Economic Activity within and outside the Italy Peninsula Part 4

Economic Activity within and outside the Italy Peninsula Part 4

Their financial position, credit and political influence are strengthened by the close relationship in which, at a certain time, they enter with the Holy See. To Italian banks and their branches abroad, the curia entrusts the fiduciary deposit and the transmission to Rome of the sums collected by the collectors of ecclesiastical tithes and income in all parts of the Catholic world, which have grown considerably after the Gregorian reform, which it wanted to be and it was also a strongly unitary and monarchical organization of the Church, the claim of many “freedoms” and ecclesiastical rights and censuses. They were abundant in the 13th century, at the time of the great international prestige of the papacy and the large number of Italian prelates holding offices and prebends in Germany, France and England. This transmission task appears, already at the beginning of the 13th century, hired by Italian mercantile and banking companies, the same ones that with loans subsidized the needs of the churches and contributed powerfully to the secularization and mobilization of the large ecclesiastical land tenure, in Italy and abroad. Thus, Rome takes advantage of the Italian capitalist organization, at the same time that it promotes it. Those who in Italy, before the others, established or made intimate this relationship of interest with the Holy See, were the Sienese, especially with their Bonsignori. Until beyond the mid-thirteenth century, the Sienese retained this position of quasi-arbitrators of papal finances, playing with dexterity to reconcile their political Ghibellinism with financial Guelphism. But, having come Benevento, the Florentines, who were fighting and by now winning the Sienese in every field, won them also in this. The bankers of Florence, as they prepared the Guelph revival out of desire for more intimate relations with the Holy See, so they reaped the fruit. Then, that banking supremacy was inaugurated, which was also commercial and industrial, of Florence, which lasted two centuries, strongly resisting even proud strokes of luck. Democratic city as much as ever, the liveliest agitated mobile Italian city, on the one hand, Florence was also a city of plutocracy, represented to some extent by the capitalist groups of the major Arts, the basis of the constitution, even more by the capitalist magnates, the Scali, the Spini, the Bards, the Mozzi, etc., who are excluded from their offices or with great difficulty enter them, but have a large bank and round of money, and landed assets that serve to consolidate landed wealth and give credit abroad, and relationships business and partisan with the Holy See. Florence typically represents the general tendency of the classes and cities, which were interested in trade and international banking, to approach Rome also politically. Even when the Florentines wanted to pursue a policy of independence from the Holy See at the time of Dante, i mercatores curiae  represented the extreme Guelph point, reaching out towards Rome. They did not count much in the legal government of the city, but they made their presence felt in many ways and gave a strong imprint to the politics of the city.

According to mbakecheng, this industrious presence, almost omnipresence, of Italians in a large part of Europe and throughout the Mediterranean basin, never interrupted after Rome, renewed in a new and free way after the year 1000, reached its greatest intensity and breadth around 1300 ; it is a great fact in European economic and also political history. It contributed as much to creating the new economy and the new capitalism, as to promoting the new strength of the monarchies, some of their political initiatives, the very intrusiveness of some of them in Italian affairs. In the Italy of the cities, then, he created a great wealth that is found in their building renewal, in the monumental character they acquired, in the high standard of living of the bourgeoisie. It also had its effectiveness in shaping the character of the Italian people. The habit of initiatives, the need to rely essentially on one’s own strengths reinvigorated the individualistic spirit: that same drive which in the meantime was corroding municipal life and preparing a new political order and a new culture, embodying itself in heads of departments and lords, in poets and artists. The frequent contrasts with different and often hostile people helped the Italians to rediscover their substantial affinity, to feel closer and in solidarity, despite the competitions, sometimes real wars, which continued to divide them, especially in the colonies of the East. , where their freedom of action was greater and the restraint from above was less. On the other hand, this solidarity was greater, where this brake acted, as it was in France. Here it also expressed itself in associative forms, in vast federations of particular associations of Astigiani, Bolognesi, Romans, Pistoiesi, Senesi, etc., settled in the various cities of that kingdom. They feel more like the same people, also because they are considered to be the strangers among whom they live. They are the “Lombards”, a word which, especially in France, continues to indicate the Italians, at least the Italians of the kingdom, the word “Italians” has not yet prevailed; but also in England and the Netherlands and elsewhere. And the “Via dei Lombardi” is found in Paris and Avignon as well as in London, in Bruges, and also in Hamburg.

Italy Economy 4

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