1413: Francesco Baldovino, to enjoy the emoluments of office

Add comment March 5th, 2011 Headsman

From History of the Venetian Republic: Her Rise, Her Greatness, and Her Civilization:


Francesco Baldovino was a gentleman in affluent circumstances, of a handsome person, and of engaging manners. His domestic establishment was princely. He had a large sum in the Funds. In short, every adventitious advantage, which fortune brings, was within his reach, excepting one; Baldovino was not a noble.

It is said that, at the period of the War of Chioggia, he desired to become, among the rest, a candidate for the honours of the peerage. But, his paternal ancestor having been implicated in some manner in the Bocconio conspiracy of 1300, the family laboured under a certain obloquy, and Baldovino was a disappointed man.

Among his numerous acquaintance was one Bartolomeo D’Anselmo, also a cittadino of great wealth, and also an unsatisfied expectant of nobility. It happened on Friday, the 4th March, 1413, that Baldovino and D’Anselmo met at the Minorites, and began to discuss their common grievance. “We,” cried Baldovino, at once launching into diatribe, “pay taxes enough forsooth; yet those of the Council enjoy the emoluments of office.”

“True,” returned his companion, “and indeed we ought to make it our business to see if we cannot get for ourselves a share in the administration. Devise some plan in which I may co-operate.”

“The way would be,” whispered Baldovino, “to collect a company of our following, and to massacre them as they are leaving the Council, particularly the College, the Decemvirs, and the Avogadors.”

D’Anselmo said, “That is an excellent plan. How then do you purpose to find your men?”

“I intend,” the other continued, “to seek a good many trusty fellows, who will be at my elbow to compass this matter for us on Sunday that is coming.”

“I, too,” rejoined D’Anselmo, “will bring some.”

So they parted.

Bartolomeo D’Anselmo was not a bad man; but he was a man of no steady principle, and of an exceedingly nervous temperament. He had hardly bidden farewell to Baldovino, when the treasonable dialogue which had passed between them began to haunt his imagination. He found himself a prey to a variety of unwholesome and chimerical fancies. The echoes of his own words grated on his ears. The sound of his own voice threw him into a cold sweat.

He conceived it more than possible that they might have been overheard, and that they were betrayed. He pictured himself arrested, dragged before the Ten and into the chamber of torture, put to the question, condemned to an infamous and horrid punishment. If there had been eavesdroppers, he was pretty sure that this would be his destiny; and he knew that there was only one method of escaping from the danger.

He was base enough to pursue that method; D’Anselmo turned evidence, on the same day, against his friend.

The informer was pardoned and ennobled.

The man, whom with such vile and pitiful cowardice he had denounced, was taken into custody, examined under the cord, and on Saturday morning the 5th, at eight o’clock, was executed between the Red Columns, where he was left hanging three days, as a warning to traitors.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 15th Century,Businessmen,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Italy,Nobility,Power,Public Executions,Terrorists,Torture,Treason,Venice

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