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The City-State in Europe, 1000-1600Hinterland, Territory, Region$
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Tom Scott

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274604

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274604.001.0001

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Cities and their adversaries, 1150–1300

Cities and their adversaries, 1150–1300

(p.33) 3 Cities and their adversaries, 1150–1300
The City-State in Europe, 1000-1600

Tom Scott

Oxford University Press

The chapter examines central and northern Italian cities as peace‐keepers and power‐brokers in the political turmoil caused by the conflict between empire and papacy. It reassesses the role of the Lombard Leagues as more than merely defensive military alliances. The instability of the communes led to the appointment of temporary foreign governors (podestà), and ultimately to more broadly based regimes than the narrow mercantile‐aristocratic governing elites. These popolo regimes did not signal any decisive shift in the cities' territorial policies, except for the foundation of ‘new towns’, which offered the prospect of personal freedom, and the emancipation of those serfs whose lords who had protective alliances with the cities. These regimes gave way to signorie, where feudal lords (or mercenary captains) assumed the governance of cities as sole rulers, some afterwards in perpetuity as urban territorial dynasts. These developments are contrasted with the emergence of cities in northern Europe as state‐builders and members of leagues, both defensive and commercial.

Keywords:   Holy Roman Empire, papacy, Guelphs, Ghibellines, podestà, popolo, signoria, new towns, emancipation of serfs, Hanseatic League

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