In short, the dynasty, half foreign by origin, clung more and more to the country (no Germanic trace saw Dante in Federico and Manfredi anymore!); and dynasty and country increasingly approached and almost merged with Italy, despite the many social differences and the diversity of certain aspects of the culture that persisted and, in some respects, grew, between north and south. The Swabian conquest of the south, which became part of the movement already begun by the Italian people, increasingly autonomous from the outside and increasingly tending to assimilate, accelerated this movement. And how it breaks those ties which had been preserved or established between the kingdom and France and England, and reduces the Greek and Arab influences on the South to nothing; thus it removes the kingdom from the ancient isolation from the rest of Italy. It is almost the coming together of two stories that are not closely linked and are still destined to break away. But nothing is lost in history, which is all a doing, in its perpetual undoing. Frederick felt the increasingly resistant obstacle of the state of the Church, and threw himself against it, almost presaging that it would isolate the kingdom and that from the isolation the decadence of the monarchy and its greater subjection to the curia would come. Rome cut its wings to those royal ambitions and unitary tendencies, while contributing to Italianise the country and the dynasty, first by helping the expulsion of the Greeks and Saracens and promoting the spread of Roman Catholicism, then fighting there the Tedescrii of Henry VI, influencing the culture of the court during the minority of Frederick of which Innocent III was tutor, hindering the effective union of the two crowns of Germany and Italy, of Germany and Sicily, engaging a definitive struggle with the universal monarchy. In a certain sense, a national function, this of the papacy, in relation to all the state bodies that wanted to free themselves from the empire at the end of the Middle Ages, and especially in relation to Italy.

For all this political action, for this long struggle, according to EJINHUA.ORG, the kingdom of Sicily provided the basis and many means. Did the kingdom itself benefit? It is reasonable to believe that the strength of the kingdom would rather wear out than grow and temper. It was the strength of a king, made up of various elements, rather than the strength of the people. There is still too much nobility around him, always as if on a land of conquest. The king may be able to contain it: but woe to him if he slows down. Those socio-economic energies that elsewhere corrode the feudal nobility from the foundations are weak here. The monarchy, born of two conquests, which came up in full compliance with the need for peace and state reconstitution of those populations, certainly had a life-filling, a certain initial impulse that led it to operate largely outside its borders. But the framework of the cities and the bourgeoisie is sparse and weak, and its progress is slow. Certainly the population grows there too: and new cities are seen rising: Corleone, Augusta; L’Aquila, which will live, together with nearby Teramo, a prosperous but agitated life, almost like a Tuscan or Lombard municipality. But the directing initiative has no small part in these new urban institutions. If even in the 10th and 11th centuries the south could have some element of superiority over the center and north of Italy, in terms of trade and city life, now it has lagged behind. Competition from Venice had bad effects on the Levantine traffic of Bari and other Apulian maritime cities. Pisa helped Ruggiero II to humiliate Amalfi: and Amalfi has fallen. The hinterland of the southern maritime cities, including Messina, center of good traffic and naval armament, it is generally poorer and less populated than that of Genoa, Pisa and Venice. The south is little affected by the economic progress made by France and Germany and the Netherlands and England: certainly much less than the Tuscan, Lombard and Piedmontese cities, some of which are true mediators between those countries and the Mediterranean countries. The south has a good traffic of highly sought-after commodities and raw materials: but Ligurians and Venetians and Tuscans as well as Catalans and Provencals come to the place to exercise it, who group there in colonies quite distinct from the local population. The new economy, therefore, even in so far as it grows, does not determine corresponding social formations capable of influencing the life of the state on themselves. Also look at Sicily. All in all, a landed Sicily, for three quarters not very different from that of the Romans and Byzantines. The Normans, with their fiefs, have little changed the environment. They are just new masters. The dissolution of a large part of the great stately and church property, which is felt, for example, in Tuscany, is not noticeable; not that change of feudal wealth into bourgeois and peasant wealth. No new aristocracy, born of trade and industry, takes the place of the old; in short, there are few new social formations which, elsewhere, become the support of the monarchies, or assert themselves on their own. Frederick did not treat cities badly, especially in his best years. He granted some autonomy. He admitted their representatives in parliament. But the lack of strength of the bourgeoisie took away from the fact that this parliament, which arose there, as in England, with the Normans, it became a living and beneficial element of the country. Royal despotism grew.  And the aristocracy regained ground. And the Roman curia was able to successfully exploit the discontent of the populations burdened with taxes and the autonomist spirit of the cities. He could cut his nerves at the king’s policy, preventing him from spreading north.

Federico II and Ghibelline Italy 2

Federico II and Ghibelline Italy Part II
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