Italy’s social and political structure Florence’s “Lorenzo de Medici” was a great leader at the peak of the Italian Renaissance. Based on the unique political structure of Italy in the late Middle Ages, some scholars reasoned that the local distinctive social atmosphere provided the necessary conditions for the rare cultural prosperity of Italy. In early modern times, Italy was not a unified political entity, but composed of some city states and territories: the kingdom of Napoli in the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal State in the middle, Genoa and Milan in the north and West, and Venice in the East. Italy in the 15th century was the region with the highest level of urbanization in Europe. [31] many Italian cities are built on the ruins of ancient Roman buildings; On the surface, this links the classicality of the Renaissance with the fact that it originated in the heart of the Roman Empire. [32] first of all, the time set by the topic is the so-called “century of discovery” in the post Renaissance era, that is, the 15th-17th century, so I personally don’t discuss the situation before Italy (in fact, it’s best to talk about the changes of Italian power structure and political system from the 11th century). The 15th and 17th centuries are completely different structures, so I divide this topic into two parts.

(1) from the middle of the 13th century to the end of the 15th century.

from the late 13th century to the mid-15th century, with the collapse of the Republic and the rise of hereditary “Lord system”. From about the middle and late 13th century, Italian urban republics have evolved into the hereditary rule of a family. Historians describe this process as “from urban communes to monarchies or lords”. The rulers of these cities were called “signors” at that time, and their rule was called “asignoria”.

started in northern Italy. Some famous ones are. Ferrara controlled by este family, Mantova controlled by bonacolsi family (it is noted that Gonzaga family controlled after 1328), delatorre family and Visconti family successively controlled Milan. By the 14th century, more than half of the urban communes were under the rule of Lords. Therefore, the Lords need to make their rule reasonable in legal theory, so there are two measures:

1. An important problem faced by the Lords after they obtain the urban power is how to legalize their rule. On the one hand, they usually manipulate the city commune Congress to pass the bill, making them “lifelong lords”.




2 try to obtain the title of vicar from the original supreme feudal lord, that is, the Holy Roman emperor or Pope, and then strive for more formal appointment, such as duke or marquis, so as to transform the agent system into a legitimate hereditary Lord system.

by the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century, most of the urban republics in northern and central Italy had become autocratic monarchies, forming a de facto autocratic monarchy. Milan is the representative.

and Milan formed the de facto principality of Milan after the 15th century because of the strategy of the Lord here.

the situation is different in southern Italy and other parts of northern Italy. These areas were still temporarily in the afterglow of the former republican system in the 14th century, represented by the cultural centers Florence and Venice.

Florence was just at the end of the rule of Walter, Duke of Athens. After the rebellion of Florence carding workers in 1378, Florence evolved into a closed and conservative “oligarchy”, controlled by a few large families. In the mid-14th century, the Medici family ruled the hidden Lord system. That is, at this time, Florence still retains some regulations of the ancient Roman republican system, including the civil system, the agent system, the administrator system, the professionalization of affairs, the city house, etc., but the biggest feature is that at this time, the speaker has completely become a member of more than 200 aristocratic systems dominated by the Medici family and has become a de facto Republic, Powerful lords under the banner of democracy – proxy citizenship. But at this time, the administrative system of ancient Rome, especially the law, was complete.

and in the mid-15th century, the Medici family also established a special rule in Florence. The monarchs of these families are either from feudal families (such as azo de este in Ferrara) or from the families of big businessmen, big business owners and big bankers (such as Marceau di albizi in Florence). These autocratic monarchs concentrated the legislative, judicial, military and administrative powers in their own hands and passed them on from generation to generation. As a result, the struggle for power and the redistribution of property often lead to rebellion and “popular” family disputes. At this time, the administrative system in ancient Rome began to completely turn to the Lord system. Later it became a principality.

at this time, the situation of Venice is more similar to that of Genoa. They are all trading countries formed by means of water transportation and transportation hubs in the city-state era. In Venice, the “closure order” issued in 1297 marked the formal establishment of Venice’s aristocratic regime. The aristocracy was limited to about 200 families, and only adult men of this class were eligible to participate in politics. Venice became an oligarchic Republic ruled by a closed industrial and commercial aristocracy. But like Florence, this republic is typically dressed in the skin of the “Republic”, but it is not as thorough as Florence’s early approval.

the main administrative system is:

the agency system of the administrator (hypatus) – the house of Lords and powerful citizens – the appointment system of the service officer, but directly abandoned the specialization of the service Department, but the bottom human society formed by local industrial and commercial groups and citizen leaders is used as most urban affairs, Especially the arbiter of civil affairs. Civil contractual relations have become most of the social regulations of this human society, and the legislative system is weak.

