The Duchy of Tuscany

Florence was the capital of the duchy of Tuscany. It was ruled by a duke, who had four counselors. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Medici family ruled the city: Cosimo I and his sons Francisco and Ferdinando I. The latter was very popular among his subjects. The duke employed secretaries who owed him loyalty. They did not change periodically, as with elected officials, and thus were very influential in the decision-making process.

In the late sixteenth century, the great duke Ferdinando developed the fishing village of Livorno, which originally had a population of about 400. He turned it into a flourishing port, with a population of more than 10,000. The coinage of Florence, the ducat became an international currency.

The economic situation changed in the seventeenth century. Competition with other countries harmed Tuscany, two-thirds of whose industry was geared to export. Florence tried to preserve its domination of the wool trade, but was affected by competition with France and England, which began to trade with the Mediterranean countries. Plagues that struck Florence in the 1630s damaged the city's production ability, and the death of 14,000 people in these epidemics also contributed to the city's economic decline.

Florence was an important cultural center. The Medici dukes encouraged the creation of different types of artistic works. In the fifteenth century, a Renaissance palace was built by the elder Cosimo de' Medici.

In the sixteenth century, Michelangelo designed the Medici funerary chapel (1524-1533).

The most important cultural innovation that took place in Florence towards the end of the sixteenth century was in the development of the Italian language. This led to research which resulted in the creation of the first dictionary of Italian ( the first dictionary of a modern European language. It should be remembered that Latin was the language in which the different fields of knowledge had been developed in Europe.

The Venetian Republic
The Papal States

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