When art becomes a political tool

Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici. Florenz im Zeitalter im Zeitalter der Renaissance. ISBN 978-3-406-44028-1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Composing music during the Renaissance and later during the Baroque era was unthinkable without a reliable network of patrons. Kings and queens, princes, the Vatican and its wealthy representatives – those were the people composers were looking for. However, in northern Italy the political situation favoured the rising of wealthy banker and merchant families, the Medici being one of the most famous examples. Reinhardt traces a fascinating portrait of the three generations that built the wealth and fame of that Florentine family and highlights how the Medicis’ patronage of arts became one of their political tools to expand and stabilize their influence. The book is well researched, at times a little cumbersome to read – German syntax can become a weapon of mass confusion if in the wrong hands. My overall experience however was a joyful one. I learned a lot – my greatest compliment to any author.

Emilio di Cavalieri, a Renaissance composer, wrote a wonderful piece narrating the eternal conflict of the human soul: virtue or pleasure? Duty or fun? Ascetism or opulence? In the light of the ascendance of a non-aristocratic family the Medici to unprecedented wealth and might, Cavalieri’s “Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo” is the appropriate critical judgment of the spirit of the Renaissance:

Searching for the salvation of the soul