A Short History of Florence by Franco Cardini

By Franco Cardini

L'autore ricerca i 'caratteri originali' della grande città d'arte attraverso un viaggio nel suo passato, dalle origini ai tempi della florentina libertas, dai fasti del Principato mediceo e asburgo-lorenese, in line with giungere alla Firenze del XX secolo con i suoi problemi e le sue crisi, ma anche con los angeles sua carica inventiva e l. a. sua spinta al rinnovamento. Il volumea ha lo scopo di cogliere in pochi, forti tratti della città, di rivisitare il passato alla luce del presente according to comprendere i caratteri originali.

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In the same way, as the castles were conquered and destroyed, the knightly families that owned them were obliged to become townspeople and live, for at least some months of the year, within what Dante called “the ancient circle”. Many ironical comments have been made on Dante’s nostalgic memories of the Florence of that time, all sobriety and modesty. It is said that that sobriety was chiefly abject poverty, and that modesty first and foremost coarseness. Furthermore, it is asserted that the reactionary and factious Alighieri pretended to forget (and perhaps really was not entirely aware) that the Florence of that time “lived in peace” only up to a certain point.

The other side of the coin is the objective difficulty of collective government, and therefore a continual tension that bursts out from time to time in episodes of violence. Florence became a continual battlefield as a result of the use of arms, the existence in the city of belligerent buildings (the case-torri) inspired by the families’ warlike past in the country, and the privilege of the right to carry on feuds, which set off a spiral of revenge until the entire ruling class was involved. What was at stake was power, and more immediately the mastery of one family by another.

From the fact that the podestà had to be a knight and possess both military ability and knowledge of the law (which could be acquired at the University of Bologna, attended by the sons of the great aristocratic families) it was clear that he had to belong to some noble house. The first podestà of Florence of whom we know anything was Gualfredotto da Milano, in 1207. In the meantime something of the first importance happened: the social classes made up of shopkeepers and manufacturers, who in the traditions of the city were to become known as the (people), made their appearance on the scene.

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