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season three

Episode 42: The Orphan

A new Medici is born amidst tragedy, Pope Leo struggles with the threats posed by France, Spain, and the Holy Roman and Ottoman empires and a deadly conspiracy close to home, and an obscure monk and university lecturer in Germany starts to inspire a bit of controversy. 

A portrait possibly of Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne, the mother of Catherine de’ Medici and wife of Lorenzo “the Younger.” Date unknown. Source: Uffizi Gallery.

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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 François 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 37: The Exile

Still in exile, Piero de’ Medici throws himself on the mercy of the new king of France and Cesare Borgia. But will they prove to be reliable friends?


“Bayard on the Bridge of Garigliano”, a painting depicting the Battle of Garigliano (December 29, 1503) by Félix Henri Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1840). Source: Palais de Versailles.
A contemporaneous portrait of King Louis XII of France from the workshop of Jean Perréal (c. 1514). Source: The Royal Collection at Hampton Court Palace.
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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 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 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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