Dante Giving the Finger to the Pope: A Dantean Manuscript Anecdote from 1492

Leon Jacobowitz-Efron Ph.D. – Shalem College, Jerusalem

Dante Notes / April 7, 2023

The following short note sheds light on a Dantean facezia, a brief tale of verbal wit, that has yet to be transcribed from its manuscript source and thus slipped by the scrutiny of previous scholarship on Dantean anecdotes, such as Papanti’s magisterial compilation.[1] This note will hopefully offer another small piece to the puzzle of Dante’s reception and make further studies of this narrative possible.

The Manuscript

The text appears in a codex from the Benedictine monastery of Camaldoli in Tuscany. Today it is kept in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence under the signature Conventi Soppressi B.II.122 (formerly S. E. C. II O-23 Camaldoli). This small codex (21.2 cm x 14.2 cm) is a compendium of authorities (altorità or alturità in the dialect form it uses) and was possibly meant to be an aid for preachers. Five of these authorities are religious (St. Bernard and the Four Latin Fathers), several are classical (Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and Boethius), three are contemporaries (Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch), and some are anonymous. The anecdote that is of interest to us could be interpreted as belonging to this final category. However, since all the other texts including the anonymous ones bear ‘altorità’ in their titles, while only this narrative and the two that follow it do not, one may also interpret this scribal choice to mean our anecdote has a different, vaguer, purpose than the surrounding altorità.[2]

Titled “Events that occurred to Dante” (Cose ocorse a Dante), the text is located on folio 118v. It is preceded by Jerome and followed by two anonymous texts titled ‘Reasonings’ (rag(i)oni) and ‘Proverbs’ (proverbi). It is written in mercantesca script, often omitting letter and word spacing. Luckily, the recto side of the same folio bears the date 24 September 1462 and is written in the same hand, and, thus, 1462 is in all probability the year the verso text under discussion was penned.

The Text

The following is a faithful transcription of the text, spelling, and paragraph breaks. The only modifications are the introduction of spacing, capitalization, and modern punctuation:

<Es>sendo Dante a Roma inanzi al Pa/pa e ridendosi di lui che no(n) llo stima/vono, rispose loro in questo modo:/ ‘Voi che ghigniate la nona vochale/ e no(n) valete la sua antecedente,/ suo chonseghuente gite a calchulare.’

La nona vochale sie ‘I,’ cioè vuol dire/ ‘voi che ghigniate, no(n) valete un’accha,’/ che l’accha è l’anticedente dell ‘I.’/ ‘Andare a chachare,’ cioè la suo(!) con/seguente dell ‘I’ è il ‘K.’ ‘Chalchulare’/ vuol dire due ‘cha,’ cioè ‘chacha.’/ E chon q(u)esta co<m>p(os)ta risposta li con/fuse mostra(n)do loro errore.

I<o> vorrei anpriare gli cinque rami,/ cioè apri la mano a fatto/ emett(re) e’l primo fra lli duo piú p(re)sso./ Ciò q(ues)to grosso fra li altri duo dito/ e dire poi ‘togli in che tanto lanii!’/ Cioè farli una ficha co(n) parole.[3]

The jest hinges on the expression “non valere un’acca” (to not be worth an ‘H’); since in Italian, the H is not pronounced, this turn of phrase is the equivalent of “not worth salt,” i.e., being worthless. The story tells how Dante, whom the pope held in low regard, was mocked while visiting Rome. The absence of explicit reference to curia or cardinals, while the pope is expressly said to be present (“inanzi al papa”), makes this a scandalous exchange between Dante and the pope himself – rather than between Dante and the curia, as one might assume from the use of “loro.[4]

Since the story is set in Rome and not in Avignon, one is to understand it as occurring in Boniface VIII’s court, perhaps alluding to Dante’s fateful embassy there in September 1301, during which Florentine government was toppled in the Black Guelphs’ coup d’état, initiating Dante’s exile.[5] The narrative focuses on how Dante’s quick wit vindicated him. “You who snickering make the ninth letter,” Dante responds to papal derision, “are not worth its antecedent, and should go add the letter following it.”

