The unprepared heir. Piero was, by all accounts, pretty, arrogant, and unable to distinguish “citizen” from “prince.” He would die at 31 by drowning in a river while fleeing a battlefield.
“What could one hope for from Piero? Not only did he not have the greatest prudence, as you know; he was also not of that good nature and sweetness [common to] his father and grandfather, and ordinary in our nation. Nor is this any wonder, for being born of a foreign mother, the Florentine blood in him was bastardized. His external comportment was degenerate, and [he was] too insolent and haughty for our way of life.” – Guicciardini, as quoted in Miles Unger’s Magnifico
Still, I wonder at what lies behind the portraits and the snark. What would be said of Piero now, with our language of trauma and therapy? As Unger describes in Magnifico:
“Shortly after Giuliano’s murder, Clarice and the children were spirited out of Florence. With the faithful Poliziano in tow, they led an itinerant life in one or the other of the many family villas or under the protection of friendly lords like the Panciatichi of Pistoia. Rumors of assassins, as well as various outbreaks of disease, continued to stalk them, forcing the family to pick up stakes every few weeks and keeping the household in a state of perpetual disarray … The constant anxiety took its toll. Clarice was often ill, exhibiting early signs of consumption, a condition that could hardly have been improved by extended stays in drafty villas meant for summer living.”
To constantly worry if your father would be murdered, if your mother’s sickness might be poison, if you yourself will be killed; to have to depend on strange allies for your safety and care … it is not a childhood I would wish on anyone.