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The Festival of San Giovanni

Imagery and Political Power in Renaissance Florence


Heidi Chretien

The Festival of San Giovanni, Florence's elaborate celebration of the city's patron Saint, played a crucial role in the formation of Florentine communal identity. Although religious in origin, it was the most important civic holiday in the city. This study fully describes both the cult and festival of San Giovanni in Florence from the thirteenth through the sixteenth century and then focuses on how the Medici family manipulated the celebration for their own needs. In an original, interdisciplinary approach, this fascinating book answers the traditional question of how the Medici gained and maintained control of Florence by examining contemporary visual and literary images of the festival. The author's thorough study of a series of sixteenth-century frescoes in Palazzo Vecchio provides proof of that powerful family's personal vision of their destiny in their newly created Principate.