Between the X and the VII century befor JC, some populations came from Emilia to Tuscany. In the VII century the Etruscans occupy the region, and extend their domination towards Lazio.
During the VI century, the Romans take the hand. From the years 530 before JC, the Roman Republic settles down. But its only later, around 59 before JC, that Florentia, from the name of the goddes Flora and his games, is rested and baptized by the Romans. The site is used to install a castrum and Cesars former soldiers build there a camp. The site was never occupied before. The population grows up as the commercial activities stimulated by the arrival of Greek or Syrian merchants communities. The Christian worship settles down with them.
With the barbarian invasions, by successive waves starting from 401 after JC, the city know rather dark hours, and especially, a reduced perimeter for a tiny population. Between 568 and 774, Lombards control the territory, which passes then to Karl the Great. The Carolingian domination is very favorable: counts are named, Florence and Fiesole are joined (854), and forms the major county in Tuscany. The territory ranging between the Apennines and Siena obtains its unit, and precedes the Florentin contado. The marquess of Tuscany, Ugo, sttelses himselves in Florence, giving up Lucca. The city takes a new dash then, and profits, around the year 1000, of the european demographic growth, and the good economic being.
With as background the investitures quarrel (fight about the appointment of the bishops between the pope and the emperor), which toke place since 1076 (regulated by the settlement of Worms only in 1122), the Italian cities gradually obtain autonomy, primarily in the North and then in the Center of the peninsula. The guelfes, in favour of the pope, and the gibelins, in favour of the emperor fight on differents scales of territory. Florence, guelfe, in 1082, resists ten days lasting successfully the armies of the emperor, then close-cropped on the ground Fiesole, gibeline, in 1125.
During XII century, Florence subdues the too independent lords of her contado and constrained them to reside downtown, where she subjects them to a strict control. In 1154, Florence obtains from the Emperor the right of justice in the whole contado. Its confirmed again at the time of the peace of Constancy (1183), with the freedom of the Comuni. The city is directed by twelve consuls chosen among noble, most powerful and rich merchants. Their capacity is controlled by two assemblies: the council of Credenza (or senate) and a parlamentum. This last, joined together four times l’an, was to gather all the "citizens". But the competitions between great families persist, and, to ensure its domination on its contado, and to compete victoriously with Pisa and Siena, Florence chooses in 1207 to create the podestà. Noble, foreigner in the city, thus sees themselves entrusting, with the executive and military power, the right of justice.
The quarrels and the wars between "the greats" (Frederic I defeat in Legnano in 1176, campaigns of Frederic III against the Lombard leagues in 1236 and 1237, Guelfes victories, thanks to intervention of Charles d’Anjou, which stlles himself in Naples between 1266 and 1268), probably support this rise.
The influence and the role of the merchants grow, proportionally with the economic richness, and thanks to the peace. The Arti organises themselves, and play a growing part in the communal power. The popolo, political organization gaved by the Arti, arrives at the capacity in 1250, helped by the guelfes, and at gibelines expenses. The communal institutions are gradually pledged with those new structures.
But in 1260, the defeat of Montaperti, against Siena and the Emperor, brings
back the gibelins to the power. The popolo is abolished, and the guelfes
houses are destroyed. Only in 1267 the guelfes, helped by the king of France,
are back in the comunal institutions, also helped by the intervention of Charles
d’Anjou. The popolo returns then to the businesses, but joins
this time only richest (popolo grasso), and takes little by little
the control of the institutions. Between 1284 and 1293, the new institutions
function extremely well. The noble families are excluded of the public offices.
But the constant competitions between the families and the clans cause around,
year 1300, a new division: the black guelfes, partisans of the pope interventions,
drive out the white guelfes, much more being wary towards Rome.
Different elements disturb, and sometimes reorganize town structures. Incompetent to maintain order, the city suffers of dictatorships, bankruptcies of great bank houses, and, in 1348, even the great plague which crosses Europe, and kills a third of the whole population. The city, which counts then nearly 100000 inhabitants and is one of the richest, is found with broad in its enclosure, and the recession increases. Then, political crises succeed the economic crises. In 1378, the "revolt of Ciompi", claims for workmen of wool, and then for all those of the Minor arts, the right to organise themselves in corporations. But since 1382 the power is back in hands of richs and powerful merchants, and the prosperity back in Florence.
In November 1386 Francisco Datini, famous merchant of Prato, marks its stay in the "albergho of Porta Rossa", already called "Inn of the Camel", situated between Via Porta Rossa and via delle Terme, in the place now occupied by the Grand Hotel Porta Rossa of Florence.
After the oligarchs, succeeds the first era of Medici. Exiled in 1433, Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464) returns to Florence in 1434. The Medici then take the reins of the city until 1494. They control the power like the oligarchs, but has their profit. Laurenzo (1449-1492), escaped with the conspiracy of Pazzi (1478), increases the control of the elections to the magistratures and concentrates the whole powers in his hands.
The alliances varies, in Europe, but also in Italy and in Tuscany. With the end of XIV century, Florence signed for example an alliance with Venice against Milan. Only in 1454 the peace of Lodi ends up pacifying the situation between the Italian States. And it is thanks to this peace that artists, poets, well-read men flow to Florence from everywhere in Europe and Italy.
