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Lorenzo 'the younger' de` Medici
commonly called Lorenzo 'il Popolano'
Born 1463
Died 20 May 1507
Married 1482 to Semiramide Appiani (?-1523) daughter of Jacopo Appiani

      Lorenzo the Younger, was the son of Pier Francesco de` Medici, the cousin of Piero 'il Gottoso', and his wife Laudomia Acciajoli, born in 1463. He, as well as his younger brother Giovanni de` Medici, failed to continue the attitude towards the elder branch of the family which had been maintained by their father and grandfather. His father died when Lorenzo was still a boy, and by the time that he was grown up his second cousin Lorenzo 'il Magnifico', had created for himself and his branch of the family a position in Italy of such weight and importance that it resembled that of a sovereign ruler; he was entertaining as an equal the rulers of other states, 
his children were making exalted marriages, and the whole life of the elder branch was quite different from the younger. All this created much jealousy in the minds of the younger branch, who found themselves occupying a very inferior position to their cousins, and they consequently began to exhibit a marked coldness towards the latter. Lorenzo 'il Magnifico', however, managed to keep this jealousy from growing stronger so long as he lived, and it did not come to a head until after his death in 1492. Nor did the younger branch fail to participate to some extent in the general exaltation of the family. For in January 1493 we find Isabella d`Este, the celebrated Marchiousness of Mantua, in a letter to her sister Beatrice, the duchess of Milan, mentioning Lorenzo, son of Pier Francesco, as one of the four sponsors of her lately-born daughter; and saying that his brother Giovanni had come to Mantua to represent Lorenzo at the baptism of the child.
       Soon after this the two brothers became so incensed against their cousin Pietro 'Sfortunato' that the jealousy they had long nourished against the elder branch was no longer restrained, and they became chiefly instrumental in rousing the ill-feeling against him which culminated in the 
banishment of the elder branch in 1494; we are told that it was principally to their representations that Charles VIII, king of France, while going to conquer Naples, turned aside from Pisa, and instead of taking the coast road thence to Rome, advanced upon Florence, and sacked it. This conduct of theirs, together with their adopting for a time the name of "Popolano" and erasing the family arms from their palace was never forgiven by elder branch.
      After the elder branch had been thus driven out, Lorenzo, who was a many of very mediocre abilities, became (as the reward for his conduct towards the elder branch of the family) a member of the Government. But the position only served to demonstrated his want of any capacity, and his was merely one among other nonentities who nominally ruled Florence while all the real power was wielded by Savonarola, a Dominican friar, whose eloquent attacks on moral laxity and for his predictions, some of them accurate, gained his vast popular influence, and he became the Florence's spiritual ruler after the banishment of 1494.
     And this was undoubtedly the reason why the Pope Alexander VI was able so easily to create a party in Florence antagonistic to Savonarola, and possessing the power to bring him to disaster. Men of the mental calibre of Lorenzo, composing nominally the ruling body of the State, but being thrust into the background by more able character of Savonarola, resented this and nourished a jealousy of him which made them ready to become the Pope's instruments in order to get rid of him.
     Lorenzo and Giovanni took in regard to Savonarola an exactly similar course to which they adopted in the case of their cousin Pietro, fanning the ill-feeling against the dominical friar of San Marco, and endeavoring to derive advantage for themselves by heading  the party who were being made use of by the Pope to destroy him. And it appears to have been at their instigation that the attack was made on San Marco which resulted in Savonarola's imprisonment and death. These two brothers are therefore flagrantly associated with one of the most disgraceful episodes in 
Florentine history; their conduct being all the more to be condemned because they took ignoble part of instigators to the more prominent actors, they themselves keeping to a large extent out of sight.
     Upon his brother Giovanni's death in 1498 Lorenzo appropriated later's estate of Castello (three miles from Florence), though it really belonged to the child of a few months old, the future Giovanni delle Bande Nere whom his brother had left. He pretended to hold the property as the representative  of this child, but, in view of the serious difficulties with the Pope in which the child's mother Caterina Sforza had become involved, never intended to surrender it.
     Lorenzo's whole conduct with regard to his nephew and the latter's mother, Caterina Sforza, displayed the same meanness of character which he had shown by his action in bringing about the banishment of the elder branch of his family in order to gratify his ignoble jealousy, and by his conduct in becoming one of the Pope's tools for the destruction of Savonarola. He was, however, eventually punished. When his sister-in-law was eventually released from her imprisonment and came to settle in Florence, Lorenzo, much to his disgust, had to surrender to her the custody of her son and the villa of Castello. He had embezzled a large part of the boy's inheritance. and 
dreaded this being discovered; and the maneuvers he adopted to prevent it showed his character. For example, when the lawsuit was given in Caterina's favor Lorenzo contrived to steal the boy, and she had again to go to law to get him back. This time Caterina hid her son in the convent dressed in girl's clothes for about a year. The lawsuit disclosed what he had done; and the shame of the discovery, together with the mortification at having failed in his object, brought on an illness which caused his death. He died in 1507, at the age of forty -four.
       Unlike his brother Giovanni, Lorenzo does not appear to have to any great extent a patron of art. It is said that Botticelli's drawings illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy were executed for him; and Vasari says that one of Michelanelo's early works, "a little St John," was made for him.
       He married Semiramide Appiani in 1482, and it is said, it was for this wedding Lorenzo 'il Magnificent' had comissioned Botticelli the celebrated La Primavera as a gift for the newlyweds to be hung at their villa of Castello. They left three sons and two daughters.

Source: Artem Kaplan

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