Cosimo de Medici 

Banker & Paymaster 1439-1480 

Cosimo de Medici coat of arms
Cosimo de Medici
Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici, (i) called "the Elder" (Italian: il Vecchio) and posthumously "Father of the Fatherland" (Latin: pater patriae) (27 September 1389 – 1 August 1464), was an Italian banker and politician, the first member of the Medici family which effectively ruled Florence during much of the Italian Renaissance was the elder and founder of the House of Medici, later Dukes of Florence and Grand Dukes of Tuscany was connected to both the Sforza`s and the d `Estes. 
In Florence the struggle for power between rival families was intense and Cosimo was expelled from the city in 1433 before returning and triumphing over his rivals in 1434. 
The basis of his wealth was the highly successful Medici bank. Cosimo de' Medici used his vast fortune to control the Florentine political system and to sponsor orators, poets and philosophers, (ii) as well as a series of artistic accomplishments. A keen patron of the arts he also undertook the building of the family palace, now known as Palazzo Medici Riccardi which was designed by Michelozzo. (iii) 
Cosimo de Medici was the employer of such artists as Donaletto and Uccello and his interest in ancient manuscripts and Byzantine esoterica was through the encouragement of Rene de Anjou, Sovereign of the Order of the Fleur De Lys who also fostered the transplantation of Italian Renaissance thought in his own dominions. 
He financed trips to nearly every European town as well as to Syria, Egypt, and Greece organized by Poggio Bracciolini, his chief book scout." (iv) He engaged 45 copyists under the bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci to transcribe manuscripts and paid off the debts of Niccolò de' Niccoli after his death in exchange for control over his collection of some 800 manuscripts valued at around 6,000 florins. (v) 
Cosimo de Medici sent Francesco Sforza, Sovereign Grand Commander of the Order of the Fleur de Lys 1480-1485, to establish himself in Milan to prevent an impending military advance from the Republic of Venice. Francesco Sforza was a condottiere. Condottiere was the name given Italian captains who contracted to command mercenary companies during the Middle Ages. They notably served European monarchs and Popes during the Italian Wars of the Renaissance and the European Wars of Religion 
The term condottiero in medieval Italian originally meant "contractor", given that the Condotta was the contract by which the condottieri put themselves in the service of a city or of a lord, but became a synonym of "military leader" during the Renaissance and Reformation era. Some authors have described Napoleon Bonaparte (in virtue of his Italian origins) as the "last condottiero". 
The condottiero Francesco Sforza, who became the second Sovereign Grand Commander of the Order of the Fleur de Lys after Rene I King of Jerusalem and the 2 Sicilies was a mercenary soldier who had stolen land from the papacy and proclaimed himself its lord. He had yearned to establish himself at Milan as well, an ambition that was aided by the fact that the current Visconti head lacked legitimate children save for a daughter, Bianca, whom Sforza ultimately married in November 1441 after a failed attempt at winning her hand from her father. 
The resultant balance of power with Milan and Florence on the one side and Venice and the Kingdom of Naples on the other created nearly half a century of peace that enabled the development of the Renaissance in Italy. However, despite the benefits to Florence from keeping Venice at bay, the intervention in Milan was unpopular among Cosimo de Medici’s fellow citizens, primarily because they were called upon to finance the Sforza succession. The Milanese made a brief attempt at democracy before Sforza was finally acclaimed Duke by the city in February 1450. 
To explain the need for Mercenary Soldiers, Machiavelli, the Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer, observed: 
“None of the principal states were armed with their own proper forces. Thus, the arms of Italy were either in the hands of the lesser princes, or of men who possessed no state; for the minor princes did not adopt the practice of arms from any desire of glory, but for the acquisition of either property or safety. The others (those who possessed no state) being bred to arms from their infancy, were acquainted with no other art, and pursued war for emolument, or to confer honour upon themselves.” 
14th Century Mercenary Soldier attire
Financing a mercenary force was expensive and in the 14th Century a soldier's pay was high and had to be funded through the Medici Bank: 6,600 monthly florins was paid in 1448 to William VIII of Montferrat, by Francesco Sforza and the enlisted soldier's pay was 3,300 florins, which was half that of an officer's. 
"[Cosimo was] the father of a line of princes, whose name and age are almost synonymous with the restoration of learning; his credit was ennobled into fame; his riches were dedicated to the service of mankind; he corresponded at once with Cairo and London; and a cargo of Indian spices and Greek books were often imported in the same vessel." (vi) 
i) Martines, Lauro (2011). The Social World of the Florentine Humanists, 1390–1460. University of Toronto Press. p. 8. 
ii) Thomas, Joseph (29 April 1896). "Universal Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology 
iii) Meehan, William F. (2007). "The Importance of Cosimo de Medici in Library History". Indiana Libraries Vol. 26 Number 3. 
iv) Meehan, William F. (2007). "The Importance of Cosimo de Medici in Library History". Indiana Libraries Vol. 26 Number 3 
v) Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 76–77. 
vi) Edward Gibbon (1880). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Philadelphia: Nottingham Society. pp. 456–457 

