Week 8: Tuesday, December 1, 2015
The Barons: I Conti Guidi

One of the central questions regarding Italian Medieval history is the question: where did the barons come from? If we look at the history of any region of Italy around the year 1000 AD, we will see the names of scores of powerful families. The names recur again and again. They own the land, they live in castles, they lead the wars, they marry the great ladies. Who were these barons and where did they come from? The answer is found in the Carolingian century, the years 800-900 when the Carolingian domination of Italy led by Charlemagne brought hundreds of feudal barons into Italy in the wake of the Carolingian armies and put these barons in place and allowed them to create new networks of power. The whole feudal system of Europe is created in this one hundred years: 800 to 900 AD. This week we will add to our knowledge of these events by examining the story of one of the most powerful families of central Italy: the Guidi, “I Conti Guidi.” The Guidi owned enormous tracks of land in Tuscany, and hundreds of huge castles that gave them the key voice in the life of every community in central Italy. So where did the Guidi, and the Alberti, and the Uberti, and all the other poweful barons come from? How did they acquire land and power? In pursuit of our agenda, we will visit several of the great Guidi castles in Tuscany. Below you see one of the most perfect of those castles that is open to the public: Castello Poppi.


Ferdinand Schevill,

Medieval and Renaissance Florence,

Harper Torchbook paperback, 1963, 2 volumes,



The Guidi, the Casentino, and Castello Poppi (photo below)i, Castello Romena, and Castello Porciano.