Meaning of ITALY, FLAG OF in English

ITALY, FLAG OF

vertically striped green-white-red national flag. Its width-to-length ratio is 2 to 3. A rich history of flags and coats of arms has existed in Italy since at least the 1200s, but the lack of national unification meant that there was no recognized flag representing all Italian-populated areas. The nationalism inspired by the French Revolution led to the formation of political and military groups throughout Italy dedicated to replacing the old autocratic regimes with new governments, but the seeds were also sown for a unified Italian state. The original green-white-red tricolour was presented to the National Guard of the Transpadane Republic (in Lombardy) on October 9, 1796. The colours were supposedly based on those found in the uniforms of the urban militia of Milan. The nearby Cispadane Republic chose the same colours in a horizontal layoutthe first authentic Italian national flag, adopted on February 25, 1797. The Cisalpine Republic chose the vertical positioning on May 11, 1798, and thereafter that flag was considered by all Italian nationalists as the true flag of their homeland. Its success was guaranteed by the decree of March 23, 1848, signed by King Charles Albert of Sardinia, ordering Italian troops to carry the tricolour in their battles against the Austrian army. A month later the flag replaced the former national flag of Sardinia, and revolutionaries throughout the Italian peninsula likewise rallied to the green-white-red. Italy was finally united in 1870. At that time its green-white-red tricolour bore a shield and cross (and, when used for official purposes, a royal crown) representing the ruling house of Savoy. After June 19, 1946, those symbols were removed from the tricolour following a referendum that ended the monarchy and established the Italian Republic. Whitney Smith History Italy since 1945 The first decades after World War II Birth of the Italian republic When World War II ended, the anti-Fascist parties formed a predominantly northern government led by the Resistance hero and Party of Action leader Ferruccio Parri; the CLNs continued to administer the northern regions and the larger northern factories. Thousands of Fascists were purged or killed. The purges caused much alarm, as virtually anybody with a job in the public sector had had to be a member of the Fascist party. Soon there was an antipurge backlash, supported by the Liberals. In November 1945 Parri was forced to resign and was replaced by the Christian Democratic leader, Alcide De Gasperi, who formed a more moderateand Roman, or southerninterparty government. It soon gave up attempts at a purge, returned the large industrial firms to their previous owners, and replaced the partisan administrators in the north with ordinary state officials. In May 1946 King Victor Emmanuel III finally abdicated; his son, who became King Umberto II, was forced to leave the country a month later when a referendum decided in favour of a republic by 54 percent of the votes cast (mostly from the north). At the same time, a Constituent Assembly was elected by universal suffrageincluding women for the first timeto draw up a new constitution. The three largest parties, the Christian Democrats, Socialists, and Communists, took three-quarters of the votes and seats and dominated the Assemblyalthough the Liberals, whose deputies included several constitutional lawyers, had a major impact on the new constitution. The Constitution of the Republic of Italy set up a parliamentary system of government with two elected houses (Chamber of Deputies and Senate); it also provided for guaranteed civil and political rights, an independent judiciary, a constitutional court with powers of judicial review, and the right of citizens' referendum. The 1929 Lateran Treaty with the church was recognized. Autonomous regional governments were promised and were soon operating in the outlying zonesSicily, Sardinia, Valle d'Aosta, TrentinoAlto Adige (including South Tyrol), and (after 1963) FriuliVenezia Giuliainhabited by populations with linguistic or ethnic differences from those in the rest of Italy. In short, the constitution was an anti-Fascist document, providing for weak governments and individual libertyexactly the opposite of what Mussolini had attempted. The Cold War political order The first parliamentary elections of the new republic were held in April 1948 on a strict list system of proportional representation. By this time the Cold War had begun, and the United States provided huge backing for the Christian Democrats and their Liberal, Social Democratic, and Republican partners. De Gasperi had excluded the Communist Party and its ally, the Socialists (founded in 1947), from his government the previous May in order to placate the Vatican and the conservative south and to ensure that much-needed American aid continued. The Christian Democrats, backed by the church, won more than 48 percent of the vote and more than half the seats; the Communist-Socialist alliance won 31 percent, being the strongest grouping only in the Red Belt central regions