A History of Florence 1200-1575 Paperback – 16 May 2008
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"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)See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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