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Renaissance Florence

Renaissance Florence

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Renaissance Florence

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  1. Renaissance Florence Emma Nicholls Department of History School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies Monash University, Australia 3008

  2. Many thanks to Dr Peter Howard of the History Department at Monash University for his assistance preparing this lecture.

  3. Studying the History of Renaissance Florence matters because Florence: • developed and fostered many of the values we associate with great art and architecture • contributed much to defining Western Civilization • is a favourite tourist destination • all of the above • some other reason

  4. Renaissance Florentines ‘speak’ to us about.... ... what mattered to them: Diaries – Ricordanze (Sources) e.g. … Benedetto Dei … Goro Dati …Giovanni di Pagolo di Bartolomeo di Morello di Giraldo di Ruggieri, ovvero Gualtieri, di Calandro di Benemato d'Albertino de' Morelli

  5. ‘...For this book is not written for any other reason but that it comes out of my desires, that is of me Giovanni .…’ “I will call this book the ‘Thoughts of Giovanni di Pagolo ecetera’”

  6. What mattered? • a male child. • establishing family connections - godparents. • time - that by the beginning of the fifteenth century there was a precise notion of time. • neighbourhood: where he lived: i.e. the little parish of San Jacopo near the great Franciscan Basilica of Santa Croce. • names - how names were given: a relative and the patron saint of the day of birth. So family honour and heavenly patronage in a world where family and patronage made one in life. • the honour of the city and the common good - civic orientation… • access to power: the politics of the government • stress! (the stresses and strains of the merchant’s life). • Morelli aware of his changing world, e.g. that his son needed a different education to prepare himself for it ... Latin! • Florentines of Morelli’s generation were historically aware – the past was a springboard for policy.

  7. This morning, proceed in this order: • Changes and continuities in the organization, distribution and use of power in Renaissance Florence from 1293 to 1513 (crises of late 15th century under Medicean Florence) • Political institutions of Florence • Medicean Florence from 1434 to 1494 • Views of the Florentine political system expressed by contemporary writers and historians such as Bruni and Machiavelli (Very Briefly) • (Area of Study 2)

  8. Doing history: complex…. … hard work of building up an historical culture … A History of Florence 1200-1575 by John M. Najemy (Blackwell, Paperback 2006) Renaissance Florence: A Social History by Roger J. Crum and John T. Paoletti (Editors) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006; Paperback 2007) "IN FLORENCE'S EVOLUTION FROM REPUBLICAN COMMUNE TO Medicean principate, urban spaces were a crucial factor in politics just as politics played a decisive part in..." 

  9. Political contexts and cultural production? • In the historiography: • (1) Jacob Burckhardt: creativity from despotisms • (2) Hans Baron: creativity from republics • P. J. Jones: no real difference (esp. 1997) • Recent Scholarship agrees (substantially) with Jone’s assessment through a re-evaluation of Baron’s notion of “civic” humanism.

  10. Florentine self-conscious sense of difference…. “…the magnificent and loyal commune of Florence…most beautiful in all good things, with fertile soil, and with the richest abundance of fodder, watered by springs and rivers, the mother of philosophers, inventor of ceremonies, mistress of divine worship, glittering light of wisdom, single summit of eloquence, most expert in arms, most prudent in ruling people and in establishing laws, most shrewd in business, and in the arts more ingenious than most… in the arts more ingenious than most.” (from the oration of Archbishop Antoninus of Florence to Pope Calixtus III, as head of the official Florentine delegation, including Cosimo de' Medici, Lorenzo Ridolfi, and Gianozzo Pandolfini, May 1455)

  11. Florence Connection with modernity: ‘…the most important workshop of the Italian and indeed of the European spirit.’ ‘… the city of incessant movement, which has left us the thoughts and aspirations of each and all who, for three centuries, took part in this movement.’ (Jacob Burckhardt, 1860)

  12. 1. Changes and continuities in the organization, distribution and use of power in Renaissance Florence from 1293 to 1513

  13. Physical shape of the city reflects its history. Space itself was used to effect and symbolize political change/dominance: • Notable physical features: • Palazzo del Bargello (Primo popolo) • Palazzo dei Priori/ della Signoria / Vecchio (Secondo Popolo) • Orsanmichele (Guild Hall/Church) • Duomo (Cathedral)

  14. Overview: Political History of Florence c. 1100–1512 • > successive but overlapping phases : • 12th-13th centuries: domination of Florence’s old, elite families (magnati): controlled neighbourhoods, strongholds. • Mid-13th century-early 15th century: political opposition to magnati by the popolo (non-elite elements of the guild community: merchants, shopkeepers, notaries, independent artisans): assert the ‘rights of the commune’: communal building projects. Note: revolt of the Ciompi, 1378. • c. 1400-1494: Prestigious elite families (esp. Medici) again take control (including neighbourhoods) – shaping urban spaces: churches – palaces. • 1494-1512: New Constitution (1496 Great Council; from 1502 Soderini Gonfalonier for life) • 1512: Florence defeated at Prato, Soderini forced into exile, Medici restored, Machiavelli loses his job.

