A History of Florence 1200-1575 / Edition 1

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In this History of Florence, distinguished historian, John Najemy discusses all the major developments in Florentine History from 1200-1550. Captures Florence's transformation from a medieval commune into an aristocratic republic, territorial state, and principate Weaves together intellectual, cultural, economic, religious, and political developments Academically rigorous yet accessible and appealing to the general reader Will become the standard work on Renaissance Florence for years to come. Florence during the Renaissance is famously known as the centre for the rebirth of scholarship, literature and the arts. But it was also an autonomous republic, a site of innovative experiments in government, a major economic power that produced great wealth and yet underwent recurrent fiscal crises, and a locus of conflicts among the elite families, the guild community, and the working classes, and between family-based factions grounded in patronage and private power.In this history of Florence, distinguished historian John Najemy discusses all the major phases of Florentine history from 1200 to 1575, including the formation of the elite of great families, the rise of the guild-based "popolo" and the guild republic of the 1290s, the crisis of the 1340s, the revolutions of 1378-1382, the wars against Milan, the fiscal crisis of the 1420-30s, the rise and fall of the Medici regime, the republican revival in the age of Savonarola and Machiavelli, and the drama of the last republic of 1527-1530 and the subsequent emergence of the principate. His account weaves together intellectual, cultural, social, economic, religious, and political developments, capturing Florence's transformation from a medieval guild commune into an aristocratic republic and finally into a princely and territorial state.Based on the mass of scholarship on Florentine history, and on a first-hand understanding and close reading of the primary sources, Najemy provides an origina

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Based on wide reading of the available secondary and printed sources, A History of Florence represents the achievement of a lifetime's devotion to the study of the city. Moreover, Najemy's categories of analysis should provoke debates and conversations for future lifetimes."  (Renaissance and Reformation, 2009)

"There is much to praise about this book. It is a model historical synthesis of the history of a great premodern European city. It is also a sophisticated political history in which class-based ideas and values matter as much as individual details of political events." (The Catholic Historical Review, July 2010)"[This] is the best history of Florence in any language, and it will long remain so, for Najemy has mastered the relevant literature more thoroughly than any other historian in living memory." (Times Literary Supplement)

"John Najemy is a pre-eminent historian of Renaissance Florence ... a scholar of learning, imagination and intellectual penetration, with a profound knowledge of Florentine history from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century and with a remarkable range of interests in political, social and intellectual history. There has been no credible attempt to write a history of Florence in this period since the time of Perrens's multi-volume work, finished in 1883. Najemy has risen admirably to the challenge. He has assimilated the vast secondary literature on Florence, from the beginning of the thirteenth to the late sixteenth century. The range of his analysis and explication stretches across a vast range of fundamental social, political, economic, diplomatic, military and biographical topics. Nor is Najemy indifferent to intellectual history, especially questions involving political thought and ideology. This book is no mere synthesis of other scholars' work. Indeed, Najemy offers a distinctive interpretation, one which has already stimulated controversy and will doubtless continue to do so." (Reviews in History)

"Highly recommended." (Choice)

"An extraordinary accomplishment. Deserves rich praise as a fundamentally new and authoritative interpretation of four key centuries of this remarkable city's development.” Speculum“[Najemy], a veteran Renaissance historian offers a big and impressive survey of the Florentine city-state …. One of the justifications for the book [is] the need for an updated and accessible synthesis of the superabundance of recent specialized scholarship on Florence. He succeeds admirably at that task … [and] manages to explain and contextualize detailed scholarship while remaining a lively and engaging political narrative. [It] will surely become the definitive narrative of medieval and Renaissance Florence, a point of departure for students of Florentine politics and culture as well as a major interpretive statement providing much for specialists to engage with for some time." (Sixteenth Century Journal)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405119542
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/13/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

John M. Najemy is Professor of History at Cornell University and the author of Between Friends: Discourses of Power and Desire in the Machiavelli-Vettori Letters of 1513–1515 (1993) and Corporatism and Consensus in Florentine Electoral Politics, 1280–1400 (1982). For the former he won the Marraro Prize of the Society for Italian Historical Studies and for the latter the Marraro Prize of the American Historical Association. He has also edited Italy in the Age of the Renaissance, 1300–1550 (2004).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.

List of Maps.



1. The Elite Families.


Knighthood and Feuds.

Political Alignments and Factions.

Culture and Religion.

2. The Popolo.



Culture and Education: Notaries.


Critique of Elite Misrule.

3. Early Conflicts of Elite and Popolo.

Before 1250.

Primo Popolo.

Angevin Alliance.

Priorate of the Guilds.

Second Popolo and the Ordinances of Justice.

Elite Resurgence: Black and White Guelfs.

4. Domestic Economy and Merchant Empires to 1340.

Population: City and Contado.

Textiles, Building, and Provisioning.

Merchant Companies and the Mercanzia.

Taxation and Public Finances.

5. The Fourteenth-Century Dialogue of Power.

Elite Dominance, 1310-40.

Crisis of the 1340s and the Third Popular Government.

Funded Public Debt and Bankruptcies.

Elite Recovery and Popular Reaction.

War against the Church.

6. Revolution and Realignment.

Workers’ Economic Conditions.

The Ciompi Revolution.

The Last Guild Government.


Fear of the Working Classes.

Consensus Politics.

7. War, Territorial Expansion, and the Transformation of Political Discourse.

First Visconti Wars.

Territorial Dominion: The Conquest of Pisa.

Civic Humanism.

The Civic Family.

8. Family and State in the Age of Consensus.

The Family Imaginary.

Households, Marriage, Dowries.

Women, Property, Inheritance.

Children, Hospitals, Charity.

Policing Sodomy.

9. Fateful Embrace: The Emergence of the Medici.

A New Style of Leadership.

Fiscal Crisis and the Catasto.

Cosimo’s Money and Friends.


10. The Medici and the Ottimati: A Partnership of Conflict.

Part I: Cosimo and Piero.

Institutional Controls.

External Supports: Papacy and Sforza Milan.

Cosimo’s Coup.

The Ottimati Challenge Piero.

11. The Luxury Economy and Art Patronage.

Poverty and Wealth.

Public and Private Patronage.

Family Commemoration and Self-Fashioning.

12. The Medici and the Ottimati: A Partnership of Conflict.

Part II: Lorenzo.

Lorenzo’s Elders.

Lorenzo’s Volterra Massacre.

Pazzi Conspiracy and War.

The (Insecure) Prince in All but Name.

Building a Dynasty.

13. Reinventing the Republic.

French Invasion and Expulsion of the Medici.

The Great Council.

Savonarola’s Holy Republic.

Domestic Discord and Dominion Crises.

Soderini, Machiavelli’s Militia, and Pisa.

14. Papal Overlords.

The Cardinal and a Controversial Marriage.

Fall of the Republic and Return of the Medici.

A Regime Adrift.

Aristocratic and Popular Republicanisms.

The Nascent Principate.

15. The Last Republic and the Medici Duchy.



Imposition of a New Order.

Ducal Government.

Finances and Economy.

Courtly and Cultural Discipline.

Victor and Vanquished.

Epilogue: Remembrance of Things Past.


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