Lorenzo de' Medici

Stella Fletcher

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:
Lorenzo de' Medici

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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Following his grandfather Cosimo (b. 1389–d. 1464) and father Piero (b. 1416–d. 1469), Lorenzo (b. 1449–d. 1492) was the third head of the Medici dynasty to use commercial wealth and international banking connections to lead Florence’s dominant political faction, to undermine its republican constitution, and exercise strategic influence over its relations with other states. As his copious correspondence confirms, Lorenzo was a significant diplomatic player in all the peninsular conflicts of his time, including the Pazzi War in the late 1470s, and the War of Ferrara and the Neapolitan Barons’ War in the 1480s. To the generation of Italians who lived through the French invasions of Naples in 1494 and Milan in 1499, and the lengthy conflicts they initiated fought by foreign powers on Italian soil, Lorenzo came to personify a lost golden age of peace, prosperity, and cultural efflorescence. His posthumous reputation was enhanced by the fact that his son Giovanni and nephew Giulio went on to be elected pope, as Leo X and Clement VII respectively, and that his great-grandson Cosimo was the first of a line of Medici grand dukes of Tuscany. Over the intervening centuries secular hagiography has gradually given way to a more balanced assessment of his achievements as a faction leader, statesman, and cultural patron.

Article.  9445 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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