Introduction

Week 14

Introduction

Christ before Pilate, an illuminated manuscript by Willem Vrelant

The Italian city-states were a political phenomenon of small independent states mostly in the central and northern Italian peninsula between the 9th and 15th centuries.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, urban settlements in Italy generally enjoyed a greater continuity than in the rest of western Europe. Many of these towns were survivors of earlier Etruscan, Umbrian and Roman towns which had existed within the Roman Empire. The republican institutions of Rome had also survived. Some feudal lords existed with a servile labor force and huge tracts of land, but by the 11th century, many cities, including Venice, Milan, Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Lucca, Cremona, Siena,Città di Castello, Perugia, and many others, had become large trading metropoles, able to obtain independence from their formal sovereigns.