  15. Background to the Ordinances of Justice – 1293. • First half of the thirteenth century: Split of great Florentine families into two factions (Guelphs – ‘Welf’- enemies of the Emperor Frederick - and Ghibellines – Italianization of Waibinglen – after the Hohenstaufen stronghold in Swabia),who for half a century divide the town: faction and violence. • 1248-1249 ‘Capitano del Popolo’ and ‘il Primo Popolo’ • 1248- 1249 Emperor Federico II sends his son Federico d'Antiochia to Florence - allies himself with the Ghibellines. • Guelphs make attempt armed resistance, but soon are forced to surrender and to go into exile. • Meantime the Capitano del Popolo [militia captain] and the Council of the Twelve Elders (Anziani) is formed and given the task of writing a new and more democratic constitution - ‘del Primo popolo’ • an attempt to replace the old governing class with ‘new men’. • re-organization of urban space into 20 armed neighbourhood militia companies each with a distinctive standard [gonfalone] to ensure peace and security of neighbourhoods against unruly elite factions. • 1254-1258: the glory period of the ‘Primo popolo’ government. The Florentines, after having expelled several Ghibelline families and having readmitted the Guelphs, restart the expansion wars (San Gimignano, Poggibonsi and Volterra). • Glory period short-lived ....

  16. ...1260-1293 Complex Struggles: Ghibelline vs Guelf - the Secondo Popolo 1260 On September the 4th at Montaperti, the Florentines, with the allied Guelphs from Lucca, are heavily defeated by the Sienese and the troops led by the Ghibelline Manfredi. The people's government (Primo Popolo) is finished, the heads of the Guelphs are exiled….After five years of Ghibelline power, the defeat and then the death of Manfredi in Benevento provoke a new rupture of the town's political balance. The Ghibellines leave, the Guelphs return. 1267 The Florentines entrust their town to the dominion of Carlo d'Angiò, king of Sicily, but the actual government is in the hands of the Guelphs and its captains. 1269 After Pisa (1268), Siena is heavily defeated. The Guelph government covers a large area of Tuscany. 1280 The two factions sign peace treaties, under the auspices of the Church. Two new groups are forming. On one side the Magnati (nobles, land owners both Guelph and Ghibelline), on the other merchants, artisans, and working people. 1282 The government of the ‘Arti’[also called the Second People (Secondo popolo)] begins. The ‘Ordinamenti di Giustizia’, issued in 1293 by Giano di Bella, bar the access to the priorate to anyone who is not a member of the "Arti". Malcontent is spreading in the aristocracy. (Proscription of Magnates).

  17. The Ordinances of Justice of Florence (1293) CHAPTER 1. ON THE UNION, OATH, AND AGREEMENT OF THE GUILDS EXPRESSED IN THIS ORDINANCE Since this most perfect ordinance is approved so that it consists of all its members and its jurisdiction is approved by all. Thus, it is ordained and provided that the Twelve Major Guilds are approved by the authority and power of the Podestà [the chief magistrate], the Defender and the Captain, the Priors of the Guilds and the savi, namely: Judges and Notaries Calimala Merchants Bankers Wool manufacturing Merchants of Por Santa Maria Physicians and Apothecaries Furriers Butchers Shoemakers Masons and carpenters Blacksmiths Retail Cloths Dealers (Rigattieri) And also the other [nine] guilds of the City of Florence, which are the following: Wine Retailers Innkeepers Retailers of Salt, Oil and Cheese Tanners Armorers and Swordmakers Locksmiths and Iron Workers Harness Makers and Shield Makers Woodworkers Bakers

  18. CHAPTER 6. ON THE PENALTIES TO BE IMPOSED AGAINST MAGNATES HARMING COMMONERS It is provided and ordained that if any magnates whosoever of the City and District of Florence should, with malice aforethought, kill or have killed or wound or have wounded any commoner (popolano) of the City and District so that from such a wound death should ensue, then the Lord Podestà should condemn the magnate, who did or caused to have done such a crime, to death by beheading, if he should come into the custody of the Commune of Florence. And moreover the Podestà is held and ought to confiscate and have confiscated all the property of such criminals, and such property ought to come into the possession of the Commune of Florence and be sold by the Commune of Florence. From: The Ordinances of Justice of Florence (1293)

