1902 Encyclopedia > Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy




FLORENCE (Italian Firenze, ancient Florentia), the capital of Tuscany, now a province of the kingdom of Italy, is an archiépiscopal see. It is situated 125 miles north of Rome, 43° 50' N. lat., 11° 14' E. long., on both sides of the river Arno, which here flows through a wide valley, bounded by spurs of the Apennine range to the north, and by lower hills to the south of the city. The bed of the river at Florence is 138 feet above the Mediterranean. The geological formation of the surrounding country is Upper Cretaceous and Older Tertiary, partially covered by the fossiliferous upper Arno beds of Newer Tertiary, containing elephant bones. Pietra forte, belonging to the Cretaceous, a durable sandstone with calcareous ingredients, is largely quarried south of Florence, and has been used for centuries as paving-stones for the city, as well as in the construction of the city walls, the palazzi, churches, &c. North of Florence, pietra serena or macigno, a pure sandstone belonging to the Tertiary beds, is likewise worked for building purposes, its texture being finer than that of the pietra forte ; it has been adopted for the interior of churches and houses.

The soil is remarkably fertile : corn, vines, and olives cover hill and valley, while the mountains, which rise above 3000 feet, have the cypress, ilex, chestnut, and pine. The country is celebrated for the abundance of its flowers, and presents a rich field for the botanist.

Climate and Sanitary Condition.—The climate of Florence is extremely variable, especially in the early spring, when the inhabitants are liable to diseases of the trachea, to bronchitis, and affections of the lungs. The summers are hot ; but both the summers and autumns are peculiarly healthy, when the city is entirely free from inter-mittent fever, while typhoid fever is of rare occurrence. Eruptive diseases and all children's complaints are exceed-ingly mild. Diphtheria appeared first in 1868, and continued as a severe epidemic until 1872, since which time it has only occurred at intervals and in isolated cases. Cholera has more than once visited Florence with severity, but the last time it was in Italy this city escaped the calamity. The migliaria, so much dreaded by the Florentines, is not confined to Italy, but here, as elsewhere, is found to be an accompaniment of typhoid fever, pneumonia, and some other diseases. The average temperature throughout the year is about 15° centigrade (59° Fahr.). The greatest summer heat averages 36° centigrade (96-8° Fahr.), but it has risen exceptionally to 39° centigrade (102-2° Fahr.). The greatest I cold is about 6° centigrade below zero (21-2° Fahr.). The longest day is 15 hours 23 minutes ; the shortest, 8 hours 50 minutes. The average annual rainfall is about 9 inches. The drainage of the city is imperfect, and it is ill supplied with water, which is largely impregnated with carbonate of lime. The wells are shallow, not above 20 or 22 feet deep. The best drinking water is conveyed in pipes from a distance of seven miles north of Florence to the Palazzo Pitti. The water of the Arno above the town has latterly been filtered and pumped up to a reservoir for distribution in the city.

Public Buildings, Parks, and Charitable Foundations.— Florence contains more than 170 churches, several of which are Italian Evangelical, besides English, American, French, and German Protestant, and a large Jewish synagogue lately erected. The most remarkable are the Badia or ancient abbey, the cathedral with its campanile, and the baptistry, Sta Maria Novella, San Marco, the SS. Annunziata, and Or San Michele, with San Miniato and San Francesco beyond the walls. Of the palaces, whose construction of rough hewn stone gives a peculiar character to the city, those of greatest interest are the royal residence of the Pitti, the Palazzo Vecchio or municipal palace, and the Palazzo Riccardi, once the mansion of the Medici, but now the palace of the prefect. To these may be added the private palaces of the Strozzi, Rucellai, Corsini, Corsi, Quaratesi, Gondi, Albizzi, and Alessandri. The streets of modern Florence bear the names of many illustrious citizens of the past, and in the older narrower streets which have been left standing, the former homes of Dante, Macchiavelli, Guicciardini, &c, have tablets with their names inscribed. Some of the tabernacles, or frames containing pictures of sacred subjects, with lamps burning before them, still remain, commemorating the ancient usage of praying in the corners of the streets. The walls of Florence north of the Arno have been demolished, leaving the gates isolated, huge monuments of the past. South of the Arno the four gates of Romana, San Frediano, San Giorgio, and San Nicolo, remain as of old.

The city is intersected from S.E. to N.W. by the river, which is crossed by six bridges. Two are suspension bridges, the remaining four of stone. The Ponte Vecchio, or jewellers' bridge, alone retains its ancient form, and is still flanked on both sides by goldsmiths' shops; the bridge of the S. Trinità is adorned with statues, and is remarkable for the perfect symmetry of the arches. The fortresses o:' Belvedere and Del Basso are now only used as barrackt for soldiers. Since the annexation of Tuscany to the Italian kingdom the convents in Florence have been sup-pressed. A few monks are allowed to remain in each sanc-tuary, but the Government has prohibited any new monies or nuns to be added to the present number. This prohibi-tion is, however, constantly evaded, and some of the schools for the young continue in their hands. There are twelve hospitals, including those for the blind, deaf and dumb, and insane. The hospital for the sick of Sta Maria Nuova, was founded by Folco Portinari, the father of Dante's Beatrice, and the institute for the relief of the poveri vergognosi, or those ashamed to beg, by the good bishop Antonino, in the 15th century. One of the most important and beneficial charities is that of the Misericordia, or brothers of mercy.

