If weak and unstable, indeed in the process of corrosion and decomposition, were the political organisms that arose in the peninsula with the Germanic and Arab invasions and with the Greek reconquest; On the other hand, Italian society in a large part of the peninsula was progressing and becoming more varied and complex and industrious in its various elements. This was not just Italian, but in Italy, more prompt and visible than elsewhere. More than anywhere else, culture, civil customs, economic life were preserved here, even after the Arab overflow into the Mediterranean. Elsewhere, there is an absolute prevalence of large land holdings and of the Curtense system. With us, a lot of free land and many free alloderi. Even in large landed estates, a high proportion of free men in relation to servants. Those possessions, rarely organized as a closed unit: hence the consequence that they rarely formed the cell of new cities, as was the case beyond the Alps. This presupposed free labor, a certain exchange economy, more numerous handicrafts, fixed or mobile, capable of providing a greater quantity and variety of work compared to the work provided by the domestic and Curtense industry, it presupposed a large number of cities, decayed, yes, but always a city, that is, with a specific city economy, and many and various interferences between the rural world and the urban world.
Therefore, before the revival in Italy, with the 9th and 10th centuries, on the old and new foundation created by Rome, by Christianity, by the barbarian conquest, by the occupation of Sicily itself by the Arabs, which fueled some trade and seafaring activities , especially in our southern cities. At the end of the century IX, Naples appeared to Ludovico II as a city of infidels, who flocked there for the purpose of trade and Greeks, Arabs, Catalans, Provençals came to the Salerno fairs. It is the time that Amalfi, the new city, begins to flourish, as an intermediary between Greeks, Arabs, Italian populations. It not only catered, with Naples and Salerno, to the needs of the vast Lombard hinterland, but also pushed its trade as far as the Po valley, which was the most properly reserved field first for Comacchio, and then for Venice. that you were interested in salt and goods from the East. Venice, which lived on these exchanges, laid the first foundations of its fortune. Nor were the maritime cities alone to move. We know of the Po Valley cities, such as Cremona, as first they were supplied by the Comacchiesi, then they set out to sail on the ships of Comacchio, finally, in the middle of the century. IX, already owned their own ships. We know of Pavia, a good commercial center, with its transit of soldiers and pilgrims to Rome, its royal court and the many small courts of great and Italian bishops, its network of canals and waterways that connected it to Venice, in Ravenna, in Milan. We know of the many customs stations arranged along the line of the Alps, on the borders of the kingdom of Italy, in Susa, in Bard, in Bellinzona, in Chiavenna, in Bolzano, near Castelfranco, in Aquileia. For them the movement of pilgrims and trafficking took place that from the northern countries headed to Rome and the cities of the kingdom. This customs line corresponded almost to the border of Italy set by Augustus, which remained fairly firm, despite some divisions of the time of the invasions and, then, the aggregation of territories of the Italic kingdom to the kingdom of Germany in the century. X.
According to usaers, these never disappeared or soon resurrected civil activities, this specific economic function that the cities retain and, even more, resume after the century. IX and X, also help us to understand the persistence of a certain juridical personality of the cities themselves, regardless of the political power that had its main seat in them.
This personality had certainly not disappeared even in the Lombard age. With the Carolingians, it became more pronounced: or at least, it began to leave some greater traces of itself. The rise of the bishop as civil authority was also the rise of the citizens, within that area, city and district, where the power of bishops began to assert itself: and it is difficult to say how much royal and imperial privileges to bishops were implicit recognition of a fact. accomplished, that is, an urban life provided with a certain consistency and rudimentary organs; and how much they promoted it. What is the contention between the cives et urbis iudices of Verona and the pars ecclesiae in 837?of that city, for the restoration of the walls? It seems it was a tripartite division of the burden, which before was all and only of public power. And those Rotecario, Dodilone, Gudiberto who, in the middle of the century. IX, appear with the ceteri habitatores de civitate Cremona in Pavia, where Ludovico held placitus, to appeal against the bishop who wanted to force them to pay the ripatico, will they have gone there uti singuli ? And those cives ianuenses who in 950 have their customs confirmed by King Berengar II? And the Veronese, who in 968 were in a quarrel with Bishop Rateno over a lawn? It is certainly one of those Pascual lands, which each city had to integrate its economy and were communia, municipal lands: an element that served to unite and identify the inhabitants of a city, as well as the inhabitants of the neighborhoods and minor places. But there were other elements, to give unity and individuality: there was the weekly market; there was the college of scabins, provided with judicial powers, which, according to the Carolingian capitulars, were elected by the count, totius populi consensu. There was religious dependence on the urban parish, that is, participation in the life of a church community which also imposed obligations, such as tithing, the restoration of the church, etc., and conferred rights, such as the election of the rector to clergy and people, participation in the administration of church property, etc .: therefore, a community that is not purely religious but coincides with the civil one, which enjoys common lands, pays tribute to the tax authorities, contributes to forming the army, has the obligation of the exentiae to the walls, contributes to the construction of public works.