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Lesson Two
  Part 2: The Magnificent Medici

Grades: 6-12

Subject(s): History, Language Arts, Visual Arts

Estimated time of Completion: at least two 55-minute periods

  • Understand Humanism
  • Appreciate genius in art
  • Contrast Renaissance and Medieval attitudes
  • View film and understand how images and sounds are used to convey information and mood
  • Use reading strategies to focus viewing
  • Use writing as a way to learn
  • Participate meaningfully in class discussions
Materials Needed: Procedures:
1. Introduce the program by asking these questions before showing the film. (Keep this short so that you can finish the film in one day if possible.) Connecting Questions:
  • Where have you heard the term Renaissance man? What does it mean? (Point out that Lorenzo de Medici was the original Renaissance man.)
  • Who were the Ninja Turtles named after? (Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello) What do these names have to do with the Renaissance? (These artists were protgs of the Medici.)
Focusing Questions:
  • What happens when Mafia families have power disputes? Watch this film for events that sound like something out of The Godfather.
  • How were art and architecture connected to the rise of the Lorenzo?
  • In what ways are accepted beliefs challenged?
  • 2. Show the film. Depending on time constraints, either ...
    (a) complete the entire film in one period and have students complete the viewing guide for homework or as they watch the film or ...
    (b) break up the film into two parts and discuss the film midway with discussion and completion of the viewing guide at midpoint and at the end. 3. Either in whole class discussion or small discussion groups that report back to the rest of the class or as an individual written assignment, have students answer these closure questions:

    Closure Questions:
  • In what ways was Lorenzo like a Mafia don? (For sociological information on the Mafia, see Jane Schneider's article "Educating against the Mafia" (Available:
  • In what ways was he a Renaissance man?
  • What problems do you see with the church?
  • What art or architecture did you recognize?
  • In what ways does our society support and encourage artists, scientists, and thinkers?
  • What could Lorenzo have done differently?
  • Could anything like the "Bonfire of the Vanities" happen in the U.S.? Explain.
  • Did the fact that Florence was a republic have any effect on what happened with Savonarola and his followers? Would what happened be any more or less likely to have happened under a king?
  • Assessment:
    1. Observation of responses to class discussions.
    2. Written responses to viewing guide and closure questions.
    3. Products created for any extension activities.
    1. Show students prints of medieval and Renaissance art so that they can see the differences in realism, use of light and shading, symbolism and types of detail in backgrounds, three-dimensionality, and perspective. (Examples of this in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC are di Buoninsegna's Nativity with Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel (medieval), Giotto's Madonna and Child (transitional), and Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi (Renaissance). Get them to first identify which is medieval, which is transitional, and which is Renaissance. List the differences on the board and have students point out in which ways the two periods differ and what characteristics of each the Giotto shows.
    2. Have students design their own Lives of the Artists, including images and biographies of their favorite artists (This may be restricted to Italian Renaissance artists who were sponsored by Lorenzo or left open-ended.)
    3. Design a fresco of an event from Lorenzo's life or one that would glorify our own family or school.
    4. Design a time line of Lorenzo's life, including the artists. Use pictures of buildings and art that he commissioned to decorate the time line.
    5. Oklahoma Senate Bill 1139, passed in April 2000, requires that science textbooks include acknowledgement that "human life was created by one God of the Universe." In 1999, a legislative committee in Arkansas recommended banning mention of evolution and carbon-dating of fossils in all state-funded textbooks used in libraries, museums, schools, and zoos. A Protestant church in Pittsburgh burned Harry Potter books, Disney CDs, and the works of other religions. Every year in the U. S., groups attempt to have books banned from school and public libraries because they object to the content. Research such a group and report on its actions; also write a letter to the group expressing your opinion on their banning or write a defense of the book and send it to the local newspaper.
    6. Research the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), a federal law that ties federal funding to the use of filtering for Internet access in libraries. What exactly does the law stipulate? What libraries are affected by it? Also research the filters themselves: What sorts of things are filtered? Who decides? Is anything being filtered that should not be filtered? How effective are the filters? How did your state senator or representative vote on this issue? Write to your representatives expressing your views on the act and their voting record.
    7. Research the case of the National Endowment for the Arts v. Finley, 97-371, which determined the constitutionality of a law requiring that the National Endowment for the Arts consider public attitudes toward decency when awarding grants for art projects. Share your findings in a letter to the editor or a report to share with your class.
    8. Have students produce a freedom of speech newsletter combining their research from any of the related topics included here.
    9. Extensions 5, 6 and 7 would also lend themselves to debates or persuasive speeches. Students could role play being members of the political bodies making decisions regarding censorship or the issues raised in 3 and 4.
    10. Role play being a newspaper reporter. Make up interview questions to ask of one of the artists covered in this program; research to answer the questions. Produce both a reputable newspaper version and tabloid version of the interview. The tabloid will focus on the more outrageous personal foibles while the reputable one will concentrate on what the artist contributed to the development of art.
    11. Try Savonarola for war crimes.
    12. Design a webquest or a virtual tour, using the Internet. For example, students could use tourist Web sites to plan a trip to Florence (Firenze). Those sites also include links to museums and local historical attractions. They could design a virtual museum trip to see their favorite art attractions in Florence or go on such a virtual tour already on the web.

      Go to the Teaching Links which include brief synopses; the links work now but the urls may not be functioning by next week.

      The best thing to do is to go to You can do a search to find links to sites of interest to you, then copy and paste them into your own track that you establish for free. You can also add instructions for students. You simply give your students the track number; they can access the links you have set for them. You can also have students design a track around a specific topic.
    To find out more about the National Standards applicable to this educational plan click here.

    Download this lesson plan as a PDF (80k)

    Lesson Plan 1 | Lesson Plan 3 | Lesson Plan 4

    Where to next
    Turning Points   Turning Points
    Gallery Gallery: Renaissance Art

    For Teachers

    - Lesson Plan 1:
    The Birth of a Dynasty

    - Lesson Plan 2:
    The Magnificent Medici

    - Lesson Plan 3:
    The Medici Popes

    - Lesson Plan 4:
    Power vs Truth


    Reading List & Links