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Medici Era Florence

The Medici family was a prosperous family of bankers and merchants who came to power in 1434 under Cosimo il Vecchio (the Elder) when there was great cultural progress. The reign of Lorenzo the Magnificent, grandson of Cosimo was the period known as Florence Renaissance. Botticelli, da Vinci, Ghirlandaio and Michelangelo Buonarroti were some of the famous names of Florence. Arts and architecture flourished.

But there was political rivalry and in the Pazzi Conspiracy in the Cathedral on April 26, 1475, Giuliano, Lorenzo's brother was killed, though the attempt to overthrow Medici failed the monk Girolamo Savonarola succeeded in driving away the Medici due to the aristocracy's immoral ways. Till 1512 Savonarola's republican constitution was in power but due to his inflammatory remarks against the church angered Pope Alexander VI and Savonarola was burnt at stake. The Medicis returned to power and the power and wealth lay in the hands of the rich aristocracy. Renaissance art flourished and in 1530 Alessandro de' Medici was appointed Grand Duke of Tuscany by Emperor Charles V and Florence and Tuscany came under the complete control of the Medicis until 1743.

After the death of Gian Gastone, the last member of the dynasty, Francis I of Lorraine, the husband of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria came into power. The Habsburg-Lorraines ruled Tuscany until 1859 except between 1799 and 1814, when the French ruled. The Grand Duke Leopold II was expelled from Florence in 1859 and in 1860 Tuscany surrendered its century-old independence for a unified Italy. From 1865 to 1870 Florence was the capital of Rome until it was moved to Rome by Victor Emmanuel II.

Florence has since then grown to become one of the most popular tourist spots in the world, with its great eateries, magnificent art and beautiful architecture attracting, historians, art lovers, tourists and travelers alike.