History Podcasts

Florence Scala

Florence Scala

Florence Scala, the daughter of an Italian tailor, was born in Chicago in 1920. She grew up in in the Nineteenth Ward of Chicago and was educated at the Hull House Settlement. Later she became a volunteer at Hull House.

In 1959 the University of Illinois began looking for a site to build a new campus. The following year the city authorities suggested the area which housed the Hull House Settlement. The fight against this scheme was led by Jessie Binford and Florence Scala. On 5th March, 1963, the trustees of Hull House accepted an offer of $875,000 for the settlement buildings. Binford and Scala took the case to the Supreme Court but it decided in favor of the University and the Hull House Settlement was closed on 28th March, 1963.

After complaints from long-time supporters of the settlement it was decided to preserve the original Hull House building and turn it into a museum.

I was born in Chicago, and I've always loved the city. I'm not sure any more. I love it and I hate it every day. What I hate is that so much of it is ugly, you see? And you really can't do very much about it. I hate the fact that so much of it is inhuman in the way we don't pay attention to each other. And we can do very little about making it human ourselves.

What I love is the excitement of the city. There are things happening in the city every day that make you feel dependent on your neighbor. But there's detachment, too. You don't really feel part of Chicago today.

I grew up around Hull House, one of the oldest sections of the city. In those early days I wore blinders. I wasn't hurt by anything very much. When you become involved, you begin to feel the hurt, the anger. You begin to think of people like Jane Addams and Jessie Binford and you realize why they were able to live on. They understood how weak we really are and how we could strive for something better if we understood the way.

My father was a tailor, and we were just getting along in a very poor neighborhood. He never had any money to send us to school. When one of the teachers suggested that our mother send us to Hull House, life began to open up. At that time, the neighborhood was dominated by gangsters and hoodlums. They were men from the old country, who lorded it over the people in the area. It was the day of the moonshine. The influence of Hull House saved the neighborhood. It never really purified it. I don't think Hull House intended to do that.

For the first time my mother left the darn old shop to attend Mother's Club once a week. She was very shy, I remember. Hull House gave you a little insight into another world. There was something else to life beside sewing and pressing.

Sometimes as a kid I used to feel ashamed of where I came from because at Hull House I met young girls from another background. Even the kinds of food we ate sometimes you know, we didn't eat roast beef, we had macaroni. I always remember the neighborhood as a place that was alive. I wouldn't want to see it back again, but I'd like to retain the being together that we felt in those days.

There were Negroes living in the neighborhood, but there was not the tension. I've read about those riots in Chicago in the twenties - the race riots. But in our neighborhood it never did come to any kind of crisis. We used to treat each other as neighbors. I think that the man who came over from Europe, the southern European especially, who was poor, could understand and see the same kind of struggle and have immediate sympathy for it. He accepted the Negro in the community as a man who is just trying to make a way for himself, to make a living.

In the early sixties, the city realized it had to have a campus, a Chicago branch of the University of Illinois. There were several excellent areas to choose from, where people were not living: a railroad site, an industrial island near the river, an airport used by businessmen, a park, a golf course. The mayor looked for advice. One of his advisers suggested our neighborhood as the ideal site for the campus. We were dispensable. When the announcement came in 1961, it was a bombshell. What shocked us was the amount of land they decided to take. They were out to demolish the whole community.

A member of the Hull House Board took me to lunch a couple of times at the University Club. My husband said, go, go, have a free lunch and see what it is she wants. What she wanted me to do, really, was to dissuade me from protesting. There was no hope, no chance, she said.

I shall never forget one board meeting. It hurt Miss Binford more than all the others. That afternoon, we came with a committee, five of us, and with a plea. We remended them of the past, what we meant to each other. From the moment we entered the room to the time we left, not one board member said a word to us.

Miss Binford was in her late eighties. Small, birdlike in appearance. She sat there listening to our plea and then she reminded them of what Hull House meant. She talked about principles that must never waver. No one answered her. Or acknowledged her. Or in any way showed any recognition of what she was talking about. It's as though we were talking to a stone wall, a mountain. The shock of not being able to have any conversation with the board members never really left her. She felt completely rejected. Something was crushed inside her. The Chicago she knew had died.

© John Simkin, April 2013


Milan or Florence – Where Should You Go?

Italy is a country filled with spectacular cities. From flooded streets to foodie havens and houses built into the cliffs, there’s a destination suited to every traveller. If you’ve already been to some of Italy’s most popular cities and are trying to plan your next trip to the country, you might have found yourself stuck trying to decide between visiting Milan or Florence. And what a decision to make!

Florence is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Italy, home to an incredible array of Renaissance buildings and known as one of the best parts of the country for history and art. Milan , on the other hand, is the global capital of fashion and Italy’s financial hub, offering a much more cosmopolitan but still very cultural experience to travellers.

Perhaps there’s something in particular that you’re looking for on your next Italian holiday, or you’re just wondering which city is better suited to your interests. From the food to the culture and ancient history, we’ve put together this comparison guide that is sure to help you decide whether you should visit Milan or Florence.


Santa Maria Novella, Florence. A 400-year-old perfumery projecting tradition forward

First a monastery, then a pharmacy, and now a store that is considered a museum: the halls of the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, in Florence, Italy, have lived multiple lives since 1221. When they established, the Dominican monks would cultivate and harvest the herbs and flowers to use in the potions, preparations, and medicines to treat the skin ailments of patients for their infirmary until the Seventeenth century when they became abundantly requested and opened their apothecary shop doors to the public. The commerce has been operating ever since. Today, the Florentine pharmacy has evolved into a perfumery and cosmetic brand with stores in regions of Italy and across Europe, Asia, and the United States. From ancient preparations to colognes and perfumes including skincare, candles, shampoos and lotions, the extent of their product ranges to incorporate cats and dogs. Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella’s products blend centuries-old traditions with innovation in technology, says CEO, Gian Luca Perris.

Perris, an entrepreneur in the world of fragrances, was appointed CEO of the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in September 2020 after the Italian Italmobiliare investment group increased its holding in the company. «I wouldn’t say that we create products as they did in the Medieval Times because it wouldn’t be true», he points out. «Products are conceptualized based on formulations from back in the day, today our products need to be certified, produced with techniques of this age according to industry standards and regulations». Transparency and trust for a company that has chosen to allocate zero budget for marketing and advertising activities, relying on the word-of-mouth among connoisseurs of the brand has lasted its due course of time. Hinting at a future plan to enhance the dialogue and the relationship with customers online. «There is a willingness to let the world know about the story of Santa Maria Novella. The approach to communication is evolving, thanks to social media and to consumers that are keen to have contact with companies».

Post the acquisition, Santa Maria Novella is navigating a phase, looking to open up to a broader audience without losing its authenticity, identity or aesthetic. The fonts and branding details – bottles, jars, and cases – represent a nostalgia-infused alternative to the appearances of those in the beauty sector. «In the rest of the world, we cannot present a location like the Antica Spezieria, the apothecary shop reserved for sale from 1612 to 1848 that was accessed from the ‘Great Cloister’ of Santa Maria Novella through the portal designed by Matteo Nigetti, or the store we have in via della Scala, in Florence. The products are what convey the brand’s image and message», Perri says. A message to expand into a label that counts over 600 products. «Our range is covered in a way that we can look into people and their needs», Perris says. «Markets, including Asia, prefer fresher and lighter colognes. Areas in the United States or Japan appreciate home fragrances, while others pander in skincare». Potpourri is a derivate of the line of perfumes that is intended for spaces, it has garnered attention over the years. The Rose Water toner is a staple that monks started producing as early as the Fourteenth century. It was used as a household cleanser following the plague with antibiotic and antiseptic properties. He clarifies: «Today, we have treatments in place, to guarantee that water is bacteriologically free. It is rose water, but we cannot compare it to the rose water from the Fourteenth century. For marketing reasons people would say: ‘We make rose water as the Dominican Monks did’, I do not condone informing consumers of stories that are not based on facts».

Phases of the products preparation processes are handmade to this day, within a few miles’ radius from the premises, the company has its manufacturing plant – from perfumery to cosmetics, liqueurs and dietary supplements, manual work continues to be churn in these departments. «The collection of ingredients, the treatment of wax products and candles, soaps and packaging processes are handmade, but we use machines to guarantee quality». Some raw materials and processes have disappeared, been banned or refined, through the centuries, but what has been preserved and passed down to this day is the philosophy rooted in the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella lines. Looking back on history – within an industry that is dependent on advanced intelligence – a viable approach is to move forward. «A return to the consumption of natural approaches has become a phenomenon. Looking to pharmacopeia, what we do at Santa Maria Novella, is of relevance», Perris comments. The company has been investing in solutions – FSC certified paper and regenerated plastic. It is committed to the valorization of glass, and ongoing research into packaging materials with the environmental impact and recyclability in mind. A pledge to sourcing supplies locally, when available, plays a role, as Perris says: «An ingredient in our products is Balsamite, an herb we grow and harvest in our 15,000 square meters garden in Florence while others come from our local area». Cases and bottles are sourced from suppliers in Florence or in Italy, he adds. «The Italmobiliare group conducts an audit to understand how sustainable we are». Santa Maria Novella’s production facility has had solar panels installed, the firm researches and implements solutions for waste-water treatment and the use of non-harmful products, Perris notes.

