The Medici: Power vs. Truth
From a small Italian community in 15th-century Florence, the Medici family would rise to rule Europe in many ways. Using charm, patronage, skill, duplicity and ruthlessness, they would amass unparalleled wealth and unprecedented power.
They would also ignite the most important cultural and artistic revolution in Western history–the European Renaissance. But the forces of change the Medici helped unleash would one day topple their ordered world. An epic drama played out in the courts, cathedrals and palaces of Europe, this series is both the tale of one family’s powerful ambition and of Europe’s tortured struggle to emerge from the ravages of the dark ages.
A tale of one family’s powerful ambition and of Europe’s struggle to emerge from the ravages of the Dark Ages. Beginning in the 14th century, The Medici used charm, skill and ruthlessness to garner unparalleled wealth and power. Standing at the helm of the Renaissance, they ruled Europe for more than 300 years and inspired the great artists, scientists and thinkers who gave birth to the modern world.
Florence, 1537: Alessandro de’Medici the Duke of Florence, lies murdered in his bed.
His cousin is plucked from obscurity to lead Florence. He is just 17. His rivals think he’s a puppet, but despite his youth, Cosimo de’Medici, the new Duke of Florence, is ambitious.
A Man Reborn:
Cosimo strikes a deal with Giorgio Vasari, a versatile artist who believes the young Duke has potential. As a boy, Vasari rescued the broken arm of Michelangelo’s „David“. Now, with Cosimo’s approval, he oversees its repair.
Florence is a dangerous city, and the last thing Cosimo wants is to meet his cousin’s fate. He embarks on a rigorous training regime to guard against assassination.
Cosimo’s shrewd marriage to an eligible Spanish princess brings an army as a dowry. With it, he sets out to conquer his neighbors. The republic of Siena falls, and the rest of Tuscany soon capitulates to the Medici.
Cosimo isn’t slow to publicize his success. Across the walls of the old government building, he commissions monumental frescoes from Vasari. An army of workers fill the walls of the medieval palace with tales of courage and achievement. Cosimo ensures every generation of his family has their place, turning the headquarters of the old republic into a shameless temple to the Medici dynasty.
It still isn’t enough to satisfy his Duchess. Hungry for grandeur, Eleonora pays 9,000 florins for the Pitti Palace, a huge fortress on the south side of the Arno. The security is welcome. Florence still bristles with murderous intent, and Cosimo goes nowhere without knives down his pants, and body armor beneath his clothes.
Cosimo the control freak now has another problem. He is the master of a complex administration, managed by myriad offices scattered throughout the city. Vasari is ordered to provide facilities for a centralized administration. His buildings are constructed along two sides of a street with a corridor linking the two wings. They are known by the Italian word for offices, Uffizi.
Cosimo’s cultural campaign is capped with a book, written by Vasari, which seals the reputation of the Medici forever. The „Lives of the Artists“ is the first ever work of art history.
Cosimo is at last secure, „I am a ruler who accepts the authority of no-one, apart from God“.
Not even the emergence of the terrifying Roman Inquisition can dampen his success. He organizes a token public book burning, to satisfy their edicts on censorship. In return, he is crowned Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, by the Pope himself. Under Cosimo I, the Medici have scaled the heights of international royalty. They seem unassailable.
Following Cosimo’s reign, scientific enlightenment collides with Catholic doctrine, in the shape of the greatest scientist of the age, Gaileo Galilei. For three generations Galileo teaches the Medici Grand Dukes, informing the world about astronomy, gravity, momentum, buoyancy and time. But when he dares to suggest that the Earth travels around the sun, the Pope has had enough.
Galileo is summoned to appear before the Inquisition in Rome and threatened with torture. The Medici are forced to choose, between their allegiance to the church and their loyalty to the values of the Renaisssance.
They choose the path of least resistance, and Galileo is betrayed. They have failed to sustain what had set them apart from their rivals and the Renaisssance in Italy is over.
Though the reign of the Medici has faded, the movement they started in Florence goes on to launch the enlightenment, the Age of Reason, and the Modern World. Many patrons would try to follow in their footsteps, but none would ever match the legacy of the Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance.