Cosimo de 'Medici


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Cosimo de 'Medici. Posthumous painting by Jacopo da Pontormo , around 1519/1520. Florence, Uffizi Gallery

Cosimo de 'Medici (called il Vecchio ' the old man '; * April 10, 1389 in Florence ; † August 1, 1464 in Careggi near Florence) was a statesman, banker and patron who for decades directed the politics of his hometown Florence and was an essential one Contributed to their cultural boom. Because of his membership of the Medici family (German also "Mediceer") he is called "de 'Medici"; it is not a title of nobility , the family was bourgeois.

As heir to the rapidly expanding Medici Bank founded by his father Giovanni di Bicci de 'Medici , Cosimo was inherently part of the urban leadership. Business success made him the richest citizen of Florence. The republican constitution of the city provided the framework for his political activity , which he respected in principle, but redesigned with the help of his large following. In doing so, he asserted himself against fierce opposition from some of the previously leading families. His significant influence on politics was based not on the offices to which he was elected, but on the skillful use of his financial resources and an extensive network of personal relationships at home and abroad. He succeeded in establishing a permanent alliance with Milan , a previously hostile city, and thus creating foreign policy stability that lasted after his death.

Cosimo's political successes, his extensive promotion of art and education, and his imposing building activity gave him a unique authority. Nevertheless, he could not make decisions on sensitive issues on his own, but always relied on building consensus in the leadership class. He was careful not to appear like a ruler, but like a citizen among citizens.

The extraordinary reputation that Cosimo enjoyed was reflected in the posthumous award of the title Pater patriae ("Father of the Fatherland"). With his fortune, the informal position of power he had gained passed on to his descendants, who continued his patronage on a large scale. Until 1494 the Medici played a dominant role in Florentine politics and cultural life.

In modern research, Cosimo's achievements are largely assessed positively. His statesmanlike moderation and foresight, his entrepreneurial skills and his cultural commitment are widely recognized. On the other hand, reference is also made to the great potential for conflict that resulted from the massive, ongoing dominance of an overpowering family in a republican, traditionally anti-autocratic state. In the longer term, Cosimo's concept of indirect state control by means of private assets proved to be unsustainable; in the last decade of the 15th century the system he had established collapsed.

The political situation

After the collapse of the Staufer Empire in the 13th century , a power vacuum had developed in northern and central Italy, the so-called Imperial Italy , which no one was able to fill. Although the Roman-German kings continued to make expeditions to Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries (such as Henry VII , Ludwig IV and Friedrich III ), they did not succeed in permanently enforcing imperial power in imperial Italy. The traditional tendency to fragment the political landscape generally prevailed in the late Middle Ages . A large number of local and regional centers of power developed, which continually fought each other in changing constellations. The most important of them were the big cities, which did not accept superordinate violence and strove to form larger territories under their control. To the north of the Papal States , the main actors were the autocratic ruled Milan , the bourgeois republic of Florence and the aristocratic republic of Venice , which did not belong to imperial Italy. Politics was primarily shaped by the sharp contrasts between neighboring cities. There was often an enmity between them; the larger tried to hold down or completely subjugate the smaller, and met with bitter resistance. The costs of the military conflicts that flickered again and again often led to a serious economic weakening of the participating municipalities, which, however, hardly dampened the belligerence. In addition, violent power struggles between individual clans and political groups were fought in the cities, which usually led to the execution or exile of the leaders and well-known partisans of the defeated side. A major goal of most political actors was to maintain and increase the power and prestige of their own families.

Some municipalities were ruled by sole rulers who had established or inherited a tyranny. This form of government, branded as tyranny by the Republicans , is referred to in the specialist literature as signory (not to be confused with signoria as a name for a city council). It was usually associated with the formation of dynasties . Other city-states had a republican constitution that allowed a relatively broad ruling class to participate directly in power.

In Florence, the home of the Medici, there was traditionally a republican state system that was firmly anchored and supported by a broad consensus. The bourgeoisie, organized in guilds and guilds and predominantly active in commerce or industry , ruled . A sophisticated system of separation of powers had been devised to prevent dangerous agglomerations of power. The most important governing body was the nine-member Signoria, a council whose members were redefined six times a year. The brevity of the two-month term should remove the ground from tyrannical endeavors. The city, which had about 40,000 inhabitants in 1427, was divided into four districts, each of which had two priori (members of the Signoria). In addition to the eight priori , the ninth member was the gonfaloniere di giustizia (standard-bearers of justice). He was the chairman of the board and therefore enjoyed the highest esteem among all city officials, but had no more power than his colleagues. Two other organs belonged to the government: the council of the dodici buonomini , the "twelve good men", and the sixteen gonfalonieri ( standard-bearers ), four for each district. These two bodies, in which the middle class was strongly represented, commented on political issues and were able to block draft laws. Together with the Signoria they formed the group of the tre maggiori , the three leading institutions that governed the state. The tre maggiori proposed new laws, but these could only come into force after they had been approved by a two-thirds majority by two larger bodies, the three hundred-member People's Council (consiglio del popolo) and the two-hundred-member municipal council (consiglio del comune) . The term of office on these two councils was four months.

There were also commissions that were responsible for special tasks and were subordinate to the Signoria. The most important of these were the eight-member security committee (otto di guardia) , which was responsible for internal state security and directed the secret service activities, and the dieci di balìa (“ten authorized representatives”), a body with a six-month term that deals with foreign and security policy and, in the event of war, planned and monitored military actions. The dieci di balìa largely held the threads of diplomacy in their hands. Therefore, when the Medici took control of the state, they became a central instrument in the control of foreign policy.

The deep mistrust of overpowering persons and groups prevailing in Florence was the reason why most office holders, especially the members of the tre maggiori , were neither elected by majority decision nor appointed on the basis of a qualification. Rather, they were determined by lot from the set of all citizens recognized as fit for office - around two thousand people. The slips of paper with the names were put into loose bags (borse) , from which the slips of the future officials were then drawn blindly. Successive terms of office were prohibited for the Signoria. You could only serve once in three years, and no one from the same family could have served on the committee in the previous year.

Eligibility to participate in the draws had to be checked at certain time intervals - theoretically every five years, in fact a little more irregularly. This was the purpose of the squittinio , a procedure with which it was determined who met the requirements of the official fitness. These included freedom from tax debts and membership of at least one of the guilds. There were “larger” (that is, more respected and powerful) and “smaller” guilds, and six of the eight prior seats in the Signoria were reserved for the larger ones. The result of the squittinio was a new list of politically full citizens. Anyone who belonged to one of the larger guilds (arti maggiori) and was found fit in the squittinio could count themselves to the patriciate of the city. Since the squittinio offered possibilities of manipulation and decided on the social rank of the citizens involved in political life, its implementation was politically sensitive.

The system of filling offices by drawing lots had the advantage that numerous members of the city's leadership class were given the opportunity to hold honorable offices and thus satisfy their ambitions. Every year the main organs of the city administration were filled with 1650 new people. One disadvantage of the frequent changes in leadership was the unpredictability; a new Signoria could steer a completely different course than her predecessor if the majority ratios had changed due to the chance of the drawing of lots.

A parliamento meeting was planned for special crisis situations . This was a gathering of all male citizens over the age of 14, with the exception of the clergy. The parliamento was able to elect a commission for emergencies, a balìa , and give it special powers to deal with the crisis.

Life

Origin, youth and probation in banking (1389–1429)

Cosimo's father Giovanni di Bicci de 'Medici. Posthumous painting by Cristofano dell'Altissimo, 1562/1565. Florence, Uffizi Gallery

Cosimo was born in Florence on April 10, 1389. His father was Giovanni di Bicci de 'Medici (1360-1429), his mother Piccarda de' Bueri. At that time it was customary to give the name of the father in order to distinguish between persons of the same name; therefore one called Giovanni "di Bicci" (son of Bicci) and his son Cosimo "di Giovanni". Cosimo had a twin brother named Damiano who died soon after giving birth. The brothers were named after Cosmas and Damian , two ancient martyrs who were also twins and venerated as saints. Therefore, Cosimo later celebrated his birthday not on April 10, but on September 27, which was then the feast day of the holy brothers.

Cosimo's father was of middle-class origin. He belonged to the widely ramified Medici clan. Medici were already active in the banking industry in Florence in the late 13th century, but in the 1360s and 1370s the clan was largely not yet rich; most of their households were even relatively poor. Yet the Medici already played an important role in politics; in the 14th century they were often represented in the Signoria. In their struggle for prestige and influence, however, they suffered a severe setback when their spokesman Salvestro de 'Medici acted awkwardly during the Ciompi uprising in 1378 : he initially sided with the insurgents, but later changed his stance. This earned him a reputation for fickleness. He was suspected of striving for tyrannical rule, ultimately he had to go into exile in 1382. In the following years, the Medici were considered unreliable. By 1400 they were so discredited that they were forbidden to hold public office. However, two branches of the clan were exempt from the prohibition; one of the two belonged to Cosimo's father and grandfather. The experience of the years 1378–1382 was a decisive one for the Medici, which urged caution.

Around 1380 Giovanni worked as a small moneylender. This trade was then despised; In contrast to the big banking business, it was suspect to the public, as the moneylenders were obviously disregarding the church's interest prohibition , while the bankers were better able to cover up the interest on their loans. Giovanni later joined the banker Vieri di Cambio, who was then the richest member of the Medici clan. From 1385 he headed the Roman branch of Vieris Bank. After Vieri's bank was dissolved in 1391/1392, Giovanni went into business for himself and took over the Roman branch. With this step he founded the Medici Bank.

Cosimo's wife Contessina de 'Bardi. Posthumous oil painting from the 16th century, Palazzo Pitti , Florence

Although Rome was by far the most attractive location in all of Italy, Giovanni moved the headquarters of his company to Florence in 1397. The decisive factor was his desire to return to his hometown. In the period that followed, he determinedly created a network of connections, some of which were primarily beneficial for business, others primarily served to increase his reputation and political influence. His two sons, Cosimo and Lorenzo , who was six years younger , received their training in their father's bank and were then involved in shaping business policy. One of the alliances that Giovanni di Bicci entered into was his connection with the traditional noble family of the Bardi . In the first half of the 14th century, the Bardi were among the most important bankers in Europe. Although their bank collapsed spectacularly in 1345, they later returned to the financial sector with success. Around 1413/1415, the alliance between the two families was confirmed by a marriage: Cosimo married Contessina de 'Bardi di Vernio. Such marriages were an integral part of political and business networking. They had a major impact on the social status and influence of a family and were therefore carefully considered. Relationship created loyalties. However, only a part of the Bardi clan was involved in the alliance, some of its branches were among the opponents of the Medici.

The first decades of the 15th century were a phase of determined expansion for the Medici Bank. It had branches in Rome, Venice and Geneva, and temporarily also in Naples. In the period from 1397 to 1420 a net profit of 151,820 florins (fiorini) was earned. Of this, 113,865 florins remained for the Medici after deducting the portion that was due to a partner. More than half of the profit came from Rome, where the most important business was done, only one sixth from Florence. Giovanni achieved his greatest success in 1413 when the antipope, John XXIII, residing in Rome . with whom he was friends made his chief banker. At the same time, his branch manager in Rome became the papal depositary general (depositario generale) , that is, he took over the administration of most of the church's income for a commission. When John XXIII. went in the fall of 1414 to Constance to where there convened council participate, Cosimo belonged supposedly to his entourage. But the following year the Medici suffered a severe setback when the Council of John XXIII. discontinued. With this the Medici Bank lost its almost monopoly position in business with the Curia ; in the following years it had to compete with other banks. It was only able to secure priority again after a main competitor, the Spini Bank, went bankrupt in 1420.

When Giovanni di Bicci retired from managing the bank in 1420, his sons Cosimo and Lorenzo took over management of the company together. Giovanni died in 1429. After his death, the family fortune was not divided; Cosimo and Lorenzo took over the inheritance together, with Cosimo being the older one with decision-making power. The fortune consisted of about 186,000 florins, of which two thirds were made in Rome, but only a tenth in Florence - even the branch in Venice made more. In addition to the bank, the family owned extensive estates in the outskirts of Florence, especially in Mugello , the area from which the family originally came. From then on, the two brothers received two thirds of the bank's profit, the rest went to their partners.

Allegedly Giovanni advised his sons on their deathbed to be discreet. You should appear cautious in public in order to arouse as little envy and resentment as possible. Participation in the political process was vital for a banker, otherwise he would have to expect to be outmaneuvered by enemies and rivals. Because of the violence and unpredictability of the political conflicts in the city, however, too strong a profile was very dangerous, as the Ciompi uprising had shown. Conflicts were therefore to be avoided as far as possible.

