An independent city-state with a population of 60,000 in the early 15th century, Florence achieved its wealth through the manufacture and trade of wool and other cloth. Since the 14th century, the city state had been organized into a dozen artist guilds. These commercially focused trade organizations were underpinned by a robust banking system, with the gold florin accepted as standard coinage across the Continent.
The rise of Florentine culture came after the threat from the Duke of Milan was vanquished and the Medici family came into their own as benevolent rulers who supported the arts. Committed to a new form of humanism, leading thinkers and artists drew inspiration from the achievements of earlier Florentine notables, including Dante Alighieri and Giotto.
Over a period of a century, elaborate paintings and sculptures were commissioned for churches, commercial buildings, and private residences throughout the city. Key figures in this vibrant emergence of the arts included Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli.
About the author
A psychology student at the University of Miami, Isabel Harris Eide has had the opportunity to travel to diverse countries spanning the globe, from Southeast Asia to Italy. While in Florence, Isabel Harris Eide took Italian culinary classes and studied art history. Florence was at the epicenter of the Renaissance, which involved a rebirth of arts and learning throughout much of Europe.