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Living on the Edge in Leonardo's FlorenceSelected Essays$
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Gene Brucker

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241343

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241343.001.0001

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Living on the Edge in Leonardo’s Florence

Living on the Edge in Leonardo’s Florence

(p.114) Chapter Seven Living on the Edge in Leonardo’s Florence
Living on the Edge in Leonardo's Florence

Jeff Mielke

University of California Press

Florence in the fifteenth century was one of the five most populous cities in Italy. It was a wealthy city deriving its wealth from industry, trade, banking, agriculture, and craftsmanship. However, the city's wealth was divided unevenly, with only a few people enjoying the city's wealth. Despite the hierarchy of Florentine society, there was considerable interaction between the members of the social groups. In the fifteenth century, Florence was ruled by the Medici family. While Florence was one of the five major powers in Italy, it was one of the weakest major powers in the peninsula. This chapter discusses the sense of vulnerability and the awareness of grave perils that threatened Florence's security and prosperity during Leonardo da Vinci's lifetime. It focuses on the extreme anxiety that gripped Florence. Among the dangers that threatened Florence in the fifteenth century were natural disasters and two scourges over which they had no control: poor harvests and the food shortages which caused starvation and social unrest; and the epidemics of plague that struck the city on average once a decade.

Keywords:   Florence, Italy, Florentine society, Medici, Leonardo da Vinci

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