In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Florence

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Renaissance and Reformation Florence
Sharon Strocchia
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 July 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0022


Florence has long been considered the epicenter of the Italian Renaissance because of the early and conspicuous development there of humanism and the city’s stunning innovations in the visual arts. Yet this landlocked city was also a major European economic center renowned for its thriving textile industries, extensive banking networks, and creative mechanisms of public finance. In contrast to the celebrated political stability of the Venetian republic, Florence was haunted by frequent political upheavals and deep social tensions that ultimately led to the collapse of the guild republic and the advent of the Medici principate in the early 16th century. Home to illustrious political figures such as Lorenzo de’ Medici, as well as thinkers such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Florence was at base a city of merchants and artisans throughout the republican period. It was their exceptional propensity for record keeping, as much as the city’s vaunted cultural achievements, that give Renaissance Florence its enduring reputation. Florentines began chronicling their own history in the 14th century, giving rise to a long and complex historiographical tradition. This article focuses on the major areas of scholarly inquiry that have emerged since the 1950s.

General Overviews

Single-Authored Works and multiauthored Collections of Essays provide complementary points of entry into Florentine studies: the first offer general syntheses, whereas the second tend to focus on specific themes.

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