  19. Ordinances allow for: - 6 priors led by the standard bearer of justice (principal prior: Gonfaloniere) - govt. now in the hands of the guilds, extended to 21. [7+5+9] - priors remain in office for two months - severe measures against the magnates (those who have obligation to supply horse + armour + form cavalry) - only about 70 families, so only a part of the aristocracy, but thought of as most troublesome. --- cannot hold office (priors) --- pay surety + measures for killing a member of populani --- anyone belonging to family was regarded as a magnate --- could not take a trade or join a guild. In short - favoured the middle orders. However, many rich families were not magnates and therefore much of the aristocracy had power. 1395: ordinances were modified - made it easier for the aristocracy to regain power --- anyone could join a guild, so guilds became a club for undertaking political life. Therefore we find a compromise situation in which leading families had power, but shared with middling merchants and artisans.

  20. Nicolai Rubinstein,The Palazzo Vecchio 1298-1532: Government, Architecture and Imagery in the Civic Palace of the Florentine Republic In the 14th century: ‘… an urbanistic expression of civic consensus and of the continuity of republican traditions.’

  21. ALSO TRUE OF THE CATHEDRAL : The Cathedral complex was a matter of civic pride for the Florentines. The Cathedral and Baptistery together formed not only the religious heart of Florence, but also served as a symbol of the political and cultural superiority of the Florentines . • Arnolfo di Cambio was told, upon receiving the commission for the building of Santa Maria del Fiore, that the cathedral was to be the greatest in Tuscany. • The task for Giotto in building the campanile, was for it to be “so magnificent, that by height and workmanship it would surpass all of that genre created by the Greeks or by the Romans ... to the honour ... of a powerfully unified, greatly spirited, and freely sovereign people” (Miglione). • The Florentines were anxious to demonstrate their cultural superiority by successfully completing the dome of the cathedral, while also being aware of the ridicule to which they would be subjected if the dome were attempted and failed: [he would] “not even begin to sing this church’s praises, for without seeing it in all its detail, one could never conceive of such a marvel” (Francesco Albertini wrote of the Duomo in his Memoriale ).

  22. Overview Mid-13th century: Primo Populo: Brunetto Latini 1392-3: Ordinances of Justice 1342: Duke of Athens: short-lived experiment with despotism 1378-1382: After the Revolt of the Ciompi (woolcarders) - short-lived popular government. Early 1400s: more elite -> increasingly oligarchical (after 1434) under the Medici – de facto principate under Lorenzo (d. 1492) 1494: Expulsion of the Medici (Piero) – Constitutional Reform (Savonarola) 1502: Piero di Tommaso Soderini: Gonfalonier for life 1513: Return of the Medici (but as ‘puppets’ of empire) In sum, scholarly consensus on Florence’s political development 1200-1492 ‘from a faction-ridden and ungovernable commune to a guild republic to an oligarchic one’ (Muir, 1994; Brucker, 1998, 2003).

  23. 2. Political Institutions of Florence

  24. Background: Social and Political Framework ·Sense of public involvement ·1292: Essential elements of Florentine Constitution in place ·Palazzo della Signoria (1298) ·Government – innovative structures alongside old ->complexity ·Central Govt followed local administrative structures, viz. 4 districts into 4 subdistricts= 16 gonfaloni (neighbourhoods)

  25. Communal Government The central government: a reflection of the divisions of the city for local administration - four districts, each further divided into four sub-districts: i.e. sixteen in all (the gonfalon)

  26. Structure of Florentine Communal Government Tre Maggiori (3 councils) - Signoria (Priors=4 districts x2+Gonfaloniere (Standard Bearer of Justice)[2 months] - Dodici Buonomini (12 Good Men) [3 months] - Sedici Gonfalonieri (16 Standard bearers) [4 months] Legislative Bodies [4 months] - Council of the Popolo: 300 members (including the Signoria and other ex-officio delegates) - Council of the Commune: 200 members (of whom one fifth were magnates). Administration: committees e.g. Dieci di Balia (Commission for Ward); Otto di Guardia (Security) Turnover => over 3,000 posts vacant and refilled annually. Ad hoc bodies (for continuity): Consulte e pratiche: citizens to debate and advise Signoria

  27. Election/Selection for office. Qualifications - not bankrupt - not in arrears with taxes - over 30 years old - enrolled in one of the seven arti maggiori (guidici; calimala; lana; bankers; ferriers; silk; doctors and apothaceries) or the fourteen arti minori. - not successively within three years - nor if a family member had served in the previous yuear. Principle of mistrust - by lot from bags containing names chosen by accopiatori (appointed by Signoria) and approved by electoral commission (from tre maggiori and co-opted advisers).

