THE chief amusement of women in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was to look out at window on the narrow, crooked alley, where the goodman of the house would perhaps be sitting gambling or playing chess with a neighbour, little moved by the interruption of some chance hit from an urchin’s ball or some practical joke of a schoolboy, more daring than his fellows, or the horse-play or coarse jokes of passers-by. Now a horseman would pass along, his boots brushing the clothes of the wayfarer ; 1 now there would be a bout at fisticuffs or stone-throwing by a mob of little wretches. 2 And if a housewife set out for the market-place she might be startled by a rat suddenly let loose from a trap and chased, or be nearly knocked down by a ring of boisterous youngsters playing coda (a sort of “oranges and lemons”), or find herself confronted with a pair of angry dames scratching and tearing at each other, or she might observe convicted culprits of this order, women who could not pay the fine, 3 parading the piazza, with heavy weights round their necks or standing under the great 192communal loggia to be jeered at. 1 Then, suddenly, there might be a cry of “accor uomo” and the clash of swords ; she would flee for safety to the nearest friendly tower, past shopkeepers hastily putting up their shutters or dismantling their booths, and gambling merchants picking up their dice and running indoors to arm themselves. 2