On this day in 1492 the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici, died aged 43. The Medici family had run the largest Florentine bank, the Medici Bank, for some time, but eventually came to rule the republic itself. Lorenzo de’ Medici was one of the central figures of the Italian Renaissance as a leading statesman from Florence, a city which was the hub of the cultural movement. A primary legacy of the Renaissance is its astounding art, and Medici was well-known in Florence for making considerable contributions to the art world. The famed artist Leonardo da Vinci even held a place in the Medici court, and Michelangelo was a family friend.
However Lorenzo did not rule unopposed: he faced challenges in Florence, from the Pazzi familly; from the Vatican, who excommunicated Lorenzo; and from the King of Naples who went to war with Florence. When Medici died, Florence mourned their leader, and eventually the fragile peace he had established with fellow city states fell apart. I must admit, once again my knowledge of Renaissance Florence comes primarily from playing the Assassin’s Creed games, in which Lorenzo de’ Medici is a central character. Clearly, some artistic liberties are taken with certain characters (especially the Borgias), which I have written about before. However I would still recommend these games, especially Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood. As you roam around the Italian countryside and cities killing Templars, you can read about the locations and characters in their historical context. Then at least you can feel you’re doing something educational while playing videogames!