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Lorenzo I "il Magnifico" de' Medici (1449-1492) 
Born 1 January 1449 Firenze                                          
Died 8 April 1492 Carregio 
 

Although he was only twenty when he succeeded his father, he already achieved success as a diplomat on several occasions. In 1469 he was married to Clarice Orsini. Lorenzo himself was not attracted to her as he loved Lucrezia Donati, whom he could not marry since political wisdom dictated his choice. 
It was an enormous celebration, three days of it, but it must have been a strange feast: the host was absent, the bridegroom was reluctant, and his mother entertained her friends and guests 
separately on a balcony overlooking the courtyard. As might be expected, the marriage was not happy. In Lorenzo's letters to his wife there is little sign of real affection; but Clarice was a dutiful wife and was fully occupied by giving birth to ten children, seven of whom survived. When she died suddenly in 1488, Lorenzo was away taking the waters for his gout and did not attend her funeral. 

Lorenzo's foreign policy was facilitated by the fact that this entire period or rule occurred after the Peace of Lodi. He continued his grandfather's policy of maintaining Florentine independence 
through good relations with the Sforza of Milan and with the Republic of Venice. The most serious problem from a personal point of view derived from the more difficult relations with the Church, and led to the attempted assassination of 1478 when his brother, Giuliano, was murdered by the men of Girolamo Riario, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV (Francesco della Rovere). Only through the inexperience of his attackers did Lorenzo escape, but he had received a flesh wound in his 
neck from one of the priest's daggers.
Pope Sixtus was now a bitter enemy of Lorenzo, but through a combination of luck and good diplomacy, Lorenzo managed to thwart the papal ambition and restore peace to Florence. For the last fourteen years of his rule he was able to live to all intents and purposes as a kind of enlightened despot. 
In 1489 he took into his house as a permanent guest a young boy of fourteen who, in later years, was to surpass all the artists patronized by the Medici, and who even then was producing work which impressed his patrons and tutors. For the remaining years of Lorenzo's life, Michelangelo studied in the school of sculpture which had been founded in the Medici gardens, to compensate for the lack of sculptors Lorenzo felt existed at that time. 
Lorenzo was one of the most important and versatile of Italian poets. He wrote formal religious poetry and love songs. Although he ruled Florence and lived at the centre of Italian political life, he was happiest at one of the Medici villas in the countryside near Florence. He was larger than life in almost every aspect; he loved Florentine football, hunting, obscene stories, practical jokes; he fed his own horse and enjoyed the physical aspects of farming; at the same time he sang well, played the lyre, wrote excellent poetry, made architectural drawings, and read Plato. Machiavelli asserted that the light and voluptuous side of Lorenzo and his seriousness were 'joined in an almost impossible conjunction'. 
Lorenzo was believed to have stated that he had three sons, one good, one wise, and one a fool. It is unfortunate for the Medici dynasty that it was the fool, Giuliano (1479-1516), in whose person 
the future of the family rested, since his eldest brother Piero (1471-1503) died young and the wise one, Giovanni (1475-1521), became pope as Leo X (1513-1521). 

From "Italian Dynasties", by Edward Burman. 
 

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