Little Known Black History Fact: Alessandro De’Medici

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  • Alessandro De’Medici, a.k.a. “IL Moro,” which stands for “The Moor,” was the first African-American Duke of Florence, Italy and the last member of the Medici family to rule. De’Medici was also the first one to take the title of Duke through ancestry.

    Though he was said to be the son of Lorenzo II De’ Medici, many believed that Alessandro was the illegitimate son of a washerwoman named Simonetta. In 1527, Emperor Charles sacked Rome and Alessandro fled the city with the rest of his family. Three years later, in 1530, peace was restored and the family returned. Alessandro was made Duke of Florence and ruled for seven years. He had his share of enemies, and some called him harsh and incompetent. Among them was his own cousin, Ippolito, who was on his way to tell Charles V about the Duke’s dictatorship, but died along the way. Some believe Alessandro De’Medici’s men poisoned Ippolito.

    With a stigma of dictatorship behind him, Alessandro De’ Medici was assassinated by his own cousin, Lorenzo De’ Medici, a.k.a. “Bad Lorenzo.” Lorenzo had lured the Duke in with an opportunity to have a discreet encounter with his sister, a distant cousin as well, named Laudomia. The Medici family and officials were afraid that an uproar would occur if word got out about his death. So they wrapped his body in carpet and buried it in the cemetery of San Lorenzo quietly. “Bad Lorenzo” later confessed to killing his distant cousin for the “sake of the republic.” Lorenzo would only live until 1548, when he was also killed.

    Alessandro De’ Medici was survived by two children, a son and a daughter.

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