barnabas, are sculptured around it, and there are many small reliefs. It has a prominent part in the front, called by the Italians the pulpitino, or little pulpit. On this are sculptured the Redeemer with a book, and a thunderbolt in His hands, and the four Evangelists. The façade is a curious instance of the transition of Comacine art, between the Romanesque and the Gothic. The door is very much like those of Verona and other Comacine churches of the same era. Matteo has put his lions in front of the pillars of the porch, instead of beneath them. The mixture of style shows more in the windows. The four lower windows are distinctly Gothic, with pointed arches, three lights, and Gothic tracery; the upper ones are round-arched Lombard 381 two-light windows, the archlets of which are a little cusped. The lines of the façade are quite Lombard, the internal divisions being marked on the front by pilasters running the whole height. The Lombard gallery is indicated like a memory of past time by a row of archlets beneath the eaves, but they rest on nothing, and are of no practical use as their prototypes were. Probably, as the interior was not rebuilt, Matteo da Campione so far respected the work of his older brethren, as to adapt his façade to the rest of the building. Over the portico is a fine rose window, and above that a row of saints in niches; the space between them is filled with geometrical sculpture. He has used the ancient sculpture of "Agilulf and Theodolinda" in the lunette of the doorway. Its style is much earlier than the figures above. Matteo was buried in the church, and on his tomb is the inscription—"Hic jacet magnus ille ædificator devotus magister Mattheus de Campiliono, qui hujus sacrosanctæ Ecclesiæ fatiem ædificavit evangelistarium ac battisterium qui obiit anno Domini MCCCLXXXXVI die XXIV mensio maii." It is said that he has sculptured his own likeness in the rigid and thoughtful figure of the saint near the turret, over the rose window.

Façade of Monza Cathedral. Restored 14th century.

See page 380 et seq.

Another work which we have seen commenced by earlier Comacines was the cathedral of Como. That too was restored and redecorated by Comacines about this time. The old church had been ruined in the wars between Como and Milan, and in 1335, Azzo Visconti, building his fortresses at Como, ran his walls close round the church, cutting it off from the town. In 1386, however, the Bishop of Como persuaded Gian Galeazzo to transpose his fort and open the church again to the people. In gratitude for this, the people proposed to restore their church, and Gian Galeazzo promised his aid. The work was begun in 1396 and went on till 1513. Authors disagree as to whether the church were renovated, i.e. restored, or rebuilt. Whichever it was, 382 there is no doubt that the whole façade was executed in the fifteenth century. The north door is of rich ornate Renaissance style, and much later than that on the façade, although the lions are still under the columns. The façade follows in its lines the old Lombard form, but the dividing pilasters here are lavishly enriched. They are in fact but a perpendicular line of niches with a statue in each. The three doorways are round-arched, the windows above them slightly pointed. Over the central door is a Gothic vestibule with saints in its canopied arches.

The first architect of the restoration is indicated in the register of the Milan Lodge, where on April 30, 1396, Magister Lorenzo degli Spazi de Laino in Val d'Intelvi is allowed to leave the works at Milan to be chief architect at Como, "deliberarunt quod licentietur Magister Laurentius de Spatiis ad eundum Cumas pro laborerio Ecclesie majoris civitatis Cumarum ad requisitionem comunis et hominum dicte civitatis Cumarum." He had not long entered on office when Gian Galeazzo died, and Como was again involved in a fight for freedom with Malatesta and the Visconti. In 1416 the Como people had to swear allegiance to Milan, and then Duke Filippo Maria Visconti allowed the works to go on. On February 19, 1439, Pietro da Bregia near Como was elected master architect, and he continued Lorenzo de Spazi's work. He changed the plan so as to bring the façade in a line with the Broletta and tower of the fortress, which altogether made an imposing mass of buildings; very interesting as displaying at once the Comacine work in civil, military, and ecclesiastical architecture. The Broletta is a particularly good specimen of their civil architecture, of about A.D. 1000, though it loses in proportion owing to the filling up of the lower level on which it was built, so that the bases of the columns are completely buried. 383

The Cathedral and Broletta at Como.

See page 382.



1. 1407 Mistro Lorenzo da Vielino Gastaldo or Grand Master.
2. 1423 M. Scipione Buono Built the Loggia near the Rialto.
3. 1430 M. Zambono (Giovanni Buono) Architect of Ca d'Oro, and sculptor of capitals in the Ducal Palace.
4.   M. Bartolommeo Buono   His sons who worked with him in the Ducal Palace up to 1463.
5.   M. Pantaleone Buono
6. 1441 M. Elia da Bissone Sculptured the door to the Fraternità dei Calzolai.
7. 1442 M. Cristoforo da Milano Built the tower at Udine.
8. 1448 M. Giorgio da Como  
9. 1449 M. Lorenzo q. Martino da Lugano   All Lombard Masters who received pay in the Venetian Lodge for work in the Ducal Palace.
10.   M. Giovanni da Marco
11.   M. Anicino Lombardi
12.   M. Luchino Lombardi
13. 1482 M. Antonio da Modena   The Council of Administration when the Masonic Lodge was built at S. Samuele.
14.   M. Andrea d'Acre
15.   M. Antonio Negro
16.   M. Bonazza
17. 1476 to 1488 M. Martino Solari da Carona Father of the famous Pietro Lombardi, Proto (chief architect). He designed the Scuolo di S. Marco.
18. 1488 M. Moro Lombardo Son and assistant of Martino Solari. Proto of S. Zaccaria in 1488. Bernardino and Francesco (No. 20 and No. 21) were his son and grandson.
19. 1484 to 1491 M. Antonio Riccio Proto of the lodge from 1484 to 1491. He carved the Adam and Eve. 384
20.   M. Bernardino da Bissone Son of No. 18. He assisted Riccio in the sculptures of the Cortile.
21.   M. Francesco, his son  
22.   M. Domenico Solari  
23.   M. Paolo Bregno   Sculptor-architects related to Antonio Riccio or Rizo.
24.   M. Lorenzo Bregno, his son
25.   M. Bartolommeo Gonella Proto till 1505. He came from Milan.
26. 1505 M. Bartolommeo Buono (descendant of No. 4) Succeeded him. He built the upper part of the Procuratie Vecchie, and the church of San Rocco.
27. 1509 M. Manfred de Polo Grand Master.
28. 1516 M. Pietro Lombardo, son of Martino Solari Founder of the Venetian branch of the Lombardi. He designed the Scuola di San Rocco.
29. 1517 M. Giulio Lombardo   His sons. Worked under their father, and all became famous.
30. " M. Tullio Lombardo
31. " M. Antonio Lombardo
32. " M. Giovanni Fontana A descendant of M. Fontana da Campione. He was master of Palladio, and built the Palace of the Commune at Udine. His family became famous at Rome and Naples.
33. 1524 M. Sante di Giulio Built Scuola di San Rocco.
34.   Mistro Matteo Fontana di Melide Architect of Belluno cathedral.
35. 1529 M. Jacopo Sansovino Proto for the Procuratie Vecchie; he came from the Florentine Lodge.
36. " M. Guglielmo da Alzano Carved some fine altars, and built the Tasca and Camerlinghi palaces.
37. " M. Gregorio da Carona   Two brothers descended from Marco da Carona of Milan. They also worked at Udine.
38. " M. Giorgio da Carona
39. " M. Simeone di Petro di Como Was paid for sculpture done in this year.
40. 1530 M. Donato Busata   Master architects, sons of Ser Piero da Campione.
41.   M. Giovanni Busata
42. 1527 to 1534 Jacopo Sansovino Called from the Florentine Lodge to be Proto of the Venetian one.
43. 1548 Gian Antonio Solari, of Carona Finished the church of S. Giorgio.


The connection of the Comacines of Longobardic times with Venice, through the powerful Lombard Dukes of Friuli, and the Patriarchs of Aquileja, their metropolitan bishops, has already been touched upon; and we have mentioned the Patriarch Fortunatus for whom the Masonic Guild built the churches of Grado and Torcello. The Comacines had, in the eighth century, also built the Baptistery of Calixtus at Cividale, and had sculptured the altar of Duke Pemmo in Friuli; in the twelfth century they rebuilt the Duomo of Cividale for the Patriarch Pellegrino.... This connection was still further strengthened, when in 1311 the Visconti conquered and exiled from Milan the Torriani family, their rivals in the Signory there, who retired to Friuli, where they soon acquired supreme power. Two of the family, Raimondo and Pagano della Torre, had previously been successively Patriarchs of Aquileja, and in 1317, Gastone, the exiled Archbishop of Milan, succeeded Pagano. A second Pagano and a Ludovico Torriani followed him. The Torriani were from Valsassina near Como, and would consequently have had more interest in the Comacine Guild than any other, if other there were; in fact the tombs of the Torriani at Primaluna and at Chiaravalle show unmistakable signs of Comacine work. At Sacile in the Friuli district the ancient church with three naves, built in 1400, can show documents proving its architects to have been Beltramo and Antonio, both of Como, and who form a link with the Roman Lodge. The church of Gemona, on the mountains near Tagliamento, was built by Giovanni Bono, another familiar Comacine name. The choir is in transition style, i.e. semi-Gothic. The two aisles are divided from the nave by a grand colonnade. The façade is of the style of Siena and Orvieto, with cusped arches under triangular gables; it has a large finely-traceried rose window in the centre, and a profusion of statues. At Venzone, also near Tagliamento, is an ancient Lombard 386 church with characteristic sculptures, built in 1200. Here is a holy water vase of a later period, of extremely fine and finished sculpture, signed Bernardino da Bissone, 1500. Bernardino also sculptured another holy water vase in the Duomo of Tolmezzo, and the beautiful door of the church of Tricesimo. All these works prove the close connection of our guild with the Patriarchs, who ruled over Venice as well as Friuli.

Even in 1468, when the Duomo of Cividale was restored by Pietro Lombardo, several of his brethren worked with him.

In 1420, the Venetians, led by Roberto Morosini, took Friuli and annexed it to Venice. By the treaty of Lodi in 1454 they added Bergamo, Brescia, and Crema. Many Lombards flocked to Venice at that time, and the Masonic Guild had its schools and laborerium there. From that date the Masters of the guild were known in Venice as "Mistri (Masters) Lombardi." Merzario dates from this epoch the renewed connection of the Comacine Guild with Venice, but it must have begun much earlier than that, if it had not continued unbroken from Lombard times. A lodge must certainly have existed in Venice from the time when the first Maestro Buono (Vasari's Buono) went there in 1150. It is unlucky for history that the original Freemasons, being a secret society, kept no archives. It is only after the twelfth century, when other art guilds were formed on the same system, but without the secrecy, that we get an insight into what had been, all the ages through, the management of the guild. At Siena, as we have seen, the painters seceded in the thirteenth century from the universal brotherhood, and founded their academy of painters, the sculptors following their lead. They, not being bound to secrecy, let the world know their statutes and their customs.

The same thing took place in Venice. On September 15, 1307, the sculptors appealed to the Signory of Venice 387 for permission to form statutes and hold chapters under the denomination of the Arte de tajapiere (stone-cutters). They were not at liberty to form a Masonic or building guild, because the original one had then the monopoly. Sig. Agostino Sagredo,[278] in his valuable work on the building guilds in Venice, says—"While we are speaking of the Masonic Companies and their jealous secrecy, we must not forget the most grand and potent guild of the Middle Ages—that of the Freemasons. Originating most probably from the builders of Como (Magistri Comacini) it spread beyond the Alps; Popes gave them their benediction, monarchs protected them, and the most powerful thought it an honour to be inscribed in their ranks. They, with the utmost jealousy, practised all the arts connected with building, and by severe laws and penalties (perhaps also with bloodshed) prohibited others from the practice of building important edifices. Long and hard were the initiations to aspirants, mysterious were the meetings and the teaching, and to ennoble themselves they dated their origin from Solomon's Temple." This monopoly would account for none of the Communes having a civic guild of architecture; and their secrecy explains the want of documentary evidence in the earlier centuries, while the monopoly was undisputed.

The new local branches of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were evidently absolved from secrecy; they started fresh as independent companies, and thus freed, art was able to expand more largely. With this light on its formation, it is interesting to find in the Venetian Guild of sculptors, organized in 1307, the self-same rules and government as in Siena, and all the other cities. We find the school and laborerium and the usual Administrative Council of four Soprastanti elected on the first Sunday of every month, the outgoing officials having to instruct the 388 new ones. In Venice the Grand Master of the Lodge was called, as in the ancient Lombard Lodges, Gastaldo; the chief architect of a work was designated in more classic language, Proto.

On the third Sunday of the month every Master of the arte was obliged to pay a gold soldo to the company, which money was only to be spent for the use of the school.

Again a marked similarity. At the beginning of November the feast of the Quattro Coronati was kept,[279] and no one was to work on that day under pain of a fine of 100 soldi. There is the usual rule about every Master bringing a wax candle when he attends a meeting, and on the day of the Patron Saints the candle must weigh four ounces. The fines for those who absent themselves from the fête of the Patron Saints are the same as at Siena, and so also are the rules about matriculation of members, the making of contracts, the introduction of foreign Masters, etc.

The first name of a Gastaldo or Grand Master in the Venetian Lodge is a Mistro Lorenzo de Vielino in 1407, who makes a law that no Master shall have more than three fanti scritti (apprentices?) besides his own sons or brothers. Sagredo says that the Masters in all these arti were a privileged aristocracy, whose sons were allowed to enter the guild without the usual novitiate.

In 1509 Mistro Manfred de Polo was Grand Master, and decreed a kind of census. Every Master was obliged within eight days to hand in a list of his relatives in the guild and the apprentices in his studio.

The Ca' D'oro, Venice. Designed by Magister Giovanni Buoni (Zambono) 1430 a.d.

See page 389.

