Sometimes, however, the party relation of nobles and burghers to each other was reversed, but the names of Guelphand Ghibelline always substantially represented the same things.
The family of Dante
had been Guelphic, and we have seen him already as a young man serving two campaigns against the other party.
But no immediate question as between pope and emperor seems then to have been pending; and while there is no evidence that he was ever a mere partisan, the reverse would be the inference from his habits and character.
Just before his assumption of the priorate, however, a new complication had arisen.
A family feud, beginning at the neighboring city of Pistoja, between the Cancellieri Neri
and Cancellieri Bianchi,1
had extended to Florence
, where the Guelphs took the part of the Neri and the Ghibellines of the Bianchi.2
The city was instantly in a ferment of street brawls, as actors in one of which some of the Medici are incidentally named,—the first appearance of that family in history.
Both parties appealed at different times to the pope, who sent two ambassadors, first a bishop and then a cardinal.
Both pacificators soon flung out again in a rage, after adding the new element of excommunication to the causes of confusion.
It was in the midst of these things that Dante
became one of the six priors (June, 1300),—an office which the Florentines had made bimestrial in its tenure, in order apparently to secure at least six constitutional chances of revolution in the year.
He advised that the leaders of both parties should be banished to the frontiers, which was forthwith done; the ostracism including his relative Corso Donati among