Family and loyalty mean everything to the dynasty
This article is the fifth episode of our series about the Medici dynasty. In this episode, we will be talking about Cosimo’s family.
The central episodes of Medici: Masters of Florence describe Cosimo’s role as new head of the Medici family. When his father Giovanni died, he became the new leader in the family and in the Medici bank.
Contessina, Cosimo’s wife, had noble blood. She was a part of the Bardi family, which had been successful in the 14th century in the banking business.
Their wedding had secured a better, noble rank to the family. Contessina had to take care of the house and current affairs.
Cosimo and Contessina had two children, Piero (born in 1416) and Giovanni (born in 1421). Contessina was very busy to manage her children’s education inside the Medici family.
The Medici family in paintings
In the Renaissance, art was used as an “advertising” channel. The Medici family, starting with Cosimo, was the first to masterfully use this “channel”.
In the famous Botticelli’s “Adoration of the Magi”, we have a hint of the hierarchical role inside the Medici dynasty.
We can see a “geometric” and political message: Cosimo and his sons are the the Magi, bringing presents to the Holy Family.
There is a triangle in the composition.
Cosimo is on the top of it. He is the current leader of the Medici family, so he is the first one to meet the Virgin. Piero, dressed in red, is waiting his turn and he will be the second one to present his own gift.
He will be the next head of the Medici family, when Cosimo will be gone. His brother Giovanni is listening to Piero, meaning that Piero will give orders to him, as the new leader, and Giovanni will accept them.
The birth of a dynasty
Cosimo, as his father Giovanni did, was focused on building a Medici dynasty. Giovanni knew that, in order to make his dreams come true, even two Medici generations were not enough. So Cosimo was concerned to choose his heir, who one day would be the next leader.
Piero was physically weaker than his younger brother Giovanni, and in fact Piero was to be called “Piero the Gouty” later on.
But Piero was better fit, in Cosimo’s judgment, to lead the family in the future.
Piero and Lucrezia: the next Medici generation
Lucrezia belonged to the Tornabuoni family. They had been loyal allies to the Medici family, even when the Medici were exiled to Venice. Giovanni Tornabuoni, Lucrezia’s brother, was head of the Medici bank in Rome.
While Contessina was not educated, Lucrezia was a poet of the Renaissance, and shared with Piero a love for the arts.
This might explain why Lorenzo the Magnificent, their famous son, was to become a landmark of the Renaissance, a Patron of Arts, and a gifted poet himself.
In the next episode, we will be talking about Cosimo de’ Medici’s exile.
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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