Power struggle and exile (1429–1433)

With the economic success and social rise of the Medici, their claim to political influence grew. Despite their cautious demeanor, they met with resistance from some traditionally dominant clans who felt pushed back. This led to the formation of two large groups that stood in wait opposite one another. On the one hand stood the Medici with their allies and the broad clientele of those who benefited directly or indirectly from their businesses, their commissions and their influence. The clans who wanted to keep their traditional position of power and put the climbers in their place gathered in the opposing camp. The most important of these was the Albizzi family ; its head Rinaldo degli Albizzi became the spokesman for the Medici opponents. This split in the citizenry reflected not only personal differences between leading politicians, but also different mentalities and basic attitudes. The Albizzi group were the conservative circles whose dominance had been threatened in 1378 by the Ciompi uprising, an uprising of the lower classes (popolo minuto) supported by disadvantaged workers . Since that shocking experience, they have tried to secure their status by preventing suspicious cliques from entering the relevant bodies. Riot, subversion and dictatorial desires should be nipped in the bud. The Medici's temporary support for the insurgent workers was not forgotten. The Albizzi group was not a party with a unified leadership and a common course, but a loose, informal association of some roughly equal clans. Apart from opposition to potentially dangerous outsiders, the members of this alliance had little in common. Their attitude was defensive. The Medici Group, on the other hand, was structured vertically. Cosimo was their undisputed leader, who made the essential decisions and purposefully used the financial resources that were far superior to the enemy. Up-and-coming families (gente nuova) were among the natural allies of the Medici, but their supporters were not limited to forces that could benefit from increased social mobility. The Medici group also comprised respected patrician families who had allowed themselves to be integrated into their network, including through marriage. Apparently the Albizzi had stronger support among the upper class, while the Medici enjoyed greater sympathy among the middle class - the craftsmen and shopkeepers. The fact that a large part of Cosimo's partisanship belongs to the traditional elite shows, however, that the interpretation of the conflict as a struggle between classes or estates, which was sometimes used in the past, is wrong.

The hardening of the antagonism made an open power struggle appear inevitable, but in view of the prevailing loyalty to the constitutional order this had to be carried out within the framework of legality. From 1426 the conflict came to a head. The propaganda on both sides was aimed at solidifying enemy images. For the Medici supporters, Rinaldo degli Albizzi was the arrogant spokesman for oligarchic forces remote from the people, who drew on his father's fame and, as a result of his carelessness, lacked leadership qualities. The Albizzi group portrayed Cosimo as a potential tyrant who used his wealth to overturn the constitution and to pave the way for sole rule through bribery and corruption. Evidence suggests that the allegations on both sides contained a considerable core of truth: Rinaldo's gruffness offended influential sympathizers such as the Strozzi family and even fell out with his brother Luca so much that he gave up his family loyalty and defected to the other side, which was an unusual step for the time. The polemic against the Medici was also based on facts, although it was probably exaggerated: the Medici group infiltrated the administration, thus obtained secret information, did not shy away from forging documents and manipulated the squittinio in their minds.

The introduction of the catasto , a comprehensive register of all taxable goods and income, in May 1427 gave rise to polemics. The register formed the basis for the collection of a newly introduced wealth tax, which was needed to reduce the dramatically increased national debt. This move caused a certain shift in the tax burden from the indirectly taxed middle class to the wealthy patricians. The particularly wealthy Medici were able to cope with the new burden better than some of their less wealthy opponents, for whom the catasto was a hard blow. Although Giovanni di Bicci initially rejected the introduction of the property tax and later only hesitantly supported it, the Medici managed to present themselves as supporters of the popular measure. This enabled them to distinguish themselves as patriots who, to their own detriment, advocated the restructuring of the state budget and who themselves made an important contribution to it.

The conflict was further fueled by the war against Lucca , which Florence began in late 1429. The military conflicts ended in April 1433 with a peace agreement, without the attackers having achieved their war goal. The two warring cliques in Florence unanimously endorsed the war, but then used its unfavorable course as a weapon in their power struggle. Rinaldo had taken part in the campaign as a war commissioner, so he could be held responsible for its failure. For his part, he blamed the Committee of Ten responsible for coordinating the conduct of the war, in which supporters of the Medici were strongly represented; the committee had sabotaged its efforts. Cosimo was able to put himself in a favorable light on this occasion: he had lent the state 155,887 florins, an amount that accounted for more than a quarter of the special financial requirements caused by the war. This enabled the Medicean to demonstrate his patriotism and his unique importance for the fate of the republic in a propaganda-effective manner. Overall, the course of the war strengthened the position of the Medici group in public opinion.

The Albizzi Group's strategy was aimed at indicting its opponents - especially Cosimo personally - with anti-constitutional activities and thus incapacitating them through criminal law. The enemies of the Medici were given a handle by a law passed by them in December 1429, which was supposed to prevent protection against the state and to ensure internal peace. It was directed against newcomers who gained unauthorized advantages through their relationships with members of the Signoria, and against great people who caused unrest. This legislation was aimed at Cosimo and its socially and politically mobile clientele. From 1431, the leading figures of the Medici group were increasingly threatened with denial of civil rights and banishment. For this purpose, a special commission should be formed and authorized to take appropriate measures. After the end of the war against Lucca, the danger for Cosimo became acute, as he was no longer needed as a state lender. Thereupon he initiated the transfer of his capital abroad in the spring of 1433. He had a large part transported to Venice and Rome, and he hid some money in monasteries in Florence. In this way, he secured the bank's assets against the risk of expropriation, which was to be feared in the event of a conviction for high treason .

The drawing of the posts in the Signoria for the term of office September and October 1433 resulted in a two-thirds majority of the Medici opponents. They did not miss this opportunity. Cosimo, who was outside the city, was invited by the Signoria for a consultation. When he arrived at the City Palace on September 5, he was arrested immediately. With a majority of six to three, the Signoria decided to ban him and a special commission upheld the verdict, as he was a destroyer of the state and a cause of scandals. Almost all members of the Medici clan were excluded from the offices of the republic for ten years. Cosimo was banished to Padua , his brother Lorenzo to Venice; they were to stay there for ten years. If they left their assigned whereabouts prematurely, they faced a further sentence that would forever rule out their return home. The long duration of the ordered absence should permanently cripple and tear the network of the Medici. Cosimo had to leave a deposit of 20,000 florins as a guarantee for his future good behavior. He accepted the verdict, emphasizing his loyalty to the republic, and went into exile in early October 1433.

Turnaround and homecoming (1433–1434)

It soon became apparent that the Medici network not only remained intact in Florence, but also functioned efficiently in distant countries. Cosimo's departure and his trip to Padua became a triumphant demonstration of his influence at home and abroad. On the way he received a large number of demonstrations of sympathy, loyalty and offers of help from prominent personalities and entire cities. In Venice, to whose territory the exile Padua belonged at the time, support was particularly strong, which was due to the fact that the Medici Bank had had a branch there for decades. When Cosimo's brother Lorenzo arrived in Venice, he was received personally by Doge Francesco Foscari and many nobles. The Republic of Venice clearly sided with the persecuted and sent an ambassador to Florence to seek the overturning of the sentence. This at least achieved that Cosimo was allowed to settle in Venice. Emperor Sigismund , whom the Venetians had informed, expressed his disapproval of the exile, which he considered to be a stupidity of the Florentines. On his Italian expedition, from which he returned in October 1433, Sigismund had sought, among other things, a settlement of his relationship with the Republic of Florence, but was unable to achieve any negotiation success.

The turnaround finally brought about a new need for money in the Republic of Florence. Since the state finances were precarious and the Medici Bank was no longer available as a lender, a tax increase became apparent. This led to such dissatisfaction that in the course of the spring and summer of 1434 the mood in the ruling class shifted. Medici supporters and proponents of reconciliation increasingly gained the upper hand. The new mood was reflected in the Signoria drawn for the term of office in September and October 1434, who was partly committed to medici-friendly and partly willing to reconcile. The new gonfaloniere di giustizia was a determined follower of Cosimo. On September 20, he enforced the lifting of the banishment sentence. Now the leaders of the Albizzi group threatened the fate that they had prepared their enemies the previous year. To forestall this, they planned a coup d'état for September 26th and gathered gunmen. But since the opposing side had mobilized their forces in good time, they did not dare to attack, because without the element of surprise it would have meant a civil war with little chance of success. Finally Pope Eugene IV acted as a mediator. The Pope had been driven from Rome by a popular uprising and had been living in exile in Florence for several months. As a Venetian, Eugene tended to be medici-friendly, and above all he could hope for future loans from the Medici Bank. He managed to get Rinaldo to give up.

On September 29th, Cosimo set out to return home, which, like his departure, turned out to be triumphant. On October 2nd, Rinaldo and some of his companions were exiled. The Medici group had finally decided the power struggle in their favor. As the winner, Cosimo was forgiving and acted cautiously as usual. However, in order to secure his position, he considered it necessary to send 73 enemy citizens into exile. Many of them were later allowed to return and even qualify for the Signoria again.

The reasons for the outcome of the power struggle were analyzed by Niccolò Machiavelli in the early 16th century . He drew general lessons from this, including his famous demand that a conqueror of power should commit all inevitable atrocities at once immediately after taking possession of the state. Machiavelli's view that the Albizzi group's indecision and half-heartedness became doomed is shared by modern research. Other factors that harmed the Medici opponents were the lack of inner cohesion and leadership with authority. Added to this was their lack of support abroad, where Cosimo had powerful allies.

Activity as a statesman (1434–1464)

After his triumphant homecoming, Cosimo actually became the ruler of the Florentine state and remained in this informal position until his death. In doing so, he outwardly respected the institutions of the republican constitution, he did not seek an office with special powers for himself. He acted from the background through his extensive domestic and international network.

The banking business as a material basis

The Medici Bank portal in Milan. Museo d'Arte Antica, Castello Sforzesco , Milan

Cosimo and his contemporaries always kept the fact in mind that the basis of his political power was his commercial success. The cohesion of his network depended primarily on the flow of money, which was not allowed to dry up. Banking flourished in northern and central Italy, and no one was more successful in it than he was. He was also unsurpassed in his time in the art of using financial resources for political goals. The Medici Bank expanded under his leadership; new branches were opened in Pisa , Milan, Bruges , London and Avignon , and the Geneva branch was relocated to Lyon .

One of the main sources of income for the large, supraregional banks, especially the Medici Bank, was lending to rulers and clergy dignitaries. The popes' need for credit was particularly great, and although they had enormous income from the entire Catholic world, they repeatedly ran into shortages due to expensive military undertakings. Loans to those in power were lucrative, but the risks involved. It had to be reckoned with the possibility that such debtors refused to repay or were at least temporarily unable to pay after a loss-making war that they had financed with outside capital. Another risk was the violent death of the debtor as a result of an assassination attempt or during a campaign. Payment defaults caused by such events could lead to insolvency even at large banks. Assessing the opportunities and risks of such transactions was one of Cosimo's most important tasks.

A banker of the 15th century needed political talent and great diplomatic skills, because business and politics were merged and linked to a variety of family interests. The granting of loans was often a de facto taking sides in bitter conflicts between rulers, cities or even parties within a citizenry. Decisions to grant, limit or refuse credit or support funds had far-reaching political consequences; they created and maintained alliances and networks, or generated dangerous hostilities. They also had a military effect, as the numerous wars among the northern and central Italian cities were fought with the costly use of mercenary leaders ( condottieri ). These were only available with their troops as long as the client was solvent; when this was no longer the case, they allowed themselves to be lured away by the enemy or plundered on their own account. The decisions that Cosimo made as a banker were partly only politically, not commercially sensible. Some of his payments were politically inevitable, but economically pure loss-making deals. They served to maintain his reputation or to ensure the loyalty of allies. This included the rewards for political service rendered and the performance of duties that were considered to be patriotic duties.

The symbol that was used in the Medici Bank to certify documents. Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale , Codex Panciatichi 71, fol. 1r

In Florence, the Medici Bank's main sources of income were currency exchange and lending to members of the upper class who were in financial distress. In particular, loans were needed to pay tax debts, because defaulting tax debtors were not allowed to exercise any office. Far more important, however, was the lending business with foreign rulers. The most important business partner of the bank was the Pope, whose main banker Cosimo acted. Thanks largely to its connection with the Curia , the bank's Roman operations were the most lucrative. The interest income there and the commissions on the transactions made offered a high profit margin and the transactions were very extensive because of the constant need for money of the curia. Therefore, the Rome branch generated most of the profits. In addition, the close relationship with the Curia was also politically advantageous. When the Pope left Rome, the Roman branch followed him; it was always to be found wherever his court was.