of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, and Umbria. Italian politics set for the next 40 years into its Cold War mold. The Christian Democrats, backed by American military and financial muscle, shared power and patronage with their smaller pro-Western coalition partners. They had a strong social and religious base in northern regions, could count on anti-Communist sentiment in the south, appealed to peasant landowners and women voters everywhere, won about 40 percent of the vote at successive elections, and held the key posts in government, including that of prime minister. The Socialist Party broke off its alliance with the Communists in the late 1950s and, beginning in 1963, joined centre-left coalition governments, acquiring control of some of the key ministries and public-sector enterprises. The Communists, excluded from central government, gradually made themselves more respectable but never quite shook off their Soviet links. They won 25 to 30 percent of the vote (34.4 percent in 1976), were particularly strong among agricultural labourers and sharecroppers, ran local (and, from the 1970s, regional) governments in central Italy, and controlled the major trade unions. Even so, international factors dominated domestic politics and outweighed the old Resistance alliance of anti-Fascist action. History Revolution, restoration, and unification The French Revolutionary period When French troops invaded Italy in the spring of 1796, they found fertile ground for the revolutionary ideas and practices of their native country. Since the 1780s, Italian newspapers and pamphlets had given full play to news from France, especially to the political struggle between the king and the Parlement of Paris. As the Revolution unfolded in France, news reports became more frequent and more dramatic. After 1791 they were further enhanced by the personal testimonies of political migrs. Vigilant censorship by the Italian governments could not stop the spread of revolutionary ideas. Yet Italians had a simplistic view of the political struggle in France, one that pitted monarchists against revolutionaries. The early years Interest in the French Revolution was enhanced by the waning of the reformist impulse of the 1780s in the Italian states. Educated landowners and entrepreneurs who had put their trust in the enlightened rulers of their own states and had looked forward to important administrative and political reforms were disappointed. The French example gave them new hope. During the 1780s, Masonic lodges had begun to replace the scholarly academies and agrarian societies as loci of discussion of constitutional issues. In the 1790s more radical secret societies emerged, modeled after the Illuminati (Enlightened Ones) founded in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt, a professor of canon law, which promoted free thought and democratic political theories. The Italian governments opposed French revolutionary ideas, recognizing them as a potential threat to stability. The kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont therefore joined the First Coalition, an alliance formed in 1793 by powers opposed to Revolutionary France, after French armies had occupied Savoy and Nice in 1792. The arrival of the French fleet in the Bay of Naples in December 1792 prevented the king of Naples from following the Piedmontese example, but other governments resorted to stern repression of French-inspired protests. Many Italians, however, viewed the French legal and administrative system as the only answer to their own grievances against traditional elites. In Piedmont and Naples, where discontent was especially widespread, actual conspiracies were organized by proponents of democratic ideas. Arrested conspirators who escaped death or jail found refuge in France, where they became influential and active. Italian migrs helped to give a sharper focus to the aims of revolutionary protest and to prepare the ground for French intervention in the peninsula. The best-known migr, the Tuscan nobleman Filippo Buonarroti, served as national commissioner in the Ligurian town of Oneglia, captured by French armies in 1794. Oneglia became the location for the first revolutionary experiment on Italian soil, when Buonarroti introduced a republican constitution and the cult of the Supreme Being and abolished seigneurial rights. The Oneglia experiment ended abruptly in 1795 with the fall of Maximilien Robespierre's government in France, but Buonarroti persisted in his radical beliefs, becoming a supporter of the French left-wing agitator Franois-Nol (Gracchus) Babeuf. The example he had set was not forgotten. History Italy from 1870 to 1945 Developments from 1870 to 1914 Politics and the political system, 187087 After the conquest of Rome in 1870, Italian politicians settled down to manage the economy, to build up the country's military power, andin the telling phrase of the Piedmontese author and statesman Massimo d'Azeglioto make Italians. Popular disaffection remained high, especially because of the grist tax that had been introduced in 1869. Governments of