Rome and Florence between the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent and the death of Pope Paul III



1489-1492 Pope Innocent VIII, in conflict with King Ferdinand I of Naples over Ferdinand’s refusal to pay feudal dues to the papacy, excommunicates and deposes him by a bull of 11 September 1489. Innocent then offers the Kingdom of Naples to Charles VIII of France who has a remote claim to its throne because his grandfather, Charles VII, King of France, had married Marie of Anjou of the Angevin dynasty, the ruling family of Naples until 1442. Innocent later settles his quarrel with Ferdinand and revokes the bans before dying in 1492, but the offer to Charles leads to his claim to the throne of Naples and his expedition to Italy in 1494-95, also called the First Italian War.
1492 Lorenzo the Magnificent dies in Florence. He is succeeded by his son, Piero de Medici.


Rodrigo Borgia rules Rome as Pope Alexander VI

Pope Alexander VI, born Roderic Borgia (1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503), is pope from 11 August 1492 until his death (from poison) in 1503. Alexander goes down in history as a paragon of corruption and nepotism. He did not respect the Catholic obligation of celibacy: he had four children with his mistress, Vanozza Catanei: Giovanni, Cesare, Lucrezia and Gioffre. All his children are used in or take part in his policy of endowing his family with properties and titles in various parts of Italy.


Charles VIII conquers Naples, which he loses again, in 1495.

Ferdinand of Naples dies on January 25, 1494, and is succeeded by his son, Alfonso II.

In October 1494, Lodovico Sforza becomes Duke of Milan and is immediately challenged by Alfonso II, who also has a claim on Milan. Lodovico decides to remove this threat by inciting Charles to take up Innocent’s offer.

Charles VIII crosses the Alps in September 1494 with a massive army of 30,000 men to reclaim the kingdom of Naples. They pass peacefully through the territory of Milan and no doubt expect to do the same through Florence’s Tuscan lands. France’s quarrel is only with Naples. Alfonso de Aragon abdicates in favour of his son Ferdinand, who, unable to resist the French army, flees Naples in February 1495. Charles becomes king of Naples but has to return to France and leaves a governor in his place. This gives Ferdinand the opportunity to regain the throne in July 1495. Ferdinand dies in 1496 and is succeeded by his uncle Frederick. Charles VIII dies in 1498. Read more.


The short reign of Piero de Medici in Florence.

Florence is identified as an ally of Naples. Sensing a crisis, the young Piero de’ Medici, cedes several key castles, together with the ports of Pisa and Livorno to the French king.

The Florentine signoria protest that Piero has no authority to cede these possessions, but it is too late. The French enter Florence and occupy Pisa before moving on south.

When Piero returns to Florence, he is summoned to appear before the signoria. He makes the mistake of doing so with an armed guard. The city’s bell is tolled to call the people to the piazza. A mob ransacks the Medici palace. Piero and his two brothers escape from the city. It is nearly twenty years before his family returns.

The Florentines establish a republican government. Bernardo Rucellai and other members of the Florentine oligarchy then acted as ambassadors to negotiate a peaceful accord with Charles. France will prove to be Florence’s only hope to recoup its territories and maintain the republic. Source: Historyworld.net.  Read more:

1494-1498 Savonarola leads Florence.
1497 Giovanni Borgia, the son of Alexander VI and Duke of Gandia is assasinated.
1498-1504 The Second Italian war. Charles the VIII’s successor to the French throne, Louis XII, claims both Milan and Naples and starts a second French invasion of Italy. In order to secure his flank against Spain, he negotiates the division of Naples between himself and the King of Spain, Ferdinand de Aragon, through the Treaty of Granada, in 1500. The Pope Alexander VI agrees to this partition and in 1501 issues a bull depriving Frederick of his kingdom. Frederick of Naples goes into exile in France in 1501. The Neapolitan poet Sanazzaro goes into exile with his patron, remaining with him until Frederick’s death in 1504. In spite of the treaty, Spain fights the French for the whole possession of Naples and wins the war. Bartolomeo d’Alviano is crucial in this victory. Henceforth Naples would belong to the Spanish crown and France will give up its claim to it. Read more.
1498-1512 Niccolò Machiavelli enters the service of Florence shortly after the fall of Savonarola and remains active until the return of the Medici in 1512. Though never in the highest ranks of government, he holds responsible diplomatic posts and is sent on missions to Cesare Borgia, to other Italian cities and abroad.
1503 Both Alexander VI and his son Cesare Borgia are poisoned at a party. Cesare survives, but his father, the pope dies.
1508-1510 The third Italian war, also called the war of the League of Cambrai. The league, composed of papal forces, French army, The Holy Roman Empire ruled by Maximilian I moves against Venice. At the battle of Agnadello, 1509, Bartolomeo d’Alviano, who was fighting for the Venetians was defeated, wounded, and taken prisoner by the French.


