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The History Of Italy
Author: Hallam, Henry

Part I



The History Of Italy, From The Extinction Of The Carlovingian Emperors To The Invasion Of Naples By Charles VIII

 



State of Italy after the Death of Charles the Fat - Coronation of Otho the
Great - State of Rome - Conrad II. - Union of the Kingdom of Italy with the
Empire - Establishment of the Normans in Naples and Sicily - Roger Guiscard -
Rise of the Lombard Cities - They gradually become more independent of the
Empire - Their internal Wars - Frederic Barbarossa - Destruction of Milan -
Lombard League - Battle of Legnano - Peace of Constance - Temporal
Principality of the Popes - Guelf and Ghibelin Factions - Otho IV. - Frederic
II. - Arrangement of the Italian Republics - Second Lombard War - Extinction
of the House of Swabia - Causes of the Success of Lombard Republics - Their
Prosperity - and Forms of Government - Contentions between the Nobility and
People - Civil Wars - Story of Giovanni di Vicenza. ^a

[Footnote a: The authorities upon which this book is founded, and which do not
always appear at the foot of the page, are chiefly the following. 1.
Muratori's Annals of Italy (twelve volumes in 4to. or eighteen in 8vo.)
comprehend a summary of its history from the beginning of the Christian era to
the peace of Aixla-Chapelle. The volumes relating to the middle ages, into
which he has digested the original writers contained in his great collection,
Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, are by much the best; and of these, the part
which extends from the seventh or eighth to the end of the twelfth century is
the fullest and most useful. Muratori's accuracy is in general almost
implicitly to be trusted, and his plain integrity speaks in all his writings;
but his mind was not philosophical enough to discriminate the wheat from the
chaff, and his habits of life induced him to annex an imaginary importance to
the dates of diplomas and other inconsiderable matters. His narrative
presents a mere skeleton devoid of juices; and besides its intolerable
aridity, it labors under that confusion which a merely chronological
arrangement of concurrent and independent events must always produce. 2. The
Dissertations on Italian Antiquities, by the same writer, may be considered
either as one or two works. In Latin they form six volumes in folio, enriched
with a great number of original documents. In Italian they are freely
translated by Muratori himself, abridged no doubt, and without most of the
original instruments, but well furnished with quotations, and abundantly
sufficient for most purposes. They form three volumes in quarto. I have in
general quoted only the number of the dissertation, on account of the variance
between the Latin and Italian works: in cases where the page is referred to, I
have indicated by the title which of the two I intend to vouch. 3. St. Marc,
a learned and laborious Frenchman, has written a chronological abridgment of
Italian history, somewhat in the manner of Henault, but so strangely divided
by several parallel columns in every page, that I could hardly name a book
more inconvenient to the reader. His knowledge, like Muratori's, lay a good
deal in points of minute inquiry; and he is chiefly to be valued in
ecclesiastical history. The work descends only to the thirteenth century. 4.
Denina's Rivoluzioni d' Italia, originally published in 1769, is a perspicuous
and lively book, in which the principal circumstances are well selected. It
is not perhaps free from errors in fact, and still less from those of opinion:
but, till lately, I do not know from what source a general acquaintance with
the history of Italy could have been so easily derived. 5. The publication of
M. Sismondi's Histoire des Republiques Italiennes has thrown a blaze of light
around the most interesting, at least in many respects, of European countries
during the middle ages. I am happy to bear witness, so far as my own studies
have enabled me, to the learning and diligence of this writer; qualities which
the world is sometimes apt not to suppose, where they perceive so much
eloquence and philosophy. I cannot express my opinion of M. Sismondi in this
respect more strongly than by saying that his work has almost superseded the
Annals of Muratori; I mean from the twelfth century, before which period his
labor hardly begins. Though doubtless not more accurate than Muratori, he has
consulted a much more extensive list of authors; and, considered as a register
of facts alone, his history is incomparably more useful. These are combined
in so skilful a manner as to diminish, in a great degree, that inevitable
confusion which arises from frequency of transition and want of general unity.
It is much to be regretted that, from too redundant details of unnecessary
circumstances, and sometimes, if I may take the liberty of saying so, from
unnecessary reflections, M. Sismondi has run into a prolixity which will
probably intimidate the languid students of our age. It is the more to be
regretted, because the History of Italian Republics is calculated to produce a
good far more important than storing the memory with historical facts, that of
communicating to the reader's bosom some sparks of the dignified philosophy,
the love for truth and virtue, which lives along its eloquent pages. 6. To
Muratori's collection of original writers the Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, in
twenty-four volumes in folio, I have paid considerable attention; perhaps
there is no volume of it which I have not more or less consulted. But, after
the Annals of the same writer, and the work of M. Sismondi, I have not thought
myself bound to repeat a laborious search into all the authorities upon which
those writers depend. The utility, for the most part, of perusing original and
contemporary authors, consists less in ascertaining mere facts than in
acquiring that insight into the spirit and temper of their times which it is
utterly impracticable for any compiler to impart. It would be impossible for
me to distinguish what information I have derived from these higher sources;
in cases, therefore, where no particular authority is named, I would refer to
the writings of Muratori and Sismondi, especially the latter, as the
substratum of the following book.]