Florentines of all ranks belong to the society, and the members are equally bound to lend their services without remuneration when summoned, either to convey sick or wounded persons to the hospital, to nurse them in their homes, or to carry the dead to burial. Next in antiquity is the Bigallo for the reception of orphans or children abandoned by their parents, as well as the Innocenti or Foundling Hospital. The most admirably conducted modern charity is the work-house or Pia Casa di Lavoro of Monte Domini. The building comprises two former con-vents ; the Pia Casa is self-supporting, and independent of the municipality. None are admitted who are able-bodied, or who have relations capable of supporting them. An excellent education is provided for the boys, who are taught a trade by being bound apprentices to one of the workshops attached to the establishment. The girls are provided with dowries when they leave the Pia Casa.

There are nine theatres, and several public parks or gardens. The Cascine, a large extent of ground surrounding a fancy farm formerly belonging to the grand dukes, and planted in long avenues of ilex and other trees, is the fashionable resort of the Florentine nobility. The Strada dei Colli, outside the Porta Romana, winds round the hills of Arcetri and San Miniato, affording a magnificent pros-pect over Florence. The Boboli garden, behind the Pitti, and belonging to the royal palace, is open twice a week to the public, and, wñth its trim alleys, quaint terraces, statues, and fountains, is the delight of the Florentines.

Galleries of Art and Libraries.--Besides some excellent private collections, such as those of the Torrigiani, Corsini, and Strozzi, the Uffizi contains a very fine gallery of paintings, especially of the Tuscan school, but including several of Raphael's and Titian's masterpieces. The greatest treasures of the gallery are contained in one room called the Tribune, where are also placed the most celebrated statues of antiquity. A suite of small rooms contains some admirable specimens of other schools of painting. In one of the larger rooms is the famous group of the Niobe; two others are filled with portraits of artists, chiefly by their own hands ; and there are, besides, valuable collections of busts, coins, medals, gems, engravings, and drawings by the old masters. The Pitti collection of paintings is perhaps the finest in the world, not only from the chefs d'wuvre of the great masters, but from the small number of pictures which may be considered of even mediocre merit. The Academy is assigned for the best examples of early art down to the time of Fra Angélico and Perugino; and connected with it are the cloisters of the former convent of the Scalzo or barefooted friars, where are some of the finest works of Andrea del Sarto in chiaroscuro. The Egyptian museum in the Via Faenza is small, but contains several objects of interest, and the museum of Etruscan art under the same roof is peculiarly important from a life-size bronze statue, a marble Greek sarcophagus with a coloured representation of the battles between the Greeks and Amazons, and a terra-cotta statue of a lady in the costume of the third century before Christy Here also is an interesting fresco of the Last Supper attributed to Raphael, whilst the Convent de' Pazzi possesses the finest work of his master Perugino, a Crucifixion, now open to the public.

There are three large and valuable libraries in the city. The National library, which unites the former library of the Pitti with the Magliabecchian, the two together contain-ing 280,000 volumes : the Marucelliana, chiefly remarkable for important works on art; and the Laurentian, founded by Lorenzo de' Medici, and attached to the convent of San Lorenzo. This last is rich in a collection of more than 9000 valuable manuscripts, as well as illuminated bibles and miss.als. and possesses about 5ÍO.00.0 volumes of print. The pride of the collection is an original and perhaps unique copy of the Pandects of Justinian.

