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Brief History of Medieval Rome

The Medieval Times of Rome, Italy

Though the history of Rome is quite complex and sometimes bewildering, the Medieval period was a time of transition for the great city. Two major institutions called the papacy and the commune of Rome are the key players in the history of Rome and where she is today.

Wars for Power and Control Continue

During the 5th century, Rome was ruled under Roman law by the Odoacer and Theodoric the Great, with Roman officials still in power. The population of the city was less than 50,000 during the Middle Ages. There were continuous wars between Byzantines and Goths. Rome was conquered by the Byzantines under the guidance of Narses in 552. Narses was the first exarch (or viceroy) to rule Italy from Ravenna. During this time, the commerce decreased significantly, and the consuls and senate ceased to exist.

The Papal States are Formed

A great Roman leader named Pope Gregory I, emancipated Rome from the exarchs. With tremendous support by the people, soon the pope's rule became mightier than the imperial governors. Many secular buildings became churches, and for 12 centuries, the papal elections would be the "main" event in Rome.
The Papal States were formed during the 7th and 8th centuries, and the people were divided into four groups or classes called clergy, nobility, soldiers, and lowest class.

Map of Medieval Rome

Germany Attempts to Control Popes

In 800, Charlemagne was crowned as emperor of the West. This clearly ended Byzantine powers over Rome, however, a new rivalry arose between emperors and popes. German kings began making visits to the city and tried to control the pope's influence in Rome.
During the 10th century, Rome went through one conflict after another, and the papacy was continuously being attacked by others who wanted to rule their way.




<strong>Medieval Rome: Campanile di San Marco</strong>

The Commune is Formed

During the 12th century, the papacy is confronted with yet another authority, a commune which was formed by Arnold of Brescia in 1144 through 1155, which threatened to maintain municipal powers over the papacy. The commune was subdued by Emperor Frederick I. A republic was formed under papal patronage, and a senator was elected, however, strife continued.
During the 13th century, Rome began electing foreign senators. In 1309 through 1378, Rome became a desperate place due to the Babylonian captivity of the popes at Avignon. A heroic man by the name of Cola di Rienzi became a hero of the people as a result of his efforts to re-establish Rome institutions, and was made tribune in 1347.

Restoration of Papal Authority

The Great Schism during 1378 through 1417 interrupted efforts made by Cardinal Albornoz to restore the papal authority in Rome, and a republic was formed once again.
The real dominion of the popes of Rome began in 1420 with the rule of Martin V, and in 1453, the republic had finally lost all influence. Thus, began the Reformation of Rome, which led into the Renaissance period that plays such a vital role in Rome's history.

Written by Candice Pardue


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Tuesday, September 13TH, 2011 by Guest

this helped me alot on my geography homework thnx person

Sunday, January 22TH, 2012 by Guest

Rome during the Middle Ages? Did anyone ever wonder why there is so little history about Rome during the Middle Ages? Is it because the history we are taught as history of Rome regarding the emperors or the fall of Rome really took place during the Renaissance and not 1000 years before? The Time-line was pushed back to add extra lineage to the nobles who ruled Britain and France after the real fall of Rome sometime in the 1300's A.D. The Bayeux Tapestry isn't as old as originally thought. It appears it was created during the Renaissance, not the 11th century. How is that possible? Well it's possible if William the Conqueror didn't conquer England until 1366 A.D. The time line was pushed back to make it appear that the Normans had many descendants who were Kings of England. The world history we know it happened, but it has been re-arranged.

Sunday, January 22TH, 2012 by Guest

Another thing that's interesting to note is that the first references to knitting were first written in 1455 A.D. But what about the Bayeux Tapestry? Wasn't it knitted in the 11th century? No! It was most likely knitted in the Renaissance. There is also a reference to a battle in Normandy France during the 15th century in the general history of England, a duke called William was involved this battle. It also mentions that a war between France and England was fought, called the 100 years war. So what does this have to do with Rome? Well according to our current references to world history, Constantinople fell in 1453 .A.D. Rome also experienced a fall during this time which suggests the real fall of Rome may have happened in 1453 A.D. and the events mentioned in the Bible may have happened in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and not 1000 years before.