Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Medieval commune

Medieval commune

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Medieval commune'
Start a new discussion about 'Medieval commune'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

Medieval communes in the European Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 had sworn allegiances of mutual defense (both physical defense and of traditional freedoms) among the citizens of a town or city. They took many forms, and varied widely in organization and makeup. Communes are first recorded in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, thereafter becoming a widespread phenomenon. They had the greater development in central-northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, where they were real city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

s based on partial democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

.

Etymology


The English and French word "commune" appears in Latin records in various forms. The classical Latin communio means an association. In some cases the classical Latin commune was used to mean people with a common interest. Ultimately, the roots are cum (with or together) + munire (to wall), literally 'to wall together' (i.e., a shared fortification). More frequently the Low Latin communia was used from which the Romance commune was derived. When independence of rule was won through violent uprising and overthrow, they were often called conspiratio.

Origins


During the 10th century in several parts of Western Europe, peasants whether due to their knowledge of a special craft beyond the immediate requirements of their isolated village, or merely a self-reliant spirit, began to gravitate towards walled population centers. In central and northern Italy, and in Provence
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

 and Septimania
Septimania
Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis. It corresponded roughly with the modern...

, most of the old Roman cities had survived—even if grass grew in their streets—largely as administrative centers for a diocese or for the local representative of a distant kingly or imperial power. In the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, some new towns were founded upon long-distance trade, where the staple was the woolen cloth-making industry. The sites for these ab ovo
Ab ovo
Ab ovo is a reference to one of the twin eggs of Leda and Zeus, disguised as a swan, from which Helen was born...

towns, more often than not, were the fortified burgh
Burgh
A burgh was an autonomous corporate entity in Scotland and Northern England, usually a town. This type of administrative division existed from the 12th century, when King David I created the first royal burghs. Burgh status was broadly analogous to borough status, found in the rest of the United...

s
of counts, bishops or territorial abbots. Such towns were also founded in the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

. Other towns were simply market villages, local centers of exchange.

Such townspeople needed physical protection from lawless nobles and bandits, part of the motivation for gathering behind communal walls, but the struggle to establish their liberties, the freedom to conduct and regulate their own affairs and security from arbitrary taxation and harassment from the bishop, abbot, or count in whose jurisdiction these obscure and ignoble social outsiders lay, was a long process of struggling to obtain charters that guaranteed such basics as the right to hold a market. Such charters were often purchased at exorbitant rates, or granted, not by the local power, which was naturally jealous of prerogatives, but by the king or the emperor, who came thereby to hope to enlist the towns as allies in the struggle to centralize power that was arising in tandem with the rise of the communes. "The burghers of the tenth and eleventh centuries were ruthlessly harassed, blackmailed, subjected to oppressive taxes and humiliated. This drove the bourgeois back upon their own resources, and it accounts for the intensely corporate and excessively organized character of medieval cities."

The walled city represented protection from direct assault at the price of corporate interference on the pettiest levels, but once a townsman left the city walls, he (for women scarcely travelled) was at the mercy of often violent and lawless nobles in the countryside. Because much of medieval Europe lacked central authority to provide protection, each city had to provide its own protection for citizens both inside the city walls, and outside. Thus towns formed communes, a legal basis for turning the cities into self-governing corporations. Although in most cases the development of communes was connected with that of the cities, there were rural communes, notably in France and England, that were formed to protect the common interests of villagers.

Every town had its own commune and no two communes were alike, but at their heart, communes were sworn allegiances of mutual defense. When a commune was formed, all participating members gathered and swore an oath in a public ceremony, promising to defend each other in times of trouble, and to maintain the peace within the city proper.

What did it mean for a commune member to defend another? If a commune member was attacked outside the city, it was too late to call for help, as it was unlikely anyone would arrive in time. Instead, the commune would promise to exact revenge
Revenge
Revenge is a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance, be it real or perceived. It is also called payback, retribution, retaliation or vengeance; it may be characterized, justly or unjustly, as a form of justice.-Function in society:Some societies believe that the...

 on the attacker, the threat of revenge being a form of defense. However, if the attacker was a noble, safely ensconced in a castle
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 (as was often the case), the town commune could not muster the forces to attack him directly. Instead they might attack the noble's family, burn his crops, kill his serfs, or destroy his orchards in retribution.

The commune movement started in the 10th century, with a few earlier ones like Forlì
Forlì
Forlì is a comune and city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and is the capital of the province of Forlì-Cesena. The city is situated along the Via Emilia, to the right of the Montone river, and is an important agricultural centre...

 (possibly 889), and gained strength in the 11th century in northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 which had the most urbanized population of Europe at the time. It then spread in the early 12th century to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and elsewhere. The English state was already very centralized, so the communal movement mainly manifested itself in parishes, craftsmen's and merchants' guilds and monasteries. State officialdom expanded in England and France from the 12th century onwards, while the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 was ruled by communal coalitions of cities, knights, farmer republics, prince-bishops and the large domains of the imperial lords.