Bottles distinguished for their uniqueness in the scents and shapes

When it comes to the workforce, the CEO points out women’s presence across company levels – in the perfumery industry at-large, he says. In the months since his appointment, he says he has witnessed a bond with employees: «People have been working here for the least ten years». At Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella the prices start from 10 Euros – for soap bars and aromatic waters – up to 100 Euros, for colognes. «The product is accessible, if you consider the quality presented to the consumer», Perris says. During the pandemic, despite travel and mobility restrictions, the brand has managed to confirm the loyalty of its customers, he adds: «Worldwide, we sold close to the quantity of products that we had in 2019». The Florentine store, which is a bustling international meeting point, has seen a decrease in footfall – «Florence, a touristic city, has been hit hard by the health emergency» – sales went ahead through international distributors and the online shops.

The Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the founding members of the Florentine Historical Enterprises Association. With the Presidency of Eugenio Alphandery in 2012, an engineer, who came to Santa Maria Novella when the Stefanis called him to fix a broken machine, the Association becomes the Italian Historical Enterprises Union and in 2019 the Italian Centenary Enterprises Union. The forty-one Associates are companies are constituted by the development of the activity by sharing values ​​such as the territory they belong to, experience and quality. Santa Maria Novella was cemented by Catherine de Medici, the daughter of Florentine ruler who became queen of France in 1547. She introduced the world to heels and forks – commissioned the perfumery to create her signature scent, which came to be called Acqua della Regina (Water of the Queen). The monks had the intuition to use alcohol. Acqua della Regina was the first European perfume to use alcohol instead of mixing it with oil or vinegar. In 1866 SMN went public. Soon after, the company’s last monastic director transferred its operations to his nephew, Cesare Augusto Stefani. Four generations of Stefanis have managed the company since.


Guelphs and Ghibellines

A broken engagement between one of the Buondelmonti and a daughter of the house of Amidei, and the killing of the young man, were the causes of a fierce civil strife in 1215 an long after. Some sided with the Buondelmonti and the Donati, who were Guelphs others sympathized with the Amidei and the Uberti, who were Ghibellines. Up to 1249 the two factions fought on sight in that year Emperor Frederick II, who wished to have Florence on his side in his struggle with the papacy, sent the Uberti reinforcements of German mercenaries with whose aid they drove out the Buondelmonti and so many of their followers that the Guelph party was completely routed. The Ghibellines straightway established an aristocratic government but retained the podestà. The people were deprived of their rights, but they assembled on 20 October, 1250, in the church of Santa Croce and deposed the podestà and his Ghibelline administration. The government was then entrusted to two men, one a podestà, the other a Capitano del Popolo (captain of the people), both of them outsiders besides these the six precincts of the town nominated each two anziani, or elders. For military purposes the town was divided into twenty gonfaloni or banner-wards, the country around about into sixty-six, the whole force being under the command of the gonfaloniere. The advantage of the new arrangement was quickly shown in the wars against neighbouring towns once their allies, but which had fallen under Ghibelline control. In 1253 Pistoia was taken, and was forced to recall the exiled Guelphs. The year 1254 has been called the year of victories. Siena, Volterra, and Pisa were then constrained to accept peace on severe terms, and to expel the Ghibellines. In 1255 it was the turn of Arezzo Pisa was once more defeated at Ponte Serchio, and forced to cede to Florence the Castello di Mutrone, overlooking the sea. Hence forward war was continuous between Pisa and Florence until the once powerful Pisa passed completely into the power of the Florentines. In 1260, however, Farinata degli Uberti, leader of the outlawed Ghibellines, with the help of Siena and of the German bands in King Manfred's pay, but mostly by deceiving the Florentines into believing that he would betray Siena into their hands, defeated (4 Sept.) the Florentine army of 30,000 foot and 3,000 horse in the battle of Montaperti. The Guelphs thereupon chose exile for themselves and their families. The people's government was again overturned the citizens had to swear allegiance to King Manfred, and German troops were called on to support the new order of things. The podestà, Guido Novello, was appointed by Manfred. After the latter's death the Guelphs again took courage, and Guido Novello was forced to make concessions. Finally, in 1266, the people rose, and barricaded the streets with locked chains Guido lost courage and on 4 November, accompanied by his cavalry, fled from the city. The popular government of the guild-masters or priors (Capi delle arti) was restored Charles of Anjou, brother of St. Louis of France and King of Naples, was called in as peacemaker (paciere) in 1267, and was appointed podestà. Florence took again the lead in the Tuscan League, soon began hostilities against the few remaining Ghibelline towns, and with the help of Pope Nicholas III succeeded in ridding itself of the embarrassing protection of King Charles (1278). Nicholas also attempted to reconcile the two factions, and with some success. Peace was concluded (Cardinal Latini's peace) in 1280 and the exiles returned.

The government was then carried on by the podestà and the capitano del popolo, aided by fourteen buoni uomini, i.e. reputable citizens (eight Guelphs and six Ghibellines), afterwards replaced by three (later six) guild-masters, elected for two months, during which time they lived together in the palace of the Signoria. Nor could they be reelected till after two years. There were, moreover, two councils, in which also the guild-masters took part. As a result of the assistance Florence gave Genoa in the war against Pisa (1284 and 1285) its territory was greatly extended. The victory at Campaldino (1289) over Ghibelline Arezzo established firmly the hegemony of Florence in Tuscany. In 1293 Pisa was obliged to grant Florence the right to trade within its walls. Fresh troubles, however, were in store for Florence. In 1293 the burgesses, exulting in their success, and acting under the influence of Giano della Bella, excluded the nobles from election to the office of guild-master. On the other hand, even the lesser guilds were allowed to retain a share in the government. To crown the insult a new magistrate, styled gonfaloniere di giustizia, was appointed to repress all abuses on the part of the nobles. The latter chose as their leader and defender Corso Donati the burgesses gathered about the Cerchi family, whose members had grown rich in trade. The common people or artisan class sided with the Donati. In 1295 Giano della Bella was found guilty of violating his own ordinances, and was forced to leave Florence. The opposing factions united now with similar factions in Pistoia that of the Cerchi with the Bianchi or Whites, that of the Donati with the Neri or Blacks. To restore peace the guild-masters in 1300 exiled the leaders of both factions among them went Dante Alighieri. The leaders of the Bianchi were, however, soon recalled. Thereupon the Neri appealed to Boniface VIII, who persuaded Charles of Valois, brother of Philip the Fair of France, to visit Florence as peace maker. He at once recalled the Donati, or Neri, and set aside the remonstrances of the Bianchi, who were once more expelled, Dante among them. The exiles negotiated successively with Pisa, Bologna, and the chiefs of the Ghibelline party for assistance against the Neri for a while they seemed to infuse new life into the Ghibelline cause. Before long, however, both par ties split up into petty factions. In 1304 Benedict XI essayed in vain to restore peace by causing the recall of the exiles. The city then became the wretched scene of incendiary attempts, murders, and robberies. In 1306 the Ghibellines were once more driven out, thanks to Corso Donati (Il Barone), who aimed at tyrannical power and was soon hated by rich and poor alike, Aided by his father-in-law, Uguccione della Faggiuola, leader of the Ghibellines in Romagna, he attempted to overthrow the Signoria, accusing it of corruption and venality. The people assembled and the guild-masters condemned him as a traitor he shut himself up in his fortress-like house, but soon after wards fell from his horse and was killed (13 Sept., 1308).

In 1310 Emperor Henry VII invaded Italy, and obliged successively the cities of Lombardy to recognize his imperial authority. The Florentine exiles (particularly Dante in his Latin work "De Monarchiâ"), also the Pisans, ardently denounced Florence to the emperor as the hotbed of rebellion in Italy. Great was, therefore, the terror in Florence. All the exiles, save Dante, were recalled but in order to have an ally against the emperor, whose overlordship they refused to acknowledge, they did homage to Robert, King of Naples. On his way to Rome (1312) Henry found the gates of Florence closed against him. He besieged it in vain, while Florentine money fanned the flames of further revolt in all the cities of Lombardy. On his return journey in October he was again obliged to abandon his siege of Florence. At Pisa he laid Florence under the ban of the empire, deprived it of all rights and privileges, and permitted the counterfeiting of its coinage, the famous "florins of San Giovanni", Pisa and Genoa were now eager for revenge on their commercial rival, when suddenly Henry died. The Pisans then elected as podestà the aforesaid exiled Florentine, Uguccione della Faggiuola, who be came master of several other towns of which Lucca was the most important (1314). In 1315 he defeated the Florentines near Montecatini, and already beheld Florence in his power and himself master of Tuscany. Unfortunately, at this juncture Lucca, under Castruccio Castracane, rebelled against him and drove him out, nor was he ever able to return. Castruccio, himself a Ghibelline, was a menace to the liberty of the Tuscan League, always Guelph in character. After a guerrilla warfare of three years, the army of the League under Raimondo Cardona was defeated at Altopascio (1325), though the Florentines succeeded in making good their retreat. To ensure the safety of the city, Florence offered Charles, Duke of Calabria, son of King Robert of Naples, the Signoria for ten years. He came, and greatly curtailed the privileges of the citizens. Happily for Florence he died in 1329, There upon, Florence, having regained its freedom, remodelled its government, and created five magistracies: (1) guild-masters (priori) or supreme administrative power (2) the Gonfalonieri charged with the military operations (3) the capitani di parte (Guelphs, common people) (4) a board of trade (Guidici di commercio) (5) consuls for the guilds (Consoli delle arli). Moreover, two councils or assemblies were established, one composed of three hundred Guelphs and the humbler citizens, the other of various groups of rich and poor under the presidency of the podestà. These councils were renewed every four months.