The head-quarters of the lodge were in the little street known as the Piscina di S. Samuele. The Opera was a large building, not much decorated, but there was a fine relief by one of the Lombard Masters over the door. This 389 was removed, and preserved by the Government when the building, no longer needful for its former use, was sold. The altar of the Quattro Coronati, sacred to the guild, was in the church of S. Samuele close by. Here too were the tombs of the brethren of the lodge. Unfortunately none of the funereal inscriptions remain. Cicognara has, however, preserved two inscriptions on the building of the lodge, which are valuable as additional proof of the guild. One beneath the relief on the façade runs—






Here we get the names of the four members of the ruling council in 1482, all Magistri, and that of the notary of the guild, Maestro Dolce.[280] Another inscription on the staircase, which was rebuilt in 1686, announces that the stairs were built by the gifts of the brethren under the Gastaldo Maestro Domenico Mazzoni, and then follow the names of his three companions in office, one of whom is Vincenzo Minella, and that of the notary.

If we now trace some works in Venice we shall see how intimately connected this lodge was with that of Milan and other branches of the guild. In 1430 we find Zambono engaged to decorate the Ca d'Oro or Palazzo Contarini on the Grand Canal. In his aim at magnificence good Giovanni Bono of Como not only made the work a masterpiece of Gothic ornamentation, but he gilded his sculpture till it was refulgent. It appears that this Zambono, who could not spell his own name, was not such a master of the 390 pen as he was of the chisel, for his son Bartolommeo signed the contract for him on April 20, 1430. The gilding was done by Giovanni da Francia, whose son Francesco signed for him.

Bartolommeo Bono worked much with his father, and later his younger brother Pantaleone joined them, and became more famous than either of them. To these three we owe in a great measure the reconstruction and decoration of the Ducal Palace, which in the first place had been built by Justinian and Narses. At the end of the tenth century, the Doge Pietro Orseolo restored Justinian's building. To this restoration belong probably some of the fine mediæval capitals of the columns of the Loggia, of which we have given an illustration on page 253. It has been said that Marino Faliero, when Doge, engaged his friend and fellow-conspirator Filippo Calendario to make a plan for a new palace, but no proofs of this, nor any designs are to be found.

Authentic documents, however, prove that a meeting of the Grand Consiglio was held on September 27, 1422, in which it was proposed to "rebuild the palace in a decorous and convenient form." On April 20, 1424, the decree went forth that the old walls were to be thrown down, and the façade rebuilt. The first Masters mentioned in the books are the three Buoni. A minute, dated September 6, 1463, registers that the Salt Office should pay "Maistro Pantalon," sculptor, for the work done for the Ducal Palace—that this work included many other works besides the figures; and that it should not remain incomplete, the Doge wished it to extend across the piazza and up to the last built Sala[281]i.e. the Sala del Squittinio. This would include all the façade and its colonnades, with the internal Sala del Squittinio and Scala Foscara leading to it, on which is 391 placed the statue of Francesco della Rovere.[282] The part of Bartolommeo, brother of Pantaleone, was the Porta della Carta, of which we speak in the chapter on decoration. Their father Giovanni (Zambono) must have died about the time the palace was finished, which was May 13, 1442, for on November 25, 1443, Bartolommeo writes himself in a notarial act as "Ego Bartolommeus lapiscida q. ser Johannis Boni."

Ducal Palace at Venice. The side built by the Buoni Family.

See page 390.

Part of the palace was burned not many lustres after, and in 1484, Antonio Rizo or Riccio was nominated Proto for its rebuilding. He came to Venice with good recommendations. He was the son of a deceased Magister Giovanni Rizo, as we see in a deed of June 25, 1484, where he is nominated as "Ser Antonius Rizo lapiscida q. ser Joannis de contrata sancti Joannis Novi," and had been in the East, where he built the fortifications of Scutari, for Antonio Loredan. His fortifications resisted the attack of the Turks so well that they had to raise the siege, and Antonio, who was wounded, was rewarded by a pension for himself and children, and by the appointment of chief architect for the Ducal Palace, when it was restored after the fire. It would seem that the façade built by the Buono trio had not been injured, as Rizo turned his attention to the inner court, which he built in a beautiful style, together with the great staircase, now known as the "Scala dei Giganti," from Sansovino's two giants, which were added—not much to the grace of the stairway—in 1566.

Bernardino da Bissone, and Domenico Solari of Val d'Intelvi, both Como Masters, assisted in the sculpture of the beautiful balustrade. Riccio has the characteristic Comacine mixture of round arches in the foundation, and pointed ones above. He added a third colonnade, in which the round arches again appear. It is all enriched by 392 exquisite sculptural decoration; the frieze of Nereids and sea-horses on the third order is very fine.

Selvatico attributes also to Riccio much of the side of the palace towards the prisons. The two statues of Adam and Eve facing the Giant's Stairs are signed in the plinths, one "Antonio," the other "Rizo." They are fine works of sculpture, which have been wrongly attributed, in spite of the signature, to various persons, such as Antonio Bregno, and Andrea Riccio of Padua. A proof of Rizo's lengthened tenure of the office of Proto is given in a document in the Venetian archives quoted by Cadorin. The document, dated October 10, 1491, is an order from the Magistrates of the Salt Office, who were at the head of the Administration of the works of the Ducal Palace, "to increase the salary of Rizo Antonio, Proto of the building works, from one hundred and fifty ducats to two hundred, as the former salary was not enough to support his family in his old age, and also having regard to his long and valuable services and fatigues, and the necessity of retaining him, for the prosperity and the beauty of the said building."[283]

Another document, quoted by Merzario from the Diary of Marin Sanuto, seems to throw a cloud over the close of Antonio's head membership. It seems that 10,000 ducats were missing from the accounts of the works, and that Antonio, being unable to explain it, sold all his possessions, and shouldering his belongings went towards Ancona and Foligno. This entry is dated April 5, 1498.[284]


Court of the Ducal Palace at Venice. Designed by Magister Antonio Rizo or Riccio

See pages 391, 392.

It is difficult to say who is the Antonio Bregno that is accredited with Rizo's works. There was a Lorenzo Bregno, a sculptor to whom Sansovino attributes the statue of the General Dionisio Naldo of Brisighella (died 1510), which is placed above the door of San Giovanni e Paolo. There was also Paolo Bregno, father of Lorenzo, but the name of Antonio never appears in the books of the Administration, nor in any archives as far as Sig. Merzario can judge after a diligent search. As the Bregni were related to Rizo, it seems probable that this is another misleading case of nicknames, and that the chief architect's family name was Bregno; so that Antonio Rizo was only Antonio Bregno, the "curly-headed"—from riccio, a curl.[285]

After Riccio, a Magister Bartolommeo Gonella, who died in 1505, succeeded as Proto, and then Magister Buono succeeded him. Buono was probably a grandson of the last Bartolommeo, son of "Zambono." This man, who signs himself "Bartolomeus de Cumis lapizida," had been a sea-captain, and sailed in the fleet of Melchiorre Trevisan. On his return in 1498 he resumed his hereditary profession, and in 1505 was nominated head of the building works of St. Mark's, which were now occupying the guild. The upper order of the "Vecchie Procuratie" was built under his supervision. The church of San Rocco, built in 1495, was, however, his first great work in Venice, and the next was the restoration and heightening of the tower which another of the Buono family had built in 1150, more than three centuries earlier.

When in 1516 the erection of the "Scuola di San Rocco" was proposed, Bartolommeo Buono, the head architect of the "Vecchie Procuratie," was unanimously elected. However, when he had drawn his design, and the edifice began to rise, a certain knowing brother of the confraternity (un tal saccente confratello d'essa) censured the plan of the stairs, and the work was suspended. 394 Maestro Buono would not relinquish his design, and retired; on which Pietro Lombardo was elected in his place to continue the building. Here we have again a distinct proof of the Masonic organization, and see that in Venice they held their meetings to consider the work of their brethren, just as they had done in Milan, Siena, Florence, etc.

In 1529 Maestro Buono died, and Jacopo Sansovino was nominated Proto of the Procuratie in his stead. One of Buono's principal assistants was Guglielmo da Alzano, near Bergamo.[286] He sculptured a beautiful altar in the Servite church on the commission of Madonna Verde della Scala. It is now removed to the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo. The great altar in the church of S. Salvadore is also attributed to him. He was a famous builder as well as sculptor, and was architect of the Camerlinghi Palace, at the foot of the Rialto in Venice. The beautiful Tasca palace at Portogruaro, of which the richly-sculptured doorway was brought to Venice, was his design, as well as the fine gate at Padua called the "Portello," and the "Porta di S. Tomaso" in Treviso.

Several other more familiar Comacine names are found in Venice, such as Gregorio and Giorgio of Carona, whom we have seen sculpturing at Udine;[287] Bernardino di Martino of Bissone, and Andrea from Milan. Francesco, son of Bernardo of Como, Simeone of Pietro, sculptor from Como, with Donato and Giovanni Busata, sons of Ser Piero da Campione, are all mentioned in the Transactions of the Guild in Venice about this time. A contract is reported in the Archivio Veneto (vol. xxxi. anno 1886, fasc. lxii. p. 169), 395 signed on July 26, 1476, "between the Fraternity of S. Maria in S. Daniele and Maestro Giorgio, sculptor of Como, who, having made several statues for S. Giacomo in Udine, is herewith commissioned to make three figures in stone for the door of S. Maria in S. Daniele, i.e. a Madonna and Child and two angels, the statues to be figures, that may by any good Magister be judged worthy and beautiful."

Then comes a name which has become synonymous with the beauty of Venice—the Lombardi family—to whom are attributed all the principal late Gothic and Renaissance buildings that enrich the city. As usual, the name by which the family has come down to posterity in the histories of art is nothing but a misleading nickname. The Venetians called them the Lombards. Just as Vannucchi is called Perugino, and Allegri is called Correggio, so the Solari family were known as Lombardi. They were among the aristocrats of the guild, however, whose ancestors had been eminent men for more than a century. We have seen Marco Solari, and his son Antonio, and also his grandsons Cristoforo and Guiniforte, at work at Milan, where Marco, Guiniforte, and Pietro Antonio were successively chief architects. The Lombardi-Solari of Venice appear to have been another branch of the family, equally descended from Giovanni da Carona, through his son Martino, the father of Pietro Lombardi (Peter of the Lombards).[288]


Martino was the architect of the Scuola di San Marco, near SS. Giovanni e Paolo. His name appears before that time as "Mistro Martino tajapiera," when he was, in 1476, sent to Istria to sbozzare the marbles for the sculptures on S. Zaccaria, of which he was architect, though his ancestor Antonio di Marco had begun it in 1458. At the Scuola di San Marco, his son Moro, brother of Pietro, assisted him, and on Martino's death Moro became Proto of the works at San Zaccaria, his son Bernardino and grandson Francesco assisting him. The books of the Administration of that building have notes of payment, in 1488, one "to Bernardo, sculptor, son of Moro our Proto," and another executed on July 20, 1488, where it is written, "And I Francesco di Bernardo, sculptor from Como." Other papers prove the sons of Pietro Lombardo as being Giulio, Antonio, and Tullio. In Tullio's sons two old family names are revived—Marco Antonio and Sante.

To this family may be attributed a large part of the finest fifteenth or sixteenth century buildings of Venice. Pietro's elder brother Moro built the church of S. Michele at Murano between 1478 and 1481; and at the same time designed and directed the building of the Vendramin or Loredan and the Corner Palaces. Moro had been before employed by the Loredan family to build a part of the church of S. Maria in Isola at their expense. No doubt he was assisted by his numerous relations in the guild.

To Pietro Lombardo belongs the design for the fine exterior of the Scuola di San Giovanni Evangelista. In 1475 he sculptured the beautiful monument to the Doge Pietro Mocenigo, a grand design with seventeen life-sized figures carved in Istrian marble. His sons Tullio and Antonio assisted in this. In 1481 he restored the Scuola della Misericordia, and finished the ornamental gate of the Scuola dei Battuti. In the same year he won in a competition for designs for the church of S. Maria de' Miracoli, 397 and became head architect of that masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. Here he has curiously revived some features of the old Lombard architecture of his ancestors in art. He has made a raised tribune with a dome, but it is square instead of semi-circular, and he has placed two ambones or pulpits, as in the early churches. Pietro could build in Gothic style as well as Renaissance, as is shown in the cusped and pinnacled façade of S. Cristofero della Pace at Murano. The original Torre dell' Orologio on Piazza S. Marco was also designed by him.

On March 14, 1499, he was nominated Proto maestro of the Ducal Palace in place of Antonio Rizo. Seguso and Selvatico attribute to him, with his sons and nephews, the rich and beautifully sculptured capitals of the pillars which support the lower arches "from the Court of the Senators to the second part of the building"; and the internal façade of the side towards St. Mark's, which Selvatico pronounces one of the finest examples of Lombard style. In the interior of the palace he restored the "Camera del Tormento," and built the hall of the Council of Ten, the prisons over the Granaries, and the attic prisons known as "I Piombi."

As a sculptor he was of remarkable genius. Two signed statues in the church of San Stefano, one of which represents S. Antonio, are of extreme beauty, as is the magnificent high relief of the Virgin and Child in the outer arcade towards the bridge. The monument to Cardinal Zeno in S. Marco is a beautiful specimen of Lombard ornamentation. It is rich with carven angels and saints, wreaths of flowers, and all possible wealth of sculpture.

In about 1490 Pietro was engaged on a great work of architecture at Treviso, where the bishop had commissioned him to improve the cathedral by putting a new and ornate façade with a large window, besides building three new 398 chapels.[289] His sculpturesque tastes outweighed his talent for architecture. He left the building at Treviso in the hands of inferior Masters, and went to Venice to sculpture in the laborerium of the guild at San Samuele, the statues and reliefs for its façade. The work not proceeding satisfactorily it was suspended, and on Pietro Lombardo's death even his design was lost in some mysterious manner. The church was not ultimately restored till two centuries later.

