In this post we begin by publishing the map of Manuele Fieschi’s own benefices (green – the map includes Vercelli, where he later became Bishop, and Milan where he was named papal legate in 1348) and of the benefices he assisted others in obtaining (black). (35) We reiterate that the dioceses in black, where Manuele Fieschi was named executor for the benefices of others, indicate locations where noblemen or men of wealth had directly nominated him to assist them in gaining prebends. The international network of prebends was a lucrative business, with annual incomes in the order of 20 pounds and often much more at stake for each prebend. This means that in these dioceses there were people who had ties with Manuele Fieschi, and trusted him to further their causes.
It is immediately plain that these benefices are not evenly distributed across 14th century Christendom. Indeed, many regions of the map are almost blank (such as Spain, Ireland and Southern Italy) while other specific areas feature clusters, especially taking into account the dioceses containing multiple benefices (northern and central Italy, Cyprus, the Low Countries and England). What determined this distribution? What enabled people in these locations to feel they should entrust Manuele Fieschi in particular with their applications for benefices? While examining the papal letters, we noticed that the same dioceses frequently recurred within the household of Cardinal Luca Fieschi. Therefore, we constructed a similar map showing only the benefices directly held by members of the Cardinal’s household, using only provisions and conferrals of benefices in the papal letters where it is specifically stated that the benefice was given to the individual in so far as he was a member of the cardinal’s household. (36)
It is clear that the primary clusters on this map overlap with those on the map of Manuele Fieschi’s benefices and activity as executor. These clusteres are located in northern Italy, central Italy, the southern Low Countries, England, France and – in the case of the first map – Cyprus. Was Manuele Fieschi’s activity as executor and his holding of benefices directly correlated to his relationship with Cardinal Luca Fieschi, and through their family connections with the broader Genoese community? We believe that this must be the case. Let us examine these connections region by region.
In addition to the long standing historical ties between the house of Plantagenet and the house of Fieschi (as illustrated in a previous post), Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s first benefice was a canonry of Lichfield, conferred in 1297, followed by a prebend of Winchester worth 40 marks per annum in 1304. (37) That these benefices were kept within the same family over time is further evidenced by the fact that the former was previously held by Cardinal Luca’s brother Brancaleone Fieschi, and the latter by his cousin Leonardo Fieschi. (38) In 1317-1318 Cardinal Luca was a papal legate in England with Cardinal Gaucelme Duèse, nephew of Pope John XXII and head of the papal chancery in that moment.(39) Furthermore, the Republic of Genoa and its most important families had extensive trading interests in England, in particular in port cities like Boston (coinciding with the diocese of Lincoln, where the Fieschi family held benefices), Southampton (coinciding with the diocese of Winchester, where Cardinal Luca Fieschi held a prebend), Kingston-upon-Hull (coinciding with the diocese of York, where Manuele Fieschi and other members of the family held benefices) and many more. (40) Cardinal Luca was related by marriage to virtually all of the important trading families of Genoa, such as the Grimaldi, Spinola, Doria, Boccanegra, de Mari, Malocelli, di Negro and Gentili. (41) Members of several of these families were in the household of Cardinal Luca. (42) The senior members of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s household all held English benefices in one or more of these English dioceses, including Manuele Fieschi.