Medieval Christianity


Communes were very important for the medieval Church according to John Bossy. The word that Bossy uses is fraternity. The Church had a main focus on establishing peace between the medieval states. The main sins that had to be overcome to stop the killing, according to many theologians, were pride
Pride
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation, pride refers to an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris...

, envy
Envy
Envy is best defined as a resentful emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it."...

 and wrath. Communes could help bring peace, because people would cooperate instead of acting egoistically. In many places, fraternities and guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s were formed before a parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

 was established. They were formed by common people who imitated the way of life of the monks, without becoming part of a monastical order. Another method to establish peace was the confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

. Medieval confessions were of a somewhat different form from the modern-day practises in the Catholic Church; confessions were not yet auricular. Confession was instead held in public as opposed in the privacy of a confessional
Confessional
A confessional is a small, enclosed booth used for the Sacrament of Penance, often called confession, or Reconciliation. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church, but similar structures are also used in Anglican churches of an Anglo-Catholic orientation, and also in the...

. The main theme was expressing sins committed against neighbours. Forgiveness was asked not merely from God and the Church, but also from one's neighbours. The 15th century brought a positive view on individualism expressed in the humanist movement of the Renaissance. Rising commerce was the cause of this individualism. Communalism has remained very popular within and without Christianity until this day.

Social order


According to an English cleric of the late 10th century, society was composed of the three orders
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

: those who fight, those who pray, and those who work (the nobles, the clergy, and the peasants). In theory this was a balance between spiritual and secular peers, with the third order providing labour for the other two. The urban communes were a break in this order. The Church and King both had mixed reactions to communes. On the one hand, they agreed safety and protection from lawless nobles was in everyone's best interest. The communes intention was to keep the peace through the threat of revenge, and the Church was sympathetic to the end result of peace. However, the Church had their own ways to enforce peace, such as the Peace and Truce of God
Peace and Truce of God
The Peace and Truce of God was a medieval European movement of the Catholic Church that applied spiritual sanctions in order to limit the violence of private war in feudal society. The movement constituted the first organized attempt to control civil society in medieval Europe through non-violent...

 movement, for example. On the other hand, communes disrupted the order of medieval society; the methods the commune used, eye for an eye
Eye For An Eye
Eye for an Eye is a Polish hardcore punk rock band founded in 1997 in Bielsko-Biała. EFAE, as it is also known, plays an old school style of punk, more along the veins of The Exploited or even, some say, Agnostic Front. The punk stylings of EFAE has been compared to fellow countrymen Post Regiment,...

, violence begets violence, were generally not acceptable to Church or King. Furthermore, there was a sense that communes threatened the medieval social order. Only the noble lords were allowed by custom to fight, and ostensibly the merchant townspeople were workers, not warriors. As such, the nobility and the clergy sometimes accepted communes, but other times did not. One of the most famous cases of a commune being suppressed and the resulting defiant urban revolt occurred in the French town of Laon
Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...

 in 1112.

Rural communes


The development of medieval rural communes arose more from a need to collaborate to manage the commons than out of defensive needs. In times of a weak central government, communes typically formed to ensure the safety on the roads (Landfriede) through their territory, to enable commerce. Perhaps the most successful such medieval community was the one in the alpine valleys north of the St. Gotthard Pass
St. Gotthard Pass
The Gotthard Pass or St. Gotthard Pass is a high mountain pass in Switzerland between Airolo in the canton of Ticino, and Göschenen in the canton of Uri, connecting the northern German-speaking part of Switzerland with the Italian-speaking part, along the route onwards to Milan.Though the pass...

: it later resulted in the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy
Old Swiss Confederacy
The Old Swiss Confederacy was the precursor of modern-day Switzerland....

. The Swiss had numerous written acts of alliance, so-called Bundesbriefe: for each new canton that joined the confederacy, a new contract was written. Besides the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft
Eidgenossenschaft
Eidgenossenschaft is a German word meaning confederation. The term literally translates as "oath fellowship". An Eidgenossenschaft is a confederacy of equal partners, which can be individuals or groups such as states, formed by a pact sealed by a solemn oath. Such an alliance could be either...

, there were similar rural alpine communes in Tyrol
County of Tyrol
The County of Tyrol, Princely County from 1504, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1814 a province of the Austrian Empire and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary...

, but these were quenched by the House of Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

. Other such rural communes developed in the Grisons, in the French Alps (Briançon
Briançon
Briançon a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department....

), in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

, in northern France (Forêt de Roumare), in northern Germany (Frisia
Frisia
Frisia is a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea, i.e. the German Bight. Frisia is the traditional homeland of the Frisians, a Germanic people who speak Frisian, a language group closely related to the English language...

 and Dithmarschen
Dithmarschen
Dithmarschen is a district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Nordfriesland, Schleswig-Flensburg, Rendsburg-Eckernförde, and Steinburg, by the state of Lower Saxony , and by the North Sea.-Geography:The district is located on the North Sea...

