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The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance

Medici family members placed allegorically in the entourage of a king from the Three Wise Men in the Tuscan countryside in a Benozzo Gozzoli fresco, c. 1459.

Medici family members placed allegorically in the entourage of a king from the Three Wise Men in the Tuscan countryside in a Benozzo Gozzoli fresco, c. 1459.

From a small Italian community in 15th century Florence, the Medici family would rise to rule Europe in many ways. Using charm, patronage, skill, duplicity and ruthlessness, they would amass unparalleled wealth and unprecedented power. They would also ignite the most important cultural and artisitc revolution in Western history- the European Renaissance. But the forces of change the Medici helped unleash would one day topple their ordered world.

Godfathers of the Renaissance is a four part documentary series published by PBS and broadcasted in 2004.

Wealthy Florentine banker Cosimo de’ Medici’s search of Europe for relics of antiquity sparks classical learning and inventive thinking.

Lorenzo de’ Medici becomes a driving force of the Renaissance; monk Savonarola promotes fundamentalist purification of Florence after the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

Giovanni de’ Medici becomes Pope Leo X in 1513 and begins to sell indulgences to restore papal funds; Martin Luther protests the selling of indulgences.

Giorgio Vasari writes a book to define the Renaissance; Galileo pursues his scientific studies with the support of the Medici family.

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