Knowing the Tuscan history is fundamental to understanding its territories and traditions that you will encounter during your travels and help you follow the different architectures and the succession of artistic styles with greater involvement. It is considered that origins of the history of Tuscany are prehistoric thanks to the testimony of some caves (Uccellina Park) where the remains of villages dating back to the Iron Age and the Bronze Age in areas of Mugello have been found. One of the prehistoric civilizations is a Villanoviana one, of which archaeological remains of considerable interest have been found.
The first confirmed population who settled in these territories were the Tusci, better known as Tuscany Etruscans. Ancient Tuscany history shows that between the 8th and 3rd centuries B.C. this important civilization appeared in places along the Arno and the Tyrrhenian Sea down to the River Tiber. The Etruscan civilization included several people who formed a federation of twelve locations (dodecapoli), including those of Tuscany. The most famous and rich in Tuscany Etruscan sites and ancient Tuscany history are Arezzo, Volterra, Cortona and Populonia. The Etruscans were a civilization who flourished from an economic point of view thanks to the extraction of iron in the Island of Elba and other minerals in the area of Grosseto and Livorno. Called by the Romans Tusci, their name was given to Tuscany, and this has remained until today. Subsequent historical events in Tuscany and conquers led to their decline until the disappearance of this illustrious civilization.
The Latins in Tuscany settled after defeating the Etruscans and changed the cities, and also gave life to other sites such as Florence (Florentia), founded in 85 B.C. Roman rule contributed to increasing territorial dominance and they built major road connections (still existing) with Rome, the capital of the Empire.
Ancient Tuscany history witnessed in the following period the rule of the Lombards, during which the city of Lucca became the maximum political and economic centre. The counts of Lucca established a Marquis during the 9th century, which then passed to Attoni of Canossa, the family that is famous for the story of Matilde and the Emperor Henry IV. Have you heard of the expression 'go to Canossa'? It indicates the attitude of those who have been humiliated or who have committed a grave error and arises from the story of 1077 during the period known as the investiture controversy when Pope Gregorio VII found himself in conflict with Henry IV. The emperor was determined to strengthen the imperial power and when he tried to surpass the papal authority he received an excommunication by Pope Gregory VII and his throne was declared terminated. To revoke the excommunication of Henry IV, he went to the house of Matilda of Canossa, the Marchioness of Tuscany, where the Pope was staying. The emperor was able to obtain forgiveness and repeal only after three days of waiting and humiliation in front of the entrance to the castle. In those days it was better not to go against the leaders of the Church!
Tuscany history is full of important events and the presence of the characters that are still known to this day. In particular, the Tuscany Renaissance history is the period that had the greatest economic expansion and artistic greatness, making this region an example for all of Europe.
Let’s start again in chronological order with Tuscany history in Italy of the Comune period: between the 11th and 15th centuries cities grew according to the privileges that came from above. Ultimately Lucca, Pistoia and Pisa had the support of the emperor and became Ghibelline cities, while Florence was under the influence of Matilde of Canossa (supporter of the Pope) and the stronghold of Guelph. It was certainly not simple enmities or moral support! The Comune cities became the stage of conflicts trying to dominate the nearby cities; Pisa defeated Lucca and won the role of the Maritime Republic, at least until the defeat that was inflicted by the Genoese in 1284 during the Battle of Meloria. Pistoia, however, fell into the spiral rule of Florence, which also took under its hegemony nearby Arezzo.
In this period Tuscany history facts is dominated by constant battles and internal territorial conquests among the various municipal lords. In addition to the political sphere, we must consider, at this time, the expansion of trade and manufacturing that contributed to changes in the rural landscape. If you plan to visit the Chianti area, you should notice how the territory is characterized by a continuous relationship between nature and human intervention.
Among the best-known historical figures of Tuscany and, in particular, of Florence the Medici will undoubtedly spring to mind: the town of Florence was transformed from a municipal authority to a sovereignty under the leadership of Cosimo de 'Medici and the famous Lorenzo the Magnificent. The early years of the 15th century represent a period full of changes and growth in Tuscany during the Renaissance period: that gave rise to the most important art works of Italy.
The history of Tuscany medieval history continues from the 15th century up to the 19th century, and later became part of the history of modern and contemporary Italian. The Medici family had remained in power until the 18th century, experiencing the transition from sovereignty to the establishment of the Lordship of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The subsequent historical events brought the Lorena family to become the new dynasty ruling of the region in 1737, when a period of Habsburg rule began that gave rise to major changes and an Enlightenment imprint. Thanks to the government of Pietro Leopoldo the death penalty in 1786 was abolished, the famous Leopold Code which provided for a register and a state budget was created, the roads were modernized (the first railways were created) and the Maremma was finally reclaimed.
This history of Tuscany Italy was characterized by social and political reforms that represented the continuation of the great work of expansion and growth occurred previously under the guidance of Medici. Here, we refer to Lorena as representatives of an enlightened despotism, which helped to keep up the vibrant culture of Florence during the 18th century.
The Napoleonic era of the historical events of Tuscany is an interlude of unrest and political clashes: first called Kingdom of Etruria, at a later date in the hands of the Bourbons, it was entrusted to Napoleon's sister (the famous Elisa Bonaparte Baiocchi) until the time of restoration, when Tuscany passed again under the rule of the Habsburgs with Ferdinand III.
This led to the unification and the events of 1848 that overthrew, for a short time, Leopold II of Lorraine. The Tuscan history of mid-19th century, as that of the other states of the peninsula, is characterized by continuous uprisings and the speed of the political changes. In 1860, with a provisional government, Tuscany was annexed to Piedmont (among the political actors in favour there was the figure of Baron Bettino Ricasoli) and Florence became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy until 1870.
After the unification of the country, Tuscany during World War II is aligned with the events of the great history through the two world wars of the 20th century, becoming a war landscape plagued by bombings and terrible massacres. The most famous and tragic massacres were those of Civitella in Val di Chiana in the province of Arezzo (29 June 1944) and St Anna di Stazzema in the province of Lucca (12 August 1944): in these cities the memory of one of the the most dramatic and painful chapters of the history of Tuscany during the war is still alive.
This brief history of Tuscany should certainly help you in your choice of places to visit and routes to choose from during a tour of the Tuscan cities or the medieval villages. Whatever tour you decide to do, you will have a different outlook, be more aware, and this will help you to consider the historical passages and important historical events of Tuscany.
Knowing the Tuscan history and the civilizations that have left their mark on this land or the invasions suffered will enable you to build a deeper rapport with the buildings and museums of the various cities in which you will stop.
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Tours & Activities
Skip the line: Guided visit to the Accademia Gallery in Florence
Duration: approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes
Tours & Activities
Day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and the Chianti area: departure from Florence
Duration: approx. 11 hours