Find out more about our past Sovereign and Grand Commanders 

Leopold of the Belgians 1914-1972 

Leopold of the Belgians  1914-1972

Robert Hamilton of Hamilton 1900-1914 

Robert Hamilton of Hamilton 1900-1914

Sir Robert Dundas of Arniston 1875-1900 

Robert Dundas of Braxfield 1875-1900

Louis Napoleon 1862-1875 

Louis Napoleon 1862-1875

Archibald Montgomery of Eglinton and Winton 1838-1862 

Archibald Montgomery of Eglinton and Winton 1838-1862

Robert Montgomery of Comber 1825-1838 

Robert Montgomery of Comber 1825-1838

George Beaumont 1815-1825 

George Beaumont 1815-1825

Hugh Montgomery of Grey Abbey 1800-1815 

Hugh Montgomery of Grey Abbey 1800-1815

Maximilian von Hapsburg 1768-1800 

Maximilian von Hapsburg 1768-1800

Alexander Montgomerie of Eglinton 1757-1768 

Alexander Montgomerie of Eglinton 1757-1768

Thomas Erskine Lord Erskine 1746-1757 

John Erskine of Mar 1746-1757

Charles Radclyffe of Derwentwater 1730-1746 

Charles Radclyffe of Derwentwater 1730-1746

John Erskine of Mar 1716-1730 

John Erskine of Mar  1716-1730

Hugh Montgomery of Mount Alexander 1689-1716 

Hugh Montgomery of Mount Alexander 1689-1716

John Graham of Claverhouse 1675-1689 

John Graham of Claverhouse 1675-1689

Henri de la Tour Bouillon 1640-1675 

Henri de la Tour Bouillon 1640-1675

Charles de Guise 1595-1640 

Charles de Guise 1595-1640

Robert de St. Clair 1585-1595 

Robert de St. Clair 1585-1595

David de Seton 1572-1585 

David de Seton 1572-1585

Hugh Montgomerie of Eglinton 1556-1572 

Hugh Montgomerie of Eglinton  1556-1572

Ferrante de Gonzaga 1527-1556 

Ferrante de Gonzaga 1527-1556

Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier 1508-1527 

Charles de Bourbon-Montpensier 1508-1527

Rene de Lorraine 1485-1508 

Rene de Lorraine 1485-1508

FCO. Ludovico Sforza di Milano 1480-1485 

FCO. Ludovico Sforza di Milano 1480-1485

John de Montgomery Grand Commander 1439-1445 

John de Montgomery 1439-1445

Cosimo de Medici Banker & Paymaster 1439-1480 

Cosimo de Medici 1439-1480

Rene I King of Jerusalem and the 2 Sicilies 1439-1480 

Rene I King of Jerusalem and the 2 Sicilies 1439-1480
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