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15th century Florentine construction boom

1489

July 10

on Wednesday

They began to bring gravel to make the foundations of the Palagio of Filippo Strozzi, on the side of the Canto de' Tornaquinci, which was begun first on this side.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing gibbous that night.

1489

July 16

on Tuesday

6 days later

They began to dig the foundations on this side, and took about 10 braccia(1) off the Piazza.(2).

(1) A braccio was about 23 inches, so 10 braccia was about 19 feet (5.84 metres). (Trans.)

(2) The Piazza de' Tornaquinci; the Strozzi had permission from the Republic and from the consertia (assembly) of this family to occupy a portion of it. These records relating to the building of the palace are much more copious than those written by its founder and published in the appendix to the Vita di Filippo Strozzi (Firenzi, 1851). To show their exactitude they can be compared with those left us by Tribaldo de' Rossi in his Ricordanze.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning gibbous that night.

1489

July 21

on Sunday

5 days later

They began to build the walls upon the aforesaid foundations.

And at this time the following buildings were erected:

The Osservanza di San Miniato de' Frati di San Francesco(1); the sacristy of Santo Spirito; the house of Giulio Gondi(2); and the church of the Frati di Sant' Agonstino,(3) outside the Porta a San Gallo. And Lorenzo de' Medici began a palace at the Poggio a Caiano, on his property, where so much has been beautifully ordered, the Cascine, etc. Princely things! At Sarrezana a fortress was built; and many other houses were erected in Florence: in the street which goes to Santa Caterina, and towards the Porta a Pinti, and the Via Nuova de' Servi, at Cestello,(4) and from the Porta a Faenza(5) towards San Barnaba, and towards Sant' Ambrogio, and elsewhere. Men were crazy about building at this time, so that there was a scarcity of master-builders and of materials.(6)

(1) The monastery (lately built near San Miniato) of the Osservanza, a Franciscan Order, who already had one at Fiesole. (Trans.)

(2) In our days we have just seen this palace completed on its southern side, thanks to the care of its owner. In finishing this work the remains of the house opposite in Via de' Gondi were demolished; this used to be the Casa della Dogana, and in still older times the Casa delle Prestanze, that Giuliano Gondi bought from the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool) to use in his building, and in it Leonardo da Vinci lived as a boy, a fact which I was the first to prove in July 1872.

(3) Chiesa di Sant' Agonstino. In the siege of 1529 it was demolished together with the convent which was united to it. They occupied almost the same area as the parterre and oratory of the Madonna delle Tosse. The monks were moved into the city, where they were given the church of S. Jacopo tra' Fossi.

(4) Cestello was at that time the name of the present convent of S. Maria Maddalena in Borgo Pinto, which belonged to the Cistercians. In 1628 they exchanged it for that of the nuns of S. Maria degli Angeli of Borgo S. Frediano, still called S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi.

(5) See note to 8th June, 1481.

(6) In May 1489 the Signoria, desirous of providing for the beauty of the city, and for the wants and convenience of those who might wish to inhabit it, granted an exemption for forty years from any tax for those new houses which should be built within five years "in places where there was no house or any beginning of one." In March 1494 this term was prolonged to the end of the year 1497.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Fiesole was at 6:01 AM and sunset was at 6:08 PM.

1489

August 6

on Tuesday

16 days later

They began to fill in the foundations, at 10 in the morning (6 a.m.), here and there; and Filippo Strozzi was the first who began to throw down the gravel and chalk, on this side, together with certain medals.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing gibbous that night.

1489

August 20

on Tuesday

14 days later

They finished filling in the foundations on this side, in the Piazza de' Tornaquinci. And all this time they were demolishing the houses, a great number of overseers and workmen being employed, so that all the streets around were filled with heaps of stones and rubbish, and with mules and donkeys who were carrying away the rubbish and bringing gravel; making it difficult for anyone to pass along. We shopkeepers were continually annoyed by the dust and the crowds of people who collected to look on, and those who could not pass by with their beasts of burden.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.

1490

May 18

on Sunday

9 months, 1 day later

On the Palagio degli Strozzi they now placed the first cornice, below the bozzi rough projecting stones), at the Canto de' Tornaquinci, always beginning at this corner before the others.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was a new moon that night.

1490

June 11

on Wednesday

24 days later

They placed the first bozzo (rough block of stone) on the said palagio.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.

1491

September 7

on Monday

1 year, 2 months, 28 days later

They finished making the arch of the gate of this palace, on this side, tra' Ferravecchi.(1)

(1) The Via tra' Ferravecchi was the old name of the street name called Via Strozzi. (Trans.)

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing crescent that night.

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Source: Primary

Luca Landucci; "A Florentine Diary"; p. 52

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1492

April 1

on Friday

6 months, 27 days later

The front of the Palagio degli Strozzi was begun.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waxing crescent that night.

1494

November 21

on Wednesday

2 years, 7 months, 24 days later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

The city was in great dread of being pillaged, and it was considered a bad sign that the king did not wish to sign the agreement. The French seemed to be becoming more and more masters of the place; they did not allow the citizens to go about armed, day or night, but took away their weapons, and kept striking and stabbing them. No one ventured to speak or to go out after the Ave Maria (at 5 o'clock); and the French went about robbing in the night, their guards parading the city. Everyone was so discouraged and intimidated, that when they saw anyone carrying stones or gravel they went crazy and struck out.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:50 PM.

1494

November 24

on Saturday

3 days later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

There was much whispering amongst the people, who said suspiciously: "This king doesn't know what he wishes; he has not yet signed the agreement." And many declared that some of his counsellors were endeavouring to hinder it, as there was a certain Signore di Bre,(1) lodging in the house of Giovanni Tornabuoni, who said that he had promised some people to get Piero reinstated, and to persuade the king to ask for this, but perhaps it was not true. This was, as I say, the opinion of many of the citizens, and therefore they were in great dread; still more so when it was said that the king was going this morning to dine in the Palagio with the Signori and that he had caused all the armed men to be removed from the Palagio, and he was going there with many armed men, so that everyone suspected him of evil designs. There was no one who did not take pains this morning to fill his house with bread and with weapons and with stones, and to strengthen his house as much as possible, everyone being of the mind and intention to die fighting, and to slay anyone if needful, in the manner of the Sicilian Vespers. And fear was so widespread(2) that when at the dinner hour people began to say Serra, serra! (Shut everything!), it came about that the whole of Florence locked itself in, one fleeing here and another there, without any fresh cause or disturbance, the consequence being that many of the French rushed to the Porta a San Friano and took possession of the Ponte alia Carraia. And in Borgo Ognissanti and in Via Palazzuolo, and in Borgo San Friano, so many stones were thrown from the windows that they were not able to get to the gates; and when they asked the reason of it, no one knew. Therefore the king did not go to dine in the Palagio; and, by divine permission, the French became so uneasy that it caused them to change their evil intentions towards us who only had good ones. Anyone can see that God does not abandon Florence, but we are not sufficiently grateful. At this time we heard that the French troops which had been in Romagna were passing by in the neighbourhood of Dicomano.

(1) Some Florentines historians call him di Bles, and it was Philippe de Bresse, afterwards Duke of Savoy.

(2) The greatest confusion seems to have been caused by the Swiss, who were quartered near the Porta al Prato inside and out, and who tried to force their way through Borgo Ognissanti, in order to approach the king's quarters.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.
Sunrise in Dicomano was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.
Sunrise in Emilia-Romagna was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:43 AM and sunset was at 5:51 PM.

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