Excerpt from Studies of Modern Mind Character at Several European Epochs The sixteenth century in Italy was an age Of transition from spirited if ill - organised autonomy to a dull level Of Spiritual and secular despotism. It presents the spectacle of a country foremost in the Opening of the march Of modern civilisation suddenly finding itself the helpless Object of rival' rapacity to ruder but stronger states its leading men, Whose minds and characters had been formed in the liberal school of world-wide Commerce and uncontrolled self-government, suddenly compelled to transfer their political activity, if they were still bent on exerting it, from the councils Of their country to the courts and cabinets of overbearing native or foreign princes.
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