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- the translation should be improved -

Italian contemporaries

Medici in Florence
Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence 1532-1537
Lorenzino de Medici, 1514-1548
Cosimo I de Medici, Duke of Florence 1537-1574

Although members of the Medici family largely determined the fate of the Republic of Florence in the fifteenth century, they were not involved officially in the government. Their portraits did not appear on coins, but on medals. This changed only after the unrest caused by Savonarola and the Sacco di Roma (1527).

Map of Italy in 1499

Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence 1532-1537
- son or nephew of Pope Clement VII   and   son in law of Emperor Charles V -
Alessandro (*1510) is an illegitime son or nephew of the future Pope Clement VII. Clement, having been elected pope in 1523, installed Alessandro as co-ruler in Florence. When imperial forces sacked Rome in 1527, revolution broke out in Florence, and Alessandro fled the city. In 1529 the pope and the emperor came to terms and Charles agreed to restore the Medicis in Florence by force, so that in 1531 Alessandro returned to power. He was made duke, and in 1536 he married the emperor's natural daughter Margaret. Alessandro was a coarse and uncultured person. He lined his pockets and acted as tyrant until he was murdered by a distant cousin.


Testone n. d.   Dies from Benvenuto Cellini.     Ø 30 mm, 9,87 g.   CNI XII 244/16; RM 323/1.
Obv.:   ALEXANDER·Medici· - ·Rei·Publicae·FLORENtinae·DVX·
Rev.:   ·Sanctus·CO - SMVS· - ·Sanctus·DAMIANVS·   "Saint Kosmas - Saint Damian"
Kosmas (with drug bottle) and Damian (with book in hands) are the Christian patrons of physicians.
This is the earliest coin bearing the image of a Medici.

Compare the oil painting of Alessandro de Medici (62x45 cm) in the Uffizi, Florence. It was made as a reproduction of a picture belonging to the then already famous collection of portraits of the humanist Paolo Giovio (1483-1552). The copies made in 1552-89 for the house of Medici have survived.


Silver cast medal 1534,   work from Domenico di Polo de' Vetri.   Ø 33 mm, 22,86 g, 6h.
Obv. see Attwood 774-775.   Rev. unknown, compere Attwood 770-771.

Obv.:  ·ALEXANDER·MED·FLORENTIAE·DVX·P   -   head to the right.
Rev.:   A female figure, half draped, sitting directly on a pile of shields, holds a cornucopia with her right hand, and pours with her left hand a libation from a patera over a burning altar to the right.


Bronze medal 1534,   a stuck work from Domenico de Vetri.   Ø 40 mm, 46,24 g.   Pollard 322/A.
Obv.:   ·ALEX·MED·FLO - RENTIAE·DVX·PRIMVS·   -   cuirassed bust to the right.
Rev.:   FVNDATOR·QVIETIS·M·D·XXX·IIII·   -   the personification of Peace holds a cornucopia
and an olive branch while setting a pile of weapons on fire.


Bronze medal 1534work from Domenico de Vetri.   Ø 44 mm, 45,6 g.
Armand I 151.1; Museo Nazionale del Bargello - Medaglie Italiane del Rinascimento II, p.649 no.321.

Obv.:   ALEX·MED·FLORENTIAE·DVX·PRIMVS·•·   -   draped bust left.
Rev.:   ·FVNDATOR ᕠ QVIETIS·M·D·XXXIIII·   -   the personification of Peace holds a cornucopia
and a olive branch while she puts a pile of arms on fire.
The hole served to wear the medal by the collar. The misaligned sides (↑↓) did not prevent this purpouse.

Lorenzino de Medici, 1514-1548
Lorenzino comes from a side line of the Medici. He spent his youth together with Cosimo, the later duke. Lorenzino murdered his cousin Alessandro de Medici on 6 January 1537. Then he was condemned to death, but was able to flee. On behalf of Cosimo I, Lorenzino was finally killed in Venice.


Bronze medal n. d. (1537-48)     Ø 36 mm, 26,40 g.
Toderi Vannel Medaglie 743; Attwood 891; Calveri 19; Börner 897.

