RIMINI the history, the municipality, the signories of the Malatesta
The accession and rule of the Signory of Rimini
Welcome to the gateway to the story of part of the history of the municipality of Rimini created with the collaboration of Marco Malatesta
Throughout the course of the XII century the conflict between the factions and the city’s familiescontinued to worsen, severely damaging economic growth and the normal progress of commercial business. The Comune tried to contain the conflict between the governing bodies seeking help from the podesta,’ ( from L. potestas authority, power), who had to, at the same time, both maintain order inside the city and protect it against external attack.
In order to guarantee his impartiality he had to be someone not of the city, “a foreigner”: he was chosen from the knights who went about the city so that they could be chosen to occupy this office, so much so that for many noble families the position of podesta’ (or captain of the people) had become a truly authentic profession. The appointment lasted from six months to two years.
It was through progressive control of comunal offices, beginning with the office of the podesta’, that the future ruling families emerged from the conflicts of the factions. Documental sources show that in all of the cities in the Romagna there was a process of progressive occupation of the comune institutions on the part of the patrician families of the city. The comunal statutes did not delay in sanctioning this: among the conditions of eligibility in the general council were in fact nobilityand land ownership. Therefore the nobility did not oppose the municipal institutions, but rather used them to empower themselves.
Everywhere the signory availed itself when appointments of government, instead of being short term became several years long or even life-long, and were even transmissible to other members of the same family. This came about formally through a representative of the civic offices, followed by an imperial legitimization or, in lands controlled by the Church, by the Pope, by means of the concession of the vicarship.The city signorytransformed itself from extraordinary expedient to “State” and the signory took on a role akin to kingship, with their own army, castles, and court. Throughout the east the birth ofthe State was the result of growing centralism and new political and military professionism.
The affirmation of the Signory in this way represented the final and natural development of the Comune: the only change was that a restricted oligarchy was substituted by that of a single family. As to the despotic form of this rule, it should be remembered thatthe independent Comunes were notdestined to ensure democratic liberty, but to defend local autonomy against the powers – the Empire and the Church – animated by universalistic aspirations. In this period “libertas”did not signify “democratic liberty”, but “parochialism”.