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The past suggests but does not determine the future; in the creation of the present, there is as much of a role for chance and free will as there is for continuity.


Jacques Le Goff,
L'Europe est-elle née au Moyen Âge
The Three Bees

Historical Figures

According to renowned medievalist Jacques Le Goff, the "extended Middle Ages" contain Europe's historical and cultural roots. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, a new mindset and lifestyle emerged in feudal Europe, heralding a momentous change. It was a real cultural revolution, bringing in new human values such as knowledge and awareness, work and production, peace, castle towns, arts; and a host of earthly delights such as music, literature, women, clothes and fashion, food and wine. It is an era that has bequeathed us buttons, pants and underwear, glasses, paper, printing and books, Arabic numerals, universities, banks, musical notes and scales, playing cards, chess, anesthesia, window panes, hydraulic and wind power, the compass and the rudder, the clock and lots more, not least of which is... purgatory.

Throughout Europe, major figures and personalities left their mark: monks and religious orders, Charlemagne, saints such as Saint Jacques de Compostelle, popes such as Benedict IX and Gregory VII, chivalric orders and crusades, great dynasties, and corporations of arts and crafts.

This profound transition had a strong impact on the Elsa Valley, as people began flocking to the Tuscan region around the Via Francigena, generating the highest density of population and urbanization registered in Italy at that time. The landscape was also home to celebrated personalities such as Arnolfo Cambio, Francesco da Barberino, Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Andrea da Barberino