At the death of Charles the Fat in 888, that part of Italy which
acknowledged the supremacy of the Western empire was divided, like France and
Germany, among a few powerful vassals, hereditary governors of provinces. The
principal of these were the dukes of Spoleto and Tuscany, the marquises of
Ivrea, Susa, and Friuli. The great Lombard duchy of Benevento, which had
stood against the arms of Charlemagne, and comprised more than half the
present kingdom of Naples, had now fallen into decay, and was straitened by
the Greeks in Apulia, and by the principalities of Capua and Salerno, which
had been severed from its own territory, on the opposite coast. ^b Though
princes of the Carlovingian line continued to reign in France, their character
was too little distinguished to challenge the obedience of Italy, already
separated by family partitions from the Transalpine nations; and the only
contest was among her native chiefs. One of these, Berenger, originally
Marquis of Friuli, or the March of Treviso, reigned for thirty-six years, but
with continually disputed pretensions; and after his death the calamities of
Italy were sometimes aggravated by tyranny, and sometimes by intestine war. ^c
The Hungarians desolated Lombardy; the southern coasts were infested by the
Saracens, now masters of Sicily. Plunged in an abyss, from which she saw no
other means of extricating herself, Italy lost sight of her favorite
independence, and called in the assistance of Otho the First, King of Germany.
Little opposition was made to this powerful monarch. Berenger II., the
reigning sovereign of Italy, submitted to hold the kingdom of him as a fief.
^d But some years afterwards, new disturbances arising, Otho descended from
the Alps a second time, deposed Berenger, and received at the hands of Pope
John XII. the imperial dignity [A.D. 951], which had been suspended for nearly
forty years.

[Footnote b: Giannone, Istoria Civile di Napoli, l. vii.; Sismondi, Hist. des
Republiques Italiennes, t. i. p. 244.]

[Footnote c: Berenger, being grandson, by a daughter, of Louis the Debonair,
may be reckoned of the Carlovingian family. He was a Frank by law, according
to Troja, who denies to him and his son, Berenger II., the name of Italians.
It was Otho I. that put an end to the Frank dominion. Storia d' Italia, v.
357:

"Or gia tutto all' apparir degli Ottoni si cangia da capo in Italia, nel
modo stesso che tutto erasi cangiato alla venuta de' Franchi. Le citta
Longobarde prendono altra faccia, la possanza de' vescovi s' aumenta, i patti
fra il sacerdozio e l' imperio guardano a piu vasto scopo ed i pontifici
Romano sono dalla forza delle cose chiamati a tenere il freno intellettuale
della civita de' popoli di tutta Europa." Troja deduces the Italian communes
"dopo il mille" from a German rather than a Roman origin. "La sono veramente i
comuni dov' e la spada per difendergli; ma nel regno Longobardice da lunga
stagione la spada piu non pendeva dal fianco del Romano." (p. 368.)]

[Footnote d: Muratori, A.D. 951; Denina, Rivoluzioni d' Italia, l. ix. c. 6.]

