Pico Della Mirandola
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Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) was a philosopher of the Italian Renaissance. In 1486, at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses against any and all comers. The resulting book, Oration on the Dignity of Man became so popular that it was known as the "Manifesto of the Renaissance."
Giovanni was born in Mirandola, the youngest son of the Lord of Mirandola. Gifted with obvious intelligence, he studied Latin and Greek while still a boy. His education was remarkable, studying and growing up at the following universities:
- At the age of 10 was sent to Bologna in order to study canon law.
- Pico della Mirandola studied at the University of Padua, where he studied Hebrew and Arabic.
- In 1485, he traveled to the University of Paris, the most important school in Europe at the time.
Pico della Mirandola and the Medici Family
Pico eventually came under the patronage of Lorenzo the Magnificent of the Medici family. He later became involved with wife of one of Lorenzo's cousins, and when the husband found out he wounded Pico and threw him in jail. Upon his release, he traveled to Rome, finishing his Oration. However, Pope Innocent VIII declared that 13 of the 900 theses were heretical, forcing Pico to write an Apologia.
After the death of Lorenzo, Pico moved to Ferrara, where he maintained a friendship with the radical cleric Savonarola. In 1494, Pico della Mirandola was poisoned under mysterious circumstances, probably arsenic. He was buried at St. Mark's Basilica in Florence. In 2007, his body was exhumed for modern testing to determine the cause of his death.