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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 29: After Me, The Deluge

We step back from the Medici to look at Europe as a whole circa 1492. The balance of power is shifting and that means, for the Medici and Italy as a whole, the flood is coming. 

A map of Europe circa 1500 (although it should be noted modern Spain was still administratively divided between the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile). Source: The University of Oregon.

A map of Italy in 1494. Source: Shadowxfox.

A medal depicting the future King Alfonso II of Naples by Andrea Guazzalotti. Date: 1481. Source: Sailko.
A 19th century painting depicting the surrender of Emir Muhammad XII of Granada to Queen Isabel I of Castile and Fernando II of Aragon, by Francisco Pradillo y Ortiz. Date: 1882. Source: Senate of Spain Collection, Madrid.
An anonymous portrait of Mary of Burgundy, painted sometime during her life. Her decision to marry Maximilian von Hapsburg would change the course of European history and arguably set the stage for a long series of conflicts up to World War II. Artist and exact date unknown. Source: Private collection.
A portrait of King Louis XI of France, nicknamed “The Universal Spider” because his cunning and ruthless foreign policy helped make France a great power again, free of the threats once posed by the English and the Burgundians. The artist is Jacob de Littemont. Date: 1469. Source: Private collection.
A portrait of Maximilian von Hapsburg, Holy Roman Emperor, Duke of Austria, and co-duke of Burgundy through his wife Mary of Burgundy. The artist is Bernhard Strigel. Date: ca. 1500. Source: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
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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 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 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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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.

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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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