  28. 3. Medicean Florence from 1434 to 1494

  29. Schematic overview of 15th century context • fifteenth century in Florence: by 1410 transition complete from the popular regime initiated after the woolworkers revolt, the Ciompi (1378) • 1420s-1430s esp.: conflicts for the control of government/city • Eventual victory of the Medici faction/party (Cosimo de’Medici) • Consolidation and narrowing of oligarchy • By 1480s, Lorenzo de’Medici – de facto prince • 1492: death of Lorenzo • 1494: expulsion of the Medici • New constitution and ‘popular’ government , inspired by Savonarola • (Machiavelli – Soderini)

  30. Context for the Rise of the Medici (Classic account: DV Kent The Rise of the Medici, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1978) Faction…. Florence and external threats/war.  1390-92, 1397-98, 1400-1402: Giangaleazzo Visconti 1404-1406: Pisa 1408-1414: Ladislao of Naples. 1424-1428: Filippo Maria Visconti - Milan (1427 – the Catasto) 1429: Lucca

  31. Faction: The Rise of the Medici Faction … Sermons, on ‘discord, conflict, strife, sedition and schism’ are recurring themes of sermons throughout the period. All have the warning ‘every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste’.

  32. The Pattern of Medici Control • By the 1430s Florence was split into two factions: • the oligarchical party of the Albizzi • the ‘popular’ party of the Medici • After 1434 – and the triumph of the Medici: • - marriage as a means of procuring useful allies - even the marriage of quite distant kinsmen. (Also reinforced other levels of relationship - even amongst amici.) • - contact within the city (business, confraternities). • - solicitation of votes • - enlarging the numbers in the electoral bags to dilute the impact of their opponents • - personal influence moved one another into positions of influence. • - offered loans to one another to make up for tax arrears to make sure that none of the party would be excluded from office. • - a patronage chain: cumulative spheres of influence in leading offices and commissions • - use of influence to establish new governmental structures • - reputation: cultural diplomacy (e.g. papacy, Council of Florence 1439)

  33. Core of the party: parenti, amici, vicini • [kin, friends, neighbours] • marriage alliances: Bardi, Salviati, Cavalcanti, Tornabuoni. • plus compagnie • clientelismo - clientage - patronage. • - people who came to identify their interests with the Medici in return for their support. • Bernardo Alammano writes to Averardo de' Medici: ‘I commend myself to you with all my heart, for my only hope is in you and in God ... You are my God on earth and all that I crave in this world is the honour and prosperity which I am confident I will receive by your favour’.

  34. PATRONAGE. Patrons and Clients in Renaissance Society ‘Patronage, a term traditionally used to describe the support Renaissance elites gave to artists, writers, and scholars, as well as rights exerted over ecclesi­astical property (ius patronatus), has been extended by recent historians to embrace certain social and political ties between individuals and groups. Since English, unlike other European languages, does not make the useful distinction between patronage of the arts (mecenatismo in Italian), and political and social patronage (Italian patrocinio and clientelismo), English-speaking historians need to define “patronage” more carefully in any given Renaissance context if the concept is not to become so inclusive as to be almost meaningless’. See F.W. Kent, ‘Patronage’, in Paul Grendler (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, (Scribner’s in association with the Renaissance Society of America: New York: 1999), vol. 4, pp. 442-446.

  35. Patronage and the importance of family chapels. • not just a monument of devotion, • but also a monument to a family. And • not only a place of private devotion, but in a public space, where the whole neighbourhood could see the family’s piety. • e.g. a contract between patron and artist for the decoration of a chapel at Santa Maria Novella - demonstrates what the chapels were for, viz. the chapel was to be decorated “as an act of piety and love of God, to the exaltation of his house and family and the enhancement of the said church and chapel”. • (Contract for Giovanni Tornabuoni’s chapel by the painter Ghirlandaio).

