Florence In The Renaissance

The changes we associate with the renaissance begun in Florence and continued more intense than elsewhere. The economy, writers, painters, philosophers and architects made Florence a model for the development of the renaissance. The city had 60,000 citizens in 1425 and was a self-governed and independent city-state. Florence blossomed, because of its preoccupation with money and banking. The bank sponsored great artists like Michelangelo.

So. Let’s start at the beginning and the cause of the renaissance. At first, there was the crisis of the Roman Catholic church, and the huge effects of the black death, the plague. This made that medieval values were popular again, and that led to the development of a humanist culture. The studies of classical cultures blossomed again. And that led to the renaissance.

Twelve artist guilds were the base of Florence’s success. The members of the guilds held positions in the government and were Florence’s most influential people. The most important guilds were textile workers. A lot of Florence’s wealth was depending on the trading of cloth, mostly wool. Wool of great quality was transported unfinished from England and Iberia, and Florence’s guilds washed, carded, spun, dyed and wove the wool, until it was from superior quality. They sold it in Italy, Europe and even in the eastern countries. Other guilds purchases cloth from other cities and refinished it to make a better product.

Florence was not a port city, so sea trade was not a great income source. Banking was. A lot of families in Florence were successful bankers. The Florentine cold coin, the florin, was so reliable that it began to spread throughout Europe. Florentine bankers were known throughout Europe too, for their good banking houses in important cities as London, Geneva and Bruges.

The palazzo Vecchio served as seat of government, heart of Florentine culture and home of the Florentine guilds. The 5000 guild members in Florence gathered here to have a talk about city problems. The guild members included masons, textile workers, bankers, builders, sculptors, lawyers and solicitors.

The important buildings in Florence during the renaissance were build in Romanesque and Gothic style. These old styles became popular again and changes in old style were added in existing buildings. The church of Santa Croce is one of the important buildings in Florence during the renaissance. On the outside, Santa Croce is an example of Gothic architecture but the inside of the chapel is very renaissance-like, with good use of proportions.Also the Santa Maria Dell Fiore is very important. It’s a cathedral and a dome build in the early renaissance. The cathedral of San Marco is very important too. It is especially known by the famous virgin Mary statue in the arcade. This is Angelico’s best work known.

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© Eva de Schipper, B2a

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