In the second paragraph, the compiler-scribe expounds Dante’s riddle to the best of his ability. He who snickers, making the sound ‘i,’ is not even worth the letter preceding the letter ‘I.’ He is not worth an ‘H’; he is worthless. The scribe then clarifies that by advising the pope to go attach an acca (H) to a cha (K), Dante tells him “to go shit” (andare a chachare) since this supposedly spells out the word ‘chacha.’ The offended pope then realizes that Dante’s lightning-quick scatological wordplay proves he erred in underestimating his guest’s intellectual prowess.

To make sure the reader grasps the joke fully, the compiler-scribe then describes how one makes the obscene “fig” gesture with one’s fingers, concluding by saying Dante’s wordplay was the equivalent of telling the pope to “stick it” (literally “take it with much wool,” togli in che tanto lanii!)[6] while “giving them the finger with words” (literally “making a fig with words,” farli una ficha co(n) parole).


The text seems to be a written retelling of some existing pseudo-biographical account. The hint to this is the slightly disjointed explanation of the punchline. When one adds an ‘acca’ to a ‘cha’ - as the pre-glossed narrative of the first paragraph narrates, one does not in fact get a preposition and verb (andare a chachare), as per the first part of the scribe’s gloss. One does not get a noun (chacha) either, as described in the second half of the same interpretation. The punchline should have been glossed as spelling a preposition and noun “go into excrement” (gite a chacha, ‘acca’-‘cha’, as in the modern vai a cacà), not ‘go defecate’ (a chachare) as per the extant manuscript explanation. This mild discrepancy suggests the scribe conveyed an existing joke accurately in the first paragraph, but in explicating it, he partially blundered in the details.

A possible prudish preconception that such a vulgar portrayal of the sommo poeta is below his dignity would be misplaced. Tales celebrating Dante’s ability to put others to shame with a single well-phrased retort were popular since as early as the fourteenth century. Examples of such short narratives include ‘Dante and the Peasant,’ ‘Dante’s retort to the Jester,’ and ‘Dante and the Three Gentlemen’ transcribed by Papanti,[7] ‘Dante’s retort to Cangrande’ by Petrarch,[8] ‘Dante and the Genoese’ by Franco Sacchetti (c.1335-c.1400),[9] as well as ‘Dante and the Nag’ and ‘Dante in Can Grande’s Court’ by Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459).[10] Moreover, Petrarch’s anecdote from Rerum memorandum libri (1343-1345) not only depicts Dante as cleverly rebuking Cangrande in his own court, in a manner not dissimilar to our narrative, but in its prologue, the author also turns to the reader excusing Dante, saying he had “more insolent manners and freer speech than is acceptable to the delicate and fastidious eyes and ears of the princes of our day.”[11] Thus, Petrarch’s remark makes evident that fourteenth-century Italians could conceive the divine poet quite capable of such vulgar jokes at the pope’s expense. This is not surprising given that in Inf. 19, before Dante-Pilgrim verbally chides Pope Nicholas III, the narrator, Dante-Poet, lays the foundation for this conception by telling the reader “I do not know if then I was too bold / when I answered him in just this strain” (“Io non so s'i mi fui qui troppo folle, / ch’i’ pur rispuosi lui a questo metroInf. 19.88-89). This excess follia, this boldness of overstepping social norms, is exactly what characterizes Dante in many of the abovementioned anecdotes, including our narrative of Dante and the pope.

An example of a less explicit story using Dante’s persona to lampoon the papacy directly appears in a mid-fifteenth-century note from Codex Magliabechiano cl.35, cod.113, describing the supposed historical context for the authoring of the (pseudo-Dantean) Credo di Dante:[12]

Questo si è il credo che fece dante alighieri ((ms. Alinghieri)), però esso è più che poeta fiorentino. Il quale lui fece quando fu acusato per eretico al papa. Il papa gli rispose e disse “tu meriti meglio ((ms. meglo)) questo am<m>anto di me,” cioè quello del papato.

Despite its more serious subject matter of an inquisitorial accusation, this note’s final confession that Dante merits the papal mantle more than the pontiff himself smacks of being a punchline at the pope’s expense.[13]

The compiler-scribe’s additional mention of the “fig” gesture, which does not appear in the anecdote proper, also merits attention. Dante scholars are familiar with this vulgar gesture from the Vanni Fucci episode in the seventh bolgia (Inf. 25.1-3) and the many studies it inspired. Before Landino’s commentary (1481) no commentator bothered explaining the posture of the gesture itself. Thus, the exact nature of the “fiche” of Vanni Fucci was the basis of some debate among modern scholars only to be finally laid to rest, one would hope, with Mazzucchi’s 2003 article, which used contemporary visual representations of this scene to settle the matter.[14] The detailed verbal description of the gesture in our note from 1462 precedes Landino’s description, and is thus a small contribution, bolstering the consensus regarding the configuration of this gesture.