the right remained in office, first under Giovanni Lanza (to 1873) and then under Marco Minghetti (187376). The right was not an organized party but a group of patriotic, mostly northern, landowners committed to a strong currency and free trade. Under both prime ministers the main domestic task was to balance the budget. Minghetti eventually managed this, but raising taxes and squeezing expenditure had made the right unpopular, and its candidates did badly in the 1874 elections. In March 1876 the Minghetti government fell when its Tuscan supporters refused to support a state takeover of the railways. Italy was then ruled for many years by governments of the left, which were usually led by Agostino Depretis (until his death in 1887). The deputies of the left, heirs of the Risorgimento's democratic tradition, were more anticlerical, more frequently members of the middle class (many of them were lawyers), more often from the south, and less concerned about the value of money than the rentier right had been. They were, however, splintered into various groups, and factional disputes soon became endemic. Left governments abolished the grist tax (1883) and made two years' primary education compulsory (1877). A main achievement of the left government was the widening of the suffrage in 1882. The voting age was reduced to 21 (from 25); the requirement to pay 40 lire in direct taxes per annum was halved and abolished altogether for those with two years' schooling. The electorate thus increased from approximately 500,000 to 2,000,000 men, including now many urban artisans, especially in the north where schools were more common. Within a few years modern political parties were founded and won seats in northern Italy, but southern constituencies remained dominated by elite groups of lawyers and local notables, often linked to prominent landowners. Local government was also very significant, and there were often bitter disputes among local factions. The 8,300-odd local municipalities (comuni) were in charge of primary schools and most welfare services, raised much of their own revenue, and appointed their own staff. The central government tried to control them by appointing the mayors and also by giving veto powers over municipal decisions to provincial bodies that were strongly influenced by the provincial prefect, a government official. The prefect frequently dissolved councils for alleged financial or legal abuses and replaced them with a government commissioner until new elections were held. This power was often used when local council leaders opposed government candidates at parliamentary elections. However, government attempts to control local government were never really successful. The prefects had to make sure government candidates would win the next parliamentary elections, and so they had to conciliate, not bully, local elites, including the mayors and municipal councillors. Corruption was therefore often left unchecked. National governments became remarkably dependent on local power-holders. Depretis himself won over (transformed) deputies and kept his governments in office by distributing patronage and favours to local notables. Trasformismo soon became the normal way of conducting parliamentary business, for there were few serious disputes between the leading politicians. The constitutional settlement of 1861 was accepted by virtually all of them; foreign and colonial policy was not contentious and, in any case, was conducted by foreign ministers and prime ministers without much reference to Parliament. In 1881 the government was greatly annoyed by the French occupation of Tunisia, and in the following year, in order to avoid diplomatic isolation, Italy joined the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. This was essentially a defensive alliance guaranteeing German and Austrian support against any attack by France, Italy's main rival in the Mediterranean. However, it encouraged Italy's first real colonial venture, the takeover of the Red Sea port of Massawa (Mitsiwa) in 1885. Southern politicians favoured colonial expansion as an outlet for surplus population and agricultural produce; northern ones wanted Italy to be a great power, saw the army as an essential guarantor of public order, and supported high military spendingthe army and navy ministries spent more than all other ministries combined between 1862 and 1913. Forces of opposition The political elite may have agreed on most issues, but there was plenty of opposition in the country. Most men owned guns, and violent crime was common: there were 3,000 murders a year, many of them a result of vendettas or blood feuds. Brigands were still active in parts of the southern mainland in the 1870s, and banditry was still common in the mountainous zones of Sardinia. In the towns, rioting was frequent; more than 250 people were killed in riots against the grist tax in 1869, and similar riots against local taxes or for land and jobs continued well into the 20th century. The strikes of the 1880sespecially by agricultural labourers in Mantua provincemuch alarmed respectable opinion. Anarchists