House of Medici

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Coat of arms of the House of de' Medici.png
Country Florence and Tuscany
Titles Grand Duke of Tuscany
Prince of Ottajano
Duke of Florence
Duke of Urbino
Duke of Nemours
Duke of Sieva
Duke of Rover
Marquess of Castellina
Founded 14th century - Cosimo de' Medici
Dissolution Florence and Tuscany:
1737 - Gian Gastone de' Medici died without issue

The House of Medici (/ˈmɛdɨi/ MED-i-chee; Italian pronunciation: [de ˈmɛːditʃi]) was an Italian banking family, political dynasty and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to fund the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence — though officially they remained citizens rather than monarchs.

The Medici produced four Popes of the Catholic ChurchPope Leo X (1513–1521), Pope Clement VII (1523–1534), Pope Pius IV (1559–1565), and Pope Leo XI (1605);[1] two regent queens of France—Catherine de' Medici (1547–1559) and Marie de' Medici (1600–1610); and, in 1531, the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to a grand duchy after territorial expansion. They ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from its inception until 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici. The grand duchy witnessed degrees of economic growth under the earlier grand dukes, but by the time of Cosimo III de' Medici, Tuscany was fiscally bankrupt.

Their wealth and influence initially derived from the textile trade guided by the guild of the Arte della Lana. Like other signore families, they dominated their city's government, they were able to bring Florence under their family's power, and they created an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They along with other families of Italy, such as the Visconti and Sforza of Milan, the Este of Ferrara, and the Gonzaga of Mantua, fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance.

The Medici Bank was one of the most prosperous and most respected institutions in Europe. There are some estimates that the Medici family were the wealthiest family in Europe for a time. From this base, they acquired political power initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. A notable contribution to the profession of accounting was the improvement of the general ledger system through the development of the double-entry bookkeeping system for tracking credits and debits. The Medici family were among the earliest businesses to use the system.



Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, founder of the Medici bank.

The Medici family came from the agricultural Mugello region,[2] north of Florence, being mentioned for the first time in a document of 1230.[citation needed] The origin of the name is uncertain. Medici is the plural of medico, also written "del medico" or "delmedigo", meaning, "medical doctor".[3] It has been suggested that the name derived from one Medico di Potrone, a castellan of Potrone in the late 11th century, who presumably was the family's ancestor.[citation needed]

The dynasty began with the founding of the Medici Bank.

Rise to power[edit]

Until the late 14th century, prior to the Medici, Florence's leading family were the House of Albizzi. In 1293 the Ordinances of Justice were enacted which effectively became the constitution of the republic of Florence throughout the Italian Renaissance.[4] The city's numerous luxurious palazzi were becoming surrounded by townhouses, built by the ever prospering merchant class.[5] In 1298, one of the leading banking families of Europe, the Bonsignoris, were bankrupted and so the city of Siena lost her status as the banking center of Europe to Florence.[6]

The main challengers of the Albizzi family were the Medicis, first under Giovanni de' Medici, later under his son Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici and grandson, Lorenzo de' Medici. The Medici controlled the Medici bank—then Europe's largest bank—and an array of other enterprises in Florence and elsewhere. In 1433, the Albizzi managed to have Cosimo exiled.[7] The next year, however, saw a pro-Medici Signoria elected and Cosimo returned. The Medici became the town's leading family, a position they would hold for the next three centuries. Florence remained a republic until 1537, traditionally marking the end of the High Renaissance in Florence, but the instruments of republican government were firmly under the control of the Medici and their allies, save during the intervals after 1494 and 1527. Cosimo and Lorenzo rarely held official posts, but were the unquestioned leaders.

The Medici family was connected to most other elite families of the time through marriages of convenience, partnerships, or employment, as a result of which the Medici family had a central position in the social network: several families had systematic access to the rest of the elite families only through the Medici, perhaps similar to banking relationships. Some examples of these families include the Bardi, Salviati, Cavalcanti, and the Tornabuoni. This has been suggested as a reason for the rise of the Medici family.[8] Members of the family rose to some prominence in the early 14th century in the wool trade, especially with France and Spain. Despite the presence of some Medici in the city's government institutions, they were still far less notable than other outstanding families such as the Albizzi or the Strozzi. One Salvestro de' Medici was speaker of the woolmakers' guild during the Ciompi revolt, and one Antonio was exiled from Florence in 1396.[9] The involvement in another plot in 1400 caused all branches of the family to be banned from Florentine politics for twenty years, with the exception of two: from one of the latter, that of Averardo de' Medici (1320-1363), originated the Medici dynasty.

