City and Countryside in Medieval Italy: Some Reflections on Twentieth-Century Historiography
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The nature of the relation between city and countryside in medieval Italy was unique by comparison with the rest of Europe. Precisely for this reason, the question has drawn the attention of historiography, particularly starting in the early twentieth century, with the scholarship of Gaetano Salvemini and Gioacchino Volpe, and especially Romolo Caggese, the author of Classi e comuni rurali nel Medio Evo italiano (Rural classes and city communes in the Italian Middle Ages). This work long stood as a critical touchstone: it did so at least until the 1960s, when a new historiographical season set in – with monographs, essays, and conference proceedings – that gave us a much richer frame of understanding, while opening a larger debate on the question, which to this day remains a central concern of historiographical investigation.
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