Cosimo de' Medici

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Medici, Cosimo de'

(kô`zēmō dā mĕ`dĭchē, Ital. mā`dēchē), 1389–1464, Italian merchant prince, first of the MediciMedici
, Italian family that directed the destinies of Florence from the 15th cent. until 1737. Of obscure origin, they rose to immense wealth as merchants and bankers, became affiliated through marriage with the major houses of Europe, and, besides acquiring (1569) the title
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 family to rule Florence. He is often called Cosimo the Elder. After the death of his father, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, Cosimo and his family were banished (1433) from Florence by a faction headed by the powerful Albizzi family. He returned a year later and, supported by the people, soon became the acknowledged leading citizen of the republic. An able financier, he vastly expanded the family's banking business. In spite of his lavish expenses for the state, for charities, and for the arts and learning, he doubled his fortune. He respected the republican institutions of the city, always sought popular support, and made his power as little felt as possible. Guiding Florentine foreign policy, he sought a balance of power among the Italian states. From the traditional alliance with Venice against Milan, he shifted to an alliance with the SforzaSforza
, Italian family that ruled the duchy of Milan from 1450 to 1535. Rising from peasant origins, the Sforzas became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics.
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 family, helping the Sforzas to gain control over Milan. Cosimo's claim to greatness, however, rests chiefly on his generosity toward artists and scholars. He founded the famous Medici Library and an academy for Greek studies (headed by Marsilio FicinoFicino, Marsilio
, 1433–99, Italian philosopher. Under the patronage of Cosimo de' Medici, Ficino became the most influential exponent of Platonism in Italy in the 15th cent.
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), built extensively in Florence, and protected such artists as Brunnelleschi, Donatello, Ghiberti, and Luca della Robbia. After his death Florence voted him the official title Pater Patriae. His son, Piero de' Medici, known as Il Gottoso [the gouty], succeeded as head of the family.


See biographies by K. D. Vernon (1899, repr. 1970) and K. S. Gutkind (1939).

Cosimo de' Medici:

see Medici, Cosimo de'Medici, Cosimo de'
, 1389–1464, Italian merchant prince, first of the Medici family to rule Florence. He is often called Cosimo the Elder. After the death of his father, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, Cosimo and his family were banished (1433) from Florence by a faction
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References in periodicals archive ?
In a philosophical dialogue from about 1440, Filelfo (1398-1481) considers a prominent group of Florentine noblemen and humanists driven from the city by Cosimo de'Medici.
The manuscript, prepared for Cosimo de'Medici, for whom Belluzzi worked from 1543 until his death at the siege of Siena, outlines how earthworks could be employed to defend the cities of the Grand Duchy.
in Botticelli's, the unidentified young man holds with both hands close to his heart a medal of Cosimo de'Medici, the de facto ruler of Florence.
The account traces the family's fortunes over more than a century, from the founding of the Medici bank in 1397 through their rise to wealth and power, including Cosimo de'Medici and his grandson Lorenzo 'Il Magnifico' and finally the collapse of this remarkable financial institution.
Venice was a republic of aristocrats, frozen in time since the closing of the Great Council of 1297; Florence was a republic of merchants at the beginning of the fifteenth century and later, after Cosimo de'Medici, a republic in name only, except the brief period of Savonarola and of Soderini at the end of the century and beginning of the next.
It also provides a demonstration of theories explicated in chapter 1 with lengthy discussion of the praise and criticism directed toward Cosimo de'Medici to conclude with theories of decorum as codified by Alberti (1452) and Filarete (1464).
Bronzino's Cosimo de'Medici come Orfeo, Perugino's Lotta tra Amore e Castita, and Parmigiano's Cupido intaglia il suo arco), are products of the encounter between Petrarchism and the Greek and Latin lyric, show the similarity between sculpture and painting in the period, and declare the power of art to evoke sensual (even homoerotic) responses.
Painters and weavers, motivated by the desire for financial gain, sued each other over the right to create cartoons, and Cosimo de'Medici promoted tapestry weaving in Florence in the hopes of stimulating the economy there.
Dale Kent, Cosimo de'Medici and the Florentine Renaissance: The Patron's Oeuvre.
Vasari created a script that placed the recovery of the "secret" of producing complex works of sculpture out of the dauntingly hard material of porphyry at the court of Cosimo de'Medici I.
A slight shift to a formula found in the era would have it that fame derives from patronizing such works, as in the case of Cosimo de'Medici.