At least since 1232, the Republic of Genoa and many important Genoese families had invested in the creation of numerous and propserous trading colonies on the island of Cyprus. (43) As already observed regarding England, on the island of Cyprus there is a direct correlation between the presence of Genoese trading interests and the possession of ecclesiastical benefices by people who nominated Manuele Fieschi as their executor. Indeed, throughout the period, Manuele Fieschi is the person most often nominated as executor for benefices in the entire island. (44)
The southern Low Countries
Historically, the southern Low Countries as frequented by Genoese traders constituted an area “corresponding with the present-day French regions of Picardy and Nord-Pas-deCalais, and the Belgian regions of western and eastern Flanders, of Antwerp and Brabant and the Dutch region of Zeeland: an area that therefore extended from the river Somme to the present-day mouth of the river Meuse (Hollands Diep)”. (45) The major port cities serving this region, Sluis and Bruges, saw the arrival of Genoese merchant galleys from 1277 onwards. The entire region was an industrial powerhouse where imported English wool was transformed into cloth and traded throughout Christendom and beyond, very often with the intermediation and transport of Genoese galleys. (46) The dense cluster of some 23 Fieschi family prebends in precisely this region (especially Liége, Cambrais, Tournai, Arras) cannot be a coincidence, and all the senior members of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s household are represented, including Manuele Fieschi, Antonio Fieschi, Antonio da Biella, Bernabò Malaspina and many more. Furthermore, three members of Cardinal Luca’s household were from Liége, as detailed in his testament. (47)
There can be no doubt that England and Flanders together represent the overseas ‘strongholds’ of the Fieschi family as an ecclesiastical network, corresponding with the economic interests of their numerous allies and relations within the Republic of Genoa. We can therefore deduce that Cardinal Luca Fieschi, Manuele Fieschi and their family represented an important intermediary for Geneoese business interests within the Catholic church. One of the ‘Prague Letters’ addressed to Cardinal Luca confirms this deduction. In it, the Republic of Genoa request that Cardinal Luca support the efforts of Genoese ambassadors at the papal Curia in negotiations related to commerce (in this case with Egypt). (48)
In the specific case of Brabant, Cardinal Luca Fieschi had close political and personal ties with Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII, whose wife was Margaret of Brabant. Cardinal Luca had been one of three cardinal legates accompanying Henry VII during his Italian expedition of 1311 – 1313, participating in the Imperial coronation in 1312. Margaret of Brabant, accompanied the expedition, dying in Genoa in 1311, where she was buried in the same church, San Francesco di Castelletto, as Niccolò Fieschi, father of Cardinal Luca. (49)
Cardinal Luca’s diplomatic mission as papal legate to Henry VII began with negotiations to end the imperial siege of Brescia in 1311, where he achieved an accord that was considered most satisfactory by the comune. (50) It cannot be a coincidence that in 1317 Cardinal Luca’s cousin Percivalle Fieschi was nominated Bishop of Brescia (Manuele’s first cousin, he accompanied Cardinal Luca on his mission as legate to England in 1317 – 1318, and later became Bishop of Tortona, the diocese in which the Abbey of Sant’Alberto of Butrio is found). The mission continued to Genoa and then central Italy, particularly the region that is now Tuscany, where Cardinal Luca, already in possession of a number of prebends in the diocese of Viterbo, was frequently involved in negotiations with Florence, Pisa, Lucca and other cities of the region. (51) Indeed, Cardinal Luca had received luxurious gifts from the comune of Florence already in 1305, on his way to the conclave that elected pope Clement V, and one of the ‘Prague letters’ addressed to the cardinal confirms his ties with this city were still strong in 1325. (52) Emperor Henry VII also invested Cardinal Luca Fieschi and his brothers with the fief of Pontremoli in 1313, some few kilometres from Mulazzo, in a region controlled by the Malaspina family into which two of his sisters (Alagia and Fiesca) had married. (53) As far as ties with Piacenza, Parma and other cities of what is now Emilia Romagna is concerned, several members of Cardinal Luca’s household were from this region, and the ‘Prague Letters’ addressed to the cardinal reveal close ties in particular with the city of Piacenza. (54) Indeed, Fieschi family links with the area dated back to Obizzo Fieschi, Bishop of Parma from 1194 to 1224, and Sinibaldo Fieschi, later Pope Innocent IV, who was under the tutelage of Obizzo in Parma as a child and later studied law at Bologna. (55) In Cardinal Luca’s day, this bond with Parma city was re-confirmed with the marriage of the cardinal’s niece, Ginetta Fieschi, to Pietro dei Rossi, an influential Guelph family of Parma, and lords also of Pontremoli after Cardinal Luca and his brothers. (56) Other associations between the Fieschi family and cities of northern Italy are too numerous to detail here, but two cities merit special attention. In the case of Vercelli, Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s long-standing chamberlain Antonio da Biella was from this diocese, and the cardinal soon promoted his own physician, Venturino de Garganis, to Canon of Vercelli, where later Manuele Fieschi himself was to become bishop. (57) Due to its wealth and importance and position, Vercelli was a fundamental diocese in relation to Milan, home of the agressive and ambitious Visconti family. In 1331 Isabella Fieschi, Cardinal Luca’s niece, married Luchino Visconti, who later became ruler of the city and its dominions. As we will detail in later posts, Manuele Fieschi was to be named papal legate to Luchino Visconti in 1348, no doubt chosen due to this family tie, and because he was the Bishop of an important nearby diocese. (58)
Hungary and Poland
Though Cardinal Luca Fieschi himself seems to have had no personal ties with Hungary and Poland, the small clusters of benefices for which Manuele Fieschi was named executor in these two countries may be explained by a mission as papal legate of Cardinal Gentile da Montefiore, close associate of Cardinal Luca, created cardinal on the same occasion in 1300 and member of the same pro-Boniface VIII faction. (59) In 1307 he was sent on a papal diplomatic mission to Hungary and Poland. (60) We may speculate that, through this friendship with Cardinal Luca Fieschi, he arranged for a number of benefices in this area to be conferred, which came about with the help of Manuele Fieschi.
