Term of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of History

Committee Chair

Kathleen Comerford

Committee Member 1

Jeffrey Burson

Committee Member 2

Juanjuan Peng


This study examines how the economic elite of Florence, Italy during the fifteenth century exerted political control over the Republic of Florence. Several powerful families influenced the domestic and foreign policies of Florence. However, one Florentine family among the ruling class was more effective at using their wealth to obtain political power. As this work demonstrates, the Medici family was able to control the republican Florentine government as a de facto plutocracy. Chapter two focuses on how the Medici successfully used civic humanism and artistic endeavors to justify and project their power throughout the Italian world. Focusing on contemporary demographic, literary, and legal sources, including the Tratte of Office Holders, 1282–1532 and the Catasto of 1427 in chapter three, this thesis illustrates how the Medici, in particular Cosimo Pater Patriae (Father of the Fatherland) and his grandson Lorenzo, manipulated the Republic of Florence to maintain their control over the Florentine government. Chapter three details the manipulative practices of Cosimo de’ Medici and Lorenzo de’ Medici that highlight the Florentine government’s lack of republican values. Finally, chapter four utilizes the Catasto of 1427 to illustrate who the plutocratic class was and shows how the Medici used their wealth more effectively. The example given in chapter four is how the Medici used their wealth to influence religious appointments in the Catholic Church.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material