Magnifico by Miles J. Unger
The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici

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Synopsis

Magnifico is a vividly colorful portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici, the uncrowned ruler of Florence during its golden age. A true "Renaissance man," Lorenzo dazzled contemporaries with his prodigious talents and magnetic personality. Known to history as Il Magnifico (the Magnificent), Lorenzo was not only the foremost patron of his day but also a renowned poet, equally adept at composing philosophical verses and obscene rhymes to be sung at Carnival. He befriended the greatest artists and writers of the time -- Leonardo, Botticelli, Poliziano, and, especially, Michelangelo, whom he discovered as a young boy and invited to live at his palace -- turning Florence into the cultural capital of Europe. He was the leading statesman of the age, the fulcrum of Italy, but also a cunning and ruthless political operative. Miles Unger's biography of this complex figure draws on primary research in Italian sources and on his intimate knowledge of Florence, where he lived for several years.

Lorenzo's grandfather Cosimo had converted the vast wealth of the family bank into political power, but from his earliest days Lorenzo's position was precarious. Bitter rivalries among the leading Florentine families and competition among the squabbling Italian states meant that Lorenzo's life was under constant threat. Those who plotted his death included a pope, a king, and a duke, but Lorenzo used his legendary charm and diplomatic skill -- as well as occasional acts of violence -- to navigate the murderous labyrinth of Italian politics. Against all odds he managed not only to survive but to preside over one of the great moments in the history of civilization.

Florence in the age of Lorenzo was a city of contrasts, of unparalleled artistic brilliance and unimaginable squalor in the city's crowded tenements; of both pagan excess and the fire-and-brimstone sermons of the Dominican preacher Savonarola. Florence gave birpth to both the otherworldly perfection of Botticelli's Primavera and the gritty realism of Machiavelli's The Prince. Nowhere was this world of contrasts more perfectly embodied than in the life and character of the man who ruled this most fascinating city.
 

About Miles J. Unger

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Miles J. Unger is an art historian and journalist.  Formerly the managing editor of Art New England, he is currently a contributing writer to The New York Times.  He is the author of The Watercolors of Winslow Homer and Magnifico: the Brilliant life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici. 
 
Published May 6, 2008 by Simon & Schuster. 528 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Unger draws on letters sent to and from the Medici family to enrich his tale and also includes extracts from Lorenzo’s poetry, the exegeses of which are among the book’s most illuminating passages.

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Publishers Weekly

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Although a well-mined biography topic, the Medici dynasty continues to fascinate, and critic Unger (The Watercolors of Winslow Homer ) offers a smart, highly readable and abundantly researched book, making particularly good use of Medici family letters and earlier biographical sources such as Mac...

Mar 17 2008 | Read Full Review of Magnifico: The Brilliant Life...

Bookmarks Magazine

Lorenzo's grandfather Cosimo had converted the vast wealth of the family bank into political power, but from his earliest days Lorenzo's position was precarious.

Jun 09 2008 | Read Full Review of Magnifico: The Brilliant Life...

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