Lorenzo De Medici (1449-1492)
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Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492)
Ruler of Florence
Unofficial ruler of republican Florence during the Renaissance period,
who was a poet, diplomatist, and celebrated patron of the arts.
Lorenzo de' Medici was born on January 1, 1449, in Florence, an independent Italian city-state republic famous then as now for its artistic and intellectual achievements during what scholars call the Italian Renaissance. After 1434, his grandfather Cosimo had established the Medici family's dominant position within the oligarchic group which governed this republic, and from birth Lorenzo was destined to assume Cosimo's role. This was made clear at Lorenzo's baptism on January 6, 1449, which was attended not only by so celebrated a figure as the archbishop of Florence, Antoninus (later to be canonized), but by official representatives of several important governmental bodies. His parents, Piero de' Medici and Lucrezia Tornabuoni (herself from an ancient and powerful Florentine family), brought up Lorenzo conventionally enough, no doubt to avoid arousing envy in the minds of their peers, many of whom were suspicious of Medici political intentions. Like other patrician children, Lorenzo had his own resident tutor, the priest Gentile Becchi, who reported when his charge was only five how splendidly his humanist studies were progressing--a theme he was to repeat as the young Lorenzo worked his way through the masterpieces of Latin literature and history during the 1450s. From an early age, Lorenzo showed exceptional ability and promise, as even one of his severest contemporary critics, Alamanno Rinuccini, was to admit. As boys together, Rinuccini writes, he had seen in Lorenzo: an intelligence so pliable and versatile that, in boyish things, whatever he set his mind to he learned and mastered better than did others, dancing, bowmanship, singing, riding, playing games, performing on musical instruments and many other things.
Indeed, as early as 14 or 15, Lorenzo began to write poetry in the Italian vernacular which would still command the respect of literary critics even were its author not the famous public figure, Lorenzo de' Medici. Although these early verses were in a
sense exercises, which inevitably adopted the themes and reworked the poetic techniques of such masters as Francesco Petrarca and Dante Alighieri, Lorenzo was a serious writer who throughout his life produced poetry of increasing independence and virtuosity, tinkering with it almost obsessively. (M
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