Cosimo de' Medici

Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici, called "the Elder" (Italian: il Vecchio) and posthumously "Father of the Fatherland" (Latin: pater patriae) (27 September 1389 – 1 August 1464), was an Italian banker and politician, the first member of the Medici political dynasty that served as de facto rulers of Florence during much of the Italian Renaissance. Despite his influence, his power was not absolute; Florence's legislative councils at times resisted his proposals throughout his life, and he was always viewed as primus inter pares ("first among equals") rather than an autocrat.[1] His power derived from his wealth as a banker, and he was a great patron of learning, the arts and architecture.[2]

Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici
Cosimo di Medici (Bronzino)
Portrait by Bronzino
Lord of Florence
Reign5 September 1434 – 1 August 1464
PredecessorRinaldo degli Albizzi
SuccessorPiero the Gouty
Full name
Còsimo di Giovanni degli Mèdici
Born27 September 1389
Florence, Republic of Florence
Died1 August 1464 (aged 74)
Careggi, Republic of Florence
Noble familyMedici
Spouse(s)Contessina de' Bardi
Issue
FatherGiovanni di Bicci de' Medici
MotherPiccarda Bueri

Biography

Early life and family business

Cosimo de' Medici was born in Florence to Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici and his wife Piccarda Bueri on 10 April 1389. At the time, it was customary to indicate the name of one's father in one's name for the purpose of distinguishing the identities of two like-named individuals; thus Giovanni was the son of Bicci, and Cosimo's name was properly rendered Cosimo di Giovanni de' Medici. He was born along with a twin brother Damiano, who survived only a short time. The twins were named after Saints Cosmas and Damian, whose feast day was then celebrated on 27 September; Cosimo would later celebrate his own birthday on that day, his "name day", rather than on the actual date of his birth.[3] Cosimo also had a brother Lorenzo, known as "Lorenzo the Elder", who was some six years his junior and participated in the family's banking enterprise.

Medici Bank mark, Firenze, Panciatichi 71
The late medieval mark of the Medici Bank (Banco Medici), used for the authentication of documents. Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Ms. Panciatichi 71, fol. 1r.

Cosimo inherited both his wealth and his expertise in banking from his father Giovanni, who had gone from being a moneylender to join the bank of his relative Vieri di Cambio de' Medici. Giovanni had been running Vieri's branch in Rome independently since the dissolution of the latter's bank into three separate and independent entities until 1397, when he left Rome to return to Florence to found his own bank, the Medici Bank. Over the next two decades, the Medici Bank opened branches in Rome, Geneva, Venice, and temporarily in Naples; the majority of profits was derived from Rome. The branch manager in Rome was a papal depositario generale who managed Church finances in return for a commission.[4] Cosimo would later expand the bank throughout western Europe and opened offices in London, Pisa, Avignon, Bruges, Milan,[5] and Lübeck.[6] The far-flung branches of the Medici rendered it the best bank for the business of the papacy, since it enabled bishoprics in many parts of Europe to pay their fees into the nearest branch, whose manager would then issue a papal license, and the popes could more easily order a variety of wares – such as spices, textiles, and relics – through the bankers' wholesale trade.[6] In fifteen years, Giovanni would make a profit of 290,791 florins.[5]

In 1415, Cosimo allegedly accompanied the Antipope John XXIII at the Council of Constance. In 1410, Giovanni lent John XXIII, then simply known as Baldassare Cossa, the money to buy himself the office of cardinal, which he repaid by making the Medici Bank head of all papal finances once he claimed the papacy. This gave the Medici family tremendous power, allowing them to threaten defaulting debtors with excommunication, for instance.[7] But misfortune hit the Medici Bank in 1415, when the Council of Constance unseated John XXIII, thus taking away the near monopoly they had held on the finances of the Roman Curia; thereafter, the Medici Bank had to compete with other banks. However, after the Spini Bank of Florence went insolvent in 1420, they again secured priority.[4] John XXIII, facing the enmity of a church council at which he was accused of a large variety of offenses against the Church, was confined by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor to Heidelberg Castle until the Medici paid his ransom and granted him asylum.[8]

In the same year as John's dethronement (1415), Cosimo was named "Priore of the Republic [of Florence]". Later he acted frequently as an ambassador for Florence and demonstrated a prudence for which he became renowned.

