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CONSTITUTION OF FLORENCE. 65
kept the seal of the city, but rather a judge ; and when in
the earlier times he was called to lead the troops in military
expeditions, the authority was conferred on him by vote of
The podesta was chosen by electors whom the councils of
the commune appointed for this purpose. On his arrival at
Florence he swore in a parlamento or else before the council,
to observe with his family the statutes of the commune. His
family consisted, among others, of seven foreign judges,
eighteen notaries and a number of sergeants or sheriffs. Of
the judges, four formed with him a board for hearing cases
of appeal in the last instance, and three were charged with
hearing appeals from the town-judges of the wards of the
city ; each of the three having two wards for his province.
wThe whole work of public justice may have been at first in
his hands, but after 1250 his jurisdiction was chiefly confined
to criminal cases.
The reason for selecting a foreigner lay in the desire to find
a man who should be impartial amid the quarrels of factions,
of houses belonging to the same faction, and of the classes of
the inhabitants. But Capponi remarks that, " as foreigners
and seignors of high birth, they had no good understanding
with the people, and felt little regard for the laws which they
were called to execute" (i., 138).
Soon after the establishment of this office the county of
Florence was made to swear obedience to the lordship or
seignory of the commune (1218). Until then different parts
of it had been immediately subject to various counts and gen-
tlemen. (G. Villani, v., 21.) This marks either an increasing
sense of independence or that it was felt necessary to take
away feudal rights from the landed proprietors.
About the same time (in 1215), the strife between the
strife of Gueiphs Guelphs and the Ghibellines broke out into
and Ghibellines be- _,,_.,. , . < .-,.
gins. bloody feuds, the introduction to the strife being
a family quarreL A member of the Buondelrnonti, a noble
house which had been forced to come into the city in conse-
quence of oppressing travellers by tolls at Montebuono, jilted