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|Titolo:||IL PATRIMONIO DEL PRINCIPE:I FARNESE|
|Autori interni:||PODESTA', Gian Luca|
|Data di pubblicazione:||1998|
|Abstract:||The Duchy of Parma and Piacenza was created in 1545 through an act of nepotism by Pope Paul III, who invested his son Pier Luigi Farnese with the title of Duke, thus imitating the Borgia family (Tocci 1979, p. 224). A few years earlier, the Pope had even asked Charles V to grant his son the title of Duke of Milan. The creation of the new state, “born in just one night, like a mushroom”, according to Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga (Drei 1954, p. 41), had a profound influence on the history of the two cities. The Farnese family was in no way connected to that territory. In order to consolidate his authority, the new prince had to be recognised by the other powers, and be approved by his subjects, especially by the great feudal lords. Above all it was necessary to obtain recognition by the Emperor. Even though by the middle of the XVI century enfeoffment to the Empire had become a formula devoid of any specific legal or political content (Chabod 1974, p.42), in Pier Luigi Farnese’s case, because of the fragile nature of the rights exercised by the pope (Burckhardt 1984, p. 87) and given the strong military and political authority wielded by Spain in Italy, a formal act of acceptance was deemed appropriate. In fact Charles V was confronted with a fait accompli, and although he did not declare it openly, he considered the Pope’s initiative as an act of force, also because the Emperor favoured the return of the two towns to the Duchy of Milan. Right from the start, therefore, Charles V hoped to be able to redefine the destiny of Parma and Piacenza in the future (Podestà 1995, p. 45). Piacenza was going to be the capital of the new State. Pier Luigi chose it both because of its greater economic importance and for its strategic function, being situated half-way between Genoa and Milan. A general census of the population was carried out in the towns and in the surrounding areas. The total population of the Duchy amounted to 266,640 inhabitants, of whom 142,217 lived in the territory of Parma (19,592 in the town itself) and 124,455 in that of Piacenza (26,800) (Tocci 1979, p. 233). To consolidate his authority, Pier Luigi Farnese intended to strengthen princely absolutism, limiting the privileges enjoyed by the great feudal lords, who were very powerful in that area. This was a rather difficult task, because the historical development of the two cities, both often changing hands and situated at the margins of the states to which they had previously belonged (Duchy of Milan and Papal States), had given the feudatory nobility a certain freedom. The feudal nobles, safely installed in their castles, controlled about two thirds of the territory (Arcangeli 1977, p. 92). The wars between France and Spain for the possession of Milan had put the local aristocracy in a strong position, as their contribution was crucial to obtain victory in that area. The feudal lords had therefore become the privileged interlocutors of European powers and of the major Italian states. Some of the most powerful families even aspired to create small autonomous states (Chittolini 1979, p. 77). To consolidate their own prestige and autonomy, some had formed matrimonial alliances with the most illustrious princely families; the Gonzagas, who ruled over Mantua, played a relevant role in this “matrimonial network”, because all their various branches had joined in relationships with some of the oldest and most important families of Parma and Piacenza, such as the Anguissolas, Pallavicinos, Rossis, Scottis and Torellis (Podestà 1995, p. 138). With the coming to power of Pier Luigi Farnese, the dream of autonomy came to an end and a new season started, in which the prince would try to weaken the feudal lords and strengthen central power. The Duke was well aware that the nobles derived their political clout from their illustrious position as great landowners, endowed with large estates and numerous vassals, both noble and plebeian, with whom they entertained mutual relationships of protection and submission (Ago 1994, p. 123). Pier Luigi’s first measures reduced the feudal lords’ power: firstly, he attributed jurisdictional authority to judges responsible to the Duke, removing all countryside dwellers from the jurisdiction of feudal courts. Similarly, between 1545 and 1546, new tax surveys of landed estates were carried out; these resulted in greater fiscal equalization, which would consequently limit feudal privileges, because all nobles were required to declare their properties and their revenues, including those aristocrats residing in their feoffs. The revision of the “compartiti”, that is the fiscal estimates used to impose taxation, threatened to produce some even more dangerous effects on the feudal nobility, as the resumption of measurements (“estimi” or cadastral surveys) could change the status of nobles and non-nobles, thus conforming the legal reality to the changed institutional situation. This measure, apparently only of a technical-fiscal nature, was in fact a constant cause of friction for communities large and small (Donati 1988, p. 79). Moreover, the nobles already felt threatened by the growing ambitions of the urban elites (the “patricians”) who, with the new Duke’s support, demanded that their new social role be recognised, role which they had acquired by climbing the social ladder either by filling the various ranks of urban government, or by amassing great wealth through commerce, the intellectual professions and by cultivating the arts. Two further measures aimed against the feudal nobility were devised: the obligation to reside in the towns and attend at Court, and the prohibition to sell any surplus produce outside the State without permission by the government. In some cases, when the feudal lords refused to obey the rules imposed by central government, the Duke proceeded to confiscate the feoff (Podestà 1995, p. 145). The absolute power exercised by Pier Luigi Farnese was bound to cause widespread opposition. In September 1547 some of the most important feudatories from Piacenza (the Anguissolas, Landis and