Front Page Titles (by Subject) 42.: The Republic of Florence - Judgments on History and Historians
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42.: The Republic of Florence - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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The Republic of Florence
The republic expanded from the thirteenth century on and, after 1406 including Pisa, created subject cities. These were governed by commissione. The constitutions of Florence, which one could die memorizing, succeeded one another in turn. The general things that one notices here are a supreme political consciousness as well as the participation of a large proportion of the citizens in public life and in constitutional questions.
But it does not necessarily follow that these constitutions by themselves were the basis of Florentine culture or had even created it. It is, on the contrary, something if they did not impede it, if they did not make impossible that society which was to become the substratum, the living soil of culture and art. It is a majority of tolerated forces that are the carriers of it: the will and the understanding of the Medici, the competitive zeal of other noblemen, a number of spiritual associations. In addition, there is the general ambition of the Florentines for monumental activities and the definitely highest intellectual capacity (or at least the one most diffused among the people) of all the Italians, in just the same way that the Athenians were gifted beyond the rest of the Greeks. Florence is the Italy of Italy, as Ἑλλάδος Ἑλλάδ Ἀϴᾶναι [Athens was the Greece of Greece].
Only in this way could a general disposition be formed: if this or that were not beautiful, non s’usaria a Firenze [it would not be used in Florence]. And such a partiality can then survive even periods of decline and keep up general standards.