Pope Julius II suceeds Alexander VI

Pope Julius II (5 December 1443 – 21 February 1513), born Giuliano della Rovere is pope from 1 November 1503 to his death in 1513. His papacy is marked by an active foreign policy, ambitious building projects, and patronage of the arts—he commissions the destruction and rebuilding of St. Peter’s and Michelangelo’s decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In addition to an active military policy, he personally leads troops into battle on at least two occasions.

Cardinal Giovanni de Medici persuades Pope Julius II to restore the Medici family to its former position in Florence. The Medicis return with the help of a Spanish army. A year later, Giovanni would become Pope Leo X. Source: historyworld.net Read more:


The Medici family is restored in Florence.

The two sons of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giovanni (the future Leo X) and Giuliano, Duke of Nemours (1476-1516) make their entrance into the city after having defeated the Republican forces in the battle of Prato. They are also joined by their cousin Giulio, the future pope Clement VII.

They return to their palace in the Via Larga and restore their coat of arms. They also take over the government of the city. Giuliano will rule it until his death in 1516.

After that, Florence would be ruled by his nephew Lorenzo (1492-1519) grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent and father of Alessandro de Medici. Lorenzo rules Florence between 1516-1519.

After Lorenzo’s death, Pope Leo X sent his cousin Giulio (cardinal at the time), to rule the city. When Giulio became pope in 1523, he continued to rule Florence and lost it temporarily when Rome was sacked by the troops of Charles V in 1527.


On Macchiavelli

After the return of the Medici, Machiavelli is dismissed from his positions, along with others who had served the republic. He is banished from Florence, and lives on a small estate that he owns at San Casciano, not far from the city. In 1513, he isimprisoned, tortured, and released with a fine.

On December 10, 1513, Macchiavelli wrote a now-famous letter to his friend Francesco Vettori. He describes with disgust the petty pursuits and dull companions that fill his days. Then he tells how he solaces himself in his miseries:

On the coming of evening, I return to my house and enter my study; and at the door I take off the day’s clothing, covered with mud and dust, and put on garments regal and courtly; and reclothed appropriately, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them with affection, I feed on that food which only is mine and which I was born for, where I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their kindness answer me; and for four hours of time I do not feel boredom, I forget every trouble, I do not dread poverty, I am not frightened by death; entirely I give myself over to them.

And because Dante says it does not produce knowledge when we hear but do not remember, I have noted everything in their conversation which has profited me, and have composed a little work On Princedoms, where I go as deeply as I can into considerations on this subject, debating what a princedom is, of what kinds they are, how they are gained, how they are kept, why they are lost. And if ever you can find any of my fantasies pleasing, this one should not displease you; and by a prince, and especially by a new prince, it ought to be welcomed. Read more.


Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici becomes pope Leo the Tenth

Pope Leo X (11 December 1475 – 1 December 1521), born Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici, is pope from 9 March 1513 to his death in 1521. He is the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent who had intervened to make him cardinal in 1489.

He grants indulgences to those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter’s which practice was challenged by Martin Luther. He seems not to have taken seriously the array of demands for church reform that would quickly grow into the Reformation.

He borrowed and spent heavily. A significant patron of the arts, upon election Leo is alleged to have said, “Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.” Under his reign, progress was made on the rebuilding of St. Peter’s, and Raphael decorated the Vatican rooms. Raphael died in 1520, a year before Leo.

Leo also sponsored the poets Baraballo and Mozarello.

1521-1523 Pope Adrian VI (1459-1523)

In 1520 the University of Florence, at Cardinal Giulio de Medici’s wish, commissions Machiavelli to write a history of Florence. By the time The Florentine History was finished, the cardinal had become Pope Clement VII. Machiavelli dedicated the work to him and presented it to him in Rome in 1525. It was published in 1532, after the author’s death. It consisted of eight books, ending with the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1492.

