I have to do background research on the government during the time period of Romeo and Juliet in which it takes place.  Not sure how to get started.  Would this be the government for the...

I have to do background research on the government during the time period of Romeo and Juliet in which it takes place.  Not sure how to get started.  Would this be the government for the Elizabethan era?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona, Italy, during the fourteenth century, and, interestingly, Juliet's three-story house (a true sign of wealth) remains there as a tourist site not far from Verona's coliseum (which is in far better shape than the Roman one).

During this time Italy's government was completely different from that of feudal Europe. Perhaps because of the previous establishments of certain earlier Etruscan and Roman towns within the Roman empire, many areas of Italy. One historian writes,

The republican institutions of Rome had also survived. Some feudal lords existed with a servile labor force and huge tracts of land, but by the 11th century, many cities, including Venice, Milan, Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Verona,...and others, had become large trading metropolises, able to conquer independence from their formal sovereigns. 

Because of its rugged frontiers with the Alps, Northern Italy survived attacks from the German Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. As a result, the Lombard League, an alliance formed of city-states which included Verona, was formed. These city-states were controlled by wealthy families such as the lords Montague and Capulet, who acquired their fortunes through trade and other conquests. In the 1400's, which was during the Renaissance, the ruling princes of a number of other cities such as the Medici or Florence, grew extremely rich and powerful through trade. Very competitive with other city-states, the governments ruled themselves with a prince such as Escalus and the various lords and often warred with other states.

This type of Italian government differs greatly from the sixteenth-century Elizabethan England that was a monarchy. Queen Elizabeth ruled the entire country with divisions of national (monarch, Privy Council, and Parliament), regional (the Councils of the North and Marches, regional administrative bodies), and community bodies (local governments and courts).

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