He was 92 years old. Brucker is widely credited with having launched a new approach to the Florentine Renaissance as a leader of a cohort of influential American scholars devoted to studying the society and institutions of a city best known for its artistic monuments and its literary lights. As a committed citizen of the historical profession and his university, he joined a group of younger faculty who, amidst turmoil at the University of California, Berkeley, campus in the s, transformed the Department of History into one of the most renowned in the world. Gene liked to say that the only certain law of history was its unpredictability. His career is a case in point. He was born in Cropsey, Illinois, on October 15, , and attended a one-room schoolhouse in the depths of the Depression.
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He was 92 years old. Brucker is widely credited with having launched a new approach to the Florentine Renaissance as a leader of a cohort of influential American scholars devoted to studying the society and institutions of a city best known for its artistic monuments and its literary lights. As a committed citizen of the historical profession and his university, he joined a group of younger faculty who, amidst turmoil at the University of California, Berkeley, campus in the s, transformed the Department of History into one of the most renowned in the world.
Gene liked to say that the only certain law of history was its unpredictability. His career is a case in point. He was born in Cropsey, Illinois, on October 15, , and attended a one-room schoolhouse in the depths of the Depression. When his father conceded that he was not suited to farming, he enrolled at the University of Illinois.
In his first year, a few weeks after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U. Army and in shipped out to Europe, where he was assigned to a transport equipment depot in Marseille. Returning to the University of Illinois in , Brucker completed his B. A predictable muse of history would have made him a historian of France or England. Instead, he was drawn to the history of Renaissance Italy with a smattering, at best, of Italian and a sympathetic Italophile tutor, Cecilia Mary Ady, who must have been surprised by this eager young colonial.
He worked under the direction of Joseph Strayer and Theodor Mommsen, one of the German refugees whose broad and deep learning transformed the writing of European history in the New World. Fresh from Princeton and new to the West, he came to Berkeley as an acting instructor in and taught at Berkeley, though courted by other universities, until his retirement in In Florentine Society and Politics, and The Civic World of Renaissance Florence , Brucker wrote what remains the most detailed account in any language of the ways in which late medieval Florence, a commercial city divided by factional and class strife, became the political, economic, and cultural powerhouse of the Renaissance.
Documents others might have passed over as routine or dry-as-dust he mined with an unerring eye for discovery and the utter concentration demanded by vast series of documents, the mere contemplation of which would have struck terror in other hearts.
In his exacting research he never lost sight of major questions about changes over time in class structure, the growth of bureaucracy, religious attitudes, relations between the sexes, oligarchic as opposed to democratic and tyrannical government, factional allegiance, feudalism, family structure, economic prosperity, and social welfare in Florence.
He understood that the answers to these questions needed to be constructed from the thousands upon thousands of individual experiences and voices from contemporary documents.
In nine other books, more than 30 articles, and countless book reviews, Brucker extended and, with unstinting generosity, shared his sense of the past and his passion for Florentine history. English readers can sample the Florentine documents he worked with in two books of translations: Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence and The Society of Renaissance Florence Brucker also wrote two surveys of Florentine history in which he shared his sense of the past and his passion for Florentine history with scholars, students, and anyone looking for a good Renaissance read.
His Renaissance Florence , repr. Over a casual lunch at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy, he happened to tell the company about documents he had found concerning a fifteenth-century love affair gone sour.
George Weidenfeld, the British publisher, urged him on the spot to write a book about it. It tells the poignant story of an affair between a beautiful young woman and a young patrician of a higher social class. According to her account, the young man gave her a wedding ring after her husband died. Among many other Berkeley appointments, he served as chair of his department to and chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate On his retirement in , he was awarded the Berkeley Citation, given to a select few for their outstanding contributions to the Berkeley campus.
That started with his kindness, openness, and good humor, but it also included his approaches to intellectual life itself. Randolph Starn.
Gene Adam Brucker
Related Books About the Book This compelling account of a wronged woman in Renaissance Florence, first published in , is a fascinating view of Florentine society and its attitudes on love, marriage, class, and gender. Lusanna was a beautiful woman from a middle-class background who, in , brought suit against Giovanni, her aristocratic lover, when she learned he had contracted to marry a woman of his own class. Blending scholarship with insightful narrative, the book portrays an extraordinary woman who challenged the unwritten codes and barriers of the social hierarchy and dared to seek a measure of personal independence in a male-dominated world. Reviews "Set against the grindstone of social class, this story of Lusanna versus Giovanni, gleaned from the archives of Renaissance Florence, throws a floodlight on relations between the sexes.
History of Florence
Prehistoric origins[ edit ] For much of the Quaternary Age, the Florence- Prato - Pistoia plain was occupied by a great lake bounded by Monte Albano in the west, Monte Giovi in the north and the foothills of Chianti in the south. It is thought that there was already a settlement at the confluence of the Mugnone River with the River Arno between the 10th and 8th centuries BC. Between the 7th and 6th centuries BC, Etruscans discovered and used the ford of the Arno near this confluence, closer to the hills to the north and south. A bridge or a ferry was probably constructed here, about ten metres away from the current Ponte Vecchio , but closer to the ford itself. The Etruscans, however, preferred not to build cities on the plain for reasons of defence and instead settled about six kilometres away on a hill. Early Middle Ages[ edit ] The seat of a bishopric from around the beginning of the 4th century CE , the city was ruled alternatively by Byzantine and Ostrogothic potentates as the two powers fought each other for control of the city. The city would be taken by siege only to be lost again later by one of the two powers.