The Habsburg Emperor Charles V is at war with France, ruled by Francis I. At the battle of Pavia, 1526, France loses all claims in Italy.

1523-1534 Pope Clement VII (26 May 1478 – 25 September 1534), born Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici, is pope from 19 November 1523 to his death in 1534. The Sack of Rome and the English Reformation occurred during his papacy. When Henry VIII of England petitioned the papacy for the annullment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Clement was held prisoner by Charles V’s troops.
1526-1530 Second French-Hapsburg war. Charles V faces a coalition of papal forces, French forces, Florence, Milan and Venice, called the League of Cognac. Charles won, inaugurating a period of hegemony of the Holy Roman Empire from Milan to Naples. The peace, signed in 1529 was called The Ladies’ peace.

Sack of Rome.

Clement takes refuge in Castle St Angelo, where he remains for six months. Then he flees to Orvieto and Viterbo, returning to Rome in October 1528.

1527-1530 Florence takes the opportunity of the Sack of Rome to expel the Medici again from the city. Florence becomes again a republic.
October 1529- August 1530 The siege of Florence. The republic capitulates to the forces of Charles V.

Charles the V and Clement VII bring back the Medici family to Florence. The first to take the reign is the 20 year-old Alessandro, called “Il Moro.” He is the bastard son of Lorenzo, who had ruled Florence 1516-1519 and is the last heir to the main branch of the Medici family. He is the first Duke of Florence, which means not only concentration of political power, but also hereditary right of succession.

Relations between Alessandro and Charles V are most cordial and Alessandro would become Charles’s son in law in 1536 by marrying his daughter,  Margaret of Hapsburg.

1533 Lorenzino de Medici, a member of the "Popolani" branch of the Medici family makes himself detested by the Pope (Clement VII) by a prank: one night he decapitates a few Roman statues in the Forum. The Pope is furious: until he finds out that the guilty party is a member of his own family he is bent on execution. However, under family pressure, Clement allows Lorenzino to live, but banishes him from Rome. Lorenzino finds refuge at his cousin Alessandro's court and becomes the Duke's trusted friend.
1534-1549 Pope Paul III (29 February 1468 – 10 November 1549), born Alessandro Farnese, is pope from 13 October 1534 to his death in 1549. The Medici family ceases to have the privileges and protection that it enjoyed during the papacy of Clement VII.
January 1537

On 6 January, 1537, Alessandro de Medici is assassinated by his cousin Lorenzino, putatively, in order to restore the republic. This however, does not happen. Another member of the family from the Popolani branch, his cousin Cosimo I, takes over. He is 17 at the time.

Lorenzino flees Florence to put himself under the protection of Filippo Strozzi, a Florentine banker with republican sentiments who lives in exile in Bologna and Venice.


Florence becomes the capital of the Duchy of Tuscany under Cosimo I.

Cosimo de Medici is the son of Giovanni "delle Bande Nere," a Medici condotiere from the Popolano branch of the family. He proves himself to be a great military commander and political strategist. By allying himself with Charles V, he defeats the Florentine Republican forces led by Filippo and Piero Strozzi in August 1537 and takes Siena in 1555. Cosimo receives the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569 and lays the foundations for the hereditary rule of the Medici family in Tuscany until 1737.

August 1537 Filippo Strozzi and his son Piero assemble an army to fight for a republican government in Florence, but are defeated by Cosimo de Medici at the battle of Montemurlo. Piero flees to France. Filippo dies in prison in December 1538.
1543 Cosimo offers Benedetto Varchi patronage so that Varchi can return to Florence and write the Florentine History 1527-1537. Varchi’s history ends with Alessandro’s assassination, but is thought too dangerous for publication. The Storia fiorentina is not published until 1721, almost two hundred years after the events it relates.
1548 Lorenzaccio is assasinated in Venice by the agents of Charles V.
1549 Pope Paul III dies and is succeeded by Pope Julius III.




Gilbert, William. Renaissance and Reformation. Ebook, 1997. 

"History of the Medici." Historyworld.net.

“The Italian Wars.” historyofwar.org

“The return of the Medici, 1512.” Palazzo Medici.

The Fifth Decad

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Cantos LII - LXXI

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