Lately, there’s been a lot of talk going around about the leading male characters of Medici: Masters of Florence, Cosimo the Elder and Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici. This time, we wanted to focus on the leading female roles, Contessina de’ Bardi and Lucrezia Tornabuoni. Without these women, many of the famous Medici we know of today, never would have existed.
Contessina de’ Bardi, played by Annabel Scholey, was an Italian noblewoman born into the Bardi family, a very wealthy and prestigious Florentine family who owned a bank called Compagnia dei Bardi during the 1300’s. Contessina’s father was Alessandro de’ Bardi, the count of Vernio, a district in Prato, Tuscany and her mother was Emilia Pannocchieschi. Contessina was born around the year 1400 and was married to Cosimo the Elder in 1415, when she was still just a teenager. Her marriage to Cosimo was socially and politically important providing the Medici family with high status connections to help them stabilize their power in Florence.
After their marriage ceremony, Contessina and Cosimo went to live with Cosimo’s parents, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici and Piccarda Bueri. Contessina bore Cosimo two children, Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici a.k.a. Piero the Gouty and Giovanni di Cosimo de’ Medici. She also took responsibility of Cosimo’s illegitimate child, Carlo di Cosimo de’ Medici. Her grandchildren were Lorenzo de’ Medici a.k.a. Lorenzo the Magnificent and Giuliano de’ Medici.
Contessina was known for her good money management and keeping of the household. She was a political adviser of her grandchildren, Lorenzo and Giuliano, and helped arrange marriage for noble families in Florence. Contessina passed away in 1473, nine years after the death of her husband.
Lucrezia Tornabuoni, portrayed by Valentina Bellè, was born on June 22nd 1427. She was a poet and political adviser for those of both high and low status as well as for her son Lorenzo the Magnificent. Lucrezia was also the daughter-in-law to Contessina de Bardi and Cosimo the Elder. She married their son, Piero, in 1444 just before her 17th birthday. Piero and Lucrezia had eight children in total, five of which survived. She was well-educated in both Latin and Greek and made sure that her children were well-educated as well in such subjects as politics, business, accounting and philosophy.
In 1464, Lucrezia’s husband grew ill and was restricted to bed, making Lucrezia the mediator between her husband and the political requests of others. After the death of her husband in 1469, Lucrezia bought property and businesses to lease in Florence and Pisa which extended her connections. She assisted poor women without dowries by giving her own money to them so they could marry. Lucrezia also provided aid to the women and orphans in women’s convents.
Lucrezia died in 1482, well-known as a supporter of the arts and poetry. She commissioned the epic poem, Morgane, by Luigi Pulci and founded the Chapel of The Visitation in the Basilica of San Lorenzo.
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Post by Tessa Cole