MARS 1F90 Lecture Notes - Ciompi Revolt, Marsilio Ficino, Fra Angelico
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Winter Term (2011)
Lecture 2: Florence in the Renaissance
In this lecture, we will try to explain how the city of Florence became the center of
the Italian Renaissance. We will pay some attention to its geography, before going
on to the city’s economic and political life which played such a crucial role in
making the Renaissance possible.
a. In many respects Florence was the Renaissance
b. The city’s standard of living by the 1400’s
+ the citizens were enjoying standards of living that were unequal in
c. The importance of the woolen industry
+ Became wealthy from industry, and focused only on refining the
woolen cloth to make it into textiles. It encouraged the city to be a city
of inquiry, people began to think from making money, and wanted to
d. The city’s intellectual achievement between 14th and 16th centuries
+ New ideas and artistic culture to give Florence a leading edge in the
Renaissance. This was originally stunted by the church . They
encouraged their great thinkers for culture instead of advancements.
( From the economic revival came competition.)
e. The great names associated with the city: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio,
and Machiavelli (literature); Giotto, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, and
Leonardo da Vinci (painting); Donatello, Michelangelo, and Cellini
(sculpture); Marsilio Ficino (philosophy).
+ either born in Florence or associated with it
f. The city’s banks and the Medici
+Medici (Bank) well known
2. Why did Florence become the leading city of the Renaissance?
a. The city’s geography
i. Built close to water (the Arno)
+Became so big it went across the water, bridges were needed.
ii. The city in the 12th century
iii. The addition of bridges, including the Ponte Vecchio
b. The role of the woolen industry and the banks in the city’s economic
life ( They obtained all their money from banks and the woolen
i. More than 200 factories by 1338
ii. The wool merchants belonged to one of the seven most
important guilds (wielded enormous influence but not power)
c. Florence’s political system
i. The nobility was still in control of the government by the end of
the 13th century (Got their money from having peasants work
+Woolen cloth manufacturers were the most powerful group in
Florence, but had no politcal power.
ii. The conflict between the Guelfs (support the Holy Roman
1. The Guelfs and the Ghibellines ( supported the Emperor
because he was going to support them) in Florence
2. The Guelfs’ reward for supporting the papacy (supported
because the expected a reward from the pope and for
+The Guelf's won, and received the Pope's business - all
finical transactions of the papacy.
iii. Brewing discontent among the wealthy merchants of Florence
(supported the Guelf's but became more unhappy as time
passed, believed that they were the ones who made Florence