Florence Italy and its impressive History

When you visit the city of Florence Italy, you’ll be struck by its impressive history. Once the great center of the Florence Renaissance, this is one of the world’s most artistic & architecturally beautiful cities, home to countless museums and galleries packed with great masterpieces, and with fabulous shopping and tremendous cuisine and restaurants.

Florence dates back to the Etruscan era, when Fiesole, an important center in Etruria, dominated the valley. The Romans conquered the city in 59 BC, then set up camp by the River Arno in a place that became known as Florentia, “destined to flower”. During the course of the next thousand years, a small population struggled under successive Byzantine, Goth, Lombard and Frankish rule.

The number of residents in Florence began to grow from the tenth century onward, with the city being ruled by an autonomous commune from 1115, but the city soon became a battleground in the violent conflict between the pro-imperial Ghibelline faction and the pro-papal Guelphs. Despite these conflicts, a strong merchant base, founded on wool and supported by a powerful currency (the florin) saw the city gradually grow.

By the 13th Century, a merchant elite ruled Florence. Powerful families such as the Albizi and then the Medici came to dominate the city. With this oligarchy interrupted by spates of republican rule – influenced by the likes of radical Dominican Pryor Savonarola and the nobleman Machiavelli – Florence grew ever stronger and richer.

It was during this period when Florence assumed its decisive role in European and world history. Experts in both banking and commerce (the Medici financed many of the adventures that opened up trade routes around the globe), the city grew spectacularly rich. The families who were at the top of this wealthy society flaunted their affluence, and money was poured into patronage of the fine arts. The city became home to sculptors, artists, architects and musicians. While scholars were rediscovering the fertile literature and archaic culture of Greece and Rome, Europe began to emerge from the Dark Ages meanwhile the likes of Michelangelo, Donatello and Brunelleschi, as well as countless others whose works adorn the museums and galleries of Florence today, were pushing the bounds of creativity and artistic creation to ever-greater heights.

A literal explosion of intellectual power and creativity in the city saw a new crop of radical thinkers, and the spreading of their ideas through the new medium of printing. During this time, the Florentines’ ever-growing expertise in banking, accountancy, and the creation of credit saw the entire system become ever richer. Florence, it is often said, had become the cradle of all Europe.

Florence next became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, but by the mid-1700’s the city had been consumed by Austria. In 1859 it was swallowed up by the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, and only two years later Tuscany proper became part of the new country of Italy. For six years (until Rome joined the union) the city of Florence was actually the capital of Italy. 20th century Florence thrived on the back of tourism, financial services, heavy industry and its old staple – trade. Occupied by the Germans between 1943 and 1944, the city suffered the further misfortune of flooding in 1966, when the River Arno burst its banks.

Walking through the city’s narrow, windy streets, it is hard to identify Florence with just one symbol. It may be the sculpture of David by Michelangelo, or perhaps the romantic Ponte Vecchio, or Giotto’s bell tower. Then again, Florence is equally synonymous with famous people such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo or Dante Alighieri, to name just a few.

Also, of course, there’s the world-famous “Duomo” which is perhaps the most recognizable of Florence’s monuments. Construction of the Gothic cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore began in 1296 and was completed by Brunelleschi in 1436 with the famous Dome, which was painted inside with frescoes by Vasari and Zuccari. The square Bell tower designed by Giotto in 1334 stands on the right-hand side of the Florence Cathedral and is covered in white, green and red marble. The Baptistery of San Giovanni, one of the oldest monuments in Florence (1128), is located opposite the Cathedral and is built in the Florentine Romanesque style.

Today, even though most of Florence’s greatness lies in its enchanting history, the city still thrives. It has marvelous shopping, airy gardens & parks, fabulous cuisine, an exhilarating artistic atmosphere and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

When you aren’t admiring the works of artists and sculptors in churches, galleries and museums such as the Uffizi and Accademia, you can wander around the luxury of world famous boutiques, watch craftsmen at work on traditional Florentine leatherwork, and peruse the numerous bustling street markets. You can eat in the finest restaurants or in simple trattorie with delicious home cooking. Or buy the ingredients for a quaint open-air picnic at the Mercato Centrale or Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. Grab a bottle of Chianti, and make an excursion to the Boboli Gardens or to the ramparts of the Belvedere Fort with its stunning views.

Florence holds endless fascination for the thousands of travelers who visit Italy every day. There’s nothing in the world quite like it.


Florence Scala - History

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The history of homosexuality in Florence is ancient and is perhaps among the most fascinating social aspects of the city. Documentary evidence reveals that the “sodomitical vice”, as it was known back then, was so common that a special Magistracy called the Office of the Night was set up to stop it. Despite the laws, however, the gay and lesbian community found many ways to get away with their “crime” and live their everyday life and passions. This relaxed attitude was well-known all over Europe and brought about a real “homosexual culture” that went on for centuries.

The Germans, for example, used the word “florenzer” (“Florentine”) to describe a homosexual.

Our tour will take you to the old haunts of medieval sodomites, retracing the steps of the most notorious Florence gays and lesbians. You will find out how they lived, who their enemies were and how the local Signoria government tried to tackle the problem. We will also tell you what the Medici family, the rulers of Florence, thought about homosexuality and how famous artists publicly declared their sexual orientation through their amazing artworks.

An exciting journey to find the roots that still make Florence one of the most tolerant and inclusive cities in the world.


The history

The Boccaccio Hotel is the latest acquisition of the Fuzier Cayla family who also owns Davanzati Hotel and has a tradition of running hotels for 4 generations.

Bought in the year 2017 it opens its doors in a new shape after being entirely restructured in its organization through a caring process involving all the members of the family and their passion for this job .

Florence: a city whose mere name evokes an atmosphere formed of unique landscapes and monuments, of famous names in literature and art who have been responsible for conceiving and providing awareness of the Italian culture.

Right here, in the heart of this extremely beautiful city, the Hotel Boccaccio is located in a building dating back to the 1700s, the ideal destination for an unforgettable stay, whether for business or pleasure.

The hotel has a flower-filled terrace that can be enjoyed by guests at any time of year.
The Hotel takes its name from the illustrious Tuscan poet and man of letters, Giovanni Boccaccio, friend of Petrarca, first commentator of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri and author of the Decamerone which the Hotel owns a complete copy of…

The extremely recent and diligent re-structuring together with the extension of the building, valorized by the original Carrara marble, has made the presence of more modern comforts possible harmoniously combined with the authentic Florentine style.

Our staff is at your complete disposal 24/7 to offer your services and advices as you need. Also, we can provide you with the following services to help you have a better stay in Florence:

– Museums reservation, to avoid any kind of queue, especially in high season stays. IMPORTANT: Museum reservation should be done AT LEAST 30 days before your visit this to ensure we’ll be able to find the ticket as when high season approaches the limited number of availabe slots ends up very quickly.
– Private driver reservation for picking you up at any airport or train station and guiding you to the Hotel or for excursions to all major cities and places of interest. (ask us for rates)
– In and around Florence guided tours with wine experts, drivers and country guides.
– Restaurants bookings all over Florence

– air conditioning
– baby sitting
– baby cot/highchair
– baggage storage & handling
– buffet breakfast
– concierge desk
– doctor on call
– dry cleaning
– electronic room safe
– elevator
– fax machine
– fire safety certified
– frigo bar
– hair dryer
– garage conventioned
– heating
– ice machine
– free wifi and internet point
– laundry service massage
– room service
– 24 hour room service
– satellite t.v.
– sightseeing & tours

A few meters from Boccaccio Hotel you will be able to admire the beauties of The Old Bridge, Signoria Square, The Uffizi Gallery & Palazzo Vecchio, The Duomo with the famous Campanile di Giotto and of the most beautiful museums and artistic monuments of a city unique in the world.


Visiting the World’s Oldest Pharmacy: Santa Maria Novella in Florence

The inexplicable way that scents can remind us of treasured travel memories often has a sense of alchemy about it. In Florence, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the oldest pharmacy in the world, has been crafting beautiful fragrances, remedies and herbal products since 1221. You’ll find this extraordinary store in Florence just around corner from the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and moments from the city’s train station. A visit to this one-of-a-kind place offers the chance to step back in time and bring home a scent of Florence that will transport you right back to Italy!

The ornate facade of Santa Maria Novella in Florence

The origins of the historic pharmacy at Santa Maria Novella is directly tied to the history of the basilica. Like many of the religious sites in Florence, such as the Duomo and the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a treasure trove of history and artwork and is certainly a must see. The story begins in 1221 when Dominican friars arrived in Florence and founded a church that would become the city’s first great basilica. Building on the church we see today began in the 13th century, but the striking façade was a later addition in the 15th century by the great Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti. Inside you’ll find artwork by some of the greats of Italian art, such as Giotto, Masaccio, Filippino Lippi and Ghirlandaio, as well as two cloisters and a museum.

Exquisite details on the ceiling of the Historical Shop

To understand the start of the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, we have to look a little closer at those Dominican monks who founded the church. It was common for monasteries to have private gardens that included various types of medicinal herbs that were used to create early forms of medications as well as balms and tinctures. Traditionally reserved for treating the monks within the monastery, by the 14th century news of the healing qualities of the remedies at Santa Maria Novella was beginning to spread outside the walls of the monastery. Perfumed waters were used for all kinds of medicinal treatments, including to fight off the plague in 1381. The Historical Shop, a main part of the store you can visit today, was originally built as the Chapel of San Niccolò by wealthy Florentine merchant Dardano Acciaioli as a gift of thanks for being healed by the Dominican friars.

Stop in the Ancient Apothecary to admire the ornate designs and decorations

Every space you visit today is full of history just as the sweetly scented products you’ll find on display have many stories to tell. The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella products are still produced with ancient recipes, including perfumes quite literally fit for a queen. In 1533 Caterina de’ Medici was betrothed to Henry II, the future King of France, and she asked none other than the Dominican friars at Santa Maria Novella to create an essence that captured her beloved Florence. The masterpiece created was originally called “Acqua della Regina,” meaning “The Queen’s Water,” which was a grand success in the royal courts of France. Not just a sweet scent, Acqua della Regina also made history as one of the first alcohol-based perfumes in the world. Today you can still buy the same perfume – now called Acqua di Santa Maria Novella.

The Green Room with beautiful displays

By the 16th century, the pharmacy was busy creating highly sought-after products and in 1612 the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was officially founded. Formulas and traditions that had been passed down orally were perfected and preserved, many still being produced to this day. In the 18th century, the pharmacy was beautifully decorated with intricate carved wood paneling, ornate chandeliers, and frescoed ceilings. This incredible space is enhanced by the most beautiful scents that fill the air as you move from room to room.

The frescoed ceiling of the Sacristy at Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

You’ll see the Historical Shop in the former Chapel of San Niccolò, the elegant Green Room where the pharmacy’s own drinks were once served, the Ancient Apothecary, and the Sacristy with its beautifully frescoed ceiling with images of monks holding books and reading. In the Museum you can see historic ceramic vases that once stored herbs and products as well as historic books, equipment and more. There’s even a Tea Room where you can sample products and teas in an elegant setting.

Potpourri in silk sacks from Santa Maria Novella

Today the production is high tech and a world away from the Dominican friars tending their gardens 800 years ago. However, what remains firm is a dedication to natural ingredients and tradition. Just outside of Florence, near the Medici Villa della Petraia, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella has recreated a traditional hortus conclusus (enclosed garden) in the 13th-century tradition that produces fresh herbs and ingredients used to create the special products you can bring home with you.

Handmade lavender soap from Santa Maria Novella

On display is a tempting selection of handcrafted perfumes, soaps, skincare and body care products, home scents, potpourri, and so much more. The candles and soaps with dried flowers are especially lovely souvenirs or gifts for friends and family. For something uniquely Florentine, there’s even an iris scented perfume. Irises grow wild in the hillsides around Florence and are the flower that inspired the iconic symbol of Florence.

A visit to the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is an easy stop as you wander Florence. You’ll find it only a short walk away from our Italy Perfect vacation rentals in Florence. Or while you’re waiting, take advantage of their store locations around the world and their online store with international shipping available. Why not have the sweet scents of travels from the past and travels to come fill your home right now?

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella
Via della Scala 16, Florence
www.smnovella.com

All photos courtesy of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.

Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2021 at 11:57 am in Florence. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.


Florence

Florence (Lat. Florentia It. Firenze), Archdiocese of (FLORENTINA), 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 Caesar 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.

EARLY MEDIEVAL HISTORY.—Besieged and probably captured by Totila (541), it was retaken (552) by the Byzantine general Narses. The most famous of its few antiquities dating from Roman times is the amphitheatre known as the Parlagio. In ancient times it was a town of small importance its prosperity did not begin until the eleventh century. During the Lombard period Florence belonged to the Duchy of Chiusi after the absorption of the Lombard kingdom by Charlemagne, who spent at Florence the Christmas of 786, it was the residence of a count whose overlord was margrave of Tuscany. In the two centuries of conflict between the popes and the emperors over the feudal legacy of Countess Matilda (d. 1115) the city played a prominent pant it was precisely to this conflict that the republic owed its wonderful development. During this period Florence stood always for the papacy, knowing well that it was thus ensuring its own liberty. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Florentines fought successfully against Fiesole, which was destroyed in 1125, and against several neighboring feudal lords who had harassed the trade of the town, the Alberti, Guido Guerra, the Buondelmonti (whose castle of Montebuoni was destroyed in 1135), the Uberti, the Cadolinghi, the Ubaldini, and others. These nobles were all obliged to take up their residence in the town, and spend there at least three months of every year. In 1113 the Florentines, never partial to the German Emperors, rose against the imperial vicar in Florence. The first public meeting of the townsfolk which paved the way for the establishment of the “Commune” was convened by Bishop Ranieri in 1105. About the same time they helped the Pisans in the conquest of the Balearic Isles (1114) asking no other reward than two porphyry columns for the great central doorway of the Baptistery (San Giovanni). By 1155 they had grown so powerful that they dared to close their gates against Frederick Barbarossa. The nobles (magnates, grandi), forced to become citizens, were not slow in creating disturbances in the town by their rival factions, and in hindering the work of the consuls who chanced to be displeasing to them. In this way there was endless friction and strife, and thus was laid the foundation of the two great parties that for centuries divided the city, Guelphs and Ghibellines. The former was democratic, republican, favorable to the papacy the latter was the party of the old Florentine aristocracy and the emperor. In 1197 the Tuscan League (in imitation of the successful Lombard League) was formed at San Ginesio between the cities of Florence, Lucca, Siena, Prato, San Miniato, and the Bishop of Volterra, in presence of papal legates. These cities bound themselves on that occasion not to acknowledge the authority of emperor, king, duke, or marquis without the express order of the Roman Church. At that time, in the interest of better administration, Florence abolished its old-time government by two consuls, and substituted a podesta, or chief magistrate (1193), with a council of twelve consuls. In 1207 a law was passed which made it obligatory for the podesta to be an outsider. The legislative power originally resided in the Statuto, a commission nominated by the consuls. After the introduction of a podesta it was exercised by the priors of the chief guilds (the artes majores), seven in number (carpenters, wool-weavers, skinners, tanners, tailors, shoemakers, and farriers), to which were afterwards added the fourteen lesser guilds (the judges, the notaries-public, doctors, money-changers, and others). To hold any public office it was necessary to belong to one or other of these guilds (arti) the nobles were therefore wont to enter their names on the books of the wool-weavers’ guild. The management of all political affairs rested with the Signoria, and there was a kind of public parliament which met four times a year. Public business was attended to by the podesta, assisted in their turns by two of the consuls.

GUELPHS AND GHIBELLINES.—A broken engagement between one of the Buondelmonti and a daughter of the house of Amidei, and the killing of the young man, were the causes of a fierce civil strife in 1215 and long after. Some sided with the Buondelmonti and the Donati, who were Guelphs others sympathized with the Amidei and the Uberti, who were Ghibellines. Up to 1249 the two factions fought on sight in that year Emperor Frederick II, who wished to have Florence on his side in his struggle with the papacy, sent the Uberti reinforcements of German mercenaries with whose aid they drove out the Buondelmonti and so many of their followers that the Guelph party was completely routed. The Ghibellines straightway established an aristocratic government but retained the podesta. The people were deprived of their rights, but they assembled on October 20, 1250, in the church of Santa Croce and deposed the podesta nad his Ghibelline administration. The government was then entrusted to two men, one a podesta, the other a Capitrano del Popolo (Captain of the people), both of them outsiders besides these the six precincts of the town nominated each two anziani, or elders. For military purposes the town was divided into twenty gonfaloni, or bannerwards, the country around about into sixty-six, the whole force being under the command of the gonfaloniere. The advantage of the new arrangement was quickly shown in the wars against neighboring towns, once their allies, but which had fallen under, Ghibelline control. In 1253 Pistoia was taken, and was forced to recal the exiled Guelphs. The year 1254 has been called the year of victories. Siena, Volterra, and Pisa were then constrained to accept peace on severe terms, and to expel the Ghibellines. In 1255 it was the turn of Arezzo Pisa was once more defeated at Ponte Serchio, and forced to cede to Florence the Castello di Mutrone, overlooking the sea. Hence-forward war was continuous between Pisa and Florence until the once powerful Pisa passed completely into the power of the Florentines. In 1260, however, Farinata degii Uberti, leader of the outlawed Ghibellines, with the help of Siena and of the German bands in King Manfred’s pay, but mostly by deceiving the Florentines into believing that he would betray Siena into their hands, defeated (September 4) the Florentine army of 30,000 foot and 3,000 horse in the battle of Montaperti. The Guelphs thereupon chose exile for themselves and their families. The people’s government was again overturned the citizens had to swear allegiance to King Manfred, and German troops were called on to support the new order of things. The podesta, Guido Novello, was appointed by Manfred. After the latter’s death the Guelphs again took courage, and Guido Novello was forced to make concessions. Finally, in 1266, the people rose, and barricaded the streets with locked chains Guido lost courage and on November 4, accompanied by his cavalry, fled from the city. The popular government of the guild-masters or priors (Caps delle arti) was restored Charles of Anjou, brother of St. Louis of France and King of Naples, was called in as peace-maker (paciere) in 1267, and was appointed podesta. Florence took again the lead in the Tuscan League, soon began hostilities against the few remaining Ghibelline towns, and with the help of Pope Nicholas III succeeded in ridding itself of the embarrassing protection of King Charles (1278). Nicholas also attempted to reconcile the two factions, and with some success. Peace was concluded (Cardinal Latini’s peace) in 1280 and the exiles returned.

