Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance
Pageant of Life in Renaissance Florence
Of a population estimated at 80,000 before the Black Death
of 1348, about 25,000 are said to have been supported by the city's
woolen industry: in 1345 Florence was the scene of an attempted strike
by wool carders (ciompi), who in 1378 rose up in a brief revolt against oligarchic rule in the Revolt of the Ciompi. After their suppression, the city came under the sway (1382â€“1434) of the Albizzi family, bitter rivals of the Medici. Cosimo de' Medici
was the first Medici family member to essentially control the city from
behind the scenes. Although the city was technically a democracy of
sorts, his power came from a vast patronage
network along with his alliance to the new immigrants, the gente nuova.
The fact that the Medici were bankers to the pope also contributed to
their rise. Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero di Cosimo de' Medici,
who was shortly thereafter succeeded by Cosimo's grandson, Lorenzo in 1469. Lorenzo was a great patron of the arts, commissioning works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli.