A history of Verona, by A. M. Allen. Edited by Edward Armstrong, with twenty illustrations and three maps. Page: 41 of 493
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24 A HISTORY OF VERONA
the Mincio was not of much importance, its higher reaches
being too shallow and rapid for navigation, but strategically it
was of great value, for it cut the Lombard plain in two from
Garda to Po, and like the Adige could only be crossed at two
points, Mantua and Peschiera. At Peschiera, accordingly, the
Veronese built a strong castle, the "bello e forte arnese" referred
to by Dante.' Small wonder, then, that with these
natural advantages of position, climate, and fertility of soil
Verona should swiftly have won her way to the first rank
among the cities of the Lombard plain. Indeed had it not
been for the rapid deterioration of the later Scaligeri, she might
possibly have been one of the great powers of Italy in the
fifteenth century, rivalling Venice, Milan, Florence, Naples and
The internal development of the Veronese Commune was
no less rapid than its outward expansion. Contemporary
documents, the earliest collection of statutes, treaties with
other states, law-suits, grants of lands, etc., display the gradual
organisation of a central authority, and the evolution of a
complicated system of justice and administration, while they
throw many an interesting side-light on the social and economic
conditions of the city, and the daily life of the inhabitants.
The picture revealed is of a highly organised society, split up
into few but strongly marked divisions, amongst which the
commercial classes, both merchants and craftsmen, were daily
gaining in importance, a society which adhered tenaciously to
tradition and usage, but in which new needs and aspirations
were constantly arising and necessitating the re-adjustment of
the existing laws and customs.
The Veronese government was naturally evolved on very
much the same lines as those prevailing in neighbouring cities.
The new state took the form of a commonwealth or republic.
The supreme power was originally, in theory at any rate,
vested in all the citizens, who assembled in person to express
their wishes on any matter; but as time went on this large and
Siede Peschicra, bello e forte arnese
Da fronteggiar Bresciani e Bergamaschi,
Ove la riva intorno piO discese. (Inferno, xx. 70-72.)
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Allen, A. M. A history of Verona, by A. M. Allen. Edited by Edward Armstrong, with twenty illustrations and three maps., book, 1910; New York. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1025/m1/41/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .