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Cosimo de' Medici

Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici (April 10, 1389 - August 1, 1464), was the first of the Medici political dynasty, effective rulers of Florence during most of the Italian Renaissance; also know as "Cosimo 'the Elder'" and "Cosimo Pater Patriae."

Cosimo inherited both his wealth and his flair for business from his father Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, a banker. In 1433 Cosimo was exiled from Florence by Rinaldo degli Albizzi, but his fortunes soon changed, and he returned in 1434, to ably lead the Republic for the rest of his long life.

In the political sphere, Cosimo worked to create peace in Northern Italy through the creation of a balance of power between Florence, Venice and Milan, and discouraging outside powers (notably the French and the Holy Roman Empire) from interfering.

Cosimo was also noted for his patronage of culture and the arts, liberally spending the family fortune (which his astute business sense considerably increased) to enrich Florence. He also hired the young Michelozzo Michelozzi to create what is today perhaps the protypical Florentine palazzo, the austere and magnificent Palazzo Medici. He was a patron and confidante of Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, and Donatello, whose famed David and Judith Slaying Holofernes were Medici commissions.

On his death in 1464, Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero 'the Gouty', father of Lorenzo the Magnificant. After his death the Signoria awarded him the title Pater Patriae, "Father of his Country," an honour once awarded to Cicero, and had it carved upon his tomb Church of San Lorenzo.

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