Week 6: Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The Families of Florence

Italian society has always been dominated by families. Renaissance Florence was no exception. There were about 100 great families that led the Florentine Republic in the 300 years between 1200 and 1500. But for the great period of the Renaissance Florence (1400-1500) three families had extraordinary power: the Medici, the Strozzi, and the Rucellai.

Our reading for this week is one of the most valuable documents to come down to us from Renaissance Florence. This collection of letters written by Alessandra degli Strozzi to her children living outside of Florence, provides us with an insight into what life was like for the upper class Strozzi family in a world dominated by the Medici. Get your own copy so that you can appreciate her wit and charm.


Heather Gregory,

The Selected Letters of Alessandra degli Strozzi,

University of California Press, Bilingual ed edition (February 1, 1997),

ISBN 0520203909

The Institute’s Outline of Letters


J. R. Hale, The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance.  This study of the whole Renaissance period in all of Europe was the final masterpiece of one of the greatest historians of the Early Modern period.  John Hale was working on this book when he suffered a debilitating stroke.  But his wife, Sheila Hale, and other scholars finished the book for publication and we are all enriched by its availability.  It is in print, but you might also look at used copies of the original quality paperback.  This book will serve us for the whole year-long course.  It is especially useful for Winter and Spring Quarters.

John Hale,

The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance,

Scribner, Reprint edition (June 1, 1995),

ISBN 0684803526

This two-volume history of Florence is the best detailed study of Florence ever written. Schevill wrote a masterpiece of well researched narrative history for Florence in 1936 and then it was republished in a Harper Torchbook paperback in 1961. The Harper Torchbook is still out there in used book stores so we have purchased five for our library. But there are still copies left if you want to own one. It is two volumes with the first volume devoted to our period of Medieval History and the second volume on Renaissance Florence.  For the Lombards see Medieval Florence (Volume 1) Chapter Three, "Darkness Over Florence."

Ferdinand Schevill,

Medieval and Renaissance Florence,

Harper Torchbook paperback, 1963, 2 volumes,


The Medici Palace