In addition to political and economic competence, the most important factor on which a banker's success depended was his knowledge of human nature. He needed to be able to correctly assess the creditworthiness of his customers and the reliability of his remote branch managers, who had many opportunities for fraud. Like his father, Cosimo had these skills to a great extent. His secrecy, sobriety and foresight and his skillful handling of business partners earned him respect. Modern research also recognizes these qualities of Medici, which contributed significantly to his commercial and political success.

Cosimo's correspondence with the manager of the Medici Bank branch in Venice shows that the bank systematically evaded taxes and that Cosimo personally issued instructions to falsify the balance sheet. The branch manager, Alessandro Martelli, assured him that he could rely on the confidentiality of the staff.

Domestic political consolidation (1434–1455)

A handwritten letter from Cosimo to his son Giovanni dated June 24, 1442. Florence, Archivio di Stato, Medici avanti il ​​Principato, V, 441

The decisive step that permanently secured Cosimo's position after the victory of 1434 was a change in the drawing procedure for determining the members of the Signoria. The total number of names on the tickets that were placed in the bags was reduced from around two thousand to a minimum of 74, and a minimum of four was set for the bag des gonfaloniere di giustizia . This made the number of candidates manageable and greatly reduced the role of chance in the drawing process. Traditionally, men appointed by the Signoria, called accoppiatori , were entrusted with filling the bags . From then on, they made sure that only the names of applicants that Cosimo accepted were put in the bags. So the principle of drawing lots remained, but an effective filter was now built in that prevented surprising changes in the balance of power. This process was called imborsazione a mano ("hand reading "). Although Cosimo was able to enforce it, it tended to be unpopular among the citizens because it was obviously manipulative and made access to the prestigious offices difficult or impossible for many. The demand for a return to the open lottery procedure was repeatedly raised. This concern was a harmless expression of dissatisfaction with the Medicean’s power. The extent of resistance to hand-picking became a gauge of the unpopularity of the system of rule. This also had advantages for Cosimo: It gave him the opportunity to react flexibly if anger built up in the citizenry or if he had the impression that a relatively relaxed situation allowed him to concessions. Depending on the development of domestic and foreign political conditions, he enforced purely hand-picking or allowed free draws. At times, a mixed procedure was practiced in which the names of the gonfaloniere di giustizia and three other council members were drawn from hand-picked bags and the other five members of the Signoria were drawn freely.

Cosimo's system gave the many citizens who were not given the opportunity to become members of the Signoria to partially satisfy their ambitions. Reputation was achieved not only by exercising a government office, but also by recognizing the fact that, as an honorable citizen, one met the personal requirements for it. In the bags, therefore, tickets were placed from people against whom there were no personal objections, but who could not be considered for an external reason, for example because they were too closely related to an incumbent or had to leave due to the quota system because they were wrong Belonged to the guild or lived in the wrong district. If such a slip was then drawn, it was found that the person in question was "seen" as a draw (veduto) , but could not take his seat on the city council due to a formal legal obstacle. A veduto could draw prestige from the fact that it was certified as theoretically competent.

Over time, temporary bodies with special legislative and financial powers have been created. The establishment of commissions to carry out special tasks, even in emergencies, was not in itself an innovation and was in accordance with the republican constitution. One difference to the previous situation, however, was that such bodies used to be dissolved after a few days or a few weeks, while their powers of attorney were now granted for longer periods of time. This increased their political weight, which was in line with Cosimo's intention; for him the commissions were important instruments of power. However, this development caused friction with the existing old institutions, the People's Council and the Municipal Council. These defended their traditional rights, but were disadvantaged in the power struggle because their term of office was only four months. The delimitation of responsibilities between the permanent and temporary bodies was complicated and contested, with overlaps and disputes over competencies. Tax legislation was a particularly sensitive area. Here Cosimo was dependent on seeking consensus with the senior citizenry. Since he had no dictatorial power, the committees were by no means aligned. Both the People's and Municipal Councils and the commissions made decisions according to the interests and beliefs of their members, which did not always coincide with Cosimo's wishes. The councils were in a position to hold up against his intentions. Votes in the committees were free, as the sometimes narrow majorities show.

Crisis years (1455-1458)

Only once did Cosimo's system of government run into a serious crisis. This only happened in the last of the three decades in which he ruled. When the Italian powers concluded a general peace in February 1455, there was a relaxation of foreign policy, which was so extensive that the unpopular system of hand-picking could no longer be justified by an external emergency. The public demand for the reintroduction of the open lottery procedure became louder than ever. Cosimo gave in: The old order came into force again, hand-picking was banned, the People's Council and the Municipal Council were given back their previous legislative and financial decision-making powers. This made Medici rule once again dependent on chance and the favor of public opinion. In this unstable situation, a problem that posed a serious threat to the system of government worsened: the public finances were so shattered due to longstanding high expenditure on armaments and repeated epidemics that an increase in the direct tax payable by the wealthy upper class seemed inevitable . However, this plan met with sustained opposition, and new tax laws were blocked in the councils. In September 1457, the displeasure erupted in a conspiracy aimed at an overthrow. The plot was discovered and its leader Piero de 'Ricci was executed.

Tensions increased further when, in January 1458, the councils finally approved a new tax law advocated by Cosimo, which affected the entire wealthy class. The law relieved the poor and increased tax pressure on the rich. The catasto , the list of taxable assets and income, which has remained unchanged for decades , should be brought up to date. This was seen as a hard blow to those whose possessions had increased sharply since the last assessment. As a result, approval of the ruling system waned in the patriciate. In April 1458 a law was introduced which made the creation of authorized commissions very difficult and forbade them to carry out a squittinio . Since commissions were an important instrument for Cosimo, with which he exercised his influence on the squittinio and thus on the candidacies, this measure was directed against a main element of his system of rule. The new law was approved by overwhelming majorities in the People's Council and the Municipal Council. Cosimo's weakening was obvious.

The relaxation of the Medici rule since the constitutional reform of 1455 and the general uncertainty in view of the social tensions and fiscal problems led to a fundamental debate about the constitutional order. The extent and causes of the nuisances and possible remedies were discussed openly and controversially. A central question was how the group of people eligible for important offices should be determined. Cosimo wanted a small group of potential officials; he wanted to return to hand-picking. On the other side there were genders who advocated drawing lots from a large group of candidates because they were tired of Cosimo's dominance and wanted to eliminate his system of government. For some time the Signoria tended towards a compromise solution, but the proponents of hand-picking increasingly gained ground. In addition, supporters of the Medici rule pleaded for the introduction of a new permanent body with a six-month term of office, which should be given far-reaching powers. This was justified with the need to improve efficiency. However, as its proponents admitted, this proposal had no chance in the People's Council and in the local council. So no attempt was even made to get him through there.

In the summer of 1458 there was a constitutional crisis. In the Signoria, who officiated in July and August, Cosimo's followers dominated, who were determined to use this opportunity to regain power. The People's Council, in which opponents of the Medici had the upper hand, stubbornly rejected the Signoria's proposals. The Medici Group tried to push through an open vote in the People's Council in order to put pressure on individual council members. In doing so, however, she encountered the energetic resistance of the Archbishop of Florence, Antonino Pierozzi , who described the secret vote as a requirement of "natural reason" and forbade any other procedure with the threat of excommunication .

Since it was unclear which side would have the majority in the Signoria from September onwards, the Medici group came under time pressure. Finally, the Signoria called a people's assembly (parlamento) , as the constitution provided for severe crises . Such an assembly could pass binding resolutions and set up a commission with special powers to solve the crisis. The last time this happened was when Cosimos returned in 1434, previously when he was exiled. In theory, the parlamento of Florence was conceived as a democratic constitutional element; it was supposed to be the body that expressed the will of the people and brought about a decision in emergencies when the regular legislative process was blocked. In practice, however, the patrician group that had the parlamento convened used to intimidate them to ensure that the resolution was passed in the desired sense. It was the same this time. Cosimo, who held back from the outside world, had negotiated for the first time with the Milanese envoy about military support from outside on August 1st. He was sure of his cause; On August 5th at the latest the decision was made to convene the people's assembly for August 11th, although there was still no aid from Milan. On August 10th the Signoria ordered the parlamento for the following day. As the citizens flocked to the meeting place, they found it guarded by local gunmen and Milanese mercenaries. According to an eyewitness report, a notary read the text that was to be approved so quietly that only a few in the crowd understood it and gave their approval. However, this was considered sufficient. The assembly approved all the Signoria's proposals and then dissolved. That ended the crisis. The road to the implementation of a constitutional reform that cemented Cosimo's rule was clear.

New consolidation of power (1458–1464)

The victors took whatever measures they considered necessary to maintain power. More than 1,500 politically unreliable citizens were stripped of their qualifications to run for leadership positions. Many of them left the city in which they no longer saw a future for themselves. A series of banishment rulings were intended to prevent the re-emergence of an organized opposition. The powers of the secret service, the otto di guardia , were increased. The resolutions to reform the constitution were partly already taken by the people's assembly, partly by the new special commission that was set up for this purpose. The most important step in addition to the return to hand-picking was the creation of a permanent body that would serve the Medici group as a permanent instrument of rule and replace the temporary commissions of the period before 1455. This was the "Council of Hundred", whose term of office was fixed at six months. He was given the task of being the first councilor to advise on the laws relating to the occupation of offices, tax law and the hiring of mercenaries and then to forward them to the People's Council and the municipal council. He was also given the right to veto all legal initiatives that were not initiated by himself. Thus the approval of all three councils was required for every new legislative project, because the old councils retained the right to block any legislation. The sparing of the two old councils, which had been strongholds of the opposition, shows that Cosimo proceeded cautiously in expanding his position of power. In doing so, he took into account the needs of the republican-minded patriciate. A mixed voting and lottery procedure with complicated rules was established for the determination of the members of the Council of Hundred. Only citizens whose names had been drawn earlier in the draw for conventional leadership positions (tre maggiori) should be qualified . This provision was intended to ensure that only established patricians, whose attitudes were already well known, got into the new body.

The hand-reading for the Signoria was introduced in 1458 only as a provisional measure for five years. In 1460 the provisional arrangement was extended for another five years after a conspiracy was discovered. This shows that this procedure was still unpopular and only seemed acceptable to the patriciate for a special reason and for a limited period.

Dissatisfaction was still noticeable in Florence in the last years of Cosimo's life, but his position was no longer seriously endangered after 1458. In his last years he stayed less often in the palace of the Signoria, he now mostly steered politics from his own palace in Via Larga. That is where the center of power shifted.

Foreign policy

The foreign policy of the Republic of Florence in Cosimo's time was shaped by a constellation in which, in addition to Florence, the important regional powers Milan , Venice , Naples and the Papal States played the main roles. Florence was politically and militarily the weakest of these five leading powers of the Italian world, which in research are also referred to as the pentarchy , but it was economically important because of its banking and long-distance trade. A traditional hostility existed between Milan and Florence, which was one of the determining factors in the state system in the late 14th century and in the first half of the 15th century. The Florentines saw themselves threatened by the expansionist urge of the Milanese dukes from the Visconti family . They viewed the dispute with the Visconti not as a mere conflict between two states, but also as a struggle between their republican freedom and tyrannical tyranny. In the period 1390–1402, Florence waged three defensive wars against Duke Giangaleazzo Visconti , who wanted to make Milan the hegemonic power of Italy and who extended his sphere of influence to central Italy. Milan was not only militarily superior, but also had the support of the smaller Tuscan cities, which resisted submission to Florentine rule. Florence was dependent on very expensive mercenary troops and therefore suffered from the high costs of the war. The third war against Giangaleazzo was unfavorable for the Florentines; in the end they were left without allies in 1402 and faced a siege. Only the sudden death of the duke in the summer of 1402 saved them from existential danger.

In 1424 the expansion policy of Duke Filippo Maria Visconti led to a new war between the two cities that lasted until 1428. In this battle against Milan, Florence was allied with Venice. After that, the Florentines tried in vain from December 1429 to April 1433 to subjugate the Tuscan city of Lucca militarily. Lucca was theoretically allied with Florence, but was in fact on the side of Milan. Cosimo, who had been skeptical about the prospects of a victory over Lucca as early as 1430, played a key role in the peace negotiations in April 1433, which led to the end of the hostilities.

The war against Lucca was a financial disaster for the Republic of Florence, while the Medici Bank benefited from it as the lender of the state. Hence, one of the allegations made against him after Cosimo's arrest in 1433 was the allegation that he instigated the war and then unnecessarily prolonged it through political intrigue in order to make the greatest possible profit. From today's perspective, it is difficult to assess the credibility of the detailed allegations; in any case, polemical distortion is to be expected. There is no doubt that Cosimo's rival Rinaldo degli Albizzi was one of the most prominent advocates of the war. After the failure, the question of guilt apparently played an important role in the domestic power struggles of the Florentine patrician families.

The political weight of the Medici was shown in the negotiations that were conducted in 1438 about the relocation of the Council meeting in Ferrara to Florence. At that time, Cosimo stayed in Ferrara for months as the envoy of the Republic of Florence and negotiated with Pope Eugene IV and his collaborators. His brother Lorenzo was also one of the key players. The Florentines hoped that the Medici's good relations with the Curia would provide effective support for their cause. In fact, an agreement was reached to move to Florence, which was a major achievement in Florentine diplomacy.

Even after Cosimo had won the domestic power struggle in 1434, the dispute with Filippo Maria Visconti remained a central challenge for the foreign policy of the Republic of Florence. The conflict was again carried out militarily. Exiled Florentine opponents of the Medici, including Rinaldo degli Albizzi, had gone to Milan; they hoped that Filippo Maria would enable them to return home by force of arms. Florence was allied with Pope Eugene IV and Venice. In the Battle of Anghiari in 1440 troops of this coalition defeated the Milanese army. Thus the attempt of the exiled enemies Cosimo to overthrow him with foreign help had finally failed. In the following year a favorable peace treaty for Florence was concluded, which helped to consolidate Cosimo's rule. The enmity between Milan and Florence lasted until Filippo Maria died in 1447 without a male heir and the Visconti dynasty died out.

Cosimo did not see the alliance with Venice and the struggle against Milan as a natural, inevitable constellation, but only as a result of the inevitable confrontation with the Visconti family. His long-term goal was an alliance with Milan to counter the threatening expansion of the Venetian sphere of influence on the mainland . This required a change of dynasty in Milan. After Filippo Maria's death, a power vacuum loomed there. As a result, from Cosimo's point of view, the dissolution of the domain of the extinct Visconti family and thus a hegemony of Venice in northern Italy was to be feared. It was therefore a central concern of the Florentine statesman that a new, friendly lineage of dukes should come to power in Milan. His candidate was the condottiere Francesco Sforza , who was married to Filippo Maria's illegitimate daughter and heiress Bianca Maria. Sforza's ambition to succeed the last Visconti had been known for a long time.

Portrait of Francesco Sforza by his court painter Bonifacio Bembo in the Pinacoteca di Brera

This constellation had an eventful history. From 1425 Sforza was in the service of Filippo Maria, who wanted to make him his son-in-law in order to bind him to himself. In 1430 he helped save Lucca from an attack by the Florentines. In March 1434, however, he was recruited by Eugene IV. For the opposite side, the alliance of the Visconti opponents. Thereupon he besieged Lucca in 1437, which the Florentines wanted to subdue. This did not prevent him from negotiating again with Filippo Maria about the planned marriage with his heiress. Finally, in March 1438, an agreement was reached: the marriage was decided and the dowry was determined. Sforza was allowed to remain in the service of the Florentines but undertook not to fight Milan. Florence and Milan signed an armistice. But already in February 1439 Sforza made a new change: He accepted the proposal of the Florentines and Venetians to take command of the troops of the anti-Milan league. When Filippo Maria found himself in a difficult position after losing battles, he was forced to finally agree to the marriage in 1441. Sforza did not have to buy this concession from the duke, which made him his presumptive successor, with a new change of alliance; he remained in command of the League's armed forces even after the marriage. His relationship with his father-in-law continued to fluctuate between an alliance and a military confrontation.

During this time of rapidly changing connections, a lasting friendship developed between Francesco Sforza and Cosimo de 'Medici. The two men formed a personal alliance as the basis for a future Florentine-Milanese alliance after the planned change of power in Milan. The Medici Bank helped the condottiere by granting extensive credit; when he died in 1466, he owed her more than 115,000 ducats . In addition, at Cosimo’s instigation, the Republic of Florence provided him with considerable financial resources. This course was, however, controversial among the Florentine patricians - also among Cosimo's supporters. There were considerable reservations about Sforza, fueled by the republican aversion to autocrats. In addition, Cosimo's strategy alienated him from the Pope, who was in a territorial dispute with Sforza and therefore allied with Filippo Maria against the Condottiere. Eugene IV became an opponent of Cosimo, with whom he had previously worked successfully. From 1443 he no longer resided in Florence, where he had fled to in 1434, but returned to Rome. His new attitude was immediately evident in the fact that he deprived the head of the Roman branch of the Medici Bank from the lucrative office of the papal general depositary. When the Archbishop of Florence died, Eugene appointed the Dominican Antonino Pierozzi , who was very distant from Cosimo, as his successor. For his part, the Medici openly supported an unsuccessful attempt by Sforza to seize Rome. After the death of Eugen, who died in 1447, Cosimo managed to build a good relationship with the successor Nicholas V. His steward in Rome, Roberto Martelli, was again general depositary.

Italy after the Peace of Lodi (1454)

Republican forces initially prevailed in Milan after Filippo Maria's death, but Sforza succeeded in taking power there in 1450. Now the Milan-Florentine alliance desired by Cosimo could be realized, which brought about a profound change in the political situation. It became a "main axis of Italian politics" and thus proved to be a major foreign policy success for the Florentine statesman. However, it broke the traditional alliance between the republics of Florence and Venice. The Venetians, who had hoped to benefit from the fall of the Visconti, were the losers of the new constellation. In June 1451, Venice banned the Florentine merchants from its territory. The following year the war between Venice and Milan began, this time Florence was spared. The hostilities ended in April 1454 with the Peace of Lodi , in which Venice recognized Sforza as Duke of Milan.

This was followed by the establishment of the Lega italica, a pact that all five regional powers joined. This agreement guaranteed the state's acquis and created a stable balance of powers. It was also implicitly directed against France; the treaty powers wanted to prevent a military intervention by the French on Italian soil. Cosimo was reluctant to accept this goal, which Sforza in particular was striving for. Although he also wanted to keep French troops away from Italy, he believed that Venice was the greater danger for Florence and that the option of an alliance with France should therefore be retained. Eventually he agreed with Sforza's view. Thanks to the stability of the Lega italica, Cosimo's last decade became a time of peace. When his son Piero assumed the office of gonfaloniere di giustizia in 1461 , he was able to declare that the state was in a state of peace and happiness, "which neither the citizens of today nor their ancestors could witness or remember".

Cultural activity

Depiction of Cosimo on a high relief in marble, probably from the workshop of Antonio Rossellino , previously attributed to Andrea del Verrocchio ; State Museums , Berlin

As a statesman and citizen, Cosimo consciously contented himself with a low profile and cultivated his modesty in order to arouse as little envy and suspicion as possible. He avoided a pompous, ruler-like appearance and took care not to surpass the other respected citizens with his lifestyle. As a patron, however, he deliberately placed himself in the foreground. He used his construction activity and his position as a client of artists to put himself in the limelight and to increase his reputation and the fame of his family.

Religious motivation

Cosimo viewed his donations for the construction and furnishing of sacred buildings as investments that should bring him God's grace. He understood his relationship to God as a relationship of dependency in the sense of clientelism : A client receives benefits from his patron and shows himself to be grateful for it through loyalty and active gratitude. To his followers, Cosimo appeared as a kind patron, and to God he saw himself as a client. As his biographer Vespasiano da Bisticci reports, when asked why he was so generous and caring for monks, he replied that he had received so much grace from God that he was now his debtor. He had never given God a grosso (a silver coin) without receiving a florin (a gold coin) from him in this "barter" (iscambio) . In addition, Cosimo was of the opinion that his business conduct violated a divine command. He feared that God would take his possessions away as a punishment. In order to prevent this danger and continue to secure the divine benevolence, he asked Pope Eugene IV for advice. The Pope found that a donation of 10,000 florins for a monastery would be sufficient to settle the matter. This was then done. When the construction was completed, the Pope issued a bull confirming the indulgence that was granted to the banker for the donation.

humanism

Cosimo lived in the heyday of Renaissance humanism , the most important center of which was his hometown of Florence. The goal of the humanistic educational program, the ability of people to lead an optimal life and civic duty by combining knowledge and virtue, was well received in the Florentine patriciate. The way to the realization of the humanistic ideal of efficiency was seen in the appropriation of ancient educational goods, which should encourage the imitation of classical models. Cosimo's father accepted this view; he gave his son a humanistic upbringing. Like many of his educated fellow citizens, Cosimo opened up to the ideas and values ​​of the humanists. He valued the company with them, did them good deeds and received a lot of recognition for this. Throughout his life he showed great interest in philosophy - especially ethics - and literary works. Thanks to his good schooling, he could read Latin texts; his handwritten notes in his codices attest that he not only collected books but also read them. But he was probably unable to express himself in good Latin.

Cosimo's appreciation for the humanists was also related to the fact that his social status as a successful banker, patron, and republican statesman was very compatible with their moral values. He could count on unreserved recognition from his humanist friends, for they had an impartial relationship to wealth and glorified its generosity. Generosity was considered one of the most valuable virtues in the humanist milieu. One could refer to Aristotle , who in his Nicomachean Ethics had praised generosity or generosity and described wealth as their prerequisite. This humanistic attitude was in contrast to the attitude of conservative circles, who condemned banking and considered wealth to be morally suspect, referring to traditional Christian values. Furthermore, the egalitarian tendency of Renaissance humanism contradicted the medieval tendency to reserve political leadership positions for those who were distinguished by noble descent. Instead of the conventional rigid social order favored by Cosimo's political opponents in the Albizzi group, the humanists adopted a concept that promoted social mobility; Humanistic education and personal competence should be sufficient qualification criteria for governing the state. This attitude benefited Cosimo, whose family was one of the rising stars (gente nuova) and some long-established families were suspicious.

Bust of Marsilio Ficinos by Andrea di Piero Ferrucci in the Florence Cathedral , 1521

Cosimo particularly generously supported the humanist philosopher Marsilio Ficino , whose father Diotifeci d'Agnolo di Giusto was his personal physician. As a fatherly friend, he provided Ficino with the material basis for a life entirely dedicated to science. He gave him a house in Florence and a country house in Careggi , where he himself owned a splendid villa . Ficino was an avid platonist and admirer of his patron. In a letter to his grandson Lorenzo , he wrote that Plato had put the Platonic idea of the virtues before his eyes, Cosimo had put it into practice every day; therefore he owed his benefactor no less than he owed the ancient thinker. For more than twelve years he happily philosophized with him. Ficino made the first complete Latin translation of Plato's works on behalf of Cosimo, with which he contributed significantly to the spread of Platonic ideas. However, it cannot be concluded from this that Cosimo, like Ficino, preferred Platonism to other philosophical schools. The extent of his turn to Platonism was earlier overestimated; he seems to have been more inclined to Aristotelianism . Until the end of the 20th century, it was believed that Cosimo had founded a Platonic Academy and that Ficino was in charge of it. However, this assumption has been proven incorrect by recent research. It was not an institution, just an informal group of Ficino students.

Two other well-known humanists, Poggio Bracciolini and Johannes Argyropulos , also presented Cosimo with houses. It was not only his donations from his own resources that were helpful to his humanist friends; they also benefited from his great influence at home and abroad, which he used to make them heard and employed. He ensured that two humanists whom he valued, Carlo Marsuppini and Poggio Bracciolini, received the prestigious office of Chancellor of the Republic of Florence. Cosimo was close friends with the historian and later Chancellor Bartolomeo Scala and with the humanist-minded monk Ambrogio Traversari , a respected scholar of antiquity. He persuaded him to translate the work of the ancient philosopher Diogenes Laertios on the life and teachings of philosophers from Greek into Latin and thus make it accessible to a wider public. Traversaris Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli was the meeting point for a group of scholars in whose circle Cosimo frequented. Among them was Niccolò Niccoli , an avid collector of manuscripts of ancient works, to whom Cosimo gave books and money. In the conflict with the Albizzi group, Poggio Bracciolini and Niccolò Niccoli were ardent supporters of the Medici.

Cosimo's relationship with Leonardo Bruni , an influential humanist politician and state theorist who made a name for himself as a leading spokesman for Florentine republicanism, was problematic at times . Cosimo gave Bruni, who came from Arezzo and had found a new home in Florence, Florentine citizenship in 1416, and in 1427 the humanist became state chancellor with the approval of the Medici group. Nevertheless, Bruni also maintained relationships with the Albizzi group and avoided taking sides with Cosimo in the power struggle of 1433–1434. Despite this lack of loyalty to the Medici, he was allowed to keep the office of chancellor until his death after 1434 and to belong to important bodies. Apparently Cosimo thought it inexpedient to anger this well-known theoretician of the republican concept of the state.

