Lorenzo the Magnificent: Life, Conspiracy and Patronage

Lorenzo the Magnificent. Photo found on familypedia.wikia.com

Lorenzo the Magnificent. Photo found on familypedia.wikia.com

Lorenzo de’ Medici, or Lorenzo the Magnificent, was born on January 1st 1449, to Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici a.k.a. Piero the Gouty and Lucrezia Tornabuoni. He was the grandson of Cosimo the Elder and Contessina de’ Bardi.

Lorenzo was a respected political figure and de facto ruler of the Republic of Florence. He was considered a great man in high social standing due to his artistic and scholarly patronage, his inheritance and his policy of peace between the Italian states. After his father’s death in 1469, Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano, took over the ruling of the Florence Republic. However, the Medici still had enemies and rival families who did not agree with the way they governed.

The Pazzi Conspiracy

The Medici Bank’s wealth and merit declined severely during Lorenzo’s reign and his wrongful management of commissioned buildings and political funding created resentment within the public of Florence. On Easter Sunday of 1478, the Pazzi, a rival family of the Medici who, with the consent of Pope Sixtus IV, attacked Lorenzo and Giuliano in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Giuliano was stabbed to death but because Lorenzo managed to escape with just a shoulder wound, the Pazzi’s attempt to overthrow the Medici’s rule of Florence failed and they were put to death.

After the killings of the Pazzi, the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church, denounced Lorenzo and the Florence Republic from the Catholic Church and prohibited the city of Florence any public celebration of sacred rites. It didn’t have much effect, however, and Pope Sixtus IV created an alliance with Ferdinand I, King of Naples, who ordered an invasion of Florence. This led to a war that was eventually resolved by Lorenzo and ensured his power in Florence once again. From then on Lorenzo maintained peace between the Italian states which ended soon after his death.

Marriage and Family

On February 7th 1469, Lorenzo and Clarice Orsini married by proxy and on June 4th of that same year, they married in person. Together they had 10 children and their grandchildren were Cosimo I de’ Medici and Alessandro Ottaviano de’ Medici a.k.a. Pope Leo XI. Lorenzo also adopted his brother’s illegitimate son, Giulio, who eventually became Pope Clement VII.

Patronage and Death

Lorenzo was a supporter of the humanist movement during the Renaissance period. His collection of books was later turned into the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, the Laurentian Library, located in the Basilica of San Lorenzo and commissioned by Pope Clement VII. Cosimo I de’ Medici later opened the library to scholars. Lorenzo was an artist and poet who wrote in his native Tuscan dialect. He surrounded himself by famous artists such as Sandro Botticelli and Leonard da Vinci.

Lorenzo died in April of 1492 in his family home, the Villa of Careggi and his body was buried with his brother, Giuliano, in the Basilica of San Lorenzo.

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Post by Tessa Cole