Giovanni withdrew from the bank in 1420, leaving its leadership to both of his surviving sons. He left them 179,221 florins upon his death in 1429.[9] Two-thirds of this came from the business in Rome, while only a tenth came from Florence; even Venice offered better returns than Florence. The brothers would earn two-thirds of the profits from the bank, with the other third going to a partner. Besides the bank, the family owned much land in the area surrounding Florence, including Mugello, the place from which the family originally came.[10]

Florentine politics

Cosimo goes into exile Palazzo Vecchio
Cosimo goes into exile, Palazzo Vecchio.

Cosimo's power over Florence stemmed from his wealth, which he used to control the votes of office holders in the municipal councils, most importantly the Signoria of Florence. As Florence was proud of its "democracy", he pretended to have little political ambition and did not often hold public office. Enea Piccolomini, Bishop of Siena and later Pope Pius II, said of him:

Political questions are settled in [Cosimo's] house. The man he chooses holds office... He it is who decides peace and war... He is king in all but name.[11]

Pontormo - Ritratto di Cosimo il Vecchio - Google Art Project
Portrait by Jacopo Pontormo; the laurel branch (il Broncone) was a symbol used also by his heirs[12]

In 1433, Cosimo's power over Florence began to look like a menace to the anti-Medici party led by figures such as Palla Strozzi and the Albizzi family, headed by Rinaldo degli Albizzi. In September of that year, Cosimo was imprisoned in the Palazzo Vecchio for his part in a failure to conquer the Republic of Lucca, but he managed to turn the jail term into one of exile. Some prominent Florentines, such as Francesco Filelfo, demanded his execution,[13] a fate that may have been almost certain without the intervention of the monk Ambrogio Traversari on his behalf.[1] Cosimo traveled to Padua and then to Venice, taking his bank along with him and finding friends and sympathizers wherever he went for his willingness to accept exile rather than resume the bloody conflicts that had chronically afflicted the streets of Florence. Venice sent an envoy to Florence on his behalf and requested that they rescind the order of banishment. When they refused, Cosimo settled down in Venice, his brother Lorenzo accompanying him. However, prompted by his influence and his money, others followed him, such as the architect Michelozzo, whom Cosimo commissioned to design a library as a gift to the Venetian people.[14] Within a year, the flight of capital from Florence was so great that the decree of exile had to be lifted. Cosimo returned a year later, in 1434, to influence the government of Florence (especially through the Pitti and Soderini families) for the last 30 years of his life of 75 years.

Cosimo's time in exile instilled in him the need to squash the factionalism that resulted in his exile in the first place. In order to do this, he instigated a series of constitutional changes with the help of favorable priors in the Signoria to secure his power through influence.

Following the death of Filippo Maria Visconti, who had ruled the Duchy of Milan from 1412 until his death in 1447, Cosimo sent Francesco I Sforza to establish himself in Milan to prevent an impending military advance from the Republic of Venice. Francesco Sforza was a condottiere, a mercenary soldier who had stolen land from the papacy and proclaimed himself its lord. He had yearned to establish himself at Milan as well, an ambition that was aided by the fact that the current Visconti head lacked legitimate children save for a daughter, Bianca, whom Sforza ultimately married in November 1441 after a failed attempt at winning her hand from her father.[15] The resultant balance of power with Milan and Florence on the one side and Venice and the Kingdom of Naples on the other created nearly half a century of peace that enabled the development of the Renaissance in Italy.[16] However, despite the benefits to Florence from keeping Venice at bay, the intervention in Milan was unpopular among Cosimo's fellow citizens, primarily because they were called upon to finance the Sforza succession. The Milanese made a brief attempt at democracy before Sforza was finally acclaimed duke by the city in February 1450.[17]

Cristofano dell'Altissimo (attr.), Contessina de' Bardi
A 16th-century portrait of Contessina de' Bardi, Cosimo's wife, attributed to Cristofano dell'Altissimo.

