History of Florence, Italy

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Florence History: A Historical Chronology

This is a chronology of the major events that have played a part in shaping the Florence of today.

59 BC - Florence begins to grow as a Roman town

541-4 AD - Byzantine walls added to the Roman walls, as protection against the Ostrogoths. Walls also built in 9th, 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries.

570 - Tuscany is taken by the Lombards, who set up their administration in Pavia and Lucca

781 and 786 - Charlemagne, King of the Franks, visits Florence, which has become part of the Carolingian Empire (later the Holy Roman Empire) ruled by Margraves based in Lucca

1115 - death of the last Margrave, Matilda, followed by the formation of the first Comune (the city-state) in which Florence is run by a 100-strong assembly

1235 - the Florin is first minted in silver, and then in 1252, in gold; the Florin is used as a standard coin in Europe, there is evidence of the pre-eminence of Florence in European finance

1250-60 - the Primo Popolo regime is dominated by the trade guilds

1265 - birth of Dante Alighieri in Florence

1296 - construction of the Duomo, Florence's cathedral, is begun under Arnolfo di Cambio

1302 - Dante is exiled by Charles of Valois

1340s - economic crisis, due in part to the bankruptcy of the Peruzzi and Bardi family bankers by Edward III of England and also partly to the Black Death (plague), after which the population of Florence is reduced by half

1378 - uprising of the Ciompi (wood carders), high point of labor unrest

1406 - Florence captures Pisa, gaining direct access to the sea

1458 - Cosimo de' Medici recognized as ruler of Florence

1469 - birth of Machiavelli

1469-92 - rule of Lorenzo the Magnificent, artistic highpoint

1475 - birth of Michelangelo

1478 - Pazzi conspirators scheme to have Giuliano and Lorenzo de' Medici murdered in the cathedral. Giuliano is killed but Lorenzo escapes by hiding in the sacristy

1494 - surrender of Florence to Charles VIII of France at Sarzana

1498 - Savonarola burned at the stake in Piazza della Signoria after four years of rule

1502 - Republic of Florence retakes Pisa

1570 - Cosimo I creates Tuscan state free from Pope and Holy Roman Empire

1743 - death of Anna Maria Luisa, last of the Medici, the Medici inheritance is bequeathed to Florence and becomes the basis of the Uffizi Gallery collection. Florence is then ruled by the house of Lorraine under Francis Stephen, who becomes Emperor I of Austria.

1799-1814 - Tuscany is occupied by Napoleon's troops

1865-1870 - Florence is made capital of the newly united Kingdom of Italy. King Vittorio Emmanuele is installed in Palazzo Pitti

1944 - on August 4, Germans blow up all the bridges in Florence except Ponte Vecchio

1966 - on November 4, the Arno River bursts its banks and Florence is flooded

1993 - bombing of the Uffizi Gallery

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