A Brief History of the City of Florence
The Roman Age
Recent archaeological excavations have demonstrated that the earliest anthropic settlements in the area date back to the Copper Age. The historical certainty, however, is given by the area at the center of Florence since it was the “founded city” as a result of the agrarian law issued by Julius Caesar in 59 B.C., with the deduction of the colony of Florentia, though it was materially carried out (as confirmed by recent archaeological data) during the Augustan Age, between 30 and 15 B.C.. The urban layout was made of the cardo and the decumanus; the city was surrounded by brick walls with round towers protruding from them in pairs at the four main gates plus others, inside those walls, at regular intervals.
Christianity in Florence and the Middle Ages
According to tradition the final triumph of Christianity in Florentia had been introduced by Saint Minias, who was martyred in the Amphitheater in 250 and buried on the hill that bears his name. The city was occupied by Totila the Goth and then liberated by the Byzantines in 553; after that Florence had to remain under the rule of the Exarch of Ravenna for almost two decades – until 570, when the Lombards occupied Tuscany. In the Carolingian period (late VIIIth – end of the IXth century) we see an urban recovery and towards the middle of the XIth century Florence reached the number of 20.000 inhabitants, thus having to widen its walls’ perimeter; in 1078 the Countess Matilda promoted the building of new walls which Dante calls “the antique walls” and which are commonly referred to as “the first walls”, even though they are actually the fourth. From 1200 on Florence began to prosper commercially, so the city became richer in the economic and arts fields.
The Lordship, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Unification of Italy
In the XVth century Florence was governed by an oligarchic regime that controlled power in a collegial form until 1434; then it was ruled by the Medici through Cosimo the Elder and Lorenzo the Magnificent.
With the advent of Cosimo I de 'Medici, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany created; he organized an absolutist state, changing his own residence to Palazzo della Signoria (which will be called "Ducale") and then to Palazzo Pitti. The Uffizi became an organ where all the state functions were concentrated in a continuous structure, cleverly related to the pre-existing ones, but with the clear affirmation of the absolute power.
The last heir of the Medici, Gian Gastone, died after his brief government and Tuscany passed to the Lorena, as decided by the major powers gathered in Vienna in 1734.
In 1864 Florence was named capital of the newly unified Italian State and it remained as such for five years.