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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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season two

Episode 26: The Private Life and Patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici

The Lorenzo we see from his volumnious letters is a man who had a short temper and bouts of depression, but was also capable of tremendous compassion and generosity. Unfortunately, his relationships with his own wife and sons were perhaps less than ideal.

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season two

Episode 25: Into The Lion’s Den

To try to stop a war Florence is badly losing and take some steam out of the Pope’s vendetta against him, Lorenzo does something few politicians had done before or since: put himself directly in enemy territory. 

King Ferrante of Naples as one of the Magi who visit the infant Jesus Christ in Marco Cardisco’s Adoration of the Magi. Date unknown. Source: Civic Museum of Castel Nuovo, Naples.

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season two

Episode 24: Bloodshed

The Pope, his nephew, an archbishop, and a mercenary decide Lorenzo de’ Medici and his brother Giuliano have to die. Unfortunately, the conspiracy develops some hiccups, namely having to send a couple of clergy instead of a mercenary to take down Lorenzo…

Stefano Ussi’s painting imagining the assassination of Giuliano de’ Medici (although note that Giuliano was supposed to have been kneeling when he was killed) (date unknown). Source: Private collection.
Leonardo da Vinci’s sketch of Bernardo Bandini, one of the executed conspirators. Date: 1479.

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season two

Episode 23: The Calm Before The Storm

Lorenzo resorts to unsavory methods in order to keep the Medici bank afloat. In the meantime, his path crosses with the man who would prove to be his most relentless enemy: Christ’s representative on Earth himself. 

A fresco depicting Sixtus IV and some of the della Rovere-Riario family by Melozzo da Forli (c. 1477). Source: Vatican Museum.

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season two

Episode 22: Triumphs and Missteps

Not long after coming to power, Lorenzo de’ Medici has to fend off enemies at home and abroad. Unfortunately, in the course of protecting Florence from a crisis that could spiral out of control, Lorenzo sets the stage for a humanitarian disaster. But how much was he really to blame?

A contemporaneous portrait of Lorenzo’s brother, Giuliano de’ Medici, by Sandro Botticelli. Circa 1478. Source: Gemäldegalerie Berlin.

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season two

Episode 21: The Rising Son

Even as a small child, Lorenzo had been thrust into the role of the public face of the Medici regime. Now an adult, Lorenzo’s own marriage to a Roman noblewoman from a clan claiming the Emperor Augustus and Julius Caesar as ancestors is a chance for the Medici to ascend even higher. Meanwhile, Piero is finally succumbing to his gout, just when both the domestic and foreign situations are starting to fall apart. 

“The Counterattack of Michelotto di Cotignola” (c. 1455), one of Paolo di Dono’s three paintings commemorating the Florentine victory over Siena at the Battle of San Romano in 1423, commissioned by Piero de’ Medici. Source: The Louvre, Paris.
Boticelli’s Adoration of the Magi (1475 or 1476), which includes a depiction of the 16-year-old Lorenzo de’ Medici on the far left. Source: Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
A posthumous terracotta bust of Lorenzo de’ Medici, which was likely based on a 1478 wax sculpture by Andrea del Verrocchio and Orsino Benintendi. Date unknown. Source: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
Girolamo Machietti’s posthumous portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Date unknown. Source: Palazzo Pitti, Florence.
A portrait likely of Clarice Orsini by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1490s). Source: National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

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season two

Episode 20: Conspiracy or Countercoup?

Piero de’ Medici narrowly escaped death or abduction. But did everything happen as Piero and his son Lorenzo said? And just how will the Party of the Hill survive when they apparently bet everything on one scheme? 

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season two

Episode 19: Hill Versus Plain

Piero de’ Medici seems to be enjoying a smooth transition to power, but soon enough a rival political party takes shape on the high ground just across the river from the Palazzo de’ Medici. When legal measures fail to dislodge the Medici, the so-called “Party of the Hill” proves itself more than willing to resort to more drastic measures. Meanwhile we get a better look at Piero, the math professor of the Renaissance, and his wife Lucrezia, wife/mother/patron/businesswoman/writer.

The Palazzo Pitti, which was built by banker-politician Luca Pitti to rival the Palazzo de’ Medici which lied just across the River Arno. Since the palace sat on high ground, it inspired the name given to Luca’s anti-Medici political party, the Party of the Hill. Today, it houses the largest museum complex in Florence. Source: Ed Webster.
A portrait of Luca Pitti, date and painter unknown. Source: Kursk State Art Gallery, Kursk Oblast, Russian Federation.
A portrait of Lucrezia de’ Medici, née Tornabuoni, by Domenico Ghirlandaio (c. 1475). Source: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
A bust of Piero de’ Medici at the Bargello in Florence. Source: Yair Haklai.

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