среда, 13 апреля 2022 г.

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Each new foreign invasion, instead of rallying the Italians in the face of a common enemy, only deepened the contradictions, bringing them to the extreme degree of acuteness. In Genoa the Ghibellines were stronger, in Venice the Guelphs, in Florence the two parties were constantly fighting, but in no city were the Guelphs or the Ghibellines able to gain the upper hand definitively. There was no clear boundary between the estates: the feudal lords participated in trade and banking operations, merchants and bankers acquired lands and estates; the interests of merchants and landowners were intertwined.

In the XIII century. Popolans become an independent political force - the "fat" and "skinny" people, the wealthy and the poor, dissatisfied with the power of the lords. They decisively declare themselves with the establishment of a "people's commune" in Genoa and Florence in the middle of the 12th century. The economic prosperity of the cities gives the rich half the strength and determination. In 1293, the “fat” people of Florence adopted the “Institutions of Justice”, which deprived the feudal grandees of any political rights. The Criminal Code was replenished with a new severe punishment - lifelong entry into grants. It is not surprising that the feudal lords, who involuntarily changed their magnificent titles to common people's surnames, harbored a hatred for the new order and, at every opportunity, incited an uprising, plotted, called on foreign troops to help them, and in case of victory, they enthusiastically tore the "Established justice" to shreds. and the banner of the commune. 

They were joined by a part of their former opponents - the popolans, who became landowners, and a significant part of the common people, which the merchants in power ripped off like sticky. The whole 14th century for Florence, it passed under the sign of unrest, conspiracies, riots (of which the largest was the uprising of carders - ciompi) and various foreign invasions. The contradictions could not be smoothed out by any improvements and rearrangements in the authorities, about which Dante wrote with irony:

The subtlest charters of the master,
you will try them on in October, it happened,
and demolish by mid-November.

In fact, in Florence, power at this time passes to the workshops. It is they, and not communal councils, who have a real influence on the life of the city. This did not happen in other republics.


In Genoa, the struggle between noble landowners and merchants, Guelphs and Ghibellines, determined the life of the city during the 13th century. At the beginning of the 14th century, the Polanska commune reigned. The grandees are sent into exile, and the rivalry of strong Polan families begins - Fieschi, Adorio, Fregoso. The doge of the republic sometimes changed several times a year, however, as a contemporary wrote, invariably "from bad to worse." Despite internal turmoil, Genoa is actively fighting Venice for power over the sea. Finally, the Genoese rushed to the East, and the Venetians to the West; the war for spheres of influence ends in a draw. But battles and unrest weakened Genoa so much that it first submits to France, then to Milan, and this gives rise to a new series of internal conflicts between "patriots" and "traitors". However, the economic strength of Genoa remains, the Bank of St. George, established in 1407, whose clients were almost all the monarchs of Europe, in particular the Spanish king, acquires great importance.

Venice in the war with Genoa did not gain anything, but did not lose anything either. Wealth, possessions, independence - everything remained with her. The reason for this happy outcome was the internal unity of the Venetian state. While other republics, unable to maintain themselves at the stage of democracy, constantly slipped into anarchy or foreign tyranny, in Venice the power of the patrician oligarchy was being strengthened. There were not so many land holdings for the feudal nobility to have significant influence. The number of families with the right to participate in communal councils was limited to a very narrow circle of old wealthy families. The power of the doge extended no further than the right to give wise advice. Attempts of coups and uprisings of the Republic of St. Mark (as Venice was called) nipped in the bud and henceforth, in the event of such troubles, the Council of Ten (deciumvirate) was established - an intelligence and secret investigation body for cases of treason. The Council's judgment was swift and merciless. Legislative power remained in the hands of wealthy patricians. Wealthy townspeople made only one concession: they were subject to the laws of the republic.

Gradually, in Venice, a special stratum of state officials-townspeople developed. This compromise, skillful internal politics, and the wealthy republic's generosity in bread, circuses, and housing for the poor helped keep the Republic of St. Mark's peace and tranquility. The ruling nobility was united by the idea of ​​serving the state. If the Florentine banker acted "in the name of God and profit", then the Venetian patrician served "God and Holy Venice". A "noble" person was bound to be a patriot. The state in Venice subjugated the church, actively and intelligently intervened in the economy, not yielding a single drop of political influence to the workshops. By the beginning of the XV century. Venice was one of the most powerful and richest states in Europe.

With the help of gold, the Venetians, Genoese and Florentines subjugate the entire observable world from England to Persia and from Sweden to Egypt. The fleets of Genoa and Venice are masters of the Mediterranean; the day is not far off when the ships of the Genoese Columbus and the Venetian Sebastian Cabot will rush to the New World.

In the XV century. the Italian republics are strong enough to start the battle for the redivision of Italy. At first, it was only about mastering the river and land trade routes; for this, they spared neither strength nor money to pay for the condottieri - hired commanders. Condottieri in the service of merchants are redrawing the political map of Italy beyond recognition. Florence captures Pisa and Livorno. Genoa also expands its possessions: under Doge Florenzo Foscari, the Republic of St. Mark captures a huge territory in northern Italy.

The political destinies of cities are changing. In Florence, the mediocre aristocracy that came to power discredited the republic - and Cosimo Medici, the richest banker, the leader of the supporters of the grandees, a subtle and intelligent man, appeared on the political scene. Under his son Lorenzo the Magnificent, a wise politician and educated philanthropist, Florence finally found the long-awaited inner peace and prosperity.

Both the strongest republics of Italy, Venice and Florence, hatched far-reaching conquest plans. They were fed by an idea that at that time dominated the minds of not only thinkers and politicians, but also of the common people - the idea of ​​​​unifying Italy by the hand of a strong ruler. Venice and Florence were strong enough to listen favorably to these voices, but still not strong enough to win the power struggle.

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