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season three

Episode 44: Interregnum

After Leo X’s sudden death, the Medici are briefly out of power in the papacy. In the meantime, Emperor Charles V changes the landscape of European politics by getting elected as Holy Roman Emperor, and the fate of the Medici family is put in the hands of an orphaned, illegitimate son.

A 1528 portrait of Giulio de’ Medici, Pope Clement VII, by Sebastiano del Piombo. Source: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California.

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season three

Episode 43: The Drunken German

While Pope Leo works with the artist Raphael toward the preservation of Roman antiquities and tries to steer Italy between the deadly rocks of France, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, a little problem crops up to demand his attention. And that little problem had a name: Martin Luther. 

Michelangelo’s engravings with the tomb of Lorenzo “the Younger” in the New Sacristy at the Church of San Lorenzo, depicting Dusk and Dawn. Source: Romain Rolland, The Life of Michael Angelo (1912).
Michelangelo’s engravings with the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici in the New Sacristy at the Church of San Lorenzo, depicting Day and Night. Source: Romain Rolland, The Life of Michael Angelo (1912).
A contemporaneous portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Date: 1528. Source: Coburg Fortress 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 Fran├žois 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 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 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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