Leopoldo de' Medici

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Prince Leopoldo
Leopoldo de' Medici by Justus Sustermans
Born(1617-11-06)6 November 1617
Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Tuscany
Died10 November 1675(1675-11-10) (aged 58)
Florence, Tuscany
Leopoldo de' Medici
Grand DucalHouse of Medici
FatherCosimo II of Tuscany
MotherMaria Maddalena of Austria
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Leopoldo de' Medici (6 November 1617 – 10 November 1675) was an Italian cardinal, scholar, patron of the arts and Governor of Siena.[1] He was the brother of Ferdinando II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.[2]


Prince Leopoldo was born at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany then ruled by his father, Grand Duke Cosimo II. His mother Maria Magdalena of Austria was a sister of Queen Margarita of Spain and Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Leopoldo was educated under Jacopo Soldano, Father Flaviano Michelini and Evangelista Torricelli. When his brother was elected Grand Duke, Leopoldo acted as his advisor for manufactures, agriculture and trades. Leopoldo, a disciple of Galileo, took a real interest in the proceedings of the justly celebrated academy 'Del Cimento' (the test), signing its correspondence, following closely the work of Evangelista Torricelli da Modigliana, inventor of the barometer.

He took a great interest in science and technology. In 1638 he founded the Accademia Platonica, and, together with Ferdinando, the Accademia del Cimento ("Academy of Experiment") in 1657 to promote observation of nature through the Galileian Method.[2][3] In 1641 Leopoldo had been named member of the Accademia della Crusca, for which he edited the entries regarding art for the 3rd edition of the Crusca Dictionary (1691).

Leopoldo was also a great collector of rare books, paintings (the Venetian collection at the Uffizi is inherited from him), drawings, statues, coins and self-portraits.[4] He left a wide correspondence with artists and art collectors of his time. He experimented with telescopic lenses and all manner of scientific instruments, and also commissioned those thermometers, astrolabes, calorimeters, quadrants, hygrometers, quadrants and other ingenious mechanical devices which visitors to the Pitti Palace saw displayed in such profusion. Leopoldo spent four hours each day 'up to his neck in books'.

On 12 December 1667 Pope Clement IX named him cardinal of Santi Cosma e Damiano. From that point on Leopoldo made frequent trips to Rome, pursuing his artistic interests. He died in 1675. His large collections are included in several museums of Florence.

Leopoldo had a long correspondence with Christiaan Huygens.[5]



  1. ^ Mirto, Alfonso. "MEDICI, Leopoldo de'". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Treccani. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Leopoldo de' Medici". Brunelleschi.imss.fi.it. Museo Galileo. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  3. ^ Luciano Boschiero (2007-09-04). Experiment and Natural Philosophy in Seventeenth-Century Tuscany: The History of the Accademia del Cimento. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-4020-6246-9.
  4. ^ "Mèdici, Leopoldo de'". Enciclopedia Treccani. Treccani. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  5. ^ Huygens, Christiaan. Oeuvres complètes, Tome VI: Correspondance 1666–1669 (1895)
Leopoldo de' Medici
Born: 6 November 1617 Died: 10 November 1675
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Siena
Succeeded by
Mattias de' Medici
Governor of Siena