Located in the province of Tuscany (Central Italy). The city is situated on the Arno in a fertile plain at the foot of the Fiesole hills, whence came its first inhabitants (about 200 B.C.). In 82 B.C. Sulla destroyed it because it supported the democratic party at Rome. In 59 B.C. it was rebuilt by Cæsar at a short distance from its original site. It served then as a military post and commanded the ford of the Arno. Soon afterwards it became a flourishing municipium.
INSTITUTIONS AND BUILDINGS
Florence is the seat of a university, and possesses also an institute of social science, conservatory of music, a botanical garden, and an observatory (astronomical, meteorological, and seismological). Various scientific societies have their centres there, e. g. the Accademia della Crusca, whose famous Italian dictionary is one of the glories of the city. The city has four libraries containing many rare manuscripts. The Biblioteca Nazionale, one of the largest and most important in Europe, founded in 1861 by merger of the famous Magliabecchiana and the former (Pitti) Bibliotheca Palatina; the Laurentiana, founded in 1444 by Cosimo de' Medici; the Marucelliana, containing a collection of brasses; the Riccardiana. The State archives are the most important in Italy. Various art collections are: the Uffizi Gallery; the Pitti, in the old palace of the grand dukes; the archaeological museum with its fine collection of coins and tapestries; the Museum of the Duomo or cathedral; the Accademia delle belle arti (Academy of the Fine Arts); and the Casa Buonarroti (house of Michelangelo). The charitable institutions include: the Great Hospital (Arcispedale) of Santa Maria Nuova (1800 beds), founded in 1285 by Falco Portinari, the father of Dante's Beatrice; the Hospital of the Innocents, or Foundling Hospital (1421); a home for the blind; an insane asylum, and many private charities.
Among the numerous charitable works of Florence the most popularly known is that of the "Confraternità della Misericordia", founded in 1244, and attached to the oratory of that name close by the cathedral. Its members belong to all classes of Florentine society, the highest as well as the lowest, and are bound to quit all work or occupation at the sound of the oratory bell, and hasten to any scene of accident, violent illness, sudden death, and the like. The costume of the brotherhood is a rough black robe and girdle, with a hood that completely covers the head except two loopholes for the eyes. Thus attired, a little group may frequently be seen hastening through the streets of Florence, bearing on their shoulders the sick or the dead to the specific institution that is to care for them (Bakounine, "La miséricorde à Florence" in "Le Correspondant", 1884, 805-26).
The chief industries are the manufacture of majolica ware, the copying of art works and their sale, also the manufacture of felt and straw hats.
The more noted of the public squares of Florence are the Piazza della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia de' Lanzi, and the historic fountain by Ammannati); the Piazza del Duotho; the Piazza di Santa Croce with its monument to Dante; the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, adorned by two obelisks. Among the famous churches of Florence are the following: Santa Maria del Fiore, otherwise the Duomo or cathedral, begun in 1296 by Arnolfo del Cambio, consecrated in 1436 by Eugene IV, and called del Fiore (of the flower), either in reference to the name of the city or to the municipal arms, a red lily on a white ground. It is about 140 yards long, and badly proportioned. The admirable Campanile was begun by Giotto, but finished by Taddeo Gaddi (1334-36). The majestic dome is by Brunelleschi (1420) and furnished inspiration to Michelangelo for the dome of St. Peter's. The façade was not completed until 1887; the bronze doors are also a work of recent date. The Baptistery of San Giovanni dates from the seventh century; it was remodelled in 1190, again in the fifteenth century, and is octagonal in form. San Giovanni was the old cathedral of Florence, around which in Lombard times (seventh and eighth centuries) the city grew up. Some have maintained that it rises on the site of an ancient temple of Mars. Dante mentions it twice with veneration in the Paradiso (xv, 136-37; xvi, 25-27). The three massive bronze doors of the Baptistery are unparalleled in the world; one of them is the work of Andrea Pisano (1330), the remaining two are the masterpieces of Lorenzo Ghiberti (1403-47), and were declared by Michelangelo fit to serve as the gates of paradise. Santa Croce (Franciscans) is a Gothic church (1294-1442), with frescoes by Giotto and his school. It is a kind of national Pantheon, and contains monuments to many illustrious Italians. In the cloister stands the chapel of the Pazzi family, the work of Brunelleschi, with many rich friezes by the della Robbia. (Ozanam, "Sainte Croix de Florence" in "Poètes franciscains ital.", Paris, 1852, 273-80). Santa Maria Novella, the Dominican counterpart of Santa Croce, begun in 1278 by Fra Jacopo Talenti da Nipozzano, is also a Gothic edifice. The façade is by Leone Battista Alberti. The church contains frescoes by Orcagna, Ghirlandaio, and Fra Lippo Lippi. In its Ruccellai chapel is the famous Madonna of Cimabue. Or San Michele, a unique artistic monument, was meant originally, it is said, for a corn-market, but was remodelled in 1336. On the exterior walls are to be seen admirable statues of the patron saints of the various Florentine guilds, the work of Verrocchio, Donatello, Ghiberti, and others. San Lorenzo, dedi cated in 393 under the holy bishop Zanobius by St. Ambrose, with a sermon yet preserved (P. L., XIV, 107), was altered to its present shape (1421-61) by Brunelleschi and Manetti at the instance of Cosimo de' Medici. It contains in its sacristies (Nuova, Vecchia) tombs of the Medici by Verrocchio, and more famous ones by Michelangelo. San Marco (1290), with its adjacent convent decorated in fresco by Fra Angelico was the home also of Fra Bartolommeo della Porta, and of Savonarola. Santissima Trinità contains frescoes by Ghirlandaio. Santa Maria del Carmine, con tains the Brancacci Chapel, with frescoes by Masaccio, Masolino, and Filippino Lippi. Other monumental or historic churches are the. Santissima Annunziata (mother-house of the Servites) and the Renaissance church of Ognissanti (Franciscan).
Several Benedictine abbeys have had much to do with the ecclesiastical history of Florence. Among them are San Miniato, on the Arno, about twenty-one miles from Florence, restored in the eleventh century, since the seventeenth century an episcopal see (Cappelletti, "Chiese d' Italia", Venice, 1862, XVII 305-47; Rondoni, "Memorie storiche di San Miniato", Venice, 1877, p. 1148); La Badia di Santa Maria, founded in 977 (Galletti, Ragionamenti dell' origine e de' primi tempi della Badia Fiorentina, Rome, 1773); San Salvatore a Settimo, founded in 988; Vallombrosa founded in 1039 by St. John Gualbert. All of these being within easy reach of the city, exercised strong religious influence, particularly in the long conflict between the Church and the Empire. Besides the public buildings already mentioned, we may note the Loggia del Bigallo, the Palazzo del Podestà (1255) now used as a museum, the Palazzo Strozzi, Palazzo Riccardi, Palazzo Rucellai, and several other private edifices of architectural and historic interest.
Saints and Popes.
Florence is the mother of many saints. Besides those already mentioned, there are Bl. Uberto degli Uberti, Bl. Luca Mongoli, Bl. Dome nico Bianchi, Bl. Antonio Baldinucci, St. Catherine de' Ricci, St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi, and St. Philip Neri. The Florentine popes are: Leo X (1513-21), Clement VII (1523-34), Clement VIII (1592-1605), Leo XI (1605), Urban VIII (1623-44), and Clement XII (1730-40).
Since 1420 Florence has been an archdiocese; its suffragan sees are: Borgo San Sepolero, Colle di Val d'Elsa Fiesole, San Miniato, Modigliana, and the united Dioceses of Pistoia and Prato. The Archdiocese of Florence has 800 secular and 336 regular clergy; 479 parishes and 1900 churches, chapels, and oratories; 200 theological students; 44 monasteries (men) and 80 convents (women). In 1907 the population of the archdiocese, almost exclusively Catholic, was 500,000.
The literature of this subject is so extensive that only a few titles
can be here given. General bibliographies will be found
in CHEVALIER, Topo-bibl. (Paris, 1894--) 8. v., and P. BIGAZZI, Firenze
e contorni, manuale bibliographico-biografico (Florence, 1893), 360. ECCLESIASTICAL:--CAPPELLETTI,
Le chiese d'Italia (Venice, 1861), XVI, 407-12; CERRACHINI, Cronologia
sacra dei vescovi ed arcivescovi di frirenze (Florence, 1718 LAMIO, Sacrce
Ecc. Florentinae Monumenta (Florence, 1738; GORI, Hagiologium Ecc. Florent.
