Piero the Unfortunate

Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici (15 February 1472 28 December 1503),[1] called Piero the Unfortunate, was the gran maestro of Florence from 1492 until his exile in 1494.[2]

Piero de' Medici
Portrait of Piero de' Medici by Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora.
Lord of Florence
Reign9 April 1492 – 9 November 1494
PredecessorLorenzo de' Medici
SuccessorGirolamo Savonarola
Born15 February 1472
Florence, Republic of Florence
Died28 December 1503 (age 31)
Garigliano River, Kingdom of Naples
Noble familyMedici
Spouse(s)Alfonsina Orsini
FatherLorenzo de' Medici
MotherClarice Orsini

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. [1]

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] Piero and Alfonsina met in 1488. She was a daughter of Roberto Orsini, Count of Tagliacozzo, and Caterina Sanseverino. They had two children:




This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.