Although the making the sign that “no honorable person ever makes”[15] does not appear in the story of Dante’s wordplay, the compiler-scribe chose to introduce the “ficha” to his explanation of the narrative. One can only guess as to the reason for this addition. He may have conceived of the recalcitrant Dante, rebelliously “punching up” at the pontiff in our anecdote, as echoing the brazenness of the Pistoian thief provoking God himself. But such an interpretation would imply a negative association of the poet with this bestial sinner, which would be counterproductive to the purpose of such pro-Dantean anecdotes. That being said, there may be another reason for this choice having to do with wider trends in Dante’s reception. Specifically, it may have to do with the collective memory of Dante’s early persecution under the influence of Cardinal Legate Bertrand du Poujet.[16]

Between 1319 and 1335, John XXII took advantage of the civil war in the Holy Roman Empire to tilt the balance of power in northern Italy, at that point uncomfortably favorable to pro-imperial Ghibellines. In 1319, he made Cardinal Bertrand du Poujet Papal-Legate to Lombardy. Empowered as a legatus a latere, the highest legate status possible, representing “a new phase in both the development of the legatine office,”[17] Poujet set to purge the Ghibelline heresy from northern Italy using his unprecedented papal prerogatives.[18]

The first chord in Dante’s reception was dominated by Poujet’s imposing figure. In 1320, mere months before setting for Italy, Poujet served as the head of the Avignonese commission in which a priest named Bartolomeo Cagnolato claimed Dante was a sorcerer the Visconti wished to hire to assassinate Pope John XXII.[19] Poujet was the patron of the first antidantean treatise in 1328, Guido Vernani da Rimini’s De reprobatione monarchiae.[20] It was Poujet who according to Boccaccio ordered the burning of Dante’s Monarchy and made the attempt on Dante’s physical remains a year later.[21] It was also after Poujet’s brief stay at Santa Maria Novella Friary in Florence in April 1334 that the Dominican prohibition on the study of Dante was decreed in Florence in September of the same year.[22]

In 1334, having overstayed his welcome by antagonizing the local populace, the legate was finally expelled from Bologna. Soon after he departed from Italy never to return. In the collective Italian memory, he was to be remembered as a cruel and ferocious tyrant.[23] In a forthcoming contribution titled “Legend of Dante and the Inquisitor,” I demonstrate that the details of his mission to Italy, and specifically Boccaccio’s description from the Trattatello in Laude di Dante (1357-62) of Poujet’s attempt to burn Dante’s bones, informed late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century reimagining of Dante’s early persecution. Two such reimaginings, the legend of “Dante and the Papal Mantle” mentioned above being one of them, recast Poujet as the pope. Such stories were written in hindsight, in post-Avignonese and post-Schism Italy, when Italian sentiment towards the past papacies of Boniface VIII, Clement V, and John XXII was at a low, and Dante’s fame was growing.

I would like to suggest that the mention of the “fica” gesture in the compiler-scribe’s gloss may indicate that he too had been thinking of the much-hated legate when writing the last line of his explanation. The fifth chapter of the chronicles known as Anonimo Romano (1357-1358) describes the failure of Bertrand du Poujet’s legateship and his final expulsion from Bologna in 1334. As his Florentine allies extracted him from his besieged Bolognese palace of La Galliera, so the Anonimo Romano tells, the people of Bologna shouted obscenities at him and “made the figs at him” (facevanolli le ficora). More humiliatingly still, the prostitutes of Bologna did the same, lifting their skirts and showing the prelate “the first of the Decretals and the sixth of the Clementines” (mostravanolli lo primo delli Decretali e lo sesto delle Clementine). This last vague phrasing seems to be a humorous euphemism for the display of both vagina and anus, even as they made the figs with their hands.[24]

As a legatus a latere, Poujet was a legal and symbolical embodiment of papal authority in Italy. Just as the anonymous author of “Dante and the Papal Mantle” seems to have recast the cardinal villain as the pope himself, as a shortcut to lampoon John XXII,[25] our scribe may have had in mind the Anonimo Romano or another chronicle documenting Poujet’s expulsion when he remarked that Dante’s retort to the pope was like the vulgar gesture the Bolognese used to humiliate the pope’s representative.