(Florence, 1787); RICHA, Notizie istoriche delle chiese florentine (Florence
1754-62); COCCHI Le chiese di Firenze dal secolo IV jino al secolo XX (Florence,
1903). The reader may also consult the seventeenth-century documentary
work of UGHELLI, Italia Sacra, III, 14 sqq., and F. M. FIORENTINI, Hetruscae
pietatis origines (Lucca, 1701); also CIANFOGNI (ed. MORENI), Memorie istoriche
delta Ambrosiana basilica di San Lorenzo (Florence, 1804, 1816, 17); LUMACHI,
Mernorie storiche dell' antica basilica di San Giovanni di Firenze (Florence,
1782) and G. BEFANI, Memorie storiche dell' antica basilica di San Giovanni
di Firenze (Florence, 1886); GODKIN, The Monastery of San Marco in Florence
(London, 1887). For the hospitals and other charitable works of Florence,
see PASSERINI, Storia degli stabilimenti di beneficenza della città
di Firenze (Florence, 1853).--For the ecclesiastical sciences in Florence
see CERRACHINI, Catalogo generate de' teologi della eccelsa univ. Fiorentina
(Florence, 1725); IDEM, Faati teologici (Florence, 1738); SCHIFF, L'Università
degli studi in Firenze (Bologna, 1887). CIVIL:--Florentine historiography
is very rich, and may best be studied in special introductory works like
BALZANI, Le Cronache d'Italia (Milan, 1884). also in Eng. tr. S. P. C.
K.: cf. HEGEL, Ueber die Anjange der florentinischen Geschichtschreiburg
in SYBEL, Hist. Zeitschrift (1876), XXXV, 32-63; also the pertinent writings
of SCHEFFER-BOICHORST, e. g. Florentiner Studien (Leipzig i873). For the
Historie Fiorentine, or Chronica of GIOVANNI VILLANI (d. 1348), see the
Turin edition (1879) and for the still more celebrated Historic Fiorenline,
libri VIII oi MACHIAVELLI see the PASSERINI edition (Florence, 1873), and
the Eng. tr. in Bohn's Standard Library (1847). Among the modern comprehensive
histories of Florence may be mentioned: CAPPONI, Storia delta repubblica
florentina (3d ed., Florence, 1886); VILLARI, Storia di Firenze (Milan,
1890); IDEM, I due primi secoli delta storia di Firenze (Florence, 1893-98);
PER HENS, Histoire de Florence depuis see origines jusqu'à la domination
des Médici (9 vols., Paris, 1877-90) HARTWIG, Quellen und Forschungen
zur älteren Geschichte der Stadt Florenz (Marburg, 1878), Much important
material, both ecclesiastical and civil, for the medieval history of Florence,
is found in MURATORI'S famous collection of medieval Italian annals and
chronicles: Scriptores Rerum Itahcarum, 28 folio volumes (Milan, 1723-1751;
new ed. small quarto, 1900 sqq.).
MISCELLANEOUS:--YRIARTE, Florence, l'histoire les Médicis les humanistes lea lettres, tea arts (Paris, 1880), tr. (London, 1882); KLEINPAUL, Florenz in Wort und Bud (Leipzig, 1888); MORENI, Notizie istoriche dei contorni di Firenze (Florence, 1790-96); OLIPHANT The Makers of Florence, Dante, Giotto, Savonarota and their City (London, 1880) E. M. CLERKE, Florence in the Time of Dante in Dublin Review (1879), LXXXV, 279, The writings of Ruskin (1819-1900) on Italian art abound with studies and impressions of the Florentine artists. SYMONDS, The Age of the Renaissance (London, 1882--) deals at great length with the literary and political figures of Florentine history in the fifteenth century; in ecclesiastical matters he is not unfrequently prejudiced, insular, and unduly harsh. The German writings of VON REUMONT have also done much to make better known the medieval influence and prestige of the great city by the Arno.