The high expectations that Cosimo's benevolence aroused in the humanists can be seen in the fact that they dedicated more than forty writings to him. Some of these were works that they had written themselves, and some were translations. The wide distribution of humanistic writings, the dedication texts of which Cosimo praised, brought his fame to all educational institutions in Western and Central Europe. His admirers idealized and glorified him in numerous poems, letters and speeches; they compared him to famous ancient statesmen. The efforts of these authors to give the Medici family dynastic features can be seen - intensified in the last years of his life. After Cosimo's return from exile in 1434, his followers celebrated him as Pater patriae ("Father of the Fatherland").

The praise that Cosimo received from the humanists during his lifetime was not unanimous. He had a bitter opponent in the well-known humanist scholar Francesco Filelfo . In 1429, with Cosimo’s approval, he was brought to Florence as a university teacher, but then fell out with the Medic and decidedly sided with the Albizzi group. The Medici group tried to obtain his release, but could only temporarily expel him from the university. When an attack was carried out on him in 1433, in which he was injured, he suspected Cosimo of being behind the attack. During Cosimo's exile 1433-1434 Filelfo wrote a violent satire against the Medici. After the coup d'état in 1434, which led to Cosimo's return, he left Florence to avoid the threatened vengeance of the victors. In the following years he fought the Medici from afar. In the fall of 1436 he joined a group that tried in vain to have Cosimo killed by a hired murderer. Cosimo's humanist defenders responded to Filelfo's literary attacks with countermeasures.

The Medici coat of arms at the Medici Palace

An important field of activity for Cosimo's patronage in the field of educational support was the library system. He founded several monastic libraries. The most important of them was in the Florentine Dominican convent of San Marco . Unlike in the past, it was open to the public.

Visual arts

Cosimo was even more involved in the field of visual arts than in the literary field. He had churches and monasteries built and artistically decorated at his own expense. Thus, although he was formally only a simple citizen, he was active in an area that was traditionally reserved for secular and clerical rulers. In the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, building activity on such a scale in Florence would have been unthinkable. It was only the social change that was connected with the advancing development of humanism that made such projects possible. A humanistic mentality was also evident in the will to present oneself. It was important to Cosimo that his function as a client found visible expression. So he had his coat of arms affixed to a church in Jerusalem, which was restored with his funds, which from then on caught the eye of pilgrims who went to the Holy Land and visited the church. In Florence, too, the buildings he donated bear the Medici family coat of arms everywhere. He had it attached not only to facades and portals, but also to capitals , consoles , keystones and friezes . Family coats of arms were common in churches in Florence at that time, but the frequency with which Cosimo brought his own into the public eye was unique and caught the eye.

Cosimo on a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli in the chapel of the Medici Palace, Florence

Wall paintings with biblical scenes, which were painted on behalf of the Medici, also served Cosimo's self-portrayal. On a fresco in the monastery of San Marco, one of the Three Kings received the idealized facial features of the Medici. He carries instruments for the exploration of the stars. There is also a portrait of Cosimo on a fresco of the Magi from around 1459 on the east wall of the chapel of the Medici Palace . There he is shown with his sons Piero and Giovanni and their grandsons Lorenzo - later known as Lorenzo il Magnifico - and Giuliano . In the green cloister of Santa Maria Novella Cosimo can be seen on a lunette with a scene from the tale of the Flood ; apparently he appears there as the personification of wisdom. For this work by Paolo Uccello he was probably not the client himself.

Facade and left side of the Medici Palace

From 1437 the new construction of the San Marco Monastery was built, which the Pope had given to the Dominican Observants, a branch of the Dominican Order, in 1436. The previous monastery buildings were replaced by new ones, of the church only the choir was renewed. The church was consecrated in 1443 in the presence of the Pope, the convent buildings were not completely finished until 1452. Originally, Cosimo had expected costs of 10,000 florins for this, after all, he had to spend a total of over 40,000. He provided over 40,000 florins for the new building of the Basilica di San Lorenzo , an important church. His father had already helped finance this major project. In the Mugello north of Florence, the area from which the Medici originally came, he sponsored the construction of the Franciscan monastery of San Francesco al Bosco (Bosco ai Frati). At the Franciscan Church of Santa Croce he had a wing built for the novices . Among the other church building projects that he financed, the most important was the Badia di Fiesole, the monastery of the Augustinian hermits below Fiesole . From 1456 onwards, Cosimo had the entire monastery building, including the church, rebuilt and equipped with a library. The construction work was not yet completed when he died.

The Medici Palace as seen from the cathedral

In addition to the sacred buildings , Cosimo also had an imposing private building built, the new Medici Palace . Before that he lived in a comparatively modest older palace, the Casa Vecchia. It was not until 1445/1446, after he had already proven his generosity in the service of the community with the construction of churches and monasteries, that he began with the elaborate new construction of the family palace on what was then Via Larga, today's Via Cavour. First and foremost, it was not about his own living comfort, but about the reputation of the family. In doing so, he followed a social norm prevailing at the time ; maintaining and increasing the fame of the family was generally a central task for members of the upper class. The new Palazzo of the Medici surpassed all older family palaces in Florence in size and furnishings. Its exceptional architectural quality set a new standard for palace construction during the Renaissance. The chapel was decorated with frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli . The painters Fra Angelico , Domenico Veneziano and Filippo Lippi , who were very much appreciated at the time, were also involved in furnishing the palace with precious pictures . An environment was created in which prominent foreign guests could be received in a representative manner. Pope Pius II thought that this building was worthy of a king. In his opinion, Cosimo had a wealth that perhaps surpassed that of the proverbial King Croesus . The estimates of construction costs vary between 60,000 and 100,000 florins.

Basilica di San Lorenzo, Florence

The amazement of contemporaries is reflected in the words of the architect and architectural theorist Filarete , who expressed himself in his Trattato di architettura , completed in 1464 . Filarete particularly raised the dignity (dignitade) out of the new building. He compared Cosimo with important ancient builders such as Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Lucius Licinius Lucullus . However, they were not just private individuals, but ruled large provinces and thus gained their wealth. Cosimo, on the other hand, is a simple citizen who has acquired his assets through his entrepreneurial drive. Therefore, his performance as a client is unique.

Cosimo's new buildings changed the cityscape, which had previously been shaped by the Middle Ages. They were instrumental in introducing a new type of architecture that made Florence a model for all of Italy. The new style combined functionality with antique proportionality and antique jewelry. Filippo Brunelleschi , a leading architect of the early Renaissance, had already introduced this style . He had started the new construction of San Lorenzo in 1420 and was then commissioned by Cosimo in 1442 to complete the work. Otherwise, however, the Medicean preferred another architect, Michelozzo , whose designs were less grandiose than the Brunelleschi's. Whether the Medici Palace was designed by Brunelleschi or Michelozzo is disputed in research; probably both were involved. In the praiseworthy descriptions of contemporaries, the order, the dignity, the width, the beauty of the proportions and the architectural decoration and the brightness were emphasized in Cosimo's buildings. The easy access to the stairs was also recognized. It was a novelty because medieval stairs were usually narrow and steep. The wide stairs with low steps were very much appreciated as they made it possible to climb stairs comfortably and at the same time with dignity.

Donatello's David

The extensive construction work of the Medici, which exceeded that of any other private citizen in the 15th century, was not only welcomed benevolently and gratefully by the citizens. There was also criticism of the self-portrayal of the city's richest citizen. The different views and evaluations of contemporaries can be seen in a defensive text that the theologian and humanist Timoteo Maffei wrote shortly before 1456 to justify the attacked patron. Maffei chose for his performance in the form of a dialogue, in which he advocates as a critic Cosimo (detractor) refuted and finally convinced. In response to the charge that the Medici Palace was too luxurious, he replied that Cosimo did not focus on what was appropriate for him personally, but on what was appropriate for a city as important as Florence. Since he had received far greater benefits from the city than the other citizens, he had felt compelled to decorate it more lavishly than anyone else in order not to prove ungrateful. To invalidate the criticism of the Medici coat of arms, which was affixed everywhere, Maffei argues that the purpose of the coat of arms is to draw attention to a model that should encourage imitation.

The sculptor Donatello also worked for Cosimo or perhaps for his son Piero. Commissioned by the Medici, he created two famous bronze sculptures, David and Judith . Both works had a political background; the biblical figures represented symbolized the victory over an apparently overpowering enemy. It was about encouragement to defend the freedom of the fatherland and the republican constitution against external threats.

Private life

As a private citizen, Cosimo was known for his modesty and principle of moderation. Although he designed his palace and villas in a representative way, he took care to avoid unnecessary expenditure in his lifestyle that could cause offense. So he contented himself with simple meals and did not wear gorgeous clothes. His occupation in agriculture, which he knew very well, matched this. He did farm work on his estates outside the city, grafting trees and pruning vines. In dealing with the farmers he demonstrated closeness to the people; he liked to ask them when they came to the market in Florence about their fruits and their origins.

Cosimo's villa in Careggi

The bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci wrote a glorifying biography of Cosimo, with whom he was friends. In it he collected anecdotes from private life, for whose authenticity he vouched. He described his friend as a person of serious nature who surrounded himself with learned, dignified men. He had an excellent memory, was a patient listener, and had never spoken badly of anyone. Thanks to his extensive knowledge of different areas of knowledge, he had found a topic with everyone. He was extremely kind and humble, careful not to offend anyone, and few had ever seen him aroused. All of his answers were "seasoned with salt".

Cosimo was known for his humorous and witty, sometimes puzzling remarks, which were spread in a number of anecdotes in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The grave slab in San Lorenzo
Cosimo's tomb in the crypt of San Lorenzo

Illness, Death and Succession

Cosimo suffered from gout . The susceptibility to this disease was hereditary in his family. From 1455 the suffering seems to have handicapped him considerably. He died on August 1, 1464 in his villa in Careggi and was buried in San Lorenzo the following day. He had forbidden pompous funeral ceremonies. He did not leave a will. The Signoria appointed a ten-person commission to design the tomb. Andrea del Verrocchio designed the grave slab, for which a central location within the church was chosen, as was customary with donor graves. There, by order of the city, the inscription Pater patriae ("Father of the Fatherland") was carved, which was based on an ancient honor for outstanding citizens. After the completion of the tomb, the bones were brought to their final location in the crypt on October 22nd, 1467 .

With his wife Cosimo had two sons, Piero (1416–1469) and Giovanni (1421–1463). There was also an illegitimate son named Carlo, whose mother was a Circassian slave. Carlo was raised with his half-brothers and later embarked on a church career. Giovanni died on November 1, 1463, nine months before Cosimo, and left no children. Piero received the entire paternal inheritance, both the fortune and the management of the bank as well as the position of the leading statesman of Florence. Thanks to the authority of his late father, Piero was able to easily take over his role in the state. But he suffered badly from gout, which severely hampered his activities, and died five years after Cosimo.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Averardo de 'Medici,
called Bicci
† 1363
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Francesco di Bicci
† 1402
 
Giovanni di Bicci
1360-1429
 
Piccarda de 'Bueri
† 1433
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Contessina de 'Bardi
† 1473
 
Cosimo il Vecchio
1389-1464
 
Lorenzo di Giovanni
1395-1440
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lucrezia Tornabuoni
1425-1482
 
Piero di Cosimo,
called il Gottoso
1416–1469
 
Giovanni di Cosimo
1421-1463
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lorenzo di Piero,
called il Magnifico
1449–1492
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Piero's successor as informal ruler was his son Lorenzo il Magnifico in December 1469. Again the transition went smoothly. The new head of the family continued the tradition of generous cultural funding and thus increased the fame of the Medici. The 22 years of the history of Florence, which were shaped by his leadership, were a culturally extraordinarily brilliant epoch. Lorenzo did not have the business talent of his grandfather Cosimo. He failed to maintain the financial basis of the political power and patronage of the Medici. The bank experienced a dramatic decline that brought it to the brink of collapse.

reception

Cosimo as the “father of the fatherland” on a medal minted after his death
Cosimo as King Melchior before Jesus in Botticelli's painting. Florence, Uffizi Gallery

middle Ages

A sharp critic of Cosimo was the contemporary historian Giovanni Cavalcanti. He belonged to a long-established patrician family and disapproved of the rise of a class of upstart, for which he made Cosimo responsible. Above all, he resented the Medici for the rigorous action taken against tax debtors, to whom he himself was one. However, in places he expressed himself positively about the Medici and considered the lifting of Cosimo's exile to be fair.

