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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 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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season three

Episode 32: The Friar and the King

Piero de’ Medici is gone, and a new rising star is a hotshot preacher named Girolamo Savonarola. Once an itinerant preacher and lecturer, Savonarola now finds himself hobnobbing with King Charles VIII of France and even having a say in Florence’s newly rebuilt, Medici-free republic. 

The only known contemporaneous portrait of Girolamo Savonarola (1497 or 1498) by Fra Bartolomeo. Source: Museo di San Marco, Firenze.
A statue of Girolamo Savonarola in the Palazzo Savonarola in Ferrara (1875) by Stefano Galletti. Source: Dominican Friars of England, Wales, and Scotland website.

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season two

Episode 31: The Flood Comes

Piero doesn’t get to enjoy being the de facto lord of Florence for long before he has to deal with an impending French invasion of Italy. He decides to imitate his father’s boldest move, which would surely work…won’t it?

A portrait of King Charles VIII of France. Artist unknown. Uffizi Galleries, Florence.

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season two

Episode 30: Piero the Brief

The fourth Medici to come to power as “unofficial lord” of Florence is Lorenzo the Magnificent’s son, Piero. Although a strapping, handsome, and popular young man, forces within the regime are already working against him. But the real threat is starting to stir many miles outside of Florence…

A portrait of Piero II “the Brief” de’ Medici by Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora. Date: 1494. Source: National Library of Naples.

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season two

Episode 28: The End of the Golden Age

The golden age of the Medici’s unofficial lordship over Florence is drawing to an end with Lorenzo’s death. Here we look back over Lorenzo’s legacy as the patron, the politician, and even the embezzler and the human being. Also, what exactly was Lorenzo’s contribution to the course of not only Florentine but European history as a whole? 

The tomb of Lorenzo de’ Medici, his brother Giuliano, and other members of the family in the New Sacristy in Florence. Lorenzo and Giuliano’s remains were reinterred there in 1532. The statuary at the tomb was carved by Michelangelo and commissioned by Pope Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici).

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season two

Episode 27: The Decline and Fall of the Medici Bank

Lorenzo is at the height of his power and security. However, just behind the scenes, the family bank that caused the Medici to come into power in the first place is slowly but steadily falling apart, thanks to the Ottomans, a squabble between English royals, and, most of all, the ugly realities of politics. 

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