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Lorenzo de Medici ritratto Girolamo Machietti wiki











A brief narrative of the course of my life and of some other important things worthy of remembrance for the guidance and information [151] of those who will succeed me, and especially for my sons. Begun this day, the 15th March 1472.

I find from the books of Piero our father that I was born on January 1, 1449 [1450]. By our mother Maria Lucrezia di Francesco Tornabuoni our father had seven children, four male and three female, of whom four are still alive. They are Giuliano my brother, aged . . . and myself, aged twenty-four, Bianca, wife of Gugliemo de’ Pazzi, and Nannina, wife of Bernardo Rucellai.

Giovanni d’ Averardo, surnamed Bicci, de’ Medici, our great-grandfather, died on the 20th February 1428, at the fourth hour of the night. He would not make a will, and left property to the amount of 179,221 scudi di suggello, as appears in a record in the handwriting of Cosimo our grandfather in his red leather book on page 7. The said Giovanni lived sixty-eight years, and left two sons, Cosimo our grandfather, then about forty, and Lorenzo, aged thirty.

Lorenzo had one son, Pier Francesco, born on ... 1430, who is still alive.

Cosimo had two sons, our father Piero, born . . . and our uncle Giovanni, born . . . On September . . . 1433 our grandfather Cosimo was imprisoned in the Palace, and in danger of losing his head. On September 9th he was banished to Padua, together with his brother Lorenzo, a sentence confirmed by the Balia of 1433 on the 11th, and on the 16th December he was permitted to reside anywhere in the Venetian territory, but not nearer to Florence than Padua.

On September 29, 1434, the Council of the Balia revoked the sentence of exile, to the great joy of the whole city and of almost all Italy, and here [in Florence] he lived until his last day as head of the government of our Republic.

Lorenzo de’ Medici, brother of Cosimo our grandfather, quitted this life at Careggi on September 20, 1440, aged about forty-six, at the fourth hour of the night, and would not make a will; Pier Francesco, his son, was his sole heir. The [152] property amounted to 235,137 scudi di suggello, as appears in the said book kept by Cosimo on page 13, which amount Cosimo kept for the use and benefit of the said Pier Francesco, and for Piero and Giovanni, his own sons, until they were of proper age, as appears in the books of the said Cosimo, wherein is a detailed account of all.

On December . . . 1451 the said Pier Francesco being of age, we divided the property according to the arbitration of Messer Mannello degl’ Strozzi, Bernardo de’ Medici, Alamanno Salviati, Messer Carlo Marsuppino, Amerigo Cavalcanti, and Giovanni Serristori, by whom a liberal half of our possessions was assigned to him, giving him the advantage over us and the best things. The deed was drawn up by Ser Antonio Pugi, notary, and at the same time we gave him an interest of one- third in our business, whereby he gained much more than we did as he had no expenses.

Giovanni, our uncle (et hujus quidem ingenio et virtute, plurimum confidebat Cosmus, qua propter ejus interitu maxime doluit), died on November 1, 1463, in our house in Florence, without making a will, because he had no children and was under parental tutelage. But all his last wishes were faithfully carried out. By Maria Ginevra degl’ Alessandri he had a son named Cosimo, who died in November 1461, at about the age of nine.

Cosimo our grandfather, a man of exceeding wisdom, died at Careggi on August 1, 1464, being much debilitated by old age and by gout, to the great grief not only of ourselves and of the whole city but of all Italy, because he was most famous - and adorned with many singular virtues. He died in the highest position any Florentine citizen ever attained at any period, and was buried in S. Lorenzo. He refused to make a will and forbade all pomp at his funeral. Nevertheless all the Italian princes sent to do him honour and to condole with us on his death ; among others H.M. the King of France commanded that he should be honoured with his banner, [153] but out of respect for his wishes our father would not allow it. By public decree he was named PATER PATRIAE, and the decree and the letters patent are in our house. After his death much sedition arose in the city, especially was our father persecuted out of envy. From this sprang the parliament and the change of government in 1466, when Messer Agnolo Acciaiuoli, Messer Diotisalvi, Niccolo Soderini, and others were exiled, and the State was reformed.

In the year 1465 H.M. King Louis of France, out of regard for the friendship between our grandfather, our father, and the House of France, decorated our escutcheon with three Lilies d'or on a field azure, which we carry at present. We have the patents with the royal seal attached, which was approved and confirmed in the Palace with nine beans [votes].

In July 1467 came the Duke Galeazzo of Milan. He was fighting against Bartolomeo of Bergamo in the Romagna, who was vexing our State. By his own wish he lodged in our house, although the Signory had prepared everything for him in S. Maria Novella.

In February or in March of the same year Sarzana, Sarzanelle, and Castelnuovo were bought by the aid of our father Piero from M. Lorenzo and M. Tommasino da Campo Fregoso; notwithstanding that we were engaged in hot war the payment was made by Francesco Sassetti, our confidential agent, at that time one of the managers of the Monte.

I, Lorenzo, took to wife Clarice, daughter of the Lord Jacopo Orsini, or rather she was given (i.e. betrothed) to me in December 1468, and the marriage was celebrated in our house on June 4, 1469. Till now I have by her two children, a girl called Lucrezia, of ... years, and a boy named Piero, of ... months. Clarice is again with child. God preserve her to us for many years and guard us from all evil. Twin boys were born prematurely at about five or six months old, they lived long enough to be baptized.

