If Northern Italy was the heart of the Renaissance in Europe, then Florence was the heart of the Renaissance in Northern Italy. In the ealy 15th Century, Florence came under the rule of the Medici family. Amongst history's most influential patrons of the arts, the Medici would support such important artists and intellectuals from the Florence region as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Niccolo Machiavelli. Florence is also home to some of the Renaissance's most stunning architecture. These include Fillippo Brunelleschi's Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery.
A great deal of Florentine income was attributed to wool, which employed 25% of Florence's work force prior to the Black Plague. Cosimo de Medici, who alongside his descendents accrued massive amounts of wealth through banking, began to revolutionize Florence by supporting some of the finest artists and intellectuals of the time.
Not all Florentines supported the Medici family and their culture of material wealth and fortune. For a time in the late 1400s, the family was expelled from Florence. One monk, Girolamo Savonarola, called this the will of God and preached against the widespread immorality of the Florentines. Eventually, he charged Pope Alexander VI of corruption and was excommunicated from the Church. When Savanarola continued to preach against the Church and the decadence of Florence, the Florentines acted in one of the most notorious and memorable scenes in the city's history. Savanarola was arrested, convicted and burned at the stake on the Piazza della Signoria in the heart of the city.
Above: Linear Perspective. Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi revolutionized art and architecture through the use of linear perspective. For more information on Brunelleschi's innovation, watch the following video lesson from Khan Academy.
Below: The execution of Savanarola. Today, if you visit the Piazza della Signora, a marker survives commemorating the spot where Savanarola was burned for heresy.
Left: Famous Florentines include Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Michelangelo (whose statue of David is depicted here).