Lorenzo de' Medici

Lorenzo de' Medici ( 1 January 1449 -- 9 April 1492 ) was an Italian statesman and '' de facto '' ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Italian Renaissance .
Known as Lorenzo the Magnificent ( `` Lorenzo il Magnifico '' ) by contemporary Florentines , he was a magnate , diplomat , politician and patron of scholars , artists , and poets .
He is perhaps best known for his contribution to the art world , sponsoring artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo .
His life coincided with the mature phase of Italian Renaissance and his death coincided with the end of the Golden Age of Florence .
The fragile peace he helped maintain between the various Italian states collapsed with his death .
Lorenzo de' Medici is buried in the Medici Chapel in Florence .
Youth .
Lorenzo 's grandfather , Cosimo de' Medici , was the first member of the Medici family to combine running the Medici Bank with leading the Republic of Florence .
Cosimo was one of the wealthiest men in Europe and spent a very large portion of his fortune in government and philanthropy .
He was a patron of the arts and funded public works .
Lorenzo 's father , Piero di Cosimo de' Medici , was also at the center of Florentine life , active chiefly as an art patron and collector , while Lorenzo 's grandfather and uncle , Giovanni di Cosimo de' Medici took care of the family 's business interests .
Lorenzo 's mother Lucrezia Tornabuoni was a poet and writer of sonnets and a friend to poets and philosophers of the Medici Academy .
She became her son 's advisor after the deaths of his father and uncle .
Lorenzo , considered the brightest of the five children of Piero and Lucrezia , was tutored by a diplomat and bishop , Gentile de' Becchi and the humanist philosopher Marsilio Ficino .
With his brother Giuliano , he participated in jousting , hawking , hunting , and horse breeding for the Palio , a horse race in Siena .
His own horse was named Morello di Vento .
Piero sent Lorenzo on many important diplomatic missions when he was still a youth .
These included trips to Rome to meet with the pope and other important religious and political figures .
Lorenzo was described as rather plain of appearance , being of average height , having a broad frame and short legs , a swarthy skin , squashed nose , short-sighted eyes and a harsh voice .
Giuliano , on the other hand , was regarded as handsome ; he was used as a model by Botticelli in his painting of '' Mars and Venus '' .
Politics .
Lorenzo , groomed for power , assumed a leading role in the state upon the death of his father in 1469 , when Lorenzo was twenty .
Already drained by his grandfather 's building projects and constantly stressed by mismanagement , wars , and political expenses , the bank 's assets contracted seriously during the course of Lorenzo 's lifetime .
Lorenzo , like his grandfather , father , and son , ruled Florence indirectly , through surrogates in the city councils , threats , payoffs , and strategic marriages .
Although Florence flourished under Lorenzo 's rule , he effectively reigned as a despot , and people had little political freedom .
Rival Florentine families inevitably harbored resentments over the Medicis ' dominance , and enemies of the Medici remained a factor in Florentine life long after Lorenzo 's passing .
The most notable of these rival families was the Pazzi , who nearly brought Lorenzo 's reign to an end when it had barely begun .
On Easter Sunday , 26 April 1478 , in an incident called the Pazzi conspiracy , a group including members of the Pazzi family , backed by the Archbishop of Pisa and his patron Pope Sixtus IV , attacked Lorenzo and his brother and co-ruler Giuliano in the Cathedral of Florence .
Giuliano was killed , but Lorenzo escaped with only a stab wound .
The conspiracy was brutally put down by such measures as the lynching of the Archbishop of Pisa and the death of the Pazzi family members who were directly involved .
In the aftermath of the Pazzi Conspiracy and the punishment of Pope Sixtus IV's supporters , the Medici and Florence suffered from the wrath of the Vatican .
The Papacy seized all the Medici assets Sixtus IV could find , excommunicated Lorenzo and the entire government of Florence , and ultimately put the entire Florentine city-state under interdict .
When these moves had little effect , Sixtus IV formed a military alliance with King Ferdinand I of Naples , whose son Alfonso, Duke of Calabria , led an invasion of the Florentine Republic , still ruled by Lorenzo .
Lorenzo rallied the citizens .
However , with little support from the traditional Medici allies in Bologna and Milan ( the latter being convulsed by power struggles among the Milanese ruling family , the Sforza ) , the war dragged on , and only diplomacy by Lorenzo , who personally traveled to Naples , ultimately resolved the crisis .
This success enabled Lorenzo to secure constitutional changes within the Florentine Republic's government which further enhanced his own power .
Thereafter , Lorenzo , like his grandfather Cosimo de' Medici , pursued a policy both of maintaining peace and a balance of power between the northern Italian states and of keeping the other major European states such as France and the Holy Roman Empire 's Habsburg rulers out of Italy .
