Cosimo de' Medici

First ruler of the Medici political dynasty (1389–1464)

Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici (called 'the Elder' (Italian il Vecchio) and, posthumously, Father of the Nation' (Latin pater patriae); born 10 April 1389 in Florence, died 1 August 1464 in Careggi) was the first of the Medici political dynasty, de facto rulers of Florence during much of the Italian Renaissance.

Portrait by Bronzino.


  • We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.
    • Attributed to Cosimo de' Medici, Duke of Florence, in Apothegms by Francis Bacon, (1624) No. 206
  • There is in gardens a plant which one ought to leave dry, although most people water it. It is the weed called envy.
    • Attributed to Cosimo de' Medici in: Jean Lucas-Dubreton (1961). Daily Life in Florence in the Time of the Medici. p. 58
  • All those things [meaning works of art] have given me the greatest satisfaction and contentment because they are not only for the honor of God but are likewise for my own remembrance. For fifty years, I have done nothing else but earn money and spend money; and it became clear that spending money gives me greater pleasure than earning it.
    • Attributed to Cosimo de' Medici by Salviati; as cited in Taylor, F.H. (1948). The taste of angels, a history of art collecting from Rameses to Napoleon. Boston: Little, Brown. pp. 65–66.

Quotes about Cosimo de' Medici

  • Political questions are settled in [Cosimo's] house. The man he chooses holds office... He it is who decides peace and war... He is king in all but name.
    • Pope Pius II quoted by C. Hibbert in The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici, 1974 in Martin Longman, Italian Renaissance (Longman, 1992).
  • [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.
    • Edward Gibbon (1880). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Philadelphia: Nottingham Society. pp. 456-457
  • Cosimo de' Medici... [was] a citizen of rare wisdom and inestimable riches, and therefore most celebrated all over Europe, especially because he had spent over 400,000 ducats in building churches, monasteries and other sumptuous edifices not only in his own country but in many other parts of the world, doing all this with admirable magnificence and truly regal spirit, since he had been more concerned with immortalizing his name than providing for his descendants.
    • Francesco Guicciardini. The History of Italy. Translated by Sidney Alexander. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 60
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