Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492), widely known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, is one of the more well known members of the Medici family. Lorenzo ruled during the golden age of the Renaissance and is viewed today as a great patron of the arts and of the Renaissance.
The magnificent life of Lorenzo
Lorenzo was one of five children of Piero de’ Medici and Lucrezia Tornabuoni. Lorenzo was a scholar and considered the most intelligent of his siblings. He was tutored by a diplomat, a bishop, and a philosopher. Lorenzo enjoyed writing poetry. He also engaged in hunting, jousting, and horse breeding for the Palio, the famous horse race of Siena. Lorenzo’s father sent him on important diplomatic missions when he was still young. For example, Lorenzo would travel to Rome to meet political and religious figures, including the Pope. Lorenzo married Clarice Orsini in June 1469. They eventually had ten children together.
Upon the death of his father in December 1469, Lorenzo came into power at the age of twenty. Rival Florentine families resented the Medici family dominance. Perhaps the most famous of these rival families was the Pazzi, who attempted to end Lorenzo’s reign with an act known as the Pazzi conspiracy.
On April 26, 1478, the Pazzi along with some other enemies of the Medici, attacked Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano in the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. Giuliano was stabbed to death, yet Lorenzo was able to escape with a minor wound. In the aftermath of the Pazzi conspiracy, Lorenzo carried out a policy to maintain peace and balance power between the northern Italian states. Enemies of the Medici family remained a factor throughout the Medici dynasty.
The Patron of Florence Renaissance
Lorenzo’s role as the de facto ruler of Florence underlined his important status as a patron. He gave approval for most things done by public and even semi-public authorities. He showed interest in architectural projects during his rule. He enhanced the family church of San Lorenzo, where the tomb of his father was finished by famous painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio between 1469 and 1472. Lorenzo commissioned the Augustine Observant Monastery at San Gallo in 1488. He also had plans to construct roads and houses to further beautify the quarter he lived in, San Giovanni.
Lorenzo supported many Renaissance artists, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo. Although Lorenzo did not typically commission art from them himself, he assisted the artists in securing commissions from other patrons. Aside from his personal interest in the arts, Lorenzo also used art to facilitate political alliances. One example is the commission of Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Ghirlandaio, and Cosimo Rosselli to paint murals in the Sistine Chapel, which is thought to have cemented the alliance between Lorenzo and Pope Sixtus IV.
Near the end of Lorenzo’s reign, Florence began to fall under the spell of Savonarola. Lorenzo died April 9, 1492. He was buried in the Church of San Lorenzo with his brother Giuliano.
Post by Brianna Pohl