He had also the commission to restore the older church of S. Maria Maggiore at Treviso, and there, too, having made his design, he left his son Tullio to execute it. Either for want of means, or disagreements among the Masters, this also remained incomplete. Probably Pietro had too many interests in Venice, where in 1514 he was elected Gastaldo or Grand Master of the lodge; in which office he continued till his death in 1521, a date proved by his son Tullio taking out papers of administration in that year. We have no particular mention of any great buildings by Pietro's eldest son Giulio, but he was greatly respected in the guild, for on June 3, 1524, the Chapter of S. Roch, while deliberating that "Mistro Bon," i.e. Master Bartolommeo Bono, a famous architect, should be discharged from the office of chief architect (Proto) of the Scuola, because he is disobedient and not diligent enough (we perceive that even a Proto had some superior officers or council above him), elected as Proto in his stead a young Magister Sante, son of Giulio Lombardo, but with the proviso that his father Giulio should be his adviser in everything.

Antonio, Pietro's second son, won a certain rank as sculptor, but he is better known in Padua and Ferrara. He removed to the latter city in 1505 with his family, and died there in 1515.

The third son, Tullio, however, was a bright star in the 399 line. His sculpture was so delicate, and he attained such tenderness in the flesh of his marble statues, that it is thought he had studied under Donatello when he was in Padua in 1450. His decorative sculpture may be judged by the chimney-pieces in the chamber of Udienza, with its antechamber, in the Grand Ducal Palace; by the doors of the Scuola di S. Marco, and the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, all done about 1500. The beauty and grace of his figures may be seen in the four kneeling angels which support the altar of the Incoronation of the Virgin in S. Giovanni Crisostomo; a most exquisite group. This work is signed, "Opus Tullii Lombardi." The fine monument to the Doge Nicolò Marcello, at SS. Giovanni e Paolo, and those of Marco and Amerigo Barbarigo, in S. Maria della Carità, are also by him.

There is some confusion between the two cousins, Sante, eldest son of Giulio, and Sante, the second son of Tullio. Sante di Giulio was chief architect of the Scuola di San Rocco, from June 1524 to March 1527, and all the finest part of the building is attributed to him. He built the church of S. Giorgio for the Greek colony. This was finished in 1548 by Gian Antonio Lombardo da Cione (Carona), who was son of Pietro Antonio Solari of Carona, so that in this church the Milanese and Venetian branches of the Solari family meet, but the Milan branch has kept the old name, while in Venice it has been merged in the place name, and they are known as the Lombards. The Palazzo Trevisan, which belonged to the family of Bianco Capello, was said to be from the design of Sante.

We have followed up the Venetian architects sufficiently to prove that they, too, had their links with the great Comacine or Lombard Guild. Sansovino, who succeeded the Lombard Solari family in Venice, was a Master trained in the Florentine Lodge, so even he was not extraneous to the guild. 400



1. A.D. 88 Magister Mutius Pliny's architect.
2. 7th or 8th century M. Sisinius Architect represented in the ancient frescoes of the subterranean church of St. Clement, as directing the building of it.
3.   M. Alberto   His assistants in the work.
4.   M. Cosma
5.   M. Carboncelle
6 & 7.     "Sons of PVTE."
8. about 11th century M. Paschalis, named RITA Sculptured the marble candlestick and inlaid pulpit of S. Maria in Cosmedin.
9. 1148 M. Paulus A sculptor in marble.
10.   M. Johannes   His four sons who carved the ciborium in S. Lorenzo fuori le mura in 1148.
11.   M. Petrus
12.   M. Anges (Angelo)
13.   M. Sassone
14. 12th century M. Niccolò, son of Angelo di Paulus Sculptured the curious mediæval candelabrum in San Paolo fuori le mura.
15. 1196 M. Ubert   Two brothers from the lodge at Piacenza, who cast the bronze doors of the sacristy of S. John Lateran.
16.   M. Petrus
17. 1190? M. Lorenzo (ancestor of the Cosmati) Sculptured the façade of S. Maria in Falleri, and the pulpit at Ara Cœli in Rome.
18. 1205-10 M. Jacopo, his son Sculptured at Civita Castellana, San Saba, Rome, and at Subiaco. 401
19. 1210-77 M. Cosimo, son of Jacopo Worked at Anagni. His four sons made the name of Cosimo famous, and were known as the Cosmati.
20. 1231-35 M. Luca, eldest son of Cosimo Died young.
21. 1231-95 M. Jacopo, second son C.M. of Orvieto in 1293.
22. 1294 M. Adeodatus, or Deodatus, third son. Made the ciborium in S. Maria in Cosmedin; the cloister of S. John Lateran, etc.
23. 1290-1303 M. Giovanni, fourth son Made several famous monuments in Rome.
24.   M. Arnolfo, cum socio   Made the tabernacle of S. Paolo fuori le mura.
25.   M. Petro
26. 1224 M. Rainaldo Canon of Anagni, and member of the Masonic Guild.
27. 13th century M. Bassaletti (written Vassalecti or Basalecti) His name is on the column of S. John Lateran, and on a marble lion in the porch of the S. Apostoli in Rome.
28. 1447 M. Beltramo da Varese C.M. of the Roman Lodge in 1447: he designed the restorations of the Campidoglio, and built the Palace of the Conservators.
29. " Magister Pietro da Varese (nephew) Assisted his uncle. He also worked at Orvieto in 1450.
30. " M. Paolo da Campagnano (near Varese) Worked with his fellow-countrymen in 1452-3. Restored the roof at S. Pietro, 1460.
31. 1455 M. Antonio di Giovanni   Joint architects of the Pontifical Palace in the reign of Pope Calixtus III.
32.   M. Paolino da Binasco
33. " M. Bartolommeo of Como Directed the works of fortification at Castel S. Angelo.
34. " M. Stefano da Bissone of Como Sculptured in S. Spirito.
35. 1460 M. Manfred of Como   Joint C.M. of the Vatican from 1460 to 1463.
36. " M. Domenico of Lugano
37. " M. Angelo of Como   Adorned some of the rooms of the Vatican.
38. " M. Martino Lombardo
39. 1466 M. Giacomo di Cristoforo A famous builder and sculptor, C.M. of the laborerium at Rome. He designed Palazzo Venezia.
40. " M. Andrea of Arzo Sculptor working under Giacomo. He carved some inlaid doors at the Vatican. 402
41. 1466-70 M. Giacomo di Giovanni da Como All these were Lombard Magistri receiving pay in the Roman Lodge between 1460 and 1470.
42.   M. Alberto di Giovanni da Como (his brother)
43.   M. Nicola di Guglielmo da Varese
44.   M. Pietro di Cristoforo da Bregnano
45.   M. Simone di Giovanni da Binego
46.   M. Giovanni di Antonio da Bellinzona
47.   M. Michele Lombardo
48.   M. Benedetto Lombardo
49.   M. Domenico di Martino Lombardo (son of No. 38)
50. 1475 M. Baccio Pontelli Two members of the Florentine Lodge who were employed as architects at the Vatican under Manfred.
51. " M. Giuliano da Majano
52. " M. Giovanni di Dolci Florentine brothers, architects at the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and the fort of Civitavecchia.
53. " M. Marco di Dolci
54. 1484-92 M. Antonio di San Gallo A Lombard, naturalized Florentine. He built the Borgia apartment.


1. 1470 Magister Pietro di Martino Lombardo (from Milan). C.M. and designer of the triumphal arch at Castel Nuovo.
2.   M. Isaja da Pisa Sculptors and architects employed by Pietro di Martino in the work of the arch.
3.   M. Antonio da Pisa
4.   M. Domenico di Montemignano
5.   M. Francesco Arzara
6.   M. Paolo Romano
7.   M. Domenico Lombardo di Sumalvito
8. 1484 M. Tomaso da Como Sculptured monuments in Monte Oliveto.
9. 1509 M. Giovanni di Tomaso (his son) Built the crypt of S. Gennaro at Naples.


Mention has been made, in the second chapter, of the early Christian Basilicas erected under Constantine, and the forty-six churches of the same era, which Genseric destroyed, and how the three Basilicas which were then saved—i.e. S. Agnese, San Lorenzo, and S. Maria in Cosmedin—have, during subsequent restoration, revealed, in the parts of the original buildings discovered, a style precisely analogous to the Basilicas which sprang up in the north of Italy in the time of the Lombards. The only difference between the fourth-century Roman churches and the seventh-century Lombard ones is not in form or style, but merely a deterioration in workmanship. This may easily be accounted for by the two or three centuries of decadence between the destruction of Rome by Genseric and his successors, in about A.D. 460, when it is supposed the remnants of the Collegio of architects fled to Como, and their revival under the Longobardic kings. During those centuries, no great buildings, or even restoration of edifices, took place. The Eternal City seemed, even when free of invaders, to be perishing in the clutches of time. Charlemagne led the way by rebuilding one or two ancient temples and palaces, and he established several schools, one of which was for Lombards—a proof that he was interested in those architects, and that they still had a seat in Rome, where the church of their four Patron Saints had stood, from the far-off time of Pope Melchiades—A.D. 311.

Pope Adrian I. followed the example of his imperial ally, by restoring several churches, to do which he had to ask Charlemagne for the builders of the guild under his protection; a proof that no Collegio existed in Rome at that time. Among these churches, one of the most interesting was that of S. Agnese fuori le Mura, a beautiful round-arched Basilica, built by Constantine in 324. As it now stands, it is so far below the level of the ground that there is a long descent of forty-five wide marble steps, to 404 reach the vestibule of the church. The Basilica itself is extremely interesting, as it remains in its original eighth-century form, as Pope Adrian I. restored it in 775. The plan is a pure and simple Comacine Basilica, with its nave and two aisles, circular tribune and an upper gallery, with the cochleus or spiral staircase leading to it all complete.

The columns of the nave seem to have been taken from an ancient Roman building. The capitals are all classical except the four nearest the tribune, which are quite Comacine, with their simple upright volutes. But the building space being limited, the extremely tall columns had to be placed in such close juxtaposition, that the round arches between them are diminished out of all harmonic proportion. The triforium gallery, having shorter columns, gives a more pleasing effect.

The spiral staircase leading to this is cut in the thickness of a pilaster. The mosaics in the tribune are the original ones of Pope Honorius' time, and of Byzantine style; the decorative paintings over the whole church are mere modern frescoes.

But that the sculpturesque decorations were done by the Comacines, and not by the Greek mosaicists, is suggested by several remains of the ancient decorations of the church, which are preserved on the walls of the stairway descending to it. Here is a pluteus, or stone panel, probably from the front of the ancient tribune, and it is a beautiful intreccio precisely like the ones at S. Clemente. Two other panels of the same parapet are of Roman design. One might imagine that the Lombard architect copied them from the inner roof of the Arch of Titus. Probably the guild, being of Roman origin, kept all these classical decorative designs in its laborerium.

Now and then, in the ages following Adrian, we find a large-minded Pope, who gave his thoughts to restoring the beauties of Rome: such as Leo III. (796), Leo IV. 405 (845), Innocent III. (1178), Nicholas III. (1277), and Boniface VIII. (1294). This latter was the Pope who consecrated the Duomo of Florence.

Apse of the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, on the Cœlian Hill, Rome.
(From a photograph by Alinari.)

See page 405.

The great Lombard Masonic Guild being under the especial protection of the Popes, we should expect to see its members employed in the mediæval buildings of Rome. And truly, after Adrian's time, here they are. Hope, Schmarzow, Ricci, and Boito, besides other writers, have all decided that the ancient cloisters of San Lorenzo—built under Honorius III. in the beginning of the thirteenth century—as well as the primitive churches of St. Peter, S. John Lateran, and S. Lorenzo, were all early Comacine work; and that the exquisite cloister of S. John Lateran, and the churches of S. Paolo fuori le Mura, Ara Cœli, San Giovanni e Paolo, S. Maria sopra Minerva, etc., are all equally Lombard churches of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Several friezes and inscriptions go to prove the truth of this, besides those eloquent lions that crouch beneath the columns in the cloister of S. John Lateran and other places.

As this is not an architectural dissertation, but merely a tracing of the work of this great guild, I will keep more to the inscriptions relative to Magistri, than to a description of their works, which has been done by so many writers.

In the old times before the painters and sculptors, and after them the metal-workers, split off and formed companies of their own, every kind of decoration was practised by the Masters. A church was not complete unless it were adorned in its whole height and breadth with either sculpture, mosaic, or paintings, and this from the very early times of Constantine and his Byzantine mosaicists, and of Queen Theodolinda and her fresco-painters, up to the revival of mosaics by the Cosmati, and the fresco-painting in the Tuscan schools. But never were those arts entirely lost. 406

The ideas which the Lombard architects brought up from Sicily, when working there under the Normans, were the seeds of re-vivification, and caused a tremendous evolution in the art of the guild. They saw the decorative value of mosaic as it was used in the twisted Saracenic columns, and they were charmed by the rich use of sculpture in the graceful arches. From that time, every lodge throughout the land seemed to invent a new style peculiar to itself.

The Romans, with their traditions of classic mosaics, revived the art in Saracenic style as a means of decoration. The Tuscans, with their wealth of coloured marbles, enlarged chromatic decoration into chromatic architecture, and their airy towers and arched churches were all more or less polychrome. The Lombards, having no marbles at hand, took from these same Saracens their rich traceries and cuspings, which they produced in the plastic clay, throwing a veil of ruddy beauty over the façades and arches of their buildings.

The name of the Cosmati family has become generic for the peculiar chromatic sculpture of Rome in the twelfth century; the family were complete masters of the art. But though they may have taken the idea of its revival as a decorative aid to sculpture, it was by no means their invention, or even their monopoly. If you look at a Cosmati pillar or panel, and then at the floor of any Roman church, you will see that Cosmatesque decoration is but an adaptation of the old Roman opus Alexandrinum. And we have plenty of proof of the fact that other Magistri of the guild also practised it. The ambone in S. Cesareo in Palatio at Rome, of which we give an illustration, is earlier than any of Cosimo's family.

Basilica of S. Paolo fuori le mura, Rome.