The government was then carried on by the podesta and the capitano del popolo, aided by fourteen buoni uomini, i e. reputable citizens (eight Guelphs and six Ghibellines), afterwards replaced by three (later six) guild-masters, elected for two months, during which time they lived together in the palace of the Signoria. Nor could they be reelected till after two years. There were, moreover, two councils, in which also the guild-masters took part. As a result of the assistance Florence gave Genoa in the war against Pisa (1284 and 1285) its territory was greatly extended. The victory at Campaldino (1289) over Ghibelline Arezzo established firmly the hegemony of Florence in Tuscany. In 1293 Pisa was obliged to grant Florence the right to trade within its walls. Fresh troubles, however, were in store for Florence. In 1293 the burgesses, exulting in their success, and acting under the influence of Giano della Bella, excluded the nobles from election to the office of guild-master. On the other hand, even the lesser guilds were allowed to retain a share in the government. To crown the insult a new magistrate, styled gonfaloniere di giustizia, was appointed to repress all abuses on the part of the nobles. The latter chose as their leader and defender Corso Donati the burgesses gathered about the Cerchi family, whose members had grown rich in trade. The common people or artisan class sided with the Donati. In 1295 Giano della Bella was found guilty of violating his own ordinances, and was forced to leave Florence. The opposing factions united now with similar factions in Pistoia that of the Cerchi with the Bianchi or Whites, that of the Donati with the Neri or Blacks. To restore peace the guild-masters in 1300 exiled the leaders of both factions among them went Dante Alighieri. The leaders of the Bianchi were, however, soon recalled. Thereupon the Neri appealed to Boniface VIII, who persuaded Charles of Valois, brother of Philip the Fair of France, to visit Florence as peacemaker. He at once recalled the Donati, or Neri, and set aside the remonstrances of the Bianchi, who were once more expelled, Dante among them. The exiles negotiated successively with Pisa, Bologna, and the chiefs of the Ghibelline party for assistance against the Neri for a while they seemed to infuse new life into the Ghibelline cause. Before long, however, both par-ties split up into petty factions. In 1304 Benedict XI essayed in vain to restore peace by causing the recall of the exiles. The city then became the wretched scene of incendiary attempts, murders, and robberies. In 1306 the Ghibellines were once more driven out, thanks to Corso Donati (II Barone), who aimed at tyrannical power and was soon hated by rich and poor alike. Aided by his father-in-law, Uguccione della Faggiuola, leader of the Ghibellines in Romagna, he attempted to overthrow the Signoria, accusing it of corruption and venality. The people assembled and the guild-masters condemned him as a traitor he shut himself up in his fortress-like house, but soon afterwards fell from his horse and was killed (September 13, 1308) .

In 1310 Emperor Henry VII invaded Italy, and obliged successively the cities of Lombardy to recognize his imperial authority. The Florentine exiles (particularly Dante in his Latin work “De Monarchic”), also the Pisans, ardently denounced Florence to the emperor as the hotbed of rebellion in Italy. Great was, therefore, the terror in Florence. All the exiles, save Dante, were recalled but in order to have an ally against the emperor, whose overlordship they refused to acknowledge, they did homage to Robert, King of Naples. On his way to Rome (1312) Henry found the gates of Florence closed against him. He besieged it in vain, while Florentine money fanned the flames of further revolt in all the cities of Lombardy. On his return journey in October he was again obliged to abandon his siege of Florence. At Pisa he laid Florence under the ban of the empire, deprived it of all rights and privileges, and permitted the counterfeiting of its coinage, the famous “florins of San Giovanni”. Pisa and Genoa were now eager for revenge on their commercial rival, when suddenly Henry died. The Pisans then elected as podesta the aforesaid exiled Florentine, Uguccione della Faggiuola, who became master of several other towns of which Lucca was the most important (1314). In 1315 he defeated the Florentines near Montecatini, and already beheld Florence in his power and himself master of Tuscany. Unfortunately, at this juncture Lucca, under Castruccio Castracane, rebelled against him and drove him out, nor was he ever able to return. Castruccio, himself a Ghibelline, was a menace to the liberty of the Tuscan League, always Guelph in character. After a guerrilla warfare of three years, the army of the League under Raimondo Cardona was defeated at Altopascio (1325), though the Florentines succeeded in making good their retreat. To ensure the safety of the city, Florence offered Charles, Duke of Calabria, son of King Robert of Naples, the Signoria for ten years. He came, and great T Iitailed. the privileges of tlii iti zens. Happily for Florence he died in 1329. Thereupon, Florence, having regained its freedom, remodeled its government, and created five magistracies: (I) guild-masters (priori) or supreme administrative power (2) the Gonfalonieri charged with the military operations (3) the capitani di parte (Guelphs, common people) (4) a board of trade (Giudici di commercio) (5) consuls for the guilds (Consoli delle arti). Moreover, two councils or assemblies were established, one composed of three hundred Guelphs and the humbler citizens, the other of various groups of rich and poor under the presidency of the podesta. These councils were renewed every four months.

LATER MEDIEVAL HISTORY.—It has always been a cause for wonder that amid so many political, econom-ical, and military vicissitudes the prosperity of Florence never ceased to grow. Majestic churches arose amid the din of arms, and splendid palaces were built, on all sides, though their owners must have been at all times uncertain of peaceful possession. At the date we have now reached forty-six towns and walled castelli, among them Fiesole and Empoli, acknowledged the authority of Florence, and every year its mint turned out between 350,000 and 400,000 gold florins. Its coinage was the choicest and most reliable in Europe. The receipts of its exchequer were greater than those of the Kings of Sicily and Aragon. Merchants from Florence thronged the markets of the known world, and established banks wherever they went. In the city itself there were 110 churches. It openly aimed at sovereignty over all Tuscany. Arms and money won for it Pistoia (1329) and Arezzo (1336). It aided Venice (1338) against Mastino della Scala, a peril to Florence since he became master of Lucca. Knowing well the commercial greed of the Florentines, Mastino, to free himself from their opposition, offered to sell them Lucca. But the Pisans could not allow their ancient enemy to come so near they took up arms, captured Lucca, and defeated the Florentines at La Ghiaia (1341). Seeing now that their militia needed a skillful leader, the Florentines offered the command and a limited dictatorship, first to Jacopo Gabrielli d’Agabio, and when he proved unfit, to a French freebooter, Geier de Zrienne (1342), styled himself Duke of Athens on the strength of his descent from the dukes of Achaia. He played his part so skillfully that he was proclaimed Signore for life. In this way Florence imitated most other Italian cities, which in their weariness of popular government had by this time chosen princes to rule over them. Gauthier de Brienne, however, became despotic, favored the nobility and the populace (always allies in Florence), and harassed the rich middle-class families (Altoviti, Medici, Rucellai, Ricci). The populace soon tired of him, and joined by the peasants (genti del contado), they raised the cry of “liberty” on July 26, 1343. Gauthier’s soldiers were slain, and he was forced to leave the city. But the newly recovered liberty of Florence was dearly bought. Its subject towns (Arezzo, Colle di Val d’Elsa, and San Geminiano) declared themselves independent Pistoia joined with Pisa Ottaviano de’ Belforti was lord of Volterra. There was now an interval of peace, during which the greater guilds (known as the popolo grasso) strove gradually to restrict the rights of the lesser guilds, which in the end found themselves shut out from all public offices. Aided by the populace they threatened rebellion, and secured thus the abolition of the more onerous laws.

It was now the turn of the humblest classes, hitherto without political rights. Clearly they had reaped no advantage from their support of the small bourgeoisie, and so they resolved to resort to arms in their own behalf. Thus came about the revolution of the Ciompi (1378), so called from the wool carders (ciompi), who under Michele di Lando seized the palace of the Signoria, and proclaimed their leader gonfaloniere di giustizia. They instituted three new guilds in which all artisans were to be inscribed, and which had equal civil rights with the other guilds. Michele, fearing that the popular tumult would end in a restoration of the Signoria, went over to the burgesses after a sanguinary conflict the Ciompi were put to flight. The rich burgesses were now more firmly established than before, which did not remove the discontent of the lesser guilds and the populace. This deep discontent was the source of the brilliant fortune of Giovanni de’ Medici, son of Bicci, the richest of the Florentine bankers.