In terms of foreign policy, Cosimo worked to create peace in northern Italy through the creation of a balance of power between Florence, Naples, Venice and Milan during the wars in Lombardy between 1423 and 1454 and the discouragement of outside powers (notably the French and the Holy Roman Empire) from interfering in Italian affairs. In 1439, he was instrumental in convincing Pope Eugene IV to move the Ecumenical Council of Ferrara to Florence. The arrival of notable Byzantine figures from the Eastern Roman Empire, including Emperor John VIII Palaiologos himself, started a boom in interest for Greek culture and arts in the city.

San Lorenzo, tomba di Cosimo il Vecchio
The floor tomb of Cosimo de' Medici in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence.

Family and death

About 1415, Cosimo married Contessina de' Bardi (the daughter of Alessandro di Sozzo Bardi, count of Vernio, and Camilla Pannocchieschi).[18] The wedding was arranged by his father as an effort to reaffirm relations with the long-standing noble Bardi family, who had operated one of the richest banks in Europe until its spectacular collapse in 1345; they nevertheless remained highly influential in the financial sphere. Only part of the Bardi family were involved in this marriage alliance, for some of the branches considered themselves the opponents of the Medici clan.[19] The couple had two sons: Piero the Gouty and Giovanni de' Medici.[20] Cosimo also had an illegitimate son, Carlo, by a Circassian slave, who would go on to become a prelate.

On his death in 1464 at Careggi, Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero, father of Lorenzo the Magnificent. After Cosimo's death, the Signoria awarded him the title Pater Patriae, "Father of his Country", an honor once awarded to Cicero, and had it carved upon his tomb in the Church of San Lorenzo.[21]

Patronage

Cosimo de' Medici used his vast fortune to control the Florentine political system and to sponsor orators, poets and philosophers,[22] as well as a series of artistic accomplishments.[23]

Arts

Donatello - David - Florença
Donatello's David, a Medici commission.

Cosimo was also noted for his patronage of culture and the arts during the Renaissance and spent the family fortune liberally to enrich the civic life of Florence. According to Salviati's Zibaldone, Cosimo stated: "All those things have given me the greatest satisfaction and contentment because they are not only for the honor of God but are likewise for my own remembrance. For fifty years, I have done nothing else but earn money and spend money; and it became clear that spending money gives me greater pleasure than earning it."[24] Additionally, his patronage of the arts both recognized and proclaimed the humanistic responsibility of the civic duty that came with wealth.[25]

Cosimo hired the young Michelozzo Michelozzi to create what is today perhaps the prototypical Florentine palazzo, the austere and magnificent Palazzo Medici. The building still includes, as its only 15th-century interior that is largely intact, the Magi Chapel frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli, completed in 1461 with portraits of members of the Medici family parading through Tuscany in the guise of the Three Wise Men. He was a patron and confidante of Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, and Donatello, whose famed David and Judith Slaying Holofernes were Medici commissions. His patronage enabled the eccentric and bankrupt architect Brunelleschi to complete the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore (the "Duomo") in 1436.[26]

Cosimo Pater Patriae
Cosimo Pater patriae, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Libraries

In 1444, Cosimo de' Medici founded the first public library in Florence, at San Marco, which was of central importance to the humanist movement in Florence during the Renaissance. It was designed by Michelozzo, a student of Lorenzo Ghiberti who later collaborated with Donatello and was also a good friend and patron to Cosimo. Cosimo contributed the funds necessary to repair the library and provide it with a book collection, which people were allowed to use at no charge. "That Cosimo de'Medici was able to finance the construction of such a site placed him in a privileged position of leadership in the city. He hand-selected those individuals who were given access to this laboratory of learning, and, through this social dynamic, he actively shaped the politics of the Republic."[27] He also commissioned Michelozzo to design a library for his grandson, Lorenzo de' Medici. His first library, however, was designed by Michelozzo while the two were in Venice, where Cosimo had been temporarily exiled. In 1433, in gratitude for the hospitality of that city, he left it as a gift, his only such work outside Florence.[28] His libraries were noted for their Renaissance style of architecture and distinguished artwork.