To conclude, this facezia about Dante and the pontiff is more than a pseudo-historical curiosity. It deserves further study in its historical context. It is part of a genre of irreverent accounts reimagining Dante’s frictions with the papal institution from the relative safety of the poet’s mid-fifteenth-century iconic status. The genre of narratives set in the courts of Dante’s exile, both real and imaginary, and describing Dante wittily lashing back at patrons, courtiers, and servants, usually after some form of mistreatment, is recast here. Our facezia can thus be interpreted as a “radicalized” variation, taking this existing theme one step further both in terms of making the object of Dante’s retort the highest of offices and by making the nature of Dante’s retort a more overt profanity than all those described in previous anecdotes.


[1] Giovanni Papanti, Dante secondo la tradizione e i novellatori (Leghorn: Vigo, 1873).

[2] This is the full list of titles: 1r-70r: Altorità(!) tratte delle 124 pistole di senacha(!) del perdere tenpo(!); 70v-71v: alturità(!) d’aristotile; 72r-72v: alturità d’un’apistola; 73r-83v: altorità buetio e altri; 84r-118r: altorità trette d’utrivsqve fortvne di messere franciescho(!) petracha(!) e prima di quatro postole di san girolamo; 118v: cose ocorse a dante; 119r: rag(i)oni(!); 119v: proverbi; 120r-125r: alturità tratte delle dieci tragedie di senaca(!) della prima d’ercule fure(n)te; 125v: alturità tratte della vita de filosofi e prima de’sete savi d’atene; 156r-175v: altorità de sa(n)to girolamo e de quatro dottori; 176r-177v: del peet\r/a\r/cha i\a/pamn(!); 177v-183v: altorità(!) di sa(n) Bernardo; 184r-193r: altorità di sa(n) b(er)nardo in vita solitaria.

[3] My translation: While Dante was in Rome before the pope and was ridiculed, as they did not esteem him, he responded in this way: “you who snickering make the ninth letter and are not worth its antecedent, should go add  the letter following it.”

The ninth letter would be “I”. Thus, what he meant was “you who snicker are not worth an H,” since “H” is the antecedent of “I.” [Thus Dante said] “go crap!” since the following letter to “I” is “K.” By “add,” he means two “cha,” that is “chacha.” And with this complex response, he confused them, demonstrating their error.

I would like to open the five branches, that is open the hand to put the first [finger] between the two closest. That is the big one [the thumb] between the other fingers, and then say “stick it!” - that is to give them the finger with words.

This transcription uses the Leiden Convention with two additions: line break is marked with /, and the disambiguation mark of the spelling variants (sic.) is marked with (!).

The preproduction of folio 118v is with the concession of the Ministero della cultura - Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Firenze. Further reproduction in other mediums is prohibited.

[4]Voi” (2PL) was widely used for the second-person formal address. However, when speaking about (rather than speaking to) a distinguished person, one used the third-person singular (“lui” or “lei”). Nonetheless, when the pope was with the curia there existed a curial form in which he was referred to as “loro” (3PL).  It would therefore seem this story is about an exchange with the pope against the backdrop of an audience of cardinals.

[5] On Dante’s embassy to Rome, see Dino Compagni, Cronica delle cose occorenti ne’tempi suoi, 2.4; 2.25; Dino Compagni, Cronica delle cose occorenti ne’tempi suoi (Milano: Rizzoli, 2008), 113-14, 159; Dino Compagni, Dino Compagni’s Chronicle of Florence, tr. Daniel E. Bornstein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986), 35, 54. Giorgio Petrocchi, Vita di Dante (Bari: Laterza, 1986), 87; Giorgio Petrocchi, “Biografia: Attività politica e tetteraria,” in Enciclopedia Dantesca 4 (Milan: Mondadori, 2005), 34. Michele Barbi, Vita di Dante (Firenze: Sansoni, 1966), 18-19; Stephen Bemrose, A New Life of Dante (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000), 59-63.

[6] For the use of this expression, cf. Boccaccio, Decameron 8.10: “Con tanti panni lani, che alla fiera di Salerno gli erano avanzati.”

[7] Papanti, Dante secondo la tradizione e i novellatori, 89, 116-117; 147-48.

[8] Francesco Petrarca, Rerum memorandarum libri, 2.83.1.