15th century[edit]

The Confirmation of the Rule by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
The original coat of arms of the Medici, Or, six balls in orle gules
The "augmented coat of arms of the Medici, Or, five balls in orle gules, in chief a larger one of the arms of France (viz. Azure, three fleurs-de-lis or) was granted by Louis XI in 1465.[10]

Averardo's son, Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (c. 1360–1429), increased the wealth of the family through his creation of the Medici Bank, and became one of the richest men in the city of Florence. Although he never held any political charge, he gained strong popular support for the family through his support for the introduction of a proportional taxing system. Giovanni's son Cosimo the Elder, Pater Patriae, took over in 1434 as gran maestro, and the Medici became unofficial heads of state of the Florentine republic.[11]

Cosimo, Piero, and Lorenzo, three successive generations of the Medici, ruled over Florence through the greater part of the 15th century, without altogether abolishing representative government, yet while clearly dominating it.[12] These three members of the Medici family had great skills in the management of so "restive and independent a city" as Florence, but when Lorenzo died in 1492, his son Piero proved quite incapable, and within two years he and his supporters were forced into exile [with] a republican government replac[ing] him.[12]

Piero de' Medici (1416–1469), Cosimo's son, stayed in power for only five years (1464–1469). He was called "Piero the Gouty" because of the gout that afflicted his foot, and it eventually led to his death. Unlike his father, Piero had little interest in the arts. Due to his illness, he mostly stayed at home bedridden, and therefore did little to further the Medici control of Florence while in power. As such, Medici rule stagnated until the next generation, when Piero's son Lorenzo took over. Piero's illegitimate son, Lenihanio, fled from Italy and lived in the Alps for 15 years.

Lorenzo de' Medici (1449–1492), called "the Magnificent", was more capable of leading and ruling a city; however, he neglected the family banking business, leading to its ultimate ruin. To ensure the continuance of his family's success, Lorenzo planned his children's future careers for them. He groomed the headstrong Piero II to follow as his successor in civil leadership; Giovanni[13] (future Pope Leo X) was placed in the church at an early age; and his daughter Maddalena was provided with a sumptuous dowry to make a politically advantageous marriage to a son of Pope Innocent VIII.[14]

There was a conspiracy in 1478 to depose the family by killing Lorenzo with his younger brother Giuliano during Easter services, the assassination attempt ending with the death of Giuliano and an injured Lorenzo. The conspiracy involved the Pazzi and Salviati families, who were both rival banking families seeking to end the Medici influence, the priest presiding over the church services, the Archbishop of Pisa and even Sixtus IV to a degree. The conspirators approached Sixtus IV in the hopes of gaining his approval, as he and the Medici had a long rivalry themselves, but the pope gave no official sanction to the plan. Despite his refusal of official approval, the pope nonetheless allowed the plot to proceed without interfering, and, after the failed assassination of Lorenzo, also gave dispensation for crimes done in the service of the church. After this, Lorenzo adopted his brother's illegitimate son, Giulio de' Medici (1478–1535), the future Clement VII. Unfortunately, all Lorenzo's careful planning fell apart to some degree under the incompetent Piero II, who took over as the head of Florence after his father Lorenzo's death. Piero was responsible for the expulsion of the Medici from 1494-1512.

In the dangerous circumstances in which our city is placed, the time for deliberation is past. Action must be taken... I have decided, with your approval, to sail for Naples immediately, believing that as I am the person against whom the activities of our enemies are chiefly directed, I may, perhaps, by delivering myself into their hands, be the means of restoring peace to our fellow-citizens. As I have had more honour and responsibility among you than any private citizen has had in our day, I am more bound than any other person to serve our country, even at the risk of my life. With this intention I now go. Perhaps God wills that this war, which began in the blood of my brother and of myself, should be ended by any means. My desire is that by my life or my death, my misfortune or my prosperity, I may contribute to the welfare of our city... I go full of hope, praying to God to give me grace to perform what every citizen should at all times be ready to perform for his country.

Lorenzo de' Medici, 1479.[15]

The Medici additionally benefited from the discovery of vast deposits of alum in Tolfa. Alum is essential as a mordant in the dyeing of certain cloths and was used extensively in Florence, where the main industry was textile manufacturing. However, the Turks were the only exporters of alum, so Europe was forced to buy from them until the discovery of alum in the Italian town of Tolfa. Pius II then granted the Medici family the monopoly on the mining there, making them the primary producers of Alum in Europe.[citation needed]

16th century[edit]

This exile lasted only until 1512, however, and the "senior" branch of the family — those descended from Cosimo the Elder — were able to rule on and off until the assassination of Alessandro de' Medici, first Duke of Florence, in 1537. This century-long rule was only interrupted on two occasions (between 1494–1512 and 1527–1530), when popular revolts sent the Medici into exile. Power then passed to the "junior" Medici branch — those descended from Lorenzo the Elder, younger son of Giovanni di Bicci, starting with his great-great-grandson Cosimo I the Great. The Medici's rise to power was chronicled in detail by Benedetto Dei. Cosimo and his father started the Medici foundations in banking, manufacturing - including a form of franchises - wealth, art, cultural patronage, and in the Papacy that ensured their success for generations. At least half, probably more, of Florence's people were employed by them and their foundational branches in business.

However, the Medici remained masters of Italy through their two famous 16th century popes, Leo X and Clement VII, who were de facto rulers of both Rome and Florence. They were both patrons of the arts, but in the religious field they proved unable to stem the advance of Martin Luther's ideas. Clement VII was the pope during the sack of Rome by Charles V, and later was forced to crown him. Clement frequently changed his alliances between the Empire and France, which eventually led him to marry off his first cousin, twice removed, Catherine de' Medici, to the son of Francis I of France, the future Henry II. This led to the Medici blood being transferred, through Catherine's daughters, to the royal family of Spain through Elisabeth of Valois, and the House of Lorraine through Claude of Valois.

