(Italian: Firenze) City and former state of Italy. It was a flourishing municipium under Caesar; its first bishop was probably Saint Frontinus, disciple of Saint Peter. Municipal freedom began in 1155 and continued to develop despite Guelph and Ghibelline struggles from 1215, constant papal interference, and the rule of the Medici which commenced in 1434. The city was alternately a republic or an autocracy. In 1330 the authority of Florence was acknowledged by 46 towns. In 1530 the Medici gained absolute power which lasted until 1737. The city was the seat of the Seventeenth AEcumenical Council (1438 – 1445), the home of many saints (Catherine de’ Ricci, Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, Philip Neri), and the birthplace of Dante, Giotto, Fra Angelico, Donatello, and of six popes. The Duomo or cathedral, dating from 1296, the Campanile begun by Giotto, the 7th-century church of San Giovanni and many other churches containing frescoes by Fra Lippo Lippi, Fra Angelico, Giotto, della Robbia, Ghirlandajo, Donatello, Ghiberti, Masaccio, Masolino, and others are of interest.