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History of the Medici Family

The Qualities of the Ruler

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), was one of the outstanding Italian philosophers. Born in Florence in the second half of the fifteenth century, Machiavelli has combined a politician and a writer, and a practitioner and a theorist. Machiavelli collected all his experience in regards to the qualities that an ideal ruler should have in his famous work “The Prince”

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How should the ruler be? Assessing the qualities of the ruler Machiavelli argues that rulers, as well as ordinary people, have vices. The most important thing is to “avoid the reproach of those vices which would lose him state” (Machiavelli, 1868, p. 85)

Answering the question of whether the ruler should be generous or thrifty, Machiavelli answers that it is good to have the reputation of a generous ruler, however, generosity “exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation for it, injures you” (Machiavelli, 1868, p. 85), i.e. if showing generosity reasonable, no one will notice, whereas to be spread the fame of the ruler’s generosity, the ruler should ravage the state’s treasury. Thus, it is better to accept the fame of a restrained rule.

Answering the question of being cruel or merciful, Machiavelli states that, the ruler should not “mind the reproach of cruelty” (Machiavelli, 1868, p. 88), as a way not to misuse mercifulness. It is better to be feared than love, as long as the fear does not bring the hate. As long as you the ruler good to the people they will promise to give everything, but when the need approaches “they turn against you.” (Machiavelli, 1868, p. 90)

There are other qualities of the ruler stated by Machiavelli, where the mentioned qualities demonstrate the main approach implemented in his reasoning. The qualities are based on understanding human nature, where it implies being practical when it comes to the issues of the state and the nation.

The Significance of the Medici Family

The eminence of the Florentine republic in the seventeenth century is connected with the Medici family, the wealth and influence of which, except for the power, were concentrated on the development of art and ideas. This concentration of the development of art made Florence the center of the Italian Renaissance.

During the life and reign of Cosimo Medici, who had a prominent position in the political life of Florence, his court was “a gathering of artists and scholars, whose works were among the most prized possessions of the family and the city – figures of the stature of Donatello, Brunelleschi, Domenico Veneziano and of Poliziano, Vespasiano da Bisticci, Platina, and Pico Della Mirandola.” (“History of the Medici family,” 2009)

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Cosimo founded three libraries in Florence, the greatest of which is now known as the Laurentian library, and had a prominent role in recovering the leading role of Plato as a philosopher by commissioning the translation of his works to Marsilio Ficino. (“HISTORY OF THE MEDICI,” 2009)

Lorenzo Medici, the grandson of Cosimo Medici, and who is also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, could be considered as the most significant member of the Medici family. During his reign “Florence witnessed an extraordinary flowering of intellectual activities.” (“History of the Medici family,” 2009) Lorenzo opened his house to young artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Filippino, and Luppi whom he aided and protected. The Platonic Academy, a unique phenomenon of the Italian and European culture, which was founded during the time of Cosimo Medici, flourished during the reign of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The role of the Medici family in Italy and Florence cannot be overestimated; however, it is the cultural influences of their most significant members that contribute to their significance.



History of the Medici family (2009). Web.

Machiavelli, N. (1868). The Prince. Web.

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