In July 1469 I went to Milan at the request of the [154] Illustrious Duke Galeazzo to stand godfather as proxy for Piero our father to his firstborn child. I was received with much honour, more so than the others who came for the same purpose, although they were persons more worthy than I. We paid our duty to the Duchess by presenting her with a necklace of gold with a large diamond, which cost near 2000 ducats. The consequence was that the said Lord desired that I should stand godfather to all his children.

To do as others had done I held a joust in the Piazza S. Croce at great expense and with great pomp. I find we spent about 10,000 ducats di suggello, and although I was not highly versed in the use of weapons and the delivery of blows, the first prize was given to me; a helmet fashioned of silver, with Mars as the crest.

Piero, our father, departed this life on July 2nd, aged . . . having been much tormented with gout. He would not make a will, but we drew up an inventory and found we possessed 237,988 scudi, as is recorded by me in a large green book bound in kid. He was buried in S. Lorenzo, and we are still at work to make his and his brother Giovanni's tomb as worthy to receive his bones as we can. God have mercy on their souls. He was much mourned by the whole city, being an upright man and exceedingly kindly. The princes of Italy, especially the principal ones, sent letters and envoys to condole with us and offer us their help for our defence.

The second day after his death, although I, Lorenzo, was very young, being twenty years of age, the principal men of the city and of the State came to us in our house to condole with us on our loss and to encourage me to take charge of the city and of the State, as my grandfather and my father had done. This I did, though on account of my youth and the great responsibility and perils arising therefrom, with great reluctance, solely for the safety of our friends and of our possessions. FOR IT IS ILL LIVING IN FLORENCE FOR THE RICH UNLESS THEY RULE THE STATE. Till now we have succeeded with [155] honour and renown, which I attribute not to prudence but to the grace of God and the good conduct of my predecessors.

I find that from 1434 till now we have spent large sums of money, as appear in a small quarto note-book of the said year to the end of 1471. Incredible are the sums written down. They amount to 663,755 florins for alms, buildings, and taxes, let alone other expenses. But I do not regret this, for though many would consider it better to have a part of that sum in their purse, I consider that it gave great honour to our State, and I think the money was well expended, and am well pleased.

In the month of September 1471 I was elected to go as ambassador for the coronation of Pope Sixtus, and was treated with great honour. I brought back the two antique marble heads, portraits of Augustus and Agrippa, given to me by the said Pope Sixtus, and also our cup of chalcedony incised, and many other cameos which I then bought.


[The following adjunct is written on the fly-leaf of a small codex in the archive in Florence without any date, but probably in 1483-5, containing a list of letters written by Lorenzo to various people, and above is written Ricordi di Lorenzo de’ Medici. All the first part is in a codex in the Nazionale Library, a copy of Lorenzo's Ricordi, the original of which seems no longer to exist. It differs somewhat from the version given by Roscoe, which he says was in Lorenzo's own handwriting.]

On the 19th day of September [1483] came the news that the King of France by his own free will had given to our Giovanni the Abbey of Fonte Dolce. On the 31st we heard from Rome that the Pope had ratified this and declared him capable of holding benefices, being seven years of age, and had created him a Protonotary. On the 1st June our Giovanni came from Poggio [a Caiano] and I with him. On his arrival he was confirmed by our Monsignore of Arezzo [Gentile Becchi] who gave him the tonsure, and thereafter he was called Messer Giovanni. These ceremonies took place in our own chapel, and in the evening we returned to Poggio. On the 8th June [156] Jacopino, the courier from France, arrived about twelve of the clock with letters from the king, who has bestowed on our Messer Giovanni the Archbishopric of Aix en Provence, and after vespers the man was despatched to Rome about this business, with letters from the King of France to the Pope and the Cardinal of Macon, and to Count Girolamo, to whom we sent at the same hour letters by the courier Zenino to Forli. God grant that all will be well.

 On the 11th Zenino returned from the Count with letters for the Pope and the Cardinal of S. Giorgio, and we forwarded them to Rome by the Milan post. God grant that all will be well. On the same day after Mass in the chapel the daughters and sons of the house were confirmed, with the exception of Messer Giovanni.

On the 15th, at six in the evening, came letters from Rome saying that the Pope raised difficulties about giving the arch-bishopric to Messer Giovanni on account of his youth, and the courier was at once sent on to the King of France.

On the 20th came news from Lionetto that the Archbishop was not dead.

On March 1, 1484 (1485), the Abbot of Pasignano died and we at once sent off an express messenger to Messer Giovanni d'Antonio Vespucci, our ambassador at Rome, to do all he could to obtain this abbey for our Messer Giovanni. On the 2nd we took possession of the estate under the seal of the Signoria, by reason of the reservation made by Pope Sixtus to our Messer Giovanni, confirmed by Innocent during the visit of our Piero to Rome to do obeisance. 



Lorenzo de Medici. "Ricordi." Lives of the Early Medici as Told in Their Correspondence. Ed. and trans. Janet Ross. London: Chatto & Windus, 1910. 150-156.


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