Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

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Francesco I de' Medici
Francesco I de Medici.jpg
Francesco by Bronzino
Grand Duke of Tuscany
Reign 21 April 1574 – 17 October 1587
Predecessor Cosimo I
Successor Ferdinando I
Spouse Joanna of Austria
Bianca Cappello
Issue
among others...
Eleanor, Duchess of Mantua and Montferrat
Anna de' Medici
Maria, Queen of France
Philip, Grand Prince of Tuscany
House House of Medici
Father Cosimo I
Mother Eleanor of Toledo
Born (1541-03-25)25 March 1541
Florence
Died 17 October 1587(1587-10-17) (aged 46)
Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano, Tuscany
Burial Medici Chapel
Religion Roman Catholicism

Francesco I (25 March 1541 – 17 October 1587) was the second Grand Duke of Tuscany, ruling from 1574 until his death in 1587. He was the second grand duke of the house of Medici.

Biography[edit]

Francesco I of Tuscany as a young boy; painting by Bronzino

Born in Florence, he was the son of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Eleanor of Toledo, and served as regent for his father starting in 1564.

Marriage to Joanna of Austria[edit]

On 18 December 1565, he married Joanna of Austria, youngest daughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anne of Bohemia and Hungary, after among others Princess Elizabeth of Sweden had been considered. By all reports, it was not a happy marriage. Joanna was homesick for her native Austria, and Francesco was neither charming nor faithful. Joanna died at the age of thirty one in 1578.

Bianca Cappello[edit]

Soon after the Grand Duchess Joanna had died, Francesco went on to marry his Venetian mistress, Bianca Cappello, after aptly disposing of her husband, a Florentine bureaucrat. Because of the quick remarriage and similar occurrences among the Medici (Francesco's younger brother Pietro had reportedly killed his wife), rumours spread that Francesco and Bianca had conspired to poison Joanna. Francesco reportedly built and decorated Villa di Pratolino for Bianca. She was, however, not always popular among Florentines. They had no children, but Francesco adopted her daughter by first marriage Pellegrina (1564- ?) and her son Antonio (29 August 1576 – 2 May 1621), who was first adopted as a newborn child by Bianca with the intention to present him to Francesco as "own child" by means of changeling.

Francesco as a young man attributed to Alesandro Allori

Like his father, Francesco was often despotic, but while Cosimo had known how to maintain Florentine independence, Francesco acted more like a vassal of his father-in-law, the emperor, and subsequent Holy Roman Emperors. He continued the heavy taxation of his subjects to pay large sums to the empire.

He had an amateur's interest in manufacturing and sciences. He founded porcelain and stoneware manufacture, but these did not thrive until after his death. He continued his father's patronage of the arts, supporting artists and building the Medici Theater as well as founding the Accademia della Crusca. He was also passionately interested in chemistry and alchemy and spent many hours in his private laboratory/curio collection, the Studiolo in the Palazzo Vecchio, which held his collections of natural item and stones and allowed him to dabble in amateur chemistry and alchemical schemes.

Francesco and Bianca died on the same day both at the Medici Villa in Poggio a Caiano. Although the original death certificates mention malaria, it has been widely speculated that the couple was poisoned, possibly by Francesco's brother, Ferdinando. While some early forensic research supported the latter theory,[1] forensic evidence from a study in 2010 found the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria, in the skeletal remains of Francesco I,[2] strongly bolstering the infection theory and the credibility of the official documents.[3] Investigations of Francesco's facial hair that were found among his remains have detected low levels of arsenic and rules out chronic exposure of arsenic. However, the whereabouts of Bianca's remains, in the form of some of her internal organs, were located in some broken terra-cotta jars buried under the crypt in the Church of Santa Maria a Bonistallo, near Francescos villa. Testing showed proof that support the theory of arsenic-poisoning. The same findings were detected in organs from Francesco. It is believed that Francesco and Bianca were given small doses of arsenic for several days until it killed them. But the doses were probably too small and given over a too short period of time to be detected in Francesco's facial hair. In this way their symptoms, such as fever, stomach-cramps and vomiting, easily could be misinterpreted as some kind of infection and disguise poisoning. Francesco was succeeded by his younger brother, Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