Cosimo had grown up with only three books, but by the time he was thirty, his collection had grown to 70 volumes. After being introduced to humanism by a group of literati who had asked for his help in preserving books, he grew to love the movement and gladly sponsored the effort to renew Greek and Roman civilization through literature, for which book collecting was a central activity. "Heartened by the romantic wanderlust of a true bibliophile, the austere banker even embarked on several journeys in the hunt for books, while guaranteeing just about any undertaking that involved books. He financed trips to nearly every European town as well as to Syria, Egypt, and Greece organized by Poggio Bracciolini, his chief book scout."[28] He engaged 45 copyists under the bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci to transcribe manuscripts and paid off the debts of Niccolò de' Niccoli after his death in exchange for control over his collection of some 800 manuscripts valued at around 6,000 florins.[29]

Philosophy

In the realm of philosophy, Cosimo, influenced by the lectures of Gemistus Plethon, supported Marsilio Ficino and his attempts at reviving Neo-Platonism. Cosimo commissioned Ficino's Latin translation of the complete works of Plato (the first ever complete translation) and collected a vast library that he shared with intellectuals such as Niccolò de' Niccoli and Leonardo Bruni.[30] He also established a Platonic Academy in Florence in 1445.[31] He provided his grandson Lorenzo de' Medici with an education in the studia humanitatis. Cosimo certainly had an influence on Renaissance intellectual life, but it was Lorenzo who would later be deemed to have been the greatest patron.[32][33][34]