See page 405.

There exists at Florence (in S. Leonardo) the ancient pulpit from S. Piero Scheraggio, and which was said to have been brought there from Fiesole. Its date is supposed to be before 1000 A.D. Though of a ruder style, 407 we have the Cosmatesque inlaying of glass and marble, as a setting to sculptures distinctly Comacine, and of almost Longobardic antiquity. In Sta. Maria in Cosmedin are two fine pulpits, on one of which is a beautiful candlestick formed of a twisted column, inlaid in the same style. The Comacine lion crouches beneath it, and on the base is the inscription in Gothic letters, telling us that the worthy and learned man Paschalis (called Rita), with great study made this candlestick.[290] Then we have Nicolao di Rannuncio, whose name is inscribed on the door of inlaid marble in the church of S. Maria at Toscanella,[291] and a whole family whose names are inscribed on the ciborium of S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura:[292] where it is written—"John, Peter, Angelo, and Sasso, sons of Paul the sculptor, Magisters of this Opera. I, the humble Abbot Hugh, had this work executed"[293] (Johs, Petrus, Angĕs, et. Sasso. Filii. Pauli. Marmōr. Huj'. Opis. Magister Fuer. Ann d. M. CXLVIII. Ego. Hugo. Humilis. Abbs. Hoc. Opus. Fieri Feci.). The tabernacle is of the usual four-pillared form; the columns are ancient porphyry ones adapted; the capitals the usual Comacine mixture of classic and mediæval—acanthus leaves and cornucopiæ with the mystic beasts climbing among them.

Angelo, the third son of Magister Paulus, had a son named Niccolò, and the two together made the candelabrum of S. Paolo; a quaint mediæval piece of sculpture, of the style of Magister Roberto's font, but with some marvellously beautiful interlaced work. There is also Arnolfo with his partner Peter (Arnolfus cum suo socio Petro), who made the inlaid and sculptured tabernacle in S. Paolo fuori le Mura in 1285. 408

Merzario says that we must not confuse this Arnolfo with the Florentine architect. Camille Boito, however, opines that he is the same. Arnolfo had certainly a taste for the polychrome in architecture, which may or may not have been imbibed in Rome, while working at that lodge with Peter—whom Cavalcaselle considers was one of the Cosmati, and who certainly did the ciborium at S. Paolo, though Arnolfo's name is absent in that work. I have found some other members of the Roman Lodge inscribed above a bronze door in S. John Lateran. On the archivolt is written—"Hui opis Ubert et Petr: F͡rs. Māgistri Lausenen. Fecer͡unt." Over another bronze door in the sacristy they are written as—"Ubert Magister, et Petrus. Ei: Fr. Placentini Fecerunt Hoc. op.," and the date A.D. 1196. Boito[294] sees nothing in this but a perplexing contradiction, that in one place the brothers say they are from Lausanne, and in another from Piacenza. It is to me plain enough. They are natives of Lausanne, and consequently Lombards: they are also brethren of the lodge of Piacenza, where they had most likely worked while the cathedral and other buildings were being erected.

The date of the Baptistery door, and the connection of its maker with the guild, are verified by the inscription on the other panel of the bronze door, which says it was done in the fifth year of the pontificate of Pope Celestine III. (i.e. 1196), and that Father Giovanni, Cardinal of S. Lucia, the Jubente, or camerarius of the Opera, had it made.[295]

This door had engraved on it the design of the ancient façade of S. John Lateran—a perfectly Lombard front consisting of two round-arched arcades, with a little pillared gallery above.

Pulpit in Church of S. Cesareo in Palatio, Rome. Mediæval Sculpture inlaid in Mosaic.
(From a photograph by Alinari.)

See page 406.

The door of the Sacristy must have been cast before 409 that of the Baptistery, as in the first work Uberto is entitled Magister, and Petrus only named as his brother, whereas in the second the younger brother must have also graduated, and has in his turn attained to the dignity of Magister.

We trace the same gradual progress through the ranks of the Guild in the Cosmati family, whose connection with the Roman lodge we must now trace. Several generations of them were Magistri

Jacopo (some works, 1205-1210)
Cosimo, 1210-1277
Luca Jacopo Adeodatus Giovanni
1231-1235 1231-1293 1294 1296-1303

To Lorenzo belong the façades of Santa Maria in Falleri, and the Duomo in Civita Castellana, besides the pulpit in Ara Cœli at Rome. In all these works his son Jacopo worked with him.

Jacopo alone, with the title of Magister, sculptured the smaller doors in the façade of the Duomo at Civita Castellana, and the door of San Saba at Rome in 1205; also the inlaid columns at S. Alessio in Rome, and the Cloister of Santa Scolastica at Subiaco. In Civita Castellana, above the magnificent portal, is inscribed "Laurentius cum Jacobo Filio suo, Magistri doctissimi Romani H(oc) opus fecerunt." This proves my assertion that they had graduated in the Roman Lodge, and if further proof is required, this portal bears the universal mark of the Comacine Masters at this era—its columns rest on lions.

Similar inscriptions are on the ambone of Ara Cœli, and the doorway at Falleri. The inscription on the door of San Saba, dated 1205, is—"Ad honorem domini nostri I͞HU X͡PI Anno VII. Pontificatus domini Innocentii III. PP Hoc 410 opus domino Johanne, Abbate Jubente[296] factum est per manus magistri Jacobi." Up to this time we have no proof that the family was of Roman origin; they are merely given as members of the Roman Lodge, which we have seen was of Lombard origin. They were afterwards made Roman citizens.

After these works we find Cosmato, the son of Jacopo, old enough to assist him. That same frontal of the Duomo at Civita Castellana has on the cornice over the portico these words inlaid in letters of gold—"Magister Jacobus civis Romanus cum Cosma filio suo, Fieri fecit hoc opus A. D͠NI. MCCX." Cosmato's name is also inscribed as assisting his father in the door of the church of San Tommaso in Formis at Rome. Next, in 1224, we find young Cosmato a full-fledged Magister, working at the cathedral of Anagni, which was in those days an important city, and the residence and birthplace of several Popes. The whole pavement there is a beautiful work of inlaid marbles, and bears an inscription saying that the Venerable Lord Bishop Albert had the pavement made; Magister Rainaldo, Canon of Anagni to Pope Honorius III., and the honourable sub-deacon and chaplain assisting in the expense, which was a hundred gold oboli; Magister Cosmato executing the work.[297] Magister Rainaldo, the Canon, must have been one of the ecclesiastic members of the guild, and showed so much respect for the privilege that he preferred the title of Magister to the grander one of Venerabilis, to which his office of Canon would have given him right.


After this time, Cosmato is always written as Magister; his name appears on the altar of the crypt of S. Magnus in the cathedral of Anagni, which was also a commission of Bishop Alberto in 1230. Next, we perceive that Cosmato has married and has a goodly family of sons, who, according to ancient custom, are all educated in the guild.

Luca and Jacobo, the two eldest, helped him in the mosaic pavement of the crypt at Anagni, and in the cloister of Santa Scolastica at Subiaco. This is a most beautiful work in transition style. The columns are alternately single and double, the single ones with a wide projecting abacus. Some are slight and straight, others spiral and beautifully inlaid between the sculptured ribs. The arches resting on these fanciful columns are on two sides round, but on the other sides are slightly pointed. Above the arches is a sculptured cornice and a frieze of mosaic. It is altogether very beautiful.

In 1277 Cosmato was employed by Pope Nicholas III. to restore the chapel "Sancta Sanctorum" in the Basilica of S. John Lateran, the altar of which was reserved for the Popes alone. Luca appears to have died young, but Jacopo at eighty years of age was a master builder at the cathedral of Orvieto, where in 1293 he is written in the books as "Maestro de' Muratori Jacopo di Cosma Romano."

The third son, Adeodatus, or Deodatus, rose high in the guild. In the pavement of S. Jacopo alla Lungara, before it was destroyed, the following epigraph was inlaid, which was copied by Crescimbeni—"Deodatus filius Cosmati, et Jacobus fecerunt hoc opus." In a later work, the ciborium once in S. John Lateran, now in the cloister, we find that Deodatus has risen to the rank of Magister. It was a commission from the Colonna family, whose arms are sculptured on it. The ciborium in S. Maria in Cosmedin, ordered by Cardinal Gaetani, nephew of Pope Boniface 412 VII., must have been earlier than this, for he has merely signed "Deodat. me fec."

Cosmato's fourth son, Giovanni, first appears in an independent work in 1296, when, on the elegant sepulchre of Bishop Durante, he signs—"Jo͞hs filius Magri Cosmati fec̄ hoc op." Similar epigraphs are on the tomb of Cardinal Gonsalvo in S. Maria Maggiore, and a monument to Stefano de' Surdi in Santa Balbina.

In all these works of the Cosmati, Camille Boito finds signs of Lombard principles, and traces in the development of style from father to son the same gradual movement from older forms towards the Gothic, which we notice between Jacopo Tedesco and Arnolfo, and between Niccolò Pisano and his son Giovanni. Living in Rome, however, the Cosmati never really took up the Gothic style, as it developed further north; but always kept nearer to classical forms, and so prepared Rome for the Renaissance style, which arose from the humanist movement in the Cinque-cento epoch.

The next great patron of the Lombard Guild in Rome was Pope Nicholas V. (Thomas of Sarzana), of whom Gregorovius said—"This man had only two passions—collecting books and building." His dominating idea was the directing of a new Renaissance. According to him, "Rome ought to become the imperishable monument of the Church, or rather the Papacy, and re-arise in admirable magnificence before the eyes of all people."[298] Nicholas V. had the first idea of the rebuilding of St. Peter's, and the Vatican, but one man's life was not long enough for such great works. He, however, restored the Campidoglio, Castel S. Angelo, San Todaro, S. Stefano Rotondo, the palace of S. Maria Maggiore, the fountain of Trevi, the walls of Rome, and several of the State fortresses.

Candelabrum in S. Paolo at Rome, 12th century.

See page 407.


He got some of his architects, such as Leon Battista Alberti and Rossellino, from the Florentine Lodge, but by far the greater part of them were Lombards. The chief of these was Master Beltramo da Varese, of whom we have heard much in the Lombard Lodges. With him were his nephew Maestro Pietro di Giovanni, Maestro Paolo da Campagnano (a village near Varese), and Maestro Giacomo di Cristoforo. Rossellino had begun the works at St. Peter's in a kind of reverse fashion, starting with the apse. The continuation of this tribune was confided to Maestro Beltramo, who set to work in good earnest. He made vast lime and brick furnaces, filled the laborerium with wood, ropes, ladders, etc., engaged sub-architects and Magistri with bands of workmen under them, most of whom came down from the Como region. In fact, there was an army of Lombards.[299] The registers of the Opera, now in the Vatican, mark large payments to Magistro Beltramo and his nephew Pietro di Giovanni, who became chief architect after his uncle's death.

Besides the Tribune of St. Peter's, the two relatives were employed to rebuild the Campidoglio. Muntz publishes some notes taken from the registers of the Apostolic Camera, recording payments made between 1447 and 1448 to Maestro Beltramo, and some of his associates (socii), for the roof and marble windows of the Campidoglio and the palace of the Conservators. In 1452 Pietro da Varese is found continuing the work alone. The documents recently published from the registers of the Vatican have these entries—

"1452. December 31.—To Maestro Pietro da Varese, nephew of Maestro Beltramo, 1000 gold ducats for part of the Tower he is building behind the Campidoglio, at the side where they sell salt by retail. T. S. 1452, fol. 216, cf. fol. 194."


"1453. March 9.—D. 112, b. 56, d. c., for remainder and completion of the contract of the Tower he (Pietro) has made at the Campidoglio, which in full amounts to 1212 ducats, of which he received last year at different times, 1000 (and 100) ... and thus it is registered by Janni di Jordani (Notary V. fl. 126. 10. 93)."[300]

We find Pietro in 1450 sculpturing in the cathedral at Orvieto, where in a public act he is described as a good and clever sculptor ("lapidum sculptor bonus et doctus"), and prayed to remain at Orvieto in the service of the lodge there.

Muntz speaks very highly in praise of the Lombard sculptor, Giacomo di Cristoforo[301] da Pietrasanta, saying that although his name is little known to biographers, he holds a high place in Roman art of the fifteenth century, and merits to be ranked among the most celebrated artists of his time. Many of the buildings which Vasari ascribes to Giuliano da Majano and Baccio Pontelli are in reality due to him; for instance, the Palazzo Venezia, which was rebuilt under Pope Paul II. (Pietro Barbo, who succeeded to the papal throne in 1464). Now Giuliano da Majano only came to Rome towards the end of the reign of Pope Sixtus IV., and could not therefore have been employed by Paul II. In fact, Muntz, after many researches, concludes that the chief architect was Maestro Giacomo da Pietrasanta, who is in the registers of 1467 qualified by the title of Soprastante in the laborerium of the church and palace of S. Marco at Rome, and in 1468 is written as the president of the building of the Palazzo Apostolico or Vatican.[302] 415 In fact, Giacomo da Pietrasanta, the Lombard, was Grand Master of the whole Roman Lodge during these years.

But Maestro Giacomo was not the only Comacine employed in the Palazzo Venezia. A contract dated June 16, 1466, names Magister Manfred of Como and Andrea of Arzo, whom we have seen in Venice, as magistros architectos,[303] and the registers reveal a whole army of master builders and sculptors whose names will be found in the list appended. Muntz quotes no less than twenty-five, many of whom have been familiar to us at Milan, Siena, and Florence.

Although when Calixtus III. (Alfonso Borgia) succeeded Nicholas V. in 1455, he had no great ideas about resuscitating the architectural glories of ancient Rome, he nevertheless employed the Lombard Masters to finish the works begun. Maestro Pietro da Varese, and Maestro Paolo da Campagnano, with Maestro Antonio di Giovanni from Milan, and Maestro Paolino da Binasco, were joint architects of the Pontifical Palace. Maestro Bartolommeo da Como, whom we have known at Milan and Pavia, was director of the works of fortification at Castel S. Angelo, while Maestro Stefano da Bissone di Como is named as a sculptor in the church of S. Spirito.

