Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (25 March 1541 – 17 October 1587) was the second Grand Duke of Tuscany, ruling from 1574 to 1587.


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

On December 18, 1565, he married Johanna of Austria, youngest daughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna 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 in 1578.

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), rumors spread up that Francesco and Bianca had conspired to poison Johanna. Francesco reportedly built and decorated Villa Medicea 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 (August 29 1576 - May 2 1621), who was first adopted as newborn child by Bianca Cappello with the intention to present him to Francesco as "own child" by means of changeling.

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 in order 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, possibly poisoned, or as many historians believe, from malarial fever. However, recent forensic evidence uncovered by Italian scientists supports the theory that he and his wife were poisoned [cite journal|author=Francesco Mari|coauthors=Aldo Polettini, Donatella Lippi, Elisabetta Bertol|title = The mysterious death of Francesco I de' Medici and Bianca Cappello: an arsenic murder? |journal = BMJ|volume = 333|issue = 23-30 June 2006|pages = 1299–1301|doi = 10.1136/bmj.38996.682234.AE|year = 2006|pmid = 17185715] .Francesco was succeeded by his younger brother, Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

There is a famous portrait of Francesco as a child by Agnolo 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 1657).


Francesco and Johanna had seven children:

*Eleonora (March 1, 1566 – September 9, 1611), who married Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (1582-1612).
*Romola (November 20, 1568 – December 2, 1568)
*Anna (December 31, 1569 – February 19, 1584)
*Isabella (September 30, 1571 – August 8, 1572)
*Lucrezia (November 7, 1572 – August 14, 1574)
*Marie (1573 – 1642), who became Queen of France by her marriage to Henri IV in 1600.
*Filippo (May 20, 1577 – March 29, 1582)



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1= 1. Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
2= 2. Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany
3= 3. Eleonora di Toledo
4= 4. Giovanni dalle Bande Nere
5= 5. Maria Salviati
6= 6. Pedro Álvarez de Toledo
7= 7. Maria Osorio Pimentel,
Marchioness of Villafranca del Bierzo
8= 8. Giovanni de' Medici il Popolano
9= 9. Caterina Sforza
10= 10. Jacopo Salviati
11= 11. Lucrezia de' Medici
12= 12. Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo
13= 13. Isabel de Zúñiga y Pimentel
14= 14. Luis Pimentel y Pacheco
15= 15. Juana Osorio y Bazán
16= 16. Pierfrancesco di Lorenzo de' Medici
17= 17. Laudomia Acciaiuoli
18= 18. Galeazzo Maria Sforza
19= 19. Lucrezia Landriani
20= 20. Giovanni Salviati
21= 21. Maddalena Gondi
22= 22. Lorenzo de' Medici
23= 23. Clarice Orsini
24= 24. Garcia Álvarez de Toledo
25= 25. María Enriquez de Quiñones y Toledo
26= 26. Álvaro de Zuñiga y Leiva
27= 27. Leonor Pimentel
28= 28. Rodrigo Afonso Pimentel
29= 29. María Pacheco
30= 30. Pedro Alvarez Osorio
31= 31. María de Bazan


*cite book | first= Christopher| last= Hibbert| year=1979| title= The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici| pages=pp. 269-281|publisher=Penguin Books

External links

* [ "The Medici Archive Project"] , from "The Medici Archive Project"
* [ "Medici Family History"]
* [ "Toledo-de' Medici, Leonor de (Eleonora)"] , from "The Medici Archive Project"
* [ "Osorio Pimentel, María"] , from "The Medici Archive Project"
* [ "Ancestors of Leonora Alvarez de Toledo"] , from "Foundation for Medieval Genealogy"

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