By Kelly Ann Gilbert
Honors BA Thesis, Eastern Michigan University, 2005
Introduction: The Medici family controlled Florence for over three centuries. The man responsible for putting the family in power was Cosimo de’ Medici (1389-1464), who was also known as Cosimo the Elder. He was able to gain influence over the city and its government, the signori, because of the wealth that was available to him through the Medici bank. Without these funds, he would not have had the opportunities that were available to him and thus, to his family. Along with this wealth, Cosimo also relied on the business connections that the Medici bank provided him with in order to extend the influence he held. This expansion of power by the Medici led to Cosimo’s exile in 1433 at the hands of the Albizzi family. Medici money once again came through and he was recalled one year later. Upon his return, Cosimo repaid the favor to the Albizzi clan by exiling its members from Florence.
The wealth that the Medici bank provided for Cosimo de’ Medici also allowed him to participate more fully in various aspects of society. He was able to become a significant patron of both the arts and learning. By sponsoring artists and humanists, Cosimo once again extended his influence over Florentine society to cover a greater area. The projects that Cosimo sponsored included a wide variety of styles by many different artists. Through his patronage Cosimo influenced painting, sculpture, and architecture. He also influenced learning though his support of both humanistic education and the creation of the first public library at the monastery of San Marco in Florence. Cosimo made a significant impact on Florentine society in a number of areas, and this was made possible by the wealth he held.