), and also in Sweden and Norway. The colonization of the Walser
Walser
The Walser are German-speaking people who live in the Alps of Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. The Walser people are named after the Wallis , the uppermost Rhône River valley...

 also is related. The southern medieval communes most probably were influenced by the Italian precedent, but the northern ones (and even the Swiss communes north of the St. Gotthard pass) may well have developed concurrently and independently from the Italian ones. Only very few of these medieval rural communes ever attained Reichsunmittelbarkeit, where they would have been subject only to the king or emperor; most still remained subjects of some more or less distant liege lord.

Evolution in Italy and decline in Europe


During the 11th century in northern Italy a new political and social structure emerged and the medieval communes developed to the form of city states. The civic culture which arose from this urbs was remarkable. In most places where communes arose (e.g. France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

) they were absorbed by the monarchical state as it emerged. Almost uniquely, they survived in northern and central Italy to become independent and powerful city-states. The breakaway from their feudal overlords by these communes occurred in the late 12th century and 13th century, during the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

 between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

: Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 led the Lombard cities against the Holy Roman Emperors and defeated them, gaining independence (battles of Legnano
Battle of Legnano
The Battle of Legnano was fought on May 29, 1176, between the forces of the Holy Roman Empire, led by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and the Lombard League.-The Lombard League:...

, 1176, and Parma
Battle of Parma
The Battle of Parma was fought on February 18, 1248 between the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Guelphs. The Guelphs attacked the Imperial camp when Frederick II was away. The Imperial forces were defeated and much of Frederick's treasure was lost.-Background:The free commune of...

, 1248 - see Lombard League
Lombard League
The Lombard League was an alliance formed around 1167, which at its apex included most of the cities of northern Italy , including, among others, Crema, Cremona, Mantua, Piacenza, Bergamo, Brescia, Milan, Genoa, Bologna, Padua, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Treviso, Venice, Vercelli, Vicenza, Verona,...

). Meanwhile the Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, Pisa
Republic of Pisa
The Republic of Pisa was a de facto independent state centered on the Tuscan city of Pisa during the late tenth and eleventh centuries. It rose to become an economic powerhouse, a commercial center whose merchants dominated Mediterranean and Italian trade for a century before being surpassed and...

 and Genoa
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

 were able to conquer their naval empires on the Mediterranean sea (in 1204 Venice conquered one-fourth of Byzantine Empire in the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

). Cities such as Parma
Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

, Ferrara
Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

, Verona
Verona
Verona ; German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona...

, Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

, Mantua
Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

 and others were able to create stable states at the expenses of their neighbors, some of which lasted until modern times. In southern and insular Italy, autonomous communes were rarer, Sassari
Sassari
Sassari is an Italian city. It is the second-largest city of Sardinia in terms of population with about 130,000 inhabitants, or about 300,000 including the greater metropolitan area...

 in Sardinia being one example.

In the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, the emperors
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 always had to face struggles with other powerful players: the land princes on the one hand, but also the cities and communes on the other hand. The emperors thus invariably fought political (not always military) battles to strengthen their position and that of the imperial monarchy. In the Golden Bull of 1356
Golden Bull of 1356
The Golden Bull of 1356 was a decree issued by the Reichstag assembly in Nuremberg headed by the Luxembourg Emperor Charles IV that fixed, for a period of more than four hundred years, important aspects of the constitutional structure of the Holy Roman Empire...

, emperor Charles IV
Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles IV , born Wenceslaus , was the second king of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg, and the first king of Bohemia to also become Holy Roman Emperor....

 outlawed any conjurationes, confederationes, and conspirationes, meaning in particular the city alliances (Städtebünde), but also the rural communal leagues that had sprung up. Most Städtebünde were subsequently dissolved, sometimes forcibly, and where refounded, their political influence was much reduced. Nevertheless some of this communes (as Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

) were able to survive in Germany for centuries and became almost independent city-states vassals to the Holy Roman Emperors (see Free imperial city
Free Imperial City
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...

).

See also

  • Lombard League
    Lombard League
    The Lombard League was an alliance formed around 1167, which at its apex included most of the cities of northern Italy , including, among others, Crema, Cremona, Mantua, Piacenza, Bergamo, Brescia, Milan, Genoa, Bologna, Padua, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Treviso, Venice, Vercelli, Vicenza, Verona,...

  • Hanseatic League
    Hanseatic League
    The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

  • Communalism before 1800
    Communalism before 1800
    Communalism is a term used by the German historian Peter Blickle for a form of representative government in Europe before 1800. The concept is mainly based on Germany of the Holy Roman Empire where it describes the widespread communal institutionalization in villages and towns between the 14th and...

  • Italian city-states
    Italian city-states
    The Italian city-states were a political phenomenon of small independent states mostly in the central and northern Italian peninsula between the 10th and 15th centuries....

  • Signoria
    Signoria
    A Signoria was an abstract noun meaning 'government; governing authority; de facto sovereignty; lordship in many of the Italian city states during the medieval and renaissance periods....

  • Free imperial city
    Free Imperial City
    In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...


External links