Medici, Cosmo De

, a celebrated citizen of Florence, born in that city iii 1389, was the eldest son of John de Metlici, the founder of his illustrious family. 4i The maxims,“says Mr. Roscoe,” which, m iformly pursued, raised the house of Medici to the splendour which it afterwards enjoyed, are to be found in the charge given by this venerable old man on his death-bed to his two sons “I feel,” said John de Medici, “that I have lived the time prescribed me. I die content; leaving you, my sons, in affluence and in health, and in such a station, that while you follow my example, you may live in your native place honoured and respected. Nothing affords me more pleasure than the reflection that my conduct has not given offence to any one; but that, on the contrary, I have endeavoured to serve all persons to the best of my abilities. I advise you to do the same. With respect to the honours of the state, if you would live with security, accept only such as are bestowed on you by the laws, and the favour of your fellow-citizens; for it is the exercise of that power which is obtained by violence, and not of that which is voluntarily conferred, that occasions hatred and violence.” At the death of this venerable man, in 1428, Cosmo had already obtained distinction both in the political and commercial world. In 1414, when the pope, John XXIII., was summoned to attend the council of Constance, he chose to be accompanied by Cosmo de Medici, among other men of eminence, whose high characters might countenance his cause. On the death of his father, Cosmo succeeded to the influence possessed by him as head of that powerful family, which rendered him the first citizen of the state, | though without any superiority of rank or title, and his conduct being marked by urbanity and generosity to all ranks, he acquired numerous and zealous partizans. Such was the influence of his family, that while the citizens of Florence fancied they lived under a pure republic, the Medici generally assumed to themselves the first offices of the state, or nominated such persons as they esteemed fit for those employments. Cosmo exerted this influence with great prudence and moderation; yet, owing to the discontent of the Florentines, with the bad success of the war against Lucca, a party arose, led on by Rinaldo de' Albizi, which, in 1433, after filling the magistracies with their own adherents, seized the person of Cosmo, and committed him to prison, and he was afterwards banished to Padua for ten years, and several other members and friends of the Medici family underwent a similar punishment. He was received with marked respect by the Venetian government, and took up his abode in the city of Venice. Within a year of his retreat, Rinaldo was himself obliged to quit Florence; and Cosmo being recalled, he returned amidst the acclamations of his fellow-subjects. Some victims were offered to his future security, and the gonfaloniere who had pronounced his sentence, with a few others of that party, were put to death. Measures were now taken to restrict the choice of magistrates to the partizans of the Medici, and alliances were formed with the neighbouring powers for the avowed purpose of supporting and perpetuating the system by which Florence was from that time to be governed. The manner in which Cosmo employed his authority, has conferred upon his memory the greatest honour. From this time his life was an almost uninterrupted series of prosperity. The tranquillity enjoyed by the republic, and the satisfaction and peace of mind which he experienced in the esteem and confidence of his fellow-citizens, enabled him to indulge his natural propensity to the promotion of science, and the patronage and encouragement of learned men. The richest private citizen in Europe, he surpassed almost all sovereign princes in the munificence with which he patronized literature and the fine arts. He assembled around him some of the most learned men of the age, who had begun to cultivate the Grecian language and philosophy. He established, at Florence, an academy expressly for the elucidation of the Platonic philosophy, at the head of which he placed the | celebrated Marsilius Ficinus. He collected from all parts by means of foreign correspondences, manuscripts of the Greek, Latin, and Oriental languages, which formed the foundation of the Laurentian library nor was he less liberal in the encouragement of the fine arts. During the retirement of his latter days, his happiest hours were devoted to the study of letters and philosophy, and the conversation of learned men. He also endowed numerous religious houses, and built an hospital at Jerusalem for the relief of distressed pilgrims. While the spirit of his government was moderate, he avoided every appearance of state which might excite the jealousy or discontent of the Florentines; and therefore, byway of increasing his interest among them, restricted the marriages of his children to Florentine families: By such wise measures, and the general urbanity of his behaviour to all orders of men, he attained the title of “Father of his country,” which was inscribed on his tomb. He died Aug. 1, 14-64, aged seventyfive years, deeply lamented by the citizens of Florence. 1

1 Roscoe’s Life of Lorenzo. Rees’s Cyclopædia.