Friday, 12 March 2010

A Li'l History Lesson

Alessandro de Medici was born on 22 July in 1510 and to this day, this date is celebrated as he was the Black ruler of modern Italy in the 16th century.

He wielded great power as the first duke of Florence. He was the patron of some of the leading artists of the era and is one of the two Medici princes whose remains are buried in the famous tomb by Michaelangelo. The ethnic make up of this Medici Prince makes him the first Black head of state in the modern Western world.
Alessandro was born in 1510 to a black serving woman in the Medici household who, after her subsequent marriage to a muleteer, is simply referred to in existing documents as Simonetta da Collavechio. Historians today are convinced that Alessandro was fathered by the seventeen year old Cardinal Giulio de Medici who later became Pope Clement VII. Cardinal Giulio was the nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
On being elected Pope in 1523, Cardinal Giulio was forced to relinquish the lordship of Florence but he appointed a regent for his thirteen year old son Alessandro who had just been created Duke of Penna, and a nephew, Ipollito. Even though both were bastards, they were the last of what has come to be referred to as the elder line of the family.

Republicanism had grown in Florence under the regent and when Emperor Charles V sacked Rome in 1527, the Florentines took advantage of the situation to install a more democratic form of government and both Alessandro and Ipollito fled. When peace was finally made two years later between the Papal and the Imperial factions, Charles V agreed to militarily restore Florence to the Medici. After a siege of eleven months Alessandro was finally brought back as the Emperor's designated head of state.

In 1532, the new Florentine constitution declared Alessandro hereditary Duke and perpetual gonfalonier of the republic. Though his common sense and his feeling for justice won his subjects' affection, those in sympathy with the exiled opposition hated Alessandro and accused him of using his power to sexually exploit the citizenry. However, only two illegitimate children with the possibility of a third, have been attributed to him and even these he fathered with one woman, Taddea Malespina, a distant cousin of his.
With the death of his father, the Pope, in 1534, the exiles attempted to oust the Duke Alessandro from Florence. But the Emperor decided to uphold Alessandro and in an obvious show of support, gave Alessandro his own illegitimate daughter, Margaret of Austria, as wife.

Despite the security this kind of support should have given him, Alessandro was finally assassinated a few months after his wedding by Lorenzaccio de Medici, a distant cousin who had ingratiated himself in order to win his confidence. According to the declaration he later published, Lorenzaccio claimed that he had executed Alessandro for the sake of the republic and that he had been able to disarm him of his personal bodyguards by setting up a sexual liaison for him as a trap. When the anti-Medici faction failed to use this occasion to overthrow the ducal government, Lorenzaccio fled in dismay. He was himself eventually murdered some twelve years later.

thanks to AfroEurope for hipping me to this.


uglyblackjohn said...

Thanks KayDub - I'm always looking for stories to prove to my young cousins that Black History is World History.

KonWomyn said...

How u doin' UBJ?

There's been centuries of whitewashing and (mis)appropriation of history and we've got to set the record straight and put an end to this position of inferiority the majority of Black people seem to think is their natural position within history.

You're doin' good tho'; if we don't teach each other then we won't ever know the fullness of History.