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The Medici Family

             Florence is a city surrounded by rivers. This fact contributed to the success and wealth of Florence in the areas of trade and commerce up until 1348. Once the Black Death took its toll and wiped out 1/2-1/3 of the population in 1348-1349 the economy fell and one of Europe's greatest cities was now in an unstable and turbulent state. This state of disarray and chaos allowed the business class to rise to power and take control of the city. This new faction of leaders that led the population helped renew interest in Roman literature and life, which is characterized as the time of the Renaissance. There were several other cities such as Rome, Venice, Milan and Naples who also made significant contributions and were important but as one reporter noted: .
             "It is fair to say that much of what we know today of painting and sculpture, of architecture and political science, of scientific method and economic theory, we owe to the artists, politicians, statesmen, bankers, and merchants of the Renaissance- that explosion of intellectual and artistic energy in Italy between 1300 and 1600. And Florentines stood at the turbulent center of the Renaissance.".
             One of the most well-known and influential families which made significant contributions during the Renaissance was the Medici Family. The Medici family which can be traced back to the 12th century was part of the aristocratic class rather than from nobility and was known as friends to the common people. Through banking and commerce the Medici family gained wealth, which eventually led to political influence. .
             Cosimo Il Vecchio, is considered to be the real founder of the political fortunes of the family. Cosimo ruled Florence as unofficial king for 30 years and is credited with helping Florence flourish and prosper. Cosimo contributed much of his wealth towards charitable acts and supported the literature and arts.

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