Edited by Mauro Bucci

Every year in S. Quirico, they celebrate the meeting between Frederick Barbarossa and the cardinals sent to him by Pope Adrian IV, to agree on the arrangements for his coronation as Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor.
The meeting, nowadays celebrated as being in S. Quirico, most certainly took place at the Rocca di Tentennano.
Frederick Barbarossa waited for the papal envoys at S. Quirico, while the pope was in Viterbo. The pope sent three cardinals, and they found Frederick, as we said, at Rocca di Tintinniano, on the Orcia. It was 1 June 1155.
Frederick had possibly gone to S. Quirico to meet the clergy on neutral ground, but another option is that he was not stationed in the actual town of S. Quirico, but on its surrounding lands. He travelled with a large army and was unlikely to set camp in a town. It was late May or early June, and both men and horses needed plenty of water. Any leader would have arranged to camp alongside the Orcia river.
Other sources say the Frederick generally lived in a tent like his soldiers. We, therefore, think that both he and his army were on the plain below the Cardosia and that, to meet up with the cardinals, he climbed up to La Rocca, which is set high above the area and would have been his main guard post.
At La Rocca, the cardinals promised Frederick the imperial crown provided that he swore that the pope would keep all his possessions, that he would destroy the Commune of Rome - the republican government in Rome - and, lastly, that he would deliver into papal hands the heretic Arnold (or Arnaldus) of Brescia, who had stirred up Rome against the pope and at that time had removed temporal power from the Church.
This last request was of no cost to Frederick. He ordered the Viscounts of Campiglia, his vassals, to bring him Arnold, and, when they hesitated to obey, put one of them in prison, and by threatening his life, forced him to deliver over the heretic.
This took place at the Albergo delle Briccole (a hospice managed in that time by the monks of Eremo del Vivo, a palace in Val d’Orcia) on the Via Francigena, in about mid-June 1155.
In the account of one historian, Arnold was handed over to the three cardinals directly, and they took him to the pope at Viterbo, and then to the Prefect of Rome to be hung.
Others rightly believe that Arnold was condemned to death and hung there and then by the imperial army, maybe even at Briccole, because the pope would not have wanted the Church brought into this misdeed.
His body was then taken to Rome, burned and his ashes scattered over the Tiber, to leave nothing for his followers to make reliquaries from.
Frederick Barbarossa was thus crowned Emperor in Rome.

 

Another famous person who shared Briccole (or in any case Val d’Orcia) with Arnold of Brescia is St Francis of Assisi.
A painting by Sassetta illustrates a miracle that occurred to St Francis in April 1226. The miracle is known as the Marriage of St Francis to Lady Poverty.
The saint was going to Siena to see to his eyes when he saw Poverty in the garbs of a maiden who placed a ring on his finger as the symbol of his marriage to her, and then vanished into the sky.
Mount Amiata with the hill of Poggio Zoccolino, and the towns of Campiglia, Castiglione, Rocca and Vignoni are all clearly depicted in the painting. The door at the right of the picture is a painter’s licence, and anyone who thinks that it is a door in S. Quirico ignores the fact that neither Vignoni nor Bagno Vignoni can be seen from the town, while the view is what you see from the hills of Commenda, where the road climbs after crossing the Orcia. So the miracle is most certainly located along the Via Francigena. Thomas of Celeno, a Franciscan friar and the author of several bibliographies on St Francis, says verbatim that it took place at “Rocca Campiglia” which leads us to think of Le Briccole, set in area of Campiglia that extends along the road.
It is only a strange coincidence the Francis married Lady Poverty in the same place where Arnold, the frugal beggar and castigator of the Church’s riches was housed, captured and maybe killed?
It makes sense to think that the Saint’s bibliographer, and the other Franciscan friars who spoke about the miracle, wanted to make a symbolic statement and recognise the teachings of Arnold of Brescia, and his influence on the message of poverty spread by their order throughout the church.
For others who believe in miracles, this could represent a greater design, a Divine Justice correcting the mistakes of its representatives on earth.