The Medicean Succession

The Medicean Succession

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    The Medicean Succession
    Book Description:

    Cosimo dei Medici stabilized ducal finances, secured his borders, doubled his territory, attracted scholars and artists to his court, academy, and universities, and dissipated fractious Florentine politics. These triumphs were far from a foregone conclusion, as Gregory Murry shows in this study of how Cosimo crafted his image as a sacral monarch.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-41619-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Prologue: The Scene
    (pp. 1-7)

    The story begins in blood, with the brutal stabbing of the first duke of Florence, the last direct male heir in the Medici line. On Epiphany night 1537, the roguish duke, Alessandro dei Medici, hastily made his way down the Via Larga to the chambers of his cousin and best friend, Lorenzino. For some time, Alessandro had been needling his dissolute kinsman to procure the sexual favors of a highly respected Florentine matron, and that night Lorenzino had promised he would deliver. The prospect was undoubtedly scandalous, but Alessandro undoubtedly did not care; he was convinced his grip on the...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 8-15)

    Cosimo certainly must have known that peddling sacral monarchy to Florentines would not be easy, for the Florentine monarchy itself had begun in blood just a few years earlier. A starving and outgunned Florentine republic finally signed away its last liberties to its Medici conquerors only in 1530. Indeed, Florentine republicanism stood in the starkest contrast to ideologies in the rest of early modern Europe. Almost everywhere monarchy was in the ascendancy, and almost everywhere this meant some kind of sacral monarchy. In most Christian polities, the ideologies that equated the prince with a god on earth were a god...

  6. CHAPTER 1 The Familiarity of Terrestrial Divinity
    (pp. 16-49)

    When Cosimo’s one and only war came to a close in 1555, the truce loosened the strings on his notoriously thrifty purse just long enough to get the artistic work started again in the Palazzo Signoria. Shortly thereafter, his favorite painter and intimate friend Giorgio Vasari began painting over Leonardo da Vinci’s acclaimed masterpiece in the Salone del Cinquecento, the large hall that had been built to house the Great Council of the Florentine Republic.¹ The work was part of a larger ongoing project, designed to turn the palace into a suitable residence for the ducal couple, and it certianly...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Divine Right Rule and the Providential Worldview
    (pp. 50-103)

    In November 1549, the young cleric and Florentine humanist Giovambatista Gualandi acquired the rectorship of the parish church of San Piero a Castra in the rugged, hilly, and poverty stricken diocese of Pistoia, a ruined little church for which the annual revenue was not even enough to restore the place’s dilapidated condition. Pondering his dubiously lucrative gain, Gualandi mused: “I think that God has delivered it into my hands so that at least it would not fall into complete dilapidation.”¹ In April 1559, Cosimo had a strikingly similar moment. His forces had just mopped up the fragments of the Sienese...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Rescuing Virtue from Machiavelli
    (pp. 104-132)

    Cosimo’s biographers have rarely spared him either undeserved praise or outright villainization; for nearly five hundred years now he has appeared in the historical annals either as the savior of thepatriaor a Machiavellian monster, wading to the throne through the blood of his countrymen. Even for an age of scandal and intrigue, Cosimo has frequently cut a particularly sinister figure. For instance, one chronicler suggested that he assassinated his own father-in-law, the viceroy of Naples, when his wife revealed her father’s alleged plot to take over Florence.¹ At least one modern historian found he could still report Cosimo’s...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Prince or Patrone? Cosimo as Ecclesiastical Patron
    (pp. 133-162)

    The merchant republic of Florence had always needed to be especially careful about the friends it chose and the enemies it made. The tentacles of Florentine merchant activity stretched across Europe, and disturbances in thepatria’s foreign policies sent economic shivers rippling down the collective spines of Florentines abroad. Foreign merchants resided at the pleasure of other governments, and guarantees of security were hard to come by. Of all the enemies the Florentine republic might make, few held such potential disaster in their hands as did the papacy, Florence’s neighbor to the south, which brandished the threat of interdiction with...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Cosimo and Savonarolan Reform
    (pp. 163-191)

    Savonarola had often proclaimed that Florence should have no king but Christ, a slogan that was not long in passing from the pulpit to the piazza to become the mantra of the republicanism of the Savonarolan movement. On the other hand, Savonarola’s followers were certain that under Medici rule, Florence would have no king but vice.¹ Lust, greed, vanity, irreligion. Hadn’t Florence bred a den of sodomites under the Medici’s watch? Hadn’t the banking family defiled their own hands with filthy lucre and the detestable sin of usury? Hadn’t Lorenzo raided the city’s dowry fund to pay for his own...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Defense of the Sacred
    (pp. 192-242)

    Unlike most other European monarchs, Cosimo did not come to a throne replete with the trappings of sacrality. Whereas most monarchs had wide-ranging prerogatives over appointments to church benefices, Cosimo had surprisingly little influence over ecclesiastical property.¹ Whereas most monarchs were the heirs of dynasties that had monopolized sacred space with regal pomp, Cosimo’s ancestors had limited their dynastic patronage projects to their own neighborhood churches.² Whereas most monarchs came to a reign already associated with sacred festivals, miraculous signs, and other forms of sacral power,³ the Medici had very little sacral tradition associated with their relatively new dynasty. This,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 243-246)

    Early modern historians of political sacrality have satiated our historical appetites on a limited range of issues. They have relentlessly pursued genealogies of political thought through space and time, examined the transformation of sacral politics into modern secular polities, and analyzed the relationships between political propaganda and political exigencies. However, political mythologies were not just a matter of old ideologies meeting new political exigencies. They also involved old ideologies integrating—and failing to integrate—with basic habits of thought. “Great oaks from little acorns grow,” wrote the greatAnnaleshistorian Marc Bloch, “but only if they meet favorable conditions of...

  13. Appendix: Glossary of Names
    (pp. 249-258)
  14. Sources and Abbreviations
    (pp. 259-260)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 261-342)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 343-344)
  17. Index
    (pp. 345-347)