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Transcript of Renaissance Florence
If you were looking for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you're in the wrong place.
After many natural disasters including famine and the Black Plague, a rebellion of workers started an uprising against the guilds that controlled arts and trade in Florence. These workers were called "ciompi" because of the wooden clogs that they wore on their feet. Guilds were formed social networks of people with the same professions. There were however some groups that were barred from forming guilds, called the "Minuto Popolo", which included weavers, spinners, dyers, boatmen, labourers, and peddlers. This group wanted guilds of their own, in addition to reforms in the justice system and the tax system.
In July 1378, the Ciompi stormed and took the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence. After a month, members of the already existing guilds were able to retake the town hall. In the end, the Ciompi were hanged from the windows of the Palazzo Vecchio, and there was no lasting reform, with the guilds resultingly tightening their hold on Florence.
The importance of this failed event was that the man who led the Ciompi would later be supported in his ascension to power by the commoners of Florence because of his participation in the revolt. His name was Salvestro de Medici, the cousin of the line of Medici's that would span a family dynasty of almost three centuries. Because he led the revolt, Salvestro and his family were able to rise to power.
Welcome to Florence, Italy!
Here is a lovely painting of the aerial view of Florence. You can see the shape of the city, the River Arno that runs through the city, and the Apennine Mountains in the background.
Italy is in southern Europe, on the Mediterranean Sea. Florence and its city state are in central Italy.
Hundred Years War 1337-1453
Revolt of the Ciompi
Giovanni de Medici comes to power
Cosimo de Medici comes to power
Johann Gutenberg prints the Gut-enberg Bible on the printing press
Lorenzo de Medici "The Magnificent" comes to power
Girolamo Savonarola ousts the Medici family from Florence
The Revolt of the Ciompi
"Il Tumulto dei Ciompi" by Giuseppe Lorenzo Gatteri
Girolamo Savonarola was a Friar of the Dominican order of San Marco, a convent in Florence, who gained power in 1494 after the exile of the Medici family. He had been preaching in Florence against the luxury and the divergence from Christianity of the city. Savonarola gained a following of people with the same medieval ideals who viewed him as a prophet. His influence in the people of Florence helped in the exile of the Medici family. Savonarola assumed power directly after this, and began his severe reforms.
For a few years, the people of Florence shared his puritanical zeal, and they were given more democratic say in their own affairs. He made gambling illegal, restricted ornamentation on clothing, and burned many books and paintings that he found immoral. But in 1497, his power hits its peak, then falls quickly. Savonarola's highest point of influence was when, during the pre-Lent carnival season, he made a bonfire of vanities. Citizens threw their luxurious possessions into the pyre, like playing cards, jewelry, and objects of importance.
During his rule, he had been making comments about the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, asking for the disposal of the pope. Alexander VI tried to appease Savonarola by offering him a cardinal's hat, but he took it as an insult. In the end, the pope excommunicated Savonarola and charged him with heresy, beliefs that go against the established customs. Adding to his problems, in 1498 he tried a second bonfire of vanities, which broke out into riots. In this year, the Medici's were elected again, and Savonarola was tortured, tried and executed by being hanged and burned.
Savonarola's failure to revert Florence back to its medieval ideals showed the power of the Renasissance's new values in culture.
Here is some renaissance music if you would like something to listen to while watching :)
Florence was the fourth largest city in Renaissance Italy. The city sits in central Italy, surrounded by land. Because of this, the city state of Florence didn't have a sea port until 1406 when they conquered Pisa. Florence is crossed down the middle by the Arno River, which allowed trade between cities. Florence is at the foot of the Apennine Mountains, a mountain range that spans most of central Italy. The region has a sunny, temperate climate. The soil in the area is very fertile because of the rivers. Also, there are many stone and marble quarries, that supplied materials for the city's love of grande architecture.
Architecture in Florence was an integral part of their culture. The city was built over a long period of time, so there were many different styles of buildings from different points in time. The older styles in the city were Romanesque* and Gothic* architecture, which both came from the Middle Ages. Renaissance architecture took characteristics of classical architecture, but it was made unique by the individual artists who added their own touches.
*Romanesque architecture was typically short and squat with plain exteriors and more decorated interiors. It had few windows, which gave it a dark atmosphere. The buildings were supported by rounded arches and thick walls.
*Gothic architecture was the opposite, with its soaring height and extravagant decorations. The thinner walls were broken up by many windows that gave lots of light. A characteristic of Gothic architecture was the rose window, a large, circular window typically of stained glass arranged to radiate from the center. The support system that was used were flying buttresses, exterior supports that transfered the weight that was pushing on the wall to the ground. Gothic architecture also used pointed arches, instead of the more traditional rounded ones.
Santa Croce Basilica
Santa Maria del Fiore
Santa Maria del Fiore, also called the Duomo, is the main church of Florence. Construction was started in 1296 to the design Arnolfo di Cambrio. During the beginning of construction, Santa Maria del Fiore was done in Gothic style, but it later shifted to Renaissance style, so the style of the cathedral was called Gothic Revival. The Duomo was consecrated on March 25th, 1436, 140 years after work first started on it.
The famous dome that sits on the top of the Duomo spans 176 feet, which made it the largest dome in the world
until the modern era, and it still is the largest dome made of brick. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, sculpturist, perspectivist, and architect, who won the job in a contest. This remarkable dome was built without the aid of supporting framework during building, or buttresses that would keep it up permanently. Brunelleschi designed a way for the stones to support themselves by slowly inclining the base of each new row of stones until they reached the oculus. He also invented machines, based on ones of Roman times, that could lift the blocks all the way up to the top of the dome. Unfotunately, Brunelleschi didn't leave any drawings or descriptions of the machines that he built and used.
Lorenzo de Medici: "Il Magnifico"
Part of the famous banking family, the Medici's, Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano took control of Florence in 1469, succeeding their father, Piero de Medici. In 1478, Lorenzo and his brother were the victims of an assassination attempt done by a rival banking family and the Pope Sixtus IV, where his brother was murdered, but Lorenzo was able to escape with only a minor injury.
Called "Il Magnifico", a title given to him by the people of Florence, Lorenzo was one of the great leaders of the time. Under his rule, the city of Florence became the most important city-state of the Renaissance. Lorenzo valued knowledge, culture, and ,most importantly, the arts. Lorenzo and his family were known for their patronage of the arts. He opened his own home to artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, offering protection and aid for all artists. Also, during his rule, the economy boomed, and the lower classes had more comfort and protection than ever before.
Portrait of Lorenzo de Medici by Agnolo Bronzino
Leonardo da Vinci: The original
One of the most well known painters in the world, Leonardo da Vinci was a polymath, a person of many skills and talents. He was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, inventor, and philosopher, among other things.
He was born on April 15th, 1452, in the town of Vinci, just outside of Florence. He had access to scholarly texts from family and friends, and was influenced by the painting community in Vinci.
This brilliant man had multiple commissions with important people including the Borgia family and King Francis I of France. During this time, he also completed his own works. Leonardo mainly studied nature, anatomy, machinery (he had sketches of helicopter- and tank-like machines), and architecture. His most famous works are the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper".
Leonardo da Vinci died on May 2nd, 1519, in Cloux, France.
Self portrait by da Vinci
Life in Florence was comfortable and luxurious. Even the lowest classes were treated better than in other places.
The Florentine class structure was divided into five groups, based on wealth and status.
The nobles were the owners of the land. They usually gained the land through heredity, but in some cases, a wealthy man would be able to work his way up to noble stature, for example the Medici family. The majority of the noble class in Florence devoted their time to trade and commerce, while the smaller portion devoted theirs to leisure activities such as hunting.
The merchant class were wealthy businessmen, belonging to the greater guilds. They gained their wealth through industry. This class became the most important class during the Renaissance because they were usually patrons of the arts and knowledge.
The next class comprised of shopkeepers and professionals. They were members of the lesser guilds. This class was the lowest class that was allowed to vote.
Next were the workers. They did not have organized guilds, and therefore did not have job protection, but they still had more comfortable lives than those of peasants in rural areas.
Finally, there are the slaves. Most slaves were domestic, mainly doing housework. The wealthy families usually had at least one. That slave would be considered part of the family, and all children born to the slave would be free. If a slaveowner and a slave had a child together, in most cases the slaveowner would raise them as a legitimate child.
The Role of Women
Women in the Renaissance were very cultured, receiving good educations and participating in the arts. They received more freedom than women from the Middle Ages, but they still had very strict expectations. They were not allowed to participate in physical sports, to show their knowledge in public, or to go outside too often, for example.
Women were, however, allowed to participate in some arts, such as dance, theater, and music. They were also allowed an opinion in the man that they were to marry.
The role of women in the Renaissance was to attend to the needs of their husband. Women were also the primary upbringers of children. They were encouraged to nurture the children themselves, unlike in Medieval times when the servants would raise the children
Clothing during the Renaissance was very important. It showed the status and the wealth of the person wearing it. They liked their fabric extravagant, their adornements plentiful, and their colours bright. Plain colours were also popular; many portraits from the time of important people, like the Medici's, were pictured in black and beige.
The economy of Florence was based on its coin, the florin, on its banking, and on its artist guilds.
The coin, made of gold or silver, had such reliable purity that it became the standard currency of Europe.
In Florence, banking was one the best ways to become wealthy. Many families, including the Medici, earned their wealth from banking. Many firms had wealthy customers all around Europe, since Florence was renowned for its banking industry.
Guilds in Renaissance times were union-like organizations of people with the same profession. The main purpose of the guilds were to protect their members' economic interests. The guilds controlled the goods that were allowed to be sold in the town (if they competed with those from the guild), the quality of the goods that they were putting out, the way that those goods were manufactured, and most importantly the price. Guilds sometimes abused their power by lowering quality and raising prices.
There were two different groups of guilds, the Arti Maggiori (greater guilds) and the Arti Minori (minor guilds).
The Arte di Calimala (guild of workers in wool)
The Arte della Lana (guild of wool merchants)
The Arte dei Giudici e Notai (guild of judges and notaries)
The Arte del Cambio (guild of bankers)
The Arte della Seta (guild of silk weavers)
The Arte dei Medici e Speziali (guild of physicians and pharmacists)
The Arte dei Vaiai e Pellicciai (guild of furriers)
sellers of salt, oil and cheese
Renaissance Florence was connected to other civilizations by its trade. Goods were bought and sold from other countries, mostly European. Also, the banking industry in Florence had customers all over Europe. The contact that Florence had with other countries was the base of its economy.
Art was one of, if not the, most important aspect of the Renaissance Florence culture. Great names like da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli all studied or worked in Florence.
Some characteristics of Renaissance art were the realistic figures, oil paint on stretched canvas, the use of light and shadow, and the use of realistic perspective. The main topic of the art was Religion, with many paintings and sculptures depicting Biblical stories.
Michelangelo, the roof of the Sistine Chapel
Leonardo da Vinci, "Mona Lisa"
Michelangelo, "The Creation of Adam"
Botticelli, "The Birth of Venus"
Leonardo da Vinci, "The Babe in the Womb"
Leonardo da Vinci, "The Last Supper"
Botticelli, "Calumny of Apelles"
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