from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A member of the aristocratic political faction who fought during the Middle Ages for German imperial control of Italy, in opposition to the Guelphs and the papacy.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A member of a medieval aristocratic Italian faction that supported the German emperors in a long struggle against the Popes and the Guelphs
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. One of a faction in Italy, in the 12th and 13th centuries, which favored the German emperors, and opposed the Guelfs, or adherents of the poses.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A member of the imperial and aristocratic party of Italy in the middle ages, opposed to the Guelfs, the papal and popular party. See Guelf.
- Of or pertaining to the Ghibellines or their principles: as, a Ghibelline policy.
Milan, and as a Ghibelline was the valued leader of that party in
Such was Dante's so-called Ghibelline programme -- less Ghibelline than intensely and magnificently Italian.
In a city which had been officially Guelph in the past, any minority opposed to the government of the day, or obnoxious to the party in power, would be branded as "Ghibelline".
In late medieval Italy, gambling on games of chess, dice, and cards offered diversion for soldiers during frequent and lengthy sieges in the wars between the Guelf and Ghibelline.
Over time, the political differences between Guelph and Ghibelline became so blurred that, when Guelph partisans would see the light and flip sides, their personal enemies on the Ghibelline side would respond by joining the opposing team.
As the Quattrocento rolled on, the Guelph-Ghibelline game of "no, mine is bigger" resulted in a cluster of picturesque but essentially useless towers in San Gimignano, along with a fair number of city fires ignited by boiling oil.
Yet out of all the details of rivalry between Guelf and Ghibelline, between French and German, between Angevin and Byzantine, there emerges an image as crystalline as a painting by Van Eyck.
The Guelph faction always prevailed in Italy over the Ghibelline.
It is added that the emperor Henry VIII. did nothing for him, Ghibelline as he was, and that he repaired to Frederick of Aragon, king of Sicily, and returned as poor as he went.
Dante was a white and a Ghibelline; he was driven away among the first and his house razed to the ground.