(Sorry Friends, for posting educational type of poems, I know Haiku are easier to read & comment! But if you happen to like this true story, kindly recommend it to your other friends! Thanks, -Raj)
STORY OF EUROPEAN RENAISSANCE: PART TWO
THE CITY-STATE OF FLORENCE :
The city of Florence lies in the historic valley of Tuscany ,
Along the banks of the Arno river, surrounded by hills
of scenic beauty !
Here during the first century BC , the conquering Romans
established their ‘Colonia Florentina’,
To settle the war veterans of Caesar’s army in Northern
But later after the fall of Rome , it became a battleground
for the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope ;
But the independent nature of its people refused foreign
They preferred commune rule led by a powerful leader –
called the Signore ,
Just like the city-states of ancient Greece, in those days of
But unlike Greece , Florence saw no Democracy ,
Since the Medici family finally usurped power in this
city of Northern Italy !
Unlike Venice , Florence is landlocked and not a port
Relying on banking and trade to prosper economically .
Their gold coin florin became the standard coinage
throughout Europe ;
While through the export of its quality textile and woolen
goods, great wealth got secured !
But to become patrons of art and letters mere wealth is
not enough ,
One must have a refined taste to become a true lover of
letters and art !
And here the Medici carved out a niche for themselves
under the Florentine sun !
Writers like Francesco Petrarca , Dante, and Boccaccio ;
And artists such as Giotto , Lippi, Dontello, Leonardo ,
and Michelangelo , were all born Florentines !
Even classical Athens couldn’t boast of such a vast
Of artistic talents within such a limited time frame of
These artists embellished their city with their literary
works, sculptures, architectures and paintings ;
Made Florence to reawaken, dazzle, and shine ;
Carving out a proud moment in history for the
CONTRIBUTION OF MEDICI FAMILY OF
Giovanni de Medici (1360-1429) :
This Medici family became the Godfather for the Italian
And I feel obliged to narrate their story tracing their
historical source !
In those early days Art was considered a lowly craft ,
There were no art galleries, and one couldn’t make a
living out of Art !
Without patronage the artist and his art couldn’t survive ,
So I speak of the Medics, who had originated from the
Tuscan countryside !
Gaining power through wealth and political astuteness,
And not through military force for dominance !
The founder of family’s fortunes was Giovanni de
An educated man with a simple life style , who
traveled on a donkey !
A humble man who had never aroused any enmity .
He established the Medici Bank with innovations
in ledger accounting system ;
And became a pioneers in tracking credits and debits
through a double entry system !
He opened branches of the Bank in Rome and Northern
Facilitated bills of exchange and credit bills, to multiply
his money !
After the return of the Papacy from Avignon to Rome ,
The Medici Bank was made the official bankers of the
And Giovanni became the wealthiest man in Italy , if
not in entire Europe !
In 1421 Giovanni was made the Chief Executive of his
And he commissioned its leading architect Brunelleschi , -
to glorify Florence city .
The challenging task for Brunelleschi was to build the dome
of the Cathedral of his city .
This was the first octagonal dome in history , a breakaway
from the earlier Gothic structures ,
And even surpassing the Roman Pantheon as a marvel of
Florentine architecture !
It took sixteen long years to complete this huge dome ,
And stands today as an icon of Renaissance Europe !
Giovanni had taught his son Cosimo to follow a simple
life style ,
To patronize art and letters, and to his people be kind !
COSIMO De MEDICI (1389-1464) :
After Giovanni’s death , Cosimo the Elder built upon
his father’s inherited wealth ;
Absorbed most of the 39 Florentine Banks, operating its
branches in London and Bruges as well !
The greatest rival of the Medici fortunes were the Albizzi ,
They plotted against Cosimo and the Medics ;
And in 1433, exiled Cosimo and his family out of jealousy !
But after a year the Medics were recalled back as heroes ,
Since the Florentine coffers without the Medici Bank , -
had become almost zero !
But both peace and prosperity are needed for flourishing
of art and culture ,
So Cosimo engineered the Peace of Lodi (1454) with Milan
and Venice , -
To prevent future wars and misadventure !
Scholars were made to collect precious manuscripts from
the East, and the churches and vaults of Europe ;
And an ensured period of stability , contributed to Early
Renaissance’s growth !
Sculptor Donatello’s bronze **** David stood up as an
unique art form ,
And with paintings of Fra Angelico, and Filippo Lippi , -
the style of art itself began to reform !
Architect Michalozzo built the famous Medici Palace ,
And Cosimo opened the Medici Library for the spread of
classical knowledge !
After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 , the Greek scholars
with their classical manuscripts fled to Italy .
They flocked to Florence where Cosimo established a
Platonic Academy !
Renowned Humanist Marsilio Ficino became its President ,
And complete works of Plato got translated from Greek
to Latin !
Thus the growth of Early Renaissance owed much to
Cosimo’s patronage ,
And the Florentines inscribed “Pater Patriae” on his tomb , –
(‘Father of His Country’) after his death !
LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT (1449-1492) :
Cosimo’s son Piero the Gouty died within five years ,
Never achieved anything spectacular worthy of tears !
The Medici Bank had loaned large sums of money to
King Edward IV of England and Charles the Bold of
Failed to recover getting into bad debts and insolvency !
So when Cosimo’s grandson Lorenzo succeeded at
the age of twenty one ,
He focused on other areas of creativity, and the period
of High Renaissance begun !
Lorenzo , a genuine lover of arts, also wrote poetry in the
dialect of his native Tuscany ;
Following the footsteps of Tuscan born poets Donzella ,
Davanzati , and Dante the author of ‘Divine Comedy’ !
On 26th April 1478 , the Pazzi family in connivance with
the Archbishop of Pisa and backing of Pope Sixtus IV ,
Tried to assassinate the Medics during the High Mass, -
in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore !
Younger brother Giuliano was fatally stabbed , but they
failed to **** Lorenzo .
All the conspirators were hanged including Pisa’s
Ecclesiastic censure was issued against Florence ,
And Lorenzo was excommunicated by the Pope !
But Lorenzo worked out a treaty of peace with the King
of Naples ,
And became the undisputed ruler of the Republic of
Unfortunately , Lorenzo died young at the age of forty-
At the dawn of the great Age of Exploration and
adventures by sea !
During his rule Renaissance reached its Golden Age ,
And literature, art, and architecture blossomed with
Lorenzo’s patronage !
It earned him the title of ‘Magnifico’, now know to
us as Lorenzo the Magnificent !
Leonardo da Vinci , Michelangelo , Raphel , Giovanni
Bellini ,Titan, Veronese, Correggio , Tintoretto ;
All became superstars of the Renaissance era ;
Their works are cherished, valued and treasured to
this day of our Modern era !
In the year 1492 with Lorenzo’s death , Italy entered
a period of turmoil and instability,
And the Renaissance saw a period of decline in Italy !
But the flames of the Renaissance spread to other
parts of Northern Europe ,
And in the 16th century reached England’s shores !
The Medici Family had also provided three Popes to
Italy, and three Queens to France ;
Besides patronizing the growth of the famous Italian
Now dear readers, to do justice to Renaissance art ,
architecture, and literature briefly ,
I propose to narrate its story in Part Three !
-- By Raj Nandy of New Delhi .
*ALL COPY RIGHTS ARE WITH THE AUTHOR
For those who have missed out on my Part One, would surely benefit by going through the same! This is a part of my researched work,put across in simple verse. Thanks & best wishes, -Raj