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Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici

Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, popularly known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (il Magnifico) by his contemporaries, was an Italian statesman and de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic during the height of the Italian Renaissance. This patron of the arts was very popular with his peers and loved to enter tournaments, compose poetry and songs in his native Tuscan, play games, hunt, and indulge in the Florentine love of practical jokes. He was a forward thinker and was fascinated by technology. However, he was a very religious man and was a true patriot.

Il Magnifico assumed a leading role in the state upon the death of his father, Piero 'the Gouty' de' Medici in 1469. He was just twenty at that time.

Nine years later dramatic events changed his life forever and sealed his fate as one of the best statesmen of Florence. On April 26 1478, members of a conspiracy including the Pazzi family and the Archbishop of Pisa, with the support if Pope Sixtus IV, attacked the Medici family in church, killing his brother and co-ruler Giuliano. The archbishop and several other co-conspirators were hanged from the windows of the Palazzo della Signoria, and from that day forward Lorenzo was known as the Saviour of Florence.

Lorenzo's support for artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Verrocchio and Michelangelo was instrumental in the development of Florence as the epicenter if 15th Century Renaissance Europe. Although his financial situation made it impossible for him to commission many works himself, he saw to it that they received work from other patrons. He also started a collection of books which became the Medici Library, and his agents retrieved large numbers of previously unknown classical works from the East. He employed a large workshop to copy his books and diffuse their content to various parts of Europe.