Fictional depictions

A young Cosimo is portrayed by Richard Madden in the television series Medici: Masters of Florence.[35]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Martines, Lauro (2011). The Social World of the Florentine Humanists, 1390–1460. University of Toronto Press. p. 8.
  2. ^ Strathern, Paul (2005). The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance. London: Pimlico. pp. 45–126. ISBN 978-1-84413-098-6.
  3. ^ Dale Kent: Medici, Cosimo de’. In: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Vol. 73, Rome 2009, pg. 36–43, here: 36; Susan McKillop: Dante and Lumen Christi: A Proposal for the Meaning of the Tomb of Cosimo de’ Medici. In: Francis Ames-Lewis (Ed.): Cosimo ‘il Vecchio’ de’ Medici, 1389–1464, Oxford 1992, pg. 245–301, here: 245–248.
  4. ^ a b George Holmes: How the Medici became the Pope’s Bankers. In: Nicolai Rubinstein (Ed.): Florentine Studies. Politics and Society in Renaissance Florence, London 1968, pp. 357–380; Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397–1494, Cambridge (Massachusetts)/London 1963, p. 46 f., 198, 203; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici, 4., revised edition, Munich 2007, S. 21; John R. Hale: Die Medici und Florenz, Stuttgart 1979, p. 13; Alison Williams Lewin: Negotiating Survival, Madison 2003, p. 210 f.
  5. ^ a b Setton, Kenneth M. [ed.] (1970). The Renaissance: Maker of Modern Man. National Geographic Society. p. 46.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ a b Hallam, Elizabeth (1988). The War of the Roses. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 111.
  7. ^ Hallam, Elizabeth (Ed.) (1988). The Wars of the Roses. New York: Weidenfeld & in the same year he was named "Priore of the Republic [of Florence]". Later he acted frequently as an ambassador for Florence and demonstrated a prudence for which he became renowned. Nicolson. p. 110.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 366.
  9. ^ Burckhardt, Jakob (1960). The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. The New American Library, inc. p. 900.
  10. ^ Heinrich Lang: Zwischen Geschäft, Kunst und Macht. In: Mark Häberlein et al. (Ed.): Generationen in spätmittelalterlichen und frühneuzeitlichen Städten (ca. 1250–1750), Konstanz 2011, pp. 43–71, here: 48 f.; Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici, 4., revised edition, Munich 2007, p. 21; Raymond de Roover: The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank 1397–1494, Cambridge (Massachusetts)/London 1963, S. 52; John R. Hale: Die Medici und Florenz, Stuttgart 1979, p. 14.
  11. ^ Quoted by C.Hibbert in The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici, 1974 in Martin Longman, Italian Renaissance (Longman, 1992).
  12. ^ After the return of the Medici in 1512, Lorenzo di Piero formed a compagnia for carnival 1513, and called it Broncone; the Pontormo portrait was commissioned by Goro Gheri, Lorenzo's secretary. Shearman, John (November 1962). "Pontormo and Andrea Del Sarto, 1513". The Burlington Magazine. 104 (716): 450, 478–483.
  13. ^ Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. New York: New York. p. 193.
  14. ^ Williams, Henry Smith (1905). The History of Italy. The Historians' History of the World. 9. New York: The Outlook Company. p. 352.
  15. ^ Schevill, Ferdinand (1963). Medieval and Renaissance Florence. 2. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. p. 360.
  16. ^ Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 76.
  17. ^ Schevill, Ferdinand (1963). Medieval and Renaissance Florence. 2. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. p. 361.
  18. ^ Tomas 2003, p. 16.
  19. ^ Volker Reinhardt: Die Medici, 4., revised edition, Munich 2007, p. 20 f.; Dale Kent: The Rise of the Medici, Oxford 1978, p. 40 f., 49–61.
  20. ^ Tomas 2003, p. 7.
  21. ^ Jones, Jonathan (18 October 2003). "Cosimo the Elder, Pontormo (c1516-20)". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  22. ^ Thomas, Joseph (29 April 1896). "Universal Pronouncing Dictionary of Biography and Mythology". Lippincott. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ R. de Roover, The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397–1494 (Cambridge, MA, 1963), p. 28.
  24. ^ Taylor, F.H. (1948). The taste of angels, a history of art collecting from Rameses to Napoleon. Boston: Little, Brown. pp. 65–66.
  25. ^ Jurdjevic, Mark (1999). "Civic Humanism and the Rise of the Medici". Renaissance Quarterly. 52 (4): 994–1020.
  26. ^ "Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance . Renaissance . Brunelleschi - PBS". www.pbs.org. Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  27. ^ Terry-Fritsch, Allie (2012). "Florentine Convent as Practiced Place; Cosimo de'Medici, Fra Angelico, and the Public Library of San Marco". Medieval Encounters: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Culture in Confluence and Dialogue (18(2–3)): 237.
  28. ^ a b Meehan, William F. (2007). "The Importance of Cosimo de Medici in Library History". Indiana Libraries Vol. 26 Number 3.
  29. ^ Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 76–77.
  30. ^ Kent, Dale V. Cosimo de' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance: The patron's oeuvre. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000, pp. 34–8.
  31. ^ Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 80.
  32. ^ Parks, Tim (2008). Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. p. 288.
  33. ^ "Fact about Lorenzo de' Medici". 100 Leader in world history. 2008. Archived from the original on 27 September 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
  34. ^ Kent, F.W. (2006). Lorenzo De' Medici and the Art of Magnificence. USA: JHU Press. p. 248. ISBN 0-8018-8627-9.
  35. ^ "Medici: Masters of Florence". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2016.

Sources

  • Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860) 1878.
  • Connell, William. Society and Individual in Renaissance Florence, 2002.
  • Cook, Jon (2003). "Why Renaissance? Why Florence?" History Review, 47, 44–46.
  • De Roover, R. The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank, 1397–1494. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963.
  • Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1953.
  • Guerrieri, Francesco; Fabbri, Patrizia (1996). Palaces of Florence. Rizzoli. for the Palazzo Medici.
  • Kent, Dale. Cosimo De' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance: The patron's oeuvre. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.
  • Martin Roberts, Italian Renaissance. Longman, 1992.
  • Meehan, William F. III (2007). "The Importance of Cosimo de Medici in Library History." Indiana libraries, 26(3), 15–17. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/1805/1579
  • Parks, Tim. Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005.
  • Padgett John F., Ansell Christopher K.,"Robust Action and the Rise of the Medici. 1400–1434", The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 98, No. 6. (May, 1993), pp. 1259–1319.
  • Tomas, Natalie R. (2003). The Medici Women: Gender and Power in Renaissance Florence. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-0777-1.