The most outstanding figure of the 16th century Medici was Cosimo I, who, coming from relatively modest beginnings in the Mugello, rose to supremacy in the whole of Tuscany, conquering the Florentines' most hated rival Siena and founding the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Cosimo purchased a portion of the island of Elba from the Republic of Genoa and based the Tuscan navy there. He died in 1574, succeeded by his eldest surviving son Francesco, whose inability to produce male heirs led to the succession of his younger brother, Ferdinando, upon his death in 1587. Francesco married Johanna of Austria, and with his consort produced Eleonora de' Medici, Duchess of Mantua, and Marie de' Medici, Queen of France and of Navarre. Through Marie, all succeeding French monarchs (bar the Napoleons) are descended from Francesco.

Ferdinando eagerly assumed the government of Tuscany. He commanded the draining of the Tuscan marshlands, built a road network in Southern Tuscany and cultivated trade in Leghorn.[16] To augment the Tuscan silk industry, he oversaw the planting of Mulberry trees along the major roads (silk worms feed on Mulberry leaves).[17] He shifted Tuscany away from Habsburg[18] hegemony by marrying the first non-Habsburg candidate since Alessandro, Christina of Lorraine, a granddaughter of Catherine de' Medici. The Spanish reaction was to construct a citadel on their portion of the island of Elba.[16] To strengthen the new Franco-Tuscan alliance, he married his niece, Marie, to Henry IV of France. Henry explicitly stated that he would defend Tuscany from Spanish aggression, but later reneged, after which Ferdinando was forced to marry his heir, Cosimo, to Maria Maddalena of Austria to assuage Spain (where Maria Maddalena's sister was the incumbent Queen consort). Ferdinando sponsored a Tuscan expedition to the New World with the intention of establishing a Tuscan colony. Despite all of these incentives to economic growth and prosperity, the population of Florence at the dawn of the 17th century was a mere 75,000, far smaller than the other capitals of Italy: Rome, Milan, Venice, Palermo and Naples.[19] Francesco and Ferdinando, due to lax distinction between Medici and Tuscan state property, are thought to have been wealthier than their ancestor, Cosimo de' Medici, the founder of the dynasty.[20] The Grand Duke alone had the prerogative to exploit the state's mineral and salt resources, and the fortunes of the Medici were directly tied to the Tuscan economy.[20]

17th century[edit]

(from left to right) The Grand Duchess Maria Maddalena, The Grand Duke Cosimo II, and their elder son, the future Ferdinando II

Ferdinando, although no longer a cardinal, exercised much influence at successive conclaves. In 1605, Ferdinando succeeded in getting his candidate, Alessandro de' Medici, elected Pope Leo XI. He died the same month, but his successor, Pope Paul V, was also pro-Medici.[21] Ferdinando's pro-Papal foreign policy, however, had drawbacks. Tuscany was overrun with religious orders, not all of whom were obliged to pay taxes. Ferdinando died in 1609, leaving an affluent realm; his inaction in international affairs, however, would have long-reaching consequences down the line.

In France, Marie de' Medici was acting as regent for her son, Louis XIII. Louis repudiated her pro-Habsburg policy in 1617. She lived the rest of her life deprived of any political influence.

Ferdinando's successor, Cosimo II, reigned for less than 12 years. He married Maria Maddalena of Austria, with whom he had his eight children, including Margherita de' Medici, Ferdinando II de' Medici, and an Anna de' Medici. He is most remembered as the patron of astronomer Galileo Galilei, whose 1610 treatise, Sidereus Nuncius, was dedicated to him.[22] Cosimo died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1621.[23]

Cosimo's elder son, Ferdinando, was not yet of legal maturity to succeed him, thus Maria Maddalena and his grandmother, Christina of Lorraine, acted as regents. Their collective regency is known as the Turtici. Maria Maddelana's temperament was analogous to Christina's, and together they aligned Tuscany with the Papacy, re-doubled the Tuscan clergy, and allowed the heresy trial of Galileo Galilei to occur.[24] Upon the death of the last Duke of Urbino (Francesco Maria II), instead of claiming the duchy for Ferdinando, who was married to the Duke of Urbino's granddaughter and heiress, Vittoria della Rovere, they permitted it to be annexed by Pope Urban VIII. In 1626, they banned any Tuscan subject from being educated outside the Grand Duchy, a law later overturned but resurrected by Maria Maddalena's grandson, Cosimo III.[25] Harold Acton, an Anglo-Italian historian, ascribes the decline of Tuscany to the Turtici regency.[25]

Grand Duke Ferdinado was obsessed with new technology, and had a variety of hygrometers, barometers, thermometers, and telescopes installed in the Palazzo Pitti.[26] In 1657, Leopoldo de' Medici, the Grand Duke’s youngest brother, established the Accademia del Cimento, organized to attract scientists to Florence from all over Tuscany for mutual study.[27]