[9] Franco Sacchetti, Il Trecentonovelle, VIII; Franco Sacchetti, Il Trecentonovelle, a cura di E. Faccioli (Torino: Einaudi, 1970), 21-23.

[10] Poggio Bracciolini, Facetiae 57, 58, 121; Poggio Bracciolini, Facetiarum liber (Lyon: Nicolaus Philippi and Marcus Reinhart, 1478), 19v-20r; 39v.

[11][M]oribus parumper contumacior et oratio liberior quam delicatis ac fastidiosis etatis nostre principum auribus atque oculis acceptum foret.” Francesco Petrarca, Rerum memorandarum libri, ed. Giuseppe Billanovich (Florence, 1943), 98. the English translation is from Elisabetta Tarantino, “The Dante Anecdote in Gower’s ‘Confessio Amantis’ Book VII,” The Chaucer Review 39, no.4 (2005), 421.

A version of this narrative also migrated as far as the second recension of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis (1386-1390), see John Gower, Confessio Amantis – vol. III, Reinhold Pauli ed. (London: Bell and Daldy, 1857), 163-164; Tarantino, “The Dante Anecdote,” 420-435.

[12] Florence, BNCF, Magliabechiano cl.35, cod.113, f. 98r. “This is the Credo that Dante Alighieri made, since he is more than a [mere] Florentine poet. It was made when he was accused as a heretic by the pope. [And after reading it] the pope responded to him, saying ‘you merit this mantle more than me,’ that is the papal mantle.”

[13] ‘Dante and the Papal Mantle’ is part of a broader corpus describing a supposed accusation of heresy against Dante. The implications of this corpus and its sources are beyond the scope of this brief note and will be discussed in a separate study. See forthcoming Leon Jacobowitz-Efron, “Legend of Dante and the Inquisitor.”

[14] Andrea Mazzucchi, “Le ‘fiche’ di Vanni Fucci (‘Inf.’, XXV 1-3). Il contributo dell’iconografia a una disputa recente,” in Intorno al testo : tipologie del corredo esegetico e soluzioni editoriali: atti del Convegno di Urbino: 1-3 ottobre 2001 (Roma: Salerno, 2003), 302-315; For the opposing view Mazzucchi disproves, see Ignazio Baldelli, “Le ‘fiche’ di Vanni Fucci,” Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana 174, fasc. 565 (1997), 1-38.

[15] Giovan Battista Gelli’s commentary on Inf. 25.1-3: “questo uno de' maggiori obbrobrii in quei tempi che potesse farsi o dirsi a uno uomo, e non lo avrebbe fatto mai persona alcuna onorata, per parer loro di far maggior vergogna a sè stesso, che a chi ei lo avessero fatto” (This is one of the main reprehensible gestures that one could make or say to a man in those times. No honorable person has ever made it since it would seem to them to bring great humiliation upon [the gesturer] himself rather than upon him towards which it was made).

[16] This type of reception will be discussed in my forthcoming contribution, see Leon Jacobowitz-Efron, “Legend of Dante and the Inquisitor.”

[17] Blake R. Beattie, Angelus Pacis: The Legation of Cardinal Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, 1326-1334 (Brill, 2006), xvii.

[18] On the prerogatives of a legatus a latere and specifically of Bertrand du Poujet, see Walter Ullmann, A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages (London: Methuen & Co Ltd., 1972), 233-34; Beattie, Angelus Pacis, xviii, 65-75; Lisetta Motta Ciaccio, Il Cardinal Legato Bernardo del Poggetto in Bologna (1327-1334) (Bologna: N. Zanichelli, 1902), 12; Siegmund Riezler, Vatikanische Akten zur deutschen Geschichte in der Zeit Kaiser Ludwigs des Bayern (Innsbruck: Wagner, 1891), n. 121; Guillaume Mollat, Jean XXII (1316-1334), Lettres communes analysées d'après les registres dits d'Avignon et du Vatican. Vol. III (Paris: Ancienne Librerie Thorin et Fils, 1904-1947), nn. 12112; 12113; 12115; 12128; 12141; 12143; 12146.

