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Middle Ages
History of Italy

What was different about Italy in the Middle Ages?


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October 13, 2010 7:21PM

Italy was made up of a large number of small countries during the Middle Ages, as were some other areas of Europe. But one thing that set Italy apart is that many of these city-states were republican in nature, and did not have a feudal system, or had a feudal system that had been reduced to having only ceremonial value. The Republic of Venice might be the oldest of these. We do not know the date it was founded, but it could have been in the 7th century.

Some of the republics were run by merchant and craft guilds, and some were more democratic. They were generically referred to as medieval communes, though the word commonwealth expresses the facts better in modern English. From an economic point of view, these towns and cities were oriented toward production and trade. And from a cultural point of view, they were lead by wealthy people who wanted to show the benefit they could provide to their people, and this was expressed in patronage of the arts. It was in such places that the Renaissance began.

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