A history of Verona, by A. M. Allen. Edited by Edward Armstrong, with twenty illustrations and three maps. Page: 63 of 493
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THE SELF-GOVERNING COMMUNE 45
other with a deadly hatred. These divisions must not be
confounded with the great cleavage between the opponents and
the partisans of the Empire, which for centuries turned North
Italy into two armed camps. Naturally the local parties took
opposite sides in the wider dispute, but this did not always
happen, and in no case did the local quarrels originate in the
struggle between Guelph and Ghibelline. They invariably arose
from some temporary dispute, often of so puerile a nature that
it can only be regarded as the pretext, and not the source, of
the bitter enmity of the citizens. The real cause lay deeper,
and is perhaps to be found in the exuberant vitality of the
mediaeval Italian city-dweller. Once the more pressing dangers
from without had been removed, especially the menace from
the Imperial claims, once the cities had won their way to a
certain pitch of prosperity and security, it seemed as though
their inhabitants could find no vent for their energies save
in making war on other towns, or their fellow citizens.
The earliest recorded example of party-strife at Verona
occurred in the spring of I206, when severe fighting took
place between two rival factions, the party of the Montecchi
and that of the Counts of S. Bonifacio. The Counts of
S. Bonifacio were, it will be remembered, descended from
Egelric, nephew of the Milo who was Count of Verona in
930, and at this time they were the most powerful nobles in
Verona and its district. The origin of the title of their opponents
is unknown. Though Shakespeare has immortalized
the name in " Romeo and Juliet" under the form of Montagu,
no family called Montecchi ever lived at Verona. It is more
probable that the leaders of the party came in the first instance
from Montecchio, a hill-fortress in the Vicentine district. Once
party-spirit had been introduced into Verona, it spread like
wild-fire, and every citizen speedily enrolled himself under one
or other of the opposing standards. Even the Podestiship,
which had originally been instituted with the object of securing
impartiality, was turned to party ends, being held by the leader
of whichever faction happened to be in power, or given to
one of his tools. The days of impartial government, and true
patriotism, if they had ever existed, were over and done with.
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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/m1/63/: accessed August 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .