Most of the great building projects of the Italian Renaissance … had behind them the urge to exhibit now: to exhibit an identity, to show the power or piety of the man and his family dynasty, and to carve out a space in the city that would belong to that name, that individual and dynasty, for all times” (Martines, 1979: 236). In the Florentine society, it was necessary for princes who could afford it to build huge residential palaces, villas, fortresses, governmental buildings, churches and convents. This established their importance in many ways. It showed their importance to family and dynasty, their importance to the survival and welfare of the city-state, it was a way that they could accommodate prominent visitors from foreign countries making them important political leaders and it helped to demonstrate their own piety and goodness in looking after the spiritual well-being of the citizens at large. “Thus the urban drive for grandeur and for more ample living spaces sprang from the new needs and wishes of the commanding social groups. As the political and monied elite spread out and preempted more urban space, all others had to be content with less” (Martines, 1979: 272). However, the way in which these families decided to expand and the types of works they commissioned demonstrate the advancements that had taken place in architecture and art during this period and the social needs and impressions these families wished to portray to others. A prime example of how architecture worked to both portray a specific image of the family as well as meet the new social needs of the ruling class can be found in the Palazzo Medici in Florence, as it was envisioned in 1444, the year construction on the new building began.
This period in time was a time of tremendous change and growth. The long-dusty ideas of the past, grounded in tradition and defying attempts at progressive thought, were being shaken out,