Florence, or Firenze as the Italians pronounce it, is a striking romantic city. Just north of Rome it is the next stop on our travels. Florence is most identified as the city where the rebirth or Renaissance was sparked. Knowledge of the history of an area will so enrich ones appreciation of it. This city founded by veteran soldiers of Rome is no exception. Some of the inhabitants of this region in the 15th Century are famous, and what an influence and impact they had on the rest of the world.
Remember the fall and sack of the city of Rome in the 5th century. With the fall of Rome Western Europe fell into the darkest of times. The Byzantine empire at Constantinople (the eastern Roman Empire) flourished for another 1000 years until the 15th century.
William Manchester states it this way:
“Very little is clear about that dim era. Intellectual life had vanished from Europe. Even Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman emperor and the greatest of all medieval rulers, was illiterate. Indeed, throughout the Middle Ages, which lasted some seven centuries after Charlemagne, literacy was scorned: when a cardinal corrected the Latin of the emperor Sigismund, Charlemagne’s forty-seventh successor, Sigismund rudely replied, - as king of Rome he was above grammar.”
“Surrounding them was the vast, menacing, and at places impassable forest, infested by boars; by bears; by the hulking medieval wolves who lurk so fearsomely in fairy tales handed down from that time and by very real outlaws. One consequence of the medieval peril was that people huddled closely together in communal homes. They married fellow villagers and were so insular that local dialects were often incomprehensible to men living only a few miles away.”
People ask, “Why so many statues everywhere?” The answer will surprise them! Ponder for just a moment. No books, no newspapers, no radios, no television, no computers. Statues were the COMMUNICATION method for a mostly illiterate population just a few centuries back. Statues were the pictures for the oral story telling generations. Can you see now why the Catholic churches and hospitals have a tradition of statues.
With the coming of the 15th & 16th centuries comes:
Johannes Gutenberg – the printing press
Desiderius Erasmus – the Greek printed text for the Greek New Testament
Martin Luther – faith alone in Jesus Christ for redemption & justification before a Holy God
Nicolaus Copernicus – the earth rotated around the sun
William Tyndale – printed the New Testament in English
Christopher Columbus – discovered the new world
Vasco da Gama – sailed directly form Europe to India
Ferdinand Magellan – the man who would destroy the very world the cartographers had drawn
It takes courageous souls to step forward in the face of ridicule and venture forward.
Many of the sparks for igniting this discovery and adventure would come from this area around Florence. Because of the economy, the flourishing of science and the arts, interest in classical studies; the walls of ignorance were being hard pressed. With the coming of truth Europe was beginning to wake up from the darkness of ignorance. Some of it's residents were: Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael, and Florence Nightingale.