On This Day
1377 – More than 2,000 people of the Italian city of Cesena are killed by the Condottieri (papal armed forces) in the “Cesena Bloodbath”.
The War of the Eight Saints (1375–1378) was a war between Pope Gregory XI and a coalition of Italian city-states led by Florence, which contributed to the end of the Avignon Papacy.
The causes of the war were rooted in interrelated issues, Florentine opposition to the expansion of the Papal States in central Italy (which the Avignon Popes had set as a condition for their return), and antipathy toward the Parte Guelfa in Florence. Specifically, Florence feared in the autumn of 1372 that Gregory XI intended to reoccupy a strip of territory near Lunigiana, which Florence had conquered from Bernabò Visconti, and that the Ubaldini might switch from Florentine to Papal allegiance.
Gregory XI also harbored various grievances against Florence for their refusal to aid him directly in his war against the Visconti of Milan. When Gregory XI’s war against Milan ended in 1375, many Florentines feared that the pope would turn his military attention toward Tuscany; thus, Florence paid off Gregory XI’s main military commander, English condottiere John Hawkwood, with 130,000 florins, extracted from local clergy, bishops, abbots, monasteries, and ecclesiastical institutions, by an eight-member committee appointed by the Signoria of Florence, the Otto dei Preti. Hawkwood also received a 600 florin annual salary for the next five years and a lifetime annual pension of 1,200 florins.
The transalpine mercenaries employed by Gregory XI against Milan, now unemployed, were often a source of friction and conflict in papal towns.
Born On This Day
1909 – Simone Weil, French mystic and philosopher (d. 1943)
Simone Adolphine Weil (/veɪ/; French: [simɔn vɛj] (About this soundlisten); 3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943) was a French philosopher, mystic, and political activist. The mathematician André Weil was her brother.
After her graduation from formal education, Weil became a teacher. She taught intermittently throughout the 1930s, taking several breaks due to poor health and to devote herself to political activism, work that would see her assisting in the trade union movement, taking the side of the Anarchists known as the Durruti Column in the Spanish Civil War, and spending more than a year working as a labourer, mostly in auto factories, so she could better understand the working class.
Taking a path that was unusual among twentieth-century left-leaning intellectuals, she became more religious and inclined towards mysticism as her life progressed. Weil wrote throughout her life, though most of her writings did not attract much attention until after her death. In the 1950s and 1960s, her work became famous in continental Europe and throughout the English-speaking world. Her thought has continued to be the subject of extensive scholarship across a wide range of fields. A meta study from the University of Calgary found that between 1995 and 2012 over 2,500 new scholarly works had been published about her. Albert Camus described her as “the only great spirit of our times”.
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