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 printedsources, A History of Florence represents the achievement ofa lifetime's devotion to the study of the city. Moreover, Najemy'scategories of analysis should provoke debates and conversations forfuture lifetimes."  (Renaissance and Reformation, 2009)

"There is much to praise about this book. It is a modelhistorical synthesis of the history of a great premodern Europeancity. It is also a sophisticated political history in whichclass-based ideas and values matter as much as individual detailsof political events." (The Catholic Historical Review, July2010)"[This] is the best history of Florence in any language, andit will long remain so, for Najemy has mastered the relevantliterature more thoroughly than any other historian in livingmemory." (Times Literary Supplement)

"John Najemy is a pre-eminent historian of Renaissance Florence... a scholar of learning, imagination and intellectualpenetration, with a profound knowledge of Florentine history fromthe thirteenth to the sixteenth century and with a remarkable rangeof interests in political, social and intellectual history. Therehas been no credible attempt to write a history of Florence in thisperiod since the time of Perrens's multi-volume work, finished in1883. Najemy has risen admirably to the challenge. He hasassimilated the vast secondary literature on Florence, from thebeginning of the thirteenth to the late sixteenth century. Therange of his analysis and explication stretches across a vast rangeof fundamental social, political, economic, diplomatic, militaryand biographical topics. Nor is Najemy indifferent to intellectualhistory, especially questions involving political thought andideology. This book is no mere synthesis of other scholars' work.Indeed, Najemy offers a distinctive interpretation, one which hasalready stimulated controversy and will doubtless continue to doso." (Reviews in History)

"Highly recommended." (Choice)

"An extraordinary accomplishment. Deserves rich praise as afundamentally new and authoritative interpretation of four keycenturies of this remarkable city's development.”Speculum“[Najemy], a veteran Renaissance historianoffers a big and impressive survey of the Florentine city-state…. One of the justifications for the book [is] the need foran updated and accessible synthesis of the superabundance of recentspecialized scholarship on Florence. He succeeds admirably at thattask … [and] manages to explain and contextualize detailedscholarship while remaining a lively and engaging politicalnarrative. [It] will surely become the definitive narrative ofmedieval and Renaissance Florence, a point of departure forstudents of Florentine politics and culture as well as a majorinterpretive statement providing much for specialists to engagewith for some time." (Sixteenth Century Journal)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405182423
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/16/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 984,236
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (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 ofPolitical 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 ofConflict.

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 ofConflict.

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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