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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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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.
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season two

Episode 14: Renaissance, The New

This first century BCE Roman fresco from the villa of Publius Fannius Synistor in Boscoreale in modern-day Naples, which demonstrates a partial use of vanishing point, a technique that would not be perfected until the Renaissance. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Giotto’s Crucifix (c. 1290-1300). Note the realistic details such as Jesus’ facial expression and the wound in his side. Source: The Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, Italy.
Masaccio, The Expulsion (c. 1426-1428). Note the fig leaves added to the version on the left, before they were removed with the 20th century restoration shown on the right. Source: Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence.
Donatello’s David (c. 1440s?), the first freestanding nude sculpture made in Europe since antiquity. Source: Patrick A. Rodgers, the Bargello, Florence.
The Monastery of Batalha in the Central Region of Portugal. Source: Waugsberg.
The dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, erected by Filippo Brunelleschi. It remains the largest brick dome in the world.
An image from I Modi (1524).

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season two

Episode 13: Renaissance, The Old

Raphael, The School of Athens, ca. 1510. It is a fresco that lies in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
A representation of the standard medieval western European representation of Perseus, from an astrological and occult guidebook, the Heidelberger Schicksalsbuch (1491), currently kept in the rare books collection of the University of Heidelberg. Note how Perseus is wielding an Arabic-style scimitar.
Altichiero de Zevio’s sketch portrait of Petrarch, c. 1375.
Anonymous portrait of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.
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season one

Episode 12: The Founder of the Dynasty

Portrait of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (c. 1563) by Cristofano dell’Altissimo. Source: Palazzo-medici.it.

We close out Season 1, “The Early Medici”, with a look at the life and death of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, whose descendants would become the branch of the family we usually mean when we talk about the Medici. Not only is he the first prominent member of the family, however, he also founded the dynasty in the sense that he started the tradition of sponsoring forward-thinking artists, writers, and architects and in how his apparent reluctance to be a public figure actually inspired a formula for political success that would carry his descendants to greater heights than even his more ambitious forebears could have imagined. 

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Categories
season one

Episode 10: The Duke’s Wife and God’s Banker

A miniature depicting Valentina Visconti, Duchesse d’Orléans, with the symbols of Milan and the Visconti family, from a copy of Cicero’s De natura deorum, c. 1400. Source: anne-marie.eu.

Around the dawn of the fifteenth century, two developments unfolded that would sooner or later change the future of the Medici family forever. In one, Valentina Visconti enters a miserable marriage with a French royal. In the other, Giovanni de Bicci de’ Medici takes advantage of Europe being split between two and even three rival popes by (allegedly!) bankrolling the church career of a former soldier who hobnobbed with pirates and robbers that eventually sees him become Pope.

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