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The Medici Archives

Streaming the Renaissance

The Medici Archive Project puts centuries-old letters online
by Lisa Kaborycha (issue no. 168/2012 / September 13, 2012)
The irony of my job is not lost on me. As I go to work each day, I make my way on stony streets where it seems, at times, that you can still hear the Guelfs and Ghibellines hurling abuses, and sometimes even projectiles, …
The Medici Archives

The world beyond the Medici court

Travel accounts reveal wonders abroad
by Alessio Assonitis (issue no. 94/2009 / January 29, 2009)
As many friends and patrons of the Medici Archive Project already know, the Mediceo del Principato archival corpus is composed mostly of correspondence directed to and originating from the grand dukes and duchesses, princes and princesses, secretaries and ministers, agents and ambassadors in Italy and …
The Medici Archives

Giving like a Medici

by Lisa Kaborycha (issue no. 92/2008 / December 11, 2008)
The Medici sent gifts to friends, agents, diplomats and rulers all over Europe, and the objects they sent were highly coveted. Sometimes too highly coveted. In a letter thanking his Medici employers for gifts to his wife, an Italian engineer temporarily working at the …
The Medici Archives

Have breasts, will travel.

Wet nurses at the Medici court
by Lisa Kaborycha (issue no. 90/2008 / November 13, 2008)
There were the Grand Duke and Duchess with all their children, the youngest at his wet nurse's breast, happily suckling away.   A courtier, describing a ballet held at the Medici court to the Duchess of Mantua.  February 12, 1619   When Cosimo II and Maria Magdalena went to …
The Medici Archives

Florentine football under siege

The Medici Archives
by Stefano DallAglio (issue no. 89/2008 / October 30, 2008)
In the very last day of the year 1544, Bernardo de' Medici, Medicean ambassador to France, wrote a letter to Duke Cosimo I de' Medici about a very special football match played at the French court in Fontainebleau: Yesterday, the most illustrious Dauphin, …
The Medici Archives

Family matters

The Medici Archives
by Elena Brizio (issue no. 88/2008 / October 16, 2008)
...Count Nicola of Pitigliano [Orsini] had sexually assaulted his own daughter-in-law, wife of the Count's son, Alessandro ... and the family of the woman were planning to go to Pitigliano and take her back home. Moreover, Count Nicola just had a son, after three daughters, by …
The Medici Archives

The art of poison

The Medici Archives
by Sheila Barker (issue no. 85/2008 / September 4, 2008)
One of the many arts cultivated in Renaissance Italy was the black art of poisoning. The Medici Granducal Archives are teeming with references to this nefarious branch of chemistry, including a series of documents confirming Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici's involvement in a …
The Medici Archives

The crime of the (seventeenth) century.

An English scandal fascinates the Medici court
by Lisa Kaborycha (issue no. 82/2008 / June 26, 2008)
There is never any shortage of gruesome crimes to occupy the public's imagination. To be termed a ‘crime of the century', however, a murder must have special qualities that make it stand out: a celebrity is involved, the murder is carried out in a particularly …
The Medici Archives

Cosimo I's secret weapon

The Medici Archives
by Maurizio Arfaioli (issue no. 81/2008 / June 12, 2008)
Since I have come across a secret of no small importance, considering the times we live in today, especially in use against the Turkish cavalry, I have judged it worthy of Your Majesty. (Archivio di Stato in Florence, Mediceo del Principato …
The Medici Archives

Diplomacy, Italian style

The Medici Archives
by Lisa Kaborycha (issue no. 79/2008 / May 15, 2008)
I have heard you would like to try some cheeses from Pesaro, so I am sending you these as a sample. Let me know if you like them and I'll send more...     When Vladimir Putin calls George Bush, does he ask how …
The Medici Archives

The emperor's troubles

The Medici Archives
by Lisa Kaborycha (issue no. 77/2008 / April 17, 2008)
As far as news from Poland, I regret to inform your highness that things are going very unhappily for us there...all of Lithuania and Prussia are lost to us as well...   We tend to think of our modern world as the first …
The Medici Archives

Canvas is for commoners

Princesses paint on amber
by Sheila Barker (issue no. 75/2008 / March 20, 2008)
On 20 July 1658, Torquato Montalto wrote to Giovanni Battista Gondi, [...] Two rooms were decorated for Her Ladyship the Bride with crimson damasks with very rich gold fringes and lacework, and there I saw a great number of very large …
The Medici Archives

The 16-year-old widow and her boy husband

The Medici Archives
by Francesca Funis (issue no. 74/2008 / March 6, 2008)
Betrothed at seven and married seven years later, Margaret of Habsburg, the illegitimate daughter of the Emperor Charles V, became a widow in 1537, at the tender age of 15. Her 27-year-old husband, Alessandro de’Medici the Duke of Florence, the illegitimate …
The Medici Archives

The powder of persuasion

An Englishman in Tuscany
by Sheila Barker (issue no. 72/2008 / February 7, 2008)
The Count of Warwick pays his reverences to His Most Serene Highness the Lord Duke, and he will give me a book in praise of chemistry by Doctor Cornacchino who teaches at Pisa, as well as a certain miraculous powder, which …
The Medici Archives

You bet your life!

The Medici Archives
by Mark Rosen (issue no. 71/2008 / January 24, 2008)
Renaissance Florence was built around trade, and trade requires efficient and reliable banks. Banking relies on speculation on probable outcomes. So it should not be surprising that Florentines were renowned for their passion for gambling on a wide range of activities.   Betting …

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