Leo X


Leo X
(Giovanni de' Medici; r. 1513-1521)
   Leo X was the second son of Lorenzo "the Magnificent" de' Medici, tonsured at the age of seven, and made cardinal at 13. Like his father, Leo presided over a court that included artists, poets, and musicians but also clowns, animal tamers, and other odd individuals—and that, coupled by his extravagant behavior, gave added fuel to the leaders of the Reformation. It was under Leo's rule that Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the portals of Wittenberg Cathedral (1517), resulting in his excommunication in 1521. As pope, Leo's main concern was to prevent foreign domination of Italy, and particularly Florence, and to advance his family's interests. In 1516, he expelled the della Rovere from Urbino and installed his nephew Lorenzo II de' Medici as its duke. With this, Leo set in motion the events that would lead to the Medici's attainment of the title of Dukes of Tuscany in 1530. Leo was the patron of Raphael, who under his rule completed the Stanza at the Vatican, and Donato Bramante, who worked on New St. Peter's. Raphael also painted the Portrait of Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de' Medici and Luigi de' Rossi (c. 1517; Florence, Uffizi), which shows the pope at his desk examining an illuminated manuscript with a magnifying glass, a fitting tribute to the man who profoundly valued such art objects.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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