Commune
   Italian term for the self-governing city-states of late-medieval and early Renaissance Italy. The commune originated as a spontaneous organization of the citizens of an urban community. At its origin, such a commune had no legal status but assumed de facto control of the city and sometimes also control of the surrounding countryside. This development was a result of the struggle between popes and emperors during the 12th and 13th centuries, which brought about the collapse of effective control of northern and central Italy by the emperors or any other external political authority and left the cities practically independent. Although the formation of communes was almost always led by wealthy landowners and merchants, the early communes were organized as republics in which most inhabitants who owned property and belonged to one of the guilds had some political voice. During the 13th century, these informal urban communities came to be more systematically organized as city-republics which might acknowledge some nominal subordination to the emperor, the pope, or some other external authority but in practice were independent republics. From the late 13th to the middle of the 15th century, military threats from outside and internal social conflict caused most of these republics to accept the rule of a signore, or dictator. In the same period, many of the smaller cities of northern and central Italy were conquered by larger ones, so that the northern and central Italy of the communes gave way to medium-sized territorial states. Florence and Venice were the most important of the cities that resisted the tendency toward princely rule and retained their republican form of government through all or most of the Renaissance. The consolidation, rivalries, and wars of these independent states form the political background for the cultural developments of the Italian Renaissance.
   In many respects, the political condition of Italy was similar to the political condition of ancient Greece, in which the independent poleis (city-states) provided the social and political background for the growth of classical Greek civilization. Renaissance Italians did not fail to note this similarity. In particular, living in fully or largely self-governing cities made the Italians regard themselves as citizens rather than subjects. Many of them found in the political and social thought of the ancient Greeks and Romans a set of ideals and values that they attempted to assimilate into their own urban life, a development that some modern historians have labelled "civic humanism." This development helps to explain the attractiveness of Roman and Greek literature, and especially republican political thought, to the political elites of Renaissance Italy.
   See also Humanism.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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  • commune — [ kɔmyn ] n. f. • comugne XIIe; lat. communia, de communis → commun 1 ♦ Anciennt Ville affranchie du joug féodal, et que les bourgeois administraient eux mêmes; corps des bourgeois. ⇒ bourgeoisie (1o), échevinage. La charte d une commune. 2 ♦… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • commune — Commune. s. f. La populace, le commun peuple d une ville, ou d un bourg. La Commune d un tel lieu. la Commune s esmut. la Commune prit les armes. il ne faut pas irriter la Commune. armer la Commune. Les Communes au pluriel, se prend pour les… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Commune — Com*mune (k[o^]m*m[=u]n ), v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Communed} (k[o^]m*m[=u]nd ); p. pr. & vb. n. {Communing}.] [OF. communier, fr. L. communicare to communicate, fr. communis common. See {Common}, and cf. {Communicate}.] 1. To converse together with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Commune — Com mune (k[o^]m m[=u]n), n. [F., fr. commun. See {Common}.] 1. The commonalty; the common people. [Obs.] Chaucer. [1913 Webster] In this struggle to use the technical words of the time of the commune , the general mass of the inhabitants,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • commune — com‧mune [ˈkɒmjuːn ǁ ˈkɑː , kəˈmjuːn] noun [countable] 1. COMMERCE a group of people who live and work together and share what they produce 2. FARMING a group of people who work together on a farm owned by the state, and give what they produce to …   Financial and business terms

  • commune — commune1 [kə myo͞on′; ] for n. [ käm′yo͞on΄] vi. communed, communing [ME communen < OFr comuner, to make common, share < comun (see COMMON); also < OFr communier, to administer the sacrament < L communicare, to share (LL(Ec), to… …   English World dictionary

  • commune — Ⅰ. commune [1] ► NOUN 1) a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities. 2) the smallest French territorial division for administrative purposes. 3) (the Commune) the government elected in Paris in 1871, advocating …   English terms dictionary

  • Commune — Com mune (k[o^]m m[=u]n), n. Communion; sympathetic intercourse or conversation between friends. [1913 Webster] For days of happy commune dead. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • commune — [n] group living together collective, commonage, commonality, community, cooperative, family, kibbutz, municipality, neighborhood, rank and file, village; concept 379 commune [v] communicate, experience with another confer, confide in,… …   New thesaurus

  • Commune — (frz., spr. mühn), s. Kommune …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • commune — index communicate, community, cooperative Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

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