Tuscany participated in the Wars of Castro (the last time Medicean Tuscany proper was involved in a conflict) and inflicted a defeat on the forces of Urban VIII in 1643.[28] The war effort was costly and the treasury so empty because of it that when the Castro mercenaries were paid for, the state could no longer afford to pay interest on government bonds, with the result that the interest rate was lowered by 0.75%.[29] At that time, the economy was so decrepit that barter trade became prevalent in rural market places.[28]

Ferdinando died on 23 May 1670 afflicted by apoplexy and dropsy. He was interred in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Medici's necropolis.[30] At the time of his death, the population of the grand duchy was 730,594; the streets were lined with grass and the buildings on the verge of collapse in Pisa.[31]

Ferdinando's marriage to Vittoria della Rovere produced two children: Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Francesco Maria de' Medici, Duke of Rovere and Montefeltro. Upon Vittoria's death in 1694, her allodial possessions, the Duchies of Rovere and Montefeltro, passed to her younger son.

18th century: the fall of the dynasty[edit]

Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, the last of the Grand Ducal line, in Minerva, Merkur und Plutus huldigen der Kurfürstin Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (English: Minerva, Mercury and Pluto pay homage to the Electress Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici) after Antonio Bellucci, 1706
Cosimo III, the Medicean grand duke, in Grand Ducal regalia

Cosimo traditionally has been accused of destroying Florentine liberties; but these ancient liberties, more of an illusion than a reality, had already ceased to exist in the Florence of the Albizzi. He made no changes in the law’s actual administration, but in the spirit of the law he changed everything, consolidating power among himself and his most loyal associates in return dictatorial powers were now granted for a fixed term that was always renewed.[32] He married Marguerite Louise d'Orléans, a granddaughter of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici. An exceedingly discontented pairing, this union produced three children, notably Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, Electress Palatine and the last Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone de' Medici.

Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, Anna Maria Luisa's spouse, successfully requisitioned the dignity Royal Highness for the Grand Duke and his family in 1691, despite the fact that they had no claim to any kingdom.[33] Cosimo frequently paid the Holy Roman Emperor, his nominal feudal overlord, exorbitant dues;[34] and he sent munitions to the Emperor during the Battle of Vienna.

The Medici lacked male heirs, and in 1705, the grand ducal treasury was virtually bankrupt. The population of Florence declined by 50%; the population of the grand duchy as a whole declined by an estimated 40%.[35] Cosimo desperately tried to reach a settlement with the European powers, but Tuscany’s legal status was very complicated: the area of the grand duchy formerly comprising the Republic of Siena was technically a Spanish fief, while the territory of the old Republic of Florence was thought to be under imperial suzerainty. Upon the death of his first son, Cosimo contemplated restoring the Florentine republic, either upon Anna Maria Luisa's death, or on his own, if he predeceased her. The restoration of the republic would entail resigning Siena to the Holy Roman Empire, but, regardless, it was vehemently endorsed by his government. Europe largely ignored Cosimo’s plan, only Great Britain and the Dutch Republic gave any credence to it, and the plan ultimately died with Cosimo III in 1723.[36]

On 4 April 1718, Great Britain, France and the Dutch Republic (and later Austria) selected Don Carlos of Spain, the elder child of Elisabeth Farnese and Philip V of Spain, as the Tuscan heir. By 1722, the Electress was not even acknowledged as heiress, and Cosimo was reduced to spectator at the conferences for Tuscany's future.[37] On 25 October 1723, six days before his death, Grand Duke Cosimo disseminated a final proclamation commanding that Tuscany stay independent: Anna Maria Luisa would succeed uninhibited to Tuscany after Gian Gastone, and the Grand Duke reserved the right to choose his successor. However, these portions of his proclamation were completely ignored and he died a few days later.

Gian Gastone despised the Electress for engineering his catastrophic marriage to Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg; while she abhorred her brother's liberal policies, he repealed all of his father's anti-Semitic statutes. Gian Gastone revelled in upsetting her.[38] On 25 October 1731, a Spanish detachment occupied Florence on behalf of Don Carlos, who disembarked in Tuscany in December of the same year. The Ruspanti, Gian Gastone's decrepit entourage, loathed the Electress, and she them. Duchess Violante, Gian Gastone's sister-in-law, tried to withdraw the Grand Duke from the Ruspanti sphere of influence by organising banquets. His conduct at the banquets was less than regal, he often vomited repeatedly into his napkin, belched, and regaled those present with socially inappropriate jokes.[39] Following a sprained ankle in 1731, he remained confined to his bed for the rest of his life. The bed, oft smelling of faeces, was occasionally cleaned by Violante.

In 1736, following the War of the Polish Succession, Don Carlos was disbarred from Tuscany, and Francis III of Lorraine was made heir in his stead.[40] In January 1737, the Spanish troops withdrew from Tuscany, and were replaced by Austrians.

Gian Gastone died on 9 July 1737, surrounded by prelates and his sister. Anna Maria Luisa was offered a nominal regency by the Prince de Craon until the new Grand Duke could peregrinate to Tuscany, but declined.[41] Upon her brother's death, she received all the House of Medici's allodial possessions.