Apropos of this world-famous name it may be said here that the scope of this article permits only a brief reference to the great influence of medieval Florence as an industrial, commercial, and financial center. In the woolen industry it was easily foremost, particularly in the dyeing and final preparation of the manufactured goods. Its banking houses were famous through all Europe, and had for clients not only a multitude of private individuals, but also kings and popes. As financial agents of the latter, the mercatores papa, the Florentines were to be found in all the chief national centers, and exercised no little influence.

To take up the thread of our narrative, several events of interest had meanwhile occurred. In 1355 Emperor Charles III appeared before Florence. The city had become more cautious as it grew in wealth and did not, therefore, venture to resist him it seemed wiser to purchase, with gold and a nominal submission, entailing as few obligations as possible, present security and actual independence. The citizens swore allegiance on the understanding that the emperor would ratify the laws made or to be made in Florence that the members of the Signoria (elected by the citizens) should be, ipso facto, vicars imperial that neither the emperor himself nor any envoy of his should enter the town that he should be content with the payment of 100,000 florins, in lieu of all past claims (regalia), and a promise of 4000 florins annually during his life. The Florentines could hardly ask more complete autonomy. The populace, it is true, opposed even this nominal submission, but it was explained to them that their liberties were untouched. In 1360 Volterra returned again to Florence, and war with Pisa followed. Pisa sought the help of Bernabo Visconti after a prolonged conflict the Florentines won the decisive battle of San Savino (1364), and peace was declared. In 1375 the inquisitor, Fra Pietro d’Aquila, having exceeded his powers, the Signoria restricted his authority and conferred on the ordinary civil courts jurisdiction in all criminal cases of ecclesiastics. This displeased the pope and in consequence Guillaume de Noellet, papal legate at Bologna, directed against Tuscany the band of mercenaries known as the “White Company” (Compagnia Bianca). Florence had hitherto been undeviatingly faithful to the Holy See it now began to rouse against the pope, not only the cities of Romagna and the Marches, but even Rome itself. Eighty cities joined in the movement. Gregory XI thereupon placed Florence under interdict (1376), and allowed anyone to lay hands on the goods and persons of the Florentines. Nor was this a mere threat the Florentine merchants in England were obliged to return to Florence, leaving their property behind them. Not even the intercession of St. Catharine of Siena, who went to Avignon for the purpose, could win pardon for the city. It was only in 1378, after the Western Schism had begun, that Urban VI absolved the Florentines. Even then the people compelled the offending magistrates to give ample satisfaction to the pope (Gherardi, La guerra de’ Fiorentini con papa Gregorio XI, detta guerra degli otto santi, Florence, 1869). Florence now beheld with no little concern the political progress of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan. By the acquisition of Pisa he had gained a coveted foothold in Tuscany. The Florentines sided with his numerous enemies, all of whom were anxious to prevent the formation of an Italian sole monarchy. Visconti was victorious, but he died in 1402, whereupon Florence at once laid siege to Pisa. In 1405 Giovanni Maria Visconti sold the town to the Florentines for 200,000 florins but the Pisans continued to defend their city, and it was not till 1406 that Gino Capponi captured it. A revolt that broke out soon after the surrender was repressed with great severity. The purchase (1421) of the port of Leghorn from Genoa for 100,000 gold florins gave Florence at last a free passage to the sea, nor did the citizens long delay to compete with Venice and Genoa for the trade of the African and Levantine coasts (1421). In 1415 the new constitutions of the republic were promulgated. They were drawn up by the famous jurists Paolo di Castro and Bartolommeo Volpi of the University of Florence.

THE MEDICI.—Naturally enough, these numerous wars were very costly. Consequently early in the fifteenth century the taxes increased greatly and with them the popular discontent, despite the strongly democratic character of the city government. Certain families now began to assume a certain prominence. Maso degli Albizzi was captain of the people for thirty years after his death other families sought the leadership. Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, to bring about a more equal distribution of taxation, proposed the catasto, i.e. an income-tax. This made him very popular and he was proclaimed Gonfaloniere for life (1421). His son Cosimo (d. 1464) inherited his immense riches and popularity, but his generosity brought him under suspicion. The chief men of the greater guilds, and especially the Albizzi family, charged him with a desire to overthow the government and he was exiled to Padua (1433). In 1434 the new Signoria, favorable to Cosimo, recalled him and gave him the proud title of Pater Patrice, i.e. father of his country. In 1440 the Albizzi were outlawed, and Cosimo found his path clear. He scrupulously retained the old form of government, and refrained from all arbitrary measures. He was open-handed, built palaces and villas, also churches (San Marco, San Lorenzo) his costly and rare library was open to all he patronized scholars and encouraged the arts. With him began the golden age of the Medici. The republic now annexed the district of Casentino, taken from the Visconti at the Peace of Gavriana (1441). Cosimo’s son Piero was by no means equal to his father nevertheless the happy ending of the war against Venice, the former ally of Florence, shed glory on the Medici name. Piero Vdied in 1469, whereupon his sons Lorenzo and Giuliano were created “princes of the State” (principi dello Stato). In 1478 occurred the conspiracy of the Pazzi, to whose ambitious plans Lorenzo was an obstacle. A plot was formed to kill the two Medici brothers in the cathedral on Easter Sunday Giuliano fell, but Lorenzo escaped. The authors of the plot, among them Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa, perished at the hands of the angry populace. Sixtus IV, whose nephew Girolamo Riario was also an accomplice, laid the town under an interdict because of the murder of Salviati and the Pazzi, and supported by the King of Naples threatened to go to war. Hostilities had actually begun, when Lorenzo set out for Naples and by his diplomatic tact induced King Alfonso to make peace (1480) this obliged the pope also to come to terms. Meanwhile, despite his almost unlimited influence, Lorenzo refused to be anything else than the foremost citizen of Florence. With the exception of Siena, all Tuscany now acknowledged the rule of Florence and offered the spectacle of an extensive principality governed by a republic of free and equal citizens. Lorenzo died in 1492. (See the life of Lorenzo by Roscoe, Liverpool, 1795, and often reprinted also the German life by A. von Reumont, Leipzig, 1874, and Eng. tr. by R. Harrison, London, 1876.)

Lorenzo was succeeded by his son, Piero, but he did not long retain popularity, especially after he had ceded the fortresses of Pietra Santa and Pontremoli to Charles VIII of France, who entered Italy with the avowed purpose of overthrowing the Aragonese do-minion in Naples. The popular displeasure reached its acme when Piero pawned the towns of Pisa and Leghorn to the French king. He was driven out and the former republican government restored. Charles VIII entered Florence and endeavored to have Piero’s promises honored but the firmness of Piero Capponi and a threatened uprising of the people forced the French king to quit Tuscany (1494). There were at that time three parties in Florence: the Medicean party, known as the Palleschi (from the palle or little balls in the Medici coat of arms), the oligarchic republicans, called the Arrabiati (enraged), and the democrats or Piagnoni (weepers). The last had for chief the Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola of Ferrara, who hoped by their aid to restore in Florence piety and a Christian discipline of life, i.e. to establish in the city the Ki iwm of Christ. In fact, Christ was publicly proclaimed Lord or Signore of Florence (Rex populi. Florentini). Savonarola’s intemperate speeches were the occasion of his excommunication, and in 1498 he was publicly burned. The Arrabiati were then in power. In 1512 Cardinal Giovanni de’Medici purchased at a great price the support of the Spanish captain Cardona and sent him to Florence to demand the return of the Medici. Fearing worse evils the people consented, and Lorenzo II, son of Piero, was recalled as prince. Cardinal Giovanni, however, kept the reins of power in his own hands. As Leo X he sent thither Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici (the natural son of Giuliano), afterwards Clement VII. The family had now reached the acme of its power and prestige. The sack of Rome (1527) and the misfortunes of Clement VII caused a third exile of the Medici. Ippolito and Alessandro, cousins of the pope, were driven out.

In the peace concluded between Emperor Charles V and Clement VII it was agreed that the Medici rule should be restored in Florence. The citizens, however, would not listen to this, and prepared for resistance. Their army was defeated at Gavinana (1530) through the treachery of their general, Malatesta Baglioni. A treaty was then made with the emperor, Florence paid a heavy war-indemnity and recalled the exiles, and the pope granted a free amnesty. On July 5, 1531, Alessandro de’ Medici returned and took the title of Duke, promising allegiance to the emperor. Clement VII dictated a new constitution, in which among other things the distinction between the greater and the lesser guilds was removed. Alessandro was a man of dissolute habits, and was stabbed to death by a distant relative, Lorenzino (1536), no better, but more clever, than Alessandro. The murderer fled at once from Florence. The party of Alessandro now offered the ducal office to Cosimo de’ Medici, son of Giovanni delle Bande Nere. He avenged the death of Alessandro and finally transformed the government into an absolute principality. This he did by gradually equalizing the political status of the inhabitants of Florence and of the subject cities and districts. This is the last stage in the political history of Florence as a distinct state henceforth the political history of the city is that of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. When the new Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861 Florence was chosen as the seat of government and remained such till 1871.

