The Medici : Godfathers of The Renaissance [PBS Special]

August 4, 2010

One of the most ambitious documentaries ever created featuring the Medici is the PBS Empires Special. It was a 4 part series that starts with the Cosimo and tracks the torrid history of late Medieval and Renaissance era Florence. This is all presented in an entertaining and visually engrossing way, including wonderful CG models and dramatisations.

Whilst it is available for purchase, the wonderful PBS have made the entire series available on YouTube, which you can watch directly from the player above.

Part 1: Birth of A Dynasty

Europe, 1400: A continent torn apart by war and plague is dominated by the authority of the Catholic Church.This episode focuses on Cosimo de' Medici, including his prolific patronage of the arts.

Part 1 also explores Brunelleschi's work on the Duomo

Part 2: The Magnificent Medici

Florence, August 1466: Lorenzo de' Medici, the 17-year-old heir to the dynasty, foils a murderous plot against his father and saves his family from a coup d'etat. The Medici still dominate Florence, but now take extra precautions, picking a useful bride for Lorenzo. Clarice Orsini, a baron's daughter and cardinal's niece, brings connections, class, and military muscle to the Medici dynasty.

Lorenzo survives The Pazzi Conspiracy, which claimed the life of his brother Giuliano

Part 3: The Medici Pope

Florence, 1501: 26-year-old Michelangelo carves a giant masterpiece which will come to symbolise his struggle against a family he once adored. Raised from a young age alongside the Medici heirs he watched as they were cast into exile with a price on their heads. Now they are searching for a path back to power.

One of Raphael's Medici commissions, the 1519 portrait of Pope Leo X. Also included in the image (on the left) is Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, who eventually became Pope Clement VII.

Part 4: Power vs Truth

Florence, 1537: Alessandro de' Medici the Duke of Florence, lies murdered in his bed. His cousin is plucked from obscurity to lead Florence. He is just 17. His rivals think he's a puppet, but despite his youth, Cosimo de' Medici, the new Duke of Florence, is ambitious.This final episode in the series also focuses on Galileo Galilei and his infamous trial.

The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo Sopra i due Massimi Sistemi del Mondo) was published in 1632, and is a best seller to this day.


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