Crisis of Kingdom of Italy and Strengthening of Local Life Part 1
All in all, a crisis of central powers, growing political-territorial disintegration in southern Italy. But the same phenomena now presents to us the kingdom of Italy: and, we could say, the whole Western empire.
Think of the great ducal families, already riotous against their Lombard king: especially that of Spoleto, which dominated almost to the gates of Rome. An attempt had been made to dissolve the ducal districts, placing more accounts in each Lombard duchy, directly dependent on the king. But the border counties had also had to be brought together in administrative and military units: thus the Marca del Friuli, which faced the Slavs. The count of Lucca had equally recognized authority over the counts of Tuscia, but moreover it had already happened to the Lombard dukes of that city. His task was to organize the naval defense of the coasts and of the two large Tyrrhenian islands against Saracen and Norman pirates, which in this way came to tighten even more, with Tuscany, those ties that the Lombards already, through some war enterprise, and the churches and monasteries of Pisa and Lucca with their landed possessions of Sardinia and Corsica had begun to knot. Even the simple counts tended to accentuate their autonomy in the face of royal and imperial power, to be recognized as having inherited offices and benefits: as they obtained from Charles the Bald. Add the bishops, who were rapidly making their evolution in a temporal sense. The sec. IX is the century of formation both of the great secular and ecclesiastical land tenure, as well as of the political strength of the aristocracy and the high hierarchy. Royal donations, usurpations of officials, the dedication of lands and people to a more powerful lord for protection, offerings for the soul, etc., all contribute to this land concentration. In Italy, less than elsewhere. The very mountainous nature of the country, the large number of urban centers, the relative density of population serve as remora. In Italy a certain persistence of small ownership and of free homines ; a certain prevalence of land arranged in colonial families, that is, in small autonomous companies within the large company; certain determination of juridical relations between farmers and owners and regularity of censuses in kind, money and works, already implemented between the century. VIII and IX for the formation of a conditio of the farmer, even of legal value, whose employees become strong every time someone commits arbitrary acts. All this in Italy and in Italian ecclesiastical possessions more than elsewhere: and it explains the more solicitous and general servile liberation from us, after the century. XI, in comparison with other countries. However, equally, counts and marquesses who pose as lords in their own right, great owners, who have a large following of “vassi”, increase their immunity rights and the active jurisdictions within their lands, become impenged every day – in especially the bishops – of public areas, of market rights, of stationes in the cities; likewise, formation of a large class of militiamen and vassals of various degrees, even of servile origin but tending to rise by virtue of the Kurtense offices, the use of weapons, the conferral of the militia.
In the hands of this aristocracy is the royal crown. According to ANSWERMBA, the Lombard episcopate in the second half of the century IX has decisive importance in diets: and it is seen during the election of Charles the Bald in 875. And it happens then that the new king must oblige himself in Italy to the same ample concessions towards those gentlemen, which he had already made to the Frankish gentlemen: what nevertheless does not save him, the day that another aspirant to the crown comes forward. Now, with the numerical increase of Charlemagne’s descendants, ambitions multiply, especially in Italy, where the royal crown opens the way to the imperial crown. Therefore Charles the Bald must retreat for the arrival in Italy of Carlomanno, son of Ludovico il Germanico, who has the support of Berengario Marquis of Friuli. Charlemagne died, his brother Charles III, known as the Fat, elected by the Italian lords, he was crowned in Rome by the pontiff in 881. The pontiff was in great need of protection. He was surrounded by powerful Roman families who found support in the Duke of Spoleto and not infrequently forced him to seek escape in flight, as was the case at the death of Charlemagne. From the south he felt the threat of the Saracens coming again to which the pope even had to pay tribute. But now the emperor’s arm was weak, his credit scarce, even if Charles III managed, for the last time, to unite the whole Frankish state under himself. From all sides the aristocracies, the great families, the distant scions of the Carolingian lineage were pressing: all also exponents of particular interests or national tendencies. Therefore, in 887, Charles III was deposed and his own kings appeared everywhere, in Provence, in France, in Germany,