A post Middle Age Italy was afflicted by medieval wars and the bubonic plague. A change was needed to restore the vision of what Italy could become. This change was found within one family: the Medici’s, who helped to return the glory and influence to Florence. The Medici’s saw the value in contributing to the advancement of the greatest minds of the period. This was evident in their patronage of leading Artists such as Michelangelo and of renowned Teachers such as Galileo. The sphere of influence the Medici’s enjoyed also extended to the political arena, which happened to be heavily influenced by the Catholic Church at the time. The Medici’s were able to capitalize on the power of the Church and through this influence and the use of “amici degli amici” or of mutual favors from “friends of friends” the Medici family was able to usher in a new Italian era: the Renaissance (Medici).
While not the only wealthy and ambitious family in Florence, the Medici’s were driven in their pursuits and did not achieve their success in the noblest of ways. Giovanni di Bicci de’Medici, the Patriarch of the Medici Dynasty, founded and controlled one of the most influential businesses in Italy, the Medici Bank. Giovanni’s development of the limited liability concept and the establishment of a franchise system, wherein the Medici Bank expanded into branches of banks where managers became part owners, helped to make the Medici Bank a leader amongst the competitors of the time. However, a key factor in the success of Giovanni’s business was the result of a gambling bet on the return of papacy to Rome, which he won. In return for his financial assistance, the Pope installed him as the papal banker. With the Medici’s holding of the Pope’s personal bank accounts and the financing of the Vatican library, the Medici Bank was the most profitable business in Europe. (Medici) In the Florentine republic, where economic power was almost synonymous with political power, achieving this financial feat made way for social distinction. (The Medici)
With Giovanni’s death in 1429, there were those who tried to capitalize on the opportunity to displace the Medici family from its place in the social and political landscape of the time. One such opportunity was taken with the help of a wealthy rival, the Albizzi family, who put in motion a plot to have Giovanni’s son, Cosimo de Medici, arrested on accusations of treason and banished to Venice. This did not happen without consequences. With Cosimo’s exile he took with him a large source of Florentine capital, the Medici Bank. The Pope intervened and restored the Medici’s to power. Thus began Cosimo’s restoration of Florentine pride and the support of great artists that many admire today.
An example of the Medici support to artists involves The Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore. The dome of the chapel was built so large that no architect knew how to complete the rooftop structure and was a humiliating point in Florentine history. A...