Although not clustered together in the manner of other geographic areas, there are nevertheless numerous Fieschi benefices scattered throughout France. Fieschi family ties with France dated back at least to the period of Sinibaldo Fieschi’s ‘exile’ at Lyon during the reign of King Louis IX, when – it is surely no coincidence – Manuele Fieschi’s grandfather, Giacomo Fieschi, was named Grand Marshall of France. (61) To this we may add the constant presence of both Cardinal Luca and Manuele Fieschi at the Curia in Avignon, and Cardinal Luca was also canon of Paris. (62) Furthermore, during his mission to England in 1317 – 1318, Cardinal Luca was entrusted by Pope John XXII with gifts of benefices to members of the household of Isabella of France, sister of the King of France, Queen of England and wife of King Edward II. A number of dioceses in France and the Low Countries are specified for these benefices, nearly all of which feature on our maps. (63) We may speculate that it was through these associations that Cardinal Luca secured his network of benefices and prebends for his household and their allies throughout France.
The two benefices in Sweden for which Manuele Fieschi was named executor present an outlying curiosity. However, they assist us in confirming the thesis that the benefices featured on our maps are connected, in one way or other, with Cardinal Luca’s own network of contacts. Indeed, during the papacy of Clement V, Luca Fieschi was called upon to examine the appointment of Nils Kettilsson as archbishop of Uppsala. (64) In 1332 and 1333, a notary called Jacopo di Eusebio da Biella accompanied papal legate Pierre Gervais to Sweden and Norway. (65) Perhaps it is no coincidence that Jacopo di Eusebio was from the same city in the diocese of Vercelli, Biella, as Cardinal Luca’s chamberlain Antonio da Biella, and that Jacopo was later to accompany Manuele Fieschi himself on his papal mission to Milan in 1348, where he drew up Manuele’s testament at the monastery of Sant’Ambrogio. (66)
By contrast, where we have no evidence of close ties with the house of Fieschi or with the Genoese more generically, the map is blank. Therefore, it can be said with a high degree of certainty that this map represents in terms of ecclesiastic benefices the network of power, trade and friendships of the Genoese in general and of the Fieschi family in particular – through Cardinal Luca Fieschi and his extensive household. This confirms that Manuele Fieschi did not act as an individual at the papal court, but rather that his activities tended to embrace and enhance his family and their interests. Is it possible that the Fieschi Letter, even though it does not mention other members of the family, or the family as an entity, is just as closely related to the Fieschi power network as Manuele’s own activities at the Curia? In order to answer this question, we super imposed the itinerary of King Edward II as described in the Fieschi Letter on the two maps above. For now, we will allow readers to consider the possible significance of this for themselves, and we will leave our own thoughts on the matter for our next post.
