A difficult undertaking, despite knowing what his juridical institutions are and his law, his art, his literary language, etc., to draw the moral figure of this Italian, who has now reached an important stage in his historical formation. But we can consider that Italian society, shaped in the midst of an extraordinarily intense political and legal activity and in the very wide practice of trade and craftsmanship, on a foundation of old culture that has always remained quite alive and responsive to life, now has its representative man, the man who gives the character of a civilization at a given moment, in the man of the law, and, soon, in the man of letters; no less, in the capitalist merchant and the art dealer. Relative comfort of life and refinement of customs, energetic industriousness, at home and abroad, especially for economic and civil matters; growing autonomy and individuality, in the face of the coterie, the common and the Church, not separated from an industrious religious sense; habit and aptitude for initiative, with relative exercise of responsibility; serene and jovial spirit, translucent even in the midst of cruel civil strife, also intimately reconciled with worldly life and with the beautiful and vain things that adorn it, a feeling of personal and internal freedom, composure and pride and self-appreciation and a certain disdain for plebs and love of reputation and tendency to seek more and more in themselves and close to themselves the ends of life. Frequent traveling around the world has saturated this Italian, already well-prepared, with experiences, trained in all climates, it has accustomed him not to feel a stranger anywhere and to consider himself a bit of a citizen of the world, it has enriched his humanity. And then, an enviable wealth of resources and expedients in all and for all cases of life, none of which finds him unprepared; very varied attitudes, in different regions and people and in the same person. It is easy to find who knows how to complete an embassy together, draw up a statute and govern a land as mayor or captain, supervise the currency and deal with a financial enterprise, direct the construction of a public building and harangue the crowd, converse with you adapt ways and words and often work manually with a sense of art.
According to ALLCOUNTRYLIST, this people of Italians or, better, “Lombards” was being revealed to foreigners. And even in the borders of the peninsula, there was a growing feeling not only of the common Roman descent but of the commonality of language and customs and, in certain moments, of interests. The 13th century was all about clashes with foreigners. And this helped. Innocent III, Gregory IX, Innocent IV referred to “the freedom and happiness of Italy”; they trod the voices on the differences between Italians and Germans, “brutal race, with strange language and strange feelings”; they inveighed against the “detestable war” which, while it was supposed to expugn exteros, pitted Italians against Italians. Manfred, in the imminence of the Angevin threat, spoke to the Italians of the honor that would come to them from defeating Charles and the French, although he too had German mercenaries in his service. But the Italians confronted them, friends or enemies, as if they were foreigners. Rough and coarse the Germans appeared; greedy, presumptuous, vain the French. It is true that anti-German or anti-French sentiment is also the sentiment of Guelphs and Ghibellines: that is, an expression of party or faction rather than of national sentiment. But it is not only this or it is less and less: and it is also something more, something in itself. Also because it is more easily found in those major municipal and party centers in which the new specifically Italian life is expressed more and better: like Milan in the 12th century; Like this, and even more, Florence, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Which, at the beginning of the 14th century, shows us documents of clear eloquence, as a full awareness of what that new life is. Florence is a Guelph city, that is, a partisan city par excellence; that which now identifies its Guelphism with its mercantile prosperity, its political freedom, almost its existence. But it is also the Italian city par excellence, the homeland of the great fourteenth century artists who can truly call themselves the fathers of the Italian nation.
Is it necessary to remember Dante? The elements of the new Italian life launched as a nation live in him powerfully, albeit amidst superficial inconsistencies, between attachment to things that have now faded and prophetic visions of tomorrow. He is essentially a poet, a writer, a moral conscience. And Italian Dante will go looking for him, essentially, in this ideal sphere. If we then look at the political Dante, and look for how he conceived the Italian order, in itself and in relations with the universal institutions of the Middle Ages, we will find that he, the most enemy of theocracy, longed for the Holy Roman Empire, but he considered the Italy distinct from the empire, because it and it alone was the heir of the Romans and a whole Roman thing and linked by particular ties to Rome. The Italians were for him subjects of the empire, yes, but also citizens of the kingdom, indeed free citizens of the kingdom before they were subjected to the empire; of that kingdom which was not so much the old Lombard and Carolingian kingdom, of Berengario and Arduino, in short, the kingdom historically delimited to a part of the peninsula, but a kingdom ideally extended to the whole peninsula. In short, he felt powerfully the historical and moral unity of Italy. Dante’s national importance is in this, as well as in his work as a vulgar poet. And it is highly significant that, although he neither poses nor resolves himself as we have posed and resolved the problems of unity, independence, the temporal power of the popes, the secular state, etc .; he then appeared, when these problems were posed and the previous ideals were sought and listened to distant presage rumors, as an advocate of homeland unity, of national independence, of spiritual papacy, of secular state. And he acted mightily as such; that is, in a sense, he was an advocate. Therefore he is as at the sources of the modern history of Italy, indeed, we can say, of the history of Italy: he more than Petrarch and much more than Boccaccio, who are also, in some respects, more modernly Italian and more sure of him. in the handling of the tongue.