University and Schools.—The university of Florence, which is rather an institute for advanced studies,—Istituti de' Studi Superiori Pratici e di Perfezionamento,—has its origin as far back as the year 1348. It was divided into six "scholae," viz., theology, jurisprudence, medicine, belles lettres, Greek and Latin literature, and astrology or astronomy. To counteract the effects of the plague, which in the year just mentioned had decimated Florence and caused the city to be avoided by strangers, it was decreed that no one living within the walls, or even in the territory of the republic, should be allowed to seek an education abroad, and that those youths who were already attending other lyceums should forthwith return to their native city. In 1421 there were already 42 professors, and although in 1472 the Medici desired to revive the splendour of the Pisan university, and transferred several of the chairs from the city to Pisa, Florence retained many distinguished professors. The university underwent various changes, both in organization and name, but continued to flourish under the Medicean grand dukes. It gave rise to several academies, the most ancient of which was the Platonic, founded by Marsilio Ficino, for the cultivation of Greek literature, the Florentine academy, and the Accademia del Cimento (discussion) which had its rise with Galileo and his scholars. The Accademia della Crusca—named from crusca (bran) to express sifting the language—was founded in 1552, and the agricultural academy of the Georgofili in 1783. The taste for botany of Cosimo I. led to the formation of a herbal garden (Giardino de' Semplici)—and ultimately to the botanic garden under the walls of the Boboli. Natural science first formed a branch of study under the patronage of the Medici, who invited foreigners of scientific distinction to Florence. A vast collection of objects of natural science and physics having accumulated, the celebrated professor Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti, in the 18th century, threw them open to the public. The observatory, once attached to the museum, has been removed to a height corresponding with that on which Galileo made his observations. The collection in the museum was enriched by the valuable waxen anatomical preparations of Giulio Zummo of Syracuse, and by a unique collection of physical instruments, most of which had belonged to the Accademia di Cimento. The university was reorganized in 1859, when Baron Ricasoli presided over Tuscany. Several new professorships were founded, in law, philosophy, and philology. In 1869 a chair of anthropology was added. The medical school of Sta Maria Nuova has also been attached to the university. At one time the students of law, medicine, and natural science were expected to pursue their studies, first in Pisa, and the last two years in Florence, where they received their degrees. This has again been modified, and students in Florence have now the option of receiving degrees in Florence, Siena, or Pisa. Natural science degrees are conferred at the Specula, or institute of natural science, in the Via Romana.





The communal or municipal schools, where the pupils are admitted gratis, have increased enormously. From 4 schools under the last grand-duke, there are now, besides 32 elementary schools, 15 lyceums, of which three are for girls, and one of these a normal school for the training of teachers. The entire number of pupils in the schools averages 7900.

The manufactures are few and of small importance, that of silk standing first. The cultivation of the silk-worm and straw plaiting are the usual occupations of the people. The porcelain manufacture of the Marchese Ginori at Doccia, a few miles from Florence, has greatly fallen off in work as well as reputation; but a successful attempt to revive majolica ware has recently been made by Signor Can-tigalli, whose manufactory is beyond the Porta Romana.

Administration.—Florence is governed by a prefect or representative of the chief government, who has a force of carabineers (mounted police) at his disposal, besides guardie di sicurezza, partly paid by the municipality, although there is also a city police. The ancient office of gonfa-lonier is replaced by that of syndic, who is president of the junta or municipal council. The city is divided into four electoral districts, and sends four deputies to parliament. Every male inhabitant above twenty-five years of age has the right of suffrage, although twenty-one is the usual age qualifying for official posts in Italy.

Foundation.—The population of Florence is very fluctuating. In 1854 the inhabitants numbered 115,675, but during the short period when it was the capital of the new kingdom there was a large increase of Italians as well as foreigners; this diminished as rapidly on the transference of the capital to Rome. By the census taken December 31, 1871, the total population, foreigners included, amounted to 167,093. On December 23, 1876, the number had risen to 176,121. In 1871 there were 158,704 Italian Roman Catholics, 917 Italian Protestants, 2366 Jews, and 5106 of other sects.

The Florentines are gentle and courteous in their manners, though retaining the republican feeling of equality, and are well disposed towards all who treat them with kindness and respect. They are justly proud of the traditions of their native city, but are hardly conscious that centuries of misgovernment have left them behind in the race of civilization. Though the advantages of a liberal education are now open to them, and they are remarkably rapid in acquisition, the more important moral training is still wanting,—a defect which, with the absence of chiv-alrous respect for women, renders men of all classes, as is too much the case also in other parts of Italy, tyrannical to their wives and children, as well as indifferent to the suf-ferings of the lower animals, all alike being regarded as pro-perty, over which they have an absolute control. From their nervous physical organization the Florentines are defective in manly courage, but peculiarly sensitive to the beautiful in art, and able to reproduce all that is delicate and refined in decoration. As, however, with the decline of the healthy vigour and simple lives of their ancestors they have lost much of their originality, modern sculpture and painting are in general feeble, and wanting in truth of expression and colour. Though indolent and incapable of great exertion, the lower orders are industrious, and though impetuous, they have displayed exemplary patience and moderation in times of adversity. Their greatest misfor-tunes are the passion for gambling, with other vices remain-ing from a corrupt state of society, and the extremes of superstition and scepticism, which belong to the state of transition, political and religious, of the present era in Italy (1878). The large middle class, however, besides pro-ducing men eminent in literature and science, is rising in social and political importance, and by their intelligence and domestic virtues may well redeem faults in their fellow citizens, which are to be regarded rather as the result of adverse circumstances, than as a constant factor in the character of the Florentine people.

