Who was Cosimo The Elder? Meet the Father of the Medici Dynasty and Renaissance

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Who was Cosimo The Elder? Meet the Father of the Medici Dynasty and Renaissance

Cosimo the ElderCosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici, or as he is most commonly known, Cosimo The Elder was born on April 19th 1389. He was the first in his family to gain political status, thus igniting the Medici political dynasty. Cosimo’s power stemmed from his inheritance. From his father, he received the entire patrimony of his family which included his family’s enterprise, the Medici Bank. He became one of the richest men of his time, even wealthier than his father.

Cosimo married Contessina de’ Bardi, whose noble family ran one of the wealthiest banks in Europe called the Compagnia dei Bardi, The Bardi Company. Even after the fall of The Bardi Company in 1345, the Bardi still remained a prominent family in Florence. Cosimo and Contessina had two sons together, Piero and Giovanni. He also had an illegitimate child, Carlo, with a slave from Circassia, once a country and now a region located along the Black Sea.

Cosimo and the Renaissance

In 1433, Cosimo was arrested and banished from Florence by the Albizi family, his predecessor who was threatened by Cosimo’s growing popularity. Not long after his exile was he summoned back to Florence by the Republic to deal with the demands of the public. Cosimo then, in turn, banished the Albizi and took control of public office, governing from the background.

Considered a patron of the arts during the time of the Renaissance, Cosimo utilized his wealth to the building of architectural works. This helped him gain political power and the votes of the populace. He commissioned sculptures and paintings but mostly architectural works such as Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, the Medici Palace, designed by Michelozzo, San Lorenzo Church designed by Filippo Brunelleschi as well as San Marco Church also by Michelozzo. He had a close relationship with the classical sculpturist, Donatello, which led to the production of the bronze sculpture of David.

San Lorenzo Church

San Lorenzo Church

As an important part of the humanist movement during the period of the Renaissance, Cosimo founded the first public library in Florence in 1444. The study of classical antiquity of the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds had become increasingly popular and important. Cosimo became a collector of books and a supporter of keeping Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations alive through literature.

Upon his death on August 1st 1464, the government of Renaissance Florence, also known as the Signoria, honored him with the title of Pater Patriae, Father of the Nation. He died in his villa, the Villa of Careggi, which was designed by his dear friend Michelozzo and his crypt was placed in San Lorenzo Church.

Post by Tessa Cole

2016-09-15T12:27:53+00:00 September 8th, 2016|