Italy Federiciana Part 1
According to Topschoolsintheusa, Italy was the theater of most of Frederick II’s life. Born in one of the Marche town, crowned king of Sicily in Palermo, crowned emperor in Rome, died in a castle of the Tavoliere, he traveled several times in each direction over the country, and the places of his journey (v.) Draw a geography which broadly summarizes the geography of Italy at the time: both that ordered in a strong monarchy, the Norman-derived Kingdom of Sicily, and that which had had a formal definition of Regnum Italiae in the Lombard and Carolingian ages and was politically articulated in a plurality of dynastic dominations and ecclesiastical principalities, dominant cities, castles with strong autonomy, and positions within the high temporal sovereignty of the Roman papacy. If in Frederick II’s documented Italian attendance card there are more empty spaces, this is trivially due to a situation of more sparse settlements, of less urbanization, as happens in internal Sicily and in central and northern Calabria, and it is equally obvious that the presence of the emperor and his entourage was sporadic or nothing in important cities but dominated by hostile forces such as Milan and Florence, while cities of ancient and sure imperial faith, such as Cremona, and strategic and solid areas, such as the quadrilateral between Foggia, Melfi, Capua and San Germano, were privileged stops of the royal itinerancy.
Thus, from the places of his childhood between Puglia, Campania and Sicily, from Palermo to the major cities of the large island, to Genoa where Frederick II spent more than two months in 1212 on the road to the coronation of Germany, to the Lombard plain where a few days later was threatened by the Milanese militias, from the eastern Alpine area through which he passed to return from Germany to Italy in 1220 and set off for the solemn imperial coronation in Rome, from the Apulian cities of Byzantine tradition to the ports from which he left for the crusade of 1228-1229, from the dense network of episcopal cities, imperial and noble castles, villages in economic and productive rise that marked Tuscany, Emilia and Lombardy, up to the rich mercantile headquarters of the North-West, Asti and Chieri, he had under his eyes the whole sequence of human landscapes of the Italy of his time. We cannot know how much he was able to grasp its peculiarities and diversities, nor can we say what overall vision he had of the country over which he ruled. There were no cartographic representations available to the men of the time that did not result in a shapeless and improbable design of coasts and river courses, then filled with a constellation of didactic symbols that indicated the major cities, as seen in the so-called world map of Vercelli, which was drawn in the years of Frederick II’s first German journey. Italy was an ancient geographical definition, which contemplated a fundamental unity from the Alps to the large islands, and to which corresponded the idea of a political unity, organized in ancient times in the Roman imperial framework, reaffirmed in the centuries. IV and V in the context of the imperial reorganization and the bipartition between the western and eastern parts of the Empire, solemnized as a Kingdom at the time of Odoacer and the great Theodoric, reinserted in the direct dependence of the emperor at the time of Justinian (553), broken then by the Lombard invasion and by the disintegrating tendencies that manifested themselves at the advent of Charlemagne and his successors, further compromised by the Islamic conquests of the 9th century.
Thus, according to a tradition, King Autari would have indicated the southern border of the Regnum Italiae of the Lombards near Reggio di Calabria, and certainly towards the middle of the eighth century. the Lombard kings of Italy sought an extension of political sovereignty at the expense of the vast regions that still remained under the dominion of the Roman Empire, which now had its capital in Byzantium. Two factors had then opposed this ambition, in addition to the obvious imperial resistance. At the Roman Apostolic See, a claim to succession in the political power that had already belonged to the emperors of pars occidentis had been affirmedof the Empire: in thesis, therefore, on the whole West, in the hypothesis on the city of Rome and on some vast segments of Italy – Ravenna and the Exarchate, the Italic territories from Luni to Parma to Reggio Emilia and Mantua, the Corsica, the Venetians and Istria, the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. The other difficulty that the Lombard kings of the eighth century. they had encountered in the constitution of a unitary domain came from within the Lombard political structures, that is, from the great autonomy of the dukes and in particular of those who from the Cividale del Friuli, Spoleto and Benevento ruled over spaces of a regional dimension. The decisive turning point impressed in the central decades of the eighth century. from the alliance between the Roman Church and the Kingdom of the Franks, and concluded in the victory of Charlemagne over the Lombard king Desiderio and in the personal unification of the Kingdom of the Franks and the Kingdom of the Lombards under the crown of Charles, resulted in an aggravation of the division politics of Italy. The ambition of temporal dominion of the bishops of Rome was solemnly recognized by the Franks, even if the papal ambition to extend that dominion to the Venetians, Istria and the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento was substantially frustrated. For its part, the royal apparatus of Charlemagne and his successors only partially succeeded in placing these spaces under their own political sovereignty. Istria was largely acquired under the Carolingian dominion, but a high Byzantine sovereignty was maintained in the Venetians in whose context the merchant city built around the island of Rialto began to consolidate a great autonomous power. In southern Italy the duchy of Benevento was elevated to a principality and recognized only a formal dependence on the king of the Franks. When, in the year 800, Charlemagne was acclaimed emperor and inaugurated the crown that would one day be on the head of Frederick II, in Benevento the Franks had just suffered a political and military setback that they would vainly try to recover in the years to come. And in the third decade of the ninth century. Sicily, which had already represented a very uncertain prospect of domination for the previous sovereigns of Italy, was conquered by an external political power,