Alessandro de Medici was born in Florence, Italy in 1510 to a mother who was a servant girl. His mother served the de Medici family, his father was said to be Pope Clement VII, the nephew of Lorenzo de Medici “The Magnificent.” Alessandro was nicknamed the “Moor” by his peers because of his prominent African features. He was appointed regent of Florence in 1523 after Pope Clement was forced to relinquish his power. Clement assigned Alessandro as regent to maintain his influence. In 1527 Emperor Charles VII sacked Rome forcing Alessandro and members of his family to flee for safety. The city remained under siege until 1530 when Pope Clement mended his relationship with Emperor Charles. The emperor used his military power to restore the Medici family as heads of state. The emperor also used his power to appoint Alessandro as Duke of Florence.
He began his reign in 1531 and within six months was made hereditary duke by the emperor. This move helped the Medici’s overthrow the opposing republican government. The Duke’s reign was not received very well by his enemies and those exiled by Emperor Charles. Alessandro and his supporters were viewed as oppressive and incompetent by those that despised there position. The people of Florence didn’t agree with the many actions of the Duke. His cousin Ippolito was sent to appeal his reign to Emperor Charles. Upon his journey Ippolito was killed and Alessandro was suspected of orchestrating his death. Pope Clement died in 1534 creating an opportunity for Alessandro’s enemies to attack him. In 1536 he married Emperor Charles’ daughter to help cement Alessandro as the absolute Prince of Florence.
Months after Alessandro’s marriage, he was assassinated by his cousin Lorenzo De Medici. They lured him into bed with another woman, assassinated him, and quietly moved his body to a designated burial ground. Emperor Charles held a small funeral in the memory of Alessandro in his courts. Lorenzo later fled to Venice where he was killed by supporters of the Medici family. The family remained in power by ensuring Cosimo De Medici became Duke of Florence. Alessandro and his family was an example of the African diaspora in Europe, rising to prominence. The family was able to survive the sacking of Rome by Emperor Charles, and the uprising of a Republican government to remain the rulers of Florence. Alessandro was not well liked or highly thought of by his enemies, but he was effective in helping to maintain his family’s power. Alessandro de Medici, we stand on your shoulders.
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