Presentation on theme: "During the Middle Ages, no one was able to unite Italy into one kingdom. There were many reason for this. First, leaders in the Roman Catholic Church."— Presentation transcript:
During the Middle Ages, no one was able to unite Italy into one kingdom. There were many reason for this. First, leaders in the Roman Catholic Church tried to prevent it because they were afraid a strong ruler would try to control the pope and the Church. Secondly, the city-states were about equal in strength. They fought many wars. They often took land from each other, but no state was able to beat all the others. Probably the most important reason was because all the city-states were very rich. They could build many ships and hire people to fight in their armies. The city-states also loaned money to the kings of Europe. The kings left the city-states alone so they could borrow more money in the future.
The Italian city-states became rich through trade. Most of the city-states were on the coast. They had ports where merchant ships could dock. They were also in a great spot on the Mediterranean Sea. Spain and France were to the west. The Byzantine and Ottoman Empires were to the east. North Africa was to the south. The Italians bought Chinese silk and Indian spices from the Byzantines, Turks, and Arabs. They would then sell these goods to Western Europe at very high prices. They also bought wool, wine, and glass from the Spanish, French, Dutch, and English. They sold these in the Middle East. The Italian cities also had many skilled craftspeople. They could take raw materials and make goods that could be sold for high prices.
Geography was not the only reason for the success of Italians. Trade became important. The Crusades brought Italian and Arab merchants together to trade. Also, the Mongol Empire united almost all of Asia into one huge network. Mongols helped trade. They protected the Silk Road from China to the Middle East. This made it cheaper and easier for caravans to carry goods from China and India to Muslim and Byzantine cities. As more silk and spices came from Asia, prices became lower. More people could buy nice things. Business grew because people wanted to buy.
Florence was the most famous city of the Renaissance. It was the first to grow rich. It had many famous artists. It sat on the Arno River. Beautiful hills and walls were all around it. Tall towers helped people watch for invaders. The people loved fancy clothing. Florence became rich from trading cloth, mainly wool. The wool came from England. It was woven into fine fabrics.
Banking was another way they made money. Goods were coming into Italy from all over the world. Merchants needed to know how much coins from different countries were worth. Florentine bankers became the experts. The florin was the gold coin of Florence. They used this to measure the value of other money. Bankers also loaned money and charged interest. Florence’s richest family was the Medici. They were bankers. They owned banks as far away as London!
The wealthiest city of all was Venice. It is located at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea. The Venetians were great sailors and shipbuilders. They built their city on many small, swampy islands. They put long wooden poles into mud to support their buildings. Instead of making roads, Venetians made canals through their swampy islands. They used boats to move about. Even today, many of the streets in the older parts of Venice are canals and waterways.
Gondolas are long narrow boats. They are still used to take people up and down the canals.
Some of Venice’s wealth came from shipbuilding. Ships were build at a shipyard called the Arsenal. Sometimes they needed ships quickly. When the Turks tried to take a Venetian colony in the Mediterranean, 100 ships were built in only two months!
Many of the city-states began as republics. A republic is a government controlled by its citizens. Only guild members could be citizens. These were artists and merchants. When the cities faced war or rebellion, they gave power to a dictator. This is one powerful man or woman who runs a government. In Venice the ruler was called a duke, or doge. At first, the doge had power over his council of nobles. Later, he lost power to a small group of nobles.
The Medici family took control of Florence in They ruled there for many decades. Lorenzo de’ Medici ruled the city from He was known as “the Magnificent.” He gave money to artists, architects, and writers. Politics in Italy was tricky. The rulers of each city had to keep the poor from fighting against them. They also had to stop other rich people from getting power. They made deals with merchants bankers, landlords, church leaders, and mercenaries. They also had to work with leaders from other city-states.
To work with other states, the Italians created diplomacy. This is making deals with other countries.Eaach city-state sent an ambassador to live in other city-states. Ambassadors were representatives of their city. Many ideas of diplomacy used today first began in Italy.
Niccolo’ Machiavelli was a diplomat in Florence. He wrote a book called The Prince in In his book, Machiavelli wrote that people were greedy and self- centered. Rulers should not be good. They should do anything to keep power and protect their city. This included killing and lying. Today when we say someone is being Machiavellian, we mean they are being tricky and not thinking about being good.
Name at least three ways Italy’s city-states became wealthy. What city was the most famous city of the Renaissance? What city was the wealthiest city of the Renaissance? How did people travel in Venice?