were active in the Romagna and parts of the south and occasionally attempted to carry out insurrections, as at Matese in 1877, or to kill the king, as Giovanni Passanante attempted to do in 1878. However, the anarchist leader in the Romagna, Andrea Costa, soon converted to socialist ideas. In 1881 he founded the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Romagna (later the Italian Revolutionary Socialist Party), which preached eventual revolution but also agitated for such issues as universal suffrage and labour and welfare legislation; in 1882, on the new suffrage, Costa became Italy's first socialist deputy. In Lombardy a moderate, labour-oriented Italian Workers' Party was founded in 1885, which helped to organize the Po Valley peasantry into leagues and labour cooperatives. The northern labour movementunions, mutual aid societies, and cooperativesbecame infused with either revolutionary or reformist socialist ideas. Republican opposition also survived, particularly in central Italy, long after Mazzini's death in 1872. Republicans ran many of the mutual aid societies and cooperatives. They opposed strikes, nationalizations, and the class struggle but strongly favoured social protective legislation and civil rights. Some of them, including Matteo Renato Imbriani, also advocated an active irredentist foreign policythat is, a policy that aimed to liberate Italians living in Habsburg territory; in particular they wanted to wrest Trento and Trieste from Austrian control. They regarded the Triple Alliance and colonial expansionism as inimical to Italian interests and as expressions of Italy's monarchical and conservative political institutions. Perhaps the most serious opposition force in the country was the Roman Catholic church. The Risorgimento had deprived the church of the Papal States, including Rome itself, and of much of its income. Its previous virtual monopoly of education and welfare had been overthrown, and compulsory state education was deliberately secular. Many religious orders had been disbanded; monasteries and convents had become public buildings, used by the state. In the south, particularly, ecclesiastical organization had relied heavily on monks and friars and could barely continue to function. Bishops were not allowed to receive their revenues and take up their posts without royal approval, which was often refused. The pope himself was permitted, by the state's Law of Guarantees of 1871, to retain only the Vatican and Lateran palaces as well as Castelgandolfo. Pius IX denounced the new usurping state, forbade Catholics to vote at parliamentary elections or to become candidates, and appointed a new generation of intransigent bishops. New laymen's organizations were founded; the Opera dei Congressi, with committees at parish level, became the focus of Catholic resistance to the new state. It organized cooperatives, welfare insurance, credit banks and mutual aid societies, as well as a host of local journals and campaigns against Liberal lay proposals (such as a divorce law). Church and state remained mutually suspicious, particularly in the Veneto region, where regionalist opposition to centralizing government and peasant hostility to landlords and free trade were both mobilized effectively by the Catholic social movement. History Early modern Italy (16th to 18th centuries) From the 1490s through the 17th-century crisis The calamitous wars that convulsed the Italian peninsula for some four decades after the French invasion of 1494 are no longer seen by historians as the tragic aftermath of a lost world. Rather, they are perceived as a further elaboration and intensification of a violent age whose self-definition was transition. War reflected the wider European rivalries that made Italy a prize for plunder and a defensive bulwark against the Ottoman Turks, that led to the discoveries and conquests of the New World and to new contacts with Asia, and that erupted into open divisions over religious belief. Above all, war propelled all of Europe into a new economic and demographic expansion that was to shift the centre of power from the garden of Italy in the Mediterranean to northwestern Europe and its Atlantic world. French and Spanish rivalries after 1494 The new political landscape after the 1494 invasion still reflected the contradictions and conflicts of the medieval political past. Rivalries of status, class, family, and neighbourhood continued unabated in the cities of both republics and principalities. Territorial states grew, and their urban capitals dominated neighbouring rural hinterlands even more than in previous decades. And, although independent action on the part of the Italian states was now seriously curtailed by powerful initiatives from the newly unified monarchies of France and Spain, such foreign intervention was entirely consistent with the policies of their medieval Angevin and Aragonese forebears. History Italy in the early Middle Ages The Roman Empire was an international political system with Italy only a part of the whole, though an important part. When the empire fell, it was replaced