Few cities have affected more profoundly the course of civilization. In many ways mankind has drawn from Florence its highest inspiration. Among the great poets Dante was a Florentine, while Petrarch and Boccaccio were sons of Florentines. Among the great painters Giotto found in Florence patronage and a proper field for his genius. Fra Angelico (Giovanni da Fiesole) was a Florentine, likewise Masaccio and Donatello. Unrivalled sculptors, like Lorenzo Ghiberti and Michelangelo, architects like Brunelleschi, universal savants like Leone Battista Alberti, shine like brilliant gems in the city’s diadem of fame, and mark in some respects the highest attainments of humanity. Florence was long the chief center of the Renaissance, the leaders of which were either citizens or welcome guests of that city, e.g. Michael Chrysoloras, Giovanni Argiropulo, Leonardo Bruni, Cristoforo Landolfo, Niccolo Niccoli, Pico della Mirandola, and others scarcely less distinguished for their devotion to Greek and Latin literature, philosophy, art, and antiquities. It was capable at the same time of an incredible enthusiasm for Plato, whom men like Marsilio Ficino wished to see canonized (Sieveking, Gesch. der platon. Akademie zu Florenz, Gottingen, 1812), and of an equally passionate zeal for the restoration of all things in Christ.

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 centers 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 “Confraternity 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 misericorde a 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 Duomo 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 facade 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 remodeled 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 “Poetes franciscains ital.”, Paris, 1852, 273-S0). Santa Maria Novella, the Dominican counterpart of Santa Croce, begun in 1278 by Fra Jacopo Talenti da Nipozzano, is also a Gothic edifice. The facade 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 remodeled 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, dedicated 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 Trinity contains frescoes by Ghirlandaio. Santa Maria del Carmine, contains 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 Longia del Bigallo, the Palazzo del Podesta (1255) now used as a museum, the Palazzo Strozzi, Palazzo Riccardi, Palazzo Rucellai, and several other private edifices of architectural and historic interest.

EPISCOPAL SUCCESSION.—St. Frontinus is said by local tradition to have been the first bishop and a disciple of St. Peter. In the Decian persecution St. Miniatus (San Miniato) is said to have suffered martyrdom, It is to him that is dedicated the famous church of the same name on the hill overlooking the city. It has been suggested that Miniatus is but a form of Minias (Mena), the name of a saint who suffered at Alexandria. In 313 we find Bishop Felix mentioned as present that year at a Roman synod. About 400 we meet with the above-mentioned St. Zanobius. In the following centuries Florence sank into obscurity, and little is known of its civil or ecclesiastical life. With St. Reparatus (fl. 679), the patron of the Duomo, begins the unbroken line of episcopal succession. Among the best known of its medieval bishops are Gerardo, pater Pope Nicholas II and author (1059) of the fatuous decree on papal elections Pietro of Pavia, whom another Florentine, San Pietro Aldobrandini (Petrus Egneus), convicted of simony (1062) Ranieri (1101), who preached that Antichrist had already come (Manse, Suppl. Conc., II, 217) Ardengho, under whom was fought (1245) a pitched battle with the Patarini or Catharist heretics Antonio Orso (1309), who roused all Florence, and even his clergy, against the German Emperor Henry VII Angelo Acciaiuoli (1383), a zealous worker for the extinction of the Western Schism Francesco Zabarella (1410), cardinal, canonist, and philosopher, prominent at the Council of Constance. When in 1434 the see became vacant, Pope Eugene IV did it the honor to rule it in person. Other archbishops of Florence were Cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi, captain of Eugene IV’s army the Dominican St. Antoninus Forcillioni, d. 1459 Cosimo de’ Pazzi (1508), a learned humanist and philosopher Antonio Martini, translator of the Bible into Italian (1781). In 1809 Napoleon, to the great dissatisfaction of the diocese, imposed on Florence as its archbishop Monsignor d’Osmond, Bishop of Nancy. To Eugenio Cecconi (1874-88) we owe an (unfinished) “Storia del concilio ecumenico Vaticano” (Rome, 1872-79). Archbishop Alfonso Maria Mistrangelo, of the Society of the Pious Schools (Scuole Pie), was born at Savona, in 1852, and transferred (June 19, 1899) from Pontremoli to Florence.

Saints and Popes.—Florence is the mother of many saints. Besides those already mentioned, there are Bl. Uberto degli Uberti, Bl. Luca Mongoli, Bl. Domenico 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 Sepolcro, 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.

COUNCIL OF FLORENCE, the Seventeenth Oecumenica1 Council, was, correctly speaking, the continuation of the Council of Ferrara, transferred to the Tuscan capital because of the pest, or, indeed, a continuation of the Council of Basle, which was convoked in 1431 by Martin V. In the end the last-named assembly became a revolutionary conciliabulum, and is to be judged variously, according as we consider the manner of its convocation, its membership, or its results. Generally, however, it is ranked as an ecumenical council until the decree of dissolution in 1437. After its transfer to Ferrara, the first session of the council was held January 10, 1438. Eugene IV proclaimed it the regular continuation of the Council of Basle, and hence its cecumenical character is admitted by all.

The Council of Constance (1414-18) had seen the growth of a fatal theory, based on the writings of William Durandus (Guillaume Durant), John of Paris, Marsiglio of Padua, and William of Occam, i.e. the conciliar theory that proclaimed the superiority of the council over the pope. It was the outcome of much previous conflict and embitterment was hastily voted in a time of angry confusion by an incompetent body and, besides leading eventually to the deplorable articles of the “Declaratio Cleri Gallicani” (see Gallicanism), almost provoked at the time new schisms. Influenced by this theory, the members of the Council of Constance promulgated in the thirty-fifth general session (October 9, 1417) five decrees, the first being the famous decree known as “Frequens”, according to which an ecumenical council should be held every ten years. In other words, the council was henceforth to be a permanent, indispensable institution, that is, a kind of religioug parliament meeting at regular intervals, and includi mongelt its members the ambassadors of Catholic sovereigns hence the ancient papal monarchy, elective but absolute, was to give way to a constitutional oligarchy.

While Martin V, naturally enough, refused to recognize these decrees, he was unable to make headway openly against a movement which he considered fatal. In accordance, therefore, with the decree “Frequens” he Convoked all ecumenical council at Pavia for 1423, and later, yielding to popular opinion, which even many cardinals countenanced, summoned a new council at Basle to settle the difficulties raised by the anti-Hussite wars. A Bull of February 1, 1431, named as president of the council Giuliano Cesarini, Cardinal of Sant’ Angelo, whom the pope had sent to Germany to preach a crusade against the Hussites. Martin V died suddenly (February 20, 1431), before the Bull of convocation and the legatine faculties reached Cesarini. However, the new pope, Eugene IV (Gabriele Condolmieri), confirmed the acts of his predecessor with the reservation that further events might cause him to revoke his decision. He referred probably to the reunion of the Greek Church with Rome, discussed between Martin V and the Byzantine emperor (John Paloeologus), but put off by reason of the pope’s death. Eugene IV labored most earnestly for reunion, which he was destined to see accomplished in the Council of Ferrara-Florence. The Council of Basle had begun in a rather burlesque way. Canon Beaupere of Besancon, who had been sent from Basle to Rome, gave the pope an unfavorable and exaggerated account of the temper of the people of Basle and its environs. Eugene IV thereupon dissolved the council before the close of 1431, and convoked it anew at Bologna for the summer of 1433, providing at the same time for the participation of the Greeks. Cesarini, however, had already opened the council at Basle, and now insisted vigorously that the aforesaid papal act should be withdrawn. Yielding to the aggressive attitude of the Basle assembly, whose members proclaimed anew the conciliar theory, Eugene IV gradually modified his attitude towards them, and exhibited in general, throughout these painful dissensions, a very conciliatory temper.

Many reform-decrees were promulgated by the council, and, though never executed, contributed towards the final rupture. Ultimately, the unskillful negotiations of the council with the Greeks on the question of reunion moved Eugene IV to transfer it to Ferrara. The embassy sent from Basle to Constantinople (1435), Giovanni di Ragusa, Heinrich Henger, and Simon Freron, insisted obstinately on holding at Basle the council which was to promote the union of the two Churches, but in this matter the Byzantine Emperor refused to give way. With all the Greeks he wished the council to take place in some Italian city near the sea, preferably in Southern Italy. At Basle the majority insisted, despite the Greeks, that the council of reunion should be convoked at Avignon, but a minority sided with the Greeks and was by them recognized as the true council. Hereupon Eugene IV approved the action of the minority (May 29, 1437), and for this was summoned to appear before the council. He replied by dissolving it on September 18. Wearied of the obstinacy of the majority at Basle, Cardinal Cesarini and his adherents then quitted the city and went to Ferrara, whither Eugene IV, as stated above, had transferred the council by decree of December 30, 1437, or January 1, 1438.

