Revised: October 21, 2014

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“How beautiful is youth, that is always slipping away! Whoever wants to be happy, let him be so: about tomorrow there’s no knowing.”
- LORENZO DE MEDICI
Lorenzo de Medici
Ruler of Florence and Art Patron, 1449 - 1492

Lorenzo de Medici was born on January 1, 1449 in Florence, Italy. "Lorenzo The Magnificent," as he was called by the people of Florence, was a statesman, ruler, and patron of the arts. "The Magnificent" was a common title of respect in Italy at the time, but it was Lorenzo who raised it to special status.

Lorenzo ruled Florence with his younger brother, Giuliano, from 1469 to 1478. After his brother's assassination in 1478, he was sole ruler until his death. Perhaps Lorenzo's greatest contribution to history was his patronage of the arts. He contributed more than anyone to the flowering of Florentine genius in the late 15th century, supporting such giants as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Lorenzo treated the artists under his protection with respect and warm-hearted familiarity.

In 1485, Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican friar from the convent of San Marco began to harangue the Florentines with prophetic language of the Apocalypse, first from the pulpit of San Marco and then from the cathedral in Florence. Although it had been Lorenzo who brought Savonarola back from exile in Bologna, the friar soon accused his benefactor of ruining the state and squandering the wealth of the people. These accusations begain to undermine Lorenzo's support among the people of Florence.

In 1492, Lorenzo fell seriously ill. He knew that he was dying. Fearing eternal damnation, Lorenzo called Savonarola to his deathbed seeking redemption. Accounts of their final meeting differ. Some scholars speculate that in the end Savonarola remembered his duty as a priest, giving Lorenzo absolution for his sins. Others content that Savonarola's judgement was harsh, that he damned Lorenzo.

Lorenzo died during the night of April 8 and 9, 1492 in the Villa of Careggi at the age of 43. He died at the dawn of a "the age of exploration." Christopher Columbus would reach the "New World" only six months later. Florentines were so moved by Lorenzo's premature death that the entire population attended his funeral.

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Lorenzo de Medici or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books By/About Lorenzo de Medici

Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici
by Miles J. Unger

A highly readable and well researched book, making good use of Medici family letters and earlier biographical sources such as Machiavelli's writings.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici

The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall
by Christopher Hibbert

The House of Medici delves into the lives of the Medici family, benefactors who turned Florence into a global power center, and then lost it all. With twenty-four pages of black-and-white illustrations, this is a timeless saga.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall

Lorenzo the Magnificent Lorenzo the Magnificent
by Maurice Rowdon

Rowdon uses his own translations of letters and documents, and follows the Medici rise to wealth and fame, against the intricate backdrop of Florentine politics and the explosion of Renaissance thought and learning.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Lorenzo the Magnificent

Lives Of The Early Medici Lives Of The Early Medici As Told In Their Correspondence
by Janet Ross (Translator)

This history of the early Medici is told through correspondence between the family and their associates. It provides the only English translation of many of these documents.

Purchase this paperback edition of Lives Of The Early Medici As Told In Their Correspondence

Lorenzo De Medici: Selected Poems and Prose Lorenzo De Medici: Selected Poems and Prose
by Lorenzo de Medici, Jon Thiem (Editor)

This is the first book-length collection in English of the literary works of Lorenzo de Medici. His longer poems in particular reveal the central concerns, everyday activities, and favorite ideas of his day.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Lorenzo De Medici: Selected Poems and Prose

Autobiography of Lorenzo de Medici the Magnificent The Autobiography of Lorenzo de Medici the Magnificent: A Commentary on My Sonnets
by Lorenzo de Medici

Purchase this hardcover edition of Autobiography of Lorenzo de Medici the Magnificent


DVDs About Lorenzo de Medici

The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
A production of PBS's educational "Empires" series. An epic drama played out in the courts, cathedrals and palaces of Europe, this series is both the tale of the de Medici family's powerful ambition and of Europe's tortured struggle to emerge from the ravages of the dark ages.

Purchase this DVD edition of The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance

Empires Collection Empires Collection

PBS's "Empires Collection," a five DVD set including "The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance", "Egypt's Golden Empire", "Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire", "The Roman Empire in the First Century", "The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization"

Purchase this DVD edition of the Empires Collection


Related Websites

Lorenzo di Medici
At TimeLineIndex Page

The Medici family of Florence
At the Galileo Project

Paternal Advice To A Cardinal
Sage advice from Lorenzo De Medici in a letter to his son Giovanni made a cardinal at age of 14, and later ruled as Pope Leo X (reigned 1513-1521)

To the Magnificent Lorenzo di Piero de Medici
Machiavelli dedicated "The Prince" to Lorenzo

Gravesite of Lorenzo di Medici


Google Art Project



Colin Powell


Related Figures in the Lucidcafé Library


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