In 1857, all members of the Medici family were exhumed and reburied in the place where they still lie today. A painter, Giuseppe Moricci (Florence 1806–1879) attended the ceremony and depicted Francesco with a facial droop, a right claw hand appearance, the right shoulder internally rotated, the right calf muscle wasted and a right clubfoot confirmed by orthopaedic footwear within the coffin.[4] These are the features of a right sided stroke possibly within the internal capsule. The presence of the orthopaedic footwear suggests that this stroke happened sometime before his death. During life, in his official portraits, the Grand Duke was always depicted as being in perfect physical condition. The cause of his stroke is not known but malaria is known to cause this condition

There is a famous portrait of Francesco as a child by Bronzino, which hangs in the Uffizi gallery in Florence. Francesco's marriage to Bianca and the couple's death was exploited by Thomas Middleton for his tragedy Women Beware Women, published in 1658.

Children[edit]

Francesco and Johanna had seven children:

  1. Eleonora (1 March 1566 – 9 September 1611), who married Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (1562–1612).
  2. Romola (20 November 1568 – 2 December 1568)
  3. Anna (31 December 1569 – 19 February 1584)
  4. Isabella (30 September 1571 – 8 August 1572)
  5. Lucrezia (7 November 1572 – 14 August 1574)
  6. Marie (1575–1642), who became Queen of France by her marriage to Henri IV in 1600.
  7. Filippo (20 May 1577 – 29 March 1582)

Descendants[edit]

To Louis XV of France[edit]

Via Henrietta Maria of France[edit]

Descendents of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand duke of Tuscany, in six generations

Francesco I de' Medici
Grand Duke of Tuscany
Daughter:
Marie de' Medici
Queen of France
Granddaughter:
Henrietta Maria of France
Queen of England
Great-Granddaughter:
Princess Henrietta of England
Duchess of Orléans
Great-Great-Granddaughter:
Anne Marie d'Orléans
Queen of Sardinia
Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter:
Princess Marie Adélaïde of Savoy
Dauphine of France
Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandson:
Louis XV of France
King of France and Navarre

Via Louis XIII of France[edit]

Descendents of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand duke of Tuscany, in six generations

Francesco I de' Medici
Grand duke of Tuscany
Daughter:
Marie de' Medici
Queen of France
Grandson:
Louis XIII of France
King of France and Navarre
Great-Grandson:
Louis XIV of France
King of France and Navarre
Great-Great-Grandson:
Louis, Grand Dauphin
Dauphin of France
Great-Great-Great-Grandson:
Louis, Dauphin of France, Duke of Burgundy
Dauphin of France, Duke of Burgundy
Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandson:
Louis XV of France
King of France and Navarre

To Anne of England[edit]

Descendents of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand duke of Tuscany, in four generations

Francesco I de' Medici
Grand duke of Tuscany
Daughter:
Marie de' Medici
Queen of France
Granddaughter:
Henrietta Maria of France
Queen of England
Great-Grandson:
James II of England
King of England, Scotland and Ireland
Great-Great-Granddaughter:
Queen Anne of England
Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Francesco Mari; Aldo Polettini; Donatella Lippi; Elisabetta Bertol (2006). "The mysterious death of Francesco I de' Medici and Bianca Cappello: an arsenic murder?". BMJ 333 (23–30 June 2006): 1299–1301. doi:10.1136/bmj.38996.682234.AE. PMC 1761188. PMID 17185715. 
  2. ^ "Medici Family Cold Case Finally Solved : Discovery News". News.discovery.com. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Arba F, Inzitari D, Barnett HJ, Lippi D (2012) Stroke in Renaissance time: The case of Francesco I de' Medici. Cerebrovasc Dis 33(6):589–593

Further reading[edit]

  • Hibbert, Christopher (1979). The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici. Penguin Books. pp. 269–281. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Cosimo I de' Medici
Grand Duke of Tuscany
1574–1587
Succeeded by
Ferdinando I de' Medici