Have you ever wondered why the most worthy heir, and most famous character of the Medici dynasty, was called Lorenzo ‘the Magnificent’? Obviously not for his beauty, as Lorenzo de’ Medici was quite ugly; but this ugliness comes from the other part of his bloodline: his grandfather Giovanni Tornabuoni and his mother Lucrezia Tornabuoni, known for having a ‘squashed’ nose.
One can see this and form his impression in Santa Maria Novella church, in the main Chapel dedicated to the Assumption, as some frescoes depict this (in 1485, Giovanni Tornabuoni acquired the Chapel and commissioned the illustrious painter Domenico Ghirlandaio to paint it, according to the life of the Virgin and that of Saint John the Baptist, Patron Saint of Florence).
Nevertheless, it would be a shame to recognize them only for this physical defect. Indeed, they were endowed with great intelligence, an elevated level of alertness, were highly knowledgable and friends with numerous intellectuals, poets, philosophers, humanists, writers and artists; all assets that Lorenzo the Magnificent was bequeathed with.
Believe it or not, this denomination ‘the Magnificent’ is the result of an error made by writers. In fact, the exact wording should be ‘the Magnificent Lorenzo’ (in italian, ’il Magnifico Lorenzo’). Indeed, in Florence he was given the honorary title of ‘Magnificent Lord’ – n.b translation from the italian ‘Magnifico Messere’ – to the Gonfalonier (standard-bearers). However, unlike his grandfather Cosimo the Elder and his father Piero the Gouty, Lorenzo the Magnificent had never been Gonfalonier as he passed away at the age of forty-three years, and the age of forty-five was required to obtain such a title. On the other hand, Lorenzo was designated ‘Magnifico Messere’ after Piero’s death at twenty-one years old – hence his name.
It is therefore a mistake, but more than ever a deserved one as, in addition of the above-mentioned qualities, Lorenzo de’ Medici had a natural flair for finance, was a shrewd businessman, a high-ranking diplomat, a prolific patron of the arts, a talented poet, a great ruler, and much more!
One can admire Lorenzo’s exceptional prowess and magnificence in a ceiling fresco made by Giorgio Vasari at Palazzo Vecchio in which ambassadors of the most powerful Italian cities and foreign states pay tribute to Lorenzo the Magnificent seated on a throne.