Every ancient prejudice, every recollection, whether of Augustus or of
Charlemagne, had led the Italians to annex the notion of sovereignty to the
name of Roman Emperor; nor were Otho, or his two immediate descendants, by any
means inclined to waive these supposed prerogatives, which they were well able
to enforce. Most of the Lombard princes acquiesced without apparent
repugnance in the new German government, which was conducted by Otho the Great
with much prudence and vigor, and occasionally with severity. The citizens of
Lombardy were still better satisfied with a change that ensured a more
tranquil and regular administration than they had experienced under the
preceding kings. But in one, and that the chief of Italian cities, very
different sentiments were prevalent. We find, indeed, a considerable
obscurity spread over the internal history of Rome during the long period from
the recovery of Italy by Belisarius to the end of the eleventh century. The
popes appear to have possessed some measure of temporal power, even while the
city was professedly governed by the exarchs of Ravenna, in the name of the
Eastern empire. This power became more extensive after her separation from
Constantinople. It was, however, subordinate to the undeniable sovereignty of
the new imperial family, who were supposed to enter upon all the rights of
their predecessors. There was always an imperial officer, or prefect, in that
city, to render criminal justice; an oath of allegiance to the emperor was
taken by the people; and upon any irregular election of a pope, a circumstance
by no means unusual, the emperors held themselves entitled to interpose. But
the spirit and even the institutions of the Romans were republican. Amidst
the darkness of the tenth century, which no contemporary historian dissipates,
we faintly distinguish the awful names of senate, consuls, and tribunes, the
domestic magistracy of Rome. These shadows of past glory strike us at first
with surprise; yet there is no improbability in the supposition that a city so
renowned and populous, and so happily sheltered from the usurpation of the
Lombards, might have preserved, or might afterwards establish, a kind of
municipal government, which it would be natural to dignify with those august
titles of antiquity. ^e During that anarchy which ensued upon the fall of the
Carlovingian dynasty, the Romans acquired an independence which they did not
deserve. The city became a prey to the most terrible disorders; the papal
chair was sought for at best by bribery or controlling influence, often by
violence and assassination; it was filled by such men as naturally rise by
such means, whose sway was precarious, and generally ended either in their
murder or degradation. For many years the supreme pontiffs were forced upon
the church by two women of high rank but infamous reputation, Theodora and her
daughter Marozia. The kings of Italy, whose election in a diet of Lombard
princes and bishops at Roncaglia was not conceived to convey any pretensions
to the sovereignty of Rome, could never obtain any decided influence in papal
elections, which were the object of struggling factions among the resident
nobility. In this temper of the Romans, they were ill disposed to resume
habits of obedience to a foreign sovereign. The next year after Otho's
coronation they rebelled, the pope at their head; but were of course subdued
without difficulty. [A.D. 962.] The same republican spirit broke out whenever
the emperors were absent in Germany, especially during the minority of Otho
III., and directed itself against the temporal superiority of the pope. But
when that emperor attained manhood he besieged and took the city, crushing all
resistance by measures of severity; and especially by the execution of the
consul Crescentius, a leader of the popular faction, to whose instigation the
tumultuous license of Rome was principally ascribed. ^f

[Footnote e: Muratori, A.D. 967, 987, 1015, 1087; Sismondi, t. i. p. 155.]

[Footnote f: Sismondi, t. i. p. 164, makes a patriot hero of Crescentius. But
we know so little of the man or the times, that it seems better to follow the
common tenor of history, without vouching for the accuracy of its
representations.]

