In the 13th century, Italic city-states were divided, even internally, following the conflict between Papacy (Guelph) and Emperor (Ghibellini) for domination in Italy. The protagonists of the contest were Boniface VIII and Frederick I Barbarossa. In Tuscany, the Guelph faction further divided, according with business rivalries, between Whites and Blacks - the first moderate, the second strongly deployed with the Pope.Why am I talking about this? To tell and illustrate the most absurd episodes that exacerbated this rivalry. :)
The names "Whites" and "Blacks" were born in a wealthy family of Pistoia, the Cancellieri, whose patriarch had remarried and had heirs from the second marriage too. Being the sons of the second wife very younger than their brothers born from the first Cancellieri's wife, they still had black hair, while the others - we guess - were already whitened. From which the distinction between Chancellors "Whites" and "Blacks".
One of the crucial episodes of the rivalry was a limb between Carlino of Messer Gualfredi, Whites Party, and Dore of messer Guiglielmo, Blacks. Dore, after the quarrel, waited for the rival in the street nocturnal. Failing to meet him, and frowning in his brother Vanni, he attacked the latter with the sword, rubbing his face and squeezing a hand ("except the thumb").
When Dore's father knew what had happened, he sent the boy to ask forgiveness for the offended relatives (and Dore did not have to be content with that). But the people of Messer Gualfredi, seeing his grandson coming to apologize, took him and applied the "eye for an eye" rule, squeezing his hand, rubbing his face, and whacking him in addition. From that point on, the fight - so tell us the chronicles - was declared enmity , so that "the city and the outskirts of each castle were some for the Whites, some for the Blacks, and both of them challenged to death." (Villani)
Now, being the leader of the White...