in Italy, after the Lombard invasion of 568569, by a network of smaller political entities. How each of these developed, in parallel with the others, out of the ruins of the Roman world, is one principal theme of this section. The survival and development of the Roman city is another. The urban focus of politics and economic life inherited from the Romans continued and expanded in the early Middle Ages and was the unifying element in the development of Italy's regions. The late Roman Empire and the Ostrogoths Under the military emperors of the late 3rd century, most notably Diocletian (284305), the political structures of the Roman Empire were put onto a new footing. The army was restructured after the disasters of the previous 50 years; the civil bureaucracy and the ceremonial rituals of imperial rule were considerably developed; and, above all, the tax system was reorganized and enlarged. The fiscal weight of the late Roman Empire was heavy, given the resources of the period: its major support, the land tax, collected by local city governments, took at the minimum one-fifth, and probably one-third, of the agricultural produce. On the other hand, the administration and the army that the tax system paid for reestablished a measure of stability for the empire in the 4th century. Central government was not always stable; there were several periods of civil war in the 4th century, notably in the decade after Diocletian's retirement and in the years around 390. But succession disputes had been a normal part of imperial politics since the Julio-Claudians in the 1st century AD; in general, self-confidence in the 4th-century empire was fairly high. Aggressive emperors such as Valentinian I (364375) could not have been able to imagine that within a century nearly all of the Western Empire was to be under barbarian rule. Nor was this lack of a sense of doom a simple delusion; after all, in the richer Eastern provinces the imperial system held firm for many centuries, in the form of the Byzantine Empire. History Italy, 9621300 Italy under the Saxon emperors In the second half of the 10th century, Italy began a slow recovery from the turmoils of late Carolingian Europe. During the previous century, the Po Valley had been exposed to Magyar raiders. Sardinia, Corsica, and Sicily had fallen to the Muslims; even Rome had felt their threat. In the north, the Lombard kingdom was little more than a collection of great lordships vying with one another for the Carolingian inheritance. In the south, the peninsula was shared by the remnants of the Byzantine and Lombard states and by local powers. The 10th-century papacy had fallen into the hands of various Roman aristocratic factions. But already there were signs of revival. Genoa, Pisa, and Venice were joining other cities in developing local and international trade. In Germany, the last of the East Frankish Carolingians had died, and, in 911, Conrad of Franconia became king, to be succeeded in 919 by the energetic Henry the Fowler, duke of Saxony and founder of the Saxon dynasty of German emperors. In France the Carolingians yielded to the Capetians before the century was out. In the monasteries of Burgundy and Lorraine a new spirit of religious reform arose, which reached outward to the whole of Latin Europe and soon influenced the rich monastic traditions of Italy. The Ottonian system In the midst of these favourable signs, the Italian political landscape offered little ground for optimism. The only hope for stability and eventual unity lay with the contenders for the former Carolingian kingdom of Italy. Hugh of Provence cast ambitious eyes across the mountains to the Po Valley; he aimed to pull together the fragments of Lotharingia (Lorraine). But at his death in 947 his son Lothair and later his son's widow, Adelaide of Burgundy, faced strong opposition from Berengario, Marchese d'Ivrea e di Gisla, who assumed the crown of Italy as Berengar II. Adelaide summoned the German king, Otto I (936973), son of Henry the Fowler, to her aid. Although much involved in affairs in Germany, he came to Italy in 951 and married Adelaide, but he returned quickly to Germany to deal with a rebellion by Liudolf, duke of Swabia, his son from an earlier marriage. Moreover, events in Germany forced him into a confrontation with the Magyars in 955 at the Lechfeld, where his decisive victory ended their attacks on German lands. At the request of Pope John XII (955964), Otto returned to Italy, where, in 962, he realized his dream of securing the imperial crown. The coronation of Otto as emperor was, like that of Charlemagne, a recognition of a political reality. Otto was the leading figure among all European rulers of his day. He was a great military victor and a champion of order. He also had built a close alliance with the German bishops. The imperial title, which had dwindled into a virtually worthless symbol, once again legitimated effective political power. After his coronation, Otto proceeded to consolidate his power by moving against Berengar II, the enemy of his wife's family. Pope John XII, recognizing the emperor's intention