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Venice and Milan (1300-1499)

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Venice and Milan (1300-1499)

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Venice and Milan (1300-1499)

Venice and Milan (1300-1499)

Venice and Milan (1300-1499)

Venice and Milan (1300-1499)

The Venetian nobility had a strong commitment to oligarchy and were very wary of those who wished to usurp power from the Great Council. In fact, the Council of Ten, while often working for corrupt and self-serving purposes, frequently worked to destroy the ambition of political climbers and would-be usurpers of power. In its maintenance of power, the Council of Ten held monarchy at bay. Though hierarchy was essential to the Venetian way of life, the nobility strongly believed that among their ranks there should be equality and democracy, and, as a group, acted quickly to knock down any member of their class who appeared to feel differently. The destruction of Doge Francesco Fosari assured that the Doge of Venice would never again attempt to assume monarchical power. In the case of Fosari, the Council of Ten acted firmly to reestablish oligarchy, which would last to the end of the Renaissance.

Venice, as a city primarily concerned with commerce and finance, never became a producer of artistic and literary talent; instead, it imported. Artists were attracted to the Venice's wealth, and many immigrated to the city during the Renaissance, including, most prominently, the writer Pietro Aretino and the painter Titian.

Stability was the most important value of Milanese government. Due to Milan's location along trade lines and as the gateway to Northern Italy, Milan's existence as a powerful city-state was precarious and subject to challenge at all times if not maintained authoritatively. The Visconti family asserted Milan's strength throughout the fourteenth and early fifteenth century by defending the region and expanding into other areas, allowing it to flourish economically as a trading post. When the Milanese experimented briefly with a republican system of government between 1447 and 1450 they found that it did not provide the stability necessitated by Milan'ss military concerns, and many welcomed the government takeover by Francesco Sforza, a soldier by trade. However, Francesco's descendents proved unable to maintain the stability and security of the city-state.

Ludovico Sforza presided over a wealthy and powerful Milan, a circumstances that enticed him to enter into corrupt dealings with the goal of increasing his own wealth and power. In one such deal, he allowed French forces to enter Italy by way of Milan, a decision that would eventually be considered by his fellow Italian heads of state as equivalent to surrendering all of Italy. Not only did Ludovico's actions lead to the takeover of Milan by the overpowering French forces, but the French invasion also began a period during which Italy was never free from the imposition of foreign forces. Eventually, these forces would combine to engineer the sack of Rome, the event marking the waning of the Italian Renaissance.

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