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The most famous of its few antiquities dating from Roman times is the amphitheatre known as the Parlagio .In ancient times it was a town of small importance; its prosperity did not begin until the eleventh century.
The year 1254 has been called the year of victories.For military purposes the town was divided into twenty gonfaloni or banner-wards, the country around about into sixty-six, the whole force being under the command of the gonfaloniere .The advantage of the new arrangement was quickly shown in the wars against neighbouring towns once their allies, but which had fallen under Ghibelline control. Sulla destroyed it because it supported the democratic party at Rome. It served then as a military post and commanded the ford of the Arno. it was rebuilt by Cæsar at a short distance from its original site.These cities bound them selves on that occasion not to acknowledge the author ity of emperor, king, duke, or marquis without the ex press order of the Roman Church.
At that time, in the interest of better administration, Florence abolished its old-time government by two consuls, and substituted a podestà , or chief magistrate (1193), with a council of twelve consuls.
Siena, Volterra, and Pisa were then constrained to accept peace on severe terms, and to expel the Ghibellines.
In 1255 it was the turn of Arezzo ; Pisa was once more defeated at Ponte Serchio, and forced to cede to Florence the Castello di Mutrone, overlooking the sea.
The nobles (magnates, grandi ), forced to become citizens, were not slow in creating disturbances in the town by their rival factions, and in hindering the work of the consuls who chanced to be displeasing to them.
In this way there was endless friction an strife, and thus was laid the foundation of the two great parties that for centuries divided the city, Guelphs and Ghibellines.
1115) the city played a prominent part; it was precisely to this conflict that the republic owed its wonderful development.