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season three

Episode 42: The Orphan

A new Medici is born amidst tragedy, Pope Leo struggles with the threats posed by France, Spain, and the Holy Roman and Ottoman empires and a deadly conspiracy close to home, and an obscure monk and university lecturer in Germany starts to inspire a bit of controversy. 

A portrait possibly of Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne, the mother of Catherine de’ Medici and wife of Lorenzo “the Younger.” Date unknown. Source: Uffizi Gallery.

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season three

Episode 41: The Prince

Pope Leo X goes through his own “annus mirabilis.” Meanwhile the next generation of Medici men come into their own: the wannabe aristocrat, Lorenzo “the Younger”, and the juvenile delinquent turned freelance mercenary, Giovanni of the Black Bands. 

A portrait of Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino, by Raphael (1518). Note the ostentatious dress in the style of a French nobleman in contrast to the more modest patrician clothing worn by his grandfather Lorenzo the Magnificent and his uncle Giuliano. Source: Private collection.
A portrait depicting Giovanni “of the Black Bands” painted after his death by Francesco de’ Rossi (1548). Source: Soprintendenza Speciale Per Il Polo Museale Fiorentino.

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season three

Episode 40: New World Order

We look at Pope Leo X’s reign, from how he got an edition of a pivotal Jewish text dedicated to him to the elaborate practical joke he engineered involving his pet elephant and an old-fashioned Roman triumph. But Leo also has to face the fact that  the fate of Europe now lays in the hands of three young, ambitious, and powerful monarchs. 

A portrait of Giuliano de’ Medici, duc de Nemours, who was Lorenzo the Magnificent’s youngest son (c. 1515) by Raphael’s workshop. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
King Henry VIII as a young man. Date and artist unknown. Source: National Portrait Gallery, London.
King François I of France (c. 1530) from the workshop of Joos van Cleve. Source: Private collection.
Portrait of Emperor Charles V as a young man by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen (1535). Source: Private collection.

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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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season three

Episode 38: Mother Church

The Catholic Church was once the most important, omnipresent institution in Europe. Before we meet the Medici Popes, we’ll delve into what exactly the Church did for the people, from providing early nursing homes to giving people one of the few shots at social mobility, and how powerful the Popes really were.

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season three

Episode 37: The Exile

Still in exile, Piero de’ Medici throws himself on the mercy of the new king of France and Cesare Borgia. But will they prove to be reliable friends?


“Bayard on the Bridge of Garigliano”, a painting depicting the Battle of Garigliano (December 29, 1503) by Félix Henri Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1840). Source: Palais de Versailles.
A contemporaneous portrait of King Louis XII of France from the workshop of Jean Perréal (c. 1514). Source: The Royal Collection at Hampton Court Palace.
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season three

Episode 36: The Tigress and the Popolano

This time, we check in on the sons of Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, the brothers Popolano, Lorenzo and Giovanni. While Lorenzo tried to play a small, non-partisan role in Florence’s new government, Giovanni fell in love with one of the most famous and daring women of the Renaissance.

“La dama dei gelsomini” (“The Lady of Jasmine”) by Lorenzo di Credi, date unknown. It is believed to be a contemporaneous portrait of Caterina Sforza. Source: The Picture Gallery of Forli.
A portrait by Filippino Lipi thought to possibly be of Giovanni di Pierfrancesco “il Popolano” (ca. 1490). Source: U.S. National Gallery of Art.
A portrait of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco “il Popolano” by Sandro Botticelli (1479). Source: Pitti Palace, Florence.

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season three

Episode 35: Trial By Ordeal

We conclude Savonarola’s story by looking at why one of his most fervent followers decided to try to shut up the growing criticism of Savonarola by resorting to an obsolete medieval ritual and how that decision backfired catastrophically. 

An illustration by Hans Spiess of the strappado, the torture device used on Girolamo Savonarola. 1513. Source: The Chronicle of Lucerne, the Burger Library of Lucerne.
A contemporaneous painting of the executions of Girolamo Savonarola, Domenico da Pescia, and Silvestro Maruffi (1498) by Filippo Dolciati. Source: Museo di San Marco, Florence.

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season three

Episode 34: The Borgia Vs. The Prophet

Savonarola may be enjoying the peak of his influence over Florence, but he’s made a relentless enemy who just so happens to be a pope and, worse, a Borgia. Meanwhile, Piero and his supporters spin plots for a Medici restoration. 

A portrait of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) by Pedro Berruguete (c. 1492). Source: Vatican Museums.

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season three

Episode 33: God’s Republic

Charles VIII marches on Naples not knowing a brand-new plague is waiting for him, the Medici adapt to the existence of the new republic in different ways, and Savonarola and his allies in government tighten their grip over Florence, even while Rodrigo Borgia closes in on Florence’s popular preacher.

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