From the Municipality to the City State Part 3

Around the second or third decade of the 13th century, according to MICROEDU, the mayor is a general thing of Italian cities, from the Alps to Abruzzo. Almost no difference, in relation to the podestà, in Italy which was already Lombard and in Italy which was already Greek, as long as they live in a regime of communal freedom. Occasionally the mayor also appears in Rome. In Venice there is always the old doge or  dux . But the city also completed it between the century. XII and XIII an evolution that recalls that for which the podestà is reached elsewhere, with the same greater independence of the central power from any external authority and elimination of the last traces of its feudal and patrimonial origin. Since the ancient  dux, who exercised his authority a little as a representative of Byzantium, a little and even more by his own right, often transmitting his power by inheritance, is now changing into a head of state who embodies the podestà of the republic and recognizes himself as subject to the laws and is no longer appointed by the tumultuous acclamation of the general parliament, but by an orderly procedure of a small nurse of electors designated by the Concione. Sebastiano Ziani, around 1170, begins the series of these doges. And from 1192 it is the ducal promise that Doge Dandolo must swear, committing himself as any other podestà to do justice, observe the statutes, etc. Twelve years later, Venice too, with the capture of Constantinople and the overthrow of the old Greek dynasty,

In any case, the statutes have now made room for the podestà all over the world. Public opinion holds it very high. Here and there it is depicted in marble as a sign of honor. With the enlargement of the city factions and becoming regional and interregional, it happens that the podestà must be sought further and further away, so that he can be better and remain alien and superior to the parties. Thousands of people make this office an honorable career; hundreds of families make this career a hereditary profession, for three or four generations. This migration of podestà through half of Italy can be considered as a fact of great importance for the spiritual unity of the peninsula: a unity of juridical and even literary culture, often represented by the same men. It was born through the work of jurists and doctors, Corpus iuris  of Justinian, instead  of Gratian’s Decretum  .

Really the podestà, as it meant stronger state sentiment, more active foreign policy, a decisive effort to organize the countryside together, greater personal independence of the leaders from the bishop, as well as a rather unscrupulous policy in relations with the city church and the Church in gender. And the jurisdictions of the bishops and chapters and monasteries in the countryside were targeted; the personal immunities of clerics and churches were tampered with in fiscal relations, laws were legislated on ecclesiastical property, both by limiting its growth and by affirming a superior right of the state and of the laity over it; the justice of the commune was imposed on the clerics or at least the application of the criminal laws of the commune in ecclesiastical courts; secular forum was secured for the laity in civil cases, even when they were gathered by the clerics; the number of spiritual or mixed cases assigned to the tribunal of the Church decreased, etc.

In short, there was a new and harsher phase in the relations between State and Church. Because now we can truly speak, in the cities, of State and Church, after the municipality has had its recognition and the bishops have lost the position of representatives of the prince. And with the more bitter relations between State and Church in the cities, even more bitter and widespread religious opposition to the Church: that is, the development of heresies that blow on that political struggle and at the same time draw nourishment from it. Political unrest and religious unrest mix and merge already at the beginning of the 13th century in Orvieto, Brescia, Florence, Parma etc. Some regions have a kind of primacy: Umbria, full of civil contrasts, sown with Cathars and Patarins, and the homeland of Francis of Assisi; Emilia, with its center Parma and territory, which was among the hottest hearths of unrest of all kinds, a breeding ground for religious opponents. There the heterodox offshoots of the great Franciscan tree grew. Indeed, there the Umbrian current of Franciscanism and the Gioachimite current of Calabria met. Seen as a whole, the religious movement which, after the first trials of the 11th century, expands in the 12th century, appears to us to be the effort of the faithful to permeate the Church with themselves, as the people were permeating and transforming the State. Political-social revolution on the one hand, religious revolution on the other, with radical forms and bland forms mixed together. The first went much further than the second.

From the Municipality to the City State 3

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