Cosimo de’ Medici, Pater Patriae

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By Ela VasilescuWriter
www.writerinflorence.com

Cosimo de’ Medici also knows as Pater Patriae was born on September 27, 1389, during a prosperous period for Florence. Inheriting the influence of his father, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, he was to become a great art collector, business leader and historian.

Cosimo Il Vecchio Portrait by Jacopo Carucci detto il Pontormo. 1519 - 1520
Cosimo Il Vecchio Portrait by Jacopo Carucci detto il Pontormo. 1519 – 1520

He represented the Medici bank, managed the papacy’s finances and became the wealthiest man of his time. Cautious like his father but ruling with a firmer hand, his speech and actions were well balanced. Although he inherited a fortune from his father, Cosimo managed to increase his inheritance ten times through profitable banking operations, holding almost 16 banks on his name or the names of his clients. Cosimo’s influence was so great that Henric IV, king of England at the time, was grateful to him for helping to rectify the financial issues that England faced. Such power was sufficient to set the oligarchy against him.

The Albizzi, one of the other leading families, attempted a takeover accusing him for committing the capital crime “of having sought to elevate himself higher than others”, asking for his death. Instead of seeking refuge in Bologna, Cosimo chose to let himself be incarcerated in a small dungeon in the Palazzo Vecchio, where his enemy would discover that his power extends far beyond the cell walls, failing to kill him, obtaining only his exile.

Brunelleschi e Ghiberti presentano a Cosimo il modello della chiesa di San Lorenzo, Marco da Faenza su disegno di Giorgio Vasari, 1556 - 1558 Palazzo Vecchio, Sala di Cosimo il Vecchio
Brunelleschi e Ghiberti presentano a Cosimo il modello
della chiesa di San Lorenzo,
Marco da Faenza su disegno di Giorgio Vasari, 1556 – 1558
Palazzo Vecchio, Sala di Cosimo il Vecchio

Without Cosimo, the capital of Tuscany seemed heartless and the money and prosperity disappeared along with his departure. A year later, a sudden and unexpected move by the Medici, in which they doctored elections, gave them back the signoria (council of government). Cosimo triumphantly reentered the city and his enemies went into exile, never to return. He left the revenge in the hands of his supporters and went straight back to business, thus starting a new flourishing era for Florence.  Cosimo de’ Medici died in August 1464, in his villa of Careggi, leaving behind a city filled with palaces, churches and works of art that he helped build. During his time arts and science have known immense progress through Donatello, Brunelleschi, Masaccio and many more. His passion for building can still be seen on the streets of Florence and in the surrounding towns. Cosimo de Medici was without any doubt one of the mainsprings of Humanism, an art lover and a man with a great thirst for knowledge and beauty.

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