EXPANSION AND INTERNAL CONFLICT
In 1312 Malatestino “dall Occhio” [of the Eye], so nicknamed because he was cross-eyed, succeeded his father. Fervid guelf, he was steeped in the sinister notoriety of being bloodthirsty and a traitor. The poet, Gabriele D’Annunzio even accused him of having been the informer who caused the tragedy of Paolo and Francesca.
The danger of division and internal strife, that by his own testament, Malatesta da Verucchio had tried to exorcise, could not be avoided. In fact there erupted a bloody feud between the various branches of the family during which the Malatesta were guilty of ferocious murders, from originated the many bloodthirsty stories about many members of the dynasty.
On the death of Malatestino (1317), while his son, Ferrantino, was given the administration of Cesena, his stepbrother, Pandolfo, became the ruler of Rimini. It was on the death of Pandolfo (1326) that the family’s quarrels could no longer be avoided. Pandolfo left Rimini to Ferrantino, and to his sons, Galeotto and Malatesta went the dominions of the Marche. This brought about the deposition of Ferrantino on the part of Pandolfo’s sons.
For the reason, Malatesta was nicknamed, “Guastafamiglia”, [family wrecker]. The internal conflicts were temporarily ended only in 1343.: Galeotto e Malatesta obtained Rimini,
Pesaro e Fano; Verucchio e Mondaino remained with Ferrantino. In order to sanction the control
already exercised in effect by the family, the General Council of Rimini had grantedthe Malatesta lifelong “sovereignty” and “the defence” of the city, transmissible to their descendants.
Just when Pandolfo’s two sons obtained uncontested control over their dominions in the Marche and in Romagna, the Pope attempted to impede the affirmation of a single, great, force of the signory that could threaten the sovereignty of the Church. To that end, Cardinal Egidio d’Albornoz was assigned as Rector of the State of the Church, and as such, in 1355 occupied the Malatesta castles near Ancona and laid siege to Rimini, forcing the Malatesta Guastafamiglia to ask for peace. The cardinal conceded the vicariate of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano and Fossombrone to the two brothers procuring in this way their help in defeating the Manfredi of Faenza and theOrdelaffi of Forli’ and Cesena.
While in the Adriatic towns internal conflicts developed amongst the Malatesta, the black plague, brought by a Genoese ship on arrival from the Black Sea, spread through Europe, terrorizing the populations of countryside and city alike, (1348-1351). Plague and famine alternated at various intervals of time for all of the century. The population diminished, reversing the phase of demographic expansion that had started after the first millennium.
In the summer of 1348 the plague severely hit the city: in Rimini “ of three people two died”, but this did not prevent the Malatesta “Guastafamiglia” from seizing almost all of the Marche.
With the apostolic vicariate, that representeda kind of investiture, the Church legitimized the dominionof the Malatesta in the region, but subordinated their authority to that of the Pope.
Albornoz was replaced as legate in Italy by Anglico Grimoard de Grisac, brother of Pope Urbano V. In 1371: Anglico ordered the census of all of the Romagna and Montefeltro in order to control the population and make them pay their taxes, compiling the famous Decriptio Romandiole.
From this document it is known that Rimini had 2.240 fires, which corresponded to about 9.000 inhabitants, and its territory comprised of 50 villas and 42 castles. This number remained more or less unvaried until the 18th century.
In 1364 “Guastafamiglia” died. Gradara, Pesaro, Fossombrone, Fano and Montefiore went to his two sons, Pandolfo IIand Galeotto, (“Ungaro”). The signory of Rimini remained with his brother Galeotto I.
On the death of Galeotto I, in 1385, the signory was divided between his four sons, Carlo, Pandolfo III, Andrea Malatesta and Galeotto Belfiore. Their rule marked the destiny of the family in the following century. Carlo obtained Rimini, Pandolfo III inherited Fano and the Marche, Andrea was given Cesena and Cervia and Bertinoro received Galeotto Belfiore.