The next Pope, Pius II. (Æneas Silvio Piccolomini), did so much building and embellishing in Siena—where the Lombard Masters divided the honours with their colleagues born in Siena, and trained by them—that he did little for Rome. He employed the same Pietro da Giovanni and Paolo da Campagnano between 1460 and 1463, for the roof of S. Pietro, which menaced destruction. The palace of the Vatican was placed under the 416 architectural superintendence of Maestro Manfred of Como and Domenico of Lugano. The first appears to have been designing architect, and the second master builder, as he commanded squadrons of workmen, and was assisted in ruling them by his brother Antonio.

Maestro Angelo da Como, and a certain Martino Lombardo, rebuilt the chambers which had been destroyed by fire, and adorned the "Hall of the Pavilion" and "Hall of the Parrot."

In the time of Sixtus IV. (Francesco della Rovere, 1471-1484) the Lombards of the Roman Lodge were joined by their brethren from Florence, and now we find the two groups inextricably mixed. Baccio Pontelli and Giuliano da Majano work together with Manfred the Lombard and Paolo da Campagnano in the administration of the works of the Vatican; while Francesco and Andrea, both Lombards, are found carving in wood and executing beautiful doors in intarsia, together with Giovanni and Marco di Dolci, Florentines; Giovanni de' Dolci with his colleagues (chiefly Comacines) worked at the Sixtine Chapel, some parts of the Vatican, and the fortress of Civita Vecchia, which Baccio Pontelli finished. Pope Innocent VIII. (Cibo, 1484-92) added the Loggia Belvedere to the already immense palace of the Vatican, and Alexander VI., a Spaniard, built the Borgia apartment, for which he employed Antonio di San Gallo, or from St. Gall, a Lombard naturalized Florentine, whose assistants in the work seem to have been chiefly Lombards.

It was this influx of Florentines, who were fresh from the humanistic influences of the classic revival of literature under the Medici, and therefore more open to further inspirations from the influences of antique Rome, which brought about the revival of classic forms in architecture in Rome. Bramante and San Gallo began it in 1503, Raphael and Michael Angelo carried it on; and such hold 417 did the Renaissance style take on the minds of people in the late Cinque-cento era, that it spread, and overpowered the Gothic from end to end of Italy.

Vasari raved about the faults of the old architecture and its goffissima style, upholding the chastened order of the new, but whatever may have been the merits of Renaissance, as Bramante and Michael Angelo practised it, their later followers committed quite as many sins against reason and good taste as any Comacine or Romanesque architect ever did. Look, for instance, at the church of S. Carlo, in the Corso at Rome, with its gigantic pilasters running up the whole height of a front, which is, by its square windows, cut up into three storeys, giving the lie to the unity of space implied by the mock columns; and at San Firenze in Florence, where half an arch runs up into the air and stops short, as a defiance to all laws of gravity. Arches or pediments, with a hiatus where the key-stone should be, and which, logically speaking, can support nothing, are the most common blots on a late Renaissance building.

But we have nothing to do with this era. It was only a late survival of a side issue of the Comacine Guild which had been practically dissolved before Michael Angelo's time, although the influence of its smouldering ashes vivified the art even of that great genius.

The great family of sixteenth-century architects, the Fontana, was of Comacine origin, though I believe the guild was dissolved by their time. Domenico Fontana was born at Melide near Como; his elder brother Giovanni, famous for his stucco work, had preceded him in Rome, but Domenico was an artist of a wider kind. The Cardinal Felice di Montalto soon discovered his capacities, and entrusted him with the erection of the Cappella del Santissimo in S. Maria Maggiore. Here a very unusual episode occurred. The Cardinal had not means enough to finish the work, and the brothers Fontana, instead of suing him 418 for their pay, lent him 1000 scudi. Of course the Cardinal was their great patron after this, and recommended them to Pope Sixtus V., who employed them in the Vatican to build the Belvedere and the Library. Domenico also enshrined the Scala Santa at S. John Lateran; he placed the obelisks on Piazza S. Giovanni and Piazza S. M. Maggiore; set up the Castor and Pollux on the Quirinal; built the bridge at Borghetto, the hospital of S. Sisto, and restored the Alessandrini-Felice aqueduct; embanked the Fiumicino near Porto; made the water conduit at Civita Vecchia, which implied tunnelling under a mountain; and the great aqueduct of Acqua Paola from Bracciano to Rome, thirty-five miles long; besides constructing fountains everywhere, in Rome and Frascati.

In fact, he nearly made Cinque-cento Rome. His brother Giovanni was nominated architect in general to Pope Clement VIII.; and Paul V. made him chief architect of St. Peter's, with his nephew Carlo Madernò. He too was employed in Ferrara. For a century the name and race of Fontana flourished in Rome, some of the family emigrating to Naples, where they became equally famous. The number of their buildings was legion; they and the family Della Porta, who also came to Rome from Lake Lugano, divided the renovation of Rome between them. Girolamo della Porta, like the Fontanas, was a naturalized Roman.

The Fontana family forms a link with Naples, though not the only connection of that city with the guild. The Comacine Masters kept up their connection with Naples long after the time of the Normans, when Maestro Buono built the Castel Capuana for William I. Merzario claims for one of his descendants, Buono dei Buoni, the credit of having first invented painting in oils, which he is supposed to have taught privately to Antonello of Messina.[304] Several names of the Solari family, so famous at Milan 419 and Venice, turn up at Naples in the fifteenth century, and then a famous work was put into Lombard hands. When Alphonso of Aragon made his entry in 1443, the governors of the city decreed that a triumphal arch should be built to commemorate the event. It was placed at the entrance of Castel Nuovo, and consists of two round towers, with an arch between them, supported on Corinthian columns. The arch is surmounted by a frieze and cornice, with a parapet above, enriched with bas-reliefs representing the entry of King Alphonso. The whole is surmounted by statues of saints and the cardinal virtues.

The construction of this fine arch has been attributed to Giuliano da Majano, but as he was at the time only a boy of ten or twelve years old, this could not be. Sig. Miniero Riccio, after a diligent search in the Neapolitan archives, has found some acts, which give the names of sculptors employed on this. We find Pietro di Martino from Milan, head architect; Isaja da Pisa, Domenico di Montemignano, Antonio da Pisa, Francesco Arzara, Paolo Romano, and Domenico Lombardo. This authorship is confirmed by the epigraph in the church of S. Maria la Nuova in Naples, dated 1470, in memory of Pietro di Martino, Milanese, who, for his merit in erecting the arch at Castel Nuovo, was created Cavalier by King Alphonso, and a sepulchre was given in this church for him and his descendants.[305]

If the date had only been a little later, we might have supposed this to be Pietro Lombardo, son of Martino Solario, who had won such fame in Venice; but as he died in 1512, it is scarcely likely he would have been well-known 420 enough to have obtained such an important commission in 1440. Knowing how a certain succession of names was, and is, kept up in Italian families, this Pietro and Martino might have been the father and grandfather of the Martino da Carona, father of Pietro Lombardo, especially as they had Domenico, also a Solari, with them.

King Alphonso was a good patron to the Comacine Masters, and greatly appreciated them. On February 16, 1456, a gentleman at Terracina wrote to the Duke Francesco Sforza, saying that some master builders from Como, in leaving the realm of Naples, had been made to forfeit 190 ducats, on which they appealed to the King. Alphonso ordered the restitution of the money, excepting a small tribute to the confiscators, which he made good to the Comacine Masters out of his own purse.[306]

From 1484 to 1508, a Maestro Tomaso da Como, sometimes called Tomaso delle parti di Lombardia, master sculptor, was living in Naples. He was paid for the carving of the principal door of the church of the Annunziata, which his son Giovanni finished after his death. His will still exists. It is dated July 2, 1508, and says that "Mastro Tomaso de Sumalvito (now Sanvito) de la terra de Como de la parti di Lombardia, marmorario habitante in Napoli: istituisce herede Joan Thomaso de Sumalvito de Napoli suo figlio," and declares besides that a debt of three ducats is still owing to him on the work for the great doorway of the church of the Annunziata. The fine monument to Signor Antonio d'Alessandro and his wife, Maddalena Riccio, in the church of Monte Oliveto, and that of the Bishop of Aversa in the same church, were sculptured by Tommaso de Sanvito, as he is called in the books of Orvieto, where he was head architect.

His son Giovanni built, in 1509, the fine chapel of the Macellai in the church of S. Eligio, and the "Confession" 421 of S. Gennaro under the tribune of the cathedral of Naples, where the yearly miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of S. Gennaro takes place. Even the beautiful Royal Palace at Capodimonte was built by a Lombard, Domenico Fontana of Melide, near Como, whose family we have seen was more famous in Rome than in Naples? Domenico, however, died in Naples in 1607, and was buried in S. Anna dei Lombardi, where his sons Sebastian and Julius Cæsar (Giulio Fontana) wrote on his tomb—"Patritius Romanus, Summus Romae Architectus. Summus Neapolis." Like so many of his predecessors in the guild, he had been given the citizenship of the towns he had embellished. It is this which makes it so difficult to trace the artists—the same man may appear successively as being a citizen of Rome, of Orvieto and Siena, and yet have been born at Como in spite of all.

Enough has been said to show that at Rome and Naples, as well as in other cities, the great Lombard Guild led the way. The guild, which may be looked on as the flower of the Renaissance, had, however, reached the period when its blossoming time was over; its many petals, too much spread, were falling from all its branches. Some had dropped off long since, and new suckers formed in the painting academies, and the sculptors' companies, at Siena, Florence, Venice, and other parts. These suckers had, by the fifteenth century, grown into independent plants, that threatened to overshadow and choke the ancient trunk. Art knowledge of all kinds had now become dispersed outside the jealous custody of the once secret Freemasonry, and the Cinque-cento artist stood alone on his own merit, without needing the cachet of the Masonic title of Magister. There were, after this time, Masters in every other art or trade guild, the nomenclature of this most ancient and universal of guilds having been adopted by all other guilds whatsoever; so that even in our own England we find Master Humphrey the iron-worker, or Master 422 Ambrose the cloth-weaver; and in Italy Maestro Giorgio the maker of majolica, and Maestro Pollajuolo the metal-worker; and in Germany the "Little Masters," who, I opine, were a German group of painters, who, like their brethren of the South, seceded from the Masters par excellence, i.e. the great Masonic Guild. 423


When I began writing this work, my object was to prove that the Comacine Masters were the true mediæval link between Classic and Renaissance Art. The results have been greater than I then foresaw. In attaching this link in its true place, the chain of Art History takes a new and changed aspect, and instead of several loose strands with here and there detached links, it becomes one continuous whole, from early Christian Rome to the Rome of Raphael and Michael Angelo.

The famous artists who formed the rise of the different schools of the Renaissance, were not each a separate genius inspired from within, but brethren of one Guild, whose education was identical, and whose teachers passed on to them what they received from their predecessors—the accumulated art-teaching of ages.

I am aware that in tracing the progress of this great Guild, the weak points are the derivation of the Comacines of Lombard times from the Roman public architects, who built for Constantine and Pope Adrian; and the connection of this Lombard Guild with the early Cathedral builders of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Between each of these transitions there lies a century or two of decadence, during the barbaric invasions and general demoralization which I have indicated in the earlier chapters. But I think I have given arguments enough to 424 prove these affinities. For the first, we have the identity of form and ornamentation in their works, and the similarity of nomenclature and organization between the Roman Collegio and the Lombard Guild of Magistri. Besides this, the well-known fact that the free republic of Como was used as a refuge by Romans who fled from barbaric invasion, makes a strong argument.

For the second, we may plead again the same identity of form and ornamentation, and a like similarity of organization and nomenclature. Just as King Luitprand's architects were called Magistri, and their grand master the Gastaldo, so we have found the great architectural Guild in Venice, in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, using the very same titles, and having the same laws.

In the Tuscan schools which have been traced direct from Lombard times, we have the same offices with the titles translated into a more mediæval Italian—or late Latin—form; the Gastaldo here becomes Arch Magister. In some Lodges it is more significant still, the ancient Roman Superstans is modified into Soprastante, thus forming a very suggestive connection between early Christian Rome and Tuscany. Again, the hereditary descent is marked by the patron saints of the Lombard and Tuscan Lodges, being four martyr brethren from a Roman Collegio. All these and other indications are surely as strong as documental proof.

The lists of the Comacine Guild begin with a few masters, who are seemingly members of three or four families only, the men of the Buoni, Antelami, and Campione schools forming the aristocracy of the Guild.

We have seen how, as the church-building era developed, the brotherhood grew and multiplied.

The Antelami family founded Lodges in Parma, Padua, and Verona; the Campione at Modena, Bergamo, and Cremona; the Buoni family spread eastwards to Venice, and 425 southwards to Tuscany, founding everywhere laboreriums and schools.

Three hundred years later we see the descendants of the Buoni and Campione artists together, building the Gothic and Renaissance palaces at Venice; masters of the Graci and Antelami families rearing the cathedrals of Siena and Orvieto; and in all the ages dispersing about Italy from north to south. We have seen how all these schools increased; native artists joining the Lombard ones, and working together with them, and though a distinctive local style was the characteristic of each school, yet in their fundamental principles they all had one rule and one teaching.

As the Guild increased and multiplied, in the times of the foundation of rival Communes, all vying with each other in building glorious churches, noble palaces, and fine houses, it frequently happened that the primitive Lombard element was overpowered by the newer local one, and then schisms and disintegration took place.

Separate local Guilds were thus formed at Venice, Siena, and Florence.

The painters next seceded, and started painting as an art independent of church decoration; and thus the Academies of Art were formed. This split took place so late after the city Arti or Guilds were established, that the painters of Florence, having left the Freemasons, had no Guild of their own; and if they wished to enjoy civic privileges, they had to enroll themselves in the Company of the Gold-workers, or that of the Apothecaries. Here we get at once a clear explanation of the goldsmith painters in Florence.

