In This Article Lorenzo de' Medici

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Collections of Papers
  • Correspondence
  • Dynastic Interests
  • Florentine Territorial State
  • Relations with Other States
  • Literary Culture
  • Festivals

Renaissance and Reformation Lorenzo de' Medici
by
Stella Fletcher
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 April 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0050

Introduction

Following his grandfather Cosimo (b. 1389–d. 1464) and father Piero (b. 1416–d. 1469), Lorenzo (b. 1449–d. 1492) was the third head of the Medici dynasty to use commercial wealth and international banking connections to lead Florence’s dominant political faction, to undermine its republican constitution, and exercise strategic influence over its relations with other states. As his copious correspondence confirms, Lorenzo was a significant diplomatic player in all the peninsular conflicts of his time, including the Pazzi War in the late 1470s, and the War of Ferrara and the Neapolitan Barons’ War in the 1480s. To the generation of Italians who lived through the French invasions of Naples in 1494 and Milan in 1499, and the lengthy conflicts they initiated fought by foreign powers on Italian soil, Lorenzo came to personify a lost golden age of peace, prosperity, and cultural efflorescence. His posthumous reputation was enhanced by the fact that his son Giovanni and nephew Giulio went on to be elected pope, as Leo X and Clement VII respectively, and that his great-grandson Cosimo was the first of a line of Medici grand dukes of Tuscany. Over the intervening centuries secular hagiography has gradually given way to a more balanced assessment of his achievements as a faction leader, statesman, and cultural patron.

Reference Works

By far the most valuable reference work for this subject is the Dizionario biografico degli italiani, publication of which is ongoing. Although Lorenzo’s extra-peninsular diplomatic and commercial contacts ranged were wide-ranging, they were concentrated in France, Florence’s most powerful ally, which renders the Dictionnaire de Biographie Française of greater relevance than other national biographical dictionaries. However, neither of these resources is likely to be completed for many years. Turner 1996 is a valuable point of departure for the all matters relating to the visual arts. Grendler 1999 is more chronologically focused and more diverse in content. Campbell 2003 serves a similar purpose, on a somewhat smaller scale.

  • Campbell, Gordon. The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    Contains brief entries on individual members of the Medici family and a longer one on Medici villas, together with entries on many of Lorenzo’s contemporaries and contacts, particularly artists, writers, and musicians.

  • Dictionnaire de Biographie Française. 19 vols. to date. Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1932–.

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    The commercial links forged by the Medici with the kingdom of France provided the basis for a political alliance between France and the Florentine republic. Although the Dictionnaire de Biographie Française remains incomplete (the most recent volume ends with La Vallée), it can be consulted for individuals such as the regent Anne de Beaujeu and King Charles VIII.

  • Dizionario biografico degli italiani. 77 vols. to date. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960–.

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    Vol. 73 (2009) contains the biographies of over forty members of the Medici family, including Ingeborg Walter’s entry on Lorenzo (113-124). The bibliography includes works published up to 2006. The text is also available online. The Dizionario biografico degli italiani remains a work in progress, but nevertheless contains entries on many of Lorenzo’s contemporaries.

  • Grendler, Paul F., ed. Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. Vol. 4. New York: Scribner, 1999.

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    A standard reference work for the Renaissance, whether it is interpreted as a period of time or a cultural phenomenon. Contains biographical and thematic entries, with members of the Medici family featured in volume 4.

  • Turner, Jane, ed. The Dictionary of Art. 34 vols. London: Macmillan, 1996.

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    A detailed reference work of relevance for the various artists, sculptors, and architects whose names have been associated with Lorenzo, associations that may have involved direct patronage or may have consisted of recommendations to other patrons.

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