As a political chip inherited by the French royal family and the Spanish royal family, Naples has always been a Kingdom under feudal autocracy. After the internal struggle of the Anju royal family, Naples’s voice power in the whole national city-state system fell again and again. It was first defeated by the Aragon royal family. Charles VIII of France occupied it for a short time, but in most cases it was west Banyan territory. The political system of




is not very different from the feudal rule in the middle ages of Europe, so I won’t repeat it here. It is worth mentioning that Naples’ position lies in its first. Its territory is relatively vast and has a relatively strong fleet. It competes for maritime and commercial interests with Genoa in the western Mediterranean. Second, Naples controlled commerce and finance in the hands of the state, which could accumulate huge wealth needed for the war.

therefore, during the Aragon Dynasty, Naples implemented very cruel and exorbitant taxes as the financial source of the Kingdom, which was extremely serious for the exploitation of the middle and lower classes. After

, in the 1950s. At that time, the political reality of Italy was that there were many states and they competed with each other. The foreign policies of all countries were all centered on their own political, commercial and other interests, but they had regular diplomatic exchanges and the exchange of envoys had begun to be institutionalized, resulting in a multilateral relationship that was both interrelated and restrained. The coordination mechanism of the whole national system comes from the Venice Treaty (2) from the end of the 15th century to the 17th century.

firstly, in the original sense, the political system of the main “five forces” in Italy has not fundamentally changed, mainly the continuation of the struggle of family politics. For example, Florence experienced the change of republican system (fake) – Lord system. In fact, there was no substantive change at all. It was just a new aristocratic compromise after driving out the Medici family. Of course, after the Medici family returned home, the original system was restored and a new principality was formed.

what is worth mentioning here is the Papal State, which is the most unique political force in the state system of Italian city states. As the spiritual leader of the Christian world, the Pope led all churches in Europe, but he also ruled Rome and a surrounding territory, so he became the Lord of a city-state state in Italy at the same time. The Pope’s goal is more than that. He also tried to extend his authority to the secular world and become the king of Italy and even the whole Europe. When the Spaniard Borgia became the queen of the church, he tried to turn the papal electoral system into a hereditary system and the Papal State into a monarchy. From time to time, he abandoned the shackles of religious obligations and arbitrarily chose the alliance. With the help of Italy’s division and making Italy more divided, he used external forces such as the support of France and even the support of “pagan” Turks to achieve the goal of consolidating the strength of the Papal State. Therefore, “although the Pope is unable to unify Italy, he has enough power to prevent others from unifying it”.

therefore, the Papal State continues the papal system – leader election – Episcopal Council – hierarchical management at different stages;




also have a joint meeting of bishops around the Republic – leader election – hierarchical management;

there are also some people who want to establish the papal monarchy – the system of bishop’s parliament – monistic centralization.

so far, the change of Italian political system has basically stabilized, and there was no substantive change until the second unification war. It is more about the checks and balances between the five major forces and the major loose city states, attacks, the aspirations of ambitious people for the unification of Italy, and local conflicts..

of course, the real change worth mentioning is the “crisis of the 17th century in Italy”. To be precise, it is the beginning of the consciousness of “the same nation state” in the whole European continent and the establishment of modern nation states with different meanings. Italy’s “old system” seems weak and outdated. And Italy’s unification remedy is extremely pitiful.

so around the 17th century, the whole national system of Italy first began to decline extremely under the economic conditions, and then began to completely submit to Spain. It began to succeed in the war with France in the 16th century, that is, the signing of the Cato cumbresi peace treaty after the Italian war and the alliance with the Holy See. Essentially controlled the Principality of Milan, the kingdom of Naples, Sicily and other places, that is, among the “five forces”, one alliance and the other two were ruled. Although Florence was weak militarily, it guaranteed freedom and independence; The interests of the Republic of Venice are overseas. Although the power structure has changed in detail due to the export-oriented industry and Commerce and the Lord, and has clashed with the Pope, it has reached a half hanging compromise plan, and its main political system has not changed much.

then what changes have been made to the political system of Italy at this time?

are mainly in the following points:

1. The city-state coordination system is grafted with the royal family of a patriarchal state. The Lord system began to slowly become lonely in the right to speak, even to the edge.

2, the leader of the chamber of Commerce and industry and the former Lord began to be completely aristocratic. The original low-level human society dominated by industry and Commerce began to become dominated by the landlord class.




3, strong Catholic consciousness, began to expand the secular power of the Catholic Church, and even surpassed the original Lord system in some aspects, and began to become one of the arbitrators of secular affairs.

4. Spain itself is the descendant of the reform conservatives, but it began to strictly control the Holy See. Spain began to centralize power in the Italian administrative system at all levels.

and Spain’s rule over Italy ended after the peace treaty of Utrecht.

that’s it