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Mountains of DebtCrisis and Change in Renaissance Florence, Postwar Britain, and Postwar America$
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Michael Veseth

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780195064209

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195064209.001.0001

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Renaissance Florence: Death, Birth, and the Fifth Element

Renaissance Florence: Death, Birth, and the Fifth Element

(p.19) 2 Renaissance Florence: Death, Birth, and the Fifth Element
Mountains of Debt

Michael Veseth

Oxford University Press

The economy of Florence was both cause and effect of the nature of the Florentine people. Nature supplied the four elements of the physical world; but the people of Florence provided the spark, the special fifth element, that caused the growth of wealth and knowledge of the Renaissance. However, the economic history of Florence during its Renaissance period (roughly 1330–1530) is a story of structural change and fiscal crisis. The Florentine economy adapted with particular success to the economic environment of the thirteenth century. It struggled to maintain this success in the years that followed one of history's most complete structural changes: the black death. To an important degree, the rest of the story of the economy of Renaissance Florence is the tale of how the Florentines sought to adjust to the world that changed suddenly in the 1340s.

Keywords:   economy, Florence, fifth element, Renaissance, structural change, fiscal crisis, black death

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