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The Civic World of Early Renaissance Florence

The Civic World of Early Renaissance Florence

Copyright Date: 1977
Pages: 544
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  • Book Info
    The Civic World of Early Renaissance Florence
    Book Description:

    Professor Brucker contends that changes in the social order provide the key to understanding the transition of Florence from a medieval to a Renaissance city. In this book he shows how Florentine politics were transformed from corporate to elitist. He bases his work on a thorough examination of archival material, providing a full socio-political history that extends our knowledge of the Renaissance city-state and its development.

    The author describes the restructuring of the political system, showing first how the corporate entities that comprised the traditional social order had lost cohesiveness after the Black Death. He traces the process of readjustment that began during the guild regime of 1378-1382, and analyzes the impact of foreign affairs. During the crisis years of the Visconti wars the distinctive features emerged of an elitist regime whose vitality was demonstrated following the death of Giangaleazzo Visconti and whose membership and style the author discusses in detail.

    Originally published in 1977.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4785-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    G. B.
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Historiography of Early Renaissance Florence
    (pp. 3-13)

    Florence, the premier city of the Renaissance, has long been a subject of scrutiny by her own prideful citizens, by other Italians, and by admiring foreigners. Most students of the city’s past have felt, with Voltaire, that Florence occupies a central place in the history of Renaissance Italy, of Renaissance Europe, indeed of Western civilization. They have traced the lines of her evolution from a small provincial town in the eleventh century to a city that, by 1300, was one of Europe’s largest and richest. They have studied, too, the political developments that paralleled this demographic and economic growth: the...

  6. CHAPTER I Corporate Values and the Aristocratic Ethos in Trecento Florence
    (pp. 14-59)

    From the beginnings of their documented past, medieval Florentines (like other Italian city-dwellers) had displayed a strong and persistent impulse to band together into associations, and to invest those bodies with a corporate character. They drafted constitutions specifying the rights and obligations of membership; they exacted oaths of fealty; they convened assemblies; they levied dues and services. These organizations gave their members a measure of security in a turbulent world where public authority was weak, and where survival depended upon cooperation and mutual assistance. In addition to providing support, both material and psychic, they performed an important social function by...

  7. CHAPTER II Domestic Politics, 1382–1400
    (pp. 60-101)

    The guild regime fell in January 1382, when one of its leaders, the cloth-shearer Scatizza, informed the Signoria that a prominent citizen and member of the Sixteen, Giovanni Cambi, was plotting to overthrow the government. After investigating these allegations, the priors suspected that Scatizza was himself guilty of defamation, and ordered his imprisonment and interrogation by the captain of thePopolo,Messer Obizzo degli Alidosi. Scatizza’s friends persuaded the Signoria to release him, but the captain refused to obey that order. Giorgio Scali and Tommaso Strozzi then organized a mob which broke into the captain’s palace and rescued Scatizza, whereupon...

  8. CHAPTER III Foreign Affairs: 1382–1402
    (pp. 102-186)

    The primary objective of Florentine diplomacy in the early 1380s was survival. Weakened by internal struggles for power, the regime could not muster the will and the resources to play an influential role in Italian politics. The peninsula was in an unusually chaotic state in these years, for which the republic bore a heavy responsibility. Her campaign against the papacy’s territorial state in central Italy (1375–1378) had destroyed the old Guelf entente that had given some measure of stability to Italian politics, and had also wrecked the military and administrative structure in the Papal States so painstakingly constructed by...

  9. CHAPTER IV Florentine State-Building
    (pp. 187-247)

    Giangaleazzo Visconti’s death was a significant historical event, and it was so recognized by princes and ruling elites throughout the peninsula. The Visconti drive for hegemonv in northern and central Italy had failed; the regents who governed the Milanese state for Giovanni Maria Visconti, the fourteen-year-old heir, were in no position to pursue Giangaleazzo’s territorial ambitions. The critical question being pondered in every Italian chancery was the stability of the state the duke had created. Throughout the autumn and winter months of 1402–1403, observers watched for signs of disintegration, but even in those possessions farthest from Milan—Perugia, Siena,...

  10. CHAPTER V The Florentine Reggimento in 1411
    (pp. 248-318)

    The structure of the Florentine republic in 1411 had not changed significantly since 1382: in its magistracies and councils, in its electoral and legislative processes. But constitutional stability can mask fundamental alterations in political sytems, as Jacopo d’Appiano, the lord of Pisa, suggested in a conversation with two Florentine ambassadors in June 1396. Jacopo had informed the envoys, Benedetto Peruzzi and Salvestro de’ Ricci, that he was concerned about the preservation of Florentine liberty, whose loss, if it came about, would endanger all Tuscany. The Florentine government was friendly to him and to Pisa, he said, except for one citizen,...

  11. CHAPTER VI Crisis, 1411–1414
    (pp. 319-395)

    When the Florentine republic made peace with King Ladislaus in February 1411, her leaders could take credit for successfully resisting the Angevin’s challenge to their Tuscan hegemony as, a decade earlier, they had survived Giangaleazzo Visconti’s assault on their liberty. The conquest of Pisa in 1406 had enlarged her territory by one-fourth, and she had finally gained access to the sea. Internally, the regime was stable. The leaders were united by their common commitment to republican values, and by their sharing of civic rewards. Though resentful of the fiscal burdens and (to a lesser degree) of its loss of power,...

  12. CHAPTER VII The Ordeal of Peace and the Ordeal of War: 1414–1426
    (pp. 396-471)

    In his diary written sometime in the late 1450s, Giovanni Rucellai recalled the years after Ladislaus’ death as a time of exceptional prosperity. “From 1413 to 1423,” he wrote, “we enjoyed a tranquil peace, without any fear; the commune had few expenses for troops, and few taxes were levied, so that the region became wealthy.”¹ As evidence of that prosperity, Rucellai cited the high prices quoted formonteshares, and the two million florins that Florentine merchants possessed as investment capital in 1423.² Scarcely had news of the king’s death reached Florence when Rinaldo Gianfigliazzi spoke of the bright prospects...

  13. CHAPTER VIII The Regime’s Climacteric, 1426–1430
    (pp. 472-508)

    The Venetian alliance may have been Florence’s salvation in her struggle with Filippo Maria Visconti, but it did not lighten the civic mood appreciably, nor did it dampen criticism of the leadership’s conduct of the war.¹ Never have tax inequities been so great, nor have so many quarrels arisen from them, Messer Francesco Viviani observed somberly.² Nicola di Messer Vieri de’ Medici thought (August 1426) that civic discord had reached the highest levels in the regime’s history.³ The citizens were so financially exhausted, and so resentful over their burdens, that they were reluctant to discuss fiscal problems in thepratiche....

  14. Index
    (pp. 509-526)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 527-527)