External links

Albizzi

The Albizzi family (Italian pronunciation: [ˈalbittsi]) was a Florentine family originally based in Arezzo, who were rivals of the Medici and Alberti families. They were at the centre of Florentine oligarchy from 1382, in the reaction that followed the Ciompi revolt, to the rise of the Medici in 1434. The most infamous and influential members of the family were Maso and his son Rinaldo degli Albizzi (1370–1442) who countered the rise of Cosimo de' Medici, exiling him in 1433. Luca, another son of Maso was head of the Florentine galleys; his diary is an important source for historians. Luca was a loyal friend to Cosimo de' Medici. As a result, Luca was permitted to stay in Florence when the rest of his clan, including his brother, were exiled under the Medici regime in 1434. Moreover, in 1442, Luca Albizzi actually became the Gonfalonier of Justice and stayed a key ally of Cosimo during this time.

The family palazzo in Borgo degli Albizzi, was rebuilt with the return of the family in the early 16th century.

Eleonora degli Albizzi was a mistress of the Grand-Duke Cosimo I de Medici.

Filippo degli Albizzi was a Florentine naturalist from the 18th century on behalf of whom Albizia julibrissin was named.

Bianca de' Medici

Bianca de' Medici (10 September 1445–1488) was a member of the de' Medici family, de facto rulers of Florence in the late 15th century. She was the daughter of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici, de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic, and sister of Lorenzo de' Medici, who succeeded his father in that position. She married Guglielmo de' Pazzi, a member of the Pazzi family. She was a musician, and played the organ for Pope Pius II and the future Pope Alexander VI in 1460; she was a landowner.

Carlo de' Medici

Carlo di Cosimo de' Medici (1428 or 1430 – May 29, 1492) was an Italian priest. A member of the powerful Medici family, he became a senior clergyman and collector.

Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Cosimo I de' Medici (12 June 1519 – 21 April 1574) was the second Duke of Florence from 1537 until 1569, when he became the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, a title he held until his death.

Duke of Florence

Il Duca di Firenze, rendered in English as The Duke of Florence, was a title created in 1532 by Pope Clement VII. There were effectively only two dukes, Alessandro de' Medici and Cosimo de' Medici, the second duke being elevated to The Grand Duke of Tuscany, causing the Florentine title to become subordinate to the greater Tuscan title.

Gian Gastone de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Gian Gastone de' Medici (Giovanni Battista Gastone; 24 May 1671 – 9 July 1737) was the seventh and last Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was the second son of Grand Duke Cosimo III and Marguerite Louise d'Orléans. His sister, Electress Palatine Anna Maria Luisa, arranged his marriage to the wealthy and widowed Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg in 1697. The couple despised each other and had no children. As Grand Prince Ferdinando, Gian Gastone's elder brother, predeceased Cosimo III, Gian Gastone succeeded his father in 1723.

His reign was marked by the reversal of his predecessor's conservative policy; he abolished taxes for poorer people, repealed penal laws which restricted Jews and discontinued public executions. The Medici were wanting in male heirs; his father, Cosimo III, wanted the Electress Palatine to succeed Gian Gastone. However, Spain, Great Britain, Austria and the Dutch Republic disregarded Cosimo's plan and appointed Charles of Spain—whose mother, Elisabeth Farnese, was a great-granddaughter of Margherita de' Medici—Gian Gastone's heir. Charles later transferred his claim to Francis Stephen of Lorraine pursuant to a preliminary peace that was finalized in 1738. Francis Stephen duly succeeded at Gian Gastone's demise, on 9 July 1737, ending almost 300 years of Medici rule over Florence. For the latter part of his reign, Gian Gastone chose to remain confined in his bed, tended by his entourage, the Ruspanti.

Giovanni de' Medici (cardinal)

Giovanni di Cosimo I de' Medici (29 September 1544 – 20 November 1562), also known as Giovanni de' Medici the Younger, was an Italian cardinal.

Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici

Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (c. 1360 – 20/28 February 1429) was an Italian banker and founder of the Medici Bank. While other members of the Medici family, such as Chiarissimo di Giambuono de' Medici, who served in the Signoria of Florence in 1201, and Salvestro de' Medici, who was implicated in the Ciompi Revolt of 1378, are of historical interest, it was Giovanni's founding of the family bank that truly initiated the family's rise to power in Florence. He was the father of Cosimo de' Medici (Pater Patriae), the first Medici ruler of Florence, and an ancestor of other notable Medici rulers, for example, the grandfather of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici; great-grandfather of Lorenzo de' Medici (the Magnificent); and great-great-great-grandfather of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Giovanni di Cosimo de' Medici

Giovanni di Cosimo de' Medici (3 June 1421 – 23 September 1463) was an Italian banker and patron of arts.

