Absent, therefore, the pontiff from Italy, he tried to be strongly present leaning on the king of Naples, and thus to face the adverse forces who were now no longer the emperor but the lords, those of the state of the Church and those of the Valley Padana. They were now marching at a good pace. The first generation of lords had disappeared. Now, Visconti in Milan, Scaligeri in Verona, Bonaccolsi in Mantua, other minors. The Visconti of Milan emerge, thanks to the great city and thanks to them, the founder Archbishop Ottone, the great Matteo who, from afar, presented himself, especially in the eyes of the suspicious Florentines, almost like a “king of Lombardy” (Villani ). Below him, in various ways, beyond Milan, are Alessandria, Piacenza, Lodi, Bergamo, Pavia, Novara, Como, Vercelli. Not much less than the Visconti, the Scaligeri, who have collected the ideal legacy of Ezzelino and are also based in what was once the main seat of Ezzelino, Verona, a strong city at the mouth of the Val d’Adige, where the great transalpine road crossed with the foothills road between Venice and Milan. Milan, like Verona, was beginning to take shape not as a dominant city but as the capital of a state of several cities and related territories. More and more it manifested itself as the crisis of the municipalities was a crisis of popular orders and of the city state at the same time. But once it affirmed itself even in just one city, the lordship, that is the government of a single one, had more effective means than before the municipal magistrates, to assert itself in other cities and defeat their autonomist spirits.
According to medicinelearners, these new lords had also benefited from the coming of the emperor. Many of them had had the title and office of imperial vicars: something that was now beginning to spread widely, also to the advantage of common survivors and their magistrates. It was the only way for the empire to assert itself a little: to save the law, since the fact was what it was. This tied the concessionaires to the empire, almost all of whom had already emerged from Ghibellinism. The death of Henry VII benefited the lords no less than the descent. The little ones looked for a nearby protector, who would save them; adults and children solidified in the face of the danger of Robert and the pope. Who was not content with raising the king of Naples, but did something else and more. In 1317, two legates of John XXII came to Lombardy to “reform the peace”. They found that the Lombards were all obedient to Matteo Visconti and to him. They felt the conviction expressed that that province would have peace and good only with a king not of a barbaric nation but of his own and legitimate, invested with hereditary power. Despite these findings, the Avignon offensive began: “when the empire vacates, its jurisdiction is devolved to the pope”, he had proclaimed a bull in March, ordering anyone not invested by him to abandon the exercise of the vicariate, under penalty of excommunication. Nobody listened. On the contrary, Cangrande hastened to swear allegiance to Frederick of Austria, aspiring to the empire, in order to be able to enjoy the title of vicar and disprove the papal intervention. Matthew did more: he left, yes, the title, but he was proclaimed by the Milanese “general lord of the city and the district”. Therefore, he had nothing to lay down, he had nothing from the empire.
A long and complicated war began. Pope, Angevins, kings of France, gentlemen. Armies and ecclesiastical weapons. Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto came to Italy as papal legate. The curia aimed as much to oust those lords as to reassert itself in Romagna. The theater of the war was, as already in the century. XII between municipalities and empire, the Po valley and Lombardy. At that time, the communes had stood up to the emperor with the help of the pope; now the lordships face the papacy, making themselves somewhat strong, certainly imperial recognition. Political struggle at the bottom. The Holy See had a great deal to bring the dispute into the religious field: perhaps in good faith. He found no following. The realistic and juridical spirit of the Italians and also, where it was, the refined and more spiritual religious sentiment, of which the art of the time and the Franciscan dissident sects themselves were testimony, they taught to distinguish religion and politics or, better, to mark a border between them different from that marked by the Roman curia. And now, the lawyers in the service of the lords ruled the papal excommunications invalid; the Minorites preached and spread the same, in solidarity with the lords. Yet, this contrast was not purely political.