Italian History VII: Curtain Going Up: The Renaissance

Italy becomes the center of Western Culture again

The Renaissance peaked in the 15C as northern cities bullied their way to city-state status.

Even while warring constantly with one another to extend their territories, such ruling families as the Medicis in Florence, the Estes in Ferrara, and the Gonzagas in Milan grew incredibly rich and powerful.

The princes, popes, and merchant princes who ruled Italy’s city-states, spurred on by the Humanist philosophical movement, collectively bankrolled the explosion of poetic and artistic expression we now call the Renaissance (see the Art & Architecture section).

But with no clear political authority or unified military, Italy was easy pickings and by the mid-16C, Spain, courtesy of Charles V, occupied nearly all of the country and even sacked Rome and caused the Pope to flee.

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Cue the Medici