At the death of Otho III. without children, in 1002, the compact between
Italy and the emperors of the house of Saxony was determined. Her engagement
of fidelity was certainly not applicable to every sovereign whom the princes
of Germany might raise to their throne. Accordingly Ardoin Marquis of Ivrea
was elected King of Italy. But a German party existed among the Lombard
princes and bishops, to which his insolent demeanor soon gave a pretext for
inviting Henry II., the new king of Germany, collaterally related to their
late sovereign. Ardoin was deserted by most of the Italians, but retained his
former subjects in Piedmont, and disputed the crown for many years with Henry,
who passed very little time in Italy. During this period there was hardly any
recognized government; and the Lombards became more and more accustomed,
through necessity, to protect themselves, and to provide for their own
internal police. Meanwhile the German nation had become odious to the
Italians. The rude soldiery, insolent and addicted to intoxication, were
engaged in frequent disputes with the citizens, wherein the latter, as is
usual in similar cases, were exposed first to the summary vengeance of the
troops, and afterwards to penal chastisement for sedition. ^g In one of these
tumults, at the entry of Henry II. in 1004, the city of Pavia was burned to
the ground, which inspired its inhabitants with a constant animosity against
that emperor. Upon his death in 1024, the Italians were disposed to break once
more their connection with Germany, which had elected as sovereign Conrad Duke
of Franconia. They offered their crown to Robert King of France, and to
William Duke of Guienne; but neither of them was imprudent enough to involve
himself in the difficult and faithless politics of Italy. It may surprise us
that no candidate appeared from among her native princes. But it had been the
dexterous policy of the Othos to weaken the great Italian fiefs, which were
still rather considered as hereditary governments than as absolute
patrimonies, by separating districts from their jurisdiction, under inferior
marquises and rural counts. ^h The bishops were incapable of becoming
competitors, and generally attached to the German party. The cities already
possessed material influence, but were disunited by mutual jealousies. Since
ancient prejudices, therefore, precluded a federate league of independent
principalities and republics, for which perhaps the actual condition of Italy
unfitted her, Eribert Archbishop of Milan, accompanied by some other chief men
of Lombardy, repaired to Constance, and tendered the crown to Conrad, which he
was already disposed to claim as a sort of dependency upon Germany. [A.D.
1024.] It does not appear that either Conrad or his successors were ever
regularly elected to reign over Italy; ^i but whether this ceremony took place
or not, we may certainly date from that time the subjection of Italy to the
Germanic body. It became an unquestionable maxim, that the votes of a few
German princes conferred a right to the sovereignty of a country which had
never been conquered, and which had never formally recognized this
superiority. ^j But it was an equally fundamental rule, that the elected King
of Germany could not assume the title of Roman Emperor until his coronation by
the pope. The middle appellation of King of the Romans was invented as a sort
of approximation to the imperial dignity. But it was not till the reign of
Maximilian that the actual coronation at Rome was dispensed with, and the
title of emperor taken immediately after the election.

[Footnote g: Muratori, A.D. 1027, 1037.]

[Footnote h: Denina, l. ix. c. ii; Muratori, Antiquities. Ital. Dissert. 8;
Annali d'Italia, A.D. 989.]

[Footnote i: Muratori, A.D. 1026. It is said afterwards, p. 367, that he was
a Romanis ad Imperatorem electus. The people of Rome therefore preserved
their nominal right of concurring in the election of an emperor.

Muratori, in another place, A.D. 1040, supposes that Henry III. was
chosen King of Italy, though he allows that no proof of it exists; and there
seems no reason for the supposition.] [Footnote j: Gunther, the poet of
Frederic Barbarossa, expresses this not inelegantly:

Romani gloria regni
Nos penes est; quemcunque sibi Germania regem
Praeficit, hunc dives submisso vertice
Roma [Rhenus
Accipit, et verso Tiberim regit ordine
Gunther. Ligurinus ap. Struvium
Corpus Hist. German. p. 266.

Yet it appears from Otho of Frisingen, an unquestionable authority, that some
Italian nobles concurred, or at least were present and assisting, in the
election of Frederic himself: l. ii. c. i.]

The period between Conrad of Franconia and Frederic Barbarossa, or from
about the middle of the eleventh to that of the twelfth century, is marked by
three great events in Italian history; the struggle between the empire and the
papacy for ecclesiastical investitures, the establishment of the Norman
kingdom in Naples, and the formation of distinct and nearly independent
republics among the cities of Lombardy. The first of these will find a more
appropriate place in a subsequent chapter, where I shall trace the progress of
ecclesiastical power. But it produced a long and almost incessant state of
disturbance in Italy; and should be mentioned at present as one of the main
causes which excited in that country a systematic opposition to the imperial
authority.

The southern provinces of Italy, in the beginning of the eleventh
century, were chiefly subject to the Greek empire, which had latterly
recovered part of its losses, and exhibited some ambition and enterprise,
though without any intrinsic vigor. They were governed by a lieutenant,
styled Catapan, ^k who resided at Bari in Apulia. On the Mediterranean coast
three duchies, or rather republics of Naples, Gaeta, and Amalfi, had for
several ages preserved their connection with the Greek empire, and
acknowledged its nominal sovereignty. The Lombard principalities of
Benevento, Salerno, and Capua had much declined from their ancient splendor.
The Greeks were, however, not likely to attempt any further conquests: the
court of Constantinople had relapsed into its usual indolence; nor had they
much right to boast of successes rather due to the Saracen auxiliaries whom
they hired from Sicily. No momentous revolution apparently threatened the
south of Italy, and least of all could it be anticipated from what quarter the
storm was about to gather.

[Footnote k: Catapanus, one employed in general administration of affairs.]

The followers of Rollo, who rested from plunder and piracy in the quiet
possession of Normandy, became devout professors of the Christian faith, and
particularly addicted to the custom of pilgrimage, which gratified their
curiosity and spirit of adventure. In small bodies, well armed on account of
the lawless character of the countries through which they passed, the Norman
pilgrims visited the shrines of Italy and even the Holy Land. Some of these,
very early in the eleventh century, were engaged by a Lombard prince of
Salerno against the Saracens, who had invaded his territory; and through that
superiority of valor, and perhaps of corporal strength, which this singular
people seem to have possessed above all other Europeans, they made surprising
havoc among the enemy. ^l This exploit led to fresh engagements, and these
engagements drew new adventurers from Normandy; they founded the little city
of Aversa, near Capua, and were employed by the Greeks against the Saracens of
Sicily. But, though performing splendid services in this war, they were ill
repaid by their ungrateful employers; and being by no means of a temper to
bear with injury, they revenged themselves by a sudden invasion of Apulia.
[A.D. 1042.] This province was speedily subdued, and divided among twelve
Norman counts; but soon afterwards Robert Guiscard, one of twelve brothers,
many of whom were renowned in these Italian wars, acquired the sovereignty;
and, adding Calabria to his conquests, put an end to the long dominion of the
Eastern emperors in Italy. ^m [A.D. 1057.] He reduced the principalities of
Salerno and Benevento, in the latter instance sharing the spoil with the pope,
who took the city to himself, while Robert retained the territory. His
conquests in Greece, which he invaded with the magnificent design of
overthrowing the Eastern empire, were at least equally splendid, though less
durable. [A.D. 1061.] Roger, his younger brother, undertook meanwhile the
romantic enterprise, as it appeared, of conquering the island of Sicily with a
small body of Norman volunteers. But the Saracens were broken into petty
states, and discouraged by the bad success of their brethren in Spain and
Sardinia. After many years of war Roger became sole master of Sicily, and
took the title of Count. The son of this prince, upon the extinction of
Robert Guiscard's posterity, united the two Norman sovereignties, and,
subjugating the free republics of Naples and Amalfi, and the principality of
Capua, established a boundary which has hardly been changed since his time. ^n
[A.D. 1127.]

[Footnote l: Giannone, t. ii. p. 7 [edit. 1753]. I should observe that St.
Marc, a more critical writer in examination of facts than Giannone, treats
this first adventure of the Normans as unauthenticated. Abrege Chronologique,
p. 990.]

[Footnote m: The final blow was given to the Greek domination over Italy by
the capture of Bari in 1071, after a siege of four years. It had for some
time been confined to this single city. Muratori, St. Marc.]

[Footnote n: M. Sismondi has excelled himself in describing the conquest of
Amalfi and Naples by Roger Guiscard (t. i. c. 4); warming his imagination with
visions of liberty and virtue in those obscure republics, which no real
history survives to dispel.]

The first successes of these Norman leaders were viewed unfavorably by
the popes. Leo IX. marched in person against Robert Guiscard with an army of
German mercenaries, but was beaten and made prisoner in this unwise
enterprise, the scandal of which nothing but good fortune could have
lightened. He fell, however, into the hands of a devout people, who implored
his absolution for the crime of defending themselves; and, whether through
gratitude, or as the price of his liberation, invested them with their recent
conquests in Apulia, as fiefs of the Holy See. This investiture was repeated
and enlarged as the popes, especially in their contention with Henry IV. and
Henry V., found the advantage of using the Normans as faithful auxiliaries.
Finally, Innocent II., in 1139, conferred upon Roger the title of King of
Sicily. It is difficult to understand by what pretence these countries could
be claimed by the see of Rome in sovereignty, unless by virtue of the
pretended donation of Constantine, or that of Louis the Debonair, which is
hardly less suspicious; ^o and least of all how Innocent II. could surrender
the liberties of the city of Naples, whether that was considered as an
independent republic, or as a portion of the Greek empire. But the Normans,
who had no title but their swords, were naturally glad to give an appearance
of legitimacy to their conquest; and the kingdom of Naples, even in the hands
of the most powerful princes in Europe, never ceased to pay a feudal
acknowledgment to the chair of St. Peter.

[Footnote o: Muratori presumes to suppose that the interpolated, if not
spurious, grants of Louis the Debonair, Otho I., and Henry II. to the see of
Rome, were promulgated about the time of the first concessions to the Normans,
in order to give the popes a colorable pretext to dispose of the southern
provinces of Italy. A.D. 1059.]