Religious matters also (the monk Savonarola, from 1494 to 1498, the Great Schism of Occident, from 1378 to 1418) or the military defeats of Christendom (taken of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453) mark the city history. With the XVI century, Italy remains in the center of conflicts. Charles VIII of France launches, in 1494, the guerres d’Italie, wars of Italy. The pope (Jean de Medici, pope Leon X, from 1513 to 1521; Jules of Medici, pope Clement VII from 1523 to 1524) and their successors are impotent to limit confrontations, which leads in 1527 in the "Sack of Rome" by Charles I king of spain, soon crowned emperor in Bologna in 1530, becoming Charles V. In Florence, Pietro de Medici cannot manage the crisis. At the arriving of Charles VIII of France in Italy, the florentins drive him out. The beginning of XVI century is for the Medici a critical period. Back to the city and the power in 1512, they are again expelled after the Sack of Rome. After some internal problems and competitions in the family, Cosimo arrives in first line. He will reign since 1537 until his dead in 1574. Brought to the power by the help of Spanish armies in 1537, he will remain faithful to Habsbourg all his reign. Concentrating in his hands all the capacities and powers, he will become duke and then Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569.
The italian wars stop, with the abdication of emperor Charles V, in 1556, and the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, by which France gives up Italiy. The Council of Trento, between 1543 and 1563, tries reorganize faith and structure in the Roman Church, in the attempt to counter the reforms wind. Disorders in Italy are calmed during the XVII century, and the same applies to Florence. The Cosimo's successors are not always good politicians. The last, Gian Gastone de Medici, ignores the political questions, and an economical crisis begin again. With his death, without heir, in 1737, the Lorraine family raise the succession.
The tensions begin again in Europe with the XVIII century. The Succession War of Spain, between France and european powers, inaugurates the century (1702-1712). In north of Italy , Austria settles herself, in 1706-1707, fora long period of occupation. It will only take end with the peace of Campo Formio, in 1797, when Bonaparte drives the Austrians out of Italy. They will come back later (congress of Vienna, in 1815) and will be definitively driven out at the time of the Italian wars of independence (1848 and then 1859), and the unified Italy, proclamed as a kingdom in 1861.
The governments also follow one another in Tuscany. From 1739, the Lorraine try to give Tuscany a functioning order. Influenced by the Lumières, they modernize economy, and try social reforms. But Ferdinand III is driven out by the french in 1799, and since 1801, Tuscany becomes the "Kingdom of Etruria". In 1804-1805 Napoleon is proclaimed emperor and king of Italie, and the brand new kingdom is, in 1807, integrated into the Napoleon Empire. The Lorraine fmily take the destinies of the city again in hand in 1814, first in a reform spirit, then in a much stiffer way, after the 1848 revolutions. But citizens of Florence, exceeded, drives out the grand-duke Léopold II in 1859, and attached by a plebiscite the city to the Kingdom of Piémont Sardaigne in 1860. Then, the city becomes capital of Italian Kingdom in 1865, place that she will lose in 1870, in benefit of Rome. Already European intellectual center, and very attractive place for intellectuals of all nationalities, the city concentrates then herself in touristical and cutural functions, losing in economic importance what she gains in international prestige. Strongly involved in debt, she returns then in a decline phase. Resistant, intellectually then militarily, against Fascism and Nazis (the city released by herself, in August 1944), exemplary at the time of the great rising of Arno in 1966, the city remains very folded up on itself and its cultural, touristical and patrimonial functions. Today, she is also a prestigious universitary pole, for Italy and Europe (Institut Universitaire Européen), and remains, thanks to the artistic and architectural historical inheritance, a world center for teaching of arts.
Guelfes et Gibelins
Originally, the opposition between guelfes and gibelins was between the dukes of Bavaria and the imperial house of Hohenstaufen. By systematic opposition to the emperor, the dukes of Bavaria take part in the "quarrel of investitures", in 1059, on the pope Nicolas II side. As he, they consider that it is his responsability to name the bishops. Henri IV tries to make it relieve, but failed, and is excommunicated, and then forgiven in Canossa. But the conflict between popes and emperors lasts until 1122, with the settlement of Worms.
The terms have a precise origin. The name of the dynastic castle of Hohenstaufen, Waiblingen, gives name to the Gibelins. The surname of the dukes of Bavaria, Welf, gives name to the Guelfes. By extension, all the cities, the comuni, which take part against the emperor, for whatever reason, will be called Guelfes.
But the things still become complicated. At the beginning together, with the emperor, to gain their autonomy, the comuni arrive soon to the clash, for foreign policy questions. Competitions also marked between families, opposing guelfes and gibelins within each city. Florence was controlled successively by Guelfes and Gibelins, but the general trend was rather Guelfe. At the beginning of XIV century, Gibelins eliminated, the guelfe faction itself is divided, according to the vision of the role of the pope. White Guelfes are hostile with too marked pontifical hegemony, and Black Guelfes are more favorable to the pope.
These scissions recut the internal competitions between families, and are used as pretext as much as engine. The best example is the "Bleeding Easter". In 1216, two consortery (noble grouping according to their family ties) will make up a quarrel deprived in political conflict to escape from sanctions. A marriage, designed to bring closer two rival families, Fifanti-Amidei and Buondelmonte, turns short fault of husband, who preferred, at the very last minute, to contract another alliance. To avenge the affront, the married family will kill him the Easter Day. By the way of alliances between the different clans, the family conflict will end up touching all the noble florentine society.