Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492)

Click on the video above to watch!

Lorenzo 'the Magnificent' de Medici born in 1449 was the son of Piero de Medici. As the first son, he inherited the de facto leadership of Florence and the Medici family business - the bank. The skills for the latter he learnt at an early age as his father sent him on diplomatic missions, which included meeting the Pope and other important figures.

He was also very close with his mother Lucrezia Tornabuoni. She was very prolific in her own right, as not only a writer of sonnets but also a friend to many philosophers and cultured individuals who attended the Medici Academy. Many years later, when his father and uncle died, she became her son's advisor.

Like his grandfather, Cosimo de Medici, he was an incredible patron of the arts, commissioning artworks by many artists including Botticelli, da Vinci, and Michelangelo. In some of these commissions the Medici family were models - Guiliano and Lucrezia, his younger brother and mother, can be seen as Mars in Botticelli's 'Venus and Mars', and Madonna in Botticelli's 'Madonna the Magnificent, respectively.

Madonna - Botticelli

Venus and Mars - Botticelli

Throughout Lorenzo's career, Florence as a city did very well, however politically it was tense. It was under Lorenzo's reign that the Pazzi conspiracy occurred. The Pazzi Conspiracy was an incident on Easter Sunday in 1478 where Lorenzo and his brother Guiliano were attacked in Florence Cathedral. Giuliano died, as did some members of the Pazzi family.

It was later discovered that the attack was backed by Pope Sixtus IV and the Archbishop of Pisa. The Medici family, and by default Florence, were then punished by the Vatican who seized all the Medici family's assets, excommunicated Lorenzo and tried to collapse the government of Florence. When this did not have quite the effect Sixtus IV had hoped he formed an alliance with King Ferdinand I of Naples and invaded Florence. This was only ended after Lorenzo made a diplomatic visit to Naples and settled the dispute.

In 1469, Lorenzo married Clarice Orsini, with whom he had ten children; one of whom became Pope Leo X. Furthermore, when his brother Guiliano died he adopted his illegitimate son, Giulio, who later become Pope Clement VII.

In 1492, he died at the age of 43, and with his death the Renaissance movement moved to Rome and the peace between the Italian states collapsed. Additionally, the year before Lorenzo died, Girolamo Savonarola came to Florence and was soon to cause even greater upset.

You Might Also Like: