The Swabian Sunset Part 1

According to elaineqho, the death of Frederick II, 1250, when his building was already held up with difficulty, between defections of partisans, rebellions of subjects, military defeats, setbacks and pains of all kinds, was for this building another and greater shock. It thinned out and, here and there, the vast network of vicars and officials that the king had all over the place suddenly broke. In other words, not only was the lively connection that, in the person of Frederick, drawn between the two crowns of Sicily and Italy, but also that gross unity, in fact as well as merely juridical, that the emperor and king of Italy he had managed to reconstitute within the ancient kingdom of Italy and also in part of the lands of the Church. That other freer and more spontaneous unity given by the adhesion of a thousand local forces and local factions to a single party was also broken, the Ghibelline. The Guelphs, organizing themselves with great difficulty in every city, in the years of the Swabian and Ghibelline prevalence, and increasingly becoming part of the Church, increasingly also favoring the movements of the people, which are now erupting everywhere, took the windward, or, if exiled, they could return to their homeland and regain lost positions. Municipal life, adopted in the previous twenty years, here and there regained vigor under the protection of part of the Church and under the flag of the people, which had meanwhile almost everywhere ascended to the government of the city, with its captain, its statute, its councils, opposed to the podestà, the statute and the councils of the municipality. Indeed, some of these municipalities now gained a powerful momentum. Thus, in Tuscany, Florence, where she had been very much alive, against the government of Frederick’s vicaries, the reaction of the mercantile and banking bourgeoisie, politically humiliated and damaged by papal interdicts. Even in the kingdom of Sicily, there was a slight swarm of communal life, after the royal pressure was removed. Palermo, Messina, other cities rose up. Innocent IV blew the fire of these city revolts, against Manfredi who had assumed the regency and against the viceroy of Sicily, Count Pietro Ruffo di Catanzaro. And since the viceroy fled to Calabria, the papal legate, friar Francesco Ruffino, appointed by the pope as vicar in Sicily, asserted his authority there. The curia intended to take over the government of the kingdom directly and annex it to the State of the Church, hoping for that an arrangement of autonomous cities, as was already in the patrimony, Marche, Umbria, Romagna. Certainly there appeared magistrates and legal systems that recall those of Lombardy and Tuscany. A kind of Sicilian league of cities was formed; and the parliament, in which they and the barons and clergy were represented, started to come back to life. Shall we order stable, capable of development, if Manfredi did not intervene? It is legitimate to doubt it. This papal and city Sicily was destined, if other and higher strength were lacking, to fall, piece by piece, into the hands of the barons. But the king, Manfredi, returned victorious and crowned on 11 August 1258 in Palermo.

Moreover, even in the regions with the most flourishing city life, the tendency was for the preservation of the forms of the city state. The tendency was rather for dictatorial powers, initiation to lordship, a remedy for the weakness of institutions based on the mobile base of parties, corporations, family groups: as we saw in all those cities, where, once the head of the party and almost lord had fallen Ghibelline, a party leader and almost Guelph lord took over, or the bishop was invested, under the name of podestà or rector, with very wide powers, that is to reform laws, procure peace, annul factions, etc. The tendency was for larger territorial conglomerates, better suited to the wider organization of parties, to certain interests of the mercantile bourgeoisie, to the regional strength of some large families that lead this double movement of institutional and territorial transformation, to the prevalence of some cities over others around. Thus we saw Florence, restored to its freedom after 1250, undertake, for essentially commercial purposes, a series of victorious expeditions against Siena, Pisa, Pistoia, Arezzo, which made the routes of the Apennines and the routes to the sea easier. and made it, as the poet Guittone says, the “queen of Tuscany”. Of course, the economic, political and even juridical primacy of Florence over most of the surrounding cities was affirmed even then. Elsewhere this territorial enlargement took place in various ways under the aegis of a lord and took on monarchical forms: with the patriarchs of Aquileia, with the Savoy, with the Pelavicino, with the Da Romano.

In the extreme north-east corner of the peninsula, beyond the Tagliamento, after the victory over Frederick, the patriarchate of Aquileia was strengthened, a vast and varied ecclesiastical principality, in the midst of Latin Slavic and German peoples, knighted among the Venetian plain and the Istrian hills. For some decades, the Holy See had succeeded in appointing the patriarch by canceling the old electoral privilege of the Aquileian chapter, recruited from the almost all Germanic and imperial nobility. And the patriarch thus appointed leaned more and more on the Holy See. Since then, the history of the patriarchate has signaled to us an ever more intense effort of political cementing of this vast but inconsistent church principality. This story is important in the century. XIII, also for another report: affirmed the right of the Holy See in the appointment of the patriarch, formerly exercised by the local aristocracy; increased the strength of the lord over that aristocracy and castles and small towns; the whole region was attracted to Italy and the Italian people, rather than to Germany and the German people. In short, the ideal border of the nation was carried further and began to consolidate on the line of the Alps. The lands of the patriarchate gradually cease to be one of the gateways of the empire to Italy.

The Swabian Sunset 1