Giovanni was the son of Cosimo de' Medici the Elder and Contessina de' Bardi, and brother to Piero the Gouty. Unlike the latter, Giovanni enjoyed good health and was seen by Cosimo as his probable successor. From 1438 he directed the branch of the family bank in Ferrara. He received also a humanistic education, showing a major interest in music.

In 1454 Giovanni was elected Prior of Florence and the following year he was a member of the delegation which received Pope Pius II in the city. The following year Cosimo made him general director of the Medici bank, but, unsatisfied because of Giovanni's distraction in arts and other activities, assigned to him Francesco Sassetti as tutor.

Giovanni married Maria Ginevra di Niccolò Alessandri, daughter of Niccolò Alessandri, in 1452. This marriage recognized the support that Niccolò had provided to Cosimo during his exile in 1433, and bound the families together. The couple had one child, Cosimo (c. 1454-c. 1459). Ginevra frequently visited thermal baths for her health. There she built up a network of influential women who she regularly corresponded with. Ginevra died after 2 Aug 1478.He died in 1463, and was buried in the Sagrestia Vecchia of the Basilica di San Lorenzo. Later a monument was sculpted for him and his brother by Andrea Verrocchio.

Giovanni de' Medici was a famous patron of arts. He had the Villa Medici in Fiesole built by Michelozzo Michelozzi (but probably in collaboration with Giovanni's friend, Leon Battista Alberti). He had a large collection of sculptures, coins, manuscripts, jewels, musical instruments and other material. Artists who worked for him included: Mino da Fiesole, Desiderio da Settignano, Donatello, Domenico Veneziano, Filippo Lippi and Pesellino.

Lorenzo de' Medici

Lorenzo de' Medici (Italian pronunciation: [loˈrɛntso de ˈmɛːditʃi], 1 January 1449 – 8 April 1492) was an Italian statesman, de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic and the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of Renaissance culture in Italy. Also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico [loˈrɛntso il maɲˈɲiːfiko]) by contemporary Florentines, he was a magnate, diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists and poets. As a patron, he is best known for his sponsorship of artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo. He held the balance of power within the Italic League, an alliance of states that stabilized political conditions on the Italian peninsula for decades, and his life coincided with the mature phase of the Italian Renaissance and the Golden Age of Florence. The Peace of Lodi of 1454 that he helped maintain among the various Italian states collapsed with his death. He is buried in the Medici Chapel in Florence.

Lucrezia de' Medici, Duchess of Ferrara

Lucrezia de' Medici (14 February 1545 – 21 April 1561) was Duchess consort of Ferrara by marriage to Alfonso II d'Este. She was the daughter of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Eleanor of Toledo.

Maria de' Medici (1540–1557)

Maria de' Medici (April 3, 1540 – November 19, 1557) was the eldest daughter of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Eleonora di Toledo. She was a member of the famous Medici family.

Nannina de' Medici

Nannina de' Medici (14 February 1448 – 14 May 1493), born Lucrezia de' Medici, was the second daughter of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici and Lucrezia Tornabuoni. She was thus the elder sister of Lorenzo de' Medici. She married Bernardo Rucellai. Her father's name was Piero, so she is sometimes known as Lucrezia di Piero de' Medici.

Ottaviano de' Medici (b. 1957)

Prince Ottaviano de' Medici Ottaviano di Toscana aka Ottaviano de' Medici di Toscana di Ottajano (b. 1957) is an Italian noble and member of the Ottajano branch of the House of Medici. He is the president of the Associazione Internationale Medicae (International Medici Association) and one of the founders of Save Florence, an initiative to conserve the cultural heritage of the city of Florence.