History.—Florence was originally a small trading village belonging to the Etruscan city of Fiesole, whence merchandise was sent down the Arno to Pisa, then a seaport. When colonized by the soldiers of Sulla, it gradually attained the dignity of a city, with the rank and privileges of a municipium. The name Florentia may have been derived from Florinus, a Roman general, or from Fluentia, because situated at the confluence of the Arno and Mugnone, or from the profusion of flowers growing in the vicinity. In the reign of Tiberius Caesar the Florentines sent an embassy to Rome to deprecate a decree of the Roman senate, by which, in order to check the inundations caused by the number of tributary streams flowing into the Tiber, it had been proposed to turn the Chiano into the Arno. Christi-anity was first introduced in 313 A.D., and the most cele-brated of early Florentine bishops was Zanobius, who died in 417, and to whom various miracles are ascribed. During his lifetime an invading army of barbarians approached Florence, but were defeated and destroyed in the fastnesses near Fiesole by the Roman general Stilicho. The Floren-tines, however, attributed the preservation of their city to the prayers of Zanobius. The victory was won in 405 on the 8th October, a day dedicated to a youthful saint, Repa-rata, who is said to have appeared in the midst of the battle, bearing in her hand a blood-red banner with the device of the white lily, which from that time became the badge of the city, whilst a new cathedral, built on the site of the old church of San Salvador, received her name. Florence had suffered the fate of other Italian cities at the hands of northern invaders, when Charlemagne, on his way to Rome, rebuilt its walls. Commerce began to flourish in the 10th century, when as yet German nobles or their descendants, who held their castles in fief of the German emperors, dwelt beyond the city. The pope, because an Italian sovereign, was regarded as the representative of national independence, and when Tuscany fell to the inheritance of the Countess Matilda, the Florentines found in her a patriotic champion of their rights, as well as a staunch adherent of the reigning pope, Gregory VII. A second circle of walls was built as a protection against the im-perialists, and Matilda obliged some of the powerful nobles in the neighourhood to yield their lands to the canons of Sta Reparata. She died in 1115, leaving a name so beloved by the Florentines that their female children were frequently christened Contessa, or Tessa, in remembrance of their benefactress. As the Florentines conquered and destroyed the castles of the robber chieftains who infested their neighbourhood, they obliged them to reside within their city—an impolitic measure, which sowed the seeds of future discord and civic war. The romantic story of the Buondelmonti, whose assassination in 1215, for a breach of promise of marriage, occasioned a fierce outbreak of strife, is an instance of the many feuds that caused bloodshed in Florence during centuries.

About 1240 the Paterini, a sect of Reformers, after the manner of the Albigenses in France, had gained considerably in numbers and influence, especially among the imperialists, who about this time assumed the name of Ghibel-lines. Their adversaries, the Guelphic or papal party, called in Peter Martyr, a Dominican friar of Verona, to rouse the multitude for the destruction of this heresy. Two columns in Florence still mark the spots where the Paterini were massacred. A few years later the Guelphic Florentines sustained a severe defeat from Manfred, a natural son of the emperor Frederick II., at Monteaperti near Siena; and the Ghibellines, whom they had banished, re-entered Florence. The Ghibelline conquerors proposed to level the city with the ground, but were deterred by the bold and determined opposition of one of their own party, Farinata degli Uberti, whose name has been immortalized by Dante. About this time a French pope, Clement IV., invited Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX. of France, to take possession of Naples and drive the imperialists from Italy; and after the defeat and death of Manfred at Benevento, Charles complied with the request of the Florentine Guelphs, to assume the lordship of their city. In 1282, however, the wealthier guilds of Florence established a form of government or signory of their own, consisting of members chosen among themselves with the title of priors. Not satisfied with having driven their Ghibelline rivals into banishment, they sent an army to encounter them at Campaldino, where the Ghibellines were defeated with great slaughter. To arrest the power of the nobles within the city, a new code was framed in 1293, which went so far as to exclude them from their rights as citizens, and an officer was appointed—gonfaloniere di gius-tizia (standard-bearer of justice)—with a guard of soldiers to enforce the laws. Seventy-two families were declared incapable of holding office, and as they naturally combined in self-defence, peace seemed as far removed as ever from the walls of Florence.

The 13th century is one of the most important in the annals of the city. When Boniface VIII. held his jubilee in 1300, twelve of the ambassadors representing foreign powers were Florentines. So vast were the riches of Florence at this period, that when a citizen of Verona beheld the yet unfinished campanile, and exclaimed that the wealth of two monarchies would not suffice for such a monument, he was shown the public treasury to convince him that were the Florentines so inclined, they could build their whole city of marble. The most illustrious of Florentine citizens, as well as poets, Dante Alighieri, born in 1265, was present at the battle of Campaldino in 1289, and was chosen prior of the republic in 1300. In his immortal poem, the Divina Commedia, he has preserved the names and deeds of the great men who made Florence renowned by their works. The friend of Dante, Guido Cavalcante, was considered no mean poet, and among the historians or chroniclers Dino Compagni and Giovanni Villani have left faithful records of their age. Cimabue commenced a new era in painting, and his pupil Giotto carried the art still further. Pre-eminent also in sculpture and architecture, in which Nicolo Pisano had led the way by his study of Greek art, Giotto built the beautiful cam-panile of the cathedral. St Croce, founded in 1297, and the new cathedral of St Maria del Fiore, were the work of the celebrated architect Arnolfo di Cambio. The exquisite church of Sta Maria Novella was also begun in this cen-tury. The bridge of Rubaconte or Delle Grazie, and that of Carraia, were added to the Poute Vecchio, and thus the two sides of the river were connected by three thorough-fares, although before the 13th century there had been no houses of importance south of the Arno.

