Italy 1215 CE

In Italy, the northern cities, above all Venice, are growing in wealth and power, while in the south Norman adventurers have created one of the most amazing kingdoms of the Middle Ages.

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What is happening in Italy in 1215CE

The northern cities of Italy remain within the Holy Roman Empire – but they have taken advantage of the long civil wars within the empire and the decline in imperial authority to become self-governing communities. Imperial control has become merely a formality, and repeated attempts by emperors such as Barbarossa to re-impose Imperial authority have failed. At the Peace of Constance (1183), the Italian cities’ self-government was recognized, so long as they pledge fealty to the emperor and paid taxes.

The cities of northern Italy have experienced a vigorous expansion of trade and industry –  for example Venice and Genoa now dominate the Mediterranean sea routes, and Milan and Florence are developing trade contacts across Europe. The growing commercial prosperity of the region has increased the economic power and self-confidence of the merchants and other urban classes.

In southern Italy, bands of Normans, first coming as mercenaries to fight in the unceasing conflicts between the south Italian principalities, seized control there, and went on to found the kingdom of Sicily (1127). Sicily has became a centralized and wealthy state, and one where Byzantine, Arab and Latin elements have fused to produce a brilliant culture. The kingdom has passed, by inheritance, into the hands of the Holy Roman Emperors, members of the German Hohenstaufen family (1190).

Next map, Italy 1453

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