A short history of Tuscany.

Like most parcels of European territory, what we now know as Tuscany has gone through endless slicings and dicings, expansions and contractions, changes of name and possession.

Much of it was, of course, home to the Etruscans. Their realm, Etruria, after being annexed by Rome, came to be called Tuscia, which in the sixth century was made a duchy by the conquering Lombards, with Lucca as its capital.

This entity metamorphosed, under the Franks, into the Margravate of Tuscany, which in the eleventh century produced the first Tuscan of real historical stature: Matilda of Tuscany, one of the shrewder military leaders of the Middle Ages and among the period’s most formidable women.

After Matilda’s death in 1115, there ensued a long struggle between popes and Holy Roman emperors for control of the margravate, and the lack of firm external rule allowed for the rise of the great city-states, above all Florence. For more than three hundred years there was no Tuscany per se.

Florence, though, had been gradually extending its dominion over one comune after another, and in 1569 the House of Medici capped this consolidation by inducing Pius V to create the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, with Cosimo I as its first ruler. Except for a brief Napoleonic hiatus, the grand duchy was to survive right up to 1859, when it was absorbed into the United Provinces of Central Italy, which in turn was folded into the new Kingdom of Italy.

Downing, Ben (2013-06-18). Queen Bee of Tuscany: The Redoubtable Janet Ross (pp. 79-80). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

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