WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for the entire first season of Medici: Masters of Florence.
When Marco Bello finally told Cosimo about Lorenzo’s dagger, the one found with the murdered apothecary, the one likely used by the same man who killed Giovanni de Medici, Cosimo did not doubt his boyhood friend. Cosimo was ready enough to believe his own brother Lorenzo’s possible guilt than to question the loyalty of the man who had been a servant to the Medicis for decades. Marco Bello was Cosimo’s muscle in his rise to power within Florence. Marco Bello would show no hesitation in putting himself between danger and Cosimo. Marco Bello lived for the Medici.
Yet Marco Bello lived, and it was this realisation that turned Cosimo against his friend. Cosimo saw Marco Bello kissing his slave mistress Maddalena. In that moment, Marco Bello became more than a servant. He was a man, with the needs of a man, the desires of a man, the changeability of a man. Lucrezia came to Cosimo with proof of Marco Bello’s guilt, a bill of sale for hemlock found in his saddlebag. Still struggling with guilt over the murder of Rinaldo Albizzi and his son, Cosimo chose to let Marco Bello leave Florence alive.
We know little of Marco Bellos’ life before he came to the Medicis. What we do know was that he was a man who was comfortable being close to power without actually wielding it. Marco Bello was secure enough with his standing amongst the Medicis, that he went against Cosimo’s express command not to kill the surgeon who performed the autopsy on Giovanni, and who later blackmailed Cosimo. He offered friendship to Cosimo’s mistress, and when Cosimo appeared to lose interest in Maddalena, Marco Bello saw no wrong in taking what Maddalena offered, a kiss, a closeness neither of them would have with the masters of Florence.
The eight episodes of Medici: Masters of Florence was bookended with a murder mystery, the quest to find out who killed Giovanni. The mystery was solved, but there was no true closure. Marco Bello refused to return to Florence with the accusation of Giovanni’s murder hanging over him. It was not clear whether Lorenzo was able to tell Contessina of Marco Bello’s innocence before he himself was murdered. Ugo was certainly comfortable with blaming Marco Bello for Giovanni’s death, if that meant the breach he did not intend to cause between Cosimo and Lorenzo would heal. Ugo judged his own life and importance to the Medici march to history to be of higher value than that of Marco Bello’s, and allowed Cosimo’s muscle to bear the brunt of his sin, at least in public.
When Cosimo renounced Marco Bello a murderer, Marco Bello did not choose to work against his former master. Instead, Marco Bello followed Lorenzo to ensure he was no traitor to his brother. It was an astounding show of loyalty, more remarkable for the fact that, had Lorenzo’s life not been in danger, Marco Bello might not have shown himself and revealed his final act of service to the Medici.
When Marco Bello felt murder was necessary, he did so without blinking. Yet the thought of causing a breach between Cosimo and Lorenzo bothered him so much that he went to a priest for advice. In Marco Bello, the Medici servant came first before the man.