The revolutions which time brought forth on the opposite side of Italy
were still more interesting. Under the Lombard and French princes every city
with its adjacent district was subject to the government and jurisdiction of a
count, who was himself subordinate to the duke or marquis of the province.
From these counties it was the practice of the first German emperors to
dismember particular towns or tracts of country, granting them upon a feudal
tenure to rural lords, by many of whom also the same title was assumed. Thus
by degrees the authority of the original officers was confined almost to the
walls of their own cities; and in many cases the bishops obtained a grant of
the temporal government, and exercised the functions which had belonged to the
count. ^p

[Footnote p: Muratori, Antiquit, Italiae, Dissert. 8; Annali d'Italia, A.D.
989; Antichita Estensi, p. 26.]

It is impossible to ascertain the time at which the cities of Lombardy
began to assume a republican form of government, or to trace with precision
the gradations of their progress. The last historian of Italy asserts that
Otho the First erected them into municipal communities, and permitted the
election of their magistrates; but of this he produces no evidence; and
Muratori, from whose authority it is rash to depart without strong reasons, is
not only silent about any charters, but discovers no express unequivocal
testimonies of a popular government for the whole eleventh century. ^q The
first appearance of the citizens acting for themselves is in a tumult at Milan
in 991, when the archbishop was expelled from the city. ^r But this was a
transitory ebullition, and we must descend lower for more specific proofs. It
is possible that the disputed succession of Ardoin and Henry, at the beginning
of the eleventh age, and the kind of interregnum which then took place, gave
the inhabitants an opportunity of choosing magistrates and of sharing in
public deliberations. A similar relaxation indeed of government in France had
exposed the people to greater servitude, and established a feudal aristocracy.
But the feudal tenures seem not to have produced in Italy that systematic and
regular subordination which existed in France during the same period; nor were
the mutual duties of the relation between lord and vassal so well understood
or observed. Hence we find not only disputes, but actual civil war, between
the lesser gentry or vavassors, and the higher nobility, their immediate
superiors. These differences were adjusted by Conrad the Salic, who published
a remarkable edict in 1037, by which the feudal law of Italy was reduced to
more certainty. ^s From this disunion among the members of the feudal
confederacy, it was more easy for the citizens to render themselves secure
against its dominion. The cities too of Lombardy were far more populous and
better defended than those of France; they had learned to stand sieges in the
Hungarian invasions of the tenth century, and had acquired the right of
protecting themselves by strong fortifications. Those which had been placed
under the temporal government of their bishops had peculiar advantages in
struggling for emancipation. ^t This circumstance in the state of Lombardy I
consider as highly important towards explaining the subsequent revolution.
Notwithstanding several exceptions, a churchman was less likely to be bold and
active in command than a soldier; and the sort of election which was always
necessary, and sometimes more than nominal, on a vacancy of the see, kept up
among the citizens a notion that the authority of their bishop and chief
magistrate emanated in some degree from themselves. In many instances,
especially in the church of Milan, the earliest perhaps, and certainly the
most famous of Lombard republics, there occurred a disputed election; two, or
even three, competitors claimed the archiepiscopal functions, and were
compelled, in the absence of the emperors, to obtain the exercise of them by
means of their own faction among the citizens. ^u

[Footnote q: Sismondi, t. i. p. 97, 384; Muratori Dissert. 49.]

[Footnote r: Muratori, Annali d'Italia.]

[Footnote s: Muratori, Annali d'Italia. St. Marc.]

[Footnote t: The bishops seem to have become counts, or temporal governors, of
their sees, about the end of the tenth, or before the middle of the eleventh
century. Muratori, Diss. 8; Denina, l. ix. c. II; St. Marc, A.D. 1041, 1047,
1070. In Arnulf's History of Milan, written before the close of the latter
age, we have a contemporary evidence. And from the perusal of that work I
should infer that the archbishop was, in the middle of the eleventh century,
the chief magistrate of the city. But, at the same time, it appears highly
probable that an assembly of the citizens, or at least a part of the citizens,
partook in the administration of public affairs. Muratori, Scriptores Rerum
Italicarum, t. iv. p. 16, 22, 23, and particularly the last. In most cities
to the eastward of the Tesino, the bishops lost their temporal authority in
the twelfth century, though the archbishop of Milan had no small prerogatives
while that city was governed as a republic. But in Piedmont they continued
longer in the enjoyment of power. Vercelli, and even Turin, were almost
subject to their respective prelates till the thirteenth century. For this
reason, among others, the Piedmontese cities are hardly to be reckoned among
the republics of Lombardy. - Denina, Istoria dell' Italia Occidentale, t. i.
p. 191.]

