Il Duomo. August 7, 1420.

By the beginning of the 15th century, after a hundred years of construction, the structure was still missing its dome. The basic features of the dome had been designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296. His brick model, 4.6 metres high, 9.2 metres long, was standing in a side aisle of the unfinished building, and had long been sacrosanct. It called for an octagonal dome higher and wider than any that had ever been built, with no external buttresses to keep it from spreading and falling under its own weight. The commitment to reject traditional Gothic buttresses had been made when Neri di Fioravanti‘s model was chosen over a competing one by Giovanni di Lapo Ghini. That architectural choice, in 1367, was one of the first events of the Italian Renaissance, marking a break with the Medieval ...

The Battle of Cascina. July 28, 1364.

On 28 July 1364, the Florentine army under the command of Galeotto Malatesta advanced to Cascina, a few miles from Pisa. The road was open, but the temperature was unbearable. The armor of the warriors were burning hot in the blazing sun; many removed their armor to take a bath in the Arno River. The elderly Malatesta, convalescing from fever, fell asleep, leaving the camp unguarded and the defense disorganized. Pisan spies reported the situation to their commander, John Hawkwood (Giovanni l’Acuto). Hawkwood‘s forces were outnumbered three to one, so he decided his best chance of victory was to launch a surprise attack while the enemy was unprepared. However, Manno Donati and his friend Bonifacio Lupi, Marquis of Soragna had organized the Florentine defences by the time the Pis...

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