Season 1 premiere continues on RAI 1. On November 1st, episodes 5 and 6 were underway.
Season 1 Episode 5 and 6 plot
Cosimo de Medici has been exiled and finds himself in Venice with all his family, except for his wife Contessina that he left in Florence. The exile was an idea of Contessina to save her husband’s life, but he’s angry at her, thinking that for his family it would have been better to die without losing Florence.
Cosimo gets to know that his exile has been prolonged from 5 to 10 years. He tries to convince the Doge to help him go back to his city, by making gifts to the city of Venice, including a new library designed by the famous architect Michelozzo, but for the Doge, the real deal is to have a rich family like the Medici in town. As a gift, Cosimo receives a beautiful slave, Maddalena. The woman get interested in arts, like Cosimo, and the couple falls in love.
In the meantime, in Florence, Rinaldo degli Albizi is oppressing the city with the violence of his personal army of mercenaries, and Contessina is having hard times until his ex-boyfriend Ezio Contarini comes back to Florence for an important event: his nephew is going to marry the son of Rinaldo. Ezio, trying to conquer Contessina back, invites her to a party. Contessina accepts, but her goal is to gather information that can be useful for the return of Cosimo.
In Venice, Cosimo meets Mario, his cousin, and he proposes a way out: Visconti, the Duke of Milan, would support Cosimo with his army and they would conquer Florence with the force. A very dangerous proposal, because that would mean to betray his city and his allied Venice, in favor of the mortal enemy of Florence, the Duke of Milan. Luckily, Cosimo can count on his friend Marco Bello, who discovers that the Duke of Milan is not planning anything like that. He also rides his horse to Florence, reporting news about the imminent marriage of the young Albizi.
Cosimo then proposes the Doge to organize the marriage of his son with the same (very rich) woman from Mantua supposed to marry Rinaldo’s son. This way, Rinaldo won’t profit from the marriage and won’t have money left to pay his mercenaries. Thanks to this move, Rinaldo degli Albizi loses his grip on Florence and the Signoria calls back Cosimo. It’s a triumphant return, Albizi is arrested and a surprise awaits Cosimo when he’s back: Pope Eugenius IV is there, asking the Medici for hospitality, because Rome has been taken by the Duke of Milan.
After some initial indifference towards his wife, Cosimo finally surrenders to her, maybe realizing that after all, the idea of saving his life was not that bad.
Cosimo pays Albizi’s mercenaries to leave the city (but he makes an agreement with them), then he intercedes with the Signoria to save the life of his enemy Rinaldo (because the Pope asked him to do so). In exchange, the Pope is personally blessing the work on Brunelleschi’s Dome, that now nobody will dare to stop again.
In the final scene, Rinaldo is leaving Florence with his son, headed into exile, but his mercenaries, paid by Cosimo, are waiting for him outside of the city. Rinaldo and his son are killed.
Cosimo’s exile actually lasted only for some months, as described in the series, and it’s true that the city called him back. From his exile, and using the immense wealth and power Cosimo had accumulated, the Medici basically blocked the economy of Florence, and with business stagnating, soon enough the city realized that it was better to have the Medici on their side. Cosimo was actually received like a hero, when coming back, and his leadership on the city was not in discussion anymore.
As for Rinaldo, he was exiled, yes, but not killed. He died in exile 9 years later, in 1442.
Cosimo de Medici had a son with a slave named Maddalena. His name was Carlo de Medici, and there is a portrait of him by Mantegna at the Uffizi Gallery.
Pope Eugenius IV was a guest of Florence for some years. He consecrated the Duomo in 1436, after the work on Brunelleschi’s Dome was complete. During this period, Florence was the seat of the Council between the Eastern and Western church, a very important event that Cosimo was able to move away from Ferrara to favor Florence.
This event is believed to have fueled the Renaissance, thanks to the arrival in Florence of many scholars, philosophers, artists from Costantinoples. Later on, after the fall of Costantinoples (1453) most of these people escaped to Florence, inspiring artists like Botticelli for his famous Birth of Venus and his other pagan allegories.