In retrospect, contemporary medici-friendly authors praised Cosimo as the savior of the independence of the Republic of Florence. The humanist Benedetto Accolti the Elder, in his Dialogus de praestantia virorum sui aevi , a work written in the last years of Cosimo's life and dedicated to him, found that the balance of power had been so favorable for Venice after the death of Filippo Maria Visconti that the Venetians had all of Italy could submit if Cosimo had not prevented this through the alliance with Milan. He alone was the author of the change of alliance, which he pushed through against strong opposition in Florence. The historian Benedetto Dei expressed himself in this sense. In the 1470s he wrote a pamphlet directed against Venice in which he retrospectively portrayed Cosimo's foreign policy as far-sighted and successful. In his estimation, Venice would have achieved a dominant position in Italy if Cosimo had not brought about the alliance with Francesco Sforza.

In the period 1469–1475, Sandro Botticelli created a painting on behalf of the banker G (u) aspar (r) e di Zanobi del Lama that shows the Adoration of the Magi . The eldest of the kings bears the facial features of Cosimo, and other members of the Medici family are also shown. Thus, the work should pay homage to the family, Cosimo appears as a "saint".

The humanist Bartolomeo Platina wrote the dialogue De optimo cive (On the best citizen) , which he dedicated in 1474 to Cosimo's grandson Lorenzo il Magnifico. By the "best citizen" is meant the senior republican statesman. The location of the action is the Medici Villa in Careggi, the content is a fictional conversation between the already old and frail Cosimo as the main character, Platina and the boy Lorenzo. According to the preface, the author wanted to inspire the patriotic zeal of the readers with his presentation of Cosimo's political maxims. Platina presented a government program that he put in the mouth of the old statesman. His dialogue figure Cosimo advocates “freedom” - the traditional republican way of life - warns of arrogance, presumptuousness and luxury, criticizes evils and calls for intervention against men who strive for tyranny. They are to be banished; they are only to be executed if they have been convicted of participating in a conspiracy.

In addition to the humanistic glorification of Cosimo in Latin, which was aimed at the educated, there was also a popular one in Italian poetry. In this poetry intended for a broader public, he appears as a benevolent father figure, promoter of religious life and prosperity, and heroic defender of freedom against external attacks.

Early modern age

In the last decade of the 15th century, the consensus that had made possible informal rule of the Medici in the Republic of Florence broke. The family was driven out of town in November 1494. This led to a re-evaluation of Cosimo's role. The monk Girolamo Savonarola , who was the decisive authority for the Florentines at the time, condemned the Medici rule as monstrous and commented on the remark attributed to Cosimo that the state was not governed with prayers of the Our Father , that this was a tyrannical word. On November 22nd, 1495 the Signoria decided to erase the inscription "Father of the Fatherland" on the tomb. But in 1512 a Spanish army brought the Medici back to Florence and regained power. The inscription was then restored. In 1527, however, the Medici had to give way to popular anger again. After the family was again driven out, the now ruling Republicans decided in 1528 to remove the inscription. They justified this step with the fact that Cosimo was not the father of the fatherland, but the tyrant of the fatherland. The medicilose republic, however, proved to be short-lived; In August 1530 the city was stormed by the troops of Emperor Charles V , after which the Medici came back to power. The republic became a monarchy whose rulers drew their legitimacy from the role of their ancestors in the 15th century.

The historian Francesco Guicciardini treated the period up to 1464 in the first chapter of his Storie fiorentine , written in 1508/1509 . He found that Cosimo and his famous grandson Lorenzo il Magnifico were perhaps the two most respected private individuals since the fall of the Roman Empire. The grandfather was superior to the grandson in perseverance and judgment as well as in dealing with money. If you consider all aspects, you come to the conclusion that Cosimo was the more capable of the two great Medici. In particular, Guicciardini praised the alliance with Milan, in which he saw a significant historical achievement by Cosimo. The majority of the Florentines were in favor of continuing the old alliance with Venice, but Cosimo was able to convince his fellow citizens to ally with Francesco Sforza. In doing so he saved the freedom not only of the Republic of Florence, but of all of Italy. In Guicciardini's opinion, the Venetians would have subjugated Milan and then all the other Italian states if Cosimo had not prevented this.

Niccolò Machiavelli judged in his Istorie fiorentine , written 1520–1525, that Cosimo had surpassed all his contemporaries not only in authority and wealth, but also in generosity and cleverness. Nobody was his equal in statecraft in his time. He had assumed a princely position in Florence and was nevertheless wise never to exceed the limits of bourgeois moderation. All his works and deeds were royal. He recognized emerging evils early on; therefore he had enough time not to let it grow or to arm himself against it. Not only did he overcome the ambitions of his bourgeois rivals at home, but also that of many princes. Machiavelli, however, disapproved of Cosimo's system of government. He considered the combination of a centralized, quasi-monarchical decision-making structure with the need to continue to find a broad consensus, as in the pre-Medicean republic, as a failure. He saw a fundamental weakness in the instability of such a construct.

Cosimo goes into exile. Fresco by Giorgio Vasari, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

In 1537 the Medici Cosimo I achieved the dignity of Duke of Tuscany . The duke, who ruled until 1574 (from 1569 as Grand Duke), was a descendant of Lorenzo, the younger brother of Cosimo il Vecchio. He had a “Room by Cosimo il Vecchio” set up in the Palazzo della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio) in honor of the founder of the fame and power of the Medici. The Sala di Cosimo il Vecchio was painted by Giorgio Vasari and his assistants. The church building program of the famous patron was particularly emphasized. One of the paintings depicts his return from exile in Venice as a triumph.

In the Age of Enlightenment , Cosimo was valued for promoting humanism. Voltaire expressed himself enthusiastically in his Essai sur les mœurs et l'esprit des nations , published in 1756 . He ruled that the early Medici obtained their power through favors and virtues, and that it was therefore more legitimate than that of any ruling family. Cosimo used his wealth to help the poor, to decorate his fatherland with buildings and to bring the Greek scholars who had been expelled from Constantinople to Florence. With his favors he had established the authority that made his recommendations followed like law for three decades. Edward Gibbon praised Cosimo in the sixth volume of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , published in 1788, with the words that he had put his riches in the service of humanity; the name Medici is almost synonymous with the restoration of education.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe paid tribute to Cosimo in the appendix to his translation of the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini , published in 1803 . There he described the patronage of the Medici as "general donation that borders on bribery". As a “great merchant” who “carries the magic potion in his hands for all purposes”, he was “a statesman in and of himself”. Regarding Cosimo's cultural activities, Goethe remarked: "Even a lot of what he did for literature and art seems to have happened in the grand sense of the merchant who circulates delicious goods and who has the best of them is a credit to himself."

Modern

Cultural-historical aspects

In 1859, Georg Voigt published his pioneering work The Revival of Classical Antiquity, which was a pioneering study of early humanism . In this work, the third edition of which appeared in 1893, Voigt stated that the history of literature and art had Cosimo “covered it with a kind of halo”. He was "the most corporeal type of the Florentine nobleman as a great merchant, as a clever and overlooked statesman, as a representative of fine fashion education, as a mecenatic spirit in the princely sense". He had “directed his gaze toward the broad and general”, and he had consolidated his power in a “coldly calculated and noiseless manner”. He had recognized every scientific merit for a fee, consulted the talents, assigned them positions and salaries.

Jacob Burckhardt drew in the second edition of his influential work The Culture of the Renaissance in Italy , published in 1869, a picture of Cosimo that is now partially outdated. He emphasized the “leadership in the field of education at that time” which the Medici had received. He has the "special fame of having recognized the most beautiful flower of the ancient world of thought in Platonic philosophy" and of having filled his surroundings with this knowledge. So he had "brought to light a second and higher rebirth of antiquity within humanism".

Burckhardt's point of view dominated in cultural-historical depictions until the end of the 20th century: Cosimo was widely recognized as the founder of a Platonic academy. For example, Agnes Heller wrote in 1982 that the founding of the academy in Florence was epoch-making. It is the first philosophical school that was "independent of the old church and university framework and to that extent completely secular and 'open'". Patron of this academy was "Cosimo, who was unstudied in the traditional sense (from the point of view of the official education of the time)". In a similar way, Manfred Lentzen described the role of the medic in 1995. It was not until James Hankins' research in the 1990s that the image of Cosimo as the founder of the academy was deprived of its foundation.

Political Aspects

Statue of Cosimo as Pater Patriae by Luigi Magi (1846), Uffizi Gallery, Florence

In the constitutional-historical discourse, the question is discussed to what extent Cosimo's dominant role went beyond the framework of the republican constitution and his designation as ruler of Florence is therefore justified. To distinguish it from open sole rule, Cosimo's system is called "cryptosignory" (hidden rule). This refers to a form of government which only later gradually developed into an undisguised signory, the state control by a single ruler with a hereditary position. Anthony Molho sums up the ambiguity of the system with the catchy formula "Cosimo de 'Medici - Pater patriae (father of the fatherland) or Padrino (godfather)?" This suggests that the patron of the clientele system created a "political machine" and maybe even did to get close to mafia godparents. The latter corresponds to the view of Lauro Martines and Jacques Heers . Martines sees the "range of blunt and comprehensive control measures of the Medici Republic" as the instruments with which Cosimo undermined the constitution and secured the rule of the "Medici oligarchy", the "clique in government". However, the Republican constitution did not bend so much that it guaranteed the Medici total power. The oligarchy was a team, "not a one-man show," and made its important decisions collectively. Jacques Heers paints the picture of a dark, brutal tyranny that Cosimo established. Werner Goez judges that under Cosimo Florence was undoubtedly on the way to princely sovereignty, even if everything had been done to disguise this fact. Volker Reinhardt states that from 1434 onwards there was a “peculiar mixture” of signory and republic; Only the facade was purely republican. Michele Luzzati considers the development to be inevitable; it was Cosimo's true and great insight that political stability in Florence could only be achieved with a system that was based on the primacy of a man and a family while preserving the liberal tradition. Ferdinand Schevill shares this view. In his estimation, the constitutional provisions, which required very short terms of office and the selection of the highest officials by lot from a large number of candidates, led to untenable conditions, because they resulted in a high percentage of overtly incompetent in leadership positions and a well-thought-out, permanent one Politics was impossible. Schevill thinks that this system disregarded the most elementary demands of reason; therefore its circumvention and redesign were inevitable.

However, the widespread image of Cosimo as the de facto absolute ruler is considered misleading by some historians. Special research has shown that it was by no means easy to get his way through and that he continued to meet with considerable, open resistance even after the middle of the century. Nicolai Rubinstein's analysis of the crisis from 1455–1458 shows the extent of the internal political weakening of the Medici. Rubinstein comes to the conclusion that Cosimo could by no means take obedience for granted, not even among his own supporters and not even with the centralized regulation of office occupation in terms of power politics. He was not spared from doing persuasion. Rubinstein believes that contemporaries from abroad probably overestimated Cosimo's power, and that sources such as the Milan embassy reports have exaggerated it. Among other things, he attributes this to the fact that despotic ruled states lacked the necessary understanding of the republican mentality; therefore the importance of consultation and consensus in a republic like Florence was not given due consideration. Dale Kent shares Rubinstein's view on the basis of his own research. Paolo Margaroli also points out the limits of Cosimo's power. As an example, he cites the peace negotiations in Rome, in which the Florentine negotiators acted in such a way that, in Cosimo's opinion, as he wrote to the Duke of Milan, they could not have made it worse. This delegation had been prepared in Florence by oppositional forces. Michele Luzzati emphasizes the weight of public opinion that has been critical for generations, which Cosimo could not ignore. According to Daniel Höchli, most patricians were not ready to submit to the Medici. Thanks to their own patronage networks, they were able to maintain their political independence to a certain extent. They only accepted the leadership role of the Medici as long as they saw their own interests protected.

Connected to the debate about the nature of cryptosignory is the extent to which the decidedly republican, anti-autocratic ideas of Florentine “citizen humanism” - a term coined by Hans Baron - were compatible with Cosimo's position in the state. The older research - especially Hans Baron and Eugenio Garin - assumed a fundamental tension. It was believed that the manipulative nature of Medici rule had undermined the basic principle of civic humanism, the encouragement of citizens to participate actively and responsibly in political life. The spread of apolitical Neo-Platonism after the middle of the century should be interpreted as an expression of the humanists' turning away from a genuinely republican attitude. This view has been abandoned by recent research, particularly under the impression of the results of James Hankins. It will u. a. pointed out that Leonardo Bruni, as a distinguished theoretician and spokesman for civic humanism, saw no contradiction between his convictions and his collaboration with Cosimo. According to the more recent interpretation, the relationship between citizen humanism and Medici rule is to be understood more as a symbiosis on the basis of significant similarities.

As the cause of Cosimo's successes, research emphasizes in particular his clever financial policy, which gave him significant advantages in the domestic political struggles. Werner Goez, Lauro Martines and Jacques Heers state that Cosimo used his political power primarily to keep down the clans and banks that rival the Medici. By means of the tax legislation, he had encumbered the assets of his rivals and unpopular people in order to get rid of them. But there is no evidence that he attempted to harm political opponents through direct commercial attacks on their companies. Jacques Heers denies that Cosimo came to power because of his wealth. Rather, conversely, it was the possession of power that he used to accumulate wealth.

