Lucrezia Tornabuoni

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Lucrezia Tornabuoni
Ghirlandaio - lucreziatornabuoni.jpg
Portrait of Lucrezia Tornabuoni at the national gallery in Washington, D.C.
Spouse(s) Piero di Cosimo de' Medici
Noble family Tornabuoni
Father Francesco di Simone Tornabuoni
Mother Nanna di Niccolo di Luigi Guicciardini
Born (1427-06-22)22 June 1427
Died 28 March 1482(1482-03-28) (aged 56)

Lucrezia Tornabuoni (22 June 1427 – 28 March 1482) was a writer and influential political adviser.[1] Connected by birth to two of the most powerful families in 15th-century Italy,[1] she later married Piero di Cosimo de' Medici, connecting herself to another of the most powerful families in Italy and extending her own power and influence.[1]


Lucrezia was born on June 22, 1427.[2] Her father was Francesco di Simone Tornabuoni, a noble from a family that could trace its lineage back 1,000 years.[2] Her mother was Nanna di Niccolo di Luigi Guicciardini.[2] In 1444, Lucrezia was married to Piero di Cosimo de' Medici, son of Cosimo de' Medici, a wealthy banker from Florence. The Tornabuoni family had been living in exile but Cosimo de' Medici helped the family return to their home in Florence. The marriage between Piero and Lucrezia helped to seal the alliance.


In total, Piero and Lucrezia had six children, but the youngest two died in infancy. Their surviving children were:

Lucrezia even raised Maria, an illegitimate daughter of Piero, together with her own children.

Lucrezia and Piero made sure that their children acquired good taste in literary culture and the fine arts and also hired tutors to educate them in such subjects as philosophy, business and accounting, and politics.

Marriage arrangements[edit]

Lucrezia and Piero now wanted to be accepted outside of Florence, especially in the Roman courts. To improve the family's social status, Lucrezia arranged for her son, Lorenzo to marry Clarice Orsini. Clarice's dowry was 6,000 florins. She arrived in Florence on 4 June 1469. In some ways the marriage had been a mistake, at first Lorenzo wasn't very fond of his bride. Clarice wasn't popular in Florence either.

Political importance[edit]

Since she, in contrast to her husband, was of a noble line, she helped creating bridges between her husband's family and the nobility. Her advice was sought by many and she received both high and low-born people.[3]

Lucrezia's husband, Piero, died in 1469 of gout and lung disease. After his death, she gained more freedom and she bought real estate in and around Pisa. She also took a lease on a spa near Volterra, which she changed into a profitable health resort.[4]

Lucrezia died in 1482 aged fifty-six or fifty-seven; by the time of her death, she had many grandchildren. Catherine de' Medici was one of her descendants.

In culture[edit]

Lucrezia as Mary in Madonna of the Magnificat, sat on her knee is her granddaughter and namesake, Lucrezia de' Medici

Lucrezia also wrote sonnets, which she read to famous poets, comparing them with their compositions. Nobody knows the actual dates of when the sonnets were written. Her five poems remain of a biblical theme (the sacred stories), eight laudi (sacred hymns to folk music) and a song in the vernacular, inspired by the works of those poets who Lucrezia and Piero taught. The family had a chapel built called the Chapel of the Visitation in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. She wrote stories about Esther, Susanna, Tobias, John the Baptist and Judith. She recommended poets in her circle to use chivalric themes, which some of them did.[5]

According to legend, the Virgin in the Madonna of the Magnificat, painted by Sandro Botticelli is a portrait of Lucrezia, however this theory has now been dismissed as a myth by scholars.

Later artistic renditions[edit]

In art[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Milligan, Gerry. "Lucrezia Tornabuoni". Oxford Bibliographies. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Pernis, Maria Grazie; Adams, Laurie (2006). Lucrezia Tornabuoni De' Medici and the Medici Family in the Fifteenth Century. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0820476452. 
  3. ^ Robin, Larsen and Levin. p. 368.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Pernis and Adams. p. x.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Pernis and Adams. p. x.  Missing or empty |title= (help)


  • Robin, Diana Maury, Larsen, Anne R. and Levin, Carole (2007). Encyclopedia of women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England. ABC-CLIO, Inc. 
  • Pernis, Maria Grazia and Adams, Laurie (2006). Lucrezia Tornabuoni de' Medici and the Medici family in the fifteenth century. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, New York. 
  • Neil D. Thompson and Charles M. Hansen, "A Medieval Heritage: The Ancestry of Charles II, King of England", The Genealogist, at 22(2008):105-06

External links[edit]