Piero di Cosimo de' Medici

Piero di Cosimo de' Medici (the Gouty), (Italian: Piero "il Gottoso") (1416 – 2 December 1469) was the de facto ruler of Florence from 1464 to 1469, during the Italian Renaissance.

Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo the Elder

Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo the Elder, also known as Portrait of a Youth with a Medal, is a tempera painting by Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli. The painting features a young man displaying in triangled hands a medal stamped with the likeness of Cosimo de' Medici. The identity of the young man has been a long-enduring mystery. Completed in approximately 1475, it is on display in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence.

Seven Saints (Filippo Lippi)

Seven Saints is a tempera on panel painting by the Italian Renaissance master Filippo Lippi, dating to c. 1449–59, in the collection of the National Gallery, London. It is a pendant to Lippi's Annunciation, also in the National Gallery. The lunettes were commissioned as part of the decoration of the Palazzo Medici in Florence, where they were likely placed above a door or a bed.There is general agreement on Lippi's authorship of the panels, but their dating is less certain; they were produced some time between Lorenzo the Magnificent's birth in 1449 and the completion of the palace's furnishing in 1459. That their patron belonged to the Medici family is testified by the presence of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici's coat of arms in the other lunette, and by the link between the saints depicted in this panel and the male members of the family. Piero di Cosimo lived in Palazzo Medici from 1456.

In the center is Saint John the Baptist, patron saint of Florence, flanked by the Saints Cosmas and Damian (protectors of the Medici, and in particular of Cosimo de' Medici, Piero's father). On the right, in the foreground, is Saint Peter of Verona, protector of Piero di Cosimo de' Medici, and next to him is Saint John the Evangelist, protector of his brother Giovanni. On the left, in the foreground, are Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron of Pierfrancesco the Elder (Piero's cousin), and Saint Lawrence, patron of his uncle, Lorenzo the Elder.

Both lunettes were acquired in 1855 from the Metzger brothers by Sir Charles Eastlake and donated to the National Gallery in 1861.

The Age of the Medici

The Age of the Medici, originally released in Italy as L'età di Cosimo de Medici (The Age of Cosimo de Medici), is a 1973 3-part TV series about the Renaissance in Florence, directed by Roberto Rossellini. The series was shot in English in the hope of securing a North American release, which it failed to achieve, and was later dubbed into Italian and shown on state television. The films are: Cosimo de Medici, The Power of Cosimo and Leon Battista Alberti: Humanism. It is Fred Ward's debut role.

Like several other TV series directed by Rossellini during the 1970s, The Age of the Medici is a form of docudrama, in which historical information is communicated via dramatized conversations between figures from history, and between ordinary people. They are unabashedly "teaching films." As Dave Kehr explains, "The dialogue is bluntly didactic, with characters telling one another things they would already know entirely for the benefit of the audience.... Rossellini isn’t asking his viewers to identify with his characters or become caught up in their personal dramas ... Instead he creates a detached perspective." Each scene plays out in a single long take, with the camera slowly moving and zooming to create different framings of the action, or, as Kehr puts it, "to close in on details or investigate relationships".When the films debuted in New York's Public Theater in 1973, New York Times movie critic Vincent Canby noted that while not difficult, the austere style of the films, "as well as Rossellini's total lack of concern for what might be called performance, take some getting used to. Yet once you've grasped the method and the rhythm of the films, they are a ravishingly beautiful experience":

The actors make few attempts to act. They recite as they walk about magnificent locations, sounding and looking like ferociously gifted dress-extras. The talk has been rather flatly dubbed into English so that it's not always possible to tell who is speaking.Forget these problems, though. The film is about what is being said and what you can see around and behind these figures. When you connect with The Age of the Medici, it has the effect of reducing every other film you've seen recently to the status of an ornament.

Villa del Barone, Bagnolo di Sopra

The Villa del Barone is a Renaissance style, rural aristocratic palace located in the rural neighborhood or frazione of Bagnolo di Sopra, located within the town limits of Montemurlo, province of Prato, region of Tuscany, Italy. The villa and the properties associated once belonged to the Tempi family, by the 16th century, it belonged to Baccio Valori, from whom it was confiscated by Cosimo de Medici. Cosimo granted it to the Rossi family. Later belonged to Vettori family.

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