The Medici Of Florence Essay Research Paper

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The Medici Of Florence Essay, Research Paper The Medici of FlorenceJason N WesselsHST 403, Mr ReedHarris-Stowe State College, Spring 1998 1Introduction The Medici Family ruled over Florence for four generations at the center of the Italian Renaissance. They commissioned some of the world’s most celebrated works of art , and propelled Italian thought and philosophy to new heights. They began the first mass movement in Western Europe of examining the past, its antiquities and languages. Politically The Medici were influential and played a significant role in European politics until the 18th century. The Medici were bankers, politicians, artists and philanthropists of the highest order. They were celebrated by Florentines in their day and should be celebrated by us today for

their contributions to the arts, ancient studies and politics. In the following pages the generations of The Medici will be examined. Their impact on art, politics, philanthropy and the humanities will be analyzed. The Medici’s place in history will be assessed. And the debt that Western Civilization entire owes the Medici will made evident. 2The Italian Renaissance To understand the Medici we must have at least a vague understanding of Renaissance Italy. In the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries a great leap out of medieval thought into an era of increased social, educational and artistic awareness took place in Italy. Historians refer to this period as The Italian Renaissance. Renaissance in French means rebirth, in this case it means a rebirth in knowledge and learning.

The Italian Renaissance grew out of great economic and political changes. The Feudal System was collapsing as urban areas were forming in Italy. With the formation of cities came the rise of a middle class, and an increase in mobility, and thus an increase in trade of both goods and ideas. The middle class was made up of merchants and artisans, people of commerce. For the first time in Europe middle class people were ruling. The Borgia, Sforsa, and Medici were all prominent families in Italy. These were not families with centuries of traditions as leaders. These were bankers and merchants who rose to power, with the consent of many people in their regions, if not the majority. The Church was a source of great anxiety for the citizens of fourteenth century Italy. Davies sites the

despondency of the members of the church and their spiritual development as reason for this revolution of thought. The rise of the middle class not only meant they would bear rulers, but meant they would have money and this money would turn toward the commissioning of art, and the collection and study of pagan antiquities. For the first time in a millennium artists turned away from religious subjects. They focused on regular people, not saints or deities or churchmen, influenced by classic Greek and Roman art. Artists such as Michelangelo, Boticelli, Raphael and many artists broke the chains that had held artists nameless for centuries before. 3They produced art many with religious themes, but with an emphasis on humanity and reality and the possible perfection and beauty of the

human form. Art before this time was more representational than realistic. Intellectual activities also turned towards classic studies. The Greek language made a revival and studies of ancient writings were reinstituted. The formation of libraries and organizations to understand, collect and preserve these writings was wide spread. Even the Church participated with the founding of the Vatican Library. Which to this day is the definitive source of written antiquities. Political science as a discipline was invented. Machiavelli introduced new themes to the world. The idea that a good prince is one who gets done what needs be done by any means necessary, is one that had probably been practiced since the beginning of time, but no one was observent, or had enough gall to say such