of exerting imperial supremacy over the papacy, began to fear for his own future. His activities provoked Otto to move against him. At a Roman synod in December 963 the assembled bishops, mostly loyal supporters of Otto from northern Italy, deposed John and replaced him with Pope Leo VIII (963965). Otto's decisive action paved the way for his mastery of the kingdom of Italy. Within two years Berengar was captured. The papacy entered a turbulent decade that ended with the election of Benedict VII (974983). Otto built his rule on the foundation provided by bishops loyal to the empire; these bishops, many of German origin, owed their promotion to Otto himself. He also relied upon the support of such powerful figures as the marchese of Tuscany and the duke of Spoleto. He pressed his imperial claims with the Byzantines even as he aggressively supported the Latinization of the southern Italian hierarchy (i.e., subjection to the jurisdiction of Rome rather than Constantinople). The chief fruit of his policy in southern Italy was a marriage agreement by which his son, Otto II, became the husband of the Byzantine princess Theophano. Otto had laid the foundation for strong imperial rule in Italy, but he lacked the means to bring it to fruition. Nonetheless, fragile as his foundation in Italy was, it represented a move away from the anarchy of the previous age toward a new era of prosperity and hope for the future. The yoking of Italy to imperial policy by Otto II (973983) was an inevitable result of the achievements of his father. One should not, however, view his efforts as a desertion of Germany in quest of the glories of ancient Rome; rather, the policy of the German monarchy, while grounded partly in the idealization of the ancient Roman Empire, had its fullest significance in the vision of Europe derived from the pragmatic realities of the Carolingian age. The strength of its acceptance is already evident in the transfer of power on the death of Otto II in 983 to his son, Otto III (9831002), a mere child. While the succession did arouse a conflict over the regency in Germany, it was not seriously challenged. The brilliant Gerbert of Aurillac, former abbot of Bobbio and later Pope Sylvester II (9991003), served as principal adviser and tutor of the young king, whose mother, Theophano, controlled the regency until her death in 991. Otto's grandmother, Adelaide, still an indomitable figure, served as regent until he undertook to rule for himself in 994. Despite his youth, Otto was both able and vigorous. His Italian policy was a continuation of that of his father and grandfather but put in much more explicit terms. Many scholars have argued that Otto III's Byzantine connections shaped his conception of imperial rule. Some have suggested that his ideas were anachronistic; others that he failed to follow the path dictated by the national interests of Germany and Italy. But Otto, who had been schooled in a hard and practical court, aimed in his Italian policies at creating an enduring unity in imperial administration under the imperial chancellor. When his seal employed the style, Renovatio imperii Romanorum (Renewal of the empire of the Romans), the image invoked was not so much that of Roman antiquity as of the empire of Charlemagne. The renewal referred to a new commitment to the Carolingian design for Europe, viewed from the vantage point of the 10th century. Otto's imperial coronation in 996 by Pope Gregory V (996999), his own nominee, was reminiscent of that of his grandfather in that he did not hesitate to intervene in Roman affairs. When the Romans drove out Gregory and thought to placate Otto by the election of his former Greek tutor Johannes Philagathus as Pope John XVI (997998), the emperor returned and in 998 exacted a terrible price from all. He also secured the election of Gerbert of Aurillac as Sylvester II. He did not, however, subscribe to the view of the papal position found in the Donation of Constantine. He rejected this forgery, which purported to list the rights and properties conferred on Pope Sylvester I. Otto supported the claims of the Italian bishops against the lesser aristocracy, who were attempting to make their lands, held from the church, virtually hereditary. For him, as for his predecessors, support of the bishops was a key element in establishing royal control over the cities of central and northern Italy. Otto III died on Jan. 23, 1002. His body was quickly taken to Aachen (Germany) and laid to rest beside Charlemagne. The German princes elected the duke of Bavaria, who became Henry II (100224), the last emperor of the Saxon dynasty. Notwithstanding reassurances to his German supporters of his commitment to effective rule in Germany, Henry's view of his imperial role differed little from that of his Ottonian predecessors. In Italy, he supported the bishops and opposed Arduin of Ivrea, who had seized power after the death of Otto III. It was not, however, until 1013 that Henry was free to come to Italy. After his coronation by Pope Benedict VIII (101224) in 1014, he returned to Germany, leaving the bishops the task