(35) For the locations of Manuele’s own benefices, see notes 1,3,4,5,7,15,19,21,23,24,25,27,28,29. The complete list of papal letters pertaining to his activity as executor for the benefices of others is: Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 1877, 2697, 2698, 2700, 2701, 2712, 9734, 12378, 16242, 19748, 19895, 19896, 20624, 20668, 20669, 20757, 20862, 21219, 21758, 21759, 23478, 23546, 23709, 24157, 24544, 25978, 26203, 26204, 26205, 26206, 26700, 26701, 26790, 26906, 27127, 27334, 27335, 27480, 27481, 27736, 27738, 27763, 28120, 28183, 28238, 28239, 28293, 28856, 28869, 28987, 28988, 29215, 29253, 29255, 29589, 30258, 30259, 30261, 30554, 30565, 30624, 30625, 30734, 30740, 30747, 30857, 30995, 40108, 40123, 40191, 40192, 40219, 40954, 41133, 41140, 41621, 41712, 42182, 42816, 42888, 42889, 43034, 43112, 43115, 43116, 43498, 43575, 43654, 43719, 43903, 43996, 43997, 44105, 44160, 44263, 44596, 44597, 44706, 44744, 44813, 45007, 45127, 46072, 46076, 46589, 46811, 46812, 46971, 46972, 47128, 47596, 47606, 47685, 47750, 47814, 48459, 48462, 48618, 48620, 49084, 49386, 50172, 50404, 51252, 51336, 51713, 51814, 52076, 52214, 52305, 52422, 52432, 52478, 53080, 53450, 53451, 53582, 53789, 53823, 53851, 53894, 54365, 54456, 54494, 54884, 55161, 55769, 55895, 55905, 55907, 56021, 56167, 56586, 56824, 57020, 57674, 57819, 58106, 58258, 58261, 58532, 58533, 58628, 58833, 59296, 59314, 59315, 59317, 59815, 59991, 60643, 60644, 60645, 60646, 60651, 60652, 60672, 60777, 60778, 60994, 61079, 61483, 61586, 61844, 62612, 62801, 63080, 63316, 63769, 64213, 64296, 64321, 64360; and Georges Daumet, Benoit XII (1334-1342); Lettres closes, patentes et curiales se rapportant а la France, Paris, 1899-1922, No. 125, 284, 370, 443, 445, 465, 480, 520, 535, 626, 633, 639, 832, 833, 834, 867, 891, 892, 1138, 2696, 2722, 2849, 2850, 2971, 4143, 4221, 4253, 4289, 5365, 5477, 5604, 5644, 5661, 5790, 6872, 6874, 7483, 7841, 8543, 8609.
(36) The complete list of papal letters pertaining to the benefices of members of Cardinal Luca Fieschi’s household is : Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 1701, 2139, 2140, 2141, 2142, 2143, 2144, 2145, 2146, 2147, 2148, 2149, 2150, 2151, 2152, 2153, 2154, 2155, 2156, 2157, 2158, 2159, 2160, 2161, 2162, 2163, 2164, 2165, 2166, 2167, 2168, 2169, 2170, 2171, 2172, 2173, 2174, 2175, 2176, 2177, 2234, 2575, 2807, 2808, 2810, 3278, 3279, 3280, 3706, 3713, 7212, 7241, 7341, 9398, 9415, 9732, 9734, 9736, 9741, 9753, 9756, 9767, 9768, 9769, 9773, 9775, 11354, 11896, 12379, 12489, 12699, 14517, 14518, 15112, 16819, 16820, 16980, 18055, 19588, 20827, 21059, 21177, 26588, 28693, 30559, 40953, 51336, 51855, 52076, 52314, 57914, 59296, 60994, 61003, 61046, 61698, 63438, 63691, 63769, and Georges Daumet, Benoit XII (1334-1342); Lettres closes, patentes et curiales se rapportant а la France, Paris, 1899-1922, No. 125, 403, 411, 443, 465, 469, 480, 501, 505, 506, 520, 527, 535, 891, 892, 1138, 1159, 2649, 2696, 2722, 2735, 5286, 7579.
(37) Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio, Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, pages 12-18.
(38) Thérèse Boesplfug, Luca Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 47, Treccani, 1997.
(39) Harry Bresslau, Manuale di diplomatica per la Germania e l’Italia, Rome, 1998, page 232.