Obv.:   LAVRENTIVS MEDICES   -   effigy right.
Rev.:   Liberty cap between two daggers, including:   VIII·ID·IAN
"8th day before Ides (the 13th day of the month) in January" (= 6th January of the Roman calendar).
This medal perpetuates Lorenzino as tyrannicide. The famous Roman denarius representing the assassination of Caesar was the model for the design.

Cosimo I de Medici, Duke of Florence 1537-1574
- son of the famous condottiero Giovanni dalle Bande Nere -
When the 26-year-old Alessandro de Medici died, the Florentine Council chosed the 17-year-old distant Cosimo as his successor. The Council expected to be involved in the government. Cosimo, however, intended for an authoritarian rule from the outset. Florentines rebelling against his rule suffered with death. Charles V confirmed Cosimo as a duke. With payments to the emperor Cosimo bought himself free for the territorial expansion in Tuscany.
Cosimo I acted as a patron and town planner. In his time the construction of the Uffzien began, in which also the art collection of the Medici found place.
Cosimo made his son and successor Francesco to co-rule already in 1563.


1st period 1537-57 :  Cosimo I de Medici as Duke of the Republic of Florence
COSMUS MEDICEUS REIPUBLICAE FLORENTINAE DUX


Testone da 40 soldi.     Ø 30 mm, 9,44 g.   CNI XII 252/49; RM 327/5; MIR 119 (this piece).
Obv.:  COSMVS·MEDiceus·Rei·Publicae·FLORENtinae·DVX·II   "..., 2nd duke of the Republic of Florence"
beardless youthful portrait right.

Rev.:  · S·IOANNES· - BATISTA· - *
seated John the Baptist from the front, blessing with his right hand, in his left hand a cross bar.


Testone da 43 soldi.    Ø 30 mm, 9,79 g.  CNI 250/33var; RM 326/4 (this piece); MIR 125.
Obv.:  COSMVS·Mediceus·Rei·Publicae·FLORENtinae·DVX·II  -  bearded effigy right, behind him a star.
Rev.:  · S·IOANNES· - ·BATISTA·  -   John the Baptist seated on a wall, wearing fur,
cross bar with banners; bowl with spoon on the left. Overstrike.
This is an overstrike of a Blessing Teston from Genoa (...VB*GENV... / ...NOR*R... still visible),
from which many circulated in Florence.
Such pieces should be higher in value than the usual Testoni from Florence.
They got the name Stellino after the star behind the bust.


Lira n. d.     Ø 27 mm, 4,76 g.   CNI 255/73; RM 329/10.
Obv.:   *COSMVS·MED·R·P·FLOREN·DVX·II·   -   youthful bust right.
Rev.:   IN VIRTVTE TVA IVDICA ME - *   "Judge me in your goodness"  -  The Last Judgement:
The Holy Father seated between two trumpeting angels on a cloud with angel head.
Below two times three heads.


Lira n. d.     Ø 27 mm, 4,56 g.   CNI 256/81; RM 330/11.
Obv.:   *COS·MEDICES·R·P·FLOREN·DVX - II·   -   bearded bust right.
Rev.:   IN VIRTVTE ·TVA - IVDICA M - E·   "Judge me in your goodness"  -  The Last Judgement:
The Holy Father standing between two trumpeting angels on a cloud. Below five persons.


Bronze medal, n. d. (after 1537)     Ø 34 mm, 26,6 g.   Attwood 783; Kress 315.
a strucked piece by Domenico di Polo de Vetri.

Obv.:   COSMVS·MEDices· - ·II·REI·Publicae·FLORentinae·DVX·
bareheaded and cuirassed bust to the right.
Rev.:  :ANIMI:CONSCIENTIA:ET:FIDVCIA:FATI:  'with a clear conscience and (in) confidence in fate'
Capricorn to the left; above eight stars of the crown of Ariadne.
Paolo Giovio (1483-1552) presented the 'impresa il Capricorno' in his 'Dialogo dell'imprese':
a capricorn (constellation of a group of stars in the shape of a goat with the lower body of a fish)
with the motto 'FIDEM FATI VIRTVTE SEQVEMVR' ('with courage follow the promise of destiny'),
beneath a view of Florence (but not on this medal).
Cosimo I was born under the sign of Capricorn, like emperor Charles V and the Roman emperor Augustus. Cosimo believed to be particularly connected with emperor Augustus: Both had won key victories on an August, the first. Both accession to power were similar: Augustus ultimately after his adoptive father Caesar's assassinate and himself after the murder of his cousin Alessandro, the first Duke of Florence. This made Cosimo confident to be on the same virtuous way, than his idols.

