Michelangelo was the artistic son of Florence but he defected to the capital of Italy – Rome where he created such works as the gargantuan ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This was a problem for the king – like Duke of Florence: Cosimo di Medici thus, the death of this most famous of artists became a politicised event.
Cosimo was, arguably, the archetypal Renaissance man – he knew how to market himself through architectural and pictorial form. It was therefore of paramount importance that his city be the resting place of 16th Century Italy’s greatest artist – Michelangelo. There was an issue – Michelangelo had defected to Rome and lived there up until his death. Cosimo would have to steal the body…
Cosimo sent a group of Hench men to the capital in order to steal the body of Michelangelo. His body was put in amongst other packages on the back of a cart and driven, at speed back to Florence where it was greeted by not only a supremely happy Cosimo ( who had successfully pulled off his publicity stunt) but also a huge sepulchre crafted in marble Vasari – one of the finest sculptors at the Florentine court, and an ardent fan of Michelangelo.
As well as being given a state funeral with 1000’s of weeping onlookers, Michelangelo was also beatified and thus became immortalised not only for future artists but for the city of Florence also.
Michelangelo is buried in the Basilica of Santa Croce.