Cosimo de' Medici

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Portrait of Cosimo de' Medici

Music from the Italian Renaissance by various artists of the time.

Cosimo de' Medici: Master of Florence

Cosimo de' Medici also known as Cosimo The Elder was born September 27 1389 in Florence. Cosimo is credited with bringing the Medici family bank to new heights within the government of Florence as well as across Europe with better relations to the Pope. He was able to achieve this by using his wealth to fund people and creations who would be able to help him in his quest for power within Florence. He faced struggles throughout his rise to power with rival families, attempts on his life, and war. However he always comes out on top and helps to mold one of the most well known families in European history.

Rinaldo degli Albizi
Cosimo de' Medici faced many challenges during his rise to power. The Alibizi, another ruling family in Florence, constantly challenged the Medici. Rinaldo degli Albizi was the head of this family. During Cosimo's rise to power Rinaldo became scared. Renaldo payed off Bernardo Guadagni's debt. This debt was the only thing holding Guadagni back from the position in the Signori. Once Guadagni had the position of Gonfaloniere of Justice Rinaldo degli Albizi was able to call Cosimo to the Signori through Guadagni and had him arrested and sentenced to 20 years exile for attempting to rise to power. During this time the Medici bank was also paused and the flow of money stopped within Florence. The people within Florance became restless and rose up against the Albizi. Albizi's guard defended him and there was chaos in the streets of Florance. Cosimo was able to use this in order to come back triumphantly with the aid of the Pope. The Albizi family was banished from Florence. Rinaldo made several attempts to convince the Duke of Milan to intervene and restore him to power in Florence however these hopes were shattered with the Florentine victory over Milan at the Battle of Anghiari.
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Cossimo de' Medici was a major fan of the arts. He spent a large amount of his families fortune on funding artists and architects to make Florence a more beautiful place. In a quote found in Salviati's Zibaldone Cosimo says; "All those things have given me the greatest satisfaction and contentment because they are not only for the honor of God but are likewise for my own remembrance. For fifty years, I have done nothing else but earn money and spend money; and it became clear that spending money gives me greater pleasure than earning it." Cosimo's rise to power was aided by the completion of the Florence Cathedral Dome. The project was started in 1296 but the architects of the time did not have the means to complete the Dome and abandoned the project. Cosimo took a risk and funded an architect by the name of Filippo Brunelleschi who had a new idea on how to finish the dome. Cosimo's gamble payed off and Brunelleschi finished the Dome in 1436, solidifying Cosimo's position of power and influence in the Signori and Florence. He also funded artists such as Donatello who's David and Judith Slaying Holofernes were both funded by Cosimo.

David by Donatello
David by Donatello

Contessina de' Bardi
Contessina de' Bardi was an Italian noblewomen from the House of Bardi who was married into the Medici family to Cosimo. Contesssina's marriage to Cosimo provided the Medici family with much needed nobility, prestige, and military support as they established their power in Florence. Contessina outlived her husband but had close relations with her son Piero and his wife Lucrezia and stayed with them. She also had close relations with both her grandchildren Lorenzo and Giuliano and was able to keep her political influence when they became the leaders.

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Cosimo had three children. Two with Contessina de' Bardi named Piero de' Medici and Giovani de' Medici as well as one illegitimate son with a Circassian slave named Carlo de' Medici whom Contessina agreed to care for. Giovani was named the successor to Cosimo and unlike Piero enjoyed good health. Giovani had a major interest in the arts, specifically music. His interest outwayed his work however and Cosimo was forced to assign him Francesco Sasseti as a tutor. Giovani unfortunately died before his father and so the role of Cosimo's successor fell to Piero. Piero was bed ridden with constant bed health during most of his fathers life. After Cosimo's death Piero took hold of the Medici bank. He was still always sick in bed and because of this his bedroom also became his office in which he held political meetings effectively turning the Medici palace into the seat of government. One of Piero's first financial decisions was to call in several outstanding loans in which his father had purposefully let stand. This caused this list of those who opposed the Medici to grow in numbers. Despite this however Piero was still able to keep the Medici bank running relatively smoothly during his short reign. Carlo de' Medici was forced by Cosimo to take on a religious life. He became a priest then later on a clergyman and a papal tax collector.
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Treaty of Lodi
After the Treaty of Lodi was signed Cosimo sought to make the peace among the city states a lasting one by balancing alliance systems. Milan, Naples, and Florence held one side of the balance while Venice and the Papal States held the other side. Cosimo succeeded as for 40 years the balance may have been partially rocked but never overturned. Cosimo gave Italy a period of peace and freedom from foreign invasion that it was unaccustomed to. This period showed one of the earliest European forms of the concept of a balance of power being a workable means of maintaining both security and peace.

Giovani de' Medici
Giovani de' Medici came from extremely humble beginnings working at a mill. He worked extremely hard to create his own bank and slowly gained power until he had a respectable presence within upper class society and politics. Giovani raised his sons to keep a low profile and always stay humble. Giovani bided his time and took some risks such as funding Baldassarre Cossa's rise to the papacy which payed off and paved the way for Cosimo to bring the family to new heights. Giovani taught his children to let the others make the first move and stay quiet and act when need be. These lessons worked marvellously during Cosimo's conflicts with the Albizi family.

Cosimo de' Medici The Elder Pater Patrie
Cosimo de' Medici established a boss rule over the city. In his taxation policies he favoured the lower and middle classes of the city. Cosimo also brought many middle class citizens into placements in office as well as other forms of political patronage. Cosimo's main goal was peace and he made this clear to the citizens of Florence. In guiding the relations between Florence and other city states he earned the title "pater patriae" (father of his country).

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