[Footnote u: Muratori, A.D. 1345. Sometimes the inhabitants of a city refused
to acknowledge a bishop named by the emperor, as happened at Pavia and Asti
about 1057. Arnulf, p. 22. This was, in other words, setting up themselves
as republics. But the most remarkable instance of this kind occurred in 1070,
when the Milanese absolutely rejected Godfrey, appointed by Henry IV., and,
after a resistance of several years, obliged the emperor to fix upon another
person. The city had been previously involved in long and violent tumults,
which, though rather belonging to ecclesiastical than civil history, as they
arose out of the endeavors made to reform the conduct and enforce the celibacy
of the clergy, had a considerable tendency to diminish the archbishop's
authority, and to give a republican character to the inhabitants. These
proceedings are told at great length by St. Marc, t. iii. A.D. 1056-1077.
Arnulf and Landulf are the original sources.]

These were the general causes which, operating at various times during
the eleventh century, seem gradually to have produced a republican form of
government in the Italian cities. But this part of history is very obscure.
The archives of all cities before the reign of Frederic Barbarossa have
perished. For many years there is a great deficiency of contemporary Lombard
historians; and those of a later age, who endeavored to search into the
antiquities of their country, have found only some barren and insulated events
to record. We perceive, however, throughout the eleventh century, that the
cities were continually in warfare with each other. This, indeed, was
according to the manners of that age, and no inference can absolutely be drawn
from it as to their internal freedom. But it is observable that their
chronicles speak, in recording these transactions, of the people, and not of
their leaders, which is the true republican tone of history. Thus, in the
Annals of Pisa, we read, under the years 1002 and 1004, of victories gained by
the Pisans over the people of Lucca; in 1006, that the Pisans and Genoese
conquered Sardinia. ^v These annals, indeed, are not by a contemporary writer,
nor perhaps of much authority. But we have an original account of a war that
broke out in 1057, between Pavia and Milan, in which the citizens are said to
have raised armies, made alliances, hired foreign troops, and in every respect
acted like independent states. ^w There was, in fact, no power left in the
empire to control them. The two Henrys IV. and V. were so much embarrassed
during the quarrel concerning investitures, and the continual troubles of
Germany, that they were less likely to interfere with the rising freedom of
the Italian cities, than to purchase their assistance by large concessions.
Henry IV. granted a charter to Pisa in 1081, full of the most important
privileges, promising even not to name any marquis of Tuscany without the
people's consent; ^x and it is possible that, although the instruments have
perished, other places might obtain similar advantages. However this may be,
it is certain that before the death of Henry V., in 1125, almost all the
cities of Lombardy, and many among those of Tuscany, were accustomed to elect
their own magistrates, and to act as independent communities in waging war and
in domestic government. ^y

[Footnote v: Murat. Diss. 45. Arnulfus, the historian of Milan, makes no
mention of any temporal counts, which seems to be a proof that there were none
in any authority. He speaks always of Mediolanenses, Papienses, Ravenates,
&c. This history was written about 1085, but relates to the earlier part of
that century. That of Landulphus corroborates this supposition, which indeed
is capable of proof as to Milan and several other cities in which the temporal
government had been legally vested in the bishops.]

[Footnote w: Ibid.; Arnulf Hist. Mediolan. p. 22.]

[Footnote x: Murat. Dissert. 45.]

[Footnote y: Murat. Annali d'Ital. A.D. 1107.]

