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A History of Florence 1200-1575 Paperback – 16 May 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (16 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405182423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405182423
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"A masterly survey of a generation of scholarship that has opened up many new perspectives, by an expert guide to the complex political society of medieval and Renaissance Florence."
Christine Shaw, of Cambridge University

"This is a marvellous book and I suspect it will become a classic. John Najemy has an astonishing and probably unparalleled mastery of the scholarship on Florence and has accomplished a precise and beautifully written synthetic history of the Medieval and Renaissance city."
Carol Lansing, University of California, Santa Barbara


"Based on wide reading of the available secondary and printed sources, A History of Florence represents the achievement of a lifetime′s devotion to the study of the city. Moreover, Najemy′s categories of analysis should provoke debates and conversations for future lifetimes."  ( Renaissance and Reformation, 2009)

"There is much to praise about this book. It is a model historical synthesis of the history of a great premodern European city. It is also a sophisticated political history in which class–based ideas and values matter as much as individual details of political events." (The Catholic Historical Review, July 2010)"[This] is the best history of Florence in any language, and it will long remain so, for Najemy has mastered the relevant literature more thoroughly than any other historian in living memory." (Times Literary Supplement)

"John Najemy is a pre–eminent historian of Renaissance Florence ... a scholar of learning, imagination and intellectual penetration, with a profound knowledge of Florentine history from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century and with a remarkable range of interests in political, social and intellectual history. There has been no credible attempt to write a history of Florence in this period since the time of Perrens′s multi–volume work, finished in 1883. Najemy has risen admirably to the challenge. He has assimilated the vast secondary literature on Florence, from the beginning of the thirteenth to the late sixteenth century. The range of his analysis and explication stretches across a vast range of fundamental social, political, economic, diplomatic, military and biographical topics. Nor is Najemy indifferent to intellectual history, especially questions involving political thought and ideology. This book is no mere synthesis of other scholars′ work. Indeed, Najemy offers a distinctive interpretation, one which has already stimulated controversy and will doubtless continue to do so." (Reviews in History)

"Highly recommended." (Choice)

"An extraordinary accomplishment. Deserves rich praise as a fundamentally new and authoritative interpretation of four key centuries of this remarkable city′s development.” Speculum“[Najemy], a veteran Renaissance historian offers a big and impressive survey of the Florentine city–state …. One of the justifications for the book [is] the need for an updated and accessible synthesis of the superabundance of recent specialized scholarship on Florence. He succeeds admirably at that task … [and] manages to explain and contextualize detailed scholarship while remaining a lively and engaging political narrative. [It] will surely become the definitive narrative of medieval and Renaissance Florence, a point of departure for students of Florentine politics and culture as well as a major interpretive statement providing much for specialists to engage with for some time." (Sixteenth Century Journal)

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is very much a POLITICAL history of Florence. The sheer amoount of detail is impressive if at times rather overwhelming - one starts to lose track of the ins and outs, the endless manouevering between factions and classes, the tortuous restructuring of the voting system of this council or that priorate, the merry-go-round of Strozzi, Bardi, Peruzzi, Pucci and Vespucci, and of course the Medici.

This is also an astonishinlgy colourless book. One gets little sense of the characters involved, little feel for the material city, its stones and sounds and textures, for the social life of its inhabitants, above all for the cultural life that made Florence the heart of the Renaissance. One even learns little about its economic development. How DID the Florentine bankers corner so the market so completely? What about double-entry book keeping? Was Renaissance Florence a capitalist economy?

I read Gene Bruckner's masterly history of Florence some 40 years ago and thought it was time to update. I think I'll go back to Bruckner all the same.
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Format: Hardcover
Recognizing, of course, the different periodization, what Christopher Hibbert achieved for the general reader in his 'Florence: Biography of a City', John Najemy has achieved, in this major work, for the serious student of Italian history. However, this scholarly textbook will find direction beyond the academic community, it will also appeal to a wider audience. I agree with the prediction made by Carol Lansing, that this work will become a classic, especially as a grounding for specialization. The accumulation of detail is impressive but the narrative easily communicates understanding, through the complexity of events, and also, themes are skillfully interwoven with the chronology. It is a pity, however, that the work lacks an alphabetical bibliography.
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Format: Paperback
This is a perfect guide for the student or historically minded traveller who needs to get their head round the complexities of Florentine history. It is scholarly, yet accessible.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9828d06c) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x982beab0) out of 5 stars A good balance between too little and too much information. 23 Nov. 2011
By J DeWitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was one of the books I had to read for my masters exam, and by far the best one. There is enough information and detail to give you a decent understanding of the events described, but it isn't dense to the point where you lose the narrative. Rubinstein's history of the Medici from 1434 to 1494, while extremely informative, lost me quite often until I read this book. With Najemy's book, I could keep the more relevant events in focus and understand how many of the more minor topics rubinstein discusses(like the Accopiattori)fit in. Anyone wanting to get a good dose of Florentine history has to pick up this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x982beb04) out of 5 stars Political Florence 13 Aug. 2013
By Samuel J. Sharp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Najemy's "A History of Florence" is a richly-detailed scholarly account of Florence's rise and decline as a major Italian republic. This is very much a political history. The ever-changing political structure of the the republic and the shifting familial alliances drive the narrative across four centuries. Florence's relationships with its Italian neighbors and foreign powers are also well treated.

The material on Florence's economy was informative, but Najemy was quick to shift focus from the guilds' economic role to their political role. Additional treatment of economic activity and the Renaissance would have made for a more balanced work. Even so, this is a definitive Florentine history that I highly recommend for those interested in an academic look at political Florence.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x982bede0) out of 5 stars Awesome introduction to Florentine history 23 Oct. 2013
By Tasha Arvanitis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book to provide context for a class on Machiavelli, and it did a great job giving me an understanding of events and driving forces in Florentine history. It told a coherent story, if one in a somewhat Marxist framework, about the politics and social life in Florence and described how those interacted and evolved over time.

I'd recommend this book for people who want an introduction to Florentine history, but I suspect it is also a useful reference for people with prior knowledge.
18 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x982ce324) out of 5 stars Excellent history; Needs a good editor 6 Sept. 2009
By Frank - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought Najemy's History of Florence as preparation for reading Dante. The time period is perfect. Interesting times. Other comments led me to believe this would be an excellent up-to-date history of the period, and the first few chapters confirm that; however, Najemy is not a good writer. As an academic accustomed to captive audiences, he doesn't take enough care to understand what a reader needs to know and doesn't always define terms before he uses them. Some passages should be footnotes, and may have been copied from journal articles where readers can be expected to know the background.

There are examples where sentences are unacceptably ambiguous: p. 40: "Both forms of association appeared in Florence no later than the early thirteenth century..."
He means "first appeared ... no later."

His discussion on p. 39 of classes mentions Ottokar's system from 1926 and Salvemini's from 1899. In this paragraph Najemy engages in an academic argument suitable for a journal paper, but doesn't prepare the reader first by stating his own classification clearly enough. Nonspecialists would prefer to hear only Najemy's own explanation of class structure, presented clearly. The academic haggling should be relegated to footnotes for specialists.

For those who want a wonderfully well-written introduction to the essential history, I highly recommend Richard W. Church's essay from 1850, "Dante." It was a pleasure to read this essay, which doesn't sound dated. It can be found on the internet. This was mentioned in the preface to John Sinclair's Inferno, with the original Italian and a literal translation.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Sam - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book has been very useful for my class and for various other classes. The condition of the book was also very good for the price.
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