- History of Florence
Florencewas founded in 59 BCE as a settlement for former soldiers and was named Florentia, allotted by Julius Caesarto his veterans in the rich farming valley of the Arno. The city was built in the style of a military camp with a castrumin a chessboard pattern and the main streets, the "cardo" and the "decumanus", intersecting at the present "Piazza della Repubblica", which can still be seen in the city center. Florentia was situated at the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the North, which position enabled it to rapidly expand as a commercial center. Emperor Diocletianusmade Florentia capital of the province of Tusciain the 3rd century CE.
St Minias was Florence’s first
martyr. He was beheaded at about 250 CE, during the anti-Christian persecutions of the Emperor Decius. The Basilica di San Miniato al Montenow stands near the spot.
While visiting the ruins of Rome during the jubilee celebration in 1300, the banker and chronicler
Giovanni Villani(c. 1276–1348) noted the well-known history of the city, its monuments and achievements, and was then inspired to write a universal historyof his own city of Florence. Hence he began to record—in year-by-year format—the history of Florence in his " Nuova Cronica", which was continued by his brother and nephew after he succumbed to the Black Deathin 1348. Villani is praised by historians for preserving valuable information on statistics, biographies, and even events taken place throughout Europe, but his work has also drawn criticism by historians for its many inaccuracies, use of the supernatural and divine providenceto explain the outcome of events, and glorification of Florence and the papacy.
Early medieval Florence
The seat of a bishopric from around the beginning of the 4th century CE, the city was alternatingly under Byzantine and
Ostrogothicrule as the two powers fought each other for control of the city, taking it by siege only to lose it again later. The fighting over the city may have caused the population to have sunk to as few as 1,000 people.
Peace returned under Lombard rule in the 6th century. Conquered by
Charlemagnein 774, Florence became part of the Margraviate of Tuscany, which had Luccaas its capital. The population began to grow again and commerce prospered. In 854 Florence and Fiesolewere united in one county.
Margrave Hugo chose Florence as his residence instead of Lucca at about 1000 CE. This initiated the Golden Age of Florentine art. In 1013 the construction was begun of the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte. The exterior of the baptistry was reworked in Romanesque style between 1059 and 1128.
Reviving from the 10th century and governed from 1115 by an autonomous commune, the city was plunged into internal strife by the 13th-century struggle between the
Ghibellines, supporters of the German emperor, and the pro-Papal Guelphs, after the murder of Buondelmonte from the Amideifor his missed promise to marry one from the Amideifamily. In 1257 the city was ruled by a " podestà", the Guelph Luca Grimaldi. The Guelphs had triumphed and soon split in turn into feuding "White" and "Black" factions led respectively by Vieri de' Cerchiand Corso Donati. These struggles eventually led to the exile of the White Guelphs, one of whom was Dante Alighieri. This factional strife was later recorded by Dino Compagni, a White Guelph, in his " Chronicles of Florence".
Political conflict did not, however, prevent the city's rise to become one of the most powerful and prosperous in Europe, assisted by her own strong gold currency. The "fiorino d'oro" of the Republic of Florence, or florin, was introduced in 1252, the first European gold coin struck in sufficient quantities to play a significant commercial role since the seventh century. Many Florentine banks had branches across Europe, with able bankers and merchants such as the famous chronicler
Giovanni Villaniof the Peruzzi Company engaging in commercial transactions as far away as Bruges. The florin quickly became the dominant trade coin of Western Europe, replacing silver bars in multiples of the mark. This period also saw the eclipse of Florence's formerly powerful rival Pisa, which was defeated by Genoain 1284 and subjugated by Florence in 1406 [http://www.florence-italy-guide.com/] . Power shifted from the aristocracy to the mercantile elite and members of organized guilds after an anti-aristocratic movement, led by Giano della Bella, enacted the Ordinances of Justicein 1293.
Of a population estimated at 80,000 before the
Black Deathof 1348, about 25,000 are said to have been supported by the city's woolen industry: in 1345 Florence was the scene of an attempted strike by wool combers ("ciompi"), who in 1378 rose up in a brief revolt against oligarchic rule in the Revolt of the Ciompi. After their suppression, the city came under the sway (1382-1434) of the Albizzifamily, bitter rivals of the Medici. Cosimo de' Mediciwas the first Medici family member to essentially control the city from behind the scenes. Although the city was technically a democracy of sorts, his power came from a vast patronagenetwork along with his alliance to the new immigrants, the gente nuova. The fact that the Medici were bankers to the pope also contributed to their rise. Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero, who was shortly thereafter succeeded by Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo in 1469. Lorenzo was a great patron of the arts, commissioning works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinciand Botticelli.
After Lorenzo's death in 1492 and his son Piero's exile in 1494, the first period of Medici rule ended with the restoration of a republican government, influenced until his execution (1498) by the teachings of the radical Dominican prior
Girolamo Savonarola, whose monomaniacal persecution of the widespread Florentine sodomy and of other worldly pleasures foreshadowed many of the wider religious controversies of the following centuries. However, in due time, Savonarola lost support and was burned at the stake.
A second individual of unusual insight was
Niccolò Machiavelli, whose prescriptions for Florence's regeneration under strong leadership have often been seen as a legitimization of political expediency and even malpractice. Commissioned by the Medici, Machiavelli wrote the Florentine Histories, the history of the city. However, Machiavelli was actually tortured and exiled from Florence by the Medici family and the Pope under the pretense of sedition due to his ties to the previous democratic government of Florence and the fact that his work threatened to expose the true nature of their power base and they wished to discredit him. The Florentines drove out the Medici for a second time and re-established a republicon May 16, 1527. Restored twice with the support of both Emperor and Pope, the Medici in 1537 became hereditary dukes of Florence, and in 1569 they became the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, ruling for two centuries. Only the Republic of Lucca(later a Duchy) was independent from Florence in all Tuscany.
