Commune of Rome

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the medieval commune. For the present comune, see Rome.
Commune of Rome
Comune di Roma
Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg
1144–1193 Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg


Capital Rome
Languages Italian
Government Republic
Historical era Medieval
 •  Established 1144
 •  Disestablished 1193

The Commune of Rome (Italian: Comune di Roma) was an attempt to establish a government like the old Roman Republic in opposition to the temporal power of the higher nobles and the popes beginning in 1144. The revolutionaries set up a senate on the lines of the ancient one and divided Rome into fourteen regions, each electing four senators for a total of 56 (though one source,[which?] often repeated, gives a total of 50). These senators, the first real senators since the 7th century (the senatorial title had become a meaningless adjunct title of nobility by then), elected as their leader Giordano Pierleoni, son of the Roman consul Pier Leoni with the title patrician, because consul was also a deprecated noble styling.

In a pattern that was to become familiar in the communal struggles of Guelfs and Ghibellines, the commune declared allegiance to the more distant power, in this case the Holy Roman Emperor, and initiated negotiations with the newly elected Pope Lucius II, demanding that he renounce temporal power and take up his office with the functions of a priest.

Lucius gathered a force and assaulted the Eternal City, but the republican defenders repulsed his army and he himself died from injuries received when a thrown stone hit him in the head.

His successor, Pope Eugene III, could not be consecrated in the city due to the resistance, but eventually came to an agreement with the new civil authority, who had deposed Pierleoni, and returned to Rome on Christmas Day 1145; however, in March 1146 he again had to leave.

He returned in 1148 and excommunicated Arnold of Brescia, a political theorist who had joined the commune and who was by then its intellectual leader.

The Pope lived in Tusculum from 1149 and was not installed as pope in Rome until 1152. The existence of the Republic was precarious, however, and Eugene's successor, Adrian IV, convinced Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to lead an army against the city. Arnold was arrested, tried, convicted, and hanged, in 1155. His body was burnt and the ashes cast into the Tiber.

In 1188, shortly after his accession, Pope Clement III succeeded in allaying the half-century old conflict between the popes and the citizens of Rome with the Concord Pact, by which the citizens were allowed to elect their magistrates with power of war and peace, the Prefect was named by the Emperor and the Pope had the sovereign rights over his territories.

From 1191 to 1193, under a radical reduction of the number of senators to a single one, the city was ruled by a certain Benedetto called Carus homo (carissimo) as summus senator, and Rome had the first municipal statute.

After this, though the city was again under papal control, the civil government was never again directly in the hands of the higher nobles or the papacy.

A later attempt to restore a Republican form of government in Rome is associated with the revolutionary leader Cola di Rienzo.


See also[edit]