Italy A.D. 1299
Map, as it was defined by Robert D. Kaplan, the spatial representation of humanity’s divisions in his ‘The Revenge of Geography,’ is worth a thousand explanations. In this essence, this particular map should depict the political structure of the Italian states at the end of the thirteenth century.
Equally gravitated between the secular authority of the Holy Roman Emperor and spiritual power of the Church, none of the states barely escaped the effect from the centuries-long rivalry of Investiture Controversy. Noble houses chose either to be Guelphs and Ghibellines to participate in the struggle to advance their own objectives and ambitions. Hundreds of independence-minded free communes which emerged a century or two ago, had been slowly merged or forced to submit or annexed to form the stronger polities. Visconti of Milan, Scaligeri of Verona and House of Esti were in the intiative phase of dominating the neighbouring city-states.
Out of that crowded geopolitical landscape, coastal maritime republics projected power outwards and expanded . Venetian merchant fleet dominated the Adriatic sea while Genoa was replacing Pisa as the principal power on the other side of the peninsula. In contrast to the multitude of polities in the North, the solitary state in the Southern Italy until the War of Sicilian Vespers was the Kingdom of Sicily which following the war, would divide into Aragonese Trinacria and Kingdom of Naples under the rule of Angevins who also controlled the Provence.
By that time, Savoyard House had already embarked on a series of territorial expansions even up to Muten in the north and La Bresse in the west. Meinhard II of Gorizia–Tyrol reigned over the vast area of lands comprised of his inherited County of Tyrol and recently added Carinthia and Carniola.
The State of the Church was yet to assert its full authority over the cities which were well within its claimed sovereignty, as in Perugia which prefered the independence of its own administration and jurisdistion or cities of Romagna in the hands of powerful Condottieri.
To survive through this multi-polar power complex then thrive beyond the survival, intracated diplomatic maneuvering, aggressive military adventurism and pragmatic policy-making were implemented. Though the process of the unification and coalescence of small polities into territorial states had been attempted and initiated in the various forms of the military expansion, personal union and outright annexation, the sense of division, regionalism, factionalism and notion of communal/urban freedom remained to be the dominant force as it would for many centuries to come.