Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco di Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as Lorenzino or Lorenzaccio
Florence, 1514 - Venice, 1547
Florence; Rome, Naples, Bologna, Venice, Constantinople
- Biographical information:
Belonging to the younger branch of the Medici family, Lorenzo born in 1514 was the grandson of Lorenzo, known as il Popolano. Intelligent but rebellious, Lorenzo led a riotous and licentious existence, to the extent that he was nicknamed "Lorenzaccio", or bad Lorenzo, as well as "Lorenzino", or little Lorenzo, on account of his slender build.
After the death of his father Pierfrancesco in 1525, he was brought up by his mother Maria Soderini. He later moved to Rome, where he continued in his reckless and vandalistic behaviour, to the great embarrassment of Pope Clement VII de’ Medici. In 1533 he disfigured the reliefs on the Arch of Constantine and mutilated several statues in the Basilica of San Paolo: the general indignation and the fear of an exemplary punishment drove Lorenzino to flight. Thus he returned to Florence, and set himself at the service of Duke Alessandro de’ Medici. Despite the warnings of those close to him, Alessandro took warmly to his young relative, sharing his pastimes and revels and taking the youth into his confidence. The duke even brought Lorenzino to Naples with him, when he went to meet Charles V.
With a changeable and ambiguous temperament, over time Lorenzino began to nurture the idea of murdering Alessandro. On the night of the Epiphany of 1537 he lured the Duke to his own dwelling, situated in the old house of the Medici, enticing him with the promise of an amorous encounter with a woman. Instead it was Lorenzino himself who lay in wait for Alessandro, in the company of a hired assassin called lo Scoroconcolo, and together they killed the Duke.
Lorenzino then fled from Florence, taking refuge first in Bologna and later in Venice, from where he incited the Florentine outlaws to action. As soon as he was elected duke, Cosimo I, the son of Giovanni delle Bande Nere, issued an edict in which he declared Lorenzino a rebel and sentenced him to capital punishment. Lorenzino then went to join the Florentine outlaws, and remained with them up to the defeat of Montemurlo. Following this, Lorenzino had no option left to him but flight: in fact, travelling under a false name, he went first to Constantinople, and then to Paris, finally settling in Venice. Here the hired assassins of Cosimo caught up with him and stabbed him to death.
He left an illegitimate daughter called Lorenzina.
Having benefited from a sophisticated intellectual education, Lorenzino was a writer and a poet. While still a youth he wrote a play entitled Aridosia (1536), focused on the polemic against the ecclesiastics. He also wrote verses and letters. His masterpiece was the Apologia (1539), an oration in which Lorenzino explains the reasons for his murder of Alessandro, justifying it as a political act in a tight-knit dialectic inspired by the thought of Niccolò Machiavelli.
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