The Ferrara Council opened on January 8, 1438, under the presidency of Cardinal Niccolo Albergati, whom the pope had commissioned to represent him until he could appear in person. It had, of course, no other objects than those of Basle, i.e. reunion of the Churches, reforms, and the restoration of peace between Christian peoples. The first session of the council took place 10_January, 1438. It declared the Council of Basle sferred to Ferrara, and anirtLl’i4’ed in advance any and all future decrees of the Basle assembly. When Eugene IV heard that the Greeks were nearing the coast of Italy, he set off (January 24) for Ferrara and three days later made his solemn entry into the city. The manner of voting was first discussed by the members of the council. Should it be, as at Constance, by nations (nationes), or by committees (commissiones)? It was finally decided to divide the members into three estates: (I) the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops (2) the abbots and prelates (3) the doctors and other members. In order that the vote of any estate might count, it was resolved that a majority of two-thirds should be required, and it was hoped that this provision would remove all pos-sibility of the recurrence of the regrettable dissensions at Constance. At the second public session (February 15) these decrees were promulgated, and the pope excommunicated the members of the Basle assembly, which still continued to sit. The Greeks soon appeared at Ferrara, headed by Emperor John Palaeologus and Joasaph, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and numbered about seven hundred. The solemn sessions of the council began on April 9, 1438, and were held in the cathedral of Ferrara under the presidency of the pope. On the Gospel side of the altar rose the (unoccupied) throne of the Western Emperor (Sigismund of Luxemburg), who had died only a month previously on the Epistle side was placed the throne of the Greek Emperor. Besides the emperor and his brother Demetrius, there were present, on the part of the Greeks, Joasaph, the Patriarch of Constantinople Antonius, the Metropolitan of Heraclea Gregory Hamma, the Protosyncellus of Constantinople (the last two representing the Patriarch of Alexandria) Marcus Eugenicus of Ephesus Isidore of Kiev (representing the Patriarch of Antioch) Dionysius, Bishop of Sardes (representing the Patriarch of Jerusalem) Bessarion, Archbishop of Nicaea Balsamon, the chief chartophylax Syropulos, the chief ecclesiarch, and the Bishops of Monembasia, Lacedaemon, and Anchielo. In the discussions the Latins were represented principally by Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini and Cardinal Niccolo Albergati Andrew, Archbishop of Rhodes the Bishop of Forli the Dominican John of Turrecremata and Giovanni di Ragusa, provincial of Lombardy.

Preliminary discussions brought out the main points of difference between the Greeks and the Latins, viz. the Procession of the Holy Spirit, the azymes, purgatory, and the primacy. During these preliminaries the zeal and good intentions of the Greek Emperor were evident. Serious discussion began apropos of the doctrine of purgatory. Cesarini and Turrecremata were the chief Latin speakers, the latter in particular engaging in a violent discussion with Marcus Eugenicus. Bessarion, speaking for the Greeks, made clear the divergency of opinion existing among the Greeks themselves on the question of purgatory. This stage of the discussion closed on July 17, whereupon the council rested for a time, and the Greek Emperor took advantage of the respite to join eagerly in the pleasures of the chase with the Duke of Ferrara.

When the council met again (October 8, 1438), the chief (indeed, thenceforth the only) subject of discussion was the Filioque. The Greeks were represented by Bessarion, Marcus Eugenicus, Isidore of Kiev, Gemistus Plethon, Balsamon, and Xantopulos on the Latin side were Cardinals Cesarini and Niccolo Albergati, the Archbishop of Rhodes, the Bishop of Forli, and Giovanni di Ragusa. In this and the following fourteen sessions, the Filioque was the sole subject of discussion. In the fifteenth session it became clear that the Greeks were unwilling to consent to the insertion of this expression in the Creed, although it was imperative for the good of the church and as a safe-guard against future heresies. Many Greeks began to despair of realizing the projected union and spoke of returning to Constantinople. To this the emperor would not listen he still hoped for a reconciliation, and in the end succeeded in appeasing the heated spirits of his partisans. Eugene IV now announced his intention of transferring the council to Florence, in consequence of pecuniary straits and the outbreak of the pest at Ferrara. Many Latins had already died, and of the Greeks the Metropolitan of Sardis and the entire household of Isidore of Kiev were attacked by the disease. The Greeks finally consented to the transfer, and in the sixteenth and last session at Ferrara the papal Bull was read, in both Latin and Greek, by which the council was transferred to Florence (January, 1439).

The seventeenth session of the council (the first at Florence) took place in the papal palace on February 26. In nine consecutive sessions, the Filioque was the chief matter of discussion. In the last session but one (twenty-fourth of Ferrara, eighth of Florence) Giovanni di Ragusa set forth clearly the Latin doctrine in the following terms: “The Latin Church recognizes but one principle, one cause of the Holy Spirit, namely, the Father. It is from the Father that the Son holds his place in the `Procession’ of the Holy Ghost. It is in this sense that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, but He proceeds also from the Son.” In the last session, the same theologian again expounded the doctrine, after which the public sessions were closed at the request of the Greeks, as it seemed useless to prolong further the theological discussions. At this juncture began the active efforts of Isidore of Kiev, and, as the result of further parleys, Eugene IV submitted four propositions summing up the result of the previous discussion and exposing the weakness of the attitude of the Greeks. As the latter were loath to admit defeat, Cardinal Bessarion, in a special meeting of the Greeks, on 13 and April 14, 1439, delivered his famous discourse in favor of reunion, and was supported by Georgius Scholarius. Both parties now met again, after which, to put an end to all equivocation, the Latins drew up and read a declaration of their faith in which they stated that they did not admit two “principia” in the Trinity, but only one, the productive power of the Father and the Son, and that the Holy Ghost proceeds also from the Son. They admitted, therefore, two hypostases, one action, one productive power, and one product due to the substance and the hypostases of the Father and the Son. The Greeks met this statement with an equivocal counter-formula, whereupon Bessarion, Isidore of Kiev, and Dorotheus of Mitylene, encouraged by the emperor, came out strongly in favor of the ex filio.

The reunion of the Churches was at last really in sight. When, therefore, at the request of the emperor, Eugene IV promised the Greeks the military and financial help of the Holy See as a consequence of the projected reconciliation, the Greeks declared (June 3, 1439) that they recognized the procession of the Holy Ghost, from the Father and the Son as from one “principium” (dpxt)) and from one cause (atria). On June 8, a final agreement was reached concerning this doctrine. The Latin teaching respecting the azymes and purgatory was also accepted by the Greeks. As to the primacy, they declared that they would grant the pope all the privileges he had before the schism. An amicable agreement was also reached regarding the form of consecration in the Mass (see Epiklesis). Almost simultaneously with these measures the Patriarch of Constantinople died, June 10 not, however, before he had drawn up and signed a declaration in which he admitted the Filioque, purgatory, and the papal primacy. Nevertheless the reunion of the Churches was not yet an accomplished fact. The Greek representatives insisted that their aforesaid declarations were only their personal opinions and as they stated that it was still necessary to obtain the assent of the Greek Church in synod assembled, seemingly insuperable difficulties threatened to annihilate all that had so far been achieved. On July 6, however, the famous decree of union (Ltentur Coeli), the original of which is still preserved in the Laurentian Library at Florence, was formally announced in the cathedral of that city. The council was over, as far as the Greeks were concerned, and they departed at once. The Latin members remained to promote the reunion with the other Eastern Churches—the Armenians (1439), the Jacobites of Syria (1442), the Mesopotamians, between the Tigris and the Euphrates (1444), the Chaldeans or Nestorians, and the Maronites of Cyprus (1445). This last was the concluding public act of the Council of Florence, the proceedings of which from 1443 onwards took place in the Lateran palace at Rome.

The erudition of Bessarion and the energy of Isidore of Kiev were chiefly responsible for the reunion of the Churches as accomplished at Florence. The question now was to secure its adoption in the East. For this purpose Isidore of Kiev was sent to Russia as papal legate and cardinal, but the Muscovite princes, jealous of their religious independence, refused to abide by the decrees of the Council of Florence. Isidore was thrown into prison, but afterwards escaped and took refuge in Italy. Nor was any better headway made in the Greek Empire. The emperor remained faithful, but some of the Greek deputies, intimidated by the discontent prevailing amongst their own people, deserted their position and soon fell back into the surrounding mass of schism. The new emperor, Constantine, brother of John Palaeologus, vainly endeavored to overcome the opposition of the Byzantine clergy and people. Isidore of Kiev was sent to Constantinople to bring about the desired acceptance of the Florentine “Decreturn Unionis” (Laetentur Ceeli), but, before he could succeed in his mission, the city fell (1453) before the advancing hordes of Mohammed II.

One advantage, at least, resulted from the Council of Florence: it proclaimed before both Latins and Greeks that the Roman pontiff was the foremost ecclesiastical authority in Christendom and Eugene IV was able to arrest the schism which had been threatening the Western Church anew. This council was, therefore, witness to the prompt rehabilitation of papal supremacy, and facilitated the return of men like Aeneas Sylvius Piccolo-mini, who in his youth had taken part in the Council of Basle, but ended by recognizing its erroneous attitude, and finally became pope under the name of Pius II.


Florence Scala and Peggy Terry discuss politics

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