Season 1 premiere continued on RAI 1 on October 25th. Two more episodes were showed. I already wrote the guide of season 1 – episodes 1 and 2. Stay tuned to see how the show develops.
Season 1 Episode 3 and 4 plot
Florence is facing the plague: people are dying, hospitals don’t have enough place for everybody and corpses are lying in the streets. Borders have been closed, and trading is stagnating, putting the Medici Bank at serious risk of bankruptcy.
Rinaldo degli Albizi, mortal enemy of Cosimo, takes advantage of the plague to point his finger to Cosimo, preaching that God punished the city for trying to build the dome of the Cathedral with money coming from Cosimo, an usurer. He succeeds in convincing the labourers to even destroy the work done until now, despite the opposition of Brunelleschi.
In the meantime, Cosimo is not in town: he left Florence for a countryside villa, to protect his family from the epidemic. Here, we discover that Cosimo had a twin brother, Damiano, and that Piccarda (Cosimo’s mother) never forgave Cosimo for being negligent, causing the death of his brother. By the way, moving away from Florence was useless: Cosimo’s mother gets sick and dies, not before forgiving him and suggesting him to go back to Florence to reaffirm his leadership. In the meantime, Lorenzo (Cosimo’s brother) travels to Siena to cash in some funds that would allow the bank to survive, but his mission is unsuccessful.
Back to Florence, Cosimo, after realizing hospitals are full and people are dying in the streets, decides to recover all the sick people inside the Duomo, preventing the followers of Albizi from further damaging the dome. Luck assists Cosimo when the plague comes to an end.
Marco Bello, Cosimo’s most faithful man, gets closer to discovering the assassin of Giovanni de Medici: looks like the man who lost the knife (the only clue) was nobody else but Lorenzo, Cosimo’s brother.
Cosimo is summoned to Palazzo della Signoria, and gets arrested by Rinaldo degli Albizi with the accusations of usury and tyranny. The trial begins, with Cosimo imprisoned in the tower of the Palazzo. He tries to bring some members of the Signoria on his side, but his attempts fail, and guards are replaced so that he cannot communicate with the outside. The new guard even poisons Cosimo’s wine, preventing him from defending himself.
Where does all this anger Rinaldo shows against Cosimo come from? We discover this in a flashback, where Cosimo and Rinaldo play a “calcio” match and become friends. Rinaldo reveals Cosimo that his family is on the edge of bankruptcy, and Cosimo naively reports the news to his father, who doesn’t hesitate a second and spreads the news, causing the Albizi to be ousted from the Signoria.
The family is not united in trying to help Cosimo: his son Piero tries to show documents that prove that Albizi was lying, his wife Contessina blackmails an important member of the Signoria to vote in favor of Cosimo; finally, his brother Lorenzo takes a big amount of money from the bank and pays an army to put Florence under siege.
Rinaldo degli Albizi obtains that Cosimo is condemned to death, but in an extreme attempt to save the life of her husband, Contessina breaks into the Signoria riding a horse, and offering an alternative: the Medici will leave the city. The Signoria, under the threat of the army of Lorenzo, accepts the conditions to save the city from being sacked, but Cosimo is not happy: he preferred to die than to lose Florence, accusing his wife to put the future of the Medici in jeopardy to protect her personal interest.
Cosimo and all the family are headed into exile, leaving Contessina in Florence.
Given that, as explained in the previous episodes comment, Brunelleschi’s Dome was not built for Cosimo, it’s also to be said that the Florentine people would never destroy it. They were very proud of the Duomo. Also in the series, so far, we have barely seen any priest. Apart the fact that priests, nuns, monks and friars were a very relevant part of the entire population, seems like the construction of the Dome is a private affair between Cosimo and Rinaldo. Let’s not forget that the Cathedral was and is the seat of the Archbishop of Florence: one of the most influent persons in the city, who is never mentioned.
Cosimo was actually imprisoned and sent into exile. As far as we know, he paid the guards to have groceries delivered from his family, and he never ate or drank anything else, in fear of being poisoned, which is what happens in the TV show.
The sum of 50,000 Florins requested by Lorenzo to pay the army that will put Florence under siege is a very relevant sum. You could start a small banking activity with 10-12,000, and we know Cosimo spent 30,000 to build the entire convent of San Marco from scratch.