Infobox Family
colour = LightCoral
name =Medici
crest =
caption = Money to get power, and power to guard the money"
ethnicity =
region =
early_forms =
origin =
members =Lorenzo de' Medici
Leo X
Clement VII
Leo XI
Cosimo de' Medici
otherfamilies =
distinctions =
traditions =
heirlooms =
estate =
meaning =
footnotes =
The Medici family was a powerful and influential Florentine family from the 13th to 17th century. The family produced three popes (Leo X, Clement VII, and Leo XI), numerous rulers of Florence (notably Lorenzo the Magnificent, patron of some of the most famous works of Renaissance art), and later members of the French and English royalty. Like other Signore families they dominated their city's government. They were able to bring Florence under their family's power, allowing for an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They led the birth of the Italian Renaissance along with the other great signore families of Italy like the Visconti and Sforza families of Milan, the Este of Ferrara, the Gonzaga of Mantua, and others.

The Medici Bank was one of the most prosperous and most respected in Europe. There are some estimates that the Medici family was, for a period of time, the wealthiest family in Europe. From this base, the family 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. This system was first used by accountants working for the Medici family in Florence.


The Medici family came from the agricultural Mugello region, north of Florence, being mentioned for the first time in a document of 1230.Fact|date=March 2008

The origin of the name is uncertain although its Italian meaning is "medical doctor". 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 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 sentenced to death in 1396. The involvement in another plot in 1400 caused all branches of the family to be banned from Florence's politics for twenty years, with the exception of two: from one of the latter, that of Averardo (Bicci) de' Medici, originated the Medici dynasty.

Averardo's son, Giovani di Bicci, 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.

His son Cosimo the Elder took over in 1434 as gran maestro, and the Medici became unofficial heads of state of the Florentine republic.cite video |people=Bradley, Richard (executive producer) |year2=2003 |title=The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance (Part I) |medium= DVD|publisher=PBS Home Video |location=|url=] Elder — ruled 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" 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.

15th century

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 infected 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.

Lorenzo de' Medici “the Magnificent” (1449-1492), was more capable of leading and ruling a city. 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 (future Pope Leo X) was placed in the church at an early age; and provided his daughter Maddalena with a sumptuous dowry when she made the politically advantageous marriage to a son of Pope Innocent VIII. [Hibbert, pp. 177, 202, 162.] When Giuliano, Lorenzo’s brother, was assassinated in church on Easter Sunday (1478), Lorenzo adopted his 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.

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. Another Medici became Pope: Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici (Leo XI).

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.

Art and architecture

The most significant 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 and advance payments. 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. Lorenzo commissioned him often, even as a child, and was extremely fond of him. Lorenzo commissioned Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) for seven years. Lorenzo also was an artist of poetry and song. Later, Pope Leo X would chiefly commission Raphael (1483-1520) — "the Prince of Painters." Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel; the de' Medici family oversaw the construction of the Sistine Chapel as well.

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 his 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.

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.
* Eleonora of Toledo, princess of Spain and wife of Cosimo I the Great, purchased the Pitti Palace from Buonaccorso Pitti in 1550.
* Cosimo I the Great patronized Vasari who erected the Uffizi Gallery in 1560 and founded the Academy of Design in 1562.
* 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.

Notable members

* Salvestro de' Medici (1331–1388), led the assault against the revolt of the ciompi, became dictator of Florence, and banished in 1382
* Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (1360–1429), restored the family fortune
* Cosimo the Elder (1389–1464), founder of the Medici political dynasty
* Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449–1492), leader of Florence during the Golden Age of the Renaissance
* Giovanni de' Medici (1475–1523), Pope Leo X
* Giulio de' Medici (1478–1534), Pope Clement VII
* Cosimo I the Great (1519–1574), First Grand Duke of Tuscany who restored the Medici lustre
* Catherine de' Medici (1519–1589), Queen of France
* Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici (1535–1605), Pope Leo XI
* Bia de' Medici (1536-1542), illegitimate daughter of Cosimo I de' Medici
* Eleonora de' Medici (February 28, 1567– September 9, 1611), Duchess of Mantua
* Marie de' Medici (1575–1642), Queen and Regent of France
* Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici (1667–1743) the last of the Medici line

ee also

* Alberti
* Albizzi



*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
* 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 very homophobic and full of 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."


* TLC/Peter Spry-Leverton.PSL, [ "The Mummy Detectives: The Crypt Of The Medici"] One-hour documentary. Italian specialists, joined by mummy expert and TLC presenter Dr. Bob Brier exhume the bodies of Italy's ancient first family and use the latest forensic tools to investigate how they lived and died. Airs on Discovery Channel.

External links

* [ Outline of the history of the Medici family]
* [ Genealogical manuscript on the house of the Medici]
* [ Genealogical tree of the house of the Medici]
* [ Galileo and the Medici Family at PBS]
* [ Adrian Fletcher’s Paradoxplace–3 pages of Medici portraits and history]
* [ Medici Archive Project]

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