The territory subjected originally to the count or bishop of these
cities, had been reduced, as I mentioned above, by numerous concessions to the
rural nobility. But the new republics, deeming themselves entitled to all
which their former governors had once possessed, began to attack their nearest
neighbors, and to recover the sovereignty of all their ancient territory.
They besieged the castles of the rural counts, and successively reduced them
into subjection. They suppressed some minor communities, which had been
formed in imitation of themselves by little towns belonging to their district.
Sometimes they purchased feudal superiorities or territorial jurisdictions,
and, according to a policy not unusual with the stronger party, converted the
rights of property into those of government. ^z Hence, at the middle of the
twelfth century, we are assured by a contemporary writer that hardly any
nobleman could be found, except the Marquis of Montferrat, who had not
submitted to some city. ^a We may except, also, I should presume, the families
of Este and Malaspina, as well as that of Savoy. Muratori produces many
charters of mutual compact between the nobles and the neighboring cities;
whereof one invariable article is, that the former should reside within the
walls a certain number of months in the year. ^b The rural nobility, thus
deprived of the independence which had endeared their castles, imbibed a new
ambition of directing the municipal government of the cities, which
consequently, during this period of the republics, fell chiefly into the hands
of the superior families. It was the sagacious policy of the Lombards to
invite settlers by throwing open to them the privileges of citizenship, and
sometimes they even bestowed them by compulsion. Sometimes a city, imitating
the wisdom of ancient Rome, granted these privileges to all the inhabitants of
another. ^c Thus, the principal cities, and especially Milan, reached, before
the middle of the twelfth century, a degree of population very far beyond that
of the capitals of the great kingdoms. Within their strong walls and deep
trenches, and in the midst of their well-peopled streets, the industrious
dwelt secure from the license of armed pillagers and the oppression of feudal
tyrants. Artisans, whom the military landholders contemned, acquired and
deserved the right of bearing arms for their own and the public defense. ^d
Their occupations became liberal, because they were the foundation of their
political franchises; the citizens were classed in companies according to
their respective crafts, each of which had its tribune or standard bearer
(gonfalonier), at whose command, when any tumult arose or enemy threatened,
they rushed in arms to muster in the market-place.

[Footnote z: Il dominio utile delle citta e de' villaggi era talvolta diviso
fra due o piu padroni, ossia che s' assegnassero a ciascuno diversi quartieri,
o si dividessoro i proventi della gabelle, ovvero che l'uno signore godesse
d'una spezie della giurisdizione, e l' altro d' un' altra. Denina l xii. c. 3.
This produced a vast intricacy of titles, which was of course advantageous to
those who wanted a pretext for robbing their neighbors.]

[Footnote a: Otho Frisingens. l. ii. c. 13.]

[Footnote b: Murat. Diss. 49.]

[Footnote c: Ibid.]

[Footnote d: Otho Frisingensis ap. Murat. Scr. Rer. Ital. t. vi. p. 708.
Ut etiam ad comprimendos vicinos materia non careant, inferioris ordinis
juvenes, vel quoslibet contemptibilium etiam mechanicarum artium opifices,
quos caeterae gentes ab honestioribus et liberioribus studiis tanquam pestem
propellunt, ad militiae cingulum, vel dignitatum gradus assumere non
dedignantur. Ex quo factum est, ut caeteris orbis civitatibus, divitiis et
potentia praeemineant.]

But, unhappily, we cannot extend the sympathy which institutions so full
of liberty create to the national conduct of these little republics. Their
love of freedom was alloyed by that restless spirit, from which a democracy is
seldom exempt, of tyrannizing over weaker neighbors. They played over again
the tragedy of ancient Greece, with all its circumstances of inveterate
hatred, unjust ambition, and atrocious retaliation, though with less
consummate actors upon the scene. Among all the Lombard cities, Milan was the
most conspicuous, as well for power and population as for the abuse of those
resources by arbitrary and ambitious conduct. Thus, in IIII, they razed the
town of Lodi to the ground, distributing the inhabitants among six villages,
and subjecting them to an unrelenting despotism. ^e Thus, in 1118, they
commenced a war of ten years' duration with the little city of Como; but the
surprising perseverance of its inhabitants procured for them better terms of
capitulation, though they lost their original independence. The Cremonese
treated so harshly the town of Crema that it revolted from them, and put
itself under the protection of Milan. Cities of more equal forces carried on
interminable hostilities by wasting each other's territory, destroying the
harvests, and burning the villages.

[Footnote e: The animosity between Milan and Lodi was of very old standing. It
originated, according to Arnulf, in the resistance made by the inhabitants of
the latter city to an attempt made by Archbishop Eribert to force a bishop of
his own nomination upon them. The bloodshed, plunder, and conflagrations
which had ensued, would, he says, fill a volume, if they were related at
length. Scriptores Rerum Italic. t. iv. p. 16. And this is the testimony
of a writer who did not live beyond 1085. Seventy years more either of
hostility or servitude elapsed before Lodi was permitted to respire.]

 

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