There was also a darker side to the Renaissance of Florence. Mobs were both common and influential. Families were pitted against each other in a constant struggle for power. Politically, double-crossings and betrayals were not uncommon, sometimes even within families.
Florence and the Renaissance
The surge in artistic, literary, and scientific investigation that occurred in Florence in the 14th-16th centuries was precipitated by Florentines' preoccupation with money, banking and trade and with the display of wealth and leisure.
Added to this, the crises of the
Catholicchurch (especially the controversy over the French Avignon Papacyand the Great Schism) along with the catastrophic effects of the Black Deathwere to lead to a re-evaluation of medievalvalues, resultant in the development of a humanist culture, stimulated by the works of Petrarchand Boccaccio. This prompted a revisitation and study of the classical antiquity, leading to the Renaissance. Florence benefited materially and culturally from this sea-change in social consciousness.
Early modern Florence
The extinction of the Medici line and the accession in 1737 of Francis Stephen, duke of Lorraine and husband of Maria Theresa of Austria, led to Tuscany's inclusion in the territories of the
Austrian crown. Austrian rule was to end in defeat at the hands of France and the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1859, and Tuscany became a province of the united kingdom of Italyin 1861.
Florence and United Italy
Florence replaced Turin as Italy's capital in 1865, hosting the country's first parliament, but was superseded by
Romesix years later following its addition to the kingdom.
Florence in the 20th century
After doubling during the 19th century, Florence's population tripled in the 20th with the growth of tourism, trade, financial services and industry. During
World War IIthe city experienced a year-long German occupation (1943-1944). During the German retreat, Florence was declared an " open city" avoiding major war damage. The Allied soldiers who died driving the Germans from Tuscany are buried in cemeteries outside the city (Americans about 9 kilometers (6 miles) south of the city [http://www.asgdd.it//amevceme.htm] , British and Commonwealth soldiers a few kilometers east of the center on the north bank of the Arno [http://www.veteransagency.mod.uk/remembrance/remembrance_cwgc6.htm] )
November 4 1966the Arno flooded parts of the centre, killing at least 40 and damaging millions of art treasures and rare books. There was no warning from the authorities who knew the flood was coming, except a phone call to the jewellers on the Ponte Vecchio. Volunteers from around the world came to help rescue the books and art, and the effort inspired multiple new methods of art conservation. Forty years later, there are still works awaiting restoration. [cite journal | author = Alison McLean | year = 2006 | month = November | title = This Month in History | journal = Smithsonian | volume = 37 | issue = 8 | pages = 34 ]
War of the Eight Saints
Niccolò Machiavelli, "History of Florence".
*Hibbert, Christopher, "Florence: The Biography of a City", Penguin Books, 1994. ISBN 0-14-016644-0
Linda Proud's trilogy of novels beginning with "A Tabernacle for the Sun" gives an excellent introduction to Renaissance Florence, its culture, history and philosophy. http://www.lindaproud.com/
*Eve Borsook, "Companion Guide to Florence", is a very in-depth guide to the city and the history of its districts and buildings.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Florence — • Located in the province of Tuscany (Central Italy) Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Florence Florence † … Catholic encyclopedia
Florence — Firenze and Florentine redirect here. For other uses, see Florentin, Florentine (disambiguation), Florence (disambiguation) or Firenze (disambiguation). Florence Firenze Comune … Wikipedia
Florence — /flawr euhns, flor /, n. 1. Italian, Firenze. a city in central Italy, on the Arno River: capital of the former grand duchy of Tuscany. 464,425. 2. a city in NW Alabama, on the Tennessee River. 37,029. 3. a city in E South Carolina. 30,062. 4. a… … Universalium
Florence, South Carolina — Infobox Settlement official name = Florence, South Carolina settlement type = City nickname = Formal: The Magic City, Informal: Flo Town, FLO website = http://www.cityofflorence.com/ imagesize = image caption = mapsize = 250px map caption =… … Wikipedia
Florence Baptistry — The Florence Baptistry or Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery of St. John) is a religious building in Florence (Tuscany), Italy, which has the status of a minor basilica. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1059 and… … Wikipedia
Florence, Kentucky — Infobox Settlement official name = Florence, Kentucky settlement type = City nickname = motto = imagesize = image caption = image mapsize = 250px map caption = Location of Florence, Kentucky mapsize1 = map caption1 = subdivision type = Country… … Wikipedia
Florence — The history of Florence begins with the settlements of the Etruscans whose remains can still be found in the region. In 59 BCE, Julius Caesar gave the land of Florentia to his retired soldiers who, thanks to its primordial location near the… … Dictionary of Renaissance art
Florence Nightingale — Born 12 May 1820(1820 05 12) Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany Died … Wikipedia
Florence, Nebraska — Florence is a neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska on the city s north end and originally one of the oldest cities in Nebraska. It was incorporated by the Nebraska Territorial Legislature on March 10, 1857. The site of Winter Quarters for Mormon… … Wikipedia
Florence Boulevard — Location: Omaha South end: North 19th and Chicago Streets North end: J.J. Pershing Drive Florence Boulevard, originally known as the Prettiest Mile in Omaha Boulevard, is a … Wikipedia