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Stages of Medici Control 1 of 2

Course Code
Nicholas Terpstra

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Early Modern Europe Thurs Oct 21
Renaissance Politics
City State - (to a Duchy) Florence
Empire - Holy Roman Empire
Nation State - France (Monarchy)
Florence - City State
1) Background
The location does not have any natural advantages (for example no wool,
but by buying and selling wool create a great deal of wealth, which leads to a
number of large banking families)
Stability; have a strong currency, gold coin called the Florin which is
used around Europe because it's known to be reliable (where other
governments will 'mix' alloys in the gold of their coin, making them
Problems when developing their economy; international trading city, but
not on a coastline and therefore overshadowed for a long time by these
coastal cities (Genoa, Naples, etc.). This is not an issue til the 14 & 15 cent.
til they decide they do need sea access, which leads to issue with a number
of neighboring territories - esp. Pisa, Milan, Venice, and states of the Church
(in the center of the Italian peninsula).
Milan interested in expanding due to ambitions of Visconti family.
Also, at this point we have a tussle between French and Spanish for
control of Naples.
This are the conditions, in which Florence needs to be aware of the area
around it, while also wanting to expand and gain sea accent. The beginning
of the 14th century see's many wars in the peninsula. Florence's greatest ally
was Venice, enemy was Milan.
These wars tended to occur between hired mercenaries. War is very
expensive. Great deal of tension in Florence because of this, new tax system
(tax census).
From 1420's to 1430s Florentine politics begin to separate between two
large groups. Medici & Albizzi family. They were fighting over power,
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Albizzi in power in 1433 when Florence receives a setback and aims to
blame this on the Medici and exile Cosimo.
However his supporters get into power, call him back from exile, and he
gains power and exiles all of the Albizzi and their supporters (Strozzi). He
does not become the formal leader, but now has background power.
Cosimo; has a lot of money, a lot of people in his faction (clients,
supporters), his is a banker and give a loan on advantageous terms as long as
you support him. He initiates a period of stability that lasts within Florence.
2) Stages of Medici Control
Cosimo - 1434-64
skilled banker, with a strong sense of balance - understands that if
he wants to stay in power, he must stay out of power. Must keep his
faction happy (all wealthy and ambitious), and does so by promoting
their political careers, fortunes, marriages etc.
Also understands he must keep his enemies out of circulation.
Power sharing, keeping taxes low, and keep the right profile
(magnificence and humility - Catholic ethos that you should share
your wealth, be humble, contradicts growing Classical ethos that a
leader should be magnificent, show this through their wealth)
He achieves this profile balance by supporting the arts, building
the Medici palace, rebuilding the local cherish church, local
monasteries which he donates manuscripts to, sponsors scholars who
go out to find ancient manuscripts. Also gives the Pope refuge when
he needs to flee the Empire. All of these things cost a lot of money,
which he is willing to put in himself.
Aside from the palace, all of the money goes to benefiting
Florence - thereby he is not shoving his wealth in their faces, but still
allowing them to know about it.
This results in retaining good relations with other merchants,
avoids public office and places his supporters in his place.
Work indirectly, from behind the scene, pulling strings. Still
directs policy with informal consultations at his home.
In these informal consultations he aims to stop the wars which
Florence in engaging in. He proposes an alliance to Milan, gambling
Venice will not break it's peace with them if they do so.
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