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The city at the heart of the Renaissance was founded by the Italics between the X and VIII centuries B.C. In 59 B.C., veterans of Caesar’s army set up camp at a site that is known today as Florence. The name comes from the Ludi Floreales period, which was celebrated in honour of the Goddess Flora.

The city was later invaded by the Barbarians who defeated a somewhat passive Lombard army, whose main interest was protecting Lucca, the capital of Tuscany at the time. Charlemagne re-founded the city and in 854 managed to unite the two counties of Florence and Fiésole, making it the most influential county in the region.

The residence of the Marquis of Tuscany was transferred to Florence, and from 1000 onwards the city flourished economically and demographically.

Autonomous Organisation: While the city maintained its independence from the emperor, its citizens started to become politically organised around 1138. The nobility of the time were all-powerful and decisions made by the twelve consuls were restricted by two assemblies, a sen- ate and a parliament.

From the XIII century onwards the city’s importance within the country grew, rivalling Siena and Pisa and establishing the post of Podestá, which allowed an outsider take control of judicial, executive and military power. Regional clashes continued and the city was razed after a defeat at Montaperti in 1260, at the hands of the army of Siena, which was supported by the gibelinos. Later the gibelinos were defeated by the Florentine güelfos.

Crisis prior to the Medici: Florence continued to grow in terms of business, power, freedom and indepen- dence. Nonetheless internal conflict failed to come to a halt and the dictatorships of Carlos de Calabria and Gautier de Brienne, together with the plague of 1348, submerged the city in a profound crisis.

This period preceded the Medicis rise to fortune. In 1434, Cosimo de Medici took control of the city, having spent one year in exile. From this point on, Florence became the epicentre of Italian humanism. Artists, architects and literary figures flocked to the city, which underwent one of its most fruit- ful periods that would last until1494.

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