Tuscany (Toscana)

Paleolithic and neolithic remains in Tuscany suggest that this region was inhabited long before the Etruscans settled here.
7th cent. B.C.    Etruscans, from whom the region Etruria got its name, occupied the entire region except the northwestern corner of Tuscany that was under control of the Liguri.

5th cent. B.C.    Etruscans come in conflict with the Romans, and in

3rd cent. B.C.    This region becomes Roman.  The region goes into decline, not due to the Roman conquest as much as to malaria.

1st cent. B.C.    Etruria became the seventh region of Italy under Augustus, but was never very important because it was cut off from the two major Roman roads linking Rome to northern Italy: the Via Aurelia, which went north along the Tyrrhennian coast, and the Via Cassia, which went along the region's eastern border.

3rd cent. A.D.   Under Diocletion this region becomes Tuscia, from which Tuscany is derived.

5th cent. A.D.   Thanks to its isolation, this region did not suffer much during the Barbarian invasions, nor was it exposed to invaders from the south (Moors, etc.) which may explain, in part, why this region would prosper in the Middle Ages.

568-774           This region became a duchy under Longobard occupation, with Lucca as its capital.  The ancient Roman roads fell in disuse and were replaced by a new road that took advantage of the fertile hills of central Tuscany, the Via Romea, also known as the Francigena.

800                  When Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor, this region passes under control of the Franks, and continues to thrive because it remained a united territory.

9th cent.            The region is ruled by counts and marquises of Lucca who in turn divide the region into counties ruled by counts of Frankish descent.

1027                This region passes into the hands of the Canossa family.

1115                Matilde Canossa, the most powerful ruler of Tuscany, dies creating a power vacuum.  The Church (Papal States) and the Holy Roman Emperor (German principalities) vie for control of Florence.  The title of Marquis of Tuscany is given to the Emperor's representative in that region.  Tension between the aristocracy, bishops, and merchant class is kept in check by the marquises of Tuscany or the Holy Roman Emperor himself.

11th–12th centuries see a rapid growth of the "comuni" (city-states) that limits the power of the aristocracy to peripheral areas of the region.  The aristocracy, however, got involved in the factional fighting that took place within each comune as various groups of citizens vied for power.  The creation of well-organized civic institutions meant that local citizens could participate in the political life of their comune.  This entailed numerous power struggles, but also a number of other civic activities that would give each comune its own culture and identity.

13th cent.          Close bonds between town and country develop as the wool and textile trade in the region grow, making Tuscany the strongest economic power in Europe.  Banking develops as a result of the great wealth generated by the textile industry.  Pisa sets up trading posts in Sardegna and other parts of the Mediterranean, and becomes a powerful maritime republic.  Florence, the biggest and wealthiest city in Europe, has bankers working in practically every major court in Europe.  During this period the four major cities in Tuscany (Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Lucca) remain independent and prosperous.

1300                At the beginning of the 14th century Siena and Lucca begin to decline, Pisa begins having problems, but Florence continues to prosper.  As the Visconti (Dukes of Milan) begin threatening Tuscany in the north, at the end of the 13th century, Florence begins to assert itself and assumes the leadership of the region.

1406                Florence conquers Pisa, but is unable to do the same with Lucca or archrival Siena.

1429-1464       Cosimo de' Medici becomes the first Medici to rule Florence.

1469-1492       Lorenzo the Magnificent, grandson of Cosimo, rules Florence and becomes the great patron of the Florentine Renaissance.

1532                The Duchy of the Medici is created, with Florence as its capital.

1557                Siena is incorporated into the new Duchy.

1600                Tuscany experiences a period of decline except for the port of Leghorn (Livorno) and Pisa, at whose university Galileo conducts some of his famous experiments.  Although the Italian Renaissance in art and literature comes to an end, there is a Renaissance in science during the first half of the 17th century.  Besides Galileo, who transformed a Dutch glass-maker's three power device into a refracting telescope capable of magnifying 20 to 30 times, other Tuscan scientists made significant inventions.  Torricelli invented the barometer in 1644, and Galileo and Santorio invented the thermoscope, later known as a thermometer when a scale was added to it.

1737                After the extinction of the Medici lineage, the Lorrain dynasty begins and reaches its peak under:

1765-1790       Pietro Leopoldo who initiates numerous reforms.

1806                Aristocracy and middle classes are cautiously open to Napoleonic reforms.

1865-1870       Florence is the capital of the newly unified Italy.  (The capital will move to Rome when the city is annexed in 1870).  Both during and after this period, Florence was viewed as the historic center of the Italian language, Italian literature, and Italian art.