Valentino De Zorzi
In 1737, just five months before the death of Antonio Stradivari and after nearly 300 years of Medici rule, Tuscany became a satellite state of the great Austrian monarchy. A similar fate had already met the Duchy of Milan, where by 1713 the Austrians had consolidated their unwelcome rule. In Tuscany, as in Lombardy, the desire of Francis I of Lorraine and his wife, Maria Theresa, to spread Austrian culture to every corner of their dominions, resulted in many political, social, economic and cultural changes. These Habsburg reforms were largely unpopular locally, as they tended to favor everything Austrian, and eventually they resulted in a near-total eclipse of the fine violin making traditions in Milan and Cremona.
By contrast, Tuscany continued to thrive economically and culturally, especially under the Grand Duke Leopold II during the second half of the 18th century and, unlike Lombardy, the Tuscan violin making tradition actually emerged during the Austrian regime. The region enjoyed a lively musical scene, first under the patronage of the wealthy grand-ducal court, and later as part of the new Kingdom of Italy, of which Florence was the capital from 1865 to 1871.
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