With the commencement of the 14th century the parties which contended for power in Florence had assumed new names. On one side were the Bianchi, including the remnant of the old Ghibelline faction, but now represent-ing the popular party ; on the other, the Neri or Guelphs, who, under their leader, Corso Donati, represented the nobles or aristocracy of the city. Each party as it gained the ascendency sent its opponents into exile, until Pope Boniface VIII. again resorted to the fatal expedient of sending for a French prince, Charles of Valois, to restore order, and establish papal supremacy in the peninsula. When Charles arrived in Florence, he gave full licence to the Neri to pillage the city, and avenge their wrongs. The signory endeavoured to conciliate him by bribes, a measure to which Dante, then a prior, refused his consent, thus lead-ing to his own banishment. ' A few years later the emperor Henry of Luxembourg descended into Italy, and the Florentines, whilst boldly preparing to resist his pretensions, added a third circuit of walls to their city. His death in 1313 put an end to this danger.





In a war with Castruccio Castracani, the tyrant of Lucca and Pisa, the Florentines sought the assistance of Robert, king of Naples, the son of Charles of Valois; but soon becoming jealous of the foreign power they had themselves invited, they created a new officer of justice, called the Bargello or head of police, who exercised his authority with so much cruelty that for a few months Florence was subjected to a reign of terror. During another war with Lucca, the Florentines again applied to Robert of Naples, who sent them his son, the duke of Calabria. He was accom-panied by Walter de Brienne, duke of Athens, who, acting as lieutenant for the young prince, set aside the government of the priors, and ruled Florence with a rod of iron. The people could not long endure his acts of savage cruelty, and drove him from their city, after having put his minions to death in a manner so barbarous as to rival the deeds of the tyrant they had expelled. Tumults, a famine, and lastly the plague, devastated the land; and as a cul-mination of disasters, the mercenary troops employed everywhere in Italy roamed over the country and spread desolation wherever they came.

In 1378 occurred the famous rebellion of the Ciompi (Wooden Shoes), in which the artisans of Florence, led by a wool-carder, Michele di Lando, gained possession of the Palazzo Vecchio, and turned out the signory. Lando proved himself a man of sense and courage; he finally quelled the riot in which he had been engaged but had not roused, and restored the authority of the government. It was about this period that Salvestro de' Medici, Bettino Ricasoli, and Gino Capponi were among the leading men of the republic. From the riot of the Ciompi to the year 1390 Florence enjoyed the rare blessing of peace. This was broken by the ambitious thirst for universal dominion of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, lord of Milan, and Florence owed her preservation to her general, Sir John Hawkwood, an Essex tailor, who had joined the mercenary bands on the Continent, and earned himself wealth and celebrity as one of the greatest commanders of the age. The death of Gian Galeazzo in 1402 terminated the war. In 1406 the Florentines gained possession of their ancient rival Pisa after a long and cruel siege. The fall of Pisa put an end to the power of the Ghibelline or feudal party in Tuscany. In 1414, at the council of Constance, Pope John XXIII. was deposed, and came to reside in Florence, where his monument in the baptistery is one of the finest works of Donatello.

The wealth of the city was meantime always increasing, and manufactures of silk and woollen articles flourished within her walls. The richest of her citizens, Giovanni de' Medici, was chosen gonfalonier in 1426, but the popularity of this family had begun to excite the apprehension of all true patriots. When Giovanni introduced the " catasta," or inquiry into the possessions of every citizen, with a view to taxation according to their means—a measure favour-ably viewed by the lower orders,—it raised loud opposition on the part of the wealthy; for, however great their riches, none could compete with the Medici, and they saw in the " catasta" another stepping stone to raise their rival to greater power and authority. At Giovanni's death his popularity descended to his eldest son Cosimo, who lived to be called (however undeservedly) the father of his country. From him descended Lorenzo the Magnificent, Popes Leo X. and Clement VII., Catharine de' Medici queen of Henry II. of France, and Alexander, the first duke of Florence. From Giovanni's younger son Lorenzo descended the grand-dukes from Cosimo I. to Gian Gastone. Cosimo de' Medici and Rinaldo dei Albizzi represented the two great families who aspired to rule Florence. The Albizzi for a short time gained the ascendency, and Cosimo was sent into exile. Before a year he was recalled, and was created gonfalonier, and the Albizzi were banished.

