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The Count of Carmagnola

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The Count of Carmagnola
The Italian peninsula during the first part of the XV century was split into five large states (Milan, Venice, Florence, Papal States and Naples) and countless small states, in ceaseless conflict one with another.
Mercenary militia, which sprung up after 1000 A.D. from the disintegration of feudalism, were the fortune of some captains when they came to Italy in the XIV century; the communes and lords needed armed troops but, for economic and political reasons, it was not opportune for them to recruit and train men from the urban population.
These were actually gangs uniting armed men ready to offer their services to the highest bidder, made up of all those individuals, whatever their origin be, that had become outlaws because they could not find a stable role in society.
Mercenary Companies were spread everywhere, becoming an important characteristic in the history of Europe in that period. Even rulers used them for their political aims, but them tried to get rid of them, with considerable difficulty.
This historical period was shaken by a grave event, which had repercussions in Italy: the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. This fact echoed throughout Europe, with important and decisive effects on the economy of the maritime Republics.
Following the fall of Constantinople, Genoa began a slow, inexorable decline, while Venice, on other hand, tried to heal the wounds of the loss of the markets in the Orient with a concrete action of growth on the mainland. Venice was not just a maritime republic, but became a continental State, conquering Venetia and Friuli, reaching Brescia, Bergamo and, after the Treaty of Lodi. Furthermore, Venice governed the coats of Dalmatia and Morea, conquering the islands Candia and Crete, and, following a truce with the Sultan, created land colonies as far as the Black Sea.
Under the lordship of the Visconti family, Milan also gained control of a vast territory, as far as Tuscany, occupying the cities of Lucca, Pisa and Siena. Only the fierce resistance of Florence prevented them from creating a State uniting all of Northern Italy.
The Visconti soon had to reckon with Venice which, after having gained the upper hand over the dominion of the Della Scala of Verona and the Carraresi of Padua, aimed for the Milanese territories.
The figures of the various Captains of Fortune that would be decisive in the solution of the conflicts between these cities emerge from the inevitable war that was brewing. Carmagnola was one of these. He was to influence the politics of the two great States of Northern Italy, tipping the scales of the outcome of the war one way on the other in turn.
With an elegant style and detailed descriptions, The Count of Carmagnola by Giancarlo Guidotti brings to light episodes which are not so distant in time. In the name of worldly power, men claim the place of God, unmoved by the brotherhood which unites their lives. A whirlwind of human vileness stemming from reasons of political power assails Count Carmagnola’s actions, accusing him of the same motives that drove his enemies: a desire for power, envy. Thus the Count left the Duchy of Milan for the Republic of Venice: here Carmagnola’s parabola ends in ruin, but not that of the tragic humanity that surrounds him. Suspicion gains ground and the word “Treason” is pronounced against someone who was not a traitor.

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