  36. Medici mecenatismo and its overt signature… the stemme was the signature: Cosimo facit me! Medici Palle

  37. Cosimo - a church-going merchant citizen (Baxandall) - because of his skills in business and politics (civic, Italian, international): a major force in public life – according to Dale Kent, embodied Rucellai’s “the honour of God, the good of the city and the memory of me.” *** "For the magnificent person aims at great works, for example, temples built for the honour of God, hospitals for the poor, and other such things made for pilgrims".(Antonino Pierozzi OP, Archbishop of Florence, 1446-59) ***

  38. A public theology of ‘magnificence’ preached from the 1420s. (See P. Howard, 'Preaching Magnificence in Renaissance Florence', Renaissance Quarterly 61:2 (2008), 325-369.) Chronicler Giovanni Cavalcanti (1381–ca. 1451) refers to complaints about Cosimo’s “magnificent buildings” (“magnifici muramenti”), including those of the friars (“Egli ha pieno per insino i privati de’frati delle sue palle”), and the palace he had started to build, with the implication that he was using citizen’s funds to do so: “who could not build magnificently if they had money which was not theirs?” (“Chi non murerebbe magnificamente, avendo a spendere di que’ denari che non sono suoi?”). Timoteo Maffei (ca. 1415–70),In magnificentiae Cosmi Medicei Florentini detractores libellus. Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 47, Cod. 27, fols. 78–102. (mid-1450s).

  39. The Florentine Crises of the Late Fifteenth Century ·Death of Lorenzo de’Medici - 1492 ·Expusulsion of the Medici 1494 oAlienation of the the ruling group by Piero de’Medici oNear bankruptcy of the Medici bank ·French invasion of 1494 – Charles VIII ·new constitutional arrangements – the Great Council ·dissension rather than the ‘common good’ results oeconomic crisis and foreign policy owar with Pisa strains finances – the accatto, and ventina ·Gonfaloniere for Life: Piero di Tommaso Soderini – 1502 ðcrises bred a new way of thinking about politics and history (Machiavelli and Guicciardini)

  40. The temper and atmosphere of Florence is revealed in the rise of Savonarola in the 1490s, his role in the formulation of a new Florentine constitution, and his vision of Florence as a theocracy, charged (in an apocalyptic way) with bringing about the renewal of Italy, both civically and religiously. Savonarola (1452-1498) ·reformer ·millennial role for Florence ·political reform – ‘theocracy’ ·factions: Piagnoni and Arrabiati

  41. 4. Views of the Florentine political system expressed by contemporary writers and historians such as Bruni and Machiavelli

  42. Leonardo Bruni • (1369 – 1444) • Laudatio of the City of Florence • History of the Florentine People • Orations, Letters, Translations • Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) • The Prince • The Discourses on Titus Livy

  43. Brief points by way of overview: • 1. Currently, new scholarship on Florentine politics and society is lively and at the cutting edge. • 2. This has involved a re-evaluation and revision of ‘civic humanism’ – Hans Baron (arguably the most important historian of Florence after WWII): the impact of politics on the intellectual, social and cultural life of early Quattrocento Florence. • 3. Baron’s view: the territorial aggression of the Milanese despot, Giangaleazzo Visconti, was the catalyst for the development of Florentine civic humanism. In the face of this threat Florentines examined what they were fighting for (introspective): • freedom of speech, • free access to political office, • equality of citizens before the law, • self-government. • i.e. The fundamentals of modern democracy. • contentious view – currently contested.

  44. 4. Recent interpretations and consensus: • civic humanism as evidence of the triumph of oligarchic and elitist republicanism: with Bruni as a spokesperson. • struggle between rival republican ideologies, viz. • communal republicanism (13th-late 14th centuries) • [failed guild-based vision of politics] • vs • oligarchic republicanism (post-Ciompi revolt). • [rationalization of a restricted oligarchy: Bruni and other humanists, including Machiavelli]. • References: • Mark Jurdjevic, “Civic Humanism and the Rise of the Medici”, in Renaissance Quarterly, • 52 (1999), 994-1020. • Serana Ferente, “Guelphs! Factions, Liberty and Sovereignty: Inquiries about the Quattrocento”, in History of Political Thought, 28 (2007), 571-598. • John M. Najemy, “Civic Humanism and Florentine Politics”, in Renaissance Civic Humanism: Reappraisals and Reflections, ed. J. Hankins (Cambridge UP, 2000). • Mikael Hörnqvist, “The Two Myths of Civic Humanism”, in Renaissance Civic Humanism, 75-104. • John Najemy, “The Dialogue of Power in Florentine Politics”, City-States in Classical Antiquity and Medieval Italy, ed. A. Molho, J. Emlen, and K. Raaflaub (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1991), 269-88; • James Hankins, “The ‘Baron Thesis’ after Forty Years,” 309-38; • Hankins, “Humanism and the Origins of Modern Political Thought”, The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism, ed. J. Kraye (Cambridge, 1996), 118-41. • James Hankins “Rhetoric, History, and Ideology: The Civic Panegyrics of Leonardo Bruni”, Renaissance Civic Humanism, 143-178.

  45. All the best for a successful completion of VCE...