Medieval Times In Europe, Why Was Italy So Important?

Medieval times saw Europe experience big upheavals, including the defeat of the Roman Empire, the Renaissance Movement, and the Discovery age.

Termed as the Dark Age, implying the gloomy, dark and foreboding nature of the Renaissance period marked by barbarism and violence, Europe underwent a big transformation during this period.

The period is also called as cradle of modern age as the present democratic and industrialization concepts took root during this period which was seeped in feudalism.

Italy, because of its geographical position between the European countries and Middle East Asia and being the main power player in Roman Empire, played a crucial role in the main happenings during the medieval period.

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Italy In Medieval Times

Italy’s role in medieval history was very significant due to several important happenings that occurred during the period. The medieval time ranges from 5th century to 15th century. Here are a few of those changes of historical importance:

Fall of Roman Empire
  • As the seat of Roman Empire, Italy was under attack by Visigoths in 410 AD. during which time the Romans were defeated. This brought an end to several centuries of Roman supremacy. .
  • After collapse of Roman empire, Italy was overrun by several barbarian tribes leading to development of feudal society.
  • During the 6th and 7th century the peripheries of European provinces changed, and the continent grew into Latin speaking and Christian provinces rule by Germanic kingdoms. However, Spain was seized by Muslims in 8th century and it took several more centuries to regain it from their clutches.
Venice was formed
  • Amidst barbarian invasion, Venice was formed, and the Christian Church emerged as a chief influence in medieval Europe. Latin continued to be the official language spoken by the Church. Italy gained prominence via religious power and also due to its strategic location along vital trade routes.
  • Unlike the Western Roman Empire covering most of France, Spain Italy, Portugal and North Africa, the Eastern Roman empire which covered Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Balkans, Greece and Palestine was under Roman rule but named as Byzantine Empire after the fall of Roman Empire in the west.
  • Tuscany in 13th century saw immense growth economically and politically and soon other Italian cities built massive cathedrals and other buildings. The new Roman architecture, increased hold of theocratic power and the artistic rebellion triggered the Renaissance movement.

Significant Role Of Italy In Medieval Europe

There are three important reasons why Italy played a vital role in Renaissance. These include:

1. Being the central influence of Roman Empire, Italy served as the birthplace of renaissance in the wake of the defeat of Roman Empire by barbarians

Italy served as the birthplace of renaissance 

2. The strategic location of Italy in the Mediterranean region between Europe and Middle East made it an influential power. Most of the Renaissance ideas originated from the Roman and Greek texts preserved in the Muslim countries brought to Italy by the traders.

3. The Catholic Church originated in Italy. It is considered as the ruling power for all educated European population. The church focused in amassing huge amount of wealth as well as power resulting in fueling the Renaissance movement in Italy.


Italy was instrumental in the emergence of the Renaissance era in medieval Europe. Its location as one of the major trade routes in the Mediterranean region and being the heartland of Roman Empire gave Italy the impetus to wield great control over the changing dynamics in Europe. From the 12th century to the end of medieval times, through war, epidemics, and economic turmoil, Italy managed to reign supreme in terms of trade, art, architecture, religion, and culture, thus resulting in its impactful influence over Europe.

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