Economic History of Italy in the medieval era

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Economics

Document 1

Italy at this time had great wealth and economic power since they depended on trade and resources. Even with the collapse of the Roman Empire Italy remained very prosperous as it had rich states such as Venice, Florence, and Milan. These city-states were considered among the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world. Due to this the question that arises is how Italy is still looking for ways to go back to the tremendous economic dominance of the Roman Empire. The Italian Renaissance was best known for its achievements in classical antiquities. This invention to them was a resource that they used to rise to their economic status. Italy sustained this power through military conquests (Pirenne, 59-68) Although Italy had high status, this drastically changed overnight.

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Their prominence was due to many factors that Italy had not put much thought. A good example is the discovery of America that shifted trade patterns westwards. Since Italians did not have access to the Atlantic Ocean, they could not establish their trade patterns let alone their colonies. Additionally, the failure of the Italian nationalism also advocated for disunity among the Italians. It made them lose interest and concentrate more on their families and commune and thus the central government could not generate the right business climate as well as foster trust. Exhaustion of soil minerals and change of weather was also a contributing factor as Italian farmers who depended on the rains and this soil became poorer than when they had good soil and reliable rainfall.

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These hindered them from adopting modern economy. This economy led to the rise of many new terms and theories. This type of system, in turn, made the state of Italy prosperous as the more the product produced the ore the economy grew. Also, the farmers could provide for their own families and not rely on their lords. This reduced decreased poverty in the state substantially. The fact that serfs could provide for their own families differentiated them from slaves who were sold and bought without reference to a plot of land. Although serfs had this privilege over slaves, they did not have total control over these lands. The medieval ages correctly began by the weakening of the Byzantine Empire under the pressure of the Muslim conquest.

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From these Italian states such as Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Genoa rose to power. Research shows that the Italian economy tripled between 11th to the 15th century (Hodgett,87-89). This advancement greatly improved the demography of Italy as it made it possible to conquer weak neighboring societies. During the time of the Renaissance Italy was the economic capital of Europe. In conclusion, it’s clear that Italy had high economic growth and dominance in the medieval era. Apart from being the first to invent the banking systems they controlled trade in the Mediterranean Sea which proved to be an added advantage to them. Advancements in classical antiquities proved to raise Italy’s economy immensely. Such may include the work of Leonardo da Vinci of Mona Lisa among many others.

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