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19 Nobility in Lombardy between the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age

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Chapter Summary

With regard to the medievalists, Spanish rule placed significant emphasis on the civic and municipal dimension of the nobility, which naturally lent itself to merge with the traditional emphasis given to the role of the city in the political and social history of Lombardy, and of Italy. Well into the fifteenth century, strongholds of seigneurial power affected the countryside of the Duchy, in stark contrast to what had happened in Tuscany and Veneto, where by the end of the Middle Ages, the sphere of influence of the nobility was essentially confined to urban spaces. Rural fringes of lesser nobility, which were numerically rather strong, were not typical only of rural Milan. The two-way relationship between cities and rural areas, which characterised the Lombardy of the Visconti and Sforza families and was full of political significance, was as substantially altered as the nobility itself.

Keywords: Lombard nobility; Lombardy; Middle Ages; Milan; Sforza family; Spanish rule; Visconti family

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