[19] A forthcoming contribution will analyze Cagnolato’s claim in its historical context. See, Leon Jacobowitz-Efron, “The Lies of Bartolomeo Cagnolato.” On Cagnolato mentioning Dante as sorcerer, see Sylvain Parent, Dans les abysses de l'Infidélité. Les procès contre les ennemis de l'Eglise en Italie au temps de Jean XXII (1316-1334) (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 2014), 69-85; Konrad Eubel, “Vom Zaubereinnesen des 14. Jahrhunderts,” Historisches Jahrbuch 18 (1897), 621; Mollat, Jean XXII, 173, 371.

[20] On Guido Vernani and his work, see Nevio Matteini, Il più antico oppositore politico di Dante: Guido Vernani da Rimini (Milan: Cedam, 1958), 7-18; Anthony. K. Cassell, The Monarchia Controversy: An Historical Study with Accompanying Translations of Dante Alighieri’s Monarchia, Guido Vernani’s Refutation of the “Monarchia” Composed by Dante, and Pope John XXII’s Bull Si fratrum (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2004), 45-46; Enciclopedia Dantesca (ED), s.v. “Vernani,” 967; Aldo Vallone, Antidantismo Politico nel XIV Secolo, Primi Contributi (Naples: Liguori Editore, 1973), 29-70; Giosuè Carducci, “Della Varia Fortuna di Dante,” in Studi Letterari (Leghorn: Franu Vigo, 1880), 274.

[21] Giovanni Boccaccio, Trattatello in Laude di Dante, 195-197. Imbriani and Ciaccio dubbed Boccaccio’s report a legenda due to the lack of a paper trail. Ricci, however, has thoroughly demonstrated that this detail is reliable despite Boccaccio’s miserable reputation as a historical source. See, Vittorio Imbriani, Illustrazioni al capitolo danteasco del Centiloquio (Naples: Marghieri, 1880), 18; Ciaccio, Il Cardinal Legato Bernardo del Poggetto in Bologna, 19; Corrado Ricci, L’ultimo rifugio di Dante Alighieri (Milan: Hoepli, 1891), 187-193. See also, Oddone Zenatti, Dante e Firenze: prose antiche (Florence: Sansoni, 1902), 186-188 etc.

[22] Note there are only five months between April 1334 and September 1335 since the Florentine year 1335 begins in Easter. I do not claim direct influence on the prohibition, as such a claim cannot be adequately proven at this time.

For the text of the prohibition, see Matteini, Più antico oppositore, 36; cf. Innocenzo Taurisano, O.P. “il culto di Dante nell’Ordine Domenicano,” Il VIo Centenario Dantesco Bulletino del Comitato Cattolico per l’Omaggio a Dante Alighieri 1-2 (Gennaio-Febbraio, Marzo-Aprile, 1917), 29. On the possible reasons for the prohibition, see Taurisano, “il culto di Dante,” 30; Matteini, Il più antico oppositore, 36; Michele Maccarrone, “Dante e i teologi del xiv-xv secolo,” Studi Romani, Anno V (1957), 24. Celestino Piana, La facoltà teologica dell’università di Firenze nel quattro e cinquecento (Rome: Grottaferrata, 1977), 247; See Marian Michéle Mulchahey, “First the Bow is Bent in Study” Dominican Education before 1350 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1998), 331.

[23] On Poujet’s reputation, see Parent, Dans les abysses de l'Infidélité, 83. Petrarch describes him as a mercenary coming to Italy “like another Hannibal, not another Peter,” a man marked by ferocitas, not piety. When Poujet finally died, Petrarch noted in his letter to Philippe de Cabassoles that the cardinal’s demise at a ripe old age did not come soon enough. Villani was not kinder in his assessment, characterizing the legate as a covetous, power-hungry, and contemptuous ingrate. See, Francesco Petrarca, Liber sine nomine, 27, 102-103; Villani, Nuova Cronica, 12.4; 12.6; 12.7. On his possible conflation with the pope in later anecdotes, see forthcoming Leon Jacobowitz-Efron, “Legend of Dante and the Inquisitor.”

[24] Anonimo Romano, Cronica, G. Porta ed. (Milan: Adelphi, 1979), 23: “Tutto lo puopolo de Bologna li gridava e facevanolli le ficora e dicevanolli villania. Le meretrice li facevano le ficora e sì·lli gridavano dicennoli moita iniuria. Bene se aizavano li panni dereto e mostravanolli lo primo delli Decretali e lo sesto delle Clementine.”

[25] See forthcoming Leon Jacobowitz-Efron, “Legend of Dante and the Inquisitor.”