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season three

Episode 39: The Lion of God

The unlikely partnership between the bookish, affable Giovanni de’ Medici and the rough-and-tumble Pope Julius II will finally bring the Medici back to power and set the stage for Giovanni’s turn as Pope Leo X, which would prove to be one of the most consequential papal reigns in history for reasons no one could have predicted.

A contemporaneous portrait of Giuliano della Rovere, Pope Julius II, by Raphael (1511). Despite their very different personalities, Pope Julius was Giovanni de’ Medici’s mentor and biggest benefactor, playing an essential role in the Medici’s restoration. Source: The National Gallery, London.

Raphael’s portrait of Pope Leo X with his cousins, Giulio de’ Medici (the future Pope Clement VII) and Luigi de’ Rossi, who were both cardinals (1518). Source: Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Sketches of Hanno the Elephant by Giulio Romano (c. 1515). Hanno proved to be the most popular attraction at Leo X’s coronation and essentially became the Pope’s pet.

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