Italy 1530-1630

Italy 1530-1630

Italy 1530-1630

Italy 1530-1630

Synopsis

This book covers one of the more obscure periods of Italian history. What we know of it is presented almost always pejoratively: an unrelieved tale of political absolution, rural refeudalisation, economic crisis, religious repression and cultural decline. But this picture is both incomplete and inaccurate, and in this important new survey Eric Cochrane has at last given the period its due.

Excerpt

Italy in 1527 may have been politically, demographically, economically and psychologically in ruins. Culturally, it had never been stronger. For the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire it possessed a national language, the foundations of a national literature, and an aesthetic standard that had been created by Italians themselves rather than imported from abroad or from the distant past. That the monuments of High Renaissance culture were not stillborn, that they were not left simply to be admired by contemporaries abroad and by future generations in Italy and that they became instead 'models' for creative 'imitation' in a dynamic national culture, was the result chiefly of two unforeseen events: a sudden cessation in the seemingly endless chain of calamities, and the gradual, but equally unexpected, creation of a new political order.

The principal agent of peace and the principal architect of the new political order was the Emperor Charles v. Charles was the direct ruler of the Kingdom of Sicily and Naples and the indirect feudal overlord of all the rest of Italy north of the Papal State and west of the dominions of the Venetians. He thus held title to as much territory in Italy as any of his precursors, aspirants to hegemony over all of it -- Frederick 11, Carlo and Robert d'Angiò (d'Anjou), Giangaleazzo Visconti. But unlike his precursors, his power base was not confined to Italy. He was the ultimate feudal overlord of all the princes and cities of the Holy Roman Empire, which had recently been endowed with somewhat more effective central judicial and administrative organs. He was the immediate hereditary ruler of the Hapsburg dominions in Germany, most of the former Burgundian dominions in eastern France and the Low Countries, the Kingdom of Aragon with its Mediterranean dependencies and the Kingdom of Castile with its rapidly expanding empire in America. He was also a close ally, through his wife and colleague in government, of her father, the king of Portugal and head of the other rapidly expanding overseas empire. He thus held title to a greater part of the lands of Christendom than any of his Imperial predecesors since the time of Charlemagne; and he could bring . . .

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