Bourgeoisie Culture in the 13th Century Italy Part 3

Bourgeoisie Culture in the 13th Century Italy Part 3

A king already mentioned, Frederick II, occupies a notable place in this new orientation of spirits, in this doubting and questioning: as he occupies it in the history of the new concept of the state, which arose not only divine gratia  but also  need cogente, that is, for the natural needs of the associated men. And next to a king, also a pope, Benedetto Caetani, then Boniface VIII, who let us glimpse the acts of the trial that, after he died, the Avignon curia plotted against his memory, under the stimulus of Philip the Fair and the other bitter his enemies. Without the anti-church and pagan spirit of a Frederick II and the troubled nature of a Boniface VIII, Dante Alighieri, a citizen of Florence and poet, could have affirmed the state, with all the tasks of peace and of earthly order; to affirm the human law, that is natural, coinciding with the will itself and divine justice, and therefore capable of giving it support to virtue. In short, a basic principle of its own, that is natural and human, given to morality.

According to Topschoolsoflaw, this effort to give value precisely to earthly things, that is, to spiritually emancipate life from the heavy protection, also juridical and political, of the Church; this effort, which reveals the precocious secular character of Italian culture and gives its own physiognomy to the Italian people now in formation, is aided by the growing cult of the ancient, by the cult of Rome. The cult of antiquity and of Rome, which was born out of life, contributed to the moral rehabilitation of life itself. It begins with the exaltation of the Roman world, considered as a divine thing, the fruit of divine will, in order to reach the whole human being. This exaltation is made by the jurists, the educated men of new culture, the supporters of the autonomy of civil power. Frederick II is almost a maniac of antiquity. Contemporary to Federico, but a man from another family, Boncompagno da Signa was a great mocker of clerics and, at the same time, a forerunner of humanism and humanists, with their thirst for knowledge, their literary vanities, their polemical spirit, their wandering mania. Later, in the De Monarchia  Dante, by attacking the theocratic papacy, will make a whole defense and apotheosis of the Roman people. On the other hand, decretalists and canonists, in the century. XIII and XIV.

To this new culture – the elaboration of pre-existing elements or elements that came from outside and creation – all the Italian people contributed. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, especially Lombard were the Romanesque architects. And together and after, Palermo represents a great center of influences to which the whole peninsula opens up: Palermo with its new philosophizing, with its vulgar poetry, with its autonomous elaboration of Arab and Byzantine elements of culture which, elsewhere, stimulate the new scientific activity. And then, Umbria, which gives its religious life in which so many tendencies of uncertain and restless orthodoxy find outlet and satisfaction, that almost new gospel of its which colors all the Italian religiosity of its representative men for a century, first among them S. Francis of Assisi who is an Italian saint par excellence and herald of the Italian Renaissance, and has its greatest generative force in Italy. And Pisa, which has a hegemonic position in art, especially in sculpture. And Bologna, the city of Guido Guinizelli and of the first great advances of the new vulgar poetry; the city that was the school of law for the Lombards, Sicilians, Tuscans, Pugliesi, etc., as well as for the whole world. It gathered from all over Italy, from all the Roman tradition and all over Italy distributed through its innumerable teachers and pupils, who are then the rulers and judges and consultors and statutory and legislators of every city and of the kingdom of Sicily, the elements of a common legal culture, which is the new Italian law.

And Florence? At the end of the 13th century it is now or is very close to its time. Its financial, commercial and political influence is already great, from one end of the peninsula to the other and beyond. It typically represents the new capitalism with a thousand tentacles, builder and destroyer at the same time, politically opportunist, attached to the Roman curia and yet economically revolutionary, arousing moral scruples within the citizens of Florence themselves, who have not yet managed to adapt reality and thought. But from Florence, too, radiates the new vulgar that Cavalcanti and Alighieri and others seal with works of poetry and prose, of artistic and scientific prose. It prevails over the other Tuscan dialects and, expanding with slow vigor throughout the peninsula, prevails over all non-Tuscan dialects as a literary and national language, similar to the language of Île de France, but not aided, like this one, by the strength of any monarchy. It is an achievement: but made by virtue of one’s own vigor. An invisible homogeneity and unity pre-exists: now it becomes more visible and dynamic.

Bourgeoisie Culture in the 13th Century Italy 3