Anna Maria Luisa signed the Patto di Famiglia on October 31, 1737. In collaboration with the Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke Francis of Lorraine, she willed all the personal property of the Medici to the Tuscan state, provided that nothing was ever removed from Florence.[42]

The "Lorrainers", as the occupying forces were called, were popularly loathed, but the Regent, the Prince de Craon, allowed the Electress to live unperturbed in the Pitti. She occupied herself with financing, and with overseeing the construction of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, started in 1604 by Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, costing the state 1,000 crowns per week.[43]

She donated much of her fortune to charity: £4,000 a month.[44] On 19 February 1743, the Dowager Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici died, and the Grand Ducal line of the House of Medici died with her. The Florentines grieved her,[45] and she was interred in the crypt that she helped to complete, San Lorenzo.

The extinction of the main Medici dynasty and the accession in 1737 of Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine and husband of Maria Theresa of Austria, led to Tuscany's temporary inclusion in the territories of the Austrian crown. The line of the principi di Ottajano, an extant branch of the House of Medici who were eligible to inherit the grand duchy of Tuscany when the last male of the senior branch died in 1737, could have carried on as Medici sovereigns but for the intervention of Europe's major powers, which allocated the sovereignty of Florence elsewhere.

As a consequence, the Duchy expired and the territory became a secundogeniture of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. The first Grand Duke of the new dynasty, Francis I, was a great-great-great-grandson of Francesco I de' Medici, thus continuing the Medicean Dynasty on the throne of Tuscany through the female line. The Habsburgs were deposed for the Bourbon-Parma in 1801 (themselves deposed in 1807), and restored at the Congress of Vienna. Tuscany became a province of the United Kingdom of Italy in 1861. However, several extant branches of the House of Medici currently continue to exist including the Princes of Ottajano, the Medici Tornaquinci, and the Verona Medici Counts of Caprara and Gavardo.[46]


The family of Piero de' Medici portrayed by Sandro Botticelli in the Madonna del Magnificat.

The biggest accomplishments of the Medici were in the sponsorship of art and architecture, mainly early and High Renaissance art and architecture. The Medici were responsible for the majority of Florentine art during their reign. Their money was significant because during this period, artists generally only made their works when they received commissions in advance. Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, the first patron of the arts in the family, aided Masaccio and commissioned Brunelleschi for the reconstruction of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence in 1419. Cosimo the Elder's notable artistic associates were Donatello and Fra Angelico. The most significant addition to the list over the years was Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), who produced work for a number of Medici, beginning with Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was said to be extremely fond of the young Michelangelo, inviting him to study the family collection of antique sculpture.[47] Lorenzo also served as patron to Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) for seven years. Indeed Lorenzo was an artist in his own right, and author of poetry and song; his support of the arts and letters is seen as a high point in Medici patronage.

Medici family members placed allegorically in the entourage of a king from the Three Wise Men in the Tuscan countryside in a Benozzo Gozzoli fresco, c. 1459.

After Lorenzo's death the puritanical Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola rose to prominence, warning Florentines against excessive luxury. Under Savonarola's fanatical leadership, many great works were "voluntarily" destroyed in the Bonfire of the Vanities (February 7, 1497). The following year, on May 23, 1498, Savonarola and two young supporters were burned at the stake in the Piazza della Signoria, the same location as his bonfire. In addition to commissions for art and architecture, the Medici were prolific collectors and today their acquisitions form the core of the Uffizi museum in Florence. In architecture, the Medici are responsible for some notable features of Florence; including the Uffizi Gallery, the Boboli Gardens, the Belvedere, and the Palazzo Medici, Medici Chapel[48]

Later, in Rome, the Medici Popes continued in the family tradition of patronizing artists in Rome. Pope Leo X would chiefly commission works from Raphael. Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel just before the pontiff's death in 1534.[49] Eleanor of Toledo, princess of Spain and wife of Cosimo I the Great, purchased the Pitti Palace from Buonaccorso Pitti in 1550. Cosimo in turn patronized Vasari who erected the Uffizi Gallery in 1560 and founded the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno – ("Academy of the Arts of Drawing") in 1563.[50] Marie de' Medici, widow of Henry IV of France and mother of Louis XIII, is the subject of a commissioned cycle of paintings known as the Marie de' Medici cycle, painted for the Luxembourg Palace by court painter Peter Paul Rubens in 1622-23.

Although none of the Medici themselves were scientists, the family is well known to have been the patrons of the famous Galileo Galilei, who tutored multiple generations of Medici children, and was an important figurehead for his patron's quest for power. Galileo's patronage was eventually abandoned by Ferdinando II, when the Inquisition accused Galileo of heresy. However, the Medici family did afford the scientist a safe haven for many years. Galileo named the four largest moons of Jupiter after four Medici children he tutored, although the names Galileo used are not the names currently used.


List of heads of the Medici[edit]

Signore in the Republic of Florence[edit]

Portrait Name From Until Relationship with predecessor
Cosimo di Medici (Bronzino).jpg Cosimo de' Medici
(Pater Patriae)
1434 1 August 1464 Son of Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici who was not as prominently involved in Florentine politics, rather more involved in the financial area.
Piero di Cosimo de' Medici.jpg Piero I de' Medici
(Piero the Gouty)
1 August 1464 2 December 1469 Eldest son of Cosimo de' Medici.
Lorenzo de Medici.jpg Lorenzo I de' Medici
(Lorenzo the Magnificent)
2 December 1469 9 April 1492 Eldest son of Piero I de' Medici.
Agnolo Bronzino - Piero il Fatuo.jpg Piero II de' Medici
(Piero the Unfortunate)
9 April 1492 8 November 1494 Eldest son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Overthrown when Charles VIII of France invaded as a full republic was restored, first under the theocracy of Girolamo Savonarola and then statesman Piero Soderini.
Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici.jpg Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici 31 August 1512 9 March 1513 Brother of Piero the Unfortunate, second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Elected to the Papacy, becoming Pope Leo X.
Giuliano de' Medici duca di Nemours.jpg Giuliano de' Medici, Duke of Nemours 9 March 1513 17 March 1516 Brother of Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, third son of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Duke-Lorenzo.jpg Lorenzo II de' Medici, Duke of Urbino 17 March 1516 4 May 1519 Nephew of Giuliano de' Medici, Duke of Nemours, son of Piero the Unfortunate.
Portrait of Giulio de Medici (1478 - 1534) Pope Clement VII.jpg Cardinal Giulio de' Medici 4 May 1519 19 November 1523 Cousin of Lorenzo II de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, son of Giuliano de' Medici who was the brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Elected to the Papacy, becoming Pope Clement VII.
Ippolito de' Medici.jpg Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici 19 November 1523 24 October 1529 Cousin of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, illegitimate son of Giuliano de' Medici, Duke of Nemours.

Duke of Florence[edit]

Portrait Name From Until Relationship with predecessor
Allessandro-the-moor.jpg Alessandro il Moro 24 October 1529 6 January 1537 Cousin of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, illegitimate son of Lorenzo II de' Medici, Duke of Urbino or Pope Clement VII. Acting signore during imperial Siege of Florence, made Duke in 1531.
Cosimo Grand Duke.jpg Cosimo I 6 January 1537 21 April 1574 Distant cousin of Alessandro de' Medici, Son of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere. dei Popolani line descended from Lorenzo the Elder, Brother of Cosimo de' Medici; also great-grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent through his mother, Maria Salviati, and his grandmother, Lucrezia de' Medici. 1569, he was made Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Grand Dukes of Tuscany[edit]

Portrait Name From Until Relationship with predecessor
Cosimo Grand Duke.jpg Cosimo I 6 January 1569 21 April 1574
Francesco I De Medici (by Bronzino).jpg Francesco I 21 April 1574 17 October 1587 Eldest son of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Ferdinando i de' medici 12.JPG Ferdinando I 17 October 1587 17 February 1609 Brother of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, son of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
CosimoIIMedici1.jpg Cosimo II 17 February 1609 28 February 1621 Eldest son of Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
YoungferdinandoII.jpg Ferdinando II 28 February 1621 23 May 1670 Eldest son of Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Grand Duke CosimoIII of Tuscany by van Douven.jpg Cosimo III 23 May 1670 31 October 1723 Eldest son of Ferdinando II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Giangastone de' Medici.jpg Gian Gastone 31 October 1723 9 July 1737 Second son of Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

See also[edit]

Family tree[edit]

Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici
Coat of Arms of Medici unaugmented.svg
m. Piccarda Bueri
Antonio de' Medici
Damian de' Medici
Cosimo de' Medici
(the Elder)
Contessina de' Bardi
Lorenzo de' Medici
(the Elder)
m. Ginevra Cavalcanti
Piero I de' Medici
(the Gouty)
Coat of arms of Medici.svg
Lord of Florence
Lucrezia Tornabuoni
Carlo de' Medici
Giovanni de' Medici
m. Ginevra degli Alessandrini
Francesco de' Medici
Pierfrancesco de' Medici (the Elder)
m. Laudomia Acciaioli
Giovanni de' Medici
(ante 1444–1478)
Maria de' Medici
m. Leonetto de' Rossi
Bianca de' Medici
m. Guglielmo de' Pazzi
Lucrezia de' Medici
m. Bernardo Rucellai
Lorenzo de' Medici
(the Magnificent)
Lord of Florence
m.(1) Clarice Orsini
Giuliano de' Medici
Cosimo de' Medici
Lorenzo the Popolano
Lord of Piombino
m. Semiramide Appiani
Giovanni the Popolano
m. Caterina Sforza
Lucrezia de' Medici
m. Jacopo Salviati
Maddalena de' Medici
m. Franceschetto Cybo
Luisa de' Medici
Giulio de' Medici
Pope Clement VII
Giuliano de' Medici
Duke of Nemours
Pierfrancesco de' Medici
(the Younger)
m. Maria Soderini
Laudomia de' Medici
m. Francesco Salviati
Vincenzo de' Medici
Piero II de' Medici (the Unfortunate)
Lord of Florence
m. Alfonsina Orsini
Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici
Pope Leo X
Contessina de' Medici
m. Piero Ridolfi
Ippolito de' Medici
Averardo de' Medici
Ginevra de' Medici
m. Giovanni degli Albizzi
Giovanni Salviati
Lorenzo Salviati
Lorenzo II de' Medici
Duke of Urbino
Madeleine de La Tour
Clarissa de' Medici
m. Filippo Strozzi
Elena Salviati
m.(1) Pallavicino Pallavicino
m.(2) Iacopo V Appiani
Battista Salviati
Luisa Salviati
m. Sigismund de Luna
Bernardo Salviati
Maria Salviati
Lodovico de' Medici (Giovanni dalle Bande Nere)
Francesca Salviati
m. Ottaviano de' Medici
Piero Salviati
Piero Strozzi
Laudomia de' Medici
Alamanno Salviati
Lorenzino de' Medici
Giuliano de' Medici
Archbishop of Albi
Roberto Strozzi
Maddalena de' Medici
Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici
Pope Leo XI
Alessandro de' Medici
(the Moor)
Duke of Florence
Caterina de' Medici
Henry II of France (1519–r.1547–1559)
Cosimo I de' Medici
Grand Duke of Tuscany
Bernadetto de' Medici
Giulia de' Medici
Porzia de' Medici
Francis II of France
Charles IX of France
Henry III of France
Francis, Duke of Anjou
Francesco I de' Medici
Grand Duke of Tuscany
m. Charles III of Lorraine
Giulio de' Medici
Alessandro de' Medici
Philip II of Spain
Elisabeth of Valois
Margaret of Valois
Henry IV of France
Marie de' Medici
Christina of Lorraine
Ferdinando I de' Medici
Grand Duke of Tuscany
Caterina de' Medici
Cosimo de' Medici
Giuliano de' Medici
Philip III of Spain
Christine Marie
m. Victor Amadeus I of Savoy
Nicolas Henri, Duke of Orléans
Gaston, Duke of Orléans
Henrietta Maria of France
m. Charles I of England
Angela/Angelica de' Medici
m. Pietro Altemps
Philip IV of Spain
Louis XIII of France
Anne of Austria
Charles II of England
Mary Henrietta Stuart
m. William II of Orange
James II of England
(1633–r.1685-88 –1701)

Medici family tree (Grand Dukes of Tuscany)[edit]

Lodovico de' Medici
Maria Salviati
Eleanor of Toledo
Cosimo I
Grand Duke 1569–74
Camilla Martelli
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Bia de' Medici
Maria de' Medici
Isabella de' Medici
m. Paolo Giordano I Orsini
Giovanni de' Medici
Bishop of Pisa, Cardinall
Lucrezia de' Medici
m. Alfonso II d'Este
Pietro de' Medici
Garzia de' Medici
Antonio de' Medici
(1548 – 1548)
Anna de' Medici
Pietro (Pedricco) de' Medici
(1546 – 1547)
Virginia de' Medici
(1568 – 1615)
m. Cesare d'Este
Johanna of Austria
Francesco I
Grand Duke 1574–87
Bianca Cappello
Christina of Lorraine
Ferdinando I
Grand Duke 1587–1609
Don Giovanni de' Medici
(Unnamed daughter)
Eleanor de' Medici
m. Vincenzo I Gonzaga
Anna de' Medici
Lucrezia de' Medici (1572–1574)
Antonio de' Medici
Eleanor de' Medici
Francesco de' Medici
Filippino de' Medici
Maria Maddalena de' Medici
Charles II of Austria
Romola de' Medici
Isabella de' Medici
Marie de' Medici
m. Henry IV of France
Philip de' Medici
Caterina de' Medici
m. Ferdinando I Gonzaga
Carlo de' Medici
Cardinal Bishop of Ostia
Lorenzo de' Medici
Christine Marie of France
m. Victor Amadeus I of Savoy
Louis XIII of France
Gaston of Orléans
Cosimo II
Grand Duke 1609–21
Maria Magdalena of Austria
Federico della Rovere
Claudia de' Medici
Leopold V of Austria
Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor
Maria Cristina de' Medici
Ferdinando II
Grand Duke 1621–70
Vittoria della Rovere
Gian Carlo de' Medici
Margherita de' Medici
m. Odoardo Farnese
Matteo de' Medici (1613–1667)
Francesco de' Medici
Anna de' Medici
Ferdinand Charles of Austria
Leopoldo de' Medici
Cosimo de' Medici
Cosimo III
Grand Duke 1670–1723
Marguerite Louise d'Orléans
Francesco Maria de' Medici
Philip William, Elector Palatine
Violante of Bavaria
Ferdinando (III) de' Medici
Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici
Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine
Philipp Wilhelm August
Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenberg
Gian Gastone
Grand Duke 1723–37


