Carlo de' Medici

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Carlo de' Medici
Carlo de' Medici.jpg
Full name
Carlo di Cosimo de' Medici
Born 1428 or 1430[1]
Florence, Republic of Florence
Died May 29, 1492
Noble family Medici
Father Cosimo de' Medici
Mother Maddalena

Carlo di Cosimo de' Medici (1428 or 1430 – May 29, 1492) was an Italian priest. A member of the powerful Medici family, he became a senior clergyman and collector.

Early life[edit]

Born at Florence, he was the illegitimate son of Cosimo de' Medici (the Elder) and a slave-woman named Maddalena, who was said to have been purchased in Venice.[a] It is widely accepted that Maddalena was a Circassian,[1][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22] as hinted by Carlo's "intense blue eyes" and other "marked Circassian features" as well.[23] However, it has been once suggested that his mother might have been a black African, only because of the apparently dusky features depicted in Mantegna's portrait of Carlo.[24] Yet, he has blue eyes in the same portrait, and is depicted with standard Italian skin-pigmentation in a painting by Filippo Lippi.


His father forced him to take on a religious life. After becoming canon of the cathedral at Florence in 1450, he was appointed rector of Pieve di Santa Maria (Dicomano) in Mugello and the Pieve of San Donato di Calenzano.[24]

He became Abbot of San Salvatore at Vaiano, outside Prato. He was also Papal tax collector and nuncio in Tuscany. Carlo was dean of Prato as early as 1460.[24] A cultured man, he collected medallions.[24] He died in Florence in 1492.


Depiction of Carlo in Filippo Lippi's Funeral of St. Stephen

Carlo was portrayed by Andrea Mantegna in a head-and-shoulders portrait wearing clerical garb in 1466. He also appears in the funeral scene of Filippo Lippi's Stories of St. Stephen and St. John the Baptist in the Prato Cathedral, in which he is depicted standing behind the Pope. He may also be portrayed as one of the figures in Benozzo Gozzoli's paintings of the journey of the Magi in the Magi Chapel in Florence.[24]

In the historical fantasy series Da Vinci's Demons, Carlo was played by actor Ray Fearon. He is depicted as a missionary who the cruelty of the world has made him doubt the Church and its message.


  1. ^ It has been suggested that Carlo's Circassian mother, who later took the name of Maddalena, was at the age of 22 when she was bought allegedly by Cosimo de' Medici's agent from Milan, Giovanni Portinari (c.1363–1436), at the Rialto, Venice in the summer of 1427.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Note that since the late 13th century, the Venetian and Genoese merchants and consuls established trade outposts on the Black Sea's eastern coast;[7][8] brought the Roman Catholic Church to Circassia;[9] and often concluded trade agreements with different representatives of Adyghe nobility.[10][self-published source] These Italian traders were also actively engaged in the trade of Circassian beauties,[11] selling Adyghe and Abkhazian slaves in the cities of Genoa and Venice.[12] Similar to Carlo, Zacharias de' Ghisolfi, the ruler of Matrega (an ancient town in present-day Krasnodar Krai, Russia), was the product of a Circassian-Genoese marriage.[13] Additionally, the Genoese traveler Giorgio Interiano's work La vita et sito de' Zichi, chiamiti Ciarcassi: historia notabile was among the first Italian accounts on the life and customs of Adyghes.


  1. ^ a b c Bargellini, Piero (1980). Storia di una grande famiglia: i Medici [History of a Grand Family: The Medici] (in Italian). Florence: Casa Editrice Bonechi. p. 63. 
  2. ^ Collison-Morley, Lacy (1936). The Early Medici. Dutton. p. 65. 
  3. ^ Della Torre, Renato (1980). I Medici: vita e vicende familiari [The Medici: Life and Family Matters] (in Italian). L. Pugliese. p. 30. 
  4. ^ von Reumont, Alfred (1876). Lorenzo de' Medici: the Magnificent, Volume 1. Smith, Elder, & Co. p. 154. 
  5. ^ Hull, Mary; Macht, Norman Lee (1997). The History of Slavery. Lucent Books. p. 34. 
  6. ^ Martinelli, Maurizio (1992). Al tempo di Lorenzo: viaggio nella Firenze dei Medici dal Palazzo di Via Larga al contado e nella Toscana del'400. Casa Editrice FMG. p. 25. 
  7. ^ de Marigny, Edouard Taitbout (1837). Three voyages in the Black Sea to the Coast of Circassia: Including Descriptions of the Ports, and the Importance of Their Trade: With Sketches of the Manners, Customs, Religion, &c. &c. of the Circassians. J. Murrat. p. 23. 
  8. ^ Minahan, James B. (2000). One Europe, Many Nations: A Historical Dictionary of European National Groups. Greenwood Press. p. 175. 
  9. ^ Besleney, Zeynel Abidin (2014). The Circassian Diaspora in Turkey: A Political History. Routledge. p. 37. 
  10. ^ Natho, Kadir I. (2009). Circassian History. Xlibris Corporation. pp. 98–101. 
  11. ^ Betrozov, Ruslan (2009). The Ethnic History of the Circassians. p. 202. 
  12. ^ Stanziani, Alessandro (2014). Bondage: Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries. Berghahn Books. p. 76. 
  13. ^ Richmond, Walter (2008). The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, Future. Routledge. 
  14. ^ Hare, Christopher (2008). The Most Illustrious Ladies of the Italian Renaissance. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 33.
  15. ^ Cesati, Franco (1999). The Medici: Story of a European dynasty. Mandragora. p. 28.
  16. ^ Tavole sincrone e genealogiche distoria italiana dal 306 al 1870 [Synchronous Genealogical Tables of Italian History from 306 to 1870] (in Italian). New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 2009 [First published 1875]. p. 62. 
  17. ^ Pernis, Maria Grazia; Schneider Adams, Laurie (2006). Lucrezia Tornabuoni de' Medici and the Medici Family in the Fifteenth Century. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. pp. 12, 39. ISBN 0820476455. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  18. ^ Belozerskaya, Marina (2006). The Medici Giraffe and Other Tales of Exotic Animals and Power. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  19. ^ Hibbert, Christopher (1979). The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici. London: Penguin Books. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  20. ^ Connell, William John (2002). Society and Individual in Renaissance Florence. London: University of California Press. p. 45. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  21. ^ Lucas-Dubreton, Jean (1961). Daily Life in Florence in the Time of the Medici. George Allen and Unwin. p. 105. 
  22. ^ McGowan, Kathleen (2010). The Poet Prince. London: Simon & Schuster UK. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  23. ^ Parks, Tim (2005). Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence. London: Profile Books. 
  24. ^ a b c d e Fossi, Gloria (2004). Uffizi. Giunti Editore. p. 240. 

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