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season two

Episode 18: Succession

At the height of his political power, Cosimo de’ Medici is being overwhelmed with illness and personal tragedy. Who will succeed him to his invisible, nameless throne? His son Piero, who unfortunately is a middle-aged man so sick no one thinks he will live for much longer.

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Categories
season two

Episode 17: The Invisible Throne

Cosimo de’ Medici quickly established a regime that operated within Florence’s constitution but gave Cosimo an almost unchallenged power over the state. Unfortunately, Cosimo’s government was a delicate structure, and the pandemonium of Italian Renaissance politics threatened to bring it all tumbling down. 

The exterior of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Source: Yair Haklai, Wikicommons.
The interior of the Chapel of the Magi within the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Source: theflorentine.net.
A portrait of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, former condottieri, and a key ally of Cosimo de’ Medici, by Bonifacio Bembo (c. 1460). He insisted on being painted wearing his battered and worn old campaigning hat.
Categories
season two

Episode 16: How Cosimo United the Orthodox and Catholic Churches

With a combination of patience and political maneuvering, Cosimo turns the tables on his enemies and returns to Florence in triumph. His first major act is to host an attempt to reunify the long-divided Greek and Latin churches. It has rather mixed results, but it does make something clear to the rulers of Europe: Cosimo is no longer just a banker.  

An image believed to be the Byzantine Emperor John VIII, taken from a cycle of frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli depicting the Magi’s visit to the infant Jesus Christ but with the likenesses of various participants in the Council of Florence (c. 1459). Source: Magi Chapel, Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
Pisanello’s sketches of the Byzantine delegation at the Council of Florence (c. 1439-1449).
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Categories
season two

Episode 15: Preemptive Strike

As soon as he inherits his father’s place as head of the rich, international Medici Bank, Cosimo gets a target on his back in a Florence where politics are increasingly molded by the sponsorship of the rich and not by the guilds. The minute he steps on the public arena, not only is Cosimo’s political career is in danger, but his very life. 

Posthumous portrait of Cosimo de’ Medici by Bronzino (c. 1567). Source: La Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Another posthumous portrait of Cosimo (c. 1519) by Jacopo Pontormo. Source: La Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Posthumous portrait of Contessina de’ Bardi de’ Medici (c. 1567) by Bronzino. Pitti Palace, Florence.