Lorenzino de' Medici

About the Author

Lorenzino de' Medici was born in 1514 to Pierfranceso, from the cadet branch of the Medici family, and Maria Soderini. Born Lorenzo, he was later called Lorenzino, perhaps to differentiate himself from his illustrious ancestors and for his weak constitution. After spending his youth in Rome under the guardianship of Pope Clement VII (the illegitimate son of Lorenzo the Magnificient's brother), he was forced to repair to Florence having vandalised, during a drunken spree, the bas-reliefs on the emperor Constantine’s triumphal arch and the statues of the muses in the basilica of San Paolo fuori le mura. There he befriended his distant cousin Alessandro who had become the Duke of Florence two years previously in 1531. Lorenzino became the duke’s companion in debauchery and their conduct became notorious throughout the city.

During this time of dissipation he wrote a comedy, Aridosio, in honour of Alessandro’s wedding. In January 1537 Lorenzino hatched a plan to kill his cousin, allegedly – as he would later explain in his Apology – to free Florence from his tyrannical rule. The real motives of his murder, though, remain a mystery. After the assassination, Lorenzino embarked on a series of journeys across Italy and then abroad, in search of support against the re-instated Medici duke. Having travelled extensively for many years, he returned to Venice, where he made his acquaintance with the higher echelons of the refined Venetian society including Giovanni della Casa, the author of the celebrated Galateo, and the famous courtesan Elena Barozzi. It was on a visit to her in March 1547 that he was finally tracked down by the duke of Florence’s hired killers, and was killed.