Compare the bronze bust 1547 (110x98 cm) by Benvenuto Cellini, in the Bargello, Florence.

2nd period 1557-69 :  Cosimo I de Medici as Duke of Florence and Siena
COSMUS MEDICEUS FLORENTIAE et SENARUM DUX
Cosimo retained this title when he entrusted his son Francesco with the affairs of state in 1563.


Testone 1567.     Ø 30 mm, 9,03 g.   CNI XII 267/176; RM 332/14.
Obv.:   * ·COSMVS·Mediceus·FLOREN·ET·SENAR·DVX·II·   -   bearded bust right.
Rev.:   ·S·IOANNES· - BA - PTISTA· - *
The seated saint has his right hand raised for blessing, with the left he holds the cross bar.


Testone n. d.     Ø 30 mm, 9,19 g.   CNI XII 271/211; RM 332/14; MIR 149/2.
Obv.:   *COSMVS·MEDiceus·FLOREN·ET·SENARVM·DVX·II   -   bearded bust right.
Rev.:   ·S·IOANNES· - BAPTISTA·
The seated saint has his right hand raised for blessing, with the left he holds the cross bar.


Testone n. d. (1557-69).     Ø 30 mm, 9,21 g.   CNI XI 416/10; RM 337/21; MIR 578.
Obv.:   COSMVS MED·FLOREN·ET·SENARVM DVX II·   -   draped bust right.
Rev.:   SENA VETVS CIVITAS VIRGINIS·
Sena vetus civitas Virginis = "ancient Siena, city of the Virgin"
View of the city of Siena, above half figure of the Virgin Mary in clouds.
All coins were minted in Florence, even the coin issued for Siena. But CNI classifies these Testone among Siena.
Siena was an independent republic since 1402, which competed with Florence. Siena could expel the French occupation in 1552, but was besieged by Cosimo and incorporated in his duchy in 1555.


3rd period since 1570 :  Cosimo I de Medici as Grand Duke of Tuscany
MAGNVS·DVX·ETRVRIAE
Pope Pius V raised Cosimo to Grand Duke (granduca) of Tuscany in 1569.


Piastra 1572.     Ø 40 mm, 32,46 g.   CNI 281/290; RM 334/18; Dav.8383.
Obv.:   *COSMVS·MED·MAGNVS·DVX·ETRVRIAE ⚜
bust right in armor with slung cloak.
Rev.:   S·IOSNNES· - * - ⚜ - BAPTISTA·
slim St. John stands from the front with crosier and right hand raised. Below the date ·1572·.
The dies of this coin is from Pietro Paolo Galeotti, the successor of Benvenuto Cellini.
The Piastra of the years 1568-9 still carry the old title: COSMVS MEDICES FLORENtiae et SENARum DUX II.

Compare the oil painting before 1574 (21x17 cm) in the National Gallery, London.


Mezza Piastra 1570.     Ø 36 mm, 16,07 g.   CNI 278/265; RM 335/19.
*COS·MED·MAGNVS·DVX·ETRVRIÆ·   //   ·S·IOANNES· - * - BAPTISTA·
The half Piastra from 1569 still carry the older title: COSMVS MED FLOREN ET SENAR DUX II.
The coins of Cosimo I. shown here are usually made of 958/1000 fine silver.

Ref.:   [CNI and RM: page & No. eg. 83/7 = p.83 n.7]
Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI]: Florence in vol.XII and supposedly Siena in vol.XI   -   CNI-Index
Bollettino di Numismatica online: Materiali 14, 15 e 19
Ravegnani Morosini, Mario [RM]: Signorie e principati - monete italiane con ritratto, 1450-1796, 1984
  Medici: vol.II, p.323-337
• Alessio Montagano: Monete Italiane Regionale [MIR]: Firenze
• A. Galeotti: Le monete del Granducato di Toscana, Livorno 1929

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