Over the last couple years I've refocused my Renaissance story to be about the rise of the Medici and how they symbolized a shift away from power by birth to power by wealth. It's long been a talking point but I never could quite drive it home to students. It is, after all, a very heady concept. I wanted to make a lesson that really showed the Medici influence in Florence. Netflix was kind enough to help by releasing The Medici television show. I remembered Assassin's Creed 2 had some cool flyovers of Renaissance Florence. Google Earth did the rest. Here's Digging for the Truth: Florence!
Purpose: Introduce the influence of Medici wealth in Florence.
Bellwork: Project slide 1 onto the screen. Students analyze an old illustration of Florence and speculate on what life there was like.
After discussing the bellwork show the video above as an introduction. Read the script as you go through the slides. Questions will come up periodically for students to answer and discuss.
Closing: Students write one paragraph answering "How did the Medici use their wealth to improve Florence and gain power?"
Roughton Says: The activity worked out great. The short video intro drew them in immediately and the high quality images kept them interested throughout. Students were able to "see" the influence (and benefits) of the Medici like never before. They recognized the extreme difference between Renaissance Florence and the recently ended unit on Christendom. Unfortunately, I can't provide the video clips I use from The Medici for copyright reasons but they do add to the experience. I used a clip where Cosimo is discussing his rise in power with a noble and another with Brunelleschi's plan on how to complete the dome. It's all on Netflix!