This disintegration reached its climax when Brunellesco defied the Maestranze or Masonic Magisters, proving that the Freemasons had not the exclusive right to genius; and that genius had its own claims to be heard, even without the pale of that monopolizing Guild. I think that his dome 426 literally crushed out the almost effete institution of Freemasons, and that the Florentine Lodge was broken up soon after; for by Michael Angelo's time the Medici had to supply a school for sculptors, which we have seen was placed under the instruction of old Bertoldo,—a lingering relic of the great company.

At first sight it might appear that this revelation of the universal fraternity would materially alter the history of art. In some aspects it does; for we can no longer say that Maitani built Siena cathedral, or Arnolfo that of Florence, nor assert that St. Mark's at Venice was entirely Byzantine, or Milan cathedral the work of a German architect. They were all the joint labours of the same brotherhood of artists, the plans made by the first Arch-master being modified a score of times as the centuries went on, and art developed. But in the great points the story of Art remains as it was. Certain masters still stand out as leaders and founders of schools, and every school had its own separate bias and special development of style; but Niccolò di Pisa's influence on future ages is not lessened by our finding out the masters who trained him; the Lorenzetti, Memmi, and Gaddi are not the less famous because their frescoes illustrated with divine truths the walls built by the hands of their brethren of the great Guild.

The recognition of the complex brotherhood only renders history more compact and concentrated, giving it a rich and perfect unity, and showing a gradual and consistent development, like some perfect flower which grows leaf by leaf, bud by bud, until the petals fall from its own over-blossoming. But its seeds are left to future ages. 427


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Marchese Amico Ricci. "Storia dell' Architettura in Italia dal secolo IV al XVIII." Modena, 1857. 3 vols. large 8vo.

Raffaello Cattaneo. "L' Architettura in Italia dal secolo sesto al decimo." Venezia, 1889. Ferdinando Ongania.

Dott. Gaetano Milanesi. "Documenti per la storia dell' Arte Senese." Siena, 1854. Porri. 2 vols. 8vo.

Dott. Gaetano Milanesi. "Annotazioni alle opere di Vasari." Florence, 1882. Sansoni. 8 vols. large 8vo.

James Fergusson, m.r.i.b.a. "Handbook of Architecture." London, 1859. Murray.

Alessandro da Morrona. "Pisa illustrata nelle arti del disegno." Livorno, 1812. 3 vols.

Cav. Francesco Tolomei. "Guida di Pistoja per gli amanti delle Belle Arti." Pistoja, 1821.

Cesare Guasti. "La Cupola di Santa Maria del Fiore." Illustrata con i documenti dell' archivio. Barbera. Florence, 1857.

Cesare Guasti. "Santa Maria del Fiore." La costruzione della chicesa del campanile, secondo i documenti tratti dall' archivio dell' opera secolare e da quello di stato. Firenze. Ricci, 1887.

Agostino Sagredo. "Sulle Consorterie delle Arti Edificative in Venezia. Studi storici con documenti inediti." Venezia, 1857.

Tommaso Hope. "Storia dell' Architettura." Italian translation of Hope's "Historical Essay on Architecture," by Sig. Gaetano Imperatori. Milano, 1841.

"Archivio storico Siciliano." Nuova serie, Anno IX. "Una scultura di Bonaiuto Pisano." 428

"Archivio storico Longobardico," 1898. "Descrizione di una chiesa antica sul monte di Civate."

Giovanni Villani. "Storia di Fiorenza." Filippo e Jacopo Giunti, 1587.

Muratori. "Annali d'Italia." Milano, 1744. 13 vols. quarto.

Muratori. "Scriptores Rerum Italicarum."

Camillo Boito. "I Cosmati" (pamphlet).

Dott. Giovanni Gaye. "Carteggio inedito d'artisti dei secoli XIV, XV e XVI." Firenze, 1839. Molini. 3 vols. 8vo.

Dott. Carlo Dell' Acqua. "Dell' insigne reale Basilica di S. Michele Maggiore in Pavia." Pavia, 1875. Fusi.

Father Mulroody. "The Basilica of San Clemente."

Del Rosso. "L' Osservatore Fiorentino." Third Edition. 1821. Ricci. Florence. 8 vols. 8vo.

Ciampi. "Archivio del Duomo di Pisa."

"Instituzioni, riti e ceremonie dell' ordine dei Francs-maçons, ossia Liberi Muratori." Venezia, 1788. Bassaglia.

Mrs. Jameson. "Sacred and Legendary Art." London, 1879. Longmans, Green and Co.

Paulus Diaconus. "Storia dei Fatti dei Longobardi." Udine, 1826. Mattiuzzi.

John Addington Symonds. "Renaissance of Art: Fine Arts." London, 1877. Smith and Elder.

Montalembert. "The Monks of the West" (Italian translation).

Pietro Selvatico. "Storia estetico-critica dell' arti del disegno."

Pietro Selvatico. "Sull' architettura e sulla scultura in Venezia nel medio evo sino ai nostri giorni." Venice, 1847. Ripamonte.

Milman. "A History of Latin Christianity."

"Borgo San Donnino e suo Santuario" (anonymous).

Affò. "Storia della città di Parma," sino al 1347. Parma, 1837. Carmignana.

Difendente Sacchi. "L'arca di S. Agostino illustrata."

Michele Ridolfi. "Sopra alcuni monumenti delle belle Arti di Lucca." Lucca, 1844. Guidotti. 429