of disposing of Arduin. In 1021, Henry returned to Italy once more but was unable to extend imperial rule in the south beyond the Lombard principalities of Benevento and Capua. History Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries Characteristics of the period The failure of the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick II and his successor kings of Sicily to dominate Italy in the course of the 13th century left the peninsula divided among a large number of effectively independent political units. The impotence of efforts by rulers from beyond the Alps to impose their authority upon it was clearly and finally demonstrated by the expedition (131013) of Henry of Luxembourg, crowned as Emperor Henry VII. An idealist who believed that as God's secular vicar he had a divine mission to restore peace to the garden of the Empire, Henry entered Italy in 1310 with the consent of Pope Clement V (130514) and seemed at first to prosper. He sought, as an honest broker, to reconcile Guelf (i.e., pro-papal) and Ghibelline (i.e., pro-imperial) factions, but it was soon apparent that any attempt to override those old loyalties implied a massive assault upon the political status quo, a revolution that would be fiercely resisted. Florence, in particular, saw as unacceptable not simply any concession to its enemies but any restoration of imperial power. In these circumstances Henry was increasingly driven into exclusive alliance with those who were opposed to the Guelfs and became himself merely a leader of a faction. As a result, both the papacy and King Robert of Naples, who had originally favoured his coming to the peninsula, returned to their traditional anti-imperial stance. The dream of peace by imperial fiat dissolved, and Henry turned to war. But his death from fever at Buonconvento, near Siena, in August 1313 was to break the hopes of the imperialists forever. Later emperors who intervened from the northLouis IV the Bavarian (132730) and Charles IV of Bohemia (135455, 136869)came with much more limited aims, not as universal monarchs but as short-time players on the Italian scene, seeking there such limited gains as, for instance, the prestige of imperial coronation at Rome. However much these emperors preserved their formal de jure claims to rule, any imperial central authority in Italy had disappeared. In its place stood a complex, often chaotic grouping of many rival powers whose hostilities and alliances fill in wearisome detail the pages of contemporary chroniclers. This reality has to be seen together with other divisions in a peninsula that was characterized by sharp regional differences in climate, land formation, economic development, customs, and language. (A 13th-century chronicler praises a contemporary as a skilled linguist because of his fluency in French, Lombard, and Tuscan. There was to be no common literary language before Dante, and then only in verse, not prose.) These very pronounced diversities have led many commentators to dismiss as futile an attempt to construct a general unified history of Italy in this period and to insist that the only coherent synthesis that can be formulated is one based upon its constituent parts. For these authors the only true history will consist of separate accounts of the six major powersSicily, Naples, the Papal State, Florence, Milan, and Venicetogether with those of some 15 to 20 minor powerssuch as Mantua, Montferrat, Lucca, and Sienawhich were interspersed between them. (This ignores the ambiguous case of Genoa, economically extremely powerful but politically pitifully weak.) There is much in such contentions. It would be unwise to play down the overwhelming spirit during the 14th and 15th centuries of campanilismo (local patriotism; the spirit of our campanile's taller than yours). Only a minority of people living at that time could ever have heard the world Italia, and loyalties were predominantly provincial. It is true that among certain classes, such as merchants who traveled beyond the Alps or scholars who looked back nostalgically to Roman republican or imperial glories, some elements of national consciousness survived. Dante, seeking in his De vulgari eloquentia (written 130407; On the Eloquence of the Vernacular) to find, amid what he described as a thousand different dialects, the elusive panther of some basis for a common vernacular literary language, argued that there were some very simple standards of manners, dress, and speech by which our actions as Italians are weighed and measured. However vague this claim may appear, one can certainly see in the peninsula some elements that, taken together, made a strong contrast to the world beyond the Alps: a common legal culture, high levels of lay education and urban literacy, a close relationship between town and country, and a nobility who frequently engaged in trade. Yet ultimately one must conclude that any interest or importance that is to be attached to this period springs above all not from any national considerations or reflections upon the Italian peninsula as a unity but rather from three particular features