I just finished up watching the third season of The Medici — Masters of Florence that is now available on Netflix. To read the article in Italian click here:
Spoiler alert: Lorenzo de’ Medici – il magnifico
dies at the age of forty-three, and his wife Clarice dies at the age of thirty-eight!
All kidding aside, I found this series to be entirely delightful, if not completely historically accurate. It brings to life the period, the costumes, and the people with astonishing beauty. And although Lorenzo does die in 1492 the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue—he managed to leave quite a legacy. He had a sharp mind for strategies and political power plays, as well as helped introduced Florence to artists such as Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and encouraged humanist ideas to flourish.
The scenes, sets, and costumes are stunning — eye-candy for those who are history buffs or just lovers of all things Italian.
The third season picks up immediately where the second left off — Guiliano, Lorenzo’s brother, has been murdered in the Duomo on Easter Sunday stabbed eleven times by the Pazzi brothers. This incident changes Lorenzo from being a dreamer to a realist and one driven to reshape Florence according to his plan. As a result, he turns away from God—a big deal in the late 1400s—inorder to take control of his city and crown himself Prince of Europe. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with the Pope. Friction between Florence and the Papal States is at an all-time high. It is further escalated by Girolamo Riario, the Pope’s nephew—the perfect sinister adversary, whose only mission in life is to bring the Medici to their knees.
In this season, we are also are introduced to Girolamo Savonarola, the fanatic Dominican friar who took control of Florence. He denounced clerical corruption, despotic rule (aka Lorenzo), and called for the destruction of secular art and culture. He really stepped on the toes of the Medici and quickly became a foe. But, we are only left with a taste of things to come for this poor guy. Things don’t turn out for him in the end, and the Florentines eventually hang him. So, I thought the portrayal of Savonarola and his ambitions and fanaticism in this series was a bit underplayed.
The characters of Lorenzo and his wife Clarice, while still very young, show a new maturity in the third season. Their affections that have deepened over time are now stretched thin with Lorenzo’s lack of piety and interest in his sons and the elevation of Clarice’s devotion to God and family. While Clarice attempts to coddle her children, Lorenzo uses them like chess pieces in his attempt to control power on the Italian peninsula. He sends his sons to Rome to become cardinals in a long-game play to control the Papal State and barters off his favorite daughter Maddalena into a less-than-ideal marriage at a very young age with the Pope’s illegitimate son.
An interesting character that appears in Season three is that of Caterina Sforza. She is the wife of Riario. Seemingly just another pretty Renaissance face—but in reality, she was a force to be reckoned with. Married at the age of 10 to her abusive husband Riario, She survived multiple foes. She even did battle with the Borgias and knew everyone’s secrets in Rome. This plays out well in a surprising twist for Lorenzo and Florence.
To suit creative story-telling, the time-line of events is a little skewed. Still, I’m okay with that being a writer and inventor of stories myself, using historical facts as a springboard to create a good tale.
My only quibble with the show is that it could have done a better job of showing how much Lorenzo changed and contributed to the development of the art scene in Florence. Botticelli is a reoccurring character throughout the entire season, but the relationship of Michelangelo was significantly downplayed. In the third season, he shows up as a young boy in Lorenzo’s garden of artists in San Marco.
In truth, Michelangelo was recognized by Lorenzo at a much earlier age. He was educated along with Lorenzo’s sons and spent his formative years in the bosom of the Medici family — he even had a room in the Medici palace. The sculptor loved Lorenzo so much he carved Lorenzo’s tomb, which is located in San Lorenzo church. The story retold in the mini-series of Lorenzo giving Michelangelo advice regarding the faun statue is accurate… it is just told a little too late in the timeline of things.
All in all, a very satisfying series. You can also watch it all in Italian on Netflix!
The director of this series will soon be returning with a new series about Leonardo da Vinci! I for one can’t wait!