Michelangelo Buonarroti


Caprese, 6 March 1475


Rome, 18 February 1564

Michelangelo Buonarroti

The life and especially the art of Michelangelo Buonarroti are too well known to be mentioned here. Everyone knows that he was one of the greatest italian artists of the Renaissance, although less is known about the events associating him with the last Florentine Republic. Michelangelo became a supporter of the new regime, after the Sack of Rome and the Medicis' were overthrown, but remained his patrons. In 1527 he started to study the city fortifications, then was appointed “Governor and Superintendent” of the fortification, as well as member of the Nove della Milizia, in charge of military defence, in 1529; as the war approached, he became deeply committed to upgrading the ancient city walls around Florence. the narrow and high walls, of medieval origin, proved ineffective faced with the cannon balls and new field artillery deployed during the sieges. They thus needed to be integrated with embankments and ramparts, which were fake but no less effective: the raw bricks used by Michelangelo were actually more elastic and more effective. One of the masterpieces by Michelangelo was the fortification of San Miniato al Monte, from where the Republican forces could respond to fire from the enemy army thanks to more streamlined defence structures. Despite such dedication, Michelangelo in the end was convinced to leave the city in September 1529, when the Imperial army invaded Tuscan soil. He thus fled, with as many as twelve thousand gold florins sewn inside three coats, to Venice. The Signoria then declared him a rebel, but the sentence was reduced to a three-year ban from participation in the City Council, given that he was convinced to return already in November. When the Medicis returned after capitulating on 12 August 1530, Michelangelo was forced to hide in the city in a friend's house, to escape the repression. A few months later, however, he was officially pardoned by Pope Clement VII, ss well as being ordered to suspend work on the Medici tombs in San Lorenzo. He never tolerat+D41ed the new regime, so in 1534 the artist left Florence never to return there.

Bibliography and sources:

Giorgio Spini, Michelangelo politico, in Michelangelo politico e altri studi sul Rinascimento fiorentino, Milano, Unicopli, 1999

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