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Frederick Barbarossa wished to remedy these evils, and in 1158 obliged Milan to swear allegiance to him and to receive an imperial podestà.
The archbishop then caused himself to be proclaimed perpetual lord, thus putting an end to the Republic of Milan and founding the power of the Visconti, which aimed at the conquest of the entire peninsula, though its real domain was limited by the Alps, the river Sesia, and the Po, while the east extended as far as Brescia, conquered in 1337.
Though the struggle continued, a noble, Lanzano, and no longer Ariberto, headed the popular party.
Finally, nobles and burghers entered into compacts, and this intermingling of the classes brought the commune into existence.
The battle of Legnano (1176) secured their rights to the Lombard cities, and to Milan its consular government; but on many occasions the authority of a foreign podestà was substituted for the native consuls.
The long period of peace was favourable to agriculture (greatly furthered by the Cistercians ), also to the wool and the silk industries, in the former of which, throughout Milanese territory, 60,000 men were employed, while the silk industry supported 40,000 persons.