Pallavicinos) organised a plot against the Duke, supported by Charles V and by the governor of Milan, Ferrante Gonzaga. Pier Luigi was killed and Piacenza was occupied by the Spanish. The Emperor granted the leader of the conspiracy, Agostino Landi, autonomy for his feud. All the Farneses were left with, was besieged Parma. The plot of Piacenza was crucial for the future historical development of the two towns. Pier Luigi’s son, Ottavio, managed to keep hold of Parma. After alternating political and military fortunes, Philip II (Ottavio had married Margaret of Austria, Charles V’s illegitimate daughter) recognised his claims upon the city and later, in 1556, gave him back Piacenza too. (Podestà 1995, p.193). From then on, the Farneses’ policy was deeply influenced by the events of 1547. Ottavio and his successors remained loyal allies of Spain until the end of the XVII century. Ottavio’s son, Alessandro, grew up at court in Madrid and became the great military leader who managed to retain southern Flanders for the Spanish crown. As regards internal affairs, Ottavio behaved more carefully than his father towards the richest feudatories. Most of them still kept at a distance from the ruling dynasty, whilst they rarely covered any positions or had any responsibilities at the Duke’s court. Generally the scions of great families were sent to the Spanish court in Madrid, or to other courts in the various Italian states. The Farneses’ court was then modest in size, and open mainly to urban notables or to the minor gentry. Parma became the capital of the state and the seat of the ducal court, thus getting its reward for the loyalty shown to the dynasty in 1547. Gradually, however, as he proceeded to consolidate his power, Ottavio also started to limit the feudal nobility’s prerogatives, though not as directly and openly as his father. Moreover, to reverse the fact that the Farneses did not possess any landed property in the state, the Duke began to create a landed patrimony by acquiring allodial estates and by confiscating feudal territories, or by devolving them to the state in case of lack of legitimate successors. So the Farneses became the most important landowners in the Duchy. This helped them to acquire consensus among all their subjects and among those with whom they entertained economic relationships (Podestà 1995, p. 197). In 1580 things took a different turn. Ottavio Farnese, feeling confident both at home and abroad, started a more resolute anti-feudal policy, devising the so-called “policy of murder”, which was perfected by Ranuccio I and, between 1611 and 1612, helped eliminate most of the greater feudal lords, definitely consolidating state absolutism. The first act, as mentioned above, was Ottavio taking advantage of an alleged plot organised against him by Claudio Landi (but more probably “invented” by the Duke’s police): Ottavio occupied part of Landi’s estate, including Borgo-Val-di-Taro and re-annexed it to Parma. In 1611 a new plot was discovered, this time allegedly hatched by some illustrious families from Parma, to kill the duke Ranuccio I. This triggered a brutal reaction: dozens of suspected plotters were sentenced to death, whilst their properties were confiscated by the state and devolved to the ducal patrimony (Podestà 1995, p. 229). This way the Farneses accumulated a huge landed estate and multiplied their revenues. Some of these properties were sold, but the Farneses also improved and invested in the best and most fertile land, in order to increase its productivity. They gradually transformed these estates from “feudal” to “patrimonial” and turned them from “domains” into a “dominion”, thus placing themselves in a more modern perspective (Romani 1978, p. 41). Later, towards the middle of the XVII century, many feuds were given over to rich town-dwellers, who had recently acquired some title of nobility. Thus the Farneses attached to themselves the emerging urban middle-class and consolidated the consensus inside the state (ASP, Feudi e comunità, b. 275, Notificazioni di Feudi). The “policy of murder” was therefore crucial in changing the composition of the Duchy’s elites (Podestà 2007, p. 172). Most of the investments and expenses in the Duchy concerned Parma and its territory (Podestà 1995, p. 305). This was a considerable flow of money, which would support and emphasize the service vocation of the city. The choice of the capital and the settling of the court in Parma were important factors of production and redistribution of wealth, which, however, tended to discourage manufacturing, as they favoured the offer of services over that of goods (Romani 1978, p. 42). After the plot of 1611 the old surviving aristocracy and the newly-created nobles were polarised around the Court, under the Duke’s control. Indeed Ranuccio enlarged and stabilised the Court, also implementing a building programme, coherently with his absolutistic and centralising policies (Tocci 1979, p. 261). He started the building of two ducal palaces in Parma and Piacenza. The gigantic residential complex of the “Pilotta” was later added to the Parma palace, with the aim of emphasizing the dynasty’s presence in the city. To build the “Pilotta” Ranuccio took his inspiration from Philip II’s Escorial in Madrid. The architectural works planned by the Farneses, however, had a modest influence on the urbanistic asset of the capital: the ducal palace and the park were built in the outskirts of the city, and the Pilotta, started in 1602, though its being situated in the centre impacted on the city’s structure, weighed on it in an “authoritarian” manner, lacerating the urban layout and resulting in an out of scale structure, actually “foreign to or even clashing with the city” (Adorni 1974, p. 35). We can conclude, therefore, that the “policy of murder” carried out against the great feudatory families of Parma and Piacenza, contributed to the victory of princely absolutism over feudal anarchy, also favouring, between the XVI and the XVII centuries, the social ascent of a new urban elite (Cattini-Romani 1986, p. 34), who constituted the social base on which the Farneses’ power rested.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||2.1 Contributo in volume(Capitolo di libro)|
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