Giuliano di Piero de' Medici
Florence, 1453 – Florence, 1478
- Biographical information:
Son of Piero il Gottoso and Lucrezia Tornabuoni, he was the younger brother of Lorenzo il Magnifico, with whom he received a cultural training of the highest level enhanced by the teachings of Gentile Becchi, Agiropulo, Marsilio Ficino and Cristoforo Landino. He made his first public appearance at the end of April 1459, when together with Lorenzo he attended his grandfather Cosimo in the celebrations organised to welcome Galeazzo Maria Sforza, son of the Duke of Milan.
Elegant, affable and attractive in both his looks and his manners, Giuliano won the approval of the Florentines. In the tournament of 1469, he was among the twelve knights who accompanied Lorenzo in the "armeggeria". In April of the same year he went to Rome with a retinue of 50 knights to meet Clarice Orsini, his brother’s betrothed, and - about one month later - brought her back to Florence to celebrate the wedding. At his father’s death, in December, with Lorenzo he took over the management of the bank and of the government of Florence. In fact, on the day following this event both brothers signed two letters drafted by Gentile Becchi, in which they informed of this passage of power the Duke of Milan and the Marquis of Monferrato respectively. Lorenzo and Giuliano commissioned from Andrea Verrocchio the sepulchral monument to house the remains of their father Piero and their uncle Giovanni, in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo.
Between 1471 and 1472 Giuliano sojourned in Milan and in Venice, possibly in the attempt to arrange a good marriage. Lorenzo, on the other hand, sought to obtain the cardinal’s purple for him from the new Pope Sixtus IV, but because of the Pope’s aversion towards the Medici family, these requests fell on stony ground.
Giuliano was the unrivalled hero of the courtly tournament held in piazza Santa Croce on 29 January 1475, in which he dedicated his victory to the beautiful Simonetta Cattaneo, of Genoese birth, who had shortly before married Marco Vespucci. For this spectacular occasion, Sandro Botticelli painted the standard for Giuliano, while Andrea Verrocchio designed his silver armour and a magnificent helmet. Agnolo Poliziano celebrated the victory of the young Medici in his Stanze per la giostra di Giuliano.
In 1476 Lorenzo and Giuliano sold Verrocchio’s bronze David (now in the Bargello Museum in Florence) to the Signoria of Florence for 150 florins.
Despite being loved by the people, the young Giuliano came to a tragic end. On 26 April 1478 he was assassinated in the Duomo in the Pazzi conspiracy, being stabbed 19 times by Francesco de’ Pazzi. His brother Lorenzo instead managed to escape the aggression, after which he immediately set about quashing any political upheaval.
In the wake of this dramatic event Agnolo Poliziano wrote the Coniurationis Commentarium, published in the same year of 1478, in which the scholar recalled the physical and moral attributes of Giuliano who had been killed at the age of just twenty-five. From this text we learn that Giuliano excelled in hunting, running and athletic exercises, wrote "etrusca carmina" and was an expert horseman and javelin thrower.
He had a sentimental liaison with a certain Fioretta, possibly the daughter of Antonio Gorini. It’s said that when Giuliano died Fioretta was pregnant. Lorenzo took the infant, who was called Giulio, into his care; he later became cardinal and subsequently Pope, with the name of Clement VII.
Giuliano had a solemn funeral service in San Lorenzo, where he was buried. Later his remains were placed in the New Sacristy.
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