The main factor that strengthened the Medicean power in Florence was his reputation abroad and in particular his influence on the Curia. Great importance is also attached to his propaganda skills. Dale Kent characterizes Cosimo as a master of self-expression who has carefully cultivated his image. In Kent's assessment, his unique success can be attributed to the fact that he was, or at least seemed to be, what his fellow citizens wanted: a spokesman who articulated their values, and at the same time a keen, considerate statesman who outwardly called the republic's voice could occur and through his leadership role compensated for the lack of political consistency in the constitution.

The alliance with Milan against Venice is judged to be an important foreign policy achievement by Cosimo. For Hans Baron it is a masterful move. Nicolai Rubinstein thinks that this success, more than any other event since 1434, has strengthened the reputation of the Medici at home and abroad. Volker Reinhardt is of the opinion that Cosimo invested a lot of money in Sforza's career “with foresight as always”, which was then amortized as a political return. The alliance he brought about between Florence and Milan has proven to be “a solid axis of Italian politics as a whole”. Vincent Ilardi shares this assessment of Allianz, but notes critically that Cosimo underestimated the danger posed by France. His tendency to form an alliance with France against Venice was a mistake. Sforza has shown more statesmanlike foresight in this regard.

swell

The sources on Cosimo's life, his role as statesman and patron and the history of reception are very extensive. About thirty thousand letters written by or addressed to the Medici have survived from his time. A wealth of relevant letters and documents is in the State Archives of Florence in the collection “Medici avanti il ​​Principato” (MAP), the basis of which is Cosimo's private archive, as well as in the Milan State Archives and other archives and libraries. These archives provide information about political and business matters as well as private information. The detailed tax records kept in the State Archives in Florence and the Medici Bank records in various archives are also informative. There are also records of meetings and debates in which the Medici and their friends took part and spoke. The diplomatic activities are well documented; Legation reports and instructions given to the ambassadors illuminate Cosimo's role in Italian politics. His correspondence with Francesco Sforza is highly valuable. Numerous narrative sources in Latin and Italian illuminate the image of Cosimo among his contemporaries and in the decades after his death. The most important edited sources include:

  • Antonio Benivieni: Antonii Benivienii ἐγκώμιον Cosmi ad Laurentium Medicem , ed. by Renato Piattoli. Gonnelli, Firenze 1949
  • Vespasiano da Bisticci: Le Vite , ed. by Aulo Greco, Vol. 2. Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, Firenze 1976, pp. 167–211 (critical edition)
  • Giovanni Cavalcanti: Istorie fiorentine , ed. by Guido di Pino. Martello, Milano 1944
  • Giovanni Cavalcanti: Nuova opera (Chronique florentine inédite du XV e siècle) , ed. by Antoine Monti. Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 1989, ISBN 2-900478-16-2 (critical edition)
  • Francesco Guicciardini: Storie fiorentine dal 1378 al 1509 , ed. by Roberto Palmarocchi. Laterza, Bari 1968 (reprint of Bari 1931 edition)
  • Niccolò Machiavelli: Istorie fiorentine. In: Niccolò Machiavelli: Opere , Vol. 2: Istorie fiorentine e altre opere storiche e politiche , ed. by Alessandro Montevecchi. UTET, Torino 1986, ISBN 978-88-02-07680-5 , pp. 275-847
  • Cosimo de 'Medici: Ricordi. In: Angelo Fabroni: Magni Cosmi Medicei vita , Vol. 2: Adnotationes et monumenta ad Magni Cosmi Medicei vitam pertinentia. Pisa 1788, pp. 96-104
  • Matteo Palmieri : Annales , ed. by Gino Scaramella. In: Rerum Italicarum Scriptores , Vol. 26/1. Lapi, Città di Castello 1906–1915, pp. 131–194
  • Pagolo di Matteo Petriboni, Matteo di Borgo Rinaldi: Priorista (1407-1459) , ed. by Jacqueline A. Gutwirth. Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Rome 2001, ISBN 88-87114-95-1
  • Janet Ross (translator): Lives of the Early Medici as told in their correspondence. Chatto & Windus, London 1910, pp. 7–81 (English translation of letters)

literature

Overview presentations and introductions

Collection of articles

  • Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464. Essays in Commemoration of the 600th Anniversary of Cosimo de 'Medici's Birth. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1992, ISBN 0-19-817394-6

Domestic politics

  • Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici. Faction in Florence 1426-1434. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1978, ISBN 0-19-822520-2
  • John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575. Blackwell, Malden 2006, ISBN 978-1-4051-1954-2 , pp. 250-300
  • John F. Padgett, Christopher K. Ansell: Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400-1434. In: American Journal of Sociology 98, 1992/1993, pp. 1259-1319
  • Volker Reinhardt: Money and Friends. How the Medici took power in Florence. Primus, Darmstadt 2009, ISBN 978-3-89678-396-7
  • Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494). 2nd, revised edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1997, ISBN 0-19-817418-7 (important standard work, but not suitable as an introduction)

Banking

  • Richard A. Goldthwaite: The Medici Bank and the World of Florentine Capitalism. In: Past & Present 114, 1987, pp. 3-31
  • Raymond de Roover : The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, ISBN 0-674-77145-1
  • Kurt Weissen : Power struggles and business relationships in Florence in the 15th century. How Cosimo de 'Medici used his bank in the fight against his inner opponents. In: Mark Häberlein, Christof Jeggle (ed.): Practices of trade. Business and social relations of European merchants in the Middle Ages and early modern times. UVK, Konstanz 2010, ISBN 978-3-86764-203-3 , pp. 175-189

Foreign policy

  • Vincent Ilardi: The Banker-Statesman and the Condottiere-Prince: Cosimo de 'Medici and Francesco Sforza (1450-1464). In: Craig Hugh Smyth, Gian Carlo Garfagnini (Eds.): Florence and Milan: Comparisons and Relations. Vol. 2, La Nuova Italia, Florence 1989, ISBN 88-221-0718-7 , pp. 217-239
  • Heinrich Lang: Cosimo de 'Medici, the ambassadors and the Condottieri. Diplomacy and Wars of the Republic of Florence in the 15th Century. Schöningh, Paderborn 2009, ISBN 978-3-506-76597-0

Cultural significance and private life

  • Alison Brown: The Medici in Florence. The exercise and language of power. Olschki, Florenz 1992, ISBN 88-222-3959-8 , pp. 3-72
  • Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance. The Patron's Oeuvre. Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2000, ISBN 0-300-08128-6
  • Tobias Leuker: Building blocks of a myth. The Medici in Poetry and Art of the 15th Century. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-33505-2
  • Joachim Poeschke : Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values. Rhema, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-930454-45-9 , pp. 409-434

reception

  • Heinrich Lang: The laughter of power in the republic. Cosimo de 'Medici il vecchio (1389–1464) as a veiled ruler in Fazetien and Viten Florentine authors. In: Christian Kuhn, Stefan Bießenecker (ed.): Valenzen des Lachens in the pre-modern era (1250–1750). University of Bamberg Press, Bamberg 2012, ISBN 978-3-86309-098-2 , pp. 385-408

Web links

Commons : Cosimo de 'Medici  - Collection of Images

Remarks

  1. ^ Fritz Trautz : The imperial power in Italy in the late Middle Ages. In: Heidelberger Jahrbücher. Volume 7, 1963, pp. 45-81.
  2. Volker Reinhardt: Geschichte Italiens , Munich 1999, pp. 21–23, 30–32; Michael Seidlmayer : History of Italy. From the collapse of the Roman Empire to the First World War (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 341). 2nd, expanded edition, Stuttgart 1989, pp. 184 f., 202 f., 216 f.
  3. Volker Reinhardt: Geschichte Italiens , Munich 1999, pp. 32–38; Michael Seidlmayer: History of Italy , 2nd, extended edition, Stuttgart 1989, p. 187 f .; Werner Goez: Fundamentals of the history of Italy in the Middle Ages and Renaissance , Darmstadt 1975, pp. 191–197.
  4. See on these state organs Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, pp. 30–33; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, pp. 15-17.
  5. ^ Heinrich Lang: Cosimo de 'Medici, the ambassadors and the condottieri , Paderborn 2009, pp. 69–79.
  6. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd revised edition, Oxford 1997, p. 4 f .; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 17 f.
  7. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 4-7, 60-76; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 33 f .; Volker Reinhardt: Money and Friends , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 14 f., 49 f.
  8. John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, pp. 18-20.
  9. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 113-119; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 27.
  10. ^ Dale Kent: Medici, Cosimo de ' . In: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani , vol. 73, Rome 2009, pp. 36–43, here: 36; Susan McKillop: Dante and Lumen Christi: A Proposal for the Meaning of the Tomb of Cosimo de 'Medici. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 245-301, here: 245-248.
  11. An overview is provided by the family tables in Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397–1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 383–385.
  12. ^ Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, p. 37; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, revised edition, Munich 2007, p. 17.
  13. ^ Gene A. Brucker : Renaissance Florence: Society, Culture, and Religion , Goldbach 1994, pp. 3 * -28 *; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, revised edition, Munich 2007, pp. 16-19, 22.
  14. Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 10-14, 36 f., 132-135; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 19; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, p. 40.
  15. On Contessina see Orsola Gori (Ed.): Contessina moglie di Cosimo 'il Vecchio'. Lettere familiari. In: Andrea Degrandi u. a. (Ed.): Scritti in onore di Girolamo Arnaldi , Rome 2001, pp. 233-259.
  16. Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 20 f .; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 40 f., 49-61.
  17. ^ George Holmes: How the Medici became the Pope's Bankers. In: Nicolai Rubinstein (Ed.): Florentine Studies. Politics and Society in Renaissance Florence , London 1968, pp. 357-380; Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 46 f., 198, 203; Volker Reinhardt: The Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 21; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 13; Alison Williams Lewin: Negotiating Survival , Madison 2003, p. 210 f.
  18. ^ Heinrich Lang: Between business, art and power . In: Mark Häberlein u. a. (Ed.): Generations in late medieval and early modern cities (approx. 1250–1750) , Konstanz 2011, pp. 43–71, here: 48 f .; Volker Reinhardt: The Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 21; Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, p. 52; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 14.
  19. ^ Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, p. 51; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, revised edition, Munich 2007, p. 22.
  20. On the aftermath of the uprising see Gene A. Brucker: The Ciompi Revolution. In: Nicolai Rubinstein (Ed.): Florentine Studies , London 1968, pp. 314–356, here: 356.
  21. For a description of the two groups, see John F. Padgett, Christopher K. Ansell: Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400–1434. In: American Journal of Sociology 98, 1992/1993, pp. 1259-1319, here: 1278-1286; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 136-151; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, pp. 20-25; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, pp. 34–39; John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, pp. 267-269; Jacques Heers: Le clan des Médicis , Paris 2008, pp. 115–120.
  22. Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 34–50; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 211-252.
  23. John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, p. 258; Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 23-27; Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 50–53; Charles C. Bayley: War and Society in Renaissance Florence , Toronto 1961, pp. 88-91.
  24. ^ Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 259 f .; Charles C. Bayley: War and Society in Renaissance Florence , Toronto 1961, pp. 99, 114-119.
  25. Volker Reinhardt: Money and Friends , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 58–66; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 253-269.
  26. ^ Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, p. 54; Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 54–57, 67–69.
  27. Volker Reinhardt: Money and Friends , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 69–76; Charles C. Bayley: War and Society in Renaissance Florence , Toronto 1961, pp. 120-127; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 292-296.
  28. Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 79–88; Charles C. Bayley: War and Society in Renaissance Florence , Toronto 1961, p. 129; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 303-308.
  29. Luca Boschetto provides a detailed analysis of the sources: Società e cultura a Firenze al tempo del Concilio , Rome 2012, pp. 76–92. Cf. Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 89–97; John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, pp. 275-277; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 328-336.
  30. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 2-4; Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 98–108.
  31. Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 87 f., 105 f .; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 41; Charles C. Bayley: War and Society in Renaissance Florence , Toronto 1961, pp. 140 f.
  32. ^ Richard A. Goldthwaite: The Medici Bank and the World of Florentine Capitalism. In: Past & Present 114, 1987, pp. 3-31, here: 8.
  33. ^ Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, pp. 25-27.
  34. Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 27.
  35. ^ Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 47 f., 194; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, pp. 25-27.
  36. Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 27; Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 74 f.
  37. Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 73 f., 99.
  38. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, p. 13 f.
  39. Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 112–121; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici , 4th, reviewed edition, Munich 2007, p. 44 f .; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 45.
  40. Volker Reinhardt: Money and Friends , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 115–117; Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 42-44; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 44 f.
  41. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 77-98.
  42. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 25 f., 32 f .; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 45 f.
  43. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 100-104; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 46.
  44. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 104-109; John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 46 f.
  45. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 109-113.
  46. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 112-117.
  47. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 118-137. Cf. Riccardo Fubini: Politica e pensiero politico nell'Italia del Rinascimento , Firenze 2009, pp. 200 f., 231 f.
  48. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, p. 137 f.
  49. Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 144–153; Paula C. Clarke: The Soderini and the Medici , Oxford 1991, p. 69.
  50. The articles in Andrea Gamberini, Isabella Lazzarini (ed.): The Italian Renaissance States provide an overview of the Italian world of states during this period . Cambridge 2012.
  51. John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, pp. 188-194.
  52. ^ Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, p. 277.
  53. John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, pp. 269-273; Charles C. Bayley: War and Society in Renaissance Florence , Toronto 1961, pp. 97-109.
  54. ^ Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 255-260; John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, pp. 271-273; Anthony Molho: Florentine Public Finances in the Early Renaissance, 1400-1433 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) 1971, pp. 187-192.
  55. Luca Boschetto: Società e cultura a Firenze al tempo del Concilio , Rome 2012, pp. 163–176; George Holmes: Cosimo and the Popes. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 21-31, here: 23-26.
  56. ^ Heinrich Lang: Cosimo de 'Medici, the ambassadors and the Condottieri , Paderborn 2009, pp. 21, 91 f .; John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, pp. 286-289; Charles C. Bayley: War and Society in Renaissance Florence , Toronto 1961, pp. 151-174.
  57. John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, p 288 f.
  58. Francesco Cognasso : Il ducato Visconti Gian Galeazzo as a Filippo Maria . In: Storia di Milano , Vol. 6, Milano 1955, pp. 1–383, here: 263 f.
  59. ^ Antonio Menniti Ippolito: Francesco I Sforza . In: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani , Vol. 50, Rome 1998, pp. 1–15, here: 2–6.
  60. See Richard C. Trexler: Public Life in Renaissance Florence , New York 1980, p. 426; Vincent Ilardi: The Banker-Statesman and the Condottiere-Prince: Cosimo de 'Medici and Francesco Sforza (1450-1464). In: Craig Hugh Smyth, Gian Carlo Garfagnini (eds.): Florence and Milan: Comparisons and Relations , Vol. 2, Florence 1989, pp. 217-239.
  61. ^ Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, p. 141.
  62. John M. Najemy: A History of Florence 1200-1575 , Malden 2006, pp. 286-291; Alison Williams Lewin: Negotiating Survival , Madison 2003, p. 211 f.
  63. ^ So Volker Reinhardt: Geschichte Italiens , Munich 1999, p. 45.
  64. Francesco Cognasso: La Repubblica di s. Ambrogio . In: Storia di Milano , Vol. 6, Milano 1955, pp. 387-448 and Franco Catalano: La nuova signoria: Francesco Sforza . In: Storia di Milano , Vol. 7, Milano 1956, pp. 3-67; Antonio Menniti Ippolito: Francesco I Sforza . In: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani , Vol. 50, Rome 1998, pp. 1–15, here: 6–9.
  65. ^ Franco Catalano: La nuova signoria: Francesco Sforza . In: Storia di Milano , Vol. 7, Milano 1956, pp. 67-81; Vincent Ilardi: The Banker-Statesman and the Condottiere-Prince: Cosimo de 'Medici and Francesco Sforza (1450-1464). In: Craig Hugh Smyth, Gian Carlo Garfagnini (ed.): Florence and Milan: Comparisons and Relations , Vol. 2, Florence 1989, pp. 217-239, here: 230-232.
  66. ^ John R. Hale: The Medici and Florence , Stuttgart 1979, p. 48.
  67. Bernd Roeck : Art patronage in the early modern times , Göttingen 1999, pp. 55, 57; Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 127–134.
  68. Vespasiano da Bisticci: Le Vite , ed. by Aulo Greco, Vol. 2, Firenze 1976, p. 180; see. on this Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, p. 128 f.
  69. Vespasiano da Bisticci: Le Vite , ed. by Aulo Greco, Vol. 2, Firenze 1976, pp. 177 f. See Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, p. 172; Rudolf Schüssler: Business Morality at the Dawn of Modernity: The Cases of Angelo Corbinelli and Cosimo de 'Medici . In: Sigrid Müller , Cornelia Schweiger (eds.): Between Creativity and Norm-Making , Leiden 2013, pp. 131–148, here: 141–148.
  70. ^ Albinia C. de la Mare: Cosimo and his Books. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 115–156, here: 138 f.
  71. James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69-94, here: 69-75.
  72. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1122a – 1123a.
  73. James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69-94, here: 83-89; Anthony D. Fraser Jenkins: Cosimo de 'Medici's Patronage of Architecture and the Theory of Magnificence . In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 33, 1970, pp. 162-170.
  74. James Hankins: Humanism and Platonism in the Italian Renaissance , Vol. 2, Rome 2004, p. 196 and note 22.
  75. Marsilio Ficino, Epistolarum familiarium libri , No. 86. In: Marsilio Ficino: Lettere , Bd. 1, ed. by Sebastiano Gentile, Firenze 1990, p. 153 f., here: p. 154 lines 25-29.
  76. James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69–94, here: 76; James Hankins: Humanism and Platonism in the Italian Renaissance , Vol. 2, Rome 2004, pp. 193 f., 352-358.
  77. James Hankins: Humanism and Platonism in the Italian Renaissance , Vol. 2, Rome 2004, pp. 185–395.
  78. On Poggio's relationship with Cosimo, see Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, pp. 25 f.
  79. James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69-94, here: 77-79.
  80. Alison Brown: Bartolomeo Scala, 1430-1497, Chancellor of Florence , Princeton 1979, pp. 34-41.
  81. ^ Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, p. 23 f.
  82. On Niccoli's relationship with Cosimo, see Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, p. 24 f.
  83. Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, pp. 3–12; James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69-94, here: 71 f., 77; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, p. 234 f.
  84. James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69-94, here: 79-81.
  85. James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69–94, here: 77, 82. Cf. Dale Kent: Cosimo de' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, p. 19.
  86. Tobias Leuker: Building Blocks of a Myth , Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, pp. 47–60, 69 f., 113–115, 122–124, 145–163, 183–192, 316; James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69–94, here: p. 75 and note 23; Alison Brown: The Medici in Florence , Florenz 1992, pp. 3-40.
  87. Tobias Leuker: Components of a Myth , Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, p. 120.
  88. Diana Robin: Filelfo in Milan , Princeton 1991, pp. 28, 37-45; James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69–94, here: 82, 85, 88.
  89. Berthold L. Ullman, Philip A. Stadter: The Public Library of Renaissance Florence , Padova 1972, pp. 5-27; Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, p. 4. On the accessibility of the library to the public, see Allie Terry-Fritsch: Florentine Convent as Practiced Place: Cosimo de 'Medici, Fra Angelico, and the Public Library of San Marco . In: Medieval Encounters 18, 2012, pp. 230-271.
  90. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: 422, 426; Volker Reinhardt: Money and Friends , Darmstadt 2009, p. 129.
  91. ^ Tobias Leuker: Building blocks of a myth , Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, pp. 61–66, 93–112; Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, pp. 315-318; Volker Reinhardt: Geld und Freunde , Darmstadt 2009, pp. 130–134; Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, pp. 185 f .; Rab Hatfield: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Chapel of his Palace . In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 221–244, here: 237.
  92. For the dating see Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, p. 177 f.
  93. See on this project Caroline Elam: Cosimo de 'Medici and San Lorenzo . In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389-1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 157-180.
  94. See Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, pp. 167–171.
  95. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: 414–419.
  96. See on the dating Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, p. 119.
  97. ^ Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, pp. 251-262; Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, pp. 107-109.
  98. Enea Silvio Piccolomini, Papa Pio II: I Commentarii , ed. by Luigi Totaro, 2nd edition, Milano 2004, vol. 1, p. 352.
  99. See on the palace building Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: 413 f., 427; Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, pp. 119-127.
  100. ^ Antonio Averlino detto Il Filarete, Trattato di architettura , ed. by Anna Maria Finoli, Liliana Grassi, vol. 2, Milano 1972, p. 683. Cf. Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: p. 410 note 4, p. 422 note 31.
  101. Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, pp. 101, 120 f .; Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, p. 228 f.
  102. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409-434, here: 420-422.
  103. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: 425–427; James Hankins: Cosimo de 'Medici as a Patron of Humanistic Literature. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (ed.): Cosimo 'il Vecchio' de 'Medici, 1389–1464 , Oxford 1992, pp. 69–94, here: p. 85 and note 55.
  104. Tobias Leuker: Building Blocks of a Myth , Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, pp. 127–131; Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, pp. 281-286; Christopher B. Fulton: An Earthly Paradise , Firenze 2006, pp. 104, 147-155.
  105. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: 411–413.
  106. Vespasiano da Bisticci: Le Vite , ed. von Aulo Greco, Vol. 2, Firenze 1976, pp. 169, 192 f., 195, 197, 343. Heinrich Lang offers an analysis of the anecdotal tradition: The Laughter of Power in the Republic . In: Christian Kuhn, Stefan Bießenecker (eds.): Valenzen des Lachens in der Vormoderne (1250–1750) , Bamberg 2012, pp. 385–408. See Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, pp. 21-23.
  107. Alison Brown: The Medici in Florence , Florenz 1992, pp. 53-72.
  108. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, p. 147 f.
  109. ^ Heinrich Lang: Between business, art and power . In: Mark Häberlein u. a. (Ed.): Generations in late medieval and early modern cities (approx. 1250–1750) , Konstanz 2011, pp. 43–71, here: 48.
  110. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: 427, 430–432.
  111. See on Piero's position as heir to his father Nicolai Rubinstein: The Government of Florence under the Medici (1434 to 1494) , 2nd, revised edition, Oxford 1997, pp. 155–158.
  112. See on this development Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397-1494 , Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 1963, pp. 358-375.
  113. See Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici , Oxford 1978, pp. 3–10; Antoine Monti (ed.): Giovanni Cavalcanti: Nuova opera (Chronique florentine inédite du XV e siècle) , Paris 1989, pp. XIX – XXVII.
  114. See Hans Baron: The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance , Princeton 1955, vol. 1, p. 349 and vol. 2, p. 608 f. (Changed version in the 2nd edition in one volume, Princeton 1966, p. 401 f.).
  115. Tobias Leuker: Building Blocks of a Myth , Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, pp. 193–197.
  116. See on Platina's dialogue figure Heinrich Lutz : Comments on the treatise “De Optimo Cive” by Bartolomeo Platina . In: Mitteilungen des Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 78, 1970, pp. 372–385; Nicolai Rubinstein: Il "De optimo cive" del Platina . In: Augusto Campana, Paola Medioli Masotti (eds.): Bartolomeo Sacchi il Platina , Padova 1986, pp. 137-144.
  117. Dale Kent: Cosimo de 'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance , New Haven / London 2000, pp. 117-121, 270 f.
  118. ^ Nicolai Rubinstein: Savonarola on the government of Florence . In: Stella Fletcher, Christine Shaw (eds.): The World of Savonarola , Aldershot 2000, pp. 42–64, here: 52.
  119. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (Ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409–434, here: 434.
  120. Francesco Guicciardini: Storie fiorentine dal 1378 al 1509 , ed. by Roberto Palmarocchi, Bari 1931, p. 11 f., 80 f.
  121. Francesco Guicciardini: Storie fiorentine dal 1378 al 1509 , ed. by Roberto Palmarocchi, Bari 1931, p. 6.
  122. ^ Niccolò Machiavelli: Istorie fiorentine 4,26; 7.5. Cf. Volker Reinhardt: Machiavelli or Die Kunst der Macht , Munich 2012, pp. 345–347. Reinhardt thinks that Machiavelli's words also contain a hidden criticism of Cosimo.
  123. John M. Najemy: Machiavelli and the Medici: The Lessons of Florentine history . In: Renaissance Quarterly 35, 1982, pp. 551-576, here: 564.
  124. ^ Joachim Poeschke: Virtù fiorentina: Cosimo de 'Medici as the first citizen of Florence. In: Gerd Althoff (ed.): Signs - Rituals - Values , Münster 2004, pp. 409-434, here: 419; Matthias Winner : Cosimo il Vecchio as Cicero . In: Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 33, 1970, pp. 261–297, here: 281 f.
  125. Voltaire: Essai sur les mœurs et l'esprit des nations , Chapter 105.
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This article was added to the list of excellent articles on November 18, 2015 in this version .