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Florence in the Renaissance LEC 2

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Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Andre Basson

1 MARS 1F90 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. 1. Introduction 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 Europe. 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 experiment. th th d. The city’s intellectual achievement between 14 and 16 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.) 2 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 12 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 industry) i. More than 200 factories by 1338 3 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 nobthity was still in control of the government by the end of the 13 century (Got their money from having peasants work the land) +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 Empire) 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 help) +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 4 wealthy, nobility was holding things back not encouraging discovery) iv. Lawlessness and disorder + constant fighting between the classes going through generations. v. The wealthy merchants take control of the government by the end of the 13 century vi. Executive power ends up in the hands of the 7 major guilds + only represented the higher up version of the merchant class) promoted the culture for the Renaissance; your status in society did not completely depend on birth but depended on merit. th vii. The bubonic plague and economic troubles (middle of the 14 century) + loses about half the population, created a lack of demand, banks collapse. viii. Political stability and the economy + political stability had to save the unstable economy, and eventually flourish. (1350's) ix. Attitudes toward the arts and literature 5 + Everyone would invest in arts and literature, because they were proud of their city and believed their city was the greatest. using these great works of art, would beautiful it and make it greater. x. Florence was a city state with a republican form of government but in actual fact ruled by an oligarchy - ran like a city state. 1. The role of the seven major guilds- ran the city Florence, not like a republic with everyone having a free vote. 2. The nobility effectively excluded from government +the right to hold office paid taxes, owned property and belonged to a guild could be in office, had to be a male citizen. 3. Since 1293, every male citizen had to belong to a guild or arte 4. The Signoria was the principal executive body [the council] 5. The role of the nobility in the city’s government after the 13 century 6 + were allowed to marry with the merchant class, and still managed to play a role in government and went into business with the merchants as well. ( used contacts) 6. The podestà - none Florentine to be a podesta, chief of police. So he wouldn't be bias he couldn't be connected. xi. The Ciompi revolt (1378) 1. Who were the ciompi? + the factory workers who did the low end job - unqualified- forbidden by law to have a guild. [ 7 major guilds and 14 lesser guilds] 2. Popular uprisings in Florence at the time Lack of guilds brought uprisings 3. The demands of the Ciompi + became successful and created two guilds with support of other guilds [16 guilds] they managed to overthrow the
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