The Dead End of Italian Life Part 1

The Dead End of Italian Life Part 1

We are at a standstill, in the history of the Italian states, like a river that stagnates in the middle of its course. The Spanish monarchy is worn out as a great world empire and as an Italian power, despite the props it still had in Italy. Those in Italy who abhorred wars, those who saw in the great king essentially the Catholic king, bulwark of religion, stood for the preservation of Spain. The tiny surviving states that felt threatened by the larger ones, the opponents of the Savoy, relied on Spain. The nobility, in general, Spanishized. Even the Neapolitan and Sicilian plebs invoked the protection of the distant king, on whose lands the sun never set. Those who feared the French, for the “volubility, insatiability, lightness of that nation”, as Pope Urban VIII himself said, who also solidarized with the French against the Habsburgs, was attached to the Spaniards. Indeed, the reborn French invasion in the first half of the century revived some branches of the Spanish crown in Italy: Venice itself approached it after the 1930s. But these were static supports, without development and without tomorrow. They were old conservation interests, they were aspirations to quiet do not move . Anyway, not Spain’s own strength. This decline of Spain, as military and financial resources, as prestige and credit, did not escape the contemporary Italians, who drew fears or hopes from it. The wars of Piedmont had deeply wounded it, even without major defeats and losses. The great Spanish machine was deteriorating, the disproportion between the financial resources diminishing, and the great politics to which Spain felt obliged by its traditions of power and prestige, resulted in increasing taxation and exploitation of the subjects, without the consideration. useful features. In short, that government had become a bad government, oppressive and, at the same time, slothful and impotent.

Like Spain, according to Mysteryaround, the independent states of the peninsula were in various crises. Not only the small states of the Po valley, the Farnese one of Parma and Piacenza, the Este one of Modena, the Gonzaga one of Mantua and Monferrato, living every day more of anachronistic life, in the clash of large states, they tiny states, without their own weapons , now without money to hire, without authority to make good use of the mercenaries, with no concrete goals on which to really bet. Not only, I say, the small states; but also the relatively large ones. The duchy of Piedmont, ruled by a woman, torn by dynastic discord and civil war, mastered by the French almost like a century before, stopped on the path of civil progress and Italian reputation on which Emanuele Filiberto had put it and Carlo Emanuele. The republic of Venice is better and worse. Yes, he defends his last Levant possessions with his nails and teeth; in this defense he shows energy, pride, patriotism and military vigor. And it is known how, in the long war in Candia, his admirals found their old aggressive spirit almost in front of Constantinople. However, this activity was maintained with increasing effort and inadequacy for the purposes it aimed at: therefore little less than sterile. All of Europe began to appear on those seas and there was no reason to keep those distant possessions, born and raised for the purposes of trade and navigation. In any case, tired in the East, Venice was no longer able to follow the events of the peninsula,

Worse is for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany which with Francesco I has already lost not a little of what it had gained with Cosimo I, and with Cosimo II what it had gained a little with the energetic Ferdinando I. Ferdinando II (1626-70) he tried to restore some order: but he sold the warships to the king of France and canceled the navy, that is, any possibility of making any policy in the Mediterranean. Worse with the State of the Church, which has, yes, confiscated Ferrara and then Urbino, but every day sees its organic defects worsen, due to its character as a mere instrument or of family interests or universal and transcendent interests that it had assumed. . The administration also lacks that energy that some great popes had explained in the 1500s under the assault of either Venetian or French or Spanish threats or in the ardor of the Counter-Reformation. The papacy as such is again falling from that high position it had enjoyed then. Once the Protestant danger has been curbed, many lost positions have been regained, that sense of mortal threat which had tightened so much of catholicity around its head, with a renewed spirit of dedication, and almost given birth to a new medieval theocracy, we are now at the beginning. of a new descent. With the advance of the seventeenth century, that kind of political-religious internationality of the Catholic world – and also of the Protestant one – which was formed in the midst of the religious wars and of which the pope was the natural leader, ends. Now, Political cadres distinct from religious cadres are reconstituted, believers return citizens and subjects, absolutism is strengthened at the expense of the Church and the papacy as well. The values ​​of the faith take second place or are clearly distinguished from the others, when we see not only a Richelieu and a Mazarin, but also an Urban VIII, who also in their states fought the Huguenots and pursued heretics, allied with Lutherans or indulged politically to them. We can see the passage to another age that will be of purely political and economic struggles, as already the century. XV and XVI, the religious parenthesis closed. Now, all this has a negative effect on the moral position of the papacy; and the moral position of the papacy is reflected in the efficiency of the temporal prince and on the state of the Church. Of which, already at the end of the 16th century, the Venetian speaker Paruta had sketched a very obscure picture. In the seventeenth century, it worsened in terms of internal order, economic prosperity and military capacity. Rome is always a great political center: but of intrigue rather than of conclusive industriousness. Agents of Italian and foreign princes who seek kinship with papal families, trustees of Neapolitan barons, secret informants of every large and small court, adventurers, smoke sellers, etc., are based in Rome.

The Dead End of Italian Life 1

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