  1. ^ "Medici Family - - Encyclopædia Britannica". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 27 September 2009. 
  2. ^ Silvia Malaguzzi, Botticelli. Artist's life, Giunti Editore, Florence (Italy) 2004, p. 33.
  3. ^ The name in Italian is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable /ˈmɛ .di.tʃi/ and not on the second vowel.How to say: Medici, BBC News Magazine Monitor. In American English, MED-uh-chee.
  4. ^ Kenneth Bartlett, The Italian Renaissance, Chapter 7, p.37, Volume II, 2005.
  5. ^ "History of Florence". Retrieved 2015-01-26. 
  6. ^ Strathern, p 18
  7. ^ Crum , Roger J. Severing the Neck of Pride: Donatello's "Judith and Holofernes" and the Recollection of Albizzi Shame in Medicean Florence . Artibus et Historiae, Volume 22, Edit 44, 2001. pp. 23-29.
  8. ^ Padgett, John F.; Ansell, Christopher K. (May 1993). "Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici, 1400–1434". The American Journal of Sociology 98 (6): 1259–1319. doi:10.1086/230190. JSTOR 2781822. . This has led to much more analysis.
  9. ^ Machiavelli, Niccolò (1906). The Florentine history written by Niccolò Machiavelli, Volume 1. p. 221. .
  10. ^ John Woodward, A Treatise on Ecclesiastical Heraldry, 1894, p. 162
  11. ^ Bradley, Richard (executive producer) (2003). The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance (Part I) (DVD). PBS Home Video. 
  12. ^ a b The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli. A Norton Critical Edition. Translated and edited by Rober M. Adams. New York. W.W. Norton and Company, 1977. p. viii (Historical Introduction).
  13. ^ 15th century Italy.
  14. ^ Hibbard, pp. 177, 202, 162.
  15. ^ Hibbert, The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall, 153.
  16. ^ a b Hale, p. 150.
  17. ^ Hale, p. 151.
  18. ^ Austria and Spain were ruled by the House of Habsburg; the two are interchangeable terms for the Habsburg domains in the time period in question.
  19. ^ Hale, p. 158.
  20. ^ a b Hale, p. 160.
  21. ^ Hale, p. 165.
  22. ^ Strathen, p. 368.
  23. ^ Hale, p. 187.
  24. ^ Acton, p. 111.
  25. ^ a b Acton, p. 192.
  26. ^ Acton, p. 27.
  27. ^ Acton, p. 38.
  28. ^ a b Hale, p. 180.
  29. ^ Hale, p. 181.
  30. ^ Acton, p. 108.
  31. ^ Acton, p. 112.
  32. ^
  33. ^ Acton, p. 182.
  34. ^ Acton, p. 243.
  35. ^ Strathern, p. 392.
  36. ^ Hale, p. 191.
  37. ^ Acton, p. 175.
  38. ^ Acton, p. 280.
  39. ^ Acton, p. 188.
  40. ^ Acton, p. 301.
  41. ^ Acton, p. 304.
  42. ^ "Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici - Electress Palatine". Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  43. ^ Acton, p. 209.
  44. ^ Acton, p. 310.
  45. ^ Acton, p. 309.
  46. ^ Hibbert, p. 60.
  47. ^ Howard Hibbard, Michelangelo (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), p. 21.
  48. ^ Peter Barenboim, Sergey Shiyan, Michelangelo: Mysteries of Medici Chapel, SLOVO, Moscow, 2006. ISBN 5-85050-825-2
  49. ^ Hibbard, p. 240.
  50. ^ Official site of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno of Florence, Brief History (it. leng.)[1]


  • Hibbert, Christopher (1975). The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall. Morrow. ISBN 0-688-00339-7. 
  • Miles J. Unger, Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de Medici, (Simon and Schuster 2008) is a vividly colorful new biography of this true "renaissance man", the uncrowned ruler of Florence during its golden age
  • Christopher Hibbert, The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall (Morrow, 1975) is a highly readable, non-scholarly general history of the family
  • Ferdinand Schevill, History of Florence: From the Founding of the City Through the Renaissance (Frederick Ungar, 1936) is the standard overall history of Florence
  • Cecily Booth, Cosimo I, Duke of Florence, 1921, University Press
  • Harold Acton, The Last Medici, Macmillan, London, 1980, ISBN 0-333-29315-0
  • Paul Strathern, The Medici—Godfathers of the Renaissance (Pimlico, 2005) is an informative and lively account of the Medici family, their finesse and foibles—extremely readable, though with a few factual and typographical errors.
  • Lauro Martines, April Blood—Florence and the Plot Against the Medici (Oxford University Press 2003) a detailed account of the Pazzi Conspiracy, the players, the politics of the day, and the fallout of the assassination plot . Though accurate in historic details, Martines writes with a definite 'anti-Medici' tone.
  • Accounting in Italy
  • Herbert Millingchamp Vaughan, The Medici Popes. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1908.
  • Jonathan Zophy, A Short History of Renaissance and Reformation Europe, Dances over Fire and Water. 1996. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003.
  • Villa Niccolini (Camugliano), Villa Niccolini, is one of the Medici's tuscany villa previously called Villa Medicea di Camugliano, Villa Niccolini is located east from Ponsacco, near a little feudal village, Camugliano.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

House of Medici
New title Ruling house of the Duchy of Florence
Elevated to Grand Dukes of Tuscany
New title
Elevated from Duchy of Florence
Ruling house of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Succeeded by
House of Lorraine