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Lorenzo de Medici

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Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492), Italian statesman and de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic. Known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (il Magnifico) by his contemporary Florentines, he was a glittery individual who loved to enter beauty contests and compose poetry. He was also fascinated by technology. Lorenzo had a very active life and was an avid patron of the arts. In fact, his support for artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, and Michelangelo was instrumental in the development of Florence as the epicenter of 15th century Renaissance Europe. However, he was also a very religious man and deeply loved his country.

On April 26, 1478 the Pazzi family attacked the Medici in church, killing his brother and co-ruler Giuliano[?]. Lorenzo vowed revenge and had the Archbishop of Pisa hanged. From that day forward, Lorenzo de Medici was known as the Savior of Florence.

For a time, the city of Florence came under the spell of friar Girolamo Savonarola who believed that Christians had strayed too far into Greco-Roman culture. Eventually, Savonarola was overthrown and Lorenzo returned to power. Oddly, Savonarola disliked popular art and music - two things that Lorenzo admired.

Two of his sons later became powerful popes. His second son, Leo, became Pope Leo X, and his adopted son Giulio (who was the illegitimate son of his slain brother) became Pope Clement VII.

Unfortunately, Piero, his first son, squandered his father's fortune and brought down his father's house.

The great rival family of the Medici clan was the Sforza, the most famous of whom was Francesco.

Lorenzo de' Medici died in 1492. The sculptures on his tombstone in the San Lorenzo Church were carved by Michelangelo.

See also: Medici family

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