The Medici Family Essay, Research Paper
The Medici Family
During the Renaissance a lot of changes occurred in fields, such as humanism, politics, and economy. One of the most influential families of the Renaissance was the Medici family. They reflected the Renaissance in a way where almost every aspect of the Renaissance, could be found as one of their traits.
The Medici family made numerous contributions to humanism. Cosimo de Medici was one of the first from his family to encourage humanism. He patronized artists, architects, and scholars. Other great contributions were the humanist library, and his public building program later imitated by his family and other rulers. Lorenzo de Medici, Cosimo s grandson was also a great patron of the arts. He was a gifted poet himself, and a connoisseur of the arts. He gathered at his court the leading artists and intellectuals of his day. Some of the artists he patronized were the philosophers Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, the painters Botticelli and Michelangelo, and the humanist poet Angelo Poliziano. Giovanni de Medici, who was later named Leo X after becoming the Pope, was a patron of the arts. He spent great sums of money on projects carried out by such masters as Raphael and Donato Bramante. His excessive spending as a patron of arts was mainly in the rebuilding of Saint Peter’s Basilica , and the display of magnificence in his court. These projects were indirectly responsible for the Reformation movement. Martin Luther wrote his Ninety-Five Theses after the rebuilding of Saint Peter’s Basilica project was announced. Giulio de Medici was raised by his uncle, Lorenzo. Later called Pope Clement VII, he was also a patron of the arts. Some of the Italian artists he patronized artists were, Benvenuto Cellini, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Encouraging humanism almost became a tradition in the Medici family (Encarta Encyclopedia 2000, all articles).
The Medici family dominated the world of politics. They controlled Florence for many years. Although Cosimo de Medici never held public office himself, he was still able to indirectly rule Florence through supporters and dependents. Even though the leading aristocratic party exiled him, he was still able to come back the next year and regain control. He crushed his enemies and secured his position using banishment or ruining them with excessive taxes (Encarta Encyclopedia 2000). Lorenzo de Medici was a great politician too. His efficient government, and tactical diplomacy helped increase his popularity. Piero de Medici, Lorenzo s son, wasn t able to become an effective ruler or banker. The aristocrats at the time took advantage of his weakness and exiled him. This finally caused the fall of the Medici bank (Holmes, 76-77). Leo X got his political power through the Church. He was made a Cardinal at only the age of thirteen and went on from there to become the pope. Unfortunately, Martin Luther ruined his reign by starting the Reformation. Clement VII also got his power through the Church, but he wasn t a very successful pope. Through marriage and politics the Medici family was able to create routes to royal families, such as the Valois Dynasty of France, the Habsburg Dynasty of Austria, the Stuart Dynasty of England, and the Bourbon Dynasty of France (Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, 84-85). They didn t really control these families, but still made their presence felt.
The Medici family changed the economic world during the Renaissance. When people got tired of carrying their gold around, they decided to leave it in a goldsmith. This was the beginning of banking. The Medici family took banking a step further. The family s wealth grew with the phenomenal success of their bank. They had many offices around Europe and made many international transactions. They had offices in Lyon, Bruges, London, Milan, Geneva, Venice, Pisa, and other cities throughout Europe (Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, 87). They lent money to popes and leaders of countries. They didn t do any pawn business with the rare exception, of large pledges like John XXII s mitre (Gage, 63). The enormous amount of profit was usually used to fund political activities. Cosimo de Medici was a great banker was known for his quick financial decisions. Lorenzo, however, wasn t very good at banking, but a great politician. The family lost a lot of money, but gained more political power. The bank collapsed after Piero s exile from Florence in 1494 (Holmes, 76-77). The Medicis revolutionized the economy during the Renaissance and became one of the wealthiest families in Italy.
The Medici family has contributed to the Renaissance in many ways. They encouraged the arts, and many royal, relative families around Europe. Their bank expanded to the farthest corners of Europe, and they had political control over the Church and Florence. They made their presence felt almost everywhere. They became one of the most powerful, wealthy, and humanistic families in Europe.
Gage, John. Life in Italy at the Time of the Medici. New York: G. P. Putnam s Sons Inc., 1968.
Holmes, George. The Oxford History of Italy. New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1997.
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Medici, House of. Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. 1999 ed.