Name: Raniero Vieri de' Medici
Play by: Devon Terrell
Raniero is of average height and build, but does not exactly blend in with a crowd. His complexion is a touch too dark to be merely tanned, his hair a touch too thick, his nose and lips a touch too big. His eyes are brown and wide. His build is somewhat athletic given the sports he plays, but others often mistake him for being bigger than he is.
If someone were trying to compliment Raniero, the term “intelligent” would likely be used. Possibly also “well-spoken,” perhaps even “witty.” The thing is that these descriptions are weighted against his background and appearance, so the implication is “he’s intelligent for a Moor” (although his heritage is more likely African and not Moor). This is the dichotomy that defines him: despite growing up among Venetian society, he will never quite be a part of it any more than an immigrant or a merchant passing through would be, on account of the “baseness” associated with his birth and background. That has made him a bit sullen and resentful, but he can be pleasant and does enjoy a good time with his friends. At his worst, he is hot-tempered to the point of violence, and while he is not always in this temperament, there are a few things that can immediately push him into this mood, such as mentions of his past and his background, or belittling him on account of his skin color.
to establish himself and restore his family line; and to have his own land/estate
Born in Venice, Raniero is recognized as a direct descendant of the main de’ Medici branch, which is widely considered to have ended with Alessandro de’ Medici in 1537. Part of that line moved from Florence and made its way into Venice by the start of the eighteenth century. By then the cadet branch of the de’ Medicis had taken power, and Raniero was born into relative poverty. His early childhood is a haze of vague memories of mildly neglectful parenting, until both of his parents fell ill and Raniero, around five years old, was sent to the home of a distant relative, Bianca whom he referred to as an “aunt” but was more likely a cousin of his mother. He was only meant to live with Bianca until his parents recovered, but his mother succumbed to the illness and his father also supposedly died but in fact took the opportunity to pursue a less responsibility-laden life elsewhere. From then on Raniero was raised by his aunt.
Racism at the time was not as fine-tuned. Those of browner complexions, from Moors to Africans to Turks, were generally regarded as being of baser tendencies and thus less worthy of respect; it was considered a “condition” and such individuals were expected to behave outside of societal context, such as being promiscuous or of lower intellect, or of being violent or criminal. (The more systematic discrimination we know, such as laws aimed at restraining these ethnicities, is a more recent invention.) So whenever Raniero misbehaved, it was brushed off as being part of his “condition” as a brown-skinned boy. On one hand, it was convenient and allowed Raniero certain freedoms that Bianca’s own children did not have; on the other, it was highly insulting, and as he grew older and began to see the world around him more clearly, he took more and more offense to it.
That characterization also built a wall between him and his peers, Bianca’s children. The comfortably well-off widow of a successful merchant, Bianca lived in considerable ease, with a small staff to help her manage her estate and raise her children, a son named Giovan and a daughter named Nicola, better known as “Colette.” Materially, the three children wanted for little, and were brought up with access to many of the luxuries that evaded most families of their class. All too often Raniero heard stories of the former political pull of his family, usually in the context of “these men were great, and this is what you should have had.” This bred in Raniero a sense of resentment aimed at no one in particular.
Having studied a number of disciplines, from architecture to philosophy, due to an appreciation for learning, Raniero has spent most of his adult life trying to find his way into a position of influence in the Venetian government. It’s an uphill climb, but he is also able to sharpen his political skills in the day-to-day managing of Bianca’s dwindling business, alongside Giovan. Beyond that he leads a life of simplicity and leisure but remains unsatisfied with it.