The Italian Renaissance was the earliest demonstration of the European Renaissance in
general. It began at Tuscany (Central Italy), and centered in the cities of Florence and Siena. It
later spread to Venice and spread throughout Europe eventually. The Italians were leading the
way in what was becoming a revolution in thought at that time. Intellectuals, artists and scholars
began to rediscover the great classics and recover the talented aspects of the past; they fused it
with the present creating a new era that led to another period of greatness in history.
Florence served as the cradle and center of the Renaissance. Here, the Medici Family
rose to power and played a prominent role. The man responsible for putting the family in
Florentine society supremacy was no other than Cosimo de Medici or Cosimo the Elder. He was
able to gain power first and foremost through his wealth which came from the Medici Bank.
These funds from his business was what let him have the opportunities to extend his influence
further than his business connections and expand the power bestowed to his family. With
Cosimo de Medici’s further rise to power, Florentine leadership in the arts had also been
established well. His patronage brought much work to the city’s painters, sculptors and architects
and he also greatly encouraged another strand of the Renaissance in which Florence plays a
major role – the scholarship of humanism, due to his own passion for scholarly studies. He even
founded three libraries in Florence, the greatest of them being the collection of books and
manuscripts now known as the Laurentian library. He was able to accomplish all of these
through his wealth (Gilbert 3-5).
Cosimo was notably the first among the many generations of Medicis to rule over
Florence. His ascent to power was the beginning of a long line of Medici individuals whom not
only ruled Florence but also throughout Europe. The Medici were able to gain political and
religious clout that enabled them to stay to power for decades and their genes have been mixed
into many of Europe’s royal families though when the last Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany
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