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Italian Renaissanc1

Italian Renaissanc1 - Italian Renaissance(1330-1550...

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Italian Renaissance (1330-1550) Florence and the Medici (1397-1495) Summary Florence is often named as the birthplace of the Renaissance. The early writers and artists of the period sprung from this city in the northern hills of Italy. As a center for the European wool trade, the political power of the city rested primarily in the hands of the wealthy merchants who dominated the industry. These merchants built enormous gilded mansions in the city, villas in the country, and contributed to the construction of grand cathedrals, spawning the physical rebirth of the city. A spirit of competition developed between the rich merchants, who often competed with each other to see who could commission the grandest buildings and the finest works of art. Competition augmented the fervor with which the city entered into the Renaissance. The Medici family, which controlled Florence throughout much of the Renaissance, played a large part in the patronage of the arts and the political development of the city. In 1397, Giovanni de Medici, the banker to the Papal Court, established headquarters in Florence. As a wealthy and influential citizen, Giovanni had virtually no choice but to participate in public life, holding almost every political office in Florence at some point. Giovanni died in 1429, leaving behind a legacy of patronage for the arts, an immense fortune, and a son, Cosimo de Medici, who was educated in the principles of humanism. Cosimo de Medici took over the family banking business at the age of forty. A successful businessman, Cosimo built up his father's fortune and established business connections all over Europe. By 1434, Cosimo de Medici had consolidated power for himself and his family in Florence, all the while maintaining the appearance of democratic government. Cosimo clung to his position as a private citizen, but it was clear to all that he ruled the city of Florence from behind the scenes.
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