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Different outcomes of powerful families — for example, Pepoli and Gozzadini — can be explained through their different levels of political flexibility in alliances. The problem of contado countryside nobles was never solved by Bolognese Commune and remained a constant one from —7, when the Commune enacted the famous Liber Paradisus to give serfs of the contado their freedom. The feud intensified again around with the Este war and later with the presence of the Ghibellines, a faction backed by the Holy Roman Emperors.

Every problem was bound up with the question the civic finances, although they were based on sophisticated system of tax-raising beginning with the well developed catasto. In contrast to the case in other cities of the time, in Bologna to be a 'magnate' was not the same of being 'noble', as has already been pointed out by Gina Fasoli.

Revival of Democracy in Italian Medieval City-Republics

Laws in Bologna were frequently rewritten, and this created a legal incertitude and areas of judicial conflictwithin the ruling group. Factions were not a new feature of the 14th century, and nor was violence. Both aspects were already well entrenched in daily life. The difference between the accusatory and inquisitorial systems in criminal courts in Bologna was never as neat as has been traditionally suggested.

It was possible in the latter for the judge to ask for external assistance promotor , coadiunctor ; moreover, the ordo iudiciarius the Anglo-American due process of law was generally protected by the judges, even when banniti or infamous persons were prosecuted, and they were formally authorized to make use of judicial torture and summary procedure. Petitions first and later querelae could be used to order a new examination of the legal aspects of the case that judges normally could not consider.


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It was balanced in some aspects but affected by politics in others. He always had to anticipate possible condemnations during the sindicatus procedure at the term of his short office. The Chaptain, with his vicarius judge, was very close to the Council of the People, the highest political and legislative institution, and examined — among other duties — the questions of membership of the guilds and the army societies.

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During this period membership of these societies and the other legally identified groups was made hereditary. To have clarified this complex process is probably the main achievement of this book. She deals not only with the technicalities of the laws, but the consciousness the people had of these and makes intelligent use of the witness statements that have been preserved. The book is therefore very useful in terms of the political and social history of Bologna with useful insights into the more general history of communes and for introducing the technical details of judicial history of that time, going well beyond the achievements of Hermann Kantorowicz's classic book on Albertus Gandinus and the criminal law of the 'Scolastik' university doctrine I-II, What is probably more astonishing for students of other communal experiences is the growing system in Bologna of privileges and procedural immunities from as early a date as , well before the well known and celebrated Ordinamenta Sacra and Sacratissima of the people against the magnates.

The medieval mediterranean peoples, economies and cultures, 400-1500

By end of our period almost half of the population were affected by these. This introduced strong contradictions in the ideals and practice of the 'popular' government. Their nexus with the economic and financial problems explains the crisis which led to the proto- signoria of Pepoli and then to the true signoria of del Poggetto. The existence of a large privileged and hereditary body of citizens was clearly against the aequalitas of the ideology of the People: here are the roots of the future aristocracy of Renaissance Bologna.

It was not question of class struggle or of a pure factionalism.


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It was a question of a group who excluded all others in order to obtain an identity and monopolize resources. It was an exclusionary process which is well documented by Blanshei. She does not isolate that process from other contemporary conflicts which led to 'lateral' exclusions: of political enemies Lambertazzi , of the non-noble inhabitants of the contado , of foreigners and of the more humble tiers of the civic society. In Blanshei's work every argument is supported by rich and well-reasoned documentation.

A council of 4, people selected citizens for public officies, of which there were almost 2,! But this did not stop the growth of what Blanshei, as well as many other historians, calls 'oligarchy'. I should prefer more cautiousness about the use of this term 5 , as the book also indicates how difficult was to build an oligarchy in Bologna!

The book looks at the People not during its efforts to enter and conquer institutions — a less documented time. Instead it shows the winning People, when its power was already institutionalized, and its subsequent decline. Bologna had various interacting and interdependent elites at the same time, and there were continous changes in the nature of the elites, whose stability was often broken by variations and oscillations.

Resolving political feuds took endless effort.

The same judicial history well described by Blanshei shows how strong a goal was the rule of law. Belief in the judiciary is shown for instance by the anonymous denunciations which were presented, which were examined even when against members of the regime! Exceptions from the due process could be created by political power, of course, but the judiciary had its own space to resist this. Political power at that time felt itself 'sovereign' even if it did not use that word.

It was considered to have the full right and duty to enter judicial life to ensure justice.

In the wake of theological freedom followed a free philosophy, no longer subject to the dogmas of the Church. To purge the Christian faith from false conceptions, to liberate the conscience from the tyranny of priests, and to interpret religion to the reason has been the work of the last centuries; nor is this work as yet by any means accomplished. On the one side Descartes and Bacon, Spinoza and Locke, are sons of the Renaissance, champions of new-found philosophical freedom; on the other side, Luther is a son of the Renaissance, the herald of new-found religious freedom.

The whole movement of the Reformation is a phase in that accelerated action of the modern mind which at its commencement we call the Renaissance. It is a mistake to regard the Reformation as an isolated phenomenon or as a mere effort to restore the Church to purity. The Reformation exhibits in the region of religious thought and national politics what the Renaissance displays in the sphere of culture, art, and science—the recovered energy and freedom of the reason.

