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Renaissance

Italian City-States

History >> Renaissance for Kids

At the time of the Renaissance Italy was governed by a number of powerful city-states. These were some of the largest and richest cities in all of Europe. Some of the more important city-states included Florence, Milan, Venice, Naples, and Rome.

Italian city-states map
Map of Italian city-states
(click picture to enlarge)

What is a city-state?

A city-state is a region that is independently ruled by a major city. Italy wasn't one unified country, but a number of small independent city-states. Some of these cities were run by elected leaders and others by ruling families. Often times these cities fought each other.

Why were they important?

The wealth of the Italian city-state played an important role in the Renaissance. This wealth allowed prominent families to support artists, scientists, and philosophers spurring on new ideas and artistic movements.

Florence

Florence is where the Renaissance first began. It was ruled by the powerful Medici Family who used their money to support artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. One of the early architectural achievements of the Renaissance was the massive dome on the Florence Cathedral. Florence was known for its textile production as well as a banking center.

Milan

In the early 1400s Milan was still a Middle Ages city focused on war and conquering Florence. However, the Sforza family took over in 1450. They brought peace to the region and with peace came the new ideas and art of the Renaissance. Milan was famous for its metalwork which included suits of armor.

Venice

The island city of Venice had become a powerful city-state through trade with the Far East. It imported products such as spices and silk. However, when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople, Venice's trade empire began to shrink. Venice controlled the seas around the east coast of Italy and was famous for its artistic glassware.

Rome

The pope ruled both the Catholic Church and the city-state of Rome. Much of the city of Rome was re-built under the leadership of Nicholas V beginning in 1447. Rome became a patron of the arts and supported the Renaissance through commissions to artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo. Michelangelo worked as architect on St. Peter's Basilica and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Naples

The city-state of Naples ruled much of southern Italy at the time of the Renaissance. It was one of the last city-states to embrace the movement, but in 1443 Alfonso I conquered the city. He supported Renaissance artists, writers, and philosophers. Naples also became known for its music and is where the mandolin was invented. Naples was captured by Spain in 1504.

Interesting Facts about the Italian City-States of the Renaissance

Take a ten question quiz at the Italian City-States questions page.

Learn more about the Renaissance:

Overview
Timeline
How did the Renaissance start?
Medici Family
Italian City-states
Age of Exploration
Elizabethan Era
Ottoman Empire
Reformation
Northern Renaissance
Glossary
Culture
Daily Life
Renaissance Art
Architecture
Food
Clothing and Fashion
Music and Dance
Science and Inventions
Astronomy
People
Artists
Famous Renaissance People
Christopher Columbus
Galileo
Johannes Gutenberg
Henry VIII
Michelangelo
Queen Elizabeth I
Raphael
William Shakespeare
Leonardo da Vinci


History >> Renaissance for Kids






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