Some history of Cosimo’s father, Giovanni, played by Dustin Hoffman
This article is the second episode of our series about the Medici dynasty. In this episode, we will be talking about Giovanni de’ Medici, Cosimo’s father.
The first episode of Medici: Masters of Florence starts with the death of Giovanni de’ Medici (1429). He was the founder of the Medici dynasty, and the businessman who built the network of Medici banks all over Europe, from London to Rome.
Giovanni di Bicci (meaning that he was son of Bicci de’ Medici) was born in 1360. At the end of the century, he founded the Medici bank in Florence.
He had four children, two of them survived: Cosimo (born in 1389) and Lorenzo (born in 1395).
The Medici family was working in the wool business, which was very profitable in those times. Wool and silk were imported in Florence, and many workshops employed talented artisans to create amazing, luxury garments.
Let’s start from the beginning…
The Medici Bank
The wool trade business of the family was profitable, so Giovanni decided to enter into the banking business, in order to invest these profits and increase the rank of the Medici (a family which lacked a noble status) in the Signoria.
In 1397, Giovanni founded the Medici bank in Florence, and he invested 5,500 florins, which was a lot of money at the time. He later opened a branch in Rome (where the Pope reigns) and later in Venice (1402). Over the years, the Medici bank opened branches all over Europe. When Giovanni retired in 1420, the bank has reached an overall profit of over 152,000 florins.
The Medici and a Pope
We are not sure – but we can assume – that Giovanni financed Baldassarre’s purchase of a cardinal hat in 1402. When he addressed Giovanni, the cardinal used to refer to Giovanni as “My most dear friend”.
Anyway, Giovanni decided to bet (and to invest into) Cossa’s election to Pope, and that’s what happened. Cossa became Pope Giovanni XXIII (yes, it’s the same name of the beloved Giovanni XXIII of last century, and Cossa was an anti-pope, that is a Pope not recognized later by the Vatican).
A Wise Banker
Giovanni was a very clever and careful man. He was a member of the Signoria, but he always made sure to leave the spotlight to the other families in Florence too.
Giovanni used to work… behind the scenes, to increase his power and his family’s wealth, without clashing with other families’ interests. He was so humble and prudent that there are few portraits of Giovanni (the most famous is posthumous).
Cosimo, the next leader
The two brothers, Cosimo and Lorenzo, worked together in the Medici bank.
Giovanni, in the end, decided that Cosimo – who was his eldest son – had to be the leader of the Medici family and the bank. He believed that Cosimo was better fit for building a Medici dynasty after him.
In the next episode, we will be talking about the young Cosimo de’ Medici.
Written by Sergio Porrini, Next-Generation Virtual Reality Expert & ItaliaLiving.com Contributor.
The Magi Chapel pictures are courtesy of Virtualiter.net.
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