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Renaissance - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Course Date Giovanni Villani: Florence in the Renaissance. The Chronicle of Giovanni Villani is a very revealing account of Florence and Renaissance Italy. Villani lived from 1276 – 1348 C.E. As a banker by profession, he was obviously an active participant in the life of his city, and his involvement is demonstrated in his detailed chronicle of life in Florence at the beginning of the Italian Renaissance…
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Download file to see previous pages His history reveals those factors which played a major role in the lives of Florentines as they stood on the threshold of the Renaissance. The Chronicle of Giovanni Villani demonstrates that Florence exemplified Renaissance Italy with its emphasis on commerce and the advancement of artistic creativity and was greatly affected by the devastation caused by the plague. Villani’s account of Florence as a thriving commercial center demonstrates that it was this economic prosperity which was one of the driving factors of the Renaissance in Italy. As typical of Renaissance Italian city-states, Florence is a flourishing center of commerce and an integral part of the trade network with the Eastern Empire. As fitting in any description of a commercial center, Villani holds “the income and expenditure of the commune of Florence in this period” to be one of the “great features of our city” (41). He goes on to give a detailed account of the income generated by the city’s manufacturing guilds, which are obviously the power houses of Florence’s economy and the foundation of its wealth and power. Villani demonstrates the dominance of the city’s largest industry, the woolen cloth makers by asserting that their workshops “were 200 or more, and they made from 70,000 to 80,000 pieces of cloth which were worth more than 1,200,000 gold florins --- and more than 30,000 persons lived by it” (42). In addition to the manufacture of cloth, the importers and sellers of Transapline cloth “imported yearly more than 10,000 pieces of cloth, worth 300,000 gold florins” (42). Villani glosses over the noble magnates and knights and gives the greater importance to the merchants, mercers, bankers, bakers, stone and carpentry masters and “many other masters in many crafts” (42) who make up the guilds. This supports our knowledge of Renaissance Florence, in which the members of a craft or merchant organization formed the commune which wielded authority over the political and economic affairs of the city. Villani confirms the erosion of the power of the traditional landed aristocracy in the Italian Renaissance, saying, “but from the time that the people began to rule, the magnates no longer had the status and authority enjoyed earlier” (41). Villani makes it clear that it is the members of the manufacturing guilds and professionals who are at the top of the social hierarchy. Renaissance Florence’s dominant position in the trade network is supported by Villani’s account of the city’s ability to meet the famine. Unlike other towns which ejected their beggars at this time of want, “the commune of Florence --- received and provided for a large fraction of the poor mendicants of all Tuscany” (39). The commune arranges for grain to be bought from Sicily and the regions surrounding the city (Romagna and Arezzo), to be transported at great expense and used to feed all the citizens. Villani pays tribute to Florence’s economic power by asserting that “in mitigation of this famine the commune of Florence spent in those two years more than sixty thousand golden florins” (39). Villani’s chronicle bears testimony to economic power and trade being the main cause for Florence’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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