Italy Federiciana Part 5

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In the years of Frederick II’s childhood and childhood, economic development, which up to this time can be reconstructed sporadically and with very weak possibilities of quantitative definition, begins to be illuminated by a still very porous and casual written documentation, but of increasing intensity and articulation. To some extent this is due to the greater attention of chroniclers to economic facts. But the main reason for the growth of scriptures lies in the growing financial and fiscal administration needs of the centers of political power. This also explains why the increase in scriptures is especially conspicuous in municipal cities not included in a higher political domain, therefore above all in the cities of the North and Center of Italy:still very large elites ; hence the first systematic collections of the texts that founded the patrimonial and lordly rights of the cities, the first forms of definitions of the contributory capacity of citizens, the regular keeping of the entry and exit books, the records relating to the public debt, the administration of resources state property and assets confiscated from condemned and rebels.

Thus, for the first half of the thirteenth century some estimates, albeit very approximate, are possible on the demic entity of a certain number of Italian cities, which suggest a population of a few tens of thousands of residents for Genoa and for the major Tuscan cities (Florence, Siena, Pisa); it can be thought that Venice, Milan, Bologna and Naples were of similar size, while for Alessandria, Vercelli, Verona, Padua, Perugia, perhaps Ancona, it is possible to hypothesize a population greater than ten thousand residents, and a little less must have been that of Vicenza, Chieri, Imola, Teramo, to recall the not many sites for which there is a quantitative indication prior to the mid-thirteenth century. Certainly the trend population marked an overall increase up to the end of the century, just as certainly the dynamics of the settlement changed, in the sense that rather than a numerical growth of the centers there were redistribution processes, and a rhythm of urbanization phenomena more unequal than in the past from period to period and from city to city. A sort of hierarchization of the cities was initiated according to their ability to attract population, their wealth and the possibility of financing their political and territorial affirmation with internal resources or with the use of lenders from other cities. A growth marked by the chasing between monetary needs and the supply of resources, and a development of the mercantile and financial classes, therefore continued, but with more and more frequent local diversifications. Centuries- old trend of economic and social development is characterized, ultimately, by an increase, and a growing inequality of rhythms, of the mediations between training and the distribution of wealth and resources, and therefore by the launch of new dialectics between social mobility and political structures: their outcome would have seen an Italian peculiarity in the articulation of the forms of state organization, which turned out to be particularly variegated and complex compared to the European framework.

From the eighties of the twelfth century. in the second decade of the thirteenth century, the settlement of political Europe was first of all punctuated by the Franco-English wars, culminating in the battle of Bouvines (1214) and in the defeat of the King of England: almost all his fiefs then became the personal property of the monarch of France. Another opportunity for expansion was offered to the Crown of France by the crusade that the pope called in the early thirteenth century to suppress the strong religious movement of the Albigensians; the crusade was led by a large and rich family, the Montforts, who eventually bequeathed their lands to the king of France, Philip Augustus. In Spain, a good half of the Kingdom of Navarre was absorbed into the Castile ; in 1212 the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa definitively marked the end of Islamic rule, reduced to a segment in the south-east of Spain, while the Kingdom of Castile expanded beyond the Guadalquivir. In Eastern and Balkan Europe an erosion, this time irreparable, of the Byzantine Empire was taking place in favor of more or less recent political formations. In 1187 the Kingdom of Hungary incorporated Croatia and northern Dalmatia at the expense of Byzantium, and from 1203 Bosnia. Independent since 1186, Bulgaria proclaimed itself a Kingdom from 1203. Two small independent Kingdoms were formed in the Small Armenia and Cyprus. The erosion of the Byzantine Empire finally culminated in the fourth crusade, which began in 1202 and was hegemonized by Venice, which between 1203 and 1204 bought Zadar and the Croatian coast, coastal Dalmatia and the islands, Split, Ragusa, Negroponte, Crete, Rhodes.

As for the Holy Roman Empire of the West, after the death of Henry VI in 1197, it had seen the opening of a very difficult and hard-fought succession, with two suitors, Otto of Brunswick and Philip of Swabia, brother of Henry VI, to whom the pope and the other powers of Europe allied variously; the violent death of Philip in 1208 did not prevent the final defeat of Otto and the accession to the throne of Germany, and later to the imperial throne, of Henry VI’s son, Frederick II. According to Aceinland, the thirteenth century would thus be marked in Europe by a deepening and extension of a small number of monarchical states, by the definitive disintegration of a great empire in south-eastern space, by the resumption of a Western Empire which was now made stronger by the suffered acquisition of the Kingdom of Sicily. Nor was the Empire directly threatened by a new and unforeseen imperialist manifestation coming from the East, that of the Mongols, which a leader, Temujin, had unified, then attributing to himself the Genghiz Khān, undertaking the conquest of China, Turkestan, Persia, then rushing towards the Caspian and the great Russian plains. His death in 1227 caused a pause in expansionism, which however resumed in the years 1237-1240 and led to the conquest of a very large space in eastern Russia, included in that new imperial formation that was called the Golden Horde. But in Italy the fire that raged in recent years dulled the attention for what was happening in the East.

Italy Federiciana 5

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