ln 1441 an oecumenical council was held in Florence by Pope Eugenius IV., to settle the claims of the Latin and Greek Churches, when learned men arrived from the East, and introduced the study of Greek classical authors. Neri Capponi alone ventured to oppose the ambition of the Medici, and it was said of him that, if Cosimo was the wealthiest man, Neri was the wisest in Florence; but the death of Capponi in 1457 left the Medici without a rival. The death of Cosimo's favourite son Giovanni in 1463 cast a gloom over the few remaining months of his own life, for his surviving son Pietro was a man enfeebled by disease. At the death of Pietro in 1469, his young son Lorenzo relates how the principal men of the city and of the state came to their house to condole with them on their loss, and to encourage him to take on himself the care of the city and government, as his grandfather and father had done. In 1470 Lorenzo was created syndic, and the next year he entertained with the utmost magnificence Galeazzo Sforza, duke of Milan. In 1472 Volterra was added to the Florentine dominions. Such horrible atro-cities were committed during the siege and sack of this city, that the crime lay heavy on Lorenzo's conscience in his dying hour. In the Pazzi conspiracy of 1478 Lorenzo narrowly escaped with his life, whilst his brother Giovanni was murdered before the altar of the cathedral. The con-spirators were put to death with great barbarity, and Lorenzo's popularity rose higher than ever. Surrounded by men of genius and learning whom his wealth could buy, or the charms of his manners and accomplishments could attract, Lorenzo added to the honours of his native city by reviving Greek taste and culture.
The appearance of Girolamo Savonarola, or the "Frate," as he was called in Florence, awoke a new spirit. His denunciation of the immoral lives of the citizens, and of books and works of art which tended to lower rather than exalt human nature, including the writings of Lorenzo himself, were listened to by crowded audiences. Such was his influence that even Lorenzo, when on his death-bed in 1492, sent for the " Frate" to receive his confession, and grant him absolution. That absolution Savonarola refused, unless Lorenzo repented of his usurpations, and promised to restore a free government to Florence; but to this Lorenzo would not consent, and he died unshriven. The dawn of art and literature in the 13th century had attained its greatest brilliancy in the 14th and 15th. Before the Medici had risen to power, the city had been embellished by the works of Andrea Orcagna, Taddeo Gaddi, Fra Filippo Lippi, Fra Angelico, Andrea Castagno, Donatello, and Desiderio di Settignano ; Ghiberti had designed his Gates of Paradise for the baptistery; Brunelleschi had added a cupola to the cathedral; and Maso Finiguerra had led by his niello work to the discovery of copperplate engraving. It was in the 15th century that Bernardo Cennini introduced the art of printing into Florence. Filippino Lippi, Fra Bartolommeo and his friend Mariotto Albertinelli, Baccio d'Agnolo, Baldovinetti, Sandro Botticelli, the Ghirlandai, the Peselli, Benedetto da Rovezzano and Benedetto da Majano, Mino da Fiesole, Andrea Verocchio, and Leonardo da Vinci were the precursors, and some of them the con-temporaries, of Michelangelo, the glory of his fellow citizens. With Andrea del Sarto and Raphael—who, though from Urbino, painted some of his finest works in Florence— painting reached its highest perfection. Among the men of literature were Boccaccio, Guicciardini, Macchiavelli, Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola. Lorenzo's eldest son Piero succeeded to his honours; his second son Giovanni, already a cardinal, became afterwards Leo X., and his youngest son Giuliano, duke of Nemours, perhaps the only virtuous man among the Medici, died young.
When Charles VIII. of France was invited by Lodovico il Moro, lord of Milan, into Italy, Piero de' Medici, to conciliate the goodwill of the French king, visited him in his camp, and offered to yield the fortresses of Tuscany into his hands. On Piero's return to Florence he found himself condemned as a traitor, and had to escape from the city, followed by the rest of his family. Charles VIII. entered Florence in 1494, intending to restore the Medici, but the signory refused to comply with his request, and when the king, affecting to play the part of a conqueror in a vanquished city, dictated terms which he expected the Florentines to accept, Piero Capponi, one of that family of staunch republicans, tore the obnoxious paper in his presence. Charles angrily declared he would summon his troops by the call of the trumpet. " And we," replied Capponi, " will sound our bells"—the old war signal of the Florentines. Charles was forced to yield, but still lingered in Florence, until Savonarola, whose courage and sacred character appear to have overawed even this proud monarch, went to him and bade him begone. The influence of the "Frate" daily increased as well as the number of his followers; and eager to restore a free constitution to Florence, which he believed could only exist with virtue in her citizens, he persuaded the signory to call a grand council or parliament of the people. Charles VIII. had restored independence to Pisa, but the Florentines were eager to recover possession of that city, and since Pisa was the ally of Pope Alexander VI., the Borgia of infamous memory, and the greatest enemy of Savonarola, the "Frate" sanctioned the act. Piero Capponi perished during the course of this short war, and the Medici made a fresh attempt to re-enter Florence. The tide of popular favour was turning against Saronarola ; step by step he lost ground with the people, till after a violent tumultuary attack on his convent of St Mark in 1498, he was dragged to prison, torture, and execution.

Early in the 16th century Louis XII. of France having entered Italy to claim the duchy of Milan, by right of his grandmother Valentina, a Milanese princess, Pope Julius II., who had placed himself at the head of the league to drive him from the country, insisted on the Florentines joining the enemies of the French king and recalling the Medici. Piero had met his death by accidental drowning, but his son Lorenzo, duke of Urbino, returned to Florence, and after a short life of vicious indulgence, died in 1519, leaving an infant daughter, Catharine, afterwards married to Henry II. of France. Two illegitimate scions of the family, Ippolito and Alexander, now occupied the Medici palace in Florence. Clement VIL, also a Medici, who had succeeded Pope Julius, was at this time besieged in his castle of St Angelo by the Constable Bourbon, general of the emperor Charles V.; and in the year 1527 Rome was taken and sacked, to the consternation of all Europe, whilst the party in Florence hostile to the Medici alone perceived a gleam of hope in the destruction of a Medicean pope. Niccolo Capponi, a weak though amiable man, was the leader of this party, and Clarice, the sister of Lorenzo of Urbino and wife of Filippo Strozzi, one of the most unprincipled of Florentine citizens, appealed to Niccolo for aid to drive out of Florence the two youths Ippolito and Alexander, whom she refused to accept as belonging to her family. Meantime Clement had been reconciled to the emperor, and both approached Florence with a large army. After enduring all the protracted sufferings of a siege, and after the gallant but vain attempts of the patriot Feruccio to relieve his fellow citizens, Florence fell by treachery into the hands of the enemy; the Medici entered the city in triumph, and Alexander was created its duke (1530). Ippolito died by poison, administered, it is supposed, by his cousin Alexander, who, after a reign rendered detestable by his vices, was murdered in his bed by his cousin Lorenzino, in 1537. Cosimo de' Medici, son of Giovanni delle Bande Nere, a brave soldier and captain of mercenary troops, and descended from Lorenzo the brother of Cosimo the " father of his country," succeeded to the dukedom.

The conquest of Siena added to his wealth and power; and in 1569 the pope created him grand-duke of Tuscany. Though accused of the murder of two of his sons and of a daughter, Cosimo had the force of character and ability to command fear, if not respect, from the people over whom he tyrannized. He was a patron of art, and this hereditary taste was continued in his son the grand-duke Francis I. (1575).

The school of art founded by Michelangelo had degenerated into feeble exaggerations, without the genius of the great master. Giovanni Bolcgna and Benvenuto Cellini alone struck out new and original paths ; and the elegance and grace of their works in bronze and marble still adorn the public places of Florence, eclipsing the clumsy produc-tions of their contemporaries, Francis was married first to Joanna of Austria, and secondly to a beautiful Venetian lady, Bianca Capello, whose first husband was assassinated to make way for the grand-duke. Francis and Bianca died on the same day, 1587, not without suspicion of having been poisoned by his brother and successor Ferdinand, who resigned a cardinal's hat for the dukedom, and married Princess Christina of Lorraine. A double alliance was formed with France by the union in marriage of his niece Marie de' Medici, daughter of Francis, with King Henry IV. Cosimo II. succeeded Ferdinand in 1609. The day of his accession Galileo Galilei discovered the satellites of Jupiter, which, in compliment to the young sovereign, he named " Stelle Medicei." See GALILEO.

Ferdinand II. was still a child when he ascended the throne in 1621. He married Vittoria della Rovere, heiress of Urbino ; and though her lands were claimed by the church, she brought a rich dowry to Florence. Ferdinand and his brother Cardinal Leopold added greatly to the art treasures in the galleries, and founded academies of art and science. Cosimo III., who succeeded in 1670, was a narrow-minded bigot, whose marriage with a gay young princess of the court of Louis XIV. of France ended in separation. He died in 1713, leaving one son, Gian Gastone, whose mild character, aversion to the punishment of death, and abolition of oppressive taxes made him popular with his subjects. Commerce, industry, and agriculture flourished during the reign of this last of the Medici. At his death in 1737 he left no male heirs to the throne. Tuscany had been already assigned by a European agreement—the celebrated Pragmatic Sanction-—to Francis duke of Lorraine in compensation for his duchy, which had been annexed to France. In 1753 an edict gave Tuscany to the second son of Francis and the empress Maria Theresa; and two years later, on the death of his father, Pietro Leopoldo of Austria arrived in Florence to take possession of the throne. His short reign marked a new era of progress and reform. The Inquisition was abolished, privileges set aside, and plans proposed for draining and colonizing the Maremma. In 1790 Leopold was called to Vienna to succeed his brother Joseph II. as emperor, and left his younger son Ferdi-nand III. grand-duke of Tuscany. By an article of the Pragmatic Sanction, Tuscany had been declared a separate and independent sovereignty; therefore, when, after the outburst of the French Revolution, the emperor Francis II. claimed the assistance of a Tuscan army to restore the Bourbons in France, the great minister Fossombroni refused, declaring that Tuscany was on terms of peace and amity with the French republic. But in 1796 Ferdinand, yield-ing to the importunity of the court at Vienna, joined in the war against France, and two years later Florence was occupied by a French army. The first consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, conquered Tuscany, and whilst Ferdinand renounced his rights on condition of a compensation in Germany, one of the Bourbons of Parma was placed on his throne as king of Etruria. Tuscany was annexed to the
French empire in 1808, but in 1809 the grand-duchy was restored in favour of Eliza Bonaparte Bacciochi, sister of the emperor Napoleon.

Her reign lasted only five years, and after Napoleon had been exiled to Elba, Ferdinand resumed his sovereignty. On this occasion an Austrian, Prince Rospigliosi, was sent to Florence to announce his arrival, and in his proclamation he declared Tuscany to be an inheritance and patrimony of the imperial house of Austria. The vain attempt of Lombardy in 1820 to shake off the Austrian yoke, an attempt in which the crown prince of Piedmont, Carlo Alberto, was secretly implicated, ended in the incarceration of some of the noblest Italian patriots in Austrian fortresses for a period of from 16 to 20 years. It was vain for Fossombroni to protest, and declare that the Tuscan Govern-ment did not require Austrian soldiers to play the masters ; Austrian soldiers arrived to occupy Tuscany as well as the other Italian states, and the aulic counsellor Menz wrote to Prince Metternich that " the Tuscan Government, led to reflect on its dangers, had assumed a firmer attitude, and constituted a more active and vigilant police, and, at all events, the respect inspired by Austrian bayonets placed at the gates of Tuscany were sufficient to dispel revolutionary ideas." Ferdinand died in 1833, and was succeeded by his son Leopold II., who had married a Neapolitan princess. Alarmed by the revolutionary movements of 1847, Leopold, like other Italian princes, granted his people a constitution, but when they further demanded to be led against the Austrians, to assist in driving the foreigner from Italy, he reluctantly permitted the Tuscan army, chiefly consisting of young volunteers, to depart. The enthusiastic youths who fought for the independence of their country displayed unwonted valour at Curtalone and Montanara; but the grand-duke signified his displeasure by withdrawing titles and pensions from even the surgeons who attended the wounded on the field of battle. Among the liberals in Florence who had long been seeking an opportunity to shake off foreign interference in the government of their country, were men of the greatest moderation and virtue,—. Baron Bettino Ricasoli, the Marchese Cosimo Ridolfi, the poets Niccolini and Giusti, Salvagnoli, the Marchese Neri Corsini, and the Marchese Gino Capponi, the last of that family illustrious for virtue, for genius, and for patriotism. The grand-duke, who either shared the principles of his family, or had not courage to place himself at the head of the distinguished men who coincided with the view of the Piedmontese minister Cavour, invited Austrian troops in 1850 again to occupy his dominions, and though Leopold affected to submit to necessity, the Austrian general de-clared he would not have come uninvited. This occupa-tion lasted six years, during which time the power of life and death of Tuscan subjects was delivered into the hands of the Austrian commanders. When Victor Emmanuel, king of Piedmont and Sardinia, with the assistance of France, made war against Austria for the independence of Italy in 1859, a vain hope was still entertained that Leopold would have consented to unite his army with, that of Piedmont; but the proclamation of war went forth without a sign from Tuscany. On the 27th April 1859 the Tuscan troops unanimously declared their intention to throw down their arms unless they were allowed to join the War of Independence. The liberals insisted on the abdication of Leopold in favour of his son, and on an offensive and defensive alliance with Piedmont. Leopold declined these proposals, and quitted Florence with his family, amidst the silence of the assembled multitudes, never to return.

The following year Victor Emmanuel entered Florence, which in 1865 became the capital of his kingdom of Italy. It was not until 1870 that the hopes of the Florentines were disappointed, and the seat of government was trans-ferred to Rome.

See the histories of the Florentine Republic by Gino Capponi, Atto Vanucci, T. A. Trollope, and Henry Napier; P. Villari's Memoirs of Savonarola, translated by Leonard Horner, &c. (A. S. H.)



Footnotes

Shortly before his death iu 1876, at upwards of 80 years of age, he completed his admirable liistory of the Florentine Republic, Storia della Repubblica di Firenze di Gino Capponi, 2 torn., 8vo, 1875.




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