  • Abadia on Lake Maggiore, 114
  • Abbondio, S., bishop of Como, 34, 142
  • Accademia delle Belle Arti, Florence, 280
  • Adelgiso, son of Desiderius, 56
  • Adrian I., pope, 403
  • Agilulf, king, marries Theodolinda, 33;
    • shelters St. Columban, 86
  • Alachi, duke of Brescia, 47, 54
  • Alba Fucense, its pulpit, 238
  • Albertus Magnus, 12, 134, 137, 201
  • Alboin, enters Italy, 31, 32
  • Alexander II., pope, 226
  • Alfonso, duke of Calabria, 304
  • Alfred, king, founds Ripon cathedral, 150
  • Alphonso of Aragon, 419
  • Amalasunta, queen, her hospital, 107
  • Amantius, bishop of Como, 34, 78
  • Anagni, 410
  • Ancona, the Pieve at, 242, 243
  • Andrea Pisano, 211, 328
  • Andrea from Serra di Falco, 114
  • Annex, a German, 355
  • Anselberga, daughter of King Desiderius, 56
  • Ansige, abbot of Fontanelles, 103
  • Antelami (Magistri), 188, 189, 232, 424
  • Antonio di San Gallo, 416
  • Antonio, S., 200
  • Aquisgrana (Aix-la-Chapelle), the Basilica, 103
  • Arca di S. Agostino, 50, 202 et seq.
  • Arches, first pointed, 178, 179;
    • cusped arch, 252
  • Ardoin, 128
  • Arezzo, its palace, 234
  • Aribert II., 46
  • Arichi, duke of Lombardy, 44
  • Arnolfo di Cambio, 224, 291, 313;
    • his death, 325
  • Arte della Lana, 337, 343
  • Arte dei Maestri di Pietra, Senese, 286
  • Arte dei Maestri di Pietra, at Florence, 338, 343
  • Arte de' Medici e Speziali, 273
  • Arte degli Orafi, 339, 425
  • Arte della Seta, 338, 343
  • Arte dei tajapiere, Venice, 387 et seq.
  • Assisi, first parts Gothic, 252;
    • painting, 272
  • Asteno, near Porlezza, its church, 184
  • Astolfo, king, 55
  • Autharis, king, takes Comacina, 28, 141;
    • marries Theodolinda, 32;
    • builds church of Farfa, 35
  • Ava, the Longobard, 285
  • Azzo Visconti, 381
  • Baptisteries, their form, 115
  • Barbarossa, Frederic, 116
  • Bargello at Florence, 61, 149
  • Barnack church, 149
  • Basle, Comacine work there, 135
  • Beneventum, dukes of, 114;
    • cathedral of, 246
  • Benozzo Gozzoli, 276
  • Berengarius, the house of, 109
  • Bertharis, king, dethroned and recalled, 45;
    • saved by his servants, 53
  • Bianchi and Neri factions, 236
  • Biscop (Benedict), abbot of Wearmouth, 150
  • Boniface, St., his mission to Germany, 133
  • Bradford-on-Avon, 149, 157
  • Bramante, 416
  • Bregno, Antonio, 393
  • Brixworth, 147
  • Broletto at Como, 382
  • Brunellesco, Filippo, 321;
  • Buono, Giovanni, fights for Como, 116;
  • Buono (Maestro), 236, 237.
  • Buschetto, 209 et seq.
  • Byzantine work, compared with Comacine, 75, 158
  • Cadoc, St., 147
  • Cambio, or Exchange, 315 430
  • Campione school, 196 et seq., 232, 352, 425
  • Carloman, 58
  • Casciano, San, near Florence, the pulpit, 225
  • Castel Capuana, 233
  • Castle of Branigola, 41
  • Castle of Perleda, 40
  • Castle of Tivoli, 260
  • Certosa at Pavia, 358 et seq.
  • Charlemagne, emperor, rebuilds Rome, 15;
    • defeats Desiderius, 58, 97;
    • takes Comacines to France, 105
  • Churches:
    • S. Abbondio, Como, 84
    • S. Agatha al Monte, Pavia, 45
    • S. Agnese fuori le mura, 9, 97, 152, 403
    • S. Ambrogio, Milan, 83, 84;
    • S. Andrea, Pistoja, 233, 249
    • S. Antonio, Padua, 199
    • S. Apollinare in Classe, 153, 157
    • Ara Cœli, 409
    • S. Bartholomew, Smithfield, 124, 125
    • S. Bartolommeo, Pistoja, 153, 230, 235, 249
    • S. Benigno at Dijon, 122, 123
    • S. Cassiano, near Pisa, 222
    • S. Clemente, panel of altar, 9;
    • S. Croce, 277, 333
    • S. Donato at Polenta, 92, 93
    • S. Donnino, near Parma, 181
    • S. Fedele, Como, 81, 104
    • S. Francesco at Assisi, 179
    • S. Fredianus, Lucca, 48, 49, 94, 246
    • S. Gemignano, Modena, 193
    • S. George, Brescia, 47
    • S. Giovanni in Borgo, Pavia, 42
    • S. Giovanni Evangelista Fuorcivitas, Pistoja, 223, 234, 236
    • S. Giovanni Laterano, 408
    • S, Giovanni e Paolo, Rome, 65
    • S. Giusto, Lucca, 244
    • S. Julia at Bonate, 40, 41
    • S. Lorenzo fuori le mura, Rome, 407
    • S. Lorenzo in Lucca, 99
    • S. Lorenzo, Verona, 96, 153
    • S. Marco dei Precipazi, 84
    • S. Maria in Cosmedin, 97-99, 404, 405, 411
    • S. Maria foris portam, 46
    • S. Maria dei Fiori, Florence, 312 et seq., 337
    • S. Maria Novella, Florence, 278
    • S. Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, 182 et seq.
    • S. Maria Maggiore, Brescia, 47
    • S. Maria Maggiore, Toscanella, its pulpit, 89
    • S. Maria del Tiglio, at Gravedona, 40, 152
    • S. Martino at Lucca, 226
    • S. Michele in Borgo, Pisa, 223, 245
    • S. Michele, Lucca, 228, 243
    • S. Michele, Monza, 37 et seq.
    • S. Michele, Pavia, 50 et seq.;
      • its façade, 77-80
    • Monreale cathedral, 127
    • Or San Michele, Florence, 333
    • S. Paolo fuori le mura, Rome, 407
    • S. Paolo, Pistoja, 240
    • S. Pier Scheraggio, 91;
      • its pulpit, 406
    • S. Piero in Grado, 37, 50;
    • S. Piero Maggiore, Pistoja, 240
    • S. Pietro in Ciel d'oro, Pavia, 50
    • S. Pietro le Dome, Brescia, 47
    • S. Pietro di Monte Civate, 56 et seq.
    • S. Prassede, 97, 148
    • SS. Quattro Coronati, 22
    • S. Salvatore, Pavia, 46
    • S. Sofia, Beneventum, 248
    • S. Sofia, Constantinople, 69, 70
    • S. Tommaso at Lemine, 41
    • S. Zeno, Verona, 95, 96, 111
  • Cimabue, 271, 274;
  • Cione family, 331 et seq.
  • Clement VIII., pope, 418
  • Cloisters, San Lorenzo, Rome, 65;
    • S. John Lateran, 66;
    • Voltorre, 115;
    • S. Zeno, Verona, 66
  • Colle in Val d'Elsa, 316, 318
  • Collegia, Romana, 7, 10, 11, 138 et seq., 403
  • Cologne, churches at, 136
  • Colonies, Lombard, in Sicily, 128, 129
  • Comacina island a refuge for Romans, 23
  • Comacine Masters, who they were, 5 et seq.
  • Comagene, now Eufratisia, 69
  • Como, a Roman colony, 5, 141;
    • its antiquities, 25, 26;
    • is besieged, 116;
    • its war with Milan, 233;
    • its cathedral, 381 et seq.
  • Confraternity of painters at Florence, 280
  • Constantine the Great, 53;
  • Constantinople, 142
  • Contract of apprenticeship, 292
  • Convents, Comacine, their form and style, 65
  • Corneto Tarquinia, 227;
    • ciborium there, 238
  • Cortelona, Luitprand's villa, 54
  • Cosimo I., Grand Duke, 280
  • Cosimo Rosselli, 275
  • Cremona, its cathedral, 185, 186
  • Crosses:
  • Cunibert, king, 47;
    • goes to Lucca, 48;
    • fights Alachi, 54;
    • erects tomb to Theodata, 87
  • Desiderius, abbot, 114, 210
  • Desiderius, king, 55 et seq.
  • Diotisalvi, Pisan architect, 214
  • Donatello, 306, 337
  • Donnino, Borgo San, its church, 181
  • Duccio of Siena, 276
  • Edwin, king, builds York cathedral, 145
  • Eginbert, biographer of Charlemagne, 103
  • Eriprand, duke of Cremona, 45
  • Ermelind, queen, 87
  • Ethelred, king, rebuilt Oxford cathedral, 159
  • Fabiola, her hospice, 107
  • Faliero, Doge Marino, 390
  • Falleri, 409
  • Fermo cathedral, 190
  • Ferrara, its cathedral, 198
  • Fiesole destroyed, 14;
    • its cathedral, 236
  • Filippo Maria Visconti, 382
  • Florence founded, 14;
    • its baptistery, 213 note;
    • its Duomo, 312 et seq.
  • Fontana family, 417 et seq.
  • Fontana, Giovanni, 258
  • Fontana, Melide, 258
  • Fortresses, Comacine, 66;
    • Baradello, 68;
    • Civita Vecchia, 416
  • Fortunato, patriarch, of Grado, 113;
  • France, Lombard architecture in, 131, 132
  • Francesco del Coro, 300
  • "Franchi Artefici," meaning of the term, 113
  • Frederic, emperor, 128, 318
  • Fredianus, S., bishop of Lucca, 48, 164
  • Freemasons in mediæval times, 12, 13
  • Freemasons, seventeenth century, Italian, 16 et seq.;
    • English building Freemasons, 18
  • French Masters in Italy, 359
  • Frescoes, early Christian, 266 et seq.;
  • Galeazzo, Gian, 351 et seq., 358;
  • Gastaldo, Grand Master, 86, 388 et seq., 424
  • Genseric destroys Roman churches, 403
  • German Masters in Italy, 320, 358, 360 et seq.
  • Germany, Lombard architecture there, 133 et seq.;
    • its cathedrals, 216
  • Ghiberti employed at the Duomo, 341 et seq.
  • Ghini family, 331
  • Giotto, 278, 323, 326 et seq.
  • Giovanni da Gratz, 369
  • Giuliano da Majano, 414, 416, 419
  • Giunta di Pisa, 271;
    • his scholars, 276
  • Glass, early manufacture of, 156
  • Grado, near Pisa, church at, 100 et seq.
  • Grado, near Venice, its Basilica, 113, 174
  • Greek Masters in Italy, 74, 273
  • Gregory, pope, 143, 144
  • Grimoald, duke of Beneventum, 45, 47
  • Groppoli, near Pistoja, its pulpit, 249
  • Gruamonte, 234 et seq.
  • Guazetta, 335
  • Guido da Siena, 272, 275
  • Guidotti dal Colle, 271
  • Guillaume, S., abbot of S. Benigne, 122, 126, 175
  • Gundeberg, queen, 42;
    • builds churches, 42;
    • her rings, and the ring fair, 43, 44
  • Gunduald, Luitprand's doctor, 54
  • Heinrich or Ulric of Gmunden, 361, 369, 374
  • Heinrich of Ulm, 361, 362
  • Hexham church, 150 et seq.
  • Honorius, Bishop of Canterbury, 145
  • Hospices, 106, 107
  • Iconoclastic edict, 73 432
  • Justinian, emperor, rebuilds Sta. Sofia, 69
  • Laborerium, 207:
  • Leo III., the Isaurian, 73, 74
  • Leonardo da Vinci, 369
  • Lion of Judah, sign of Comacine work, 243, 244
  • Loggie (Lodges), 19, 61, 201, 208, 288, 305
  • Lombard colonies in Sicily, 128
  • Lombard kings, chronological table of, 30
  • Lombard Masters, table of, 31
  • Lombards in Rome, 412;
  • Lombardi Solari family, 395 et seq.
  • Lorenzo il Magnifico, 280
  • Lothaire, bishop, his church of S. Zeno, 96
  • Lothaire, king, his wars, 108
  • Lucca, 225 et seq., 246
  • Luitprand, king, his laws for Comacines, 24, 44, 63 et seq., 160;
    • his foot, 50;
    • his churches, 50 et seq.
  • Magister, what the term means, 15;
    • Arch Magister, 17;
    • Magisters in Sicily, 129;
    • Magistri frati, 200, 287;
    • different kinds, 265
  • Magistri:
    • Adam, atrium of S. Ambrogio, 112
    • Adam, de Arogno, 182
    • Agostino da Siena, 298
    • Albertinus Buono, 239
    • Albertus Buono, 239
    • Ambrogio Lenzo, 334
    • Andrea Fusina, 371
    • Andrea da Modena, 352 et seq.
    • Andrea di Pisa, 211, 220, 224
    • Anselmo (Tedesco) da Campione, and Arrigo, Alberto, and Jacopo, his sons, 194 et seq.
    • Antonio of Como, 260
    • Antonio Mantegazza, 378
    • Antonio da Padernò, 369
    • Antonio Rizo, or Riccio, 391, 392, 397
    • Apollonius, 273
    • Arnolfo, 224, 291, 313, 407
    • Auripert, a painter, 55
    • Bartolo Fredi, 276
    • Bartolommeo Buono, 253, 260, 390, 393, 398
    • Bartolommeo de Gorgonzola, 368
    • Bartolommeo di Pisa, bronze worker, 221
    • Beltramo, 413 et seq.
    • Benedetto da Antelamo, 187, 188, 245
    • Bernardino da Bissone, 386, 391
    • Bernardo da Venezia, 374
    • Bertrando of Como, 260
    • Biduinus, 222
    • Bonaiuto di Pisa, 223
    • Bonanno, 220, 221
    • Bonino da Campione, 203
    • Buono, 236, 237, 238
    • Cellini, 239
    • Cimabue, 274
    • Cosmato, and his family, 409 et seq.
    • Cristoforo Gobbo, 371, 379
    • Cristoforo Mantegazza, 378
    • Diotisalvi of Pisa, 214, 250, 291
    • Dolcebono Rodari, 368, 377
    • Enrico Buono, 239
    • Filippino degli Argani, 364 et seq., 366
    • Francesco di Giorgio Martini, 303, 370 et seq.
    • Francesco Talenti, 328 et seq., 334
    • Franciscus da S. Simone, 276
    • Fredus, 183
    • Giacomo Dolcibuono, 370
    • Giacomo da Pietrasanta, 414
    • Giorgio degli Argani, 366
    • Giorgio da Iesi, 190
    • Giovan Antonio Amadeo, 370, 377
    • Giovanni di Ambrogio, 336
    • Giovanni Balducci di Pisa, 225
    • Giovanni Buoni da Bissone, 189, 233, 385
    • Giovanni Buono, 253;
      • builds Ca d'Oro, 389
    • Giovanni da Campilione, 184
    • Giovanni da Carona, 366 et seq.
    • Giovannino dei Graci, 363, 375
    • Giovanni di Lapo Ghino, 328 et seq., 334
    • Giovanni Pisano, 222, 224, 291, 293 et seq. 433
    • Giovanni Solari, 377
    • Graci, 237;
      • a later one, 291
    • Gufredo, 182
    • Guglielmo Tedesco, 220, 223
    • Guglielmo, his porch at S. Zeno, 112;
      • façade at Modena, 196;
      • at Ferrara, 198
    • Guidetto, his works at Lucca, 227-231
    • Guido da Como, 227, 249, 250
    • Guiniforte, 367, 378, 395
    • Jacobus Porrata, 186, 251
    • Jacopo da Campione, 257 et seq., 375 et seq.
    • Jacopo Dagurro da Bissone, 261
    • Jacopo della Quercia, 298 et seq.
    • Jacopo (Tedesco) da Campione, 197, 252, 294, 315 et seq.
    • Jacopo da Tradate, 363;
      • his sons, 364
    • Lando, 297 et seq.
    • Lanfrancus, 115, 193
    • Lorenzo di Mariano, 302
    • Lorenzo de' Spazi, 382
    • Luca Fancelli, 369
    • Manfredo of Como, 260
    • Marco da Carona, 356, 358, 365
    • Marco da Frixone, 353 et seq.
    • Martino di Giorgio da Varenna, 302
    • Matteo da Campione, 197, 363, 386 et seq.
    • Niccolao Pela, 336
    • Niccolò Pisano, 211, 222, 247, 250, 291
    • Nicolaus, his porch at S. Zeno, 112;
      • façade at Modena, 196;
      • Ferrara, 198
    • Nino di Pisa, 224, 225
    • Pantaleone Buono, 393
    • Paolo da Campagnano, 260
    • Paulinus, 145
    • Paulus and his sons, 407
    • Philippus, an Englishman, 69
    • Piccone, 54
    • Piero di Beltrami, 301
    • Pietro di Apulia, 221, 247
    • Pietro Lombardi and his descendants, 395 et seq., 398
    • Pietro da Varese, 413 et seq.
    • Rainaldo, 212
    • Rainaldus, sculptures façade of Pisa cathedral, 16
    • Ramo da Paganelli, 293
    • Roberto, 246
    • Simone da Arsenigo, 352 et seq., 354
    • Simone Talenti, 331, 336
    • Fra Sisto and Fra Ristoro, 125, 318
    • Tommaso di Como, 420
    • Uberto and his brother Pietro, 408
    • Ugone da Campione and his sons, 183
    • Urbano da Cortona, 306
    • Ursus, his ciborium, 85
    • Zeno da Campione, 363
  • Majorca, 213
  • Manfred, king, 318
  • Maniace, Lombard colony there, 128
  • Margaritone of Arezzo, 275
  • Maximilian, emperor, 138
  • Mellitus, the monk, 144
  • Michael Angelo, 416
  • Milan, its Duomo, 350 et seq.
  • Missions (early) to Normandy, 123 et seq.;
    • to Germany, 133 et seq.;
    • to England, 143 et seq.;
    • to Ireland, 160 et seq.
  • Modena, its Duomo, 116, 193
  • Monasteries:
    • S. Abbondio at Bercela, 54
    • S. Fredianus, Lucca, 48
    • S. George, 47, 48
    • Sta. Giulia, Brescia, 53
    • Monte Barro, 40
    • Palazzolo at Lucca, 54
    • Subiaco, 179
  • Monkswearmouth, Durham, 156
  • Monreale, its cathedral, 127
  • Monte Cassino, convent, 66, 114
  • Monza, its church, 380 et seq.
  • Mosques, El Haram and Amrou, 179
  • Murano, its church, 113
  • Mythic sculpture, 75, 80
  • Nanni di Banco, 337
  • Nicholas V., pope, 412
  • Nicknames, their common use, 235 note
  • Nino di Pisa, 225
  • Norman architecture, 123, 126, 130
  • Normans, their connection with Sicily, 121, 128
  • Oil paintings, 277, 418
  • Opera. See Laborerium
  • Orcagna, 329, 332 et seq.
  • Orseolo (Doge Pietro), 390
  • Orsino (Virginio), Duke of Bracciano, 304
  • Orso Orseolo, patriarch of Aquileja, 122
  • Orvieto, its Duomo, 224, 300 et seq.;
  • Otho, emperor, confirms Comacine privileges, 27
  • Otho, his decree, 27, 28;
  • Otho Orseolo, Doge of Venice, 122
  • Padua, church of S. Antonio, 199, 237
  • Painters of the Guild, their secession, 265 et seq.
  • Palaces (private), Florentine, 258;
    • Venetian, 260
  • Palace of Desiderius at S. Gemignano, 62, 257
  • Palace, Luitprand's, at Milan, 62
  • Palazzo Pubblico, 256;
    • at Perugia, 257;
    • at Todi, 257;
    • at Udine, 258;
    • Capodimonte, 421
  • Palazzo Vecchio (Florence), 61, 259
  • Palazzo Venezia (Rome), 415 et seq.
  • Palermo, its cathedral, 126, 213
  • Papal forts, 260, 261, 415
  • Parma, 238
  • Paulinus, assists St. Augustine, 145
  • Pavia, its church, 50, 77 et seq.;
    • its castle, 202;
    • its Certosa, 373 et seq.
  • Penna, inscription there, 191
  • Pepin, king, founds church of S. Lorenzo, 96
  • Peter Martyr, St., his tomb, 225
  • Piacenza, its walls, 106
  • Pisa, beginning of the Duomo, 173, 209 et seq.;
    • baptistery, 214
  • Pistoja, 223, 225 et seq.;
    • its baptistery, 240
  • Pius II., pope, 260
  • Pliny's villa at Como, 26
  • Prato, its Duomo, 229
  • Provveditore, his office, 208 et seq.;
    • his books, 322 et seq.
  • SS. Quattro Coronati, 20;
    • inscription to them, 21;
    • sculptures representing them, 207;
    • their fête, 289
  • Quercia, Jacopo della, 337
  • Rahere, founder of St. Bartholomew, Smithfield, 124
  • Rainaldo, Magister at Pisa, 211, 212
  • Raphael, 416
  • Ratchis, king, becomes a monk, 55
  • Ravenna, towers at, 153, 154
  • Richard, prior of Hagustald, 160
  • Richard II., of Normandy, duke, 123, 158
  • Roger I., duke, 126
  • Roger II., king of Apulia, 126
  • Rome, Comacine fortresses near, 260;
    • Lombards in Rome, 412 et seq.
  • Rotharis, king, his laws, 5, 6, 160
  • Runic inscriptions, 148
  • Saints:
  • Sansovino, Jacopo, 394
  • Saracenic architecture, 121, 177, 406
  • Saxon architecture, Book II. ch. iii.
  • Sculptured animals, their meaning, 72, 73
  • Scuola di S. Giovanni Evangelista, 396
  • Scuola di San Marco, 396, 399
  • Sforza, Francesco, 365, 367, 420
  • Sicily, the revival there, 126 et seq., 175, 406
  • Siena cathedral, 224, 285 et seq.
  • Sixtus IV., pope, 261, 416
  • Sixtus V., pope, 418
  • Solari family, 395 et seq.
  • Solomon's knot, its meaning and origin, 72, 82, 243
  • Spanish chapel, 278, 326
  • Statutes of the Masonic Guild in Siena, 287, 291
  • Steepleton church, Dorset, 149
  • Stilicho the Goth, his tomb, 89
  • Strasburg, Freemasons there, 137
  • Symbolism of the Comacine Guild, 71 et seq.
  • Talenti, Francesco, 328 et seq.
  • "Tedesco," what the word means in architecture, 216, 218
  • Theodata, her tomb at Pavia, 87
  • Theodolinda, her marriages, 32 et seq.;
    • her churches, 37-40
  • Theodosius, his laws on building in marble, 81
  • Toller Fratrum, Dorset, 149
  • Tomb of:
    • Can della Scala, Verona, 203, 204, 252
    • Cardinal Longhi degli Alessandri, 185
    • S. Domenico, Bologna, 223
    • Folchino de Schicci, 204
    • Gian Galeazzo Visconti, 254 435
    • Mastino II., dei Scaligeri, 253
    • The Bishop of Siena, 301
    • Theodoric at Ravenna, 218
  • Tommaso de Mutina (Modena), 275
  • Torcello, 73
  • Torriano family of Milan, 385
  • Toscanella, pulpit there, 89
  • Towers, Comacine, their form, 67, 153;
    • San Marco, Venice, 233;
    • round towers of Ireland, 161 et seq.;
    • Pisa, 219, 220;
    • Fiesole, 237
  • Trent, its cathedral, 181 et seq.
  • Turrisianus of Pistoja, 230, 238
  • Vatican, 414 et seq.
  • Vecchietta, 306
  • Venice, 8, 113;
    • its fifteenth-century restorations, 385 et seq., 397
  • Verona fortified by Charlemagne, 106
  • Visconti family, 349, 364, 373 et seq.
  • Vitale, 300
  • Voltorre, its cloister, 115, 193
  • Wenceslaus, king, 350
  • Wilfrid, bishop of York, 150, 155
  • William of Normandy, 123
  • Winchester tower, 153
  • Zambono, northern Italian for Giovanni Buono, 237
  • Zohak, emblem of remorse, 79
  • Zurich, the Gross Münster, 135