We are too apt to treat of history in parcels, and to attempt to draw lessons from detached chapters in the biography of the human race. To observe the connection between the several stages of a progressive movement of the human spirit, and to recognize that the forces at work are still active, is the true philosophy of history. The scholars prepared the way in the fifteenth century.

Teachers of Hebrew, founders of Hebrew type—Reuchlin in Germany, Aleander in Paris, Von Hutten as a pamphleteer, and Erasmus as a humanist—contribute each a definite momentum. Luther, for his part, incarnates the spirit of revolt against tyrannical authority, urges the necessity of a return to the essential truth of Christianity, as distinguished from the idols of the Church, and asserts the right of the individual to judge, interpret, criticise, and construct opinion for himself.

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The veil which the Church had interposed between the human soul and God was broken down. The freedom of the conscience was established. Thus the principles involved in what we call the Reformation were momentous. Connected on the one side with scholarship and the study of texts, it opened the path for modern biblical criticism. Connected on the other side with the intolerance of mere authority it led to what has since been named rationalism—the attempt to reconcile the religious tradition with the reason, and to define the logical ideas that underlie the conceptions of the popular religious consciousness.

Again, by promulgating the doctrine of personal freedom, and by connecting itself with national politics, the reformation was linked historically to the revolution. It was the Puritan Church in England stimulated by the patriotism of the Dutch Protestants, which established our constitutional liberty, and introduced in America the general principle of the equality of men. This high political abstraction, latent in Christianity, evolved by criticism, and promulgated as a gospel in the second half of the last century, was externalized in the French Revolution.

The work that yet remains to be accomplished for the modern world is the organization of society in harmony with democratic principles. Thus what the word Renaissance really means is new birth to liberty—the spirit of mankind recovering consciousness and the power of self-determination, recognizing the beauty of the outer world, and of the body through art, liberating the reason in science and the conscience in religion, restoring culture to the intelligence, and establishing the principle of political freedom.

The Church was the schoolmaster of the Middle Ages. Culture was the humanizing and refining influence of the Renaissance. The problem for the present and the future is how through education to render knowledge accessible to all—to break down that barrier which in the Middle Ages was set between clerk and layman, and which in the intermediate period has arisen between the intelligent and ignorant classes.

Whether the Utopia of a modern world, in which all men shall enjoy the same social, political, and intellectual advantages, be realized or not, we cannot doubt that the whole movement of humanity from the Renaissance onward has tended in this direction. To destroy the distinctions, mental and physical, which nature raises between individuals, and which constitute an actual hierarchy, will always be impossible. Yet it may happen that in the future no civilized man will lack the opportunity of being physically and mentally the best that God has made him. It remains to speak of the instruments and mechanical inventions which aided the emancipation of the spirit in the modern age.

Discovered over and over again, and offered at intervals to the human race at various times and on divers soils, no effective use was made of these material resources until the fifteenth century. The compass, discovered according to tradition by Gioja of Naples in , was employed by Columbus for the voyage to America in The telescope, known to the Arabians in the Middle Ages, and described by Roger Bacon in , helped Copernicus to prove the revolution of the earth in , and Galileo to substantiate his theory of the planetary system.

Printing, after numerous useless revelations to the world of its resources, became an art in ; and paper, which had long been known to the Chinese, was first made of cotton in Europe about , and of rags in Gunpowder entered into use about As employed by the Genius of the Renaissance, each one of these inventions became a lever by means of which to move the world.

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Gunpowder revolutionized the art of war. The feudal castle, the armor of the Knight and his battle-horse, the prowess of one man against a hundred, and the pride of aristocratic cavalry trampling upon ill-armed militia, were annihilated by the flashes of the canon. Courage became more a moral than a physical quality. The victory was delivered to the brain of the general. Printing has established, as indestructible, all knowledge, and disseminated, as the common property of every one, all thought; while paper has made the work of printing cheap.

Such reflections as these, however, are trite, and must occur to every mind. It is far more to the purpose to repeat that not the inventions, but the intelligence that used them, the conscious calculating spirit of the modern world, should rivet our attention when we direct it to the phenomena of the Renaissance. In the work of the Renaissance all the great nations of Europe shared. But it must never be forgotten that as a matter of history the true Renaissance began in Italy. Italy created that new spiritual atmosphere of culture and of intellectual freedom which has been the life-breath of the European races.

As the Jews are called the chosen and peculiar people of divine revelation, so may the Italians be called the chosen and peculiar vessels of the prophecy of the Renaissance. In art, in scholarship, in science, in the mediation between antique culture and the modern intellect, they took the lead, handing to Germany and France and England the restored humanities complete. Spain and England have since done more for the exploration and colonization of the world. Germany achieved the labor of the Reformation almost single-handed.

France has collected, centralized, and diffused intelligence with irresistible energy. But if we return to the first origins of the Renaissance, we find that, at a time when the rest of Europe was inert, Italy had already begun to organize the various elements of the modern spirit, and to set the fashion whereby the other great nations should learn and live. After a first glance into Italian history the student recoils as from a chaos of inscrutable confusion.

To fix the moment of transition from ancient to modern civilization seems impossible. There is no formation of a new people, as in the case of Germany or France or England, to serve as starting-point.