that were witnessed in, at least, some parts of it. These were, first, the maturing, often in the face of severe opposition, of that remarkable economic development which had originated in earlier centuries. Though shaken in the course of the 14th century, northern and central Italian trade, manufacture, and financial capitalism, together with increasing urbanization, were to continue with extraordinary vigour and to have remarkable influence throughout much of the Mediterranean world and Europe as a wholea development that served as the necessary preliminary for the expansion of Europe beyond its ancient bounds at the end of the 15th century. Second, in parallel with this, came the extension of de facto independent city-states, which, whether as republics or as powers ruled by one person or family (signorie, singular signoria; ruled by signori, or lords), created a powerful impression upon contemporaries and posterity. Finally, and allied to both these movements, it was from this society that was born the civilization of the Italian Renaissance, a Renaissance that in the 15th and 16th centuries was to be exported to the rest of Europe. Italy to c. 1380 The southern kingdoms and the Papal State Not all regions were to witness favourable economic or constitutional development or to receive anything but reflected rays from the sun of the Renaissance. In the south the Sicilian Vespers of 1282 had separated for more than 150 years the island of Sicily from the kingdom of Sicily (which until then had consisted of both the island and the southern mainland). On the mainland thenceforth, the successors of King Charles of Anjou (d. 1285) ruled as vassals of the papacy. Normally described by contemporaries as Kings of Naples (though resolutely continuing to call themselves Kings of Sicily), they pursued a 90-year war against the kings of (island) Sicily. That war, ultimately unsuccessful, was financed by harsh taxation of the only productive element in the kingdomnamely, its impoverished workers-on-the-land. This extension of royal fiscalism, already oppressive at the time of the Norman kings, fixed the region in wretched poverty and destroyed all possibility of native capitalist growth. As a result, during the 14th century almost all trade and banking came into the hands of northern Italians, particularly Florentines. At the same time, outside a few restricted areas (Sulmona, coastal Puglia, Campania) that produced considerable surpluses of grain, an arid climate and inferior soil made for poor agricultural development. Against this background, feudal disorder flourished. Under King Robert I (reigned 130943; known to his literary flatterers as Robert the Wise), who made no less than five attempts to conquer the island of Sicily, the monarchy was able to resist the more extravagant demands of the nobility for rewards for their military and political support. But, with the accession of Robert's granddaughter Joan I (134382), royal authority withered away, court factions dominated, and civil war (134752) followed. Quelled at this point, baronial turbulence revived at the end of Joan's reign in a conflict between two branches of the Angevin family (those of Durazzo versus those of Provence) which claimed recognition as heirs of the queen. The eventual victor, King Ladislas (13861414), benefiting from the turbulence provoked by the Western Schism (see below), was able to boast of considerable military success in central Italy and was even able to gain what to some observers seemed to be a brief position of predominance in the peninsula. But the accession of his sister, Joan II (141435), inexperienced and childless (without, that is to say, obvious heirs), brought a renewal of anarchy to the Neapolitan kingdom, in which true power was held not by the monarchy but by a few powerful owners of vast estates (latifundia) who were allied to the monarchy through blood or service. Below these barons existed a large number of petty nobles with minuscule fiefs; and still lower was a mass of workers-on-the-land, living close to subsistence. Meanwhile, the island kingdom of Sicilyor Trinacria, as it was often calledwas ruled from 1296 to 1409 by a cadet branch of the royal house of Aragon. This house, in rebellion against its feudal overlord, the papacy, and engaged in constant war with its northern neighbour, went through a pattern of monarchical weakness and economic decline similar to that shown by the Angevins of Naples. With the death of King Frederick III (1337), the island, which hitherto had been weakly feudalized, was now increasingly divided up by substantial concessions of royal lands to a grasping baronial class. Of particular importance in this group were the three great families of the Ventimiglia, the Chiaramonte, and the Passanetomen so powerful that contemporaries described them as semi-kings, having below them some 200 lesser, poor, and violent feudatories. In these years, with an economy dominated largely by Catalan merchants, Trinacria looked to Aragon and its great port of Barcelona rather th

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