Thursday, August 14, 2014


It was the undeniable evidence of his intellect, his physical agility, and his courage, which propelled Lorenzo de' Medici to the forefront of his generation (irrespective of the fact that he was not the first born), to garner the full attention of his grandfather's and his father's tutoring and grooming to take over the ruling of the great Florentine family. Such concentrated focus could have easily birthed sibling rivalry, and yet, it didn't. Though second to the youngest of six children, each in their turn came to realize the truth of Lorenzo, his innate leadership, his charismatic personality, and his powerful loyalty to all whom he loved. He loved and protected them with every ounce of his being and they, gladly, followed.

There is little to be found about Giovanni di Piero de' Medici, not even an image, no doubt because of his illegitimacy. Regardless of his illicit birth, Piero's wife, the irascible Lucrezia Tornabuoni, raised Giovanni as one of her own. There are indications of his involvement in the family business--an easily assumable fact--and of his being a sickly person; an indication supported by his early death at the age of twenty-five.

Maria is identified as the woman on the right
in this depiction of the Magi on the Medici
Chapel wall by Benozzo Gozzoli. The other
two woman portrayed are her sisters,
Bianca and Lucrezia.
The first born child of Piero and Lucrezia was a girl child named Maria. Thanks to the forward-thinking of her very progressive mother, Maria enjoyed nearly the same education as her male siblings, replete with literature, art, mathematics and Latin. As the child of the Medici, her education also included Humanist Classicism. Her education and grace served her well. Her marriage to Leonetto de' Rossi, would produce one child, a child that would become a powerful Cardinal.

Bianca, the second child to Piero and Lucrezia, would be raised as were all the Medici children, with an extensive education. Her marriage to Guglielmo de Pazzi, while originally seen as a beneficial match, would, in fact, eventually lead to one of the greatest tragedies the Medicis had ever (or would ever) know, changing the very course of the family's history.

Loggia Rucellai
Known as Nannina--the nickname of her maternal great-grandmother, Piero's third daughter Lucrezia was equally educated. At the age of thirteen, Nannina was married to Bernardo Rucellai. When she moved out of her father's house and into her husband's five years later, she brought with her a dowry of 2500 florins. The wedding ceremony, attended by no less than five hundred guests, filled the loggia and the Piazza Rucellai.

The youngest child of this branch of the Medici holds the most bitter fruit, that of a dashingly handsome young man, brutally murdered in the prime of his life. As younger brothers will, Giuliano de' Medici idolized his older brother Lorenzo, and though he had little taste for politics or even banking, he followed his elder sibling wherever it would take him. It took him to a place were he became a pawn in the constant jostling for power that took place between the Florentine families. As older brothers will, Lorenzo felt keenly responsible for his younger brother, kept an ever vigilant and watchful eye over Giuliano.

His brother's savage death would forever change Lorenzo, turning a peaceful humanist into a man hell-bent on revenge. His actions would not only change the course of his family but of all of Florence.

"The murder of Giuliano shocked Florence, and a number of portraits were ordered for public display to serve both as memorials and as warnings to other plotters. Botticelli's painting may have been the prototype for others, and lent symbolic gravity to Guiliano’s passing, showing him as an icon, almost a saint. The open window and mourning dove were familiar symbols of death, alluding to the flight of the soul and the deceased's passage to the afterlife. Some scholars, noting the lowered eyelids, suggest this portrait was painted posthumously from a death mask."
National Gallery of Art (, Washington, DC

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