Lorenzo maintained good relations with Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire , as the Florentine maritime trade with the Ottomans was a major source of wealth for the Medici .
Patronage .
Lorenzo 's court included artists such as Piero and Antonio del Pollaiuolo , Andrea del Verrocchio , Leonardo da Vinci , Sandro Botticelli , Domenico Ghirlandaio , and Michelangelo Buonarroti who were involved in the 15th-century Renaissance .
Although he did not commission many works himself , he helped them secure commissions from other patrons .
Michelangelo lived with Lorenzo and his family for five years , dining at the family table and participating in the discussions led by Marsilio Ficino .
Lorenzo was an artist himself , writing poetry in his native Tuscan .
In his poetry he celebrates life even while -- particularly in his later works -- acknowledging with melancholy the fragility and instability of the human condition .
Love , feasts and light dominate his verse .
Cosimo had started the collection of books which became the Medici Library ( also called the Laurentian Library ) and Lorenzo expanded it .
Lorenzo 's agents retrieved from the East large numbers of classical works , and he employed a large workshop to copy his books and disseminate their content across Europe .
He supported the development of humanism through his circle of scholarly friends including the philosophers Marsilio Ficino , Poliziano and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola .
They studied Greek philosophers, and attempted to merge the ideas of Plato with Christianity .
Apart from a personal interest Lorenzo also used the Florentine scene of fine arts for his diplomatic efforts .
An example includes the commission of Ghirlandaio , Botticelli , Pietro Perugino and Cosimo Rosselli to Rome in order to paint murals in the Sistine Chapel -- a move that has been interpreted as sealing the alliance between Lorenzo and Pope Sixtus IV .
In 1471 Lorenzo calculated that since 1434 , his family had spent some 663,000 florins ( approx .
460 million USD today ) on charity , buildings and taxes .
He wrote , `` I do not regret this for though many would consider it better to have a part of that sum in their purse , I consider it to have been a great honour to our state , and I think the money was well-expended and I am well-pleased . ''
Marriage and children .
Lorenzo married Clarice Orsini by proxy on 7 February 1469 .
The marriage in person took place in Florence on 4 June 1469 .
She was a daughter of Giacomo Orsini , Lord of Monterotondo and Bracciano by his wife and cousin Maddalena Orsini .
Clarice and Lorenzo had 10 children : Lorenzo also adopted his nephew Giulio , the illegitimate son of his slain brother Giuliano .
Giulio later became Pope Clement VII .
Later years .
During his tenure , several branches of the family bank collapsed because of bad loans , and , in later years , he got into financial difficulties and resorted to misappropriating trust and state funds .
Toward the end of Lorenzo 's life , Florence came under the spell of Savonarola , who believed Christians had strayed too far into Greco-Roman culture .
Lorenzo played a role in bringing Savonarola to Florence .
Lorenzo de' Medici died during the late night of 8 April or during the early morning of 9 April 1492 , at the long-time family villa of Careggi ( Florentine reckoning considers days to begin at sunset , so his death date is the 9th in that reckoning ) .
Savonarola visited Lorenzo on his death bed .
The rumor that Savonarola damned Lorenzo on his deathbed has been refuted by Roberto Ridolfi in his book , `` Vita di Girolamo Savonarola '' .
Letters written by witnesses to Lorenzo 's death report that he died peacefully , after listening to the Gospel of the day .
Many signs and portents were claimed to have taken place at the moment of his death , including the dome of Florence Cathedral being struck by lightning , ghosts appearing , and the lions kept at Via Leone fighting each other .
The Signoria and councils of Florence issued a decree : Lorenzo was buried with his brother Giuliano in the Church of San Lorenzo , in the red porphyry sarcophagus designed for Piero and Giovanni de ' Medici , not , as might be expected , in the New Sacristy designed by Michelangelo .
This chapel holds the two monumental tombs of Lorenzo and Giulano 's less known namesakes , Lorenzo , Duke of Urbino , and Giuliano , Duke of Nemours .
According to Williamson and others , the statues of the lesser Lorenzo and Giuliano have been carved by Michelangelo to incorporate the essence of the famous men .
In 1559 , the bodies of Lorenzo `` The Magnificent '' de ' Medici and his brother Giuliano were interred in the New Sacristy , in an unmarked tomb beneath Michelangelo's statue of the Madonna .
Lorenzo 's heir was his eldest son , Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici , known as `` Piero the Unfortunate '' .
He squandered his father 's patrimony and brought down the Medici dynasty in Florence .
The second son , Giovanni , who became Pope Leo X soon afterwards , restored it , but it was only made wholly secure again on the accession of his great-grandson from a branch line of the family , Cosimo I de' Medici .

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