|Tomb of Antonio Altoviti|
Dei Santi Apostoli Church, Florence
Bindo spent a fortune raising an army to oppose Cosimo in the war over Siena. Earlier, he was accused of complicity in the successful assassination plot against Cosimo's predecessor, Duke Alessandro de' Medici. He was an outspoken critic who wanted the Medici out of power permanently and he backed up his words with considerable resources. In 1548, as a poke in the eye to Cosimo, Pope Paul III appointed Bindo's son, Antonio Altoviti, as Archbishop of Florence. Cosimo retaliated by banning the new Archbishop from setting foot in the city, a prohibition that lasted for twenty years. Cosimo finally relented as part of papal negotiations that secured his new title of "Grand Duke." Antonio Altoviti was a devotee of the late great revolutionary cleric Girolamo Savonarola, decidedly not a Medici favorite. By some accounts, the high regard with which the people of Florence held the Archbishop only intensified Cosimo’s dislike.
Nevertheless, he did ultimately gain the trust of Cosimo's inner circle; in 1567 Altoviti was involved in negotiations to bring Venetian glass workers to Tuscany. This effort would bear fruit within a couple of years. It is perhaps impossible to gain full appreciation of a man through a single anecdote, but we can get a flavor. In 1569, shortly after occupying his post for the first time, Altoviti introduced a new ritual to the Florentine Church. On Holy Thursday, the Bishop would wash the feet of twelve of the city's poor residents rather than of twelve canons (as done previously) and he would give them generous alms.
What makes Archbishop Altoviti so interesting to Neri's story is that he had a close association with the Neri family. In fact, so close that on 13 December 1573, Altoviti became godparent to Jacopo, the first born son of Neri Neri and Dianora. It is an interesting choice for a man who would later become personal physician to Cosimo de' Medici's son, Grand Duke Ferdinando. However, Jacopo would never learn what it was like to have the Archbishop as his spiritual guide. Two weeks after his birth, on the 28th of that month, Altoviti convened a special post-Christmas meeting of regional bishops. It was during this synod that he suddenly and unexpectedly died at the age of fifty-two. Within a few years, young Jacopo would join him.
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