Florence History


The known history of Florence begins around 59 BC, with the founding of a village for Roman veterans. The city went through periods of Byzantine, Ostrogothic, Lombard and Frankish rule. From the 10th century, the city grew and in 1115 became an indipendent town. The internal political conflict did not prevent the city from growing and becoming one of the most powerfull and prosperous in Europe. The city eventually came under the rule of the Albizi family (1382-1434). Starting from 1437 and for several centuries after that, the Medici gathered at court the best artists, writers, humanists and philosophers of the time: among others, Michelangelo, Pico della Mirandola, Verrocchio, Michelozzo, Angelo Poliziano, Antonio Pollaiolo, Sandro Botticelli, Galileo Galilei, Filippo Brunelleschi and Leonardo da Vinci. Florence soon became very rich and the florin was soon the strongest and the most traded currency in Europe.

During the 15th century, Florence alone had an income higher then the whole of England, thanks to the industries and the big banks, of which there were roughly eighty, between headquarters and branches. Another important character was Niccolò Macchiavelli, whose prescriptions for Florence government were often read as legitimisation of the torture and political abuse. In 1527, the Florentines brought back the Medici – who were brought back to the power by the Spanish in the 1512 – and re-established a Republic. During the centuries, Florence reigned over all of Tuscany, with the exception of the Republic of Lucca, which remained indipendent and sovereign until the 18th century (with the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy). The termination of the Medici dynasty and the succession in 1737 of Francesco Stefano, Duke of Lorena and husband of Maria Teresa of Austria, brought about the inclusion of Tuscany in the territories of Hasburg's influence sphere. The reign of the Austrian dynasty ended first by the hand of France and then definitevely in 1859, when Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, just before it became the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. In 1865, Florence took the place of Turin as the capital of Italy, as requested by Napoleon III, until this office was transerred to Rome 5 years later, when the Papal City became itself a part of the kingdom.