A history of Verona, by A. M. Allen. Edited by Edward Armstrong, with twenty illustrations and three maps. Page: 57 of 493
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THE SELF-GOVERNING COMMUNE 39
utes of 1228, then, give no idea of the important position which
the Arts occupied in Verona at the end of the twelfth century,
nor of the preponderating influence of the Merchants over the
rest To learn that we must turn to other contemporary documents.
From very early times the House of Merchants seems
to have established what can only be described as an autocracy
over the other Arts, keeping them in the strictest subjection to
itself, yet acting in many ways as their representative, and thus
welding all the commercial and economic interests of the city
into a coherent whole, which not merely succeeded in becoming
almost completely independent of any other authority, but
at one time seemed as though it might absorb the supreme
power in the state into its own hands. The evolution of the
Art of the Merchants coincided with the rise of the Commune,
and both are well illustrated by various documents of the twelfth
century connected with commerce, including the treaties made
between Verona and neighbouring cities. The earliest of
these, that concluded with Venice in IIo7,1 regulated the dues
to be paid by the merchants of one city on entering the territory
of the other. The duty on nearly all merchandise was fixed
at twelve pence (denarii) for every ten hundredweights, but
leather paid twopence a bale, while cloth, gold, silver and coins
were imported free. Every vessel, large or small, paid a fixed
toll of twenty-four pence, called ripaticum. Curiously enough,
there is no mention of salt, which was later to become so important,
both commercially and politically.
The rapid growth of commerce led in the latter part of the
twelfth century to an attempt to tabulate all duties on imports
and exports entering the city of Verona, a task which, though
actually carried out by the officials of the Commune, was
doubtless instigated by the Art of Merchants. The aim of
this tabulation was not so much to simplify the very complicated
system then obtaining, as to discover what the existing duties
actually were, so as to prevent illegal exactions, and the imposition
of new tolls. The resulting report is confused and involved
beyond words, but the whole affair affords a striking example
of how unwritten custom became written law. To begin with,
1 Video suPra, p. 25.
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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/m1/57/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .