Sunday, December 28, 2008

In the 1340s

There is so much political history of interest in medieval Florence: the famous Guelph and Ghibelline feud, with exiles and triumphant returns, and the subsequent division within the Guelph party. There was war with Lucca, with Pisa, with Milan, with the Papal States. The city was ruled by despots Charles of Valois and Walter of Brienne.

Famine, plague, flood, and fire struck in turn.

New city walls were being built, and new churches, new palaces, and new piazzas.

Charles Eliot Norton studies Sienna, Pisa, and Florence in contrast. "The new cathedral in an Italian city was the witness of civic as well as religious devotion, of pride and of patriotism consecrated by piety. It was also the sign of the favor of Heaven in the bestowal of the prosperity of which it gave evidence."1

This is one of my favorites from 1340 because the baby is lifting his arms up to his mother so that she will hold him, just like Louis does with me.

Gene Brucker describes the period in his book entitled Renaissance Florence. "The guild regime established in 1282 initiated one major project after another: the reconstruction of the old Badia and the third circle of walls in 1294, the cathedral in 1296, the palace of the Signoria in 1299. Work on the cathedral and walls progresses very slowly in the early fourteenth century, but the tempo of construction quickened in teh 1330s when the walls were finally completed. The foundations of the cathedral campanile and the Loggia of Orsanmichele were laid down in 1334 and 1137; the reconstructing of the Ponte Vecchio began immediately after its collapse furing the 1333 flood and was finished twelve years later. Meanwhile, the great basilicas of the mendicant orders, S. Maria Novella and S. Croce, were being completed, subsidized by the contributions of pious Florentines and also by occasional grants from the communal treasury."2

The documents from the 1330s of the Misericordia confraternity from the 1330s mainly discuss election of officers and the administrative structure of the confraternity, indications that the organization was at a stage where it was busy focusing internally, on operations, so that in the 1340s they could focus outward.

1. Norton, Charles Eliot. Historical Studies of Church Building in the Middle Ages: Venice, Siena, Florence. pp. 21-22

2. Brucker, Gene. Renaissance Florence.p. 25

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