Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492)

Cosimo de’ Medici was almost 75 years old when he died in 1464. When Cosimo’s son died only five years later, his grandson Lorenzo (b. 1449) became ruler of both the Medici Bank and the Republic of Florence at the age of 20. He would die at the young age of 43 in 1492.

On April 26, 1478, during Mass at the cathedral of Florence, political enemies of Lorenzo killed his brother Giuliano and also stabbed but only wounded him. Both Sixtus 4th, pope, and Francesco Salviati, archbishop of Pisa, supported the attacks. Furious Florentines immediately killed the conspirators and within an hour had found and hanged the archbishop. Disappointed by the failure of the conspiracy, the pope had the king of Naples send an army against Florence. Eventually Lorenzo personally sailed to Naples and persuaded the king to call off the attack.

Lorenzo financially supported such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo. Michelangelo even lived in the Medici palace with Lorenzo and his family for five years.

Lorenzo continued his father’s commitment to buying ancient Greek and Latin texts. He also paid to have many copied and given to important friends across Olympia.

He participated in the Platonic Academy started by his grandfather and its discussions of a synthesis of Platonic philosophy and Christian theology. He also wrote excellent poetry in Tuscan and by doing so rescued it from its recent confinement by Latin.

An intellectual companion of Lorenzo told him that the Dominican preacher Savonarola would benefit Florence. Lorenzo worked successfully to get the monk assigned to the Dominican Monastery of San Marco in Florence.

Lorenzo died in 1492 at the same family villa in Careggi (just outside Florence) where his grandfather Cosimo had died. He is buried with his brother Giuliano in the chapel, called the New Sacristy, designed by Michelangelo.

His son Giovanni, born in 1475, took the name Leo 10th and was pope from 1513-1521. Lorenzo also adopted his nephew Giulio who was born in 1478 shortly after the murder of his father Giuliano. Giulio later took the name Clement 7th and was pope from 1523-1534.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
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