chapter  6
23 Pages

An exemplary revolt of the central Middle Ages? Echoes of the first Lombard League across the Christian world around the year 1200

ByGianluca Raccagni

There is some consensus among historians on the fact that the central Middle Ages played a pivotal role in the growth of European administrative institutions and the development of principles of accountability, consultation, and public responsibility. This study engages with that scholarship by discussing some neglected viewpoints, that is, the degree of awareness and the perception across the Christian world of contemporary developments and local socio-political variations, which will be tackled by focusing on the momentous conflict between the Lombard League and the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of 1167-83. There is no wideranging study of that awareness, but this analysis argues that the representation of the conflict between Barbarossa and the League across Christendom could represent a valuable paradigm, which, moreover, challenges some significant noteworthy preconceptions. Indeed, scholarly considerations of the broader European power dynamics in the central Middle Ages and their legacy have tended to sideline Communal Italy (as scholarship often calls the northern half of the peninsula, dominated as it was by numerous quasi-independent city communes), and to neglect the conflict between the League (an association that united most of the city communes of the Po Plain) and Barbarossa as well as its status of revolt by subjects against their ruler.1