Adumbrations of Power and the Politics of Appearances in Medicean Florence
The Palazzo della Signoria (Palazzo Vecchio) in Florence, commissioned in 1298, did not undergo any notable alterations until the 1450s–1480s, first under Cosimo de' Medici and then under his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent. The significance of these changes and how they relate to Medici politics is here examined. There is some irony in the fact that as the Palazzo alterations were taking place, enhancing the public dignity of the Signoria, constitutional changes were diminishing many of its traditional executive powers and reinforcing Medicean control. These seemingly contradictory thrusts make sense when seen from the perspective of Lorenzo's style of politics, which emphasized appearances. The refiguring of the constitution, and the restructuring of the Palazzo serve as representational vehicles for Lorenzo's adumbrated power.