Piero the Unfortunate
|Piero de' Medici|
Portrait of Piero de' Medici by Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora.
|Lord of Florence|
|Reign||9 April 1492 – 9 November 1494|
|Predecessor||Lorenzo de' Medici|
|Born||15 February 1472|
Florence, Republic of Florence
|Died||28 December 1503 (age 31)|
Garigliano River, Kingdom of Naples
|Father||Lorenzo de' Medici|
Life and death
Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici was the eldest son of Lorenzo de' Medici (Lorenzo the Magnificent) and Clarice Orsini. He was raised alongside his younger brother Giovanni, who would go on to become Pope Leo X, and his cousin Giulio, who would later become Pope Clement VII.
He was educated to succeed his father as head of the Medici family and de facto ruler of the Florentine state, under figures such as Angelo Poliziano or Ficino. However, his feeble, arrogant, and undisciplined character was to prove unsuited to such a role. Poliziano later died poisoned, very possibly by Piero, on 24 September 1494.
Piero took over as leader of Florence in 1492, upon Lorenzo's death. After a brief period of relative calm, the fragile peaceful equilibrium between the Italian states, laboriously constructed by Piero's father, collapsed in 1494 with the decision of King Charles VIII of France to cross the Alps with an army in order to assert hereditary claims to the Kingdom of Naples. Charles had been lured to Italy by Ludovico Sforza (Ludovico il Moro), ex-regent of Milan, as a way to eject Ludovico's nephew Gian Galeazzo Sforza and replace him as duke.
After settling matters in Milan, Charles moved towards Naples. He needed to pass through Tuscany, as well as leave troops there to secure his lines of communication with Milan. Piero attempted to stay neutral, but this was unacceptable to Charles, who intended to invade Tuscany. Piero attempted to mount a resistance, but received little support from members of Florentine elites who had fallen under the influence of the fanatical Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola; even his cousins defected to Charles's side.
Piero quickly gave up as Charles's army neared Florence and surrendered the chief fortresses of Tuscany to the invading army, giving Charles everything he demanded. His poor handling of the situation and failure to negotiate better terms led to an uproar in Florence, and the Medici family fled. The family palazzo was looted, and the substance as well as the form of the Republic of Florence was re-established with the Medici formally exiled. A member of the Medici family was not to rule Florence again until 1512, after Giovanni de' Medici was elected Pope Leo X.
Piero and his family fled at first to Venice with the aid of the French diplomat Philippe de Commines, a retainer of Charles VIII. In 1503, as the French and Spanish continued their struggle in Italy over the Kingdom of Naples, Piero was drowned in the Garigliano River while attempting to flee the aftermath of the Battle of Garigliano, which the French (with whom he was allied) had lost.
Marriage and children
In 1486, Piero's uncle Bernardo Rucellai negotiated for Piero to marry the Tuscan noblewoman Alfonsina Orsini and stood in for him in a marriage by proxy. Piero and Alfonsina met in 1488. She was a daughter of Roberto Orsini, Count of Tagliacozzo, and Caterina Sanseverino. They had two children:
|Ancestors of Piero the Unfortunate|
- Tomas 2003, p. 7.
- Graphics (2 April 2014). "The Medici Family – The Leaders of Florence". The Italian Tribune. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- Strathern, Paul (31 October 2011). Death in Florence: the Medici, Savonarola and the Battle for the Soul of the Renaissance City. Random House. p. 144. ISBN 9781446477618.
- Moore, Malcolm (7 February 2008). "Medici philosopher's mysterious death is solved". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
- Gilbert, Felix (1949). "Bernardo Rucellai and the Orti Oricellari: A Study on the Origin of Modern Political Thought". Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. The Warburg Institute. 12: 105. doi:10.2307/750259. JSTOR 750259.
- Tomas, Natalie R. (2003). The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. p. 246. ISBN 0754607771.