The basis for the uneven development of the Renaissance era was of course the uneven development of the forces of production in the social structure of the Middle Ages - but the ‘unevenness’ of the Renaissance displays important differences, quantitative and qualitative, by comparison with the earlier age. 1 will single out only a few essential factors. As it became possible to develop the forces of production at an accelerated tempo, existing and ever-growing differences in tempo, ranging from stagnation all the way to maximum exploitation of the possibilities of development (the beginnings of capitalist reproduction on a large scale) were accentuated. As a result, there appeared a number of decisively different possible paths and forms for the emergence of capitalist relations of production. After the nation became the economic unit, these various paths and forms came to appear as national paths and national forms, going to shape the varieties of national character; henceforward national character was to have its effect on the further development of the economic structure, on one hand, and gradually to set its stamp on the tone of each culture, on the other. The differentiated and uneven development of the various nations was made even more explicit by the transformation of history first into European history and then, later, into world history. Those nations whose development was more rapid and took classical forms left a more pronounced mark on the total historical process - but without being able to stop the stagnation of other nations; within a unitary Europe advanced and backward nations appeared, and with them an awareness o f advanced development and underdevelopment was also born. Petrarch, travelling in France and Italy, observed only
differences in customs and manners; any idea of ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’ was entirely foreign to the world of his thinking. But Vives thought he had found in England a country that was ‘not Spanish’ and a society that afforded a path towards greater possibilities; Machiavelli in his polemic against mercenary armies cited the superiority of the popular levies of the Swiss war of independence; Giordano Bruno all but fled from Italy to the countries where real or imaginary freedom of thought existed; Galileo regarded his colleagues in Holland with justified envy; Campanella asked and received asylum in France. Common to the last three examples was a fear of the Inquisition. But the revival of the Inquisition in sixteenth-century Italy was itself one factor in the process of refeudalization.