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Romeo and Juliet is known to be set in Verona during the years of 1301 to 1304. At this time, Verona was ruled by Bartolomeo I della Scala, who is referred to as the Prince in the play. During his reign, Bartolomeo I tried to appease factions in Verona, known as the Guelphs and Ghibellines. The Guelphs were a family of wealthy mercantile Dukes who supported the governance of the Pope, feeling that that the Holy Roman Empire would inhibit their wealth. On the other hand, the Ghibellines' wealth was based on agricultural estates. They also came from smaller city states that felt threatened by the increase of the Papal States, therefore, they supported the Roman Empire.
Shakespeare captured this raging political family war through his characters the Montagues and the Capulets, and Verona served as an ideal setting to capture the consequences of such a long suffering dispute. Due to the factions in Verona, though Italy is known to be a romantic country, any love affair set during this time period would be doomed to failure. The love affair would be especially doomed to failure if the members of the couple belonged to opposing factions.
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