Richard Clay & Sons Limited, London & Bungay.


[1] Professor Giuseppe Merzario.—I Maestri Comacini. Storia Artistica di Mille duecento anni, 600-1800. Published in 1893 by Giacomo Agnelli, of 2, Via S. Margherita, Milan. Two vols., large octavo. (Price 12 frcs.)

[2] "Si Magister Comacinus, cum collegis suis, domum ad restaurandum, vel fabricandum super se placito finito de mercede susceperit, et contigerit aliquem per ipsam domum aut materiam, aut lapide lapso moti, aut quodlibet damnum fieri, non requiratur domino, cuius domus fuerit, nisi Magister Comacinus cum consortibus suis ipsum homicidium aut damnum componat, qui postquam fabulam firmatam de mercede pro suo lucro susciperit, non immerito sustinet damnum."

[3] "Si quis Magister Comacinum unum aut plures rogaverit, aut conduxerit ad operam dictandum, aut solatium diurnum praestandum inter suos servos ad domum aut casam faciendam et contigerit per ipsam casam, aliquem ex ipsis Comacinis mori non requiratur ab ipso, cuius casa est. Nam si cadens arbor, aut lapis ex ipsa fabrica, et occiderit aliquem extraneum, aut quodlibet damnum fecerit, non reputetur culpa magistro, sed ille qui conduxit, ipsum damnum sustineat."—From the Edict of Rotharis—edited by Troyes.

[4] Stieglitz, Geschichte der Baukunst, 1827, pp. 423, 424. See also Hope's Historical Essay on Architecture, 1835, pp. 229-237.

[5] See Hope's Historical Essay on Architecture, 3rd edition, 1840, chap. xxi. pp. 203-216.

[6] E mandaro al Senato di Roma, che mandassi loro i più sofficienti maestri, e più sottili (subtle) che fossero in Roma: e cosi fu fatto.—Storia di G. Villani. Libro primo, cap. xlii.

[7] Cassiodorus, Variorum, Lib. VI. Epist. vi. Ad Prefectum Urbis De Architecta Publicorum.

[8] Morrona, Pisa illustrata nelle Arti del Disegno, p. 160. Pisa, 1812.

[9] Instituzioni, riti e ceremonie dell' ordine de' Francs-Maçons, ossia Liberi Muratori.—In Venezia MDCCLXXXVIII, presso Leonardo Bassaglia, Con Licenza de' Superiori.

[10] The Charter Richard II. for the year 1396, quoted in the Masonic Magazine (1882), has the following entry—"341 Concessimus archiepiscopo Cantuar, quod, viginti et quatuor lathomos vocatus ffre Maceons et viginti et quatuor lathomos vocatos ligiers ... capere ... possit." Here then at Canterbury is the same thing as at Milan, and all other ancient cathedral-building cities,—the master builders are Freemasons, i.e. of the great and universal guild,—the underlings who assist them have not the same rank and privilege. The Act Henry VI., c. 12, 1444, says in queer mixed parlance—"Les gagez ascun frank mason ou maister Carpenter nexcede pas par le jour IIIJ d. (denari) ovesque mangier & boier ... un rough mason and mesne Carpenter ... III d. par le jour." Here we recognize the same distinction of grades between the master who has matriculated and the mason of lower grade. It is interesting also to note that the master carpenter is equally a Freemason as well as the master builder. In Italy the same peculiarity is noticeable; the magister lignamine, whose work was to make scaffoldings and roofs, is a member of the Maestranze, just as much as the magister lapidorum, and yet a master in wood is never a stonemason. The members seem to have been grounded in all the branches, but only graduated in one of them. The author of the article "Freemason" in the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, seems to be perplexed over the expression "maestre mason de franche peer" ("master mason of free-stone"); but this is merely the equivalent of the Latin magister lapidus vivum, from Saxum vivum, free-stone, which merely means a sculptor, in distinction to an architect, who was magister inzignorum.

[11] At one era in Lombard times a law was made that no marble was to be used in building, except by royal persons—which accounts for all the Lombard churches being sculptured in Saxum vivum, or free-stone. There may have been a similar custom in England where marble was scarce.

[12] There were other five martyrs of the Masonic guild, whose names have been given as Carpoferus, Severus, Severanus, Victorianus, and Symphorian. I have taken the four "Coronati" from the statutes of the Venetian Arte.

[13] Mrs. Jameson finds the Santi Quattro illustrated in a predella in Perugia Academy. In one scene they are kneeling before the Emperor with their implements in their hands. In another they are bound to four columns and tortured. In a third they are in an iron cage and being thrown into the sea. In their own church they are represented as lying in one sarcophagus with crowns on their heads. In sculpture they also occur on the façades of several early churches; on the Arco di S. Agostino, and lastly on Or San Michele at Florence, where Nanni di Banco had so much trouble in squeezing the four of them into one niche, that Donatello had to help him. These sculptures were placed by the Arte of masons and stone-cutters, and they naturally chose their patron saints.

[14] Gregor. Epist. Tom. III. Epist. iv. an. 755.

[15] Pietro Giannone, an exile from Naples, contemporary of Muratori, was the first to mention this Memoratorio, which he said he had seen among the precious codices of the monks at Cava dei Tirreni; that it contained 152 laws, seven of which were added specially for the Comacine Masters.

[16] See Epistola ad Mustio, 39, lib. ix.

[17] Lib. X. Epist. xliii.

[18] Muratori, Novus Thesaurus veterum Inscriptorum, Vol. I. chap. vii. p. 526.

[19] Antiq. Long. Mil. Tom. I. chap. i. p. 17.

[20] Antiq. Long. Mil. vol. i.; Dissertationi, p. 17.

[21] Their daughter Gundeberg had a similar life; she married first Ariold, and then Rotharis.

[22] Symonds, Renaissance of Art, Fine Arts, chap. ii.

[23] Annali d'Italia, tom. iv. pp. 38, 39.

[24] The first Roman Basilica was constructed in 231 B.C., by Marcus Portius Cato, and was called the Basilica Portia. Marcus Fulvis Nobilior built one, called the Fulvia, in 179 B.C.; Titus Sempronius, 169 B.C. Then followed a long line of these religio-judicial buildings, up to the Basilica Julia of Augustus, 29 B.C., and ending with the Ulpian Basilica of Trajan, A.D. 100.—Ricci, Arch. Ital. chap. ii.

[25] Dell' Architettura in Italia, vol. i. p. 174.

[26] A document, dated 739, in the archives of Monte Amiata, speaks of a certain Maestro Comacino, named Rodpert, who sold to Opportuno for 30 gold solidi, his property at Toscanella (then a Longobardic territory), consisting of a house and vineyard, a cloister, cistern, land, etc.

[27] Cattaneo, L' Architettura in Italia, p. 46.

[28] Gundiberga ... intra ticinensem Civitatem in honorem Beati Joannis Baptistae construxit.—Paul. Diac. lib. iv. cap. 4. This must not be confounded with the Baptistery which was built by Bishop Damiano in the same century.

[29] Several of the Lombard towers in Rome have this peculiar ornamentation.

[30] Antichità Romantiche d'Italia, da Difendente e Giuseppe Sacchi, p. 70, et seq.

[31] Felice quoque meæ sorori ejus tres annulos transmisi due cum jacintis, et unum cum albula.—Gregor. Epist. ad Teod. lib. xiv.

[32] Paulus Diaconus, Sto. Longo. lib. iv. cap. 20.

[33] Ibid. iv. 21.

[34] Ricci, Architettura d'Italia, Vol. I. ch. viii. p. 221.

[35] Paul Diac. Lib. V. ch. xxxiv.

[36] Antiq. Long. Milanesi, Tom. I. Dissertation i. p. 46.

[37] There is a very good instance of this in the Baptistery at Florence, which was also a ceremonial church.

[38] This was said to have been built by Agilulf, 591-615, and rebuilt by Luitprand. It was again restored in 1152, when Pope Innocent II. reconsecrated it.

[39] In the fifteenth century the fine mausoleum, known as the Arco di S. Agostino, was erected over them by a later Comacine Master, Bonino da Campiglione. In the eighteenth century the church, having fallen into disuse, was turned into a hay store for the army, and the Arco was, in 1786, moved into the modern church of Gesù, where it remained till placed in the cathedral, where it now is.

[40] Études sur l'histoire de l'art, vol. ii. p. 157. Paris, 1864.

[41] Paulus Diaconus Warnefridi, Chron. de gestis Langobardorum, Lib. V. cap. iii.

[42] Antiq. Long. Mil. Tom. I. Dissertation i. p. 68.

[43] "Prese molti corpi de' santi dai contorni di Roma, fatti poi trasportare a Pavia."

[44] It seems probable that the sandstone capitals alone belonged to the first eighth-century church, and the marble ones to the eleventh-century restoration. There is now a modern church built over the old crypt.

[45] Dell' Architettura in Italia, viii. 257.

[46] See Sacchi, Antichità Romantiche d'Italia, p. 98.

[47] Ricci (Dell' Architettura, etc.) tells us the spiral column was very anciently used in Asia, and that Rome did not adopt it till Hadrian's return from the East. Under the later Cæsars it became usual, but it fell into disuse in the rest of Italy. The Byzantines used it in some buildings, and in these two early Longobardic imitations of the East, we have a curious masonic link with the ancient traditions of Solomon's Temple, which Josephus tells us was adorned with spiral columns. It may be that they were old Roman columns carried up the mountain from some ruin, but I should rather take them as one of the first instances of the use of the spiral column by the Comacines, a form to which they were devoted in later times. There are endless instances of spiral colonnettes on the façades of Romanesque churches of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

[48] I speak of the time when Signor Difendente Sacchi visited the church in 1828, before writing his work.

[49] Probably the root of our word Lobby.

[50] I Maestri Comacini, Vol. I. chap. i. p. 50.

[51] The words asse and tavole for planks of wood still survive in Italy.

[52] Hope, Storia dell' Architettura, chap. xxv. p. 179, 180.

[53] See the illustration of the church of S. Frediano, on page 48, for a perfect specimen of Lombard tower.

[54] Ant. med. aevi, Tom. I. chap. ii. p. 158.

[55] De' real palazzi, ch. i. par. 4.

[56] That the Longobards were either metal-workers themselves, or had Italian artificers in their pay, we know from the specimens preserved in Monza Cathedral, and especially the crown of Agilulf, of which the Antichità Longobardica Milanesi gives an illustration.

[57] Sancti Ambrosii, Comment. in S. Luc. Lib. V. cap. vi.

[58] Dell' Architettura in Italia, cap. viii. p. 245.

[59] Would this at all explain the Runic knot in Ireland, and in Scandinavia, where there was very early intercourse with the Phœnicians?

[60] Amantius, the fourth Bishop of Como, was translated from the See of Thessalonica to that of Como.

[61] Antichità Romantiche d'Italia, Vol. I. capo iv. p. 138.

[62] "Sophiæ patres, per quædam occulta et audacia enigmata, manifestant divinam, et misticam et inviam immundis veritatum."—Sancti Dionisii, de Theologia Simbolica, Epistola I. ad Titum Pontificem.

[63] A very pretty later instance of this myth is in the fresco of the Spanish chapel in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, where the Dominican monks are figured as the "dogs of the Lord" (domini canes—mediæval pun), fighting and overwhelming the heretical paterini whom the monks literally fought with in the streets of Florence. The dog is always used as emblem of fidelity—the hare treated alone is generally used as an emblem of unchastity; when in the chase, as unfaithfulness.

[64] I am informed, by a literary Hindoo lady, that Zohak, so graphically described by Southey as the emblem of remorse, is from an ancient Persian legend, and not of Indian origin.

[65] The stone is evidently a remnant of the ancient architrave of the façade, where it has been replaced by two modern slabs, and the arch above filled in with masonry.