Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici

A true Renaissance man, Lorenzo de' Medici ruled Florence during its golden age. Known for his prodigious talents, magnetic personality, and political ruthlessness, Lorenzo was the leading statesman of his time and a renowned poet and legendary patron of the arts. In Magnifico, Miles Unger draws on primary research from Italian sources and an intimate knowledge of Florence to give us a biography as bold and colorful as its subject.

Born into the vastly wealthy and politically powerful Medici family, Lorenzo was nonetheless in a precarious position, his life under constant threat as a result of bitter rivalries among the leading Florentine families and competition among squabbling Italian states. But Lorenzo proved to be a cunning and skillful navigator on the treacherous seas of Italian politics. Not only did he survive, he presided over one of the great moments in the history of civilization, befriending the greatest artists and writers of the time--Leonardo, Botticelli, Poliziano, and the young Michelangelo.

Magnifico vividly captures an era of exceptional political intrigue, religious fervor, and artistic achievement, as embodied by one of its most famous characters.

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Reviews of Magnifico

"A Wonderful feast for lovers of Renaissance history and art."
--The Boston Globe

"This brilliant book is almost as much the biography of a city as of a man; one of its strengths is an ability to convey the cultural, political and sexual ambiance of 15th-century Florence with a rare clarity. The author explains how the passion for pagan classical myth of Lorenzo and the brilliant scholars, poets and artists with whom he liked to surround himself did not involve a rejection of Christianity: the search for God was an important part of Lorenzo’s spiritual life, and, like all Florentines, he was a member of the religious confraternities whose utterances and practices (including flagellation) would not have been out of step with the ferocious preaching of Savonarola. Membership of a confraternity was for Florentines like belonging to branches of political parties with all their opportunities for plotting and 'networking'"
--Sarah Bradford, The Spectator

"After finishing Miles Unger's dazzling new biography of Lorenzo de' Medici, my head was filled with myriad impressions of this book, but none more striking than this: Five centuries ago, at the height of the Italian Renaissance, the famed Florentine leader helped foster a remarkable flowering of art, architecture, literature and intellectual life that remains nearly unparalleled in history. From the first sentence, "Magnifico" transports the reader to 15th-century Florence, a place of matchless splendor, both natural and man-made. Unger, a contributing writer on art for The New York Times, mines a rich lode of sources that include government records; historical accounts; diaries; and Lorenzo's own memoirs, letters and poems. The result is an indelible personal profile and an enthralling account of both the glories and brutality of the era."
--Seattle Times

"This portrait of the 'uncrowned' ruler of Florence does great justice to this most intriguing of all Renaissance princes."
--Ross King, author of Brunelleschi's Dome