(40) Angelo Nicolini, Commercio marittimo genovese in Inghilterra nel Medioevo (1280-1495), in ‘Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria vol. 121, 1’, Genoa 2007 and also Angelo Nicolini, “Merchauntes of Jeane”. Genovesi in Inghilterra nel Medioevo (secc XII-XVI) in ‘Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria vol. 123, 2’, Genoa 2009.
(41) Natale Battilana, Genealogie delle famiglie nobili di Genova, Genoa, 1825
(42) See papal letters given in note 36 and also Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 100-107
(43) Benjamin Arbel, Traffici marittimi e sviluppo urbano a Cipro (secoli XIII-XVI)” [Maritime Traffic and Urban Development in Cyprus (13th-16th Centuries)], in E.Poleggi (ed.), Città portuali del Mediterraneo (Genoa: SAGEP Editrice, 1989), pp. 89-94. For the presence of Genoese benefice holders in Cyprus at the time of Manuele Fieschi see Wipertus Rudt de Collenberg, Le choix des exйcuteurs dans les bulles de provision au XIVe siиcle (d’aprиs les bulles accordйes а Chypre par les papes d’Avignon) in Mélanges de l’Ecole francaise de Rome. Moyen-Age, Temps modernes, Année 1980, volume 92, pages 393-440.
(44) Wipertus Rudt de Collenberg, Le choix des exйcuteurs dans les bulles de provision au XIVe siиcle (d’aprиs les bulles accordйes а Chypre par les papes d’Avignon) in Mélanges de l’Ecole francaise de Rome. Moyen-Age, Temps modernes, Année 1980, volume 92, pages 393-440.
(45) Angelo Nicolini, Commercio marittimo genovese nei Paesi Bassi Meridionali nel Medioevo in ‘Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria’ vol. 121, 2., Genoa 2007.
(47) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 101 – 102.
(48) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, letter no. 5.
(49) Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio, Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, page 15.
(50) Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 4515, 6398 and 22429.
(51) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 57 – 63.
(52) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 53 – 56 and Prague Letter no. 7.
(53) Eliana M. Vecchi, Legami consortili fra i Malaspina e Genova nell’età di Dante, in ‘Memorie dell’Accademia lunigianese di scienze e lettere “G. Capellini” ‘, LXXV (2005), pages 229-252.
(54) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 100 – 107 and letters no. 2, 19, 24.
(55) Gabriella Zanella, Obizzo Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 47, Treccani, 1997, and Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Sinibaldo Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 62, Treccani, 2004.
(56) Giovanni Nuti, Carlo Fieschi in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’, volume 47, Treccani, 1997.
(57) Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 7341, 29258.
(58) E. Déprez, J. Glénisson, and G. Mollat, Lettres closes,patentes et curiales se rapportant à la France, Paris 1901-1959, No. 3882, 3883, 3884, and 3888.
(59) Hledìkova Zdenka, Raccolta praghese di scritti di Luca Fieschi, Prague, 1985, pages 53 – 56.
(60) Laura Gaffuri, Gentile da Montefiore in ‘Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani’ – volume 53, Treccani, 2000.
(61) Daniele Calcagno, Il patriarca di Antiochia Opizzo Fieschi, diplomatico di spicco per la Santa Sede fra Polonia, Oriente Latino e Italia del XIII secolo, in ‘I Fieschi tra Papato e Impero, Atti del convegno (Lavagna, 18 dicembre 1994), Lavagna 1997, pages 145 – 268.
(62) Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio, Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, pages 12 – 17.
(63) Guillaume Mollat, Lettres Communes, Jean XXII, Paris, No. 3133, 3134, 3135, 3136, 3137, 3138, 3139, 3140.
(64) Gianluca Ameri and Clario di Fabio, Luca Fieschi, cardinale, collezionista, mecenate (1300-1336), Milan, 2011, page 14.
(65) Paul Riant, Expéditions et pèlerinages des Scandinaves en Terre Sainte au temps des croisades, Paris, 1865